Okay, so it’s not the best picture, to be sure – I thought I could wash-out the glare, but alas… Anyway, here’s Madame Benoit’s rather erudite quote:
“I feel a recipe is only a theme, which an intelligent cook can play each time with variation.”
Not to beat a dead horse, but again — it is my opinion that the parallels between the culinary arts and the pursuit of optimum Physical Culture are uncanny. Substitute “program” or “methodology” for recipe, “trainee” or “coach” for cook and you’ll see what I mean. No dogma here, just results. This much I know to be true: on-going success in the n=1 pursuit of fine Physical Culture comes down to the ability to pick just the right ingredient, at just the right time. It’s not at all rocket science really, but it does require a certain degree of devotion, dedication to the craft. Just as in fine writing, though, one must know the rules inside and out before those same rules can be broken in order to produce an elegantly-honed piece. We’ve all endured writing that is technically perfect…yet, colorless; lifeless, even. Consider such writing as the equivalent of linear periodization in resistance training. And then, every once in a while, we’re lucky enough to come across something breath-taking, like this:
“Once there were brook trout in the streams in the mountains. You could see them standing in the amber current where the white edges of their fins wimpled softly in the flow. They smelled of moss in your hand. Polished and muscular and torsional. On their backs were vermiculate patterns that were maps of the world in its becoming. Maps and mazes. Of a thing which could not be put back. Not be made right again. In the deep glens where they lived all things were older than man and they hummed of mystery.”
That’s the last paragraph of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road; and that, my friends, is a true work of art. Cormac’s writing has a way of inducing epileptic fits among grammar Marms, and yet, what a vivid, sensual picture he paints. McCarthy undoubtedly knows the rules of grammar just as well as any technician, and yet he’ll trample those same rules in an instant in order to produce a desired result — in this example, a last paragraph that is nothing less than brilliant.
And speaking of bending the rules to produce results, remember back in January of this year when I spoke of the launch of Efficient Exercise’s Project Transformation? In this “project”, we at Efficient Exercise offered some 20-odd “everyday Joes” (and Josephenes!) 10 weeks of free training and dietary counseling, with the intent being to show that anyone can achieve and maintain a fantastic level of health and well-being with a minimum investment of both time and dietary intervention — or, another way of putting it, with a minimum of “headache, heartache and hassle”! Training consisted of two, 30-minute, CZT/ARX -based workouts per week, with “dietary counseling” consisting of little more than the equivalent of “hey, follow more-or-less a Paleo diet, and here’s Robb Wolf’s and Dr. Kurt Harris’ web sites“.
I jest here about the diet…but only slightly. Actually we did offer the dietary counseling/intervention services of Austin’s Merritt Wellness Center for those who had a rough, initial “shaking the carb Jones” transition, or for those who we thought might be struggling with proper nutrient absorption, or other such issues. The main take-away here is that these people were largely left to their own devices, other than the 2x 30-minutes per week that they saw us for their workouts, and the virtual support network created by our Facebook page. A health and wellness program that is anything but a fad, mostly self-directed and administered, and that is sustainable for a lifetime. No involvement from the medical establishment, no insurance hassles, nor dealings with the poly-pharma industry. No sales pitch or endorsement from a celebrity talking head. Surely something that simple can’t work, right?
Well, let’s just see about that.
So, after 10 short weeks, how did it go? Just take a gander, if you will, at these results:
No gloss-over here, no top-performer bias, just the plain, raw, non-manipulated data. Everybody’s data.
Limitations? Sure. I wish we’d done preliminary and follow-up blood work. I wish that we had access to a more accurate method of measuring body composition (we used the impedance method; access to a university’s water tank/scale would have been nice). But hey, we’re a gym/fitness studio, not a university lab. Our aim was to show a trend, not measure absolutes, and in that, I believe we succeeded.
But the key points remain: this is a simple, realistic and sustainable program with a huge return-on-investment — not just in the measurable health and well-being parameters, but in the intangible measures — happiness, self-esteem, productivity. Our intent here was not to produce better athletes, but better everyday citizens. Citizens who will not become yet another drain on our country’s limited healthcare resources. Citizens who can continue, into an advanced age, to contribute to the nation’s GDP, rather than become yet another statistical drain upon that same measure. And, yeah (and here comes my “woo-woo” side) — citizens who can contribute to the overall “good vibe” of their communities. Healthy, fit people are happy, courteous, empathetic, loving and caring people. It is no coincidence that Austin is, at the same time, the epicenter of Physical Culture, and a city renoun for it’s tremendously good vibe.
But hey, enough of me yammering on about this, let’s consider a couple of actual participant testimonials:
So, can the nation’s health care crisis be tamed, one citizen at a time? You bet it can. One hour per week. Some rudimentary dietary changes. A huge return on a very small investment. Vibrant health is within everyone’s grasp, even the most time-crunched of individuals.
Okay, and now for a few workouts from last week:
(A1) blast strap flyes: 15, 15, 15
(A2) blast strap tri extensions: 10, 10, 10
(A3) CZT/ARX chest press: HR/3, 3, 3
I’m a big fan of pairing blast strap work with the CZT/ARX. This little sequence here produced a total upper-body beat-down in a very short period of time.
(B1) OHS: 95/10, 12, 15 (box at 2 holes showing). Shoulders were friggin’ shot to hell at this point, so this movement, as it was programmed in this sequence, was done more of an upper-body finisher, with the added benefit of providing a good lower-body dynamic stretch.
(A1) Nautilus lateral raise: 150/10, 10, 9
(A2) XC seated military: (0 offset)/10, 7+, 7+
Ahh, goin’ a little old-school here, with a nice pulls progression!
(A1) power cleans (high catch): 135/10, 165/5, 185/3, 205/2
(B1) high pulls: (to at least belly-button height — higher, if possible), 225/5, 245/3, 275/3
(C1) BOR: 275/6, 295/3
(D1) straight leg DL: 295/6, 315/7
(E1) deadlift: 365/3, 415/2, 435/2
(A1) high bar Oly squat: 135/15; 225/12, 12, 12, 12
(A2) XC bi curl: (+20)/12; (+30)/12; (+40)/12, 12, 12
The properly performed high-bar Oly squat is a thing of technical beauty. Here, Russian world Oly lift champion (many times over) Anatoli Piserenko demonstrates a bit of “performance art” perfection. Wow…
So it’s been a ‘coon’s age since I’ve done high-bar Oly squats myself; a radically different move, of course, from the power-oriented variety. I performed these barefooted, which adds a tad bit to the level of difficulty in the movement. What added to the difficulty level even moreso, however, was the fact that I performed these following a good deal of fixie huckin’. Any form of squatting, though, following a spell of hard saddle time, is always an adventure 🙂 Seriously though — if you’re looking to push top-end weight in this movement, kids, wear your Oly shoes! Do as I say, not as I do! 😉