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less is more & back to basics

I have been working hard on getting back into really good shape after a three month hiatus during the end of last year. In just three months, by focusing on my diet and my workouts, I have become my strongest and sexiest ever. Here is a list of the things I think have most influenced my speedy health boost.

  1. Learning some key paleo and primal dieting concepts. Have worked toward cutting out grains completely, and abstaining from consumption of dairy foods and legumes. I still drink coffee and imbibe alcohol, so I am by no means close to “being paleo”. But I would say the change has been pretty drastic. I have increased my protein and fats while cutting a lot of carbs. I have switched my primary cooking fat to coconut oil, and have been experimenting with new fruits and vegetables.
  2. Using high intensity intervals with the help of my trusty gymboss. Tabatas are a regular occurrence during my training,  and my old standby ratio of work to rest, of course, 45:15. 
  3. Lifting heavier. Added a new 20 kg kettlebell and a 30 pound medicine ball to my collection of medieval torture devices.

The other night I came across a great video at the perfect moment in time.

I can feel myself getting close to a “what now” stage in my journey. Recently I’ve been thinking about goals, and getting more serious about my training direction. I know I want to pursue an RKC certification sometime in the (hopefully) near-future. So, of course, I’m focused on getting stronger and building my endurance. It’s three days long, and strenuous to say the least.

I recently was blessed with a technique critique from one of my favorite websites, Chronicles of Strength! Since then, I have been ultra focused on improving my form and learning as much as I possibly can to get better at the important RKC movements. Mainly, I have been researching the swing and the turkish get up. I’ve learned a lot, and found and re-discovered some great free resources.

Enter Josh Hillis!

Josh’s great and entertaining video made a ton of sense to me. He says that, in his experience as a personal trainer, he found that high intensity training is a double-edged sword. While it does great things for your body, your stamina, your srength, etc, a ton of high intensity efforts with not a ton of rest can lead to excessive production of cortisol, a hormone that is a byproduct of stress.

Cortisol produced by stress is often blamed for excess belly fat. After training for three months, I am probably headed toward burnout if I keep on exercising at full throttle like a crazy monkey, and I am also probably flooding my system with cortisol almost every single day. He has developed a program called System Six, and from what I can tell, one of the primary principles is three workouts per week, one HARD, one medium, and one easy.

Just watching his introductory video provides a lot of food for thought, and I was very impressed with him. While on his site I found his 21-day Swing Challenge also, which I have looked at before, but now am seriously considering purchasing, as it is under 10 dollars.

What I took away from all this is that it probably isn’t smart to train as hard as I have been, as often as I have been! While it has served me well for the past three months, I feel intuitively that easier may be the way to go for a while, at least. I’m not 100% sold on all of Josh’s conclusions, but he is very experienced and makes a lot of sense to me. One thing I will be trying is doing just one REALLY HARD balls-to-the-wall workout per week, a few medium, one easy, and on some weeks I will take 3 days off. This will also give me a chance to spend some days just doing practice on the turkish get up and the swing, both of which I am trying to improve (videos to come!).

jac’s wod

3  –  2 9  –  1 2

I picked up this sweet workout idea from Girya Girl, A.K.A. Adrienne Harvey, RKC level 2. I like her because she is almost just my size (5’3, 126), is ultra strong and cool, and had a bowling ball dropped on her stomach and laughed(!) in a recent blog post. Her site is a goldmine of free information, kickass workouts, and priceless advice. I have been trying lots of things I found on her site and this one did not disappoint.

I took my 20 kg and 16 kg kettlebells to the “splash pad” at work (basically a huge fenced in area with sprinklers, which were off, where the ground is slightly softer than the cement elsewhere). Girya Girl’s challenge looks like this:

25 swings  –  1 burpee

24 swings  –  2 burpees

23 swings  –  3 burpees

…and so on and so on till you have

1 swing  –  25 burpees

I wasn’t sure how this would play out, so I chose to start with 20 swings and see what happened.

What happened, you ask? I made myself cry, that’s what! At around 15 swings, 7 burpees I believe I let out a little sob. But I told myself, (out loud) “come on!” I knew I could finish the thing and I did, switched to the 16 kg at around 16 swings, then back to the 20 kg at 10 swings. It was interesting how sad I got as the number of burpees increased and the number of swings decreased, haha.

Another way to execute a swing burpee ladder, and HOT DAMN was it a scorcher. Afterward I did 5 TGU’s on each side using 25 pounds, and I was out for the count.

I think doing challenging workouts like this more well-spaced apart in the week will end up benefiting me enormously! Other days will be for sprinting, jumproping, and light (sometimes no weight) kettlebell practice. I want to start throwing a kettlebell soon! 🙂 I really want to try just flinging one!

Anywho, that was my big revelation for the week, less just might be more, cortisol is a bad guy, and practice, practice, practice. I will soon be posting some videos of my (hopefully) improved turkish get up and swing. Here is a video that really helped me with the TGU, featuring one of my fave guys, Bret Contreras. From this video, I finally figured out how to not crunch up off the floor. Feels good!

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