L-Sit on my Parallettes

I recently did a crossfit workout that involved a load of L-sit pull-ups. It wasn’t pretty. While I managed to do about 70 , the form was terrible and I had to drop my legs between each rep.

So I decided that I needed to work on my L-sit. The L-sit is a great skill to work on as it is one of the few exercises that has such a dramatic effect on lower abdominal and hip flexor strength. The easiest way to work on the L-sit is with a pair of parallettes.

Parallettes are essentially a small, portable version of the parallel bars. There are many schematics for building them on the net using PVC. They’re actually quite easy to put together and cost just over $20. I used the plans from Celtic Kane to make mine.

According to the drills and skills parallette training webpage, a good goal to aim for is to be able to hold the L-sit for 30 seconds. I’m nearly half way there… ok, probably not that close, but I’d like to be able to hold a nice L-sit for a significant amount of time by the end of 2008. However, having tight hamstrings or lower back muscles makes the L-sit more difficult. Unfortunately I fall into the unshockingly large category of men with near to no flexibility so my L-sit suffers.

To demonstrate, I’ve put together a short video of a few L-sits that I’ve done over the last couple of days since I built the parallettes, with some SIANspheric playing in the background.

A great resource for parallette training is the drills and skills homepage. Chock full of all sorts of gymnastics goodness.

The Rings Are In!

My rings came in a few days ago, shipped from ringtraining.com. I purchased the Classic Elite Rings as they are on sale for a pretty decent price.

I hung them up in the basement - used a couple of eye bolts and some clasps to secure them in place. Unfortunately there isn’t enough height to get in a muscle up (at least from a standing position), but there’s more than enough room to work on dips, pull ups and all that fun stuff.

7 Minutes of Inspiration

I really can’t get enough of this crossfit video. OPT of Crossfit Calgary goes for a personal record at an intense workout nicknamed ‘Helen’ at the Crossfit headquarters. The workout consists of 3 rounds of a 4oom sprint, 21 kettlebell swings and 12 pull-ups, done for time. His last PR was just over 7 minutes. Can he do it sub-7 this time? Watch the vid to find out (and turn up the volume to get a full taste of the atmosphere).

p.s.: the music in this video is a mashup by Totom. His website is here. Great tune.

You Are What You Eat - New Facebook Group

New Facebook group, “You Are What You Eat“. Join in on the discussion!

My First Muscle Up

Ok, ok… It isn’t a fluid motion by any means, but it’s a start, right??

Back on the Zone

After the Christmas holidays, after all the beer and chocolate and rolls and more chocolate and more beer, I’m going to start 2008 off on the right foot and once again, enter the Zone.  Time to get out the zone block charts and work on my eyeballing skills.

While searching around the net for some Zone recipes to prepare the shopping list for this week, I came across a PBS broadcast from 2004 called “Losing It”.  The program chronicles the weight loss attempts of a group of individuals attempting to lose a few inches.  From stomach bypass surgery to Weight Watchers, each of them goes at the challenge in a different way.  The program also talks about low calorie diets and how carbs should be moderated and they hit home the point about how fats shouldn’t necessarily be considered evil and how they, in fact, are an important dietary element.  Classic elements of diets like the Zone.  The results of the “study” are also interesting (although hopefully not surprising) as the most successful of the dieters was on the Zone.

Fortunately PBS isn’t too caught up in making money and they offer some of their programs for watching online.  Losing It can be found here for your viewing pleasure.

DOMS = Evil

DOMS, or Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness is evil. Plain and simple. Over the last week, due to some regular bouts of rx’d crossfit workouts, I’ve spent more time being sore than non-sore. Typically the days when I’ve done the workout I feel fine. The next day I awake with a bit of soreness but at the 48 hour mark, post exercise, I’m either walking funny or wincing as I reach for a cereal bowl on the top shelf.

So I decided to do some more research on DOMS and what can be done to negate at least the symptoms. As I’ve written before, there are some ok solutions. Advil or some other Ibuprofen works wonders for me. Ice, to decrease the inflamation, can also help make the hurt not hurt so much. But what else can be done?

A great article can be found here, by Johndavid Maes, and Len Kravitz, Ph.D. called “Treating and Preventing DOMS”.  Although it doesn’t come up with all the answers, some good points that it makes are as follows:

  • Research done on NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs - aspirin or ibuprofen) has shown mixed results and with the common side effects of the drugs, they aren’t a recommended approach for treatment.
  • Some nutritional supplements, known for their antioxidant properties, such as vitamin C or E also show mixed results and may, in fact, worsen the problem.
  • Warming up, pre workout,  has been shown to be quite effective.  This may be due to the increased muscle temperature and therefore increased elasticity, allowing for easier muscle contractions.
  • Repeated bouts of lower intensity exercise before a high intensity session that would otherwise cause DOMS has been shown to its incidence and severity.

American Gladiators Back on NBC!

It was a great show, back in the day. There’s little better than watching guys and girls struggle against some fierce competition in contests of strength and agility. What ever happened to American Gladiators? Well, it doesn’t matter much anymore because this great show is coming back, on NBC. Yes, that’s right. American Gladiators is returning to our living rooms on January 6, 2008. Here’s looking forward to some great challenges in the Gladiator Arena!

Outback’s Aussie - the Worst Food in America

I just had to scan this in and post it. Again - from this month’s issue of Men’s Health. Reminds me of Taco Bell’s Cheesy Fries and my daily intake of calories during University (mmmm chili cheese fries). Looks awesome. Tastes great. But nearly 3000 calories? Geesh!

Moving Towards Strength Training

In this month’s issue of Men’s Health, Joe Kita writes a great article about the strength training approach of Coach Dos Remedios, or the College of the Canyons, Santa Clarita California and his take on getting bigger, stronger and leaner.

Coach Dos’s training consists of relatively short, high intensity compound resistance exercise, regularly changed up. By concentrating on this method of training, not only will one be able to sculpt the body they want, but they will also gain the benefits of functional fitness.

Hmm…. Where have I heard this ad nauseam before? Oh, that’s right - the tried and true crossfit. But this isn’t the first time that Men’s Health has featured an article about the benefits of athletic type strength training and how superior it is, compared to the isolation movements of the standard bodybuilding repertoire. Several months ago the Men’s Health “guy” was Jason Statham - the ripped action flic actor \ mixed martial arts practitioner who gets his physique (and uncanny strength) through high intensity functional movements. Again - crossfit-esque in every way.

So I wonder - is this the new norm? Are more and more gym rats suddenly going to be hitting the pull-up bar and working on their cleans and push jerks? Will lines begin forming for the power racks? Will squatting and deadlifts start getting the attention they deserve? Probably not. Unfortunately.

Handstand Pushups

Yet another crossfit video.

Killer Biceps with the Concentration Curl

Curls - one of the seemingly preferred exercises at the gym.  Pretty much at any given moment at your local gym, there’s likely at least one guy on the dumbbells, machines or barbells doing curls of one form or another.  Probably preacher curls or hammer curls with obnoxiously large amounts of weight and form that’s fit for… well… is likely terrible.

The curl is so popular because it targets one of the most sought after muscles - the biceps, or more specifically, the biceps brachii - that bulbous muscle that sits in the front of the upper arm and assists in bending the arm at the ol’ elbow.

But while curls are definitely the way to go for building the biceps, those hammer curls you’ve been doing day in and day out perhaps aren’t as effective as you’d hope. While curling one way or another isa great exercise, what you really want to do is effectively target your biceps brachii 100%- with no other muscles helping out.

Here’s where concentration curls come in.  Sitting at the edge of a bench, lean slightly forward and hold a dumbbell with one arm hanging down between your legs and your elbow against the inner thigh on the same side of your body.  Curl the dumbbell and “concentrate” on the movement - taking things slow, perhaps, but focusing on exclusively targeting the biceps.

Unlike some other curling techniques, like hammer curls, concentration curls seriously target the biceps and can help turn them into the guns you’re going for.

New Workout Equipment - the Pumpkin!?

All jokes aside about possibly even contemplating using a pumpkin as a piece of workout equipment, the Home Workout Guide has a unique take on how to get the most out of your pre-carved jack-o-lantern.

10 Killer Pumpkin Exercises Session 2 - Watch more free videos

CII Indoor Rowing 500m World Record?

500m CII Indoor Rowing World Record?