there is no substitute for experience

New to Dynamic Variable Resistance Training – Sandbags

I still love kettlebells and I still love rocking, rolling, and crawling – the Original Strength resets, but I gave myself a new shiny toy – a strength shell from Ultimate Sandbag Training. I trained with it for about 30 minutes today and am looking forward to more sessions in the future. I worked with about 30 pounds for the first 20 minutes and then went up to about 50 pounds at the end after I felt like I might be doing what I was doing competently.

This video does not reflect what I was doing today, but I find it inspirational and am posting it here to remind me of what I want to do in my next workout.

Working harder and easier than ever

As noted in the previous post, my new normal workout is three 30-minute segments. Kettlebells and pull-ups in the morning, rucking with 26 pounds in the afternoon, and Original Strength resets – rocking, rolling, crawling, etc. in the evening. I did not begin rucking until the second half of March, but still averaged 52 minutes of exercise daily. I actually took 5 days off during March including 3 days in a row the first week when I was exceptionally busy.

I am very happy with the time I am devoting to working out and do not plan to “try” to devote more time in April. Although I enjoy my routine of three 30-minute segments, I don’t think I must train that much every day to achieve my goals.

My kettlebell and pull-ups workout today felt like something I will settle into for a while. Here’s what I did.

Prying goblet squats
16 kg kettlebell – 4 x 5 = 20 reps, 700 pounds

Goblet squat curls
16 kg kettlebell –4 x 5 = 20 reps, 700 pounds

One-handed swings
16 kg kettlebell – 10 x 20 = 200 reps, 7000 pounds

Suit-case carry
20 kg kettlebell – 100 yards L/R = 200 yards, 88 pounds

Pull-ups – 1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1 = 10 reps
Body weight 190 x 10 = 1900 pounds

Total weight: 10,388 pounds

The pattern I followed was to complete one dead-hang pull-up after 10 L/R = 20 swings until I had completed 200 swings and 10 pull-ups. The last thing I did was to walk up and down the hill in front of my house with a 20 kg kettlebell, first in my left hand and then in my right hand.

I experimented last week with using the 20 kg bell for my one-handed swings, but the increased weight irritated my already tender left forearm.  I am staying with the 16 kg bell for swings until my arm improves.

The reason I say that I am working harder and easier than ever is that devoting 52 minutes to training every day of the month is more effort than I have devoted to training in maybe 10 years. However, the kettlebell work, pull-ups, rucking, and rolling is fairly easy and leaves me feeling energized all day long. I like feeling energized all day long. I may keep this up for a while.

My new normal

I have been training steadily and have adopted a new standard program. I don’t get it all done every day, but am missing doing something on very few days. My new normal is to spend 30 minutes with a kettlebell and pull-up routine, 30 minutes walking with a weighted backpack, and 30 minutes performing Original Strength resets.

This morning I performed 20 goblet squats with a 16 kg kettlebell, 200 one-handed swings with a 16 kg kettlebell, and 12 strict, dead-hang pull-ups. This afternoon I strapped on my backpack with a 12 kg kettlebell inside, walked to the park near my house, circled the park three times, and then came home. This evening I got on my gymnastics mat in front of the TV and spent time practicing diaphragmatic breathing at a pace of 4 breaths per minute for a few minutes. Then I spent time rocking, performing segmental rolls, and crawling backwards and forwards.

The hardest thing I am doing is walking with 26 pounds in my backpack. Considering that I used to CrossFit 3-4 times per week when I weighed 30 pounds more than I currently do, I would not think that 26 pounds in a backpack would be a big deal, but it is. I’ve gotten a few tension headaches after my weighted walks. I can’t imagine walking for hours the way some people do. I may upgrade to a military grade rucksack to see if that helps.

My left forearm has been sore and tender for almost 6 months. I  had to stop doing Turkish get-ups because a heavy kettlebell irritates my left arm too much. I have been limiting how much time I spend crawling. I will schedule something with an orthopedic surgeon within the next few days to see what he thinks about resolving the issue. Massage and limited use does not seem to be helping.

Averaging 41 minutes of exercise per day

I started tracking what I was doing for exercise back in October 2014. I set a goal for 2015 to exercise at least 15 minutes per day, five days per week. So far I am averaging 41 minutes per day every day. I actually tend to take at least one day off per week and sometimes two, but rarely exercise less than 30 minutes and often exercise 60 minutes.

Most of what I am doing are Original Strength resets like rocking, head nods, segmental rolls, and dead bug work. I had set an aggressive goal of Spiderman crawling a significant amount every day, but suspended that plan in consultation with experienced Original Strength practitioners who warned me that the persistent soreness I was experiencing in my left forearm meant I should avoid Spiderman crawling until it was resolved. So now I am doing 10 minutes of baby crawling many days.

I miss picking up heavy iron, swinging kettlebells, and performing pull-ups, but have decided to give myself several months of performing Original Strength type work exclusively to see how much progress I can make resolving some of the “mechanical” issues I have had for years in my left shoulder, elbows, and now forearms.

Crawling in 90-second segments this week

I extended how far I am Spider-man crawling on the track around the Cogburn Road Park near my house this week in two ways. The first is that I am crawling across at least 80 sidewalk joints each day. The second is that instead of using 10 sidewalk joints as my standard crawl length, I started covering 15 sidewalk joints in some segments.

Today, after marching to the park in 7 minutes, I completed 4 sets of crawls covering 15 sidewalk joints, then 2 sets of 10, and then a quick finisher of 4, 3, 2, and 1 for an overall total of 90 sidewalk joints. I added the 4, 3, 2, 1 finisher to give myself more practice getting down and up from the ground.

Crawling across 15, or even 10, sidewalk joints gets my heart rate up. I walk down to where I started crawling and then back to where I just finished to recover before I start the next segment.

My overall outdoor workout lasted 37 minutes today and included roughly 18 minutes of marching, 10 minutes of walking, and 9 minutes of crawling.

Earlier in the day, I spent 30 minutes rocking, nodding, rolling, lateral baby crawling, and performing dead bug and bird dog work from the Original Strength menu of resets.

I am feeling good, but have one problem. My left forearm is sore. I suspect crawling on concrete is causing some strain. I have been avoiding the grass field inside the track because conditions have been wet, but I may shift to the grass if the rain stays away long enough.

Crawling on wet sidewalks in a light mist of rain

Today I Spider-man crawled on wet sidewalks while a light mist fell. The temperature was round 50 degrees. I liked it.

I have a process goal of working out 5 days per week every day of the year in 2015 – 260 workouts. My criteria for a workout is at least 15 minutes of rocking, nodding, rolling, cross-crawls, dead bug work, crawling, marching, skipping, and/or sprinting. The reason I am setting the minimum workout time as 15 minutes is because some hotel rooms are not conducive to spending a lot of time on the floor.

On a good day lately I have been active for 60 minutes and getting in at least 30 minutes on more demanding days. This week I worked out 6 times – Monday through Saturday – for a total of 270 minutes or 4.5 hours.

I have an achievement goal of being able to Spider-man crawl continuously for 5 minutes by 21 February 2015 when I am attending the Foundations Level 2 workshop in Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina to continue my education in the Original Strength System.

I was able to crawl 2 minutes continuously 3 weeks ago. Over the past 2 weeks I have been going to my local park to crawl around the soccer field. This week I went to the park 5 times and completed at least 7 segments of 1 minute crawls on each trip. Next week I am planning to complete 8 segments of 1 minute crawls in the park. By going up one minute per week, I will be completing 10 segments of 1 minute crawls the week of 19 January.

Starting on 26 January, I am planning to crawl 2 minutes at the beginning of each workout, and then complete the balance of 10 minutes of crawling with 1 minute segments. The plan on 2 February is to start with 3 minutes of crawling, on 9 February 4 minutes of crawling, and on 16 February 5 minutes of crawling.

My training plan may be too aggressive. If it is, I will slow the pace and take longer to build up to 5 minute crawls. My forearms have been sore this week. I think I have not been crawling gently enough for a man who was not able to Spider-man crawl before November 2014. I was more careful about planting my hands gently today and think I am on the right track. I am confident I can start my workouts with 2 minute crawls by 26 January, but moving up one minute every week until I reach five may too ambitious. However, I won’t know until I get there.

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