Heavy Walking or Why Math Gives Us Different Effects From Training

One form of simple cardio that I like doing is walking with a weight vest on. I don’t really enjoy jogging too much, and most forms of machine based cardio tend to bore me. I always enjoy taking a walk, especially when I can go places that I haven’t walked before. Working on a college campus gives me lots of opportunities to walk around old brick building that have slightly maze like floor plans along with plenty of grounds and sidewalks to adventure down. This is a nice little break for me to get the heart rate up, but to not beat myself up.

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Walking with the wife, my mom, and 40lbs. of weight vest over the thanksgiving holiday. #earnthat5thsliceofpie

Why walk around with a weight vest on? Is this about trying to give of a certain type of look? Because walking around a college campus with a weird bulging metal vest on will cause concerned looks from students and faculty. I do this, because it is an easy way to burn more calories without having to add increasing amounts of stress on my joints that I would have to do by running. It will make me use more muscle mass like you would use for running, but without the added impacts.

How does this work you might wonder? Well, let’s start off with what a calorie is. I know that doesn’t make much sense for now, but it will in a moment. One calorie is enough energy to increase one milliliter of water one degree Celsius (when it starts off at about 70 degrees fahreinheit), the calories that we eat are in kilocalories or Calories (notice how it is capitalized). This means we are now talking about increasing one liter of water one degree Celsius. These calories are the energy source that the body uses to cause the muscles to contract (among other things).

Now in order to move a human body we require calories to make this happen. In fact a human that weighs about 180lbs. will burn a bit over 100 calories each mile that they walk (at a leisurely pace) the amount burned per mile will increase with speed to a certain extent. The work that you are doing in this case is mechanical, and just like how cars need gas to move, the same is true with the body. So if I walk at my body size about 3 miles (in 45 minutes or so) I will be burning about 330 calories or so, but by throwing on a 40lbs. weight vest (and sometimes more weight than that) I can increase the number burned to just over 400. That extra 70 calories burned by my muscles not only makes them work harder, but also makes my lungs and heart work harder to provide that energy (oxygen) along with giving me a slight training effect on my the muscles of my torso (I really don’t like the term “core”) which has the added benefit of helping my strength training.

The weight effect on how many calories you burn per mile is also a large part of why if you train with someone much larger (or smaller) than yourself you will notice that the bigger person seems to be making faster progress even though you are both doing the same program. This is because literally, the bigger person is carrying a larger load for every single exercise.

By adding a bit of external resistance to your body you can make your workout (walk really) more effective on your body. Now you should be in shape for this, but once you are, wearing a weight vest while mowing the lawn or walking the dog is an easy way to get even more out of the activity that you would already be doing. Slowly add this to your training repertoire and be sure to slowly add resistance. The first time you go heavy with a weight vest for walks your traps will let you know that you did so the next day. You can also get saucy with this and start doing your push ups, pull ups, sit ups, and so on with a weighted vest on. This is just a way to load the barbell, which is the human body, a bit heavier.

If you are interested in picking up a weight vest the best one that I have used is the X vest. It fits well and is easy to take on and off, however it will bounce around on you if you try to run in it. As for other vests there is nothing really that sticks out in my mind. Try one on before you buy it out so that you know how it fits on you. A loose weight vest is going to be very uncomfortable especially while moving fast, and your goal is to make this feel like part of you so that you can move dynamically without it rattling around on you.

Aside from the weight vest, you can always just walk around with a weighted back pack. There are a number of simple ways online. Add weight in a book bag so that you can also take advantage of encumbered walking. Just wrap a few bricks in duct tape and maybe even some light foam and then throw those in a decent back pack and get out there.

Encumbered walking/hiking is another way to get in some decent conditioning without having to do hard running or needing any extra equipment. Give it a try and see what you think about doing this as a form of conditioning to do along with your normal training.

Back in the Saddle

After all of the training programs I have written for others it is time to bore you dear reader with my training. This is going to entail what I am currently doing for my training and how I’m modifying it both from recovering from the concussion and something else that happened recently (I‘ll get to that in a minute). So I hope that this is useful for you and take some time to read through it.

Once my head started to get better I started with light loads and lots of volume. The basic program was as follows:

Day Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Main Exercise High bar back squats Military press and pull ups Deficit deadlifts Dips and chest supported rows Safety bar back squats Upper body assistance day (arms) Rest
Sets x reps 5×10 10×10 Top set of 5 then RDLs 5×10 5×10 10×10 5×10
Accessory Lunges Curls BSS Curls Lunges Curls
Accessory Abs Triceps abs Triceps Abs Triceps

Other than this lifting I was taking at least one walk each day of about half an hour rotating in when I would do it with a weight vest that weighed about 40 lbs. Some days I would go do some legitimate cardio on a bike or other type of machine to minimize the impact. Once I was starting to feel more like myself (and not afraid of getting aggressive) I then switched over to a variation on the 5/3/1 by Jim Wendler following the same programming (exercise choice) only now ramping up and down accordingly.

Day Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Main Exercise High bar back squats Military press and pull ups Deficit deadlifts Dips and chest supported rows Safety bar back squats Upper body assistance day (arms) Rest
Sets x reps 5/3/1 programing with FSL 5×8 5/3/1 programing with FSL 5×8 5/3/1 programing with FSL 5×8 5/3/1 programing with FSL 5×8 5/3/1 programing with FSL 5×8 5×10
Accessory Lunges Curls BSS Curls Lunges Curls
Accessory Abs Triceps Abs Triceps Abs Triceps

 

Enter Snap City

This style of training worked well for me until the second to last week on September where I rushed my weighted dips warm ups and partially tore my right pec. On rep 7 with 115 lbs. strapped to me I felt a pop and sensation much like tearing paper inside my arm followed by a solid amount of pain. Luckily it didn’t completely roll up (that would suggest a full tear) and my ability to lift my arm while laying down was too much of an effort for me to accomplish immediately afterwards.

Well this hurt a lot (obviously) and required me to take quite the deload for a week and then after meeting with some health professionals about recommendations for what should be done, we decided on holding off on surgery at least for a month or two to see what my scar tissue would then build up to. There is a chance that I will recover within 90% of my previous strength levels without surgery. Currently I am at about 50% but climbing a little each week. My current training program is actually more elaborate, since I am just doing a bodybuilding style of training.

Day Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Main Exercise High bar back squats Military press and pull ups Deficit deadlifts Neutral grip military press and chest supported rows Safety bar back squats DB military press and chin ups Rest
Sets x reps 5/3/1 programing with FSL 5×8 5×10 5/3/1 programing with FSL 5×8 5×10 5/3/1 programing with FSL 4×10 5×10
Accessory Lunges Upright rows GHR Db inclines Reeves deadlifts Curls
Sets x reps 4×10 4×10 4×10 5×10 4×10 4-8×10-20
Accessory Reverse hypers Db laterals Abs More rows but a different exercise Abs Triceps
Sets x reps 4×10+ 4×10 5+x10-20 5×10 5+x10-20 4-8×10-20
Accessory Sled drags Arm work Light carries Arm work Leg press Upper back
Sets x reps 4+x 4×10 3x 4×10 4×10-20 5×10-20
Accessory Abs Front raises Calf Raises
Sets x reps 5+x10-20 3×10 5×10-20

 

So now I am making progress getting stronger and focusing on that which I can do well. We will let the pec run its course and then reassess in another month or two and see if surgery is right option. In the mean time I have hit some decent numbers on all of my non pressing movements, but I did military press 155×10 this week along with high bar back squatting 350×10 with no belt and doing 10 pull ups with 60lbs. of chain on me. So I’m decently strong, but definitely not a bench presser. I’ve done dumbbell inclines with 95×10 on the left and just hit a PR by doing 55×10 with my right arm. Also doing other exercises that are really just fun and hitting random PRs there. So progress is coming along, just not as fast as I would prefer.

Aside from the weight lifting the other thing I have been doing is lots of long walks, light cardio (elliptical once a week), and weight vest walks (aim for at least twice per week with a 40lbs. vest or more). This type of cardio I find to be relaxing and helps with the whole brain recovery thing that I’m constantly working towards. I just pick a location and walk to it and then walk back. The goal is for the duration to be from half an hour to two hours of moving. I’m also trying to get back in the water with one day of swimming each week (we will see how that goes).

Right now I’m still training with the goal to put on a little muscle mass and just move around and feel good. Maximal strength is still close enough to pre concussion levels and I can live with that. For now, I’m working towards smaller PRs in higher rep movements, but it is still fun. This overall is the workout plan that I am currently following and should keep me in striking distance of being in shape to do any type of competition I want to once I am fully cleared to do so (powerlifting, strongman,  or highland games). If you have any questions about why I do certain things just let me know and as always thanks for reading.

Body shamed by a twelve year old

Two weeks ago the wife and I went for a nice long walk around our neighborhood. The changing leaves, slightly cooler air, and the decorations up on the homes made it a nice venture. We walked to different neighborhoods than we typically do (ended up walking over eight miles) and it was nice to learn more about the area that we live. As we were on our way back home we were walking on the sidewalk next to a slightly busier street. As we turned to get off the road and head our way back to our house a young high pitched voice rang out of a vehicle from behind us:

“Put a Shirt on!”

I turned around and started to walk back to the source of the voice. I see a car now stuck at the stop light and a woman in the driver’s seat looking nervous at me and then down at her lap. I keep walking my way back to car as it is stopped at the light and she waves for me to essentially go away. I keep walking up and smile and wave back and at this point she opens the window and at this point I notice that it was actually her young daughter (probably middle school age) that shouted at me and is trying to hide in her mother’s lap. At this point I laugh a little and the mom says:

“I’ll handle it, she knows what she did was wrong.”

“It’s ok, just tell her body shaming isn’t cool.” Is all I replied calmly.

I laugh for a moment and see the look of terror in the child’s eye (maybe it was shame). When the light changes the SUV drives away quickly. I laugh some more and my wife is annoyed that girl would yell something like that, and asked me what happened. We talked it over for the next few minutes while walking.

Let’s be honest here, I’m in my thirties, I’m pretty pasty, and I’m definitely not spring break ready. However, it did get warm on the walk, I like getting some natural vitamin D, and feeling the wind blow through my back hair (or as I call it my mane) is a thrilling sensation that is hard to put in to words. She’s entitled to her opinion, but I do wonder what her motivations were. Does she come from a jacked and tan family that any sight of pale skin with some adipose is a revolting thing to behold? Is there an unspoken (or spoken) rule in her family that people in this family wear shirts and we never have our torsos exposed? Is she a proto typical mean girl that enjoys making fun of other people? I don’t know. All I know is the end sum is that maybe she learned something at best, at worst she just spewed some negative energy out in to the universe and got me to write a post about it.

Thankfully my self esteem is not wrapped up in the opinion of prepubescent girls opinion of me and my body. However, this did make me think about this type of interaction happening to someone who isn’t sure of themselves. Who maybe after years of creeping obesity has now decided to get outside and get after it and what are they approached with? Some person yelling something derogatory at them. Now, let’s not kid ourselves and think that everyone is brittle and even the smallest negative comment might cause them to break down and stop trying, but I  have encountered people working on their own health and fitness journey that something so small might have derailed it. I know that part of me training and getting in better shape was helped by positive comments from my friends and family. Sure that was a long time ago, but I still remember those nice words. To this day when I’m training and I’m tired when I see someone who is overweight and working hard it inspires me to finish my workout, to get in that final set. Because, hard work is always going to be hard work, and I should never forget that you always have to put in the work if you want to stay where you are it, much less move forward.

At the end of the day, we can help encourage those people that are trying and at the beginning of their journey. Let’s not yell stupid stuff from our cars, or deride them in gyms, but try and lift them up. I guess this brings me back to the whole “what would Alvin do” mentality. We can make this place better, and all it takes is each of us to say something nice to one another. So keep on keeping on and try to help inspire those around you to keep up the good work.

shirts-are-for-suckers
Example of me being shirtless with my glorious mane exposed. Also, this was obviously not taken in Kentucky

House Arrest Training: Training With Children

A good friend of my wife and I, asked me about putting together a program for them. I had a little fun with the name of the program, since this person is pretty much a super mom. She currently raises six kids, two dogs (mine is one of them since she watches him during the day) and one hermit crab. She not only keeps those kids from dying, but also home schools each of them. I’m forever impressed with the work that she is able to do. I don’t think in the entire time I have known her (for years) that we have had more than 5 conversations where she wasn’t holding a child or taking care of one of them actively.

So since time is definitely not something that she has a huge amount of and going to the gym is pretty much out of the question due to life responsibilities, this program is aimed to be able to be done with simply bodyweight or utilizing a child as weight (she has six weight options). Good news is they live on a small hill and have a basic pull up/dip station in their house.

The goal here is a simple two different workout split that she can do either once or twice per week. This means she can train either twice per week using this or do each workout twice for a grand total of 4 workouts in a week. Since currently the oldest is eight and the youngest is just about six months old a full night of sleep is never a given in their house, so if she isn’t recovered and is too tired she can just try and train again the next day. As always take some time to warm up (5-10 minutes) before working out, and the goal is quality repetitions not quantity of repetitions.

Day 1 2
Exercise A1 Goblet squat holding child Child deadlift
Exercise A2 Push up Child shoulder press
Exercise B1 Lunges holding child Pull up negative or band assisted pull up
Exercise B2 Row a child or body weight low row Hip thrust on floor (maybe add weight)
Exercise C1 Ab choice exercise Ab choice exercise
Exercise C2 Child curl Step up with child
Exercise C3 Close grip push up Row a child or body weight low row

The same idea for doing this as grouped supersets applies (do both “A” exercises together). Aiming for sets of ten repetitions each set and a total of 3-5 sets of each exercise. Week one just perform 3 work sets and then increase the sets accordingly to how you are recovering. Take a deload once every month or two (a week where you only do two or three work sets and take those easy). For the pull up negative aim for just getting in total quality reps, start with 5 for the first workout and then increase by 2 or 3 each one after until you max out at 20 and then focus on controlling down even slower, or stopping and holding yourself at different positions in the range of motion. For the body weight exercises like push ups, start with the easier version (on the knees) and when you can do a set of twenty then make it more difficult (leg straight, leg elevated on a chair, etc.).

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Example of lunging with a child on your back. Ok, maybe more of an adult than a child here. 

For conditioning this is where we can have some fun. The goal is to get in three training days of this each week with more days or less being an option depending on what her schedule allows (at most 6). The goal is to do this cardio work for at least 20 minutes preferably for 30 minutes, and over time increasing this amount to an hour. Here are a list of ideas for this cardiovascular work:

Options:
Push the stroller with kids in it
Walk with child in a harness or piggy back ride
Bike Ride
Walk up the hill and back down (build up to run up and walk down)
Brisk walk
Walk/Jog
Jump rope or whatever you can come up with

The goal here is to make the cardio fun and either something she can typically do that still allows her to watch the kids, or something that she can do to get away. For the walk/jog, the goal is to walk for 50 yards then jog for 50 yards just going back and forth between the two. An easy way to pace this is to walk from one mail box to the next and then jog to the following and then walk again. Have fun, but keep your heart rate up and your breathing too.

The cool thing about this, is if she gets to the point where she can press her oldest and keeps doing this all the way until that kid is a teenager she is going to be strong as all get out. This is some solid Milos of Crete stuff. Though, this will hopefully be fun and allow her and the kids to play together while she is able to get in better shape. I hope you guys enjoyed reading this and I’m going to try doing one of those videos every other week, if you have something you want me to talk about please let me know and I’ll try to answer it through writing or video. Thanks again for taking the time to look at this.