Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Why I love bodyweight exercises

  • No contracts or gym fees.
Bodyweight exercises can be done anywhere you’re at. You don’t need a gym or a “box.”  Just a little bit of space anywhere and you’re ready to work.
I checked into the local Plano Crossfit gym and they wanted $125 / month gym fee!  That’s insane.  I have one child in college and one in kindergarten that need that money more.
  • You can workout faster.
Since you are using your bodyweight for all your exercises there is no excessive downtime in between sets changing weight, or changing bars, or waiting for someone to work in, or chatting between reps/sets. You just progress naturally into your next set or exercise. 
If you still want to talk with someone between sets, talk to your wife, kid or pet.  Smile
  • It’s greener
You don’t need to drive to the gym.  Just stay home and workout in your backyard, or living room, or garage.  You could even run to the local park for a warm-up, do your exercises then run home for a cool down.  You’ll save gas, time and money and get some healthy vitamin B from the sun.
  •  Works on your conditioning 
Doing 3 – 5 sets of heavy squats, deadlifts, or bench presses will leave you out of breath but it won’t help your conditioning much. 
With bodyweight exercises you can move rapidly from exercise to exercise rapidly moving as fast as you want to keep your heart rate elevated.  The Army, Marine Corps, Navy Seals, Army Special Forces and Air Force PJs all use bodyweight exercises for their conditioning.

For the ultimate condition test try doing 100 burpees for time.  After you that you’ll like you just finished running a marathon!  You can all try doing a total of 500 reps doing pushups, planks, pullups and broad jumps.  That is tougher than it sounds
  • Highly scalable
If an exercises becomes to easy for you just and more reps or progress on to a more difficult form of the exercise.
Take pushups for example.  Everybody can do 10 –15 pushups, but can you do 50?  If you can do 50, can you do 50 decline push ups, or 30 wide/narrow grip pushups?  If that’s to easy you can move on to clap pushups and then one arm pushups.  Still to easy?  Then through on a weight vest and try them all over again.
This type of progression can be done with any bodyweight exercise.
For more information on using bodyweight exercises you can view the following links:

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Plano Pacers Holiday Hustle 8K

It was cold (36 f) and windy (30 – 40 mph) but other then that it was a nice day for a run. 

Since today is Christmas, the race started at 10 am instead of the usual 8 am.

My time was 40:28.  Not bad for the weather.  I took it easy into the windy and tried to run faster with the wind to my back.

My next big run is the Plano Pacers 15K the last Saturday of February. 

Early Christmas Present!

imageThe hardest bodyweight exercise for me to do is pull ups.  I don’t have a pull up bar in the house or a nice tree branch to do one on, so I usually have to improvise.  When I have done my Primal 5 (squat, pushup, plank, shoulder press and pull up) exercises, I have had to find time to go to the local playground or do inverse rows under the dinner table.  Inverse rows are effective, just not under the table.

Last weekend I noticed that Academy Sports and Outdoors had an Elite Fitness Power Tower on sale and that it was the perfect size to fit into the corner of the bedroom!  Sweet. ….. I brought it home and assembled it under the skeptical eye of my wife. 

My wife was really doubtful that it would ever get used and just end up collecting dust!  Well I use it for pull ups about twice a week.  My wife, son and mother-in-law use it just about every day!  It’s a good feeling to see the family working to stay healthy.

Seems like I made a wise decision.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Workout of the Week – 100 Burpees! I love to hurt!

I really love running. ….. But I like strength training, also.  So how does one combine the two without sacrificing functional strength?  Running is great for aerobic endurance and basic fitness.  It builds good legs and glutes and you can get a average core workout but that’s about the limit of it. 

If you do to much weightlifting, body building, or powerlifting you have a chance of becoming to muscle bound and just build strength for the exercises you train.  So my question was how to build functional strength?  How can I stray strong and fit with exercises that will complement my running and any other physical or daily activities I want to partake in?

Well for me the answer is bodyweight exercises.  Yes, I know, snicker all you want.  I use to until I got back into strength training and decided to take another approach.   Try doing 50 pushups, or 30 pistol squats.  Kind of hard huh? 

Well last night I did 100 burpees (I did the squat jumps but did a plank instead of the pushup)in about 12 minutes and, then followed it up with one set of 50 pushups.  That was to make up for not doing a pushup in the Burpees. I thought it would be easy.  It was a WHOLE lot Harder then I thought.  Today my abs, lower back, traps and hamstrings are a little sore.  It was a very good strength workout with a good aerobic workout added to it.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Workout of the Week (WOW) - Automobility

As part of my new found fitness and health strategy, I have decided that I need to get back to strength training in addition to just running.

Before I started running I use to Powerlift a lot.  I was in the gym for a couple 3 - 4 days a week.  All that really did for me was make me fat and kind of tired and sore all the time.  I decided to stop powerlifting and take up jogging.  I have not really did any kind of strength training for a few years until I started following the Primal Blueprint.  

One of the Primal Blueprint laws is to "Lift Heavy Things."  It is basically just incorporating some strength workouts into your fitness routine.  Instead of lifting in a gym, I have decided to take Mark's advice and do a series of body weight exercises(squat, pushups, planks, pullups, shoulder press) according to his Primal BluePrint Fitness (PBF) advice.  The results have been super!

One thing that he posts at on is a Workout of the Week (WOW) that can be used to substitute the five basic primal movements (squat, pushup, pullup, shoulder press, planks) once you advance to a certain level.  This keeps your body from adapting to the routineand from getting stale!

So today I did this WOW: WOW: Automobility.  It entails pushing a car across a parking lot for about 100 feet back and forth four times. I pushed my Ford Focus across a parking lot up a slight incline. 

It was quite a workout!  My thighs, hamstrings, shoulders and traps were all burning after this 15 minute workout.  It seems like a good workout.  I plan on doing it again sometime. Next time I'll try pushing my wife's van instead of my Focus.

The best thing about following PBF is it's quick, effective and I don't need to buy a gym membership!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

If it’s not working for you, why not change it?

I have lost 30 pounds since going Primal in July. I am at the point in my weight loss and fitness change were people are starting notice.  The one question that most people ask me (usually the people that are over-weight) is, “how did you it?” Needless to say, I dread this question because I am tired of the discussion after I answer their question.

When I tell people I just basically ditched the grain, cereal and processed carbs they shake there head and ask the following questions:

  • Were do your carbs come from? Fruits, nuts and vegetables
  • What do you eat for breakfast?  This drives me up the wall.  It seems like it’s hard for people to be creative about breakfast.
  • Do you get hungry?  Not really. I can eat a lot of foods, just no grain (basically).  I also eat some fat for energy and to help me from feeling hungry.
  • You eat fat!  What about all the government guidelines and conventional wisdom that say how bad fat is for you and how you should eat a zillion grams of carbs.  This is were I give up and just say that I have been following those guidelines since I was a teenager and all I did was gain weight and when I tried to lose weight I could never really.

That’s when the questions stop and people want more info about going Primal.  If the Standard American Diet (SAD) is not working out for you, why keep following it?  The more I think about being primal and watch people eat, the more I realize that the SAD is broke and probably needs to be revised.  I have been Primal for five months now with no ill effects.  It has even helped me improve my finishing times in a half marathon and 15K race.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Monday Sprint Day.

I took a week off after I finished the DRC Half marathon on November 7th. Monday was my first day of running again after a seven day break.  It sure is nice to be running again and, starting off with a short, quick sprint is a great way to get back into running.

To shake my routine up a little bit I decided to run a set of Tabata Sprints.  Tabata sprints are a high intensity form of sprints.  You run as fast as you can for 20 seconds then rest for 20 seconds then run as fast as you can for seconds, etc.  Do each set (run, rest) 8 times and then you done in 4 minutes.

To make the timing easier, I did these on the treadmill. After a 1/2 mile warm-up  I set the treadmill up to 7.8 mph and hopped on and ran like a mad man for thirty seconds and then hopped off for ten. The treadmill was easy to time but I felt like there was not enough resistance.  Most of the work was focusing on keeping my legs turning over fast enough to keep pace with the treadmill belt.  Next time I do these on a treadmill I’ll set an incline.  Maybe that will add a little resistance.

I worked up a sweat and was not breathing to terribly hard after the 8 rounds.  I am a little sore today but not bad.  I think the next time I do these I am just going to go out on the road and run in a quick burst for ~20 seconds then jog slowly for ~10 seconds then repeat. 

These are  good break from my basic 400 intervals, and add a little bit of variety to my workouts..

Saturday, November 13, 2010

How did I improve my last 1/2 Marathon time?

Well that is a good question.  I am going to attempt to write down some insight to remember what I did so I can do it again and also to give my follow runners and Primal Enthusiast some tips regarding endurance training.
So, my last 1/2, in April 2010, I ran in 2:12:20.  When I ran that I weighted 225 lbs and was running quite a few 30 mile weeks.
In the interest of time I’ll skip right to what I did.
  • Change my stride to a mid-foot strike instead of a heel strike.
My friend and running mentor, Ken Balvin turned me onto the book,  “Born to Run” and we discussed the notion of minimalist running to increase performance and prevent injuries.
I bought a pair of Vibram Five-Fingers to help me learn how to run properly.  -- I have only been using these on short runs (less than 6 miles) and, they really help me start the process of changing my stride and increasing my leg "turn-over".
  • Work on running with proper bio-mechanics.
I started thinking that changing my stride is pretty useless unless I learned how to run with proper form and good bio-mechanics. The sites  listed below provided a lot of useful information. I found Michael Stemper's tips the most useful, and what I try to work on the most when I run.
  • Lost 30 pounds
I really needed help with my daily diet as I no matter what I did or how long, I ran, I could not lose any real weight.  In the process of researching how to run properly, I found my solution at Mark Sisson’s Blog site,, and in his book, “The Primal Blueprint.”
In a nutshell, I stopped eating all forms of grain (wheat, corn, rye, rice, millet, oats, etc.) and eat lot’s a vegetables, fruit, meat, nuts and seeds.  So far so good!
  • Slowed down my runs (Low Heart Rate Training)
I think this was the key!  I kept my heart rates on all of my runs (except sprints and tempos) between 145 –150.  If my heart rate went up, I slowed down or walked until it came down.  It was hard at first but it is easy know.  This help build my aerobic system and help my body get good at burning fat for fuel (like it was meant to do).
  • Stopped worrying about formulas, miles, and days ran, etc.
For a long time I tried to program all of my runs.  My LSD had to be at least 30% of my weekly total and, I needed to run four days a week.  For the last 3 – 4 month I pretty much threw all that by the way-side.  I just tried to get in 3 – 4 hours a week of running.  With the majority of it being at 55 – 75% of my max heart rate and sprinting one day a week and maybe a 30 minute tempo during the week if I felt like it and a long run in there as well. The long run was as long as I had time for and felt like.  Usually it was 8 miles with a few 10’s or a 12 along the way. If I ran 5 days a week that was great!  If I only ran three days a week that was that was okay as well.  The rest is always welcomed!
  • Stopped checking my miles splits during the race.
    During the race I just tried to stay ahead of the 2:00 hr. pace group and just ran as hard as I felt like on that day.My regular Casio just had a stopwatch and that was all I needed.  I just checked my time at each mile and made a rough estimate on the fly to know about what time I would finish in (roughly) I stopped worrying about mile times and just ran.  I found it a lot easier to run that way.  Less stress!
    I had a ton of fun training for and running my last race

    Wednesday, November 10, 2010

    Dallas Running Club Half Marathon done Primal!


    I completed my last Half Marathon, The BIG D, in April with a time of 2:8:12 and weighed 220 lbs.  I had prepared for it using the Hal Higdon Intermediate plan which had a 12 week cycle and peaked at ~30 miles per week. After the Big D I figured that this was about as fast as I could run and I had lost almost all hope of ever losing any more weight.

    For the DRC Half marathon that I just ran last Sunday, I began following the diet (low carb), health and fitness concepts laid out by Mark Sisson at and in his book “The Primal Blueprint”.  By following the diet plan, my weight dropped effortlessly to 195 lbs.  I changed my running habits as well to reflect his Primal Blueprint Fitness advice. 

    The majority my runs were done at a low heart rate (50 – 75% max), I did short sprints (less than 30 mins) once a week.  These sprints varied from 100m, 200m, 400m, 800, Mile repeats and a few fartleks. I also did an occasional 30 minute tempo run.  I tried to get 5 days a week of running in when I could, but sometimes I only got three days and, I missed two weeks of running when I went to China. I think my highest weekly mileage total was something like 25 miles. I thought the DRC Half marathon was going to be a train wreck and I was prepared to not run a 1/2 anymore.

    Well long story short, I ran my best 1/2 so far, last weekend with a time of 1:53:28!  That is 15 minutes faster than I ran last April!  More importantly, I was able to finish the last 5 k strong and fast.

    The moral of this story?  Yes, You can run some endurance events and be Primal.  Just be smart about it! Maybe my next post will address how I did it. 

    Grok On!