Current Workout Schedule

Here’s an insider’s peek into what I will be doing in and out of the gym for the next couple months:

A good mixture of Olympic lifting, squatting, sprinting, straight-arm and bent-arm pushing and pulling, skill, variety, and fun. Inspired by the following: California Strength, Catalyst Athletics, Eat Move Improve (and Overcoming Gravity), Ido Portal, Dan John, Pavel Tsatsouline, Beast Skills, and CrossFit.

Reflections on Not Owning a TV

About a month ago Jenni and I sold our TV. Neither of us barely ever used it, except for getting sucked into watching “Chopped” or “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives” on Food TV. Now not only is our living room that much more spacious, but our free time is that much more peaceful and static-free. Occasionally we cave in and watch a movie on one of our laptops, but otherwise I really feel like it has freed up a bit of time to do more important things, such as:

  • Walk more
  • Cook better
  • Read more
  • Talk to each other

Now it’s completely possible that getting rid of our TV simply correlated with these effects rather than caused them, but regardless the sentiment holds true. I highly recommend not owning a TV if your goals include more free time, better health, better relationships, and more mindfulness.

Slow Down

A series of events recently have led me to rediscover the profound effect slowing things down can have. This post inspired by Eataly in New YorkCharles PoliquinFeist, and Mark Sisson.

In November I visited Eataly Café in New York City, a completely extravagant food environment definitely worth visiting. Founded by Mario Batali, Eataly was inspired by the Slow Food Movement, which tries to pull us back towards how food used to be prepared and enjoyed: slowly. Jenni and I have been cooking a lot recently, and I am trying to pick my restaurants wisely so as to keep in line with slow, local food. In Charlottesville you can never go wrong with Rev Soup or Brookville, and in Richmond The Empress is top-notch.

In the gym over the past couple months I have rekindled my relationship with the barbell. Two months of Reverse Pyramid Training ala Leangains led to some great new PR’s in the back squat and deadlift, and I enjoyed the low volume, high-intensity method. To avoid plateaus however, I am going to spend a month or so varying it up a bit. Here’s what the lifting scheme will look like:

Tuesday: Deadlift, Good Morning, Bench Press, Bent Row (10 x 3-5 @ 75%, tempo 30X2)

Thursday: Back Squat, GHD Sit-up, Shoulder Press, Chin-up (10 x 3-5 @ 75%, tempo 30X2)

So basically this is an “Advanced German Volume Training” as Charles Poliquin calls it, so I will hopefully not only get stronger but also get a little bigger. With the slow tempo I am geting around 25 seconds or so Time Under Tension per set, so this lifting scheme builds relative strength as well as hypertrophy. In summary, when lifting something away from the Earth, go quickly; when lowering it back down, count to 3. Exhausting, and hopefully effective.

On the music front, I’ve been on a total Feist kick recently. Great music to lift to if you aren’t a metalhead. Here’s “The Bad in Each Other” off of her newest album Metals:

Thanks for reading! Enjoy some slow time with friends and family this holiday season, perhaps with some slow food and slow lifting thrown in as well.

Rules from Nate Green’s Hero Handbook

I recently read Nate Green’s free e-book “The Hero Handbook” and highly recommend it. It’s 136 pages of no-bullshit advice on life, from nutrition to workouts to finances to goal-setting. Nate’s writing works well as an occasional reminder of where you’re headed and how to get there.

In one chapter he has you actually write down your own “rules” for life. Here are my top six, loosely based on what Nate wrote:

  1. Move and play (well, creatively, passionately) so as to inspire others to move and play.
  2. Practice health: physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, financially.
  3. Engage openly and honestly with my nuclear family and close friends.
  4. Experience new opportunities abroad, in music, fitness, spiritually, health, etc.
  5. Share my accumulated wisdom, without ego, for the benefit of others.
  6. Change this list at any time, whenever I see fit.

A bit cheesy for sure, but adopting a larger framework within which to operate seems like a good choice to me.

 

“Nut Up or Shut Up”

Today’s post inspired by the writings of Keith Norris at Theory to Practice, Ken O’Neill at Trans-Evolutionary Fitness, Chris Guillebeau at The Art of Non-Conformity, and apparently Woody Harrelson from Zombieland.

For the past two semesters I helped as a research assistant in a social psychology lab at UVa. While I learned a lot about psychology research from the experience, the most important lesson I took away is that I am not ready to commit to a Ph.D. program right now. Too much time spent indoors, head buried in books, stressing over numbers and theories, and not enough hands-on application, performance, moving, interaction, etc. Perhaps in the future a more fitting opportunity will show itself, but for now I will not be applying to any Ph.D. programs.

That said, it’s now time to “nut up or shut up” as Woody Harrelson so eloquently states in Zombieland. What do I mean by that? Consider Chris Guillebeau’s article “How to Put Off Making Decisions About Your Life”. Rather than applying for another program (like I did for UPenn’s MAPP), I am actually going to get the ball rolling on a series of ideas and projects that have been brewing for quite some time now. Long work: check. Hard work: on deck.

So here’s what we got:

So the table is nice and full. I am looking forward to the PaleoFX12 Symposium in March in Austin, TX as well.

Lastly, I will leave you with a quote from Clifton Harski’s recent post “80/20” on his blog, Strong. Naturally:

I don’t like the minimal effective dose attitude at all. It annoys me. Why are we encouraging people to move as little as possible? We should be encouraging people to move as much as possible. I’m disinteresting in perpetuating a lazy, pathetic culture that wants easy minimal effort approaches to getting the things they want.

Thanks for reading,

Chris

Garage Band, circa 2001

I first started playing drumset because my friends and I formed a band before most of us actually played instruments. After other people ended up taking vocals, guitar, and bass, I was left to figure out how to play drums! Long story short, we went through name after name, band after band, and website after website. We never really played a show, we never really recorded an album, but believe me we milked “being in a band” for all it was worth.

Ten years later, while re-organizing my desk in my apartment in an entirely different state, I found some CD’s that I had burned with some tracks on it from my garage bands. Here is my favorite one, from a band called Mass Hysteria:

Tough Mudder recap

Yesterday I completed the Tough Mudder at the Wintergreen Resort outside of Charlottesville, VA. A group of 15 guys and gals from CrossFit Charlottesville made the trek, and it truly was a spectacular event. Being more of a challenge than a race, there were no race clocks, no one timed you, and the Tough Mudder staff emphasized helping your fellow Mudders during the event. There were 27 obstacles, including jumping into a dumpster full of ice, scaling several high walls and ramps, crawling through mud and sand, and walking through smoke and electrical fields.

Being somewhat of a culmination to my endurance-oriented season of training, I really enjoyed the multi-disciplinary nature of the Tough Mudder. The course required endurance and stamina to climb thousands of feet in elevation, yet it also required the coordination and strength to get yourself and others over various types of obstacles.

For example, I had to walk, run, balance, crawl, jump, climb, lift, and carry (8 of the 12 “capacities of movement” for Erwan Le Corre’s MovNat system). Throughout the course I also utilized several of the concepts I learned from Carl Paoli’s Freestyle Connections Seminar, such as hollow body positioning and muscle-up skills. Over the past couple years I have been informally studying Ido Portal’s Floreio Art, and while the Tough Mudder did not require me to perform a QDR push-up, I did draw upon the flow and mobility work to get under and over some of the trickier obstacles.

Lastly, during my weekend with Exuberant Animal I did learn some useful, basic Parkour moves, like how to roll and how to efficiently travel over a table (thanks to Colin from Fifth Ape); however, the most important tools I learned were the ability to be mindful while moving and how to be sensitive to the social cues from others. This component of camaraderie was huge: you helped your team, strangers helped you, and you helped strangers.

All in all, quite a day! The course took our team of 11 people just over 4 hours to complete, including lots of stops to strategize and re-group. Afterwards we were awarded with beers, Clif bars, protein shakes, and Tough Mudder attire. Then the CrossFit Charlottesville troupe traveled over to Fry Spring’s Station for more beer, pizza, and ice cream. Love it! Thanks for reading.

Exuberant Animal

I am fresh out of an Exuberant Animal Trainer Jam. Here are a few reasons why I love Exuberant Animal:

  • Frank Forencich has an intense mustache, moves his body fluidly, and can lecture on neurobiology, ecology, and paleoanthropology in the same breath.
  • Dr. Kwame Brown has a Ph.D. in developmental neuroscience, prefers the tango over the samba, and curses like a sailor for emphasis.
  • I met a dozen other incredible people this weekend, including Colin Pistell from Fifth Ape and Jason C. Brown from BJJWorkouts.com.
  • We moved, played, learned, all while acknowledging the strengths and weaknesses of a diversity of perspectives and topics.
  • Influences included martial arts, yoga, dance, gymnastics, parkour, in addition to neuroscience, Taoism, social psychology, paleoanthropology, and endocrinology.
  • I got dirty from rolling around on the ground (always a plus for me).

I plan on a lengthier, more involved post this week combining some things I have learned so far from CrossFit, MovNat, and Exuberant Animal, amongst other things (Carl Paoli’s Freestyle Connections seminar, Ido Portal’s Floreio website, etc.). Thanks for reading!

Flipping Kettlebells

While messing around at the gym today, I had Jenni record me flipping some 35-lb. kettlebells:

The flips were a double back, a double front, then two attempts at one front while the other goes back. Enjoy!