Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Next chapter

Wow, what a year it's been.  Since my last post (6/16/2012) I trained up my shot put to 50 feet, gained 15 lbs (mostly, but not all, muscle), moved back to California, watched my son graduate high school, started cycling & lost the 15 lbs I gained, and turned 40.  Whew.  Through all of this I let blogging go but I've stuck by my basic principles of eating healthy and exercising regularly.  Turning 40 has given me perspective on a few things.  First of all, we are only as old as we feel...and we feel as good as we are active...period.  Getting up and moving in some purposeful fashion every day for the past decade is paying huge dividends now.  Aside from the occasional ache, I feel as good or better than I did throughout my thirties.  When I look around at my peers I am amazed at how badly the human body can be affected by disuse and a shitty diet.

So, kicking off this next chapter of my life, I've decided that my competing days in strength sports are behind me.  I had a good run (multiple Powerlifting & Strongman championships plus one year competing in Olympic style weightlifting) and I achieved more than I'd ever expected.  My best lifts in the individual powerlifts are a 485 lb squat, 330 lb bench press, and a 601 lb deadlift (got 617 lbs to the knee but couldn't lock it out)...all at body weights ranging from 275 - 308 lbs.  Some of my Strongman accomplishments include pulling a 23,000 lb truck 75 feet, flipping a 700 lb tire 13 times, deadlifting a Toyota Corolla for 15 reps (with a woman in the trunk), and carrying a 275 lb Husafel Stone 300 feet...all as a light weight (body weight < 231.5 lbs).  I was never very competitive in Olympic lifting but have enjoyed learning and training the lifts...the snatch and the clean & jerk (they are still staples in my workout routines).  My best competition lifts are 75 kg (165 lbs) in the snatch and 110 kg (242 lbs) in the clean & jerk...all in the 105 kg (231.5 lbs) weight class.  Yes, I've had a good run.

My decision to leave competitive strength sports is primarily due to age.  The rigors of strength athletics take a huge toll on your body & mind over time and the risk-to-reward ratio becomes higher as you age...i.e. higher risk (the body's ability to recover diminishes with age) & lower reward (as a natural athlete your strength curve inevitably begins to flatten out & eventually plateau...nobody has unlimited strength potential).  I picked up shot putting since it felt like a natural extension of my strength athletic training (and it is) however, there isn't a large community of throwers (at least not in the areas I've lived) and after a year I sort of lost interest.  I still throw from time to time but just for fun.

This leads me to my newest venture...cycling.  I've always been impressed with cyclists and the sport in general.  I got a vintage road bike from a co-worker of mine in Dallas in 2011 and rode a bit from time to time but nothing seriously.  After moving back to LA, I became interested in taking my cycling to the next level so I looked for a group to ride with.  I researched Major Taylor cycling clubs in the area and found Major Motion (I'll write more about Major Taylor in another post).  This group changed my life.  After a couple of weeks riding with them I got more serious about cycling and bought a new bike.  I dropped 15 lbs of body fat & have improved immensely over the 2 months that I've been riding seriously.  I'm interested in entering a criterium race next year so will be training with the racers in Major Motion this winter.

Life is good.  I've got health, my kids are doing okay, & I'm fortunate to be able to continue my quest to stay healthy & fit.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

My new venture

Greetings Fam,

So, it's been a while since I've posted anything.  Life has had me in its jet wash for a minute and I've been stressed out about it all.  For those that know me well, you know how I deal with stress in life...delve into something and try to improve myself.  This little character trait has served me well over the years.  I completed my master's degree and entered into the competitive ranks of three strength sports (powerlifting, Strongman, and Olympic-style weightlifting) pretty much all because I had stress in my life and didn't know how to deal with it.  Improving myself is my

So, my new venture is training the shot put.  I have no background, whatsoever, in track or field events, but through training the Olympic lifts (the snatch and clean & jerk), I've become interested in focusing my power on something outside of weightlifting.  I've been a fan of throwing sports since I was a kid.  I recall seeing an 8 lb shot sitting in the gym at my junior high (I was in 7th grade) and thinking how cool it would be to try to throw (put) it.  Being the shy, nerdy, overweight pre-teen that I was then, I shied away from the thought and busied my mind on other, more academic, pursuits.  Over the years, I've never lost that fascination.  I'm an avid track & field fan and during the summer olympics, when most people are drooling over who's the fastest man/woman, I'm always curious who's putting the shot or throwing the javelin or discus the farthest.

Anyways, I found a throwing coach in the area and had my first lesson today.  This was hard but exhilarating.  The 16 lb shot didn't feel heavy to me (guess all my strength training has paid but putting it efficiently is a beast.  Today we mainly worked on the basics...the power position, turning my foot & hips appropriately, and following through.  My main take-away from today's's not strength, it's technique.  Check out the vid of one of my throws.


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

It's Official!

After years of giving free advice and helping people achieve their fitness goals, I decided to take this to the next level.  I passed my first certification exam on Monday.  I am now a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) through the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA).

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Dietary advice series...part 2

So, here's part 2 of my dietary advice The Zone!

2)  A calorie is not a calorie…at least not all of the time.  On a certain level, yes, a calorie is a calorie however, when trying to devise a balanced, healthy meal plan, the differences between carbohydrates, proteins, & fats become important.  For one thing, the three macronutrients have different caloric densities (carbohydrates and proteins have 4 calories per gram whereas fats have 9 calories per gram).  This difference makes balancing the number of calories you intake with feeling satisfied with the foods you eat a tricky thing to do.  I’ve tried many diets over the years and I’ve only come to one resounding conclusion…my performance is best and I feel the best on a split that’s about 30% protein, 30% fat, and 40% carbohydrate.  Try to take in less refined carbs (think more brown rice, oats, & sweet potatoes instead of potato chips, sugar, white bread, or white rice) and make sure your fat sources are healthier fats (think more olive oil, coconut oil, & avocados instead of fried pork chops).  I've used this split over the years & have found it to be a great thing.  It's plenty of carbs for energy so you don't feel lethargic & the amount of fat & protein keeps you feeling satisfied (no late night

Monday, March 19, 2012

Dietary advice series...part 1

Greetings true believers.  I began poking around in some of my writings & found some nuggets worth putting out for the masses to consume.  This series will be some of my thoughts on diet in general, with the primary focus on losing body fat (or at least not gaining any).  The key to losing body fat or maintaining a low body fat level is calories.  To a very large extent, our body weight is the result of a sometimes complex energy equation.  There is no explicit formula for this equation but I’ve devised some general rules of thumb.
1)  It is a zero-sum game.  In other words, calories in – calories out = 0.  Absolutely.  It always does and always will.  The fuzzy part is determining the calories you consume (in) and the calories you burn (out) to any degree of accuracy.  Regarding calories in, there’s nutrition information everywhere (labels on all packaged foods, & there are websites like for everything else) that should make building a database of your regularly consumed foods fairly easy.  Seeking to determine your calories in accurately implies the necessity of measuring your foods.  Measuring cups, measuring spoons, and a food scale will become necessary tools to do this.  Over time, you’ll develop the ability to measure out your foods without all the tools based on experience, but until that day comes, use the tools.
     Regarding calories out, this can be harder to determine.  There are devices like Bodybugg that claim to be able to calculate your calories burned with up to 90% accuracy.  I’m not a fan of this technology b/c of the metabolic variation between individuals.  Height, weight, sweat rate, & body temperature aren’t the only factors that determine how many calories a person burns in a given time period.  The best way to determine your caloric expenditure is to instead determine your caloric needs to fall within one of three zones…losing weight, maintaining weight, and gaining weight.  Determining this involves trial & error as we all have a particular metabolic rate that’s dependent on so many factors, it would be impossible to predict.  What’s worked for me is to pick a starting number of calories that seems reasonable for someone of your stature and activity level (I started with 2000 calories per day.  I’m 6’4” with a desk job & I tend to gain weight easily) and eat precisely that many calories daily for two weeks.  If your weight goes down, you know you’re below your maintenance level.  If your weight goes up, you’re above maintenance, and if you’re weight stays the same, you’re within your maintenance range of calories.  I say maintenance range because there isn’t a particular number of calories that will make you gain weight that if you come in 1 calorie less then you’ll maintain.  Instead, I’ve found there to be a range of calories that allows you to maintain your bodyweight (for me it’s 2200-2400 calories per day).  Once your two weeks are up & you’ve determined which zone you’re in, your goals then come in to play.  If you are trying to gain weight & you maintained, you need to increase your calories until you start to gain weight.  If you are trying to lose weight and you maintained, you need to decrease your calories until you start to lose weight.  All of this is predicated on the assumption that you are on a sound strength & conditioning program.  These baseline calories need to revisited periodically as changes in body composition , age, and activity level create different caloric needs over time.

So that's part 1. Start to track your calories & get ahold of that waistline!

More to come...


Monday, March 5, 2012

Transformation of Patient-Zero

Greetings fam.  As you all have read in previous blog entries, I've been training a co-worker & friend of mine named Dave.  You've seen him in various videos I've posted doing dips & running around with some of my training implements.  When I met Dave last summer he was around 360 lbs (10 or so lbs down from his heaviest weight of 373 lbs in April 2011).  At the time I was doing my normal thing eating and working out to maintain my body fat levels and he'd entered into a friendly weight loss competition with some co-workers of ours.  He didn't win the competition but he got his weight down to 353 lbs by the end of July.  Through all of this, our co-workers told him he might want to get with me on fat loss since I'd lost a significant amount of body fat over the past 8 years.  We talked & I told him to just start coming to the gym with me.  He did & took every bit of advice I had to give & executed my program perfectly.  Now I've given many, many people advice over the years about fat loss and gaining muscle, but nobody...not one...has followed it as closely or determinedly as Dave...and it shows.  Here are some before & after pics of Dave.  The "current" pics are as of 2/27/2012.  He's actually 4 lbs lighter today...233...that's 140 lbs down from his highest weight and 120 lbs down (353 to 233) in 7 months!

Since it took me 8 years of experimenting and learning how to transform myself from an obese, unhealthy person to a lean, fit, active person I call myself Project-X...and I call Dave Patient-0 since he's the first to execute The Program completely and successfully.

I'm very proud of him, his effort, and his determination.  The world should prepare to see much more of Project-X & Patient-0.

Monday, February 6, 2012


     So, Dave & I just wrapped up week 5 of an 8 week hypertrophy mesocycle last week.  Man, what a week!  Due to schedule difficulties, we ended up working out 4 days straight...Tuesday - Friday.  I was beat down by Friday night, but I definitely feel like my body is adapting well to hypertrophy training.  I've been able to increase my intensity every week (either getting more reps with the previous weight or upping the weight for the prescribed reps).  Dave & I are also both showing the outward signs of hypertrophy training...fuller, rounder muscles in various body parts.

     This leads me to the topic of this blog entry...the importance of periodization.  Periodization comes from the athletic world and is broadly defined as a program design strategy used to promote long-term training and performance improvements.  The overall program should include preplanned, systematic variations in training focus, intensity, and volume organized in cycles or periods.  Periodization, while typically used to train athletes for competition in their specific sports, is also effective for helping people increase their general fitness level.

     The foundation of any program I prescribe is strength because increasing strength and its expression [either through increased power (speed strength) or increased hypertrophy (strength endurance] form the foundation of achieving increased fitness (conditioning).  I've also found the body has a tendency to plateau after 6-8 weeks on a given training program.  Plateauing can have varying symptoms from mild (inability to increase the intensity of your workouts...sets, reps, or weights) to more severe (chronic fatigue and/or soreness, general malaise).  Although periodization schemes for athletes are as varied as the athletes themselves and the sports they participate in, for the person seeking to increase their fitness I recommend a basic periodization scheme.

The following diagram is a guideline for your periodization efforts:

The legs of the triangle represent foundations of strength & conditioning...strength, speed, & engurance...while the corners represent expressions of adjacent legs...strength with speed is expressed through power, strength with endurance is expressed through hypertrophy, and speed with endurance is expressed through conditioning.  They are all interconnected however, from bottom to top...Strength & Conditioning.  There isn't a blanket periodization program that will work for all purposes.  If you'd like more info or help periodizing your training, contact your nearest strength & conditioning specialist ;-)

Monday, January 30, 2012

Welcome back to 2012

So, I haven't posted in a while.  I've had a hectic last couple of months...I know, I know...welcome to the real world.  My last post was from before Thanksgiving.  Since that time, much has happened.  The holidays came & went, my son went to and graduated from Air Force basic training, and my workout partner and good friend Dave hit the century fat loss mark within 6 months of being on The Program.  It's been an exciting last few months and I expect much more excitement to come.

Regarding my own training, I've been largely in maintenance mode since beginning to train Dave.  I picked up some cool weather cycling gear and went for my first ride today in over 6 months (cool & windy, but I was feeling good).  I've been working Dave through his progressions through various mesocycles (strength to end the summer, power through Thanksgiving, and we are currently in a hypertrophy phase) and he's responded tremendously to each cycle.  We are both learning a lot through this journey together.  He's learning what it truly means to be lean and healthy.  I'm learning how to use strength and conditioning principles to help obese people get lean and regain their fitness.  The following are some key points I've learned through this experience (the list is by no means exhaustive):

1) Strength training is absolutely key to fat loss...Dave has achieved his fat loss with some HIIT cardio during the power mesocycle we did during the fall, and virtually no cardio the rest of the time.
2) Periodizing your training is fundamental as it keeps the body guessing and forces your muscles to adapt to new stimulation every 6-8 weeks spurring greater fat loss...consult a strength and conditioning specialist to figure out a good macrocycle (usually a year long broken up into mesocycles and microcycles).
3) Keep your workouts intense.  Working at the low end of the intensity range will cause you to burn some extra calories, but upping the intensity of your workouts (weight training and cardio) will send your body into fat burning overdrive.
4) All of your work in the gym will be for naught if you don't have your diet dialed in.  If most of what you're consuming is processed, crap food, you are selling yourself short.  Dave consistently tracks his caloric intake with and runs under the prescribed calories for fat loss.  I've worked with him to balance his nutrient intake and the combination of these two things (controlled caloric intake + balanced nutrients) has resulted in his amazing fat loss.  Another cool thing about this approach to fat loss dieting is we gauged his caloric needs by his energy level.  As long as he didn't feel hungry & was able to put 100% effort into his workouts, we figured he was getting the foundation of what he needed from his diet with the rest coming from his fat stores.  Golden.
So, that's it for today.  We'll be transitioning to another strength mesocycle in March.  Until then, I'll be chiming in with more stories from time to time.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Fat Albert & The Gang

So Dave & I went out to a tire recycling place last Friday & picked up some used construction tires...for free. 

The pic above shows The Crew...from left to right they are: 200 lb Russell, 300 lb Rudy, 350 lb Old Weird Harold, and...900 lb Fat Albert.

During training tonight I got an adrenaline surge and flipped Albert...twice.  Here's a vid of the second flip.


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Hell Day Shuttle Runs

Dave & I outside of our local gym lifting & running with heavy things.  Fun stuff.