Showing posts with label weight training. Show all posts
Showing posts with label weight training. Show all posts

Monday, November 25, 2013

Quote of the Day

"If the squat rack were meant for curls it would be called the rest of the gym"
-CPT Crossfit

A coworker's thought after I shared my firm belief that attacking anybody using a squat rack for bicep curls or shrugs should allowed under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Food and Fitness

Too many folks are doing a lot of reading and blogging and discussing but not enough DOING.

Food and fitness are the two primary areas people tend to fail in at the most basic level. For goodness sake do something to improve your situation.

Food is easy. We could go at it from a lot of angles but at the most basic level just buy a little bit more of the stuff you regularly eat on each shopping trip. I am talking about shelf stable stuff like dried pasta and sauce, beans, rice, pancake mix, Bisquick, peanut butter and jelly and various canned goods. We will touch on money later but if you can't manage to squeeze five or ten bucks of extra stuff into the budget per shopping trip I recommend looking at your life. If you have some more money and want to stash away some canned staples or emergency food then all the better. I care less how you do it so long as you are doing it. The point is simply that you need to be putting back food in case something happens that disrupts the supply chain.

Fitness is something way too many folks miss. I split off my fitness efforts into another blog because folks would rather talk about other things here. How folks think the world is going to collapse and they are going to be doing all this stuff but lack of fitness will not come into play baffles me. There are way more situations where you will need fitness than cool rifles and emergency food. Sort of like food getting started in any way is a good thing. Eat a bit better and do more exercise. Lift and run or do crossfit, man aerobics or whatever. Heck just go for walks. Doing anything will improve your situation.

In the context we are talking about finances are not that hard either. Avoid debt for obvious reasons. Do some thinking and educate yourself about what is happening and historical comparisons. The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse by FerFal is a bit pricey but has some great info. It's writer has actually lived through an economic collapse which is a lot more than most other folks can say. 
If you have some money that isn't doing anything right now you might want to think about what to do with it. Putting a portion of it into precious metals and emergency food could be a good way to go. 

It is easy to put too much money into firearms.  Most guys who are into preparedness like guns and it's easy to get canalized into stuff one likes. However if you are objectively short on .38 ammo for the nightstand revolver or buckshot for the scatter gun then do something about it. I like a lot of ammo but even the tightest budget will let you put back at least a couple hundred rounds per gun with a bit of dedication and some planning.

Get out and do something! Exercise and stash some food. Look at your money situation and if you need it some ammo. The bottom line is that unless your butt and gut are getting smaller and the pantry is getting filled you are not actually becoming more prepared. A little bit of knowledge put into action is a whole lot better than a bunch of knowledge which you do nothing with.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Draft New Years Resolutions

So a few days ago Alexander Wolfe of TEOTWAWKI Blog reminded me that I usually do New Years Resolutions. Last years deployment threw off the cycle. Anyway I got moving on this a lot later than usual; so these are not as thought through as they could be. I am posting some ideas. In a week or a month these will be solidified into the New Years Resolutions I am going to run with.


Maintain a consistent weight lifting program.

Run over 1,000 miles

Ruck at least 1x a week

Eat reasonably with decent consistency so I don't gain and lose the same weight 2-3 times over the year.

Skills/ Training:

Attend a defensive handgun course.

Attend a trauma based first aid class (I am due for retraining).

Work on developing a variety of other skills as they come up by doing as much myself as possible.

Guns and Gun Junk:

Pick up a couple holsters, pouches and assorted other stuff to get squared away for what we have. 

Buy 2 cases of .223 ammo.

Free float the barrel on project AR

Get more spare parts. Beef up on core stuff (AR's and Glocks) and get some basic stuff for other guns.

Finally get my (already sporterized) 1903 30'06 tapped and mount a scope on it. 

If this gun ban madness calms down start building an AR pistol.


Build up to a 1 year supply of food for 4 people.

Can something

Pursue gardening/ fishing/ hunting as it fits with our environment and life. 

 Energy/ Other:

Get a better solar setup. A bigger panel with a power supply and a few small lights is the answer. Goal 0 makes what I am looking for. It will cost about $400. Probably 500 once I get the lights. This would have gotten purchased late in 2012 but the whole ban madness shifted my priorities elsewhere.

Get licensed to drive a motorcycle. Purchase a used enduro/ adventure touring motorcycle.

Continue putting together and refining our systems. Firm up the bug out bags and the heavy (vehicle) bug out setup.

Re look and improve our cache situation.


Continue being debt free and saving. Along these lines continue not doing stupid things. 

Once we are done with the food storage goal get back to putting away some silver and gold.

Long Shots:

Get a DBAL for my AR.

Buy some land (this mostly depends on some other things).

As always input is welcome. It would be fairly useful now before these resolutions are solidified. 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

My Gut is Telling Me

1) Store food. Lots and lots of food.

2) Develop skills to do things for myself and to trade with others.

3) Fill in the little holes in our systems. This ranges from a $40 sling that makes a $1,000 gun functional to yeast that will help turn flour into bread or little pieces of kit to make rough living more comfortable.

4) Address deficiencies in my weapons handling/ defensive/ tactical training.

5) Get into the best shape of my life.

I don't know what any of it means or where it came from though most of it makes sense.

Monday, October 29, 2012

What Did You Do To Prepare This Week?

It was a pretty good week here. Ordered the majority of the stuff for Project AR Upgrade as well as some rifle plates. Hit the gym, did some running and ended up losing almost a pound. Put some energy into getting the first version of my GHB reestablished as well as the car kit. Also we picked up a bunch of food to put away.

I'm going to give something new a shot. Talking about my goals for the upcoming week here may help me think through what I want to do the next week and then stay accountable for that.

This week in terms of fitness I plan to lift 3x, run 3x and ruck twice. Going to work on solidifying the GHB and car kit. I am thinking a pretty stripped down get home bag that is sort of an EDC/GHB blend. Just grabbing it every day (or leaving it in the car) is a simple option. For longer trips a heavier dedicated kit will come along. That is however a topic for another day. Also I am going to order some stuff. Been doing some looking and am still trying to prioritize. Might just pull the trigger on a War Belt. Then again there is some long overdue stuff. Also I need to do a review on the Solo Stove which is a pretty cool piece of kit. If I get really motivated I will try to finish up our emergency food box.

Well that is what I have been up to and what should be coming up this week. What did you do to prepare this week?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Thursday Blahness

I am so happy tomorrow is Friday. Today I am somewhat frustrated that weight loss has been stalled for a week or so. Of course it is my fault. Guess I am still trying to figure out my not early 20's anymore metabolism. I think lack of consistency has been the issue. Being good 5 days a week isn't enough any more. Decreasing the frequency and degree of 'cheat days' should be the answer.

Maybe I am a bit tired or something. Going to hit the hay early tonight. On the plus side Project AR Upgrade shipped and about to escape the life of not being owned by me. Also the first real week back at the gym is going surprisingly well and it is going to be Friday tomorrow.

Hope you all have a good Friday and tomorrow I will be less of a whiner.

Monday, September 17, 2012

What Did You Do To Prepare This Week?

I did a pretty good amount of running and 2 rucks. For the second ruck I took a cue from John Mosby and put on a ruck for 3 miles as fast as I could go. I did not run (Running with weight is something that should IMO be seriously managed due to it's impact on your body) but went as fast as I could sustainably go. The split was a tiny bit over 13 minutes a mile and the weight was about 40 pounds. I enjoyed this ruck because it was quick and smoked me. I have gotten sucked into an brisk and long ruck pattern which has very different cardiovascular demands. Walking 8-12 miles with a ruck certainly has benefits but a fast 3 miler does also. This new trick will stay in my workout routine. Did a good lift today. No screwing around, just got in there for military press and dead lift then left. While it is not my long term plan lifting once a week seems to be working for me.

I fiddled around with a solo stove a bit. It is a neat little piece of kit that I can definitely see living in my bug out bag. The thing is quality made and very light. A full review will be done as soon as I have experimented with it some more.

Started fiddling around with my new Cold Steel pipe hawk. It is pretty handy for cutting the odd limb here or there. While not up to ax work this type of smaller stuff is really what I use a wood cutting implement for while camping or whatnot. The handle is pretty long but it shows when you swing the thing. This sucker might find a place in kit somewhere too

Sold off my 1911.  It will let me fill in some shortcomings and simplified our logistics. Also it will fund the new AR project. I call that a win win situation.

Looking to go for the long haul? Keep secure with Nightgear Snugpak sleeping bags.
Anyway things have been pretty busy. Lots of catching up with friends and family. Kiddo has had a riot chasing all manner of animals 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Thoughts and Mosby on Physical Fitness

John Mosby wrote about physical fitness awhile back. He starts with a great quote "It's gotta be a man thing. Every guy I know thinks he's in shape. It doesn't matter if he weighs 245, with 27% bodyfat, and the only "athletic" activity in his life is performing 12oz curls while watching NASCAR, motherfucker is convinced he's an Olympic-caliber athlete." 

Please read his post in it's entirety before continuing.

Two sayings guide my thoughts on physical fitness: "There is no such thing as being too strong, only too slow" and "I don't want  to be the biggest guy, the strongest guy or the fastest guy, but I want to be big and strong and fast." 

Now onto some fundamental thoughts:

On General Physical Preparation vs Sport (or whatever) specific training. If you want to be in shape you will lift heavy things, move your body and do vigorous cardiovascular activity with some core and flexibility stuff to protect you and eat well.  This is the same for a guy who just wants to be healthy, a kid trying to perform better at a sport, a soldier who wants to be fit, whatever.

Aside from the same basic playbook everybody who wants to be healthy and athletic should use there are of course considerations for your specific goals. A runner needs to train towards their goals. A football player probably wants to get big/ strong and capable of short bursts of speed. A wrestler or MMA guy wants to be strong, but not necessarily bigger with a ridiculous cardio base. For each of these goals slightly different training is required. However it is a lot less different than you would think. The football player and wrestler should both lift heavy but football boy should be eating more (to grow) and doing lots of sprints while the wrestler will eat less (to not grow too much) and do more longer duration cardio.

Think of it like a bread recipe. To make any basic bread you will need yeast, flour, salt and some other stuff. One recipe might use all wheat flour and another some white, you may or may not add honey, cinnamon or raisins depending on if it is a breakfast bread or whatever. My point (and I know it is an over simplification of baking) is that things do not really change all that much. A little tweak will get the results you need without messing up the whole thing. Adding a dozen eggs or omitting a key ingredient like flour will just result in a big nasty mess.

Also it is worth briefly revisiting the concept of a point of diminished returns. This is a point in time/ place where you will either get less progress out of something, or the progress is less meaningful.

This is significant because we only have so much time. If we choose to free up 10 hours a week to exercise it is important to use them intelligently. Putting lots of time into improving a capability that is already past the threshold of practical utility does not make sense. For example, it is highly unlikely that the difference between a 45 minute 10k and a 40 minute 10k or the difference between a 500 pound dead lift and a 600 pound dead lift will really matter. The skinny runner guy probably needs to put some energy into other things and so does the gym rat.  

To some specific thoughts on John Mosby's post.

When it comes to finding time to work out it is just like anything else, you make choices. To get off work and spend a couple hours at the bar, have dinner and watch TV until it is time to go to sleep is a choice. Spending 4 hours a day on the internet is a choice. You get the drift. Also it helps to come at the problem from a positive standpoint "I am going to work out 4x a week, when does it best fit into my life?" than a negative one "I am too busy to work out."

I do not disagree that absolute strength (the sheer ability to move a given amount of weight) is important but do think relative strength (strength to weight) is important. I think it is important for a couple of reasons.

Strength to weight is what lets you move yourself and your body. If you can chin 200 pounds but weigh 250 you are sucking. If you can chin 200 but weight 150 that means you have a decent shot at getting your body, armor, kit and weapon over obstacles.

It also has value as a way to assess ourselves (and develop group standards). Relative strength lets you more accurately measure strength and develop meaningful standards than absolute strength. A guy who weighs 150 pounds that presses 275 and squats 375 is pretty much jacked while a 200 pound dude who does the same is kind of average (for a guy who lifts) and a 250 pounder who does the same is behind the power curve. Conversely if you use absolute strength to develop standards it just doesn't work. Our 150 pound dude could be a serious competitive power lifter and not meet the sort of standards that average lifters in any gym 40-60+ pounds heavier can do with ease.

Personally I see 3 reasons to do isolated single joint type exercises. The first is body building. As a brief sidebar body builders lift weights, typically doing lots of isolated single joint exercises to develop their physiques to have bigger more shapely muscles. Olympic and power lifters lift weights to get stronger on a given set of lifts. Body building is all about show and power lifting (or oly) is all about the go. Body building is not particularly useful in terms of performance (Though a body builder is going to be much stronger than most folks simply because he actually lifts weights regularly, even if it is in pursuit of a given look instead of performance.) and I see no reason to discuss it further.

The second is rehab/ prehab. If doing a circuit of shoulder exercises lets you stay in the gym then doing them is a no brainer. Ditto for other body parts (typically knees). Also one could make a good case for training areas like the neck which are prone to injury. Sometimes, especially if you are lifting heavy and have old injuries, it is smart to get ahead of these things and do them before you have a serious injury AKA prehab. The last  reason to do isolated single joint exercises is to support or aid in the big exercises. Maybe you hit a wall on bench press so you start doing tricep extensions or shrugs to help with the lock out on dead lift or whatever.

It is still important to keep the small exercises in their place. Jim Wendler who is well, really big and strong, has a saying "majoring in the minors" about folks who give too much attention to the far less important little lifts. You do not get big and strong by doing reverse cable tricep extensions and calf raises; you get big and strong by pressing and squatting.

 As to farm work for fitness John pretty much nails it. If you do a serious physical job (I'm talking stone mason, blacksmith, laborer who lifts heavy things all day, etc) then maybe less effort needs to be devoted to strength but it is still not an end point in fitness.

Some closing thoughts:

Start slow and easy then build up progressively in terms of speed/load/distance. You didn't get fat and out of shape in a day so don't expect to fix it in a day either. Exercise should be challenging but there is a fine line between hard and stupid. Trying to run or ruck 50 miles this month when you haven't covered that distance in the last 6 months would be stupid. Going from 0 to running/ rucking 20 miles this month, 30 the next, 40 the one after that and 50 the month after that would be hard but probably doable.

For folks with lingering injuries or who are just plain old or whatever I think it is important to really be honest with yourself and consult doctors or physical therapists as needed. My first question is often about body weight. Your body is meant to haul itself around at or around a healthy body weight. If you are 60 pounds over weight and have a back, knee, ankle or foot problem getting to a healthy weight will go a long way towards fixing it. Also there may be something in terms of physical therapy/ rehabilitation to get things back to the point where you can really exercise again.

If getting to a healthy weight and rehab will not fix a problem then learn to deal with it. Work right up to the level of what you cannot do. If shoulder injuries make bench press not an option work out with dumbbells. If you cannot ruck with 60 pounds then do it with 55 pounds. If you cannot run then find a huge hill to hike up. The point is not to say "well I can't work out" and turn into Jabba the Hut.

Anyway those are my thoughts on that.

Oh yeah and I am 15.5 miles into this month's due. A bit behind glide path but not unfixable. This week I have ran 7.5 and rucked 3 so far. In the rest of the week I will probably ruck 6 more and run 3-4 more. A rough week but it will get me back to where I need to be. Also as my capacity has increased this becomes a lot more doable. I am kind of fiddling with a routine of alternating long and short ruck and run. So a week might look like long run, short ruck, break or lift, long ruck, short run. Will let you know how it works in a couple weeks if I stick with it.

Monday, July 30, 2012

What Did You Do To Prepare This Week?

We got some silver rounds and a very small gold coin. Also I hit the weight pile twice and ran 8 miles. This coming week I am going to run/ ruck at least 10 miles.

What did you do to prepare this week?


Thursday, June 21, 2012

What Did You Do To Prepare This Week?

Yeah, I failed in that I am doing this regularly weekly post on Thursday which is just about end of the next week. I might skip doing it in 4 days and get back on track. This week I started doing some afternoon workouts in addition to the usual M-F PT in the morning. I got 2 afternoon workouts in this week  (since monday) and am going to shoot for 3 next week.

Last week was a deload (a very light week to rest or get back into training) and this week I got back into it for reals. On the downside I had to decrease the weights I am working with more than would be ideal. Really what happened I was pretty strong since I was sticking with a solid program and just lifting like a beast so I adjusted my maxes upward towards the end of the deployment. Shortly therafter training wasn't consistent for a couple months or so and then I got really sick and didn't touch weights for about a month and a half. Anyway I am where I am today. Next month I will be a little bit stronger and in 6 months I will be stronger still. I am incorporating power cleans into my routine for the first time in more than a year. I hate them but darn it they work.

We got Wifey a free bike. It is missing a pedal and has 2 flat tires. I got some pedals for $7 and will figure out the tires this weekend. Last week we saw a bunch of Germans with kiddo seats on bikes and thought it was pretty cool. Wifey got onto the used boards and found one for $30. I will put it onto my eco friendly 2 wheeled transport.

I sort of stumbled into some really good stuff today. A set of multicam wet weather gear, a softshell jacket and a winter "michaline man suit" as well as some boots and random multicam stuff. I don't know if the boots are quite the right size for me. However worst case they will be held onto just in case or given to friends. I was seriously blessed by getting this great gear.

We talked about plate carriers earlier this week. I am pretty sure that a Condor plate carrier and some plates will be ordered this weekend. I have the case but just have to sit down and do the registering for the site and that ordering hassle.

Anyway unless I forgot some stuff that is what I did to prepare this week.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Life Update- Back Into It

Well I have finally kicked that pesky pneumonia thing. Last week I felt pretty decent and was able to do some light exercise like easy cardio and low rep body weight stuff with plenty of rest between sets. This week I have been able to run and am doing an easy week of weight training to get back into it. As my schedule and the weather allow I am trying to get some extra runs in after work.

There is definitely a long way to come back after a month and change of being sick and inactivity. Really the last few months haven't been great for my physically as a lot of stuff like redeployment and leave have broken up my routine. Anyway it is coming into summer which is just a great time to put some miles on running shoes and boots.

I wanted to let you know that I have recovered and an doing well.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Monday Randomness

So France elected a Socialist president. I am pretty ambivalent about this as I do not live there or have any meaningful ties to the place. This could be interesting because it would push back against Germany's austerity measures when it comes to their broke, dysfunctional and still running a deficit southern neighbor Greece as well as not far behind Portugal and Spain. Right now Germany is the only one that can really try to bankroll continued enabling temporary aid. As their smaller, poorer, weaker and generally far less masculine next largest European partner France has really helped this be a united front instead of mean old Germany. This could be fun to watch.

The thing that lots of folks don't seem to get is for governments spending  and income as measured by taxes or growth as measured by GDP are related. Spending affects the economy through jobs, buying things, etc. Increasing revenues via taxes can also hurt the economy. The typical IMF style austerity plan is really a downward spiral. Imagine a company deciding to save by cutting out the advertising that brings in customers or in a more extreme case a dairy farmer cutting expenses by feeding his cows less. Obviously not a good plan. I don't know the answer is. You can tell the debtors to shove it (if you owe the bank 10k they own you but if you owe them 10 billion then you own them) which Greece is not big enough to do; or to not get into the situation in the first place.

Mexico is still a mess. Their government can't or won't stop the cartels from acting with total impunity and doing things like hanging a bunch of bodies from bridges or decapitating people. If there is anything good in the future there I am not aware of it and in fact the place seems to be in a downward spiral. I would not be suprised if I get a paid vacation there at some point in the next few years.
Metals are down a bit but I am not sure it is buying time. I feel a dip coming.

I have been trimming up some lately. I switched to light beer and have been paying more attention to what I eat as well as to portion sized. It seems to be working. Nothing huge really but I didn't need a massive course correction anyway. Hopefully in the next few days I finally kick this bug and can get back to doing some good PT. Don't worry I am still lifting heavy things in order to continue to be awesome. I don't believe in big changes in routines (powerlift for 3 months to "bulk" then do cardio and bodyweight to "tone" or whatever) but running, rucking and biking or whatever more during the spring and summer then hitting the gym a bit more in the winter when it is nasty outside seems like a pretty natural rhythm.
Anyway I hope you all have a decent Monday. Mine was pretty chill and I got to hit the gym so I will call it a win.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Stepping Back

It is nice to think that you will only move forward in life. That on any given day you are in the best physical and financial shape and the most prepared that you have every been. Things just don't quite work that way. This is hard for people to admit. Particularly when we talk about the sort of type A aggressive guys that tend to gravitate to the military and preparedness this isn't a trait we are good at.

Recently I have had to do this. The strength training program I am using (5/3/1) uses a slow planned progression. Every cycle you lift a little bit more. Pretty much every other credible program out there uses something similar. I have an excell spreadsheet that calculates all the percentages and weights.

The thing is that I haven't gotten stronger in the last 2 months, in fact I have gotten weaker. I left Afghanistan, spent a week and a half or so in transit and then got back to Germany. I took leave which included some traveling. I have had a bunch of off time and several weeks where I was just really unfocused. Not a huge deal, there was more important stuff going on than the gym. As a result I have probably had a strength lost of 6-8%. That means I can't do the reps at a given weight I should be able to by my current spreadsheet. The solution is to decrease the maxes I am using to calculate the lifts for the workouts. I took 10% off of all my lifts and will go back to the gym next week using the adjusted weights.

Also not too far back I came to the realization that some of our preparedness systems were in a serious state of disorder. In some ways we were quite prepared but there were some significant holes. We started plugging the gaps and stuff is getting back towards where it should be.

This sort of thing could happen to your fitness level if you get sick or injured. Or you might just slack off and gain a few pounds.Your finances could take a hit due to the bad economy, a job loss or some other unfortunate circumstances.

The thing I have realized is that it in cases like these where life happens or systems deteriorate due to innattention it isn't so much that you are taking a step back as that you are accepting the step backwards which already happened. I could work closer to failure and use bad form to get the prescribed reps but why. Actual progress decreases, injury rates go up, generally bad things happen from that plan. Instead of ignoring issues in our preparedness I am addressing them. The same thing with preps or money or whatever.

Other times you may plan to take a step back for whatever reason. Maybe  you are going to make a long distance move so you consume, sell or give away a bunch of stored food and supplies. You might decide to take a job you will enjoy more that makes less money so you adjust your lifestyle accordingly. Maybe you decide to pursue some sort of fitness goal. Fitness, more than just about anything else has a real push/ pull between different areas. If you gain a bunch of strength and muscle you will lose endurance. If you decide to start doing a lot of long distance running, biking or whatever you will almost surely see some loses in strength and muscle mass. This isn't a bad thing, it is just how our bodies work.

My point is that you need to be honest with yourself, your situation and abilities. Sometimes this means you need to admit that things aren't were they used to be and adjust your plans accordingly. It doesn't matter where you were a month or a year or 10 years ago. It matters where you are today and where you are going to be in a month or a year or 10 years. Take the lessons from your failures and use them to avoid making the same mistakes in the future.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

SHTF-Oriented Fitness and Martial Arts for a Middle-Aged Couch Potato

I saw this thread 1, 2 over at Survival Blog and have to talk about it.....

Things like this always kind of bother me. It is like folks are framing a question to get an answer they want. "What is the best gun if I do not want to spend a lot of money but want something super reliable and also really cool?" or "What is the best bolt action rifle that costs less than $120 has dirt cheap ammo and was manufactured between about 1898 and 1945 in a country that borders Poland and China?" Maybe even worse folks ask for seriously sub optimal and almost ridiculous advice like "So I won't exercise at all and will continue being a huge slob, also I am not willing to spend any money or time on preparedness, have no extra space in my home and am unwilling to change my current lifestyle in any way but how do I become completely prepared for the Zombie apocalypse in 30 days?"

For folks getting back into fitness the key is to start with something that is reasonably easy (in fancy words training OPTIMALLY not MAXIMALLY) and to slowly but CONSISTENTLY  and methodically progress in difficulty and length of effort based on some reasonably logical plan. Heck, those are the keys to fitness anyway but older folks with some extra pounds and maybe some injuries can't get away with what healthy 22 year olds can.
Tighten up on your diet is so important I just can't talk about it enough. Like a lot of things as you get older the slack goes away. At 20 or 25 most folks can eat just about anything and stay at a healthy weight but that goes away over time. I am not saying that you have to shift to a perfectly healthy diet tomorrrow but just about everybody can do better. Have a bit of discipline to not eat complete junk like fast food, chips and sweets all the time and pay some attention to your portions. A significant amount of the "bad knees/ hips/ backs" of 35-55 year olds would magically be cured by getting to a reasonable body weight.
Assuming a program makes some sense ie: is progressive or scalable, allows enough time to recover, has strength, muscular endurance and running/ rucking type components and generally passes the common sense test it should be just fine. Doing something is probably more important than following the perfect program.
As to specific points that came up in this series with my comments:

"To start with, use only a few primitive techniques (punches, kicks, blocks, movements) and combinations of them. A simple well-practiced technique is far better than several of those which you won’t be able to do in the critical situation. A simple and reliable technique is far more valuable than a complex one."

I agree with this but it kind of misses a simple and valuable point. The basics are what make you a good athlete or fighter. It is honestly a disservice to call them the basics in that it demeans them and implies that there are some more useful and advanced techniques out there. The difference between a total novice and a great fighter or shooter is that a great fighter or shooter can properly apply the basics very quickly at the right time with a high level of consistency while a novice fails at some or maybe even all of those.

For example anyone could learn in an afternoon the exact same skills that Chris Costa of Magpul fame or genuine Tier 1 Bad Mama Jamma Larry Vickers use to draw and fire a handgun. Does this mean that they would be able to put a round downrange from concealed carry in the same sort of time, let alone have the same accuracy? Does it mean that Mr. Couch Commando could defend himself as efficiently as either of those gentlemen could if he was attacked leaving the Bank after cashing a check? I seriously doubt it.
If you can’t do at least 50 push-ups in a single set, your punch will never be any good."

This is just stupid and is really what bothered me enought to write this whole thing in the first place. First of all let us look at where striking "power" comes from, namely proper technique and then sheer strength.

I have been hit by a lot of people in my life. Some of them were professional fighters. A professional welterweight outpunched a few 220+ pound big strong men because he really knew exactly what he was doing. Bringing us back to the first point for a second this is a great example of mastering the basics. Secondly if we factor it out technique by getting fighters of similar skill levels then sheer raw strength (and size but those two usually rhyme) is what matters in terms of striking power. A punch is a quick aggressive movement of near full force. If you are going to exercise to hit hard you lift big heavy things to get stronger, period. Local muscular endurance, which is what max rep pushups measure has absolutely nothing to do with this other than that it may be losely related to strength.A guy who is strong (we would have to define that but I don't feel like tossing out some random arbitrary numbers) can hit hard, a guy who is REALLY STRONG can hit REALLY HARD.  Jim Wendler or Matt Kroc could hypothetically have the fighting technique of an average elementary school kid and still hit REALLY HARD because they are just that strong.
Lastly to utterly refute this concept I bring up Butterbean. I rather doubt he could do 50 good pushups but he sure hits hard.

In a reply to this post a fellow recommends training in some Japanese swordfighting thing called Kendo to get into shape. This sounds like a great plan if you want to learn traditional Japanese swordfighting but is a poor allocation of precious time and money if you want to get into shape or learn an effective modern martial art to defend yourself with. It honestly seems sort of like apprenticing yourself to a buggy whip manufacturer.
Well, those are my thoughts on that.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Winning and Losing: Eating Well, Couch to 5k, Berkey Water Filter and Solar Power

We have been making some changes lately. We have started eating a lot better. More fresh fruit and veggies, lean protien and better carbs. Less eating out, just plain junk and carbtastic blah meals. Most of it is pretty intuitive. If there are not chips in the house you won't eat chips. Having some discipline and not going out to eat every time we feel like it and that sort of thing. The carb thing is kind of a grey area with lots of folks taking different views. We have both tried the super low/ no carb thing before and it doesn't work for us. She just hates it and I am tired and weak all the time. Instead we are trying to eat more reasonable portions of wheat bread or tortillas and brown rice. Just avoiding the huge bowl of white rice or plate of pasta kind of meals. We both feel a lot better and are getting healthier.
Wifey has been doing Couch to 5k. She is midway through week 6 right now. While she, like many people, does not currently and probably never will like running it is working for her. She noticed that dragging the kid up stairs has gotten easier. I would say this is a real good program for lots of people to seriously look at. If you are a fairly healthy person who is of a reasonable (like not morbidly obese) body weight but have not been very physically active this is a great way to get back to it. Toss in some sort of weight training program and you will be good to go. If you are seriously overweight or woefully out of shape it might be wise to do some sort of build up to this program, like eating reasonably and walking 1-2 times a day several days a week for a month or two to build up some conditioning and drop some fat. As always everybody should consult a general practice doctor, a dietitian, a cardiologist and a physical therapist before any sort of change to their diet or beginning any exercise program.

Personally I am cutting back to 2 times at the weight pile a week and upping my conditioning. Still doing the big lifts, just a bit more geared toward holding what I've got while conditioning gets tightened up. The human body only has so much work capacity and most of us only have so much time so there is a sort of push/ pull relationship. If you add or up the intensity in one thing you are going to almost inevitably lose ground in some other. Also inherantly between weight training and running/ cardio/ conditioning there is an inherant trade off. It isn't a bad thing really, especially for someone without many sport specific goals. Unless you plan to be a competitive marathoner or powerlifter it really isn't an issue.

On the downside our Berkey water filter is currently deadlined. I couldn't get it to seal and pass the dye test then (maybe while slightly frusterated;) I broke one of the white plastic nut/ bolt combo's that seal up the holes without an element in it while putting it back on. So I am not sure what exactly was wrong but now there is a new problem to deal with. Talk about not moving in the right direction!

This happened about three weeks ago and I put it away in frustration. I am going to get a replacement nut/ bolt and some more elements (either to replace the faulty ones or as spares) then go from there. On the bright side the good folks at Directive 21 have been great in helping me trouble shoot things and have just been a huge help with this. If I weren't such a slacking procrastinator this problem would likely already be fixed. Had I bought our Berkey from some no name fly by night folks who knows where I would be.  There are no problems that money (hopefully not very much, I really want it to be just the washer, not the element(s)!) and time can't fix. It hasn't been a huge concern because we have another water filter. Maybe there is a lesson there.

On a nice sunny day recently I busted out my little solar charger. I fiddled with it until I had a decent idea how it was supposed to work and then plugged in my kindle. After several hours in direct sunlight nothing happened and my dead kindle was still dead. This lead to a good amount of not very nice language.

 I realised a few things from this. First of all I do not know anywhere near enough about electricity. Second since we have added all sort of stuff, some pure entertainment and some useful since picking this charger up we may have already outgrown it. Third I need to test it at it's primary purpose which will be charging AA and AAA sized batteries. I am waiting for a sunny day when I have time to mess with it. Another more substantial (probably 15-26 watts) portable solar charger and maybe some sort of battery bank could be in order. However I have to do some more testing and become a more educated consumer before putting something else onto the wish list. If anybody has good resources to check out on this front I would be interested. Specifically good primers on electricity in general and a good breakdown of what watt/ size pannels can charge what sort of stuff and in how long would be great.

These two events were pretty frusterating for me. Nothing like having to go back to the drawing board or adding something else to the shopping list in an area where you thought things were good. Then again testing stuff is a good thing, even if you don't get the answers that you would like. Far better to have issues now, with the worst case being spending a little bit of money (water filter) or adjusting my expectations and maybe searching for a new piece of gear (solar charger), then some time down the road during an emergency when I need this stuff to work.

I guess the closing point is to look at eating healthier, getting into better shape plus alsp really start testing and retesting your equipment. Odds are something that should work might not.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Quote of the Day

Listen, you wanna build a program for yourselves? This is easy. Some kind of strength training, some kind of conditioning and some kind of flexibility/ mobility those are the only three things. Depending on what your needs are what you will emphasize. "
-Jim Wendler

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Fitness resources and Entertainment

Couch to 5k is a great proven resource for folks to get into running for the first time or after a long break. That means to get off the couch and start running!

If you do not want to be weak and pathetic I recommend lifting heavy things on a regular basis. Personally I am having a good time and plenty of success with Jim Wendler's 5/3/1 program. Here is a short write up on it. Other folks like other programs and that is fine. As long as a program is based around big core lifts like the squat, deadlift, bench press (or power clean, clean and jerk, push press, whatever) and uses some sort of a logical programing method it should be fine.

[Begin tangent/ rant. I see two things that almost inevitably come up. First is the folks who do no leg work what so ever. That is fine if your only goal is to look jacked while fist pumping at the club. You can do chest and biceps one day, biceps, back and chest another and on the last day hit your biceps, chest and tri's. You will look good in an Ed Hardy or Affliction T shirt at the club.
However if you want some go in addition to the show you must work your legs.

The next thing that comes up is "I leg press instead of squatting". That is fine if you have some injury that prevents you from actually lifting weights at the risk of debilitating injury or death, you want to be weak and not awesome or are a 75 year old woman. Unless you fit into one of those groups I recommend that you squat and deadlift.
End tangent]

Lastly if you are looking for something to read check out The Advisor. It is a novel about economic collapse and one man's attempt to protect those he loves. Much about this book is true - however, many of the names are changed to protect the guilty. I do have fibromyalgia, I do live in constant and never ending pain, and I have been blessed to have a child with Down Syndrome and several mastiffs.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

New Years Update

Not a ton to report for this year. I have pretty much been stuck in a deployment time warp. Consequently pretty much nothing happened toward most of my goals. We got out of debt which was cool. Also we bought a nice used all wheel drive SUV that Wifey is very happy with. In terms of my various preparedness goals I saved some cash but since communications are difficult and it is generally a hassle I didn’t make any substantial purchases. When I go home and get around to it I will figure that all out. After doing that I will see where things are and set some new goals. I have something big in mind so a lot of the little stuff might reappear on this years list. The rest of the stuff on my list just really didn’t get done. I was kind of busy with this whole war thing and in my off time it wasn’t a priority.

In any case for 2012 I have three simple resolutions that I may be able to stick to:
-Make up for lost time with Wifey and kiddo.

-Continue a structured physical fitness regimen outside of standard Army pt stuff.

-Don’t give unsolicited advice to anybody, ever.

As for preparedness I have got to do some thinking on that one. I do however have an overarching goal.
I am going to organize our gear and equipment into modular systems to meet a variety of needs. We’ve got the gear and supplies but I am slightly ashamed to say our systems have fallen into a state of disrepair due to repeated moves and lack of upkeep. I plan to fix this and get the right stuff properly organized and packaged in a thought out manner. I will fill in small gaps as they become evident but most of the stuff is already there.  I may tweak or otherwise address this goal in a future post.

Friday, February 10, 2012

But I Dowanna

Today I am going to talk about two very foolish things that a lot of otherwise well prepared people do. The first is not implementing a vigorous exercise program that involves some form of heavy resistance/ weight training as well as jogging/ running/ ruck marching. The second is failing to carry a decent fighting handgun with a reload.

There are a lot of reasons people fail to implement a quality exercise program. Laziness is the first reason that comes to mind. Either they don’t do anything or they do 20 minutes at a lethargic pace on a cardio machine. In both cases the results are pretty bad. Due to having an exercise program that pretty average elderly people can follow these folks are either fat bodies or they are “skinny fat” which is a curious blend most often found in women and metro sexual men where they are of a reasonable body weight but lack any semblance of strength, speed or endurance.

There are a lot of ways to skin the exercise cat so to speak and I am trying to be more tolerant of different methods and techniques. However if your goal is functional fitness you need to include jogging/ running/ ruck marching and lifting heavy things.

Why do you need to include these components? If you can’t figure out how running or walking fast carrying a load could be useful I don’t know how much more I can help you. As for strength it is a more complex but equally fundamental answer. All things being equal a stronger person will fair better in everything. I sort of hate that saying because all things being equal the prettier person will fair better but it is really the only way to isolate individual traits or characteristics. Strength helps in a lot of ways. It builds and hardens your bones and ligaments. Also muscles truly make the best pads. Furthermore it helps in so called endurance activities of a muscular nature. Let us say we have two weight lifters. Both can bench (or squat or whatever) 135 pounds. Jimmy Powerlifter progressively builds up so he can lift 200 pounds. Bobby keeps lifting 135 and trying to do more reps. Jimmy will be able to lift 135 as many or likely many more times than Bobby because it is a far lower percentage of his total capability. Also Jimmy can lift 185 pounds or 200 pounds and Bobby can’t.

Now don’t get me wrong I love body weight exercises but they do not replace weights any more than weights can replace them. (Yes I have heard of and read convict conditioning. I have a post on it in the que) This is particularly true for the lower body. All the air squats in the world won’t build the muscles in your legs like getting under the bar and squatting.

The second reason is that folks mistakenly think that because they do something or another slightly physical they don’t need to actually exercise. I walk around at work or I do work on the “farm”. There is a big difference between moving around a few hay bales a day and doing the kind of brutal work that occurred in an 19th century working farm. With the exception of people like park rangers who walk 10+ miles a day carrying a load or carpenters, blacksmiths, masons, etc who do heavy physical labor on a regular basis (multiple times a week) you won’t get the kind of exercise you need incidentally. Even then the ranger needs to hit the weights and the carpenter needs to do some cardio.

Look at it this way. If you had a to choose a partner for a physical challenge would you want one that ran and lifted weights or one who walked or used an elliptical and the ab roller? What about if you had to fight a random person? I would fight the weakling who malingers on cardio machines or whatever other pseudo workout junk because there is a decent chance I could break him in half because I regularly lift heavy things.

Now we will transition to the topic of carrying a handgun. (Yes there are places where you can not legally carry a handgun. Most of the regions of the US where you can’t carry a gun suck and I would not recommend living there. However if you work or frequent places where a handgun is not legal then there are some decisions to make. In particular if we are talking about a place with actively enforced (searches, metal detectors) laws like government buildings versus a place with passive laws or regulations, like a parking lot, there are not great options. Other times it is just not practical to carry a gun like for example if you are swimming. However it is prudent to carry whenever it is legal and practical.) I wonder a lot about people who are really into preparedness and tactical stuff but don’t carry. Odds are high that violence will come when you least expect it and are not at home. All the sweet rifles and custom 1911’s in the world won’t help you if they are locked in a gun safe at home. However I guess they just aren’t worried. Folks living quiet lives in sleepy little towns might just not feel the need. I have heard “I carry when I go into the city” before. I won’t say I agree with that idea but I can kind of see where they are coming from.

An animal that interests me more is the person who carries but chooses a totally impractical weapon. These folks carry guns that are very difficult to shoot well and hold a small number of weak bullets. Yes technically a 5 shot .22 caliber revolver the size of a zippo lighter is a gun. However if you can shoot a gun with a ¼ inch barrel and no sights well you are a better person than I am. If you are confident that a .22 round out of a ¼ inch barrel will stop an attacker from harming you then I would call you an optimist.

To complicate matters these folks often carry their undersized, difficult to shoot pistol in places that are not easy to get at in a hurry. Pistols are on ankles, in pockets and purses or otherwise buried under clothing that can’t readily be moved. One system for women basically requires ripping ones shirt off to access their handgun. It is important to consider that you will need to access your concealed weapon in a hurry, quite possibly while fending off an attacker.

I once heard “every time somebody says they carry a full sized 1911 I ask them to show it to me, right now and inevitably get some excuse that boils down to the gun being in their truck or nightstand or safe” and that saying bears a lot of truth. I am a practical person and have observed that most people will not carry a full sized handgun. However fortunately these days we have a lot of good options.

There have been huge strides in the last few years in compact pistols that not much bigger in size than snubby .38’s or Walther PPK’s. Pretty much every full sized modern handgun has a compact sized equivalent. These guns hold 10+ rounds and shoot like their full sized big brothers. You can get a compact Glock, a Sig, HK, XD or Beretta and more 1911’s that you can shake a stick at. Pick one and carry it with you.

Since you asked personally I carry a compact Glock 19 because I can conceal it with minimal changes to my wardrobe.

Also bring a reload. You might run out of bullets or the stupid thing might jam. A spare mag or speed loader (though you would need 5 of them to equal the round count of 2 mags for most double stack pistols) isn’t that inconvenient.

So in conclusion do the right thing. Run and lift weights. Carry a decent fighting handgun and a reload. In short be awesome and hard to kill.
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