Monday, June 28, 2021

Isochain Iron Man Prep: 1-Rep Max test results

Here are the results for the 6 selected exercises for Iron Man:

Romanian Deadlift at High Angle - 231 lbs. The very first time I tried Romanian deadlift with Isochain, I think it was at this angle, and felt uncomfortable for my lower back. This was several months ago when I was considering alternatives to the regular deadlift. I ended up choosing the Hack Deadlift. This time I was pleasantly surprised to find my lower back held up fine. Perhaps the conditioning of my lower back was improved by working on Zercher Squat, Bent-over Row, and maybe even Shoulder Press. In any case, I felt more confident about applying more force for the 1-rep max test.

Bicep Curl at High Angle - 62 lbs. I tried not to apply too much force during testing, to avoid aggravating my Golfer's Elbow. The spiraling external rotation action taught by Red Delta Project helped.

Shoulder Press at High Angle
- 51.8 lbs. I decided to train at medium angle instead, even though I tested at high angle, because it seems like the best angle to work at for building up the desired slow-twich muscle fibers. At medium angle, I was started to max between 55 and 58 lbs. towards the end of my latest Promethean cycle. Iron Mman protocol calls for a minimum load of 20% of 1-rep max, so at my current level, I'd be working with about a 10lb. target load if I go with about 52lbs. as my max, or 12lb. target load if I go with 60lbs.

Zercher Squat at Medium Angle - 190 lbs.

Bent-over Row at High Angle and Supinated Grip - 141 lbs.

Calf Raise - 259 lbs. I didn't expect to score this high, but then again I haven't worked much with weighted calf raise.

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

End of Isochain Promethean cycle and Next Steps

The Isochain manual recommends changing your routine every 6-8 weeks, to prevent your gains from slowing down. This is based on the research of A.S. Matveyev who found that isometric accommodation occurs in approximately 6-8 weeks. What needs to be changed is the nature of the stimulus. The change could be as simple as changing the training angle of each Isochain drill by at least 20 degrees, if you want to continue with an Isochain routine. As of this writing I have done 22 sessions under my current Isochain Promethean cycle. Without interruptions to training, this would have been 7 weeks. However, I stopped training for 2 weeks because I had a house visitor and wasn't able to figure out a way to reduce the noise of the chain. Then I had another 1.5 week interruption due to the sewer line from my house being busted. So I figured I could do another 1-4 weeks under the current routine.

Then I saw No Limit Squad's video:

What he says about hypertrophy and muscular endurance reminded me of Thomas Kurz's recommendation to build up slow-twitch muscle fibers that stabilize joints and to improve blood supply of the muscles and their fibrous connective tissue, which speeds up muscles’ recovery and is needed for increasing structural strength of their fasciae and tendons. Thus, I started thinking about trying the Iron Man routine from the Isochain manual. This is an Isochain program that emphasizes muscular endurance, as opposed to Promethean, which emphasizes strength development with some hypertrophy. While my back has held up fine these past few months, I like the idea of improving muscular endurance for more insurance against future injury to the back, shoulders, or knees.

Iron Man requires measurement of 1-rep max values to start, because the target load is based on 20-40% of the 1-rep max. For back safety, I am not going to exert my maximum possible effort in the deadlift variation for my 1-rep max measurement session. Similarly to prevent another elbow problem, I'm not going to exert full effort on my 1-rep max test for the bicep curl.

The exercise selection for Iron Man:

Romanian Deadlift at High Angle - Recommended position for people with back issues.

Bicep Curl at High Angle - This will hopefully build up the slow-twitch fibers in my biceps, as well as the structural strength of the bicep tendons. Bicep tendon strengthening was one of the areas of emphasis in my prescribed rehab routine for my first shoulder injury.

Shoulder Press at High Angle
- This will hopefully make my shoulders more resistant to injury, again per Thomas Kurz's statement. The shoulders are most vulnerable with the arms extended.

Zercher Squat at Medium Angle - This will hopefully make my knees more resistant to injury.

Bent-over Row at High Angle and Supinated Grip - The supinated grip mimics the grip that I would be using with bodyweight rowing movements on the. When I perform the row on the NOSSK suspension trainerutilizing the spiraling external rotation action taught by Red Delta Project, my hands end up in a supinated grip at the top of the movement, so the supinated grip on the Isochain at this angle mimics that. I chose the high angle because I worked the medium angle for two cycles in a row - the just-ended Promethean, and the Promethean Mk. 2 before that; and the low angle might have too much overlap with the deadlift.

Calf Raise - This is the last prescribed exercise for Iron Man in the manual. Maybe this will improve my foot arch and reduce occasional aches and pains in my feet while walking.

Friday, June 18, 2021

Isochain Promethean Mark I - Getting back on track

I took about two weeks off from Isochain training because I had a house guest and had not figured out a way to reduce the noise of the chain against the footplate. My guest is a very nice person who does not complain about noise, but I still felt self-conscious abou it. I then resumed training for a few days, then halted my Isochain work again when I learned that my sewer line had a break. I decided to stay at a nearby hotel while waiting for the work to be authorized by HomeServe, then scheduled, then finally begun.

The Isochain can be brought along on travel. However, the combined weight of the footplate, chain, and bar was enough to make me feel too lazy to bring it with me to my hotel room. Instead, I brought my newly acquired NOSSK Twin Pro suspension trainer, because I wanted to try some ideas gleaned from Red Delta Project videos. One of those ideas was training my back to create a spiraling, pulling force all the way to my hands, to help recover from Golfer's Elbow or other elbow issue, or prevent it from happening during pulling exercise. What the spiraling action does is spread the load throughout the back instead of allowing stress to accumulate at the elbows.

This video does a great job of introducing the spiraling, external rotation action to reduce elbow stress, as well as teaching a simple exercise for training this spiraling action.

The above video also offers advice on applying the the spiraling, back-driven external rotation action to pushups. However, with the NOSSK trainer at hand in the hotel, I was able to try this concept more readily with RTO pushups on the NOSSK than with regular pushups on the ground, due to the hands being able to rotate all the way to a supinated position at the bottom of the movement. Red Delta Project shows RTO pushups with his NOSSK here:

The spiraling action worked really well for eliminating elbow pain while doing rows as demonstrated in the above video.

Thus, I am now in Week 7 of the current Promethean cycle, even though I started the cycle in April and it's now June. Because of all the time off from training, I reset all my target loads 15lbs. lower for my first Isochain session after the layoff, then worked up from there. My progress so far on the drills:

Shoulder Press (medium angle) - Working at a target load of 50lbs. Last time I reached this target load, I was unable to do 4 full reps of 6-second holds. I could get the Isochain to beep, indicating that I hit the target load, but was unable to sustain force at that load. As of this week, I can do at least 4 reps for the full 6 seconds. I may take several more sessions at the 50lb. target load, to focus on improving my technique. I'm getting better at generating force from my feet up to my hands, but there's still plenty of room for improvement.

Bent Row (medium angle) - Finished the week at a target load of 125lbs or higher. My Golfer's Elbow pain is almost entirely gone. There is no elbow pain when performing this drill. I still get a tingling sensation in my index finger and thumb, so I try to pull through the ring and pinky fingers instead, using spiraling force from the back as taught by Red Delta Project for rows and pullups.

Zercher Squat (low angle) - Finished the week at a target load of 85 lbs with a max force of 122lbs. which is my 3rd highest reading for this cycle.

The shoulder feels about 95% healed. I can do almost all the movements from GMB Elements without pain. Before, I had trouble with the Monkey and Frogger movements. I still have to be careful with the 3-Point Bridge, which is part of the cooldown routine. I think if I avoid putting my support hand too far away from my butt the shoulder will be fine.