Bodyweight Workouts – Basement Sessions – Weekly Catch Up

I kind of slacked off in documenting my workouts for the past week. To be honest, they are probably going to be boring to read about. I think I’m boring myself typing about them. All I really did for the past week is yoga and push/pull stuff.

bored

That’s it.

Yoga…

Push & Pull…

Rinse/repeat all week long.

I did get semi-creative for the garage workout. I combined the yoga AND the push/pull.

really.

I know all of that sounds as exciting as a box of hair. But, here is my take away from the week – you can have a boring routine and still have a solid week of training. Even though it seemed basic and monotonous, I mixed in three different yoga routines, and also clocked 3 different push/pull routines with a variety of grips and angles for those pushes and pulls. In the big scheme of things, I’ll take that over going to the gym and doing biceps curls and leg presses!

In other random streams of consciousness, I’m a Madden junkie. For those not familiar, Madden is the popular football video game series. Its been around forever. I’ve been playing forever. I particularly like the franchise mode – building teams through the draft and scouting players is a ton of fun. As I’ve fallen down this rabbit hole further and further (I’m in year 22 of a 30 year franchise, and have played out about 97% of the games along the way), I’ve needed to find new ways to challenge myself. I have the difficulty settings as high as they can go. Each season, I turn over about half of my starters to make room for my new draft picks. Despite all of this, I keep going undefeated. I keep scoring lots of points. I keep allowing not a lot of points. I think I’ve broken the game in a few ways. Some of the statistics don’t even tabulate properly anymore. At one point, the game even made up its own rules. Part of me wonders if the programmers ever expected a person to play this far into a franchise mode, and just “phoned in” the last couple of years programming. In the most recent season, I decided to only allow myself to run two plays all season. One passing play and one running play. I’m “proud” to admit that I just completed yet another undefeated campaign where my rookie QB threw over 70 TD’s. Proud is in air quotes because its probably just sad.

Oh, and in year 22, these Philadelphia Eagles have won 19 Super Bowls. Carson Wentz retired as the GOAT in career TD’s. He was the yards leader (over 80K) until some fictional QB that just won’t retire ruined it.

Who says video games don’t mirror reality???

Continue reading Bodyweight Workouts – Basement Sessions – Weekly Catch Up

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Bodyweight Workouts – Basement Sessions – 7/27 – The Basics (plus)

It feels good to feel good.

I don’t mean that in an ironic sense, or a “I’m better than you” way. I mean it feels good when your body and mind feel good. When you are sick or injured, you certainly aren’t your best self. That “not feeling good” feeling really sucks. Whether its a self-inflicted imbalance from one too many IPA’s the night before, or an unfortunate chronic illness you are battling, sub-optimal health just doesn’t feel good. And you know that it doesn’t feel good. Even if you are off by just 10%, you know that it feels different than feeling 100%. You miss and CRAVE that 100% feeling.

I’m usually pretty sensitive to pollen and other allergens in the summertime. That affliction presents with the usual runny nose, sneezing, and itchy eyes. This summer was a little different. I didn’t get any of those symptoms despite pollen counts that were off the charts. Rather, I experienced fluid in my ears for the first time. In both ears. For almost two months. I can’t confirm that its attributable to allergies, but the coincidence isn’t lost on me. I’ve read that pollen allergies can present this way. Since my doctor couldn’t come up with anything better, I’m going to run with that.

Talk about something that will mess with you. Each day felt rotten. It really was a struggle to get through between the cycles of fatigue and the general feeling of imbalance. Your mind starts to wander to some weird places. You basically have an internal argument going on – your body/mind feel like just laying down and staying still. But, there is a small sliver of your mind that knows you shouldn’t do that, and it fights to keep you plugging ahead. That internal debate is exhausting.

I’m very happy to say that I’m going on my 7th day w/o those symptoms. It appears the fluid has resolved (which I’ve been told will happen over time, and was confirmed by a doctor’s appointment earlier in the week). Whether it was just time, or the mega dose regimen of Vitamin C I started about two weeks ago, I’m finally on the other side (at least it feels that way). It’s fun to wake up again. I’m going to really try to relish this 100% feeling for as long as I can.

I guess the moral of the story is – appreciate your health. Appreciate feeling good, Appreciate feeling energized. Appreciate feeling able.

Continue reading Bodyweight Workouts – Basement Sessions – 7/27 – The Basics (plus)

Bodyweight Workouts – Basement Sessions – 7/19 & 7/23 – Catch up

A couple random thoughts…

  • Fantasy football season is approaching. For those of us who partake, getting ready for the draft is fun, AND, if you do a live draft with fun people, it can end up being one of your favorite days of the year. I very much miss the live drafts I used to do when I lived on the east coast with my buddies. I have to do those remote, and it sucks. Fantasy football drafts should be full of cooking out, beer, and progressively crooked name stickers on the draft board.
  • Watched the movie “Tag” on Friday. Lots of fun. Highly recommend it. I clearly like stupid comedies since I wax poetic about the merits of Happy Gilmore. So, if you enjoy movies like Happy Gilmore, you’ll enjoy “Tag.” And, it teaches a very nice lesson about long term friendships. And, its based on a true story – that makes it even more fun.
  • Lawns are annoying during heat waves. Even though you water every day (and jack up your water bill), parts of the lawn still turn brown and look awful. Really feels like a waste of time. I wonder if my HOA will allow a backyard of just sand and/or rocks…?
  • Listened to a podcast where they debated the merits of what to call your grandparents. Side note – listening to people debate the merits of stupid topics is actually pretty funny. The more thoughtful and articulate the arguments, the funnier it gets. Listening to their breakfast food draft was hilarious.
    • Such names included…
      • Grandma (or grandpa) followed by first name (ex: Grandma Jean)
      • Gammy / Gampy
      • Nanna / Pop pop
    • Not sure where I land on this topic. I know we are going with Nana for Baby Breaking’s relationship with his grandmother. That was kind of issued to us since she was already a nana from other grandchildren. Can’t derail that train. Kids get confused. I don’t know what I’ll want to be called once my kid has his own spawn. Unless something better comes along, I think my vote will be “Pop pop.” For the female side, I’m a huge fan of Me-Maw. For some reason, years of watching “The Big Bang Theory” have ingrained that in my head. Grandmother = memaw. Case closed.

Since I’ve been trying to finish out my 3 Week Yoga Retreat review, I’ve been doing that every other day. To not fall too far behind on maintaining my other strength, I’ve just been doing push/pull routines on my non-yoga and non-rest days. All of that volume should pay off in one way or another. As long as I’m getting proper rest between sessions, it can’t help but benefit me.

Continue reading Bodyweight Workouts – Basement Sessions – 7/19 & 7/23 – Catch up

Bodyweight Workouts – Basement Sessions – 7/11/18 – Push/Pull Session

I made homemade yogurt. I’m actually eating a 4 oz jar of it while I’m typing this. It tastes like yogurt. It looks like yogurt. And, it hasn’t made me sick yet. Bully for that!

It wasn’t hard. My younger sister (Sister Breaking???) sent me a yogurt making kit for my birthday. The care package had the unit (made by Euro Cuisine), and some dehydrated cultures. Her and I have never talked about yogurt, or the making of yogurt. I thought she was lactose intolerant to be honest. Therefore, it kind of caught me and the wife by surprise. It reminded me of this clip from Wayne’s World…

Regardless, I’m grateful for the gift and I decided to give it a shot this past weekend. The steps were pretty darn simple…

  • Heat milk of choice to 180 degrees F (this “sanitizes” the milk). I’m used to this step from beer making.
  • Cool milk (also used to this from beer making – you can’t pitch a culture at high temp – it might kill it)
  • Add cultures to cooled milk
  • Mix everything and add to portioned jars
  • Put jars into the Euro Cuisine “machine” (and I use that term very loosely), and set a timer for 7-10 hours (I left it in for 9 hours)

I only had heavy cream in my fridge, so I did a quick Google search to see if you can make yogurt with heavy cream. You can. And, its encouraged by those in the low-carb community. Bully for that too.

I called an audible and mixed in some pure vanilla extract after the cultures were pitched. I read that as a “recipe” somewhere “on the line.” I did 1 tsp for about 28 oz of yogurt. I think I’ll bump it up next time because the taste is faint at best. The yogurt does taste good, and its creamy as hell. If you’ve never cultured or fermented anything in your kitchen – you should give it a try – its kind of cool, and the stuff tastes good. Mrs. Breaking makes some pretty good homemade pickles and her fermented slaw is the BOMB!

I’m not convinced that I need the Euro Cuisine equipment. I think it just circulates heat to hasten the fermenting process. We might be able to use our instant pot to mix larger batches. We are looking into that. Besides – people have been making yogurt for a LONG time – way before you could plug in a semi-useless piece of kitchen tchotchke. And yes, that word is correct. Its not a typo. You are welcome.

more you know.JPG.

Continue reading Bodyweight Workouts – Basement Sessions – 7/11/18 – Push/Pull Session

My Favorite Pull Up Variations

The pull up is one of my desert island exercises. Meaning, that if I’m stranded on a desert island, and after I get my food, water, and shelter situation resolved – I’m building a pull up bar!

These muscles are directly impacted by the pull up (and chin up)…

  • Lats
  • Biceps
  • Infraspinatus
  • Traps
  • Pecs
  • Erector spinae
  • Obliques

The pull up is a tough exercise to perform because you are pulling your ENTIRE bodyweight through space and against gravity. In a home (or basement) workout environment, you aren’t going to be training your pulling movements unless you actually install a pull up bar and do the movement.

At the gym, movements like lat pulldowns and rows do train pulling motions, but they really don’t mimic the benefit of true bodyweight pull ups.

In this article by T-Nation, all of the surveyed trainers agree – DO PULL UPS!

Unless you have an insurmountable physical condition that prohibits the movement, or you’ve been ordered by your primary care physician to literally not do them, then you are doing your training a disservice by not incorporating it.

My personal pull up journey is heading towards the fabled one-armed pull up. It’s a long path, and I just need to be patient, and keep after it. Along the road, here are some of the pull up variations that have aided me in gaining pulling strength.

Inverted Row

This one is a great jumping off point into the world of bodyweight pulling movements. Find a surface (or bar) that is about hip height from the ground, crawl under it, grab on, and pull your chest to the surface (or bar). You want to keep your core and glutes engaged and locked in. You don’t want to sag your hips down. Also, and this is very important – don’t round your shoulders at the bottom of the move. You want to keep your shoulder girdle engaged the entire time (like you are trying to juice an orange by squeezing your shoulders together behind you). Bad row bottom

The above is a BAD bottom position. Note how close my shoulders are to my ears. In this position, my core isn’t engaged, and I’m just in a dead-hang. This is not a good position for inverted row reps.

Good row bottom

This is a GOOD bottom position for the movement. Notice you can see my neck between my shoulder and ears. At this point, my core is engaged and my shoulders are trying to “juice” that orange.

When following the “Convict Conditioning” program, I spent a good 4-5 months working up to 3 sets of 30 inverted row reps. At the time, I could do pull ups, so I had the strength. But, spending time in this beginning progression and going for higher reps paid dividends in terms of strengthening the connective tissues around the primary muscles affected by the movement. This will aid my quest for single limb movements.

 

Scapular pull up

Before you can do your first pull up, you should be able to hang from a bar for as long as it takes to do one set of pull ups (heck – even just one pull up). That is why I’d recommend dead hang work as part of your progression. It’s simple – just grip a bar, and do a full dead hang. Nothing engaged but your grip. Once you can do that for about a minute, then you should move into scapular pull ups. This is a small move, but a great move for training the shoulder motion required for doing the pull up. The first move when you pull yourself up is for your shoulder girdle to engage. So, this is a move you should train like a little mini micro pull up.

Keep your arms straight throughout the movement. Don’t bend your arms and use your biceps to raise you up. Just focus on pulling your shoulders down. I know that sounds funky – but you’ll get the idea when you try it.

 

Standard pull up

With an overhand grip (palms facing AWAY from you), grab the bar just outside of shoulder width, and with as little momentum as possible, pull your body UP, and chin above the bar. If you are flailing and kicking your lower body to get up, that is called a “kipping” pull up. That isn’t your ideal pull up. You want to go through this range of motion with little to no lower body movement. You want to engage your core and glutes as you pull yourself up. Your lower body will rock forward a little bit – that is just physics. Once you can do a pull up, congrats – that is quite a strength feat. You can go for high reps, you can go for weighted reps, you really can program a lot of different challenges for your body just with this move.

 

Standard chin up

Same idea and cues as the pull up, but this is an UNDERHAND grip (palms facing you). Most people find this variety easier than the overhand grip pull up because the bicep engages more.

 

Wide grip pullup

Like with push ups, you can alter the physics of the exercise to make it more challenging with your hand placement. By going wider, you are putting more emphasis on the shoulders, and you are reducing the range of motion that you will pull through. Be careful – everybody’s shoulders have different range of motion, so don’t do something that hurts. Oh, and do this overhand – don’t do it underhand.

 

Close grip pull up

This is a tough one, and I recommend spending some time with this one. The range of motion is the largest, and it challenges your wrist strength/flexibility.

 

Alternate grip pull up

I’ve heard this one called “mixed-grip” also. It’s a nice stepping stone to starting one-armed progressions. One hand has an overhand grip, and the other hand has an underhand grip.

 

Towel pull up

This one is a great way to improve your grip strength. And, it’s pretty simple – just throw some towels over your bar, and PULL.

 

W pullup

This is another nice building block to one-armed work. It’s basically three pulls for one rep. Pull your chin to your left hand, return to bottom, pull your chin center, return to bottom, pull your chin to your right hand, return to bottom. Go back and forth as much as you can. By pulling to one side specifically, you are transitioning more work to just that arm. So, its not a 50/50 effort anymore. Maybe it’s 70/30 or 80/20…

 

Uneven chin up (one-arm assisted)

This is where I spend a lot of my time right now. I’m working on gaining high reps in this movement. I’d say the work is about 90% the hand touching the bar. The further down your wrist you grab, the less work the assisting hand does. Just like I recommend being able to dead hang for as long as it takes to do a single set of pull ups, I recommend mastering a dead hang with a single arm before trying this movement. Right now, I’m up to 25 seconds dead hang on each arm. As I’ve mentioned in other posts, this single arm action really challenges your core. Your body will want to twist when you hang – you need to lock out your core and not let it.

 

Rock climber switch

This is a fun way to challenge holding the upper portion of the pull up. If you want a simple challenge, but a good workout – try to hold the upper portion of a chin up for 1 minute. Pausing at the top, and doing a very slow and controlled descent for many seconds is called a negative chin up (or if you have the overhand grip, a negative pull up). That is a great pull up progression if you aren’t getting yourself above the bar with a standard pull up yet. Just grip the bar, jump to the top of the movement and HOLD ON FOR DEAR LIFE. Once you reach your limit, slow the descent for a good 4-5 seconds.

The rock climber switch is a variant of that idea. You get to the top, and rather than just a static hold or a controlled descent, you change your grip between overhand and underhand one hand at a time, and as many times as you can. It’s a tough move and you might fumble around the first few times, but it’s worth getting proficient at.

 

Do you have any favorite pull up variations? If so, please let us know about them in the comments. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” and share. Thanks!

Workout Review – P90X3 – The Challenge

With my glute still a little tender from a prior injury, I decided to dust off an oldie but goodie workout – P90X3 – The Challenge. I’ll be doing a full review of P90X3 (Tony Horton is a character – you can’t help but like him) at a later date, but I like this particular routine so much, I do it once in a while outside of the P90X3 framework just to get a good high volume session in. This is a very simple and old-school routine that just requires a pullup bar and a floor. The workout is confined to the upper-body area, and is a simple push/pull routine. Meaning, you do push ups and pull ups. A lot of push ups and pull ups.

t rex pushups

photo credit: teepublic

The framework is pretty simple. You will complete 4 rounds, and perform the two exercises in each round twice before moving onto the next round. There is programmed rest between the exercise pairings, and then a slightly longer rest between rounds. This session won’t be a heart rate champ – this is just horsepower! I guarantee you will have blood in your muscles after this session is done.

Round 1:

  • Wide grip pull ups (overhand grip)
  • Regular push ups

Round 2:

  • Chin ups (underhand grip)
  • Military push ups (hands inside shoulder width, elbows close to the body)

Round 3:

  • Close grip pull ups (overhand grip)
  • Wide push ups

Round 4:

  • Staggered grip pull ups (one hand overhand, one hand under hand)
  • Staggered hand push ups (one hand forward, one hand close to the body)

Burnout:

  • 1 pull up (any style), 3 push ups (any style) for remaining 2+ minutes

The session adjusts itself over time to your strength gains. You basically pick a number for each movement, and you must do that number of reps throughout the entire session. For example, I’ve done this workout tons of times, so I decided to try and go big this time around, and chose 30 reps for my push movements and 9 for my pull movements. That means, for round 1, I had to do 9 wide grip pull ups and 30 regular push ups, rest briefly, and then do 9 more wide grip pull ups and 30 regular push ups. Following the rest period, I’d follow the same 9 & 30 pattern for the next set of pull/push movements.

The reason this is a good “volume” workout is because if you do the math, you are doing a lot of push ups and a lot of pull ups in 30 minutes. The key is to pick your numbers wisely as to challenge yourself, but also not shoot for the moon so that you can’t do the numbers halfway through. Be sure to keep good records so the next time you do it, you can either up the numbers, or make an adjustment.

As it turns out, I chose my numbers poorly.

chose poorly

After two sets, I realized I bit off more than I can chew. As it turns out, my strength is a little sapped since I’m in my first week of a ketogenic diet cycle. For the next round, I dropped it to 25 and 9, but quickly realized that 20 and 8 would be the only way I was going to complete all of the rounds. This was kind of a step backwards on my prior push up performance during this workout, but the pull work was on par. I’m not going to fret too much. At the end of the session, I clocked in the following totals:

Pull movements (including burnout): 76

Push movements (including burnout): 205

As mentioned previously, this session isn’t about heart rate – its about putting the muscles under tension. A lot. See – HR never even hit 100.

p90x3 challenge hr chart.JPG

 

This workout is a keeper! You don’t even need the video. The framework is simple. It very closely mirrors an AMRAP (as many rounds as possible) set up where you lump together multiple exercises for a predetermined amount of reps, set the clock for whatever time interval you want (10 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes, etc), and see how many rounds you can complete. For example, a very basic AMRAP circuit could be:

AMRAP – 20 minutes

  • 20 pushups
  • 8 pullups
  • 20 air squats

If you knock out 10 rounds in 20 minutes, you just did 200 push ups, 80 pull ups, and 200 air squats. Not a bad volume session.

I completely recommend this workout as one to keep coming back to. There are many ways you can alter it to make it tougher. I’ve worn a 40lb vest while doing it (my numbers per set were much lower, but it was a totally different approach to the session).

Someday, I’d like to be able to do the session with 40 on the push and 18 on the pull like the guy in the video. That is a crazy cross-section between muscle strength and muscle endurance.

Have you ever done P90X3? If so, what do you think of “The Challenge?” Are you a fan of AMRAP workouts? If so, let us know about some of the tougher AMRAPS you’ve done. Please “like” and share if you enjoyed this post. Thank you.