Monday, August 30, 2021

Linux command line tips and Wizardzines comics

Friday, August 27, 2021

Isochain Burn Count First Session

These are the results for my first Burn Count session - hold times in seconds for the given loads:

Romanian Deadlift Medium Angle: 23s, 130lbs
Shoulder Press Low Angle: 30s, 35lbs
Drag Curl: 20s, 25lbs

2 reps per exercise, per Burn Count protocol. For today, I kept the higher hold time. But now that I think about it, when I reach the 45s threshold for advancing to a heavier load, I want to be sure that I hold for at least 45s on both reps. If do 41s for one rep, and 46s for the other rep, dos it mean I can advance? I don't think so.

After I finished the Isochain workout, I did some whole-body shaking to try to reduce the muscular tension, then did 3 sets of 5 Shield Casts with my 15lb heavy club on each arm. This was for joint traction for the shoulder, and some forearm work to try to balance out the Drag Curl.

Starting with 60% of 1RM seemed to be the right call. The loads were at the appropriate levels for my hold times to be within the 20s to 45s range. The exception was the Drag Curl. I felt a little too much load on my forearms despite my efforts to keep the elbows back and down. So for the 2nd rep, I decided to raise the bar by one more chain link, so that I'd be working at 2 links above the white tag that I used to indicate middle angle of the regular curl. Just this one adjustment was enough to shift a noticeable amount of load to my biceps. Because my biceps are weak, a 20s hold at 25 lbs, at the new chain position, was more difficult. I had to pause around 15s, reset, and hold again to get to 20s. So for next time, I'll do Drag Curl at 20lbs.

Isochain Burn Count 1 Rep Max Tests

Here are the results for the exercises selected for the Burn Count program, following the protocol in the manual, which is to warm up, take 3 attempts, then log the average of the 3 attempts. Numbers are in pounds, rounded to nearest whole number.

Romanian Deadlift Medium Angle: 203
Shoulder Press Low Angle: 66
Drag Curl: 45
Zercher Lunge Left Leg: 92
Zercher Lunge Right Leg: 95
Chest Press: 35
Seated Row: 87

Part of the reason my RDL (Romanian Deadlift) tested lower than when I tested to start the Iron Man program, is I decided to work one link lower on the Isochain than where I had it set for Iron Man, which is the link on which I put a green tag to indicate high angle regular dealift. I just thought it was time to increase the mechanical disadvantage just a little bit more, to work the muscles just a little bit more, without introducing too much more risk of reinjury to the lower back or spinal erectors. Mechanical disadvantage means lower force output. The purpose of the 1-rep max test was just to establish a starting target load anyway for Burn Count. In this program, we are not working on improving our max strength. Instead, we are working on sustaining force at a given target load for enough time to stimulate hypertrophy, as well as get practice at generating muscle tension.

Clearly the low angle (bar at about chin height) is still my strongest angle for Shoulder Press. I haven't trained at this angle since this past February, when I was working at a target load of 65 lbs. After February, I explored the medium (head height) and high (arms nearly straight) angles. For today's testing, there was a jump of 5 lbs or more with each successive 1-rep max attempt. This corroborates with research that suggests that isometric training at any angle has carryover in strength to all other angles, albeit to varying degrees.

To start Iron Man, my 1-rep max in the regular Bicep Curl at High Angle (forearms about 45 degrees from biceps) was 62 lbs. I expected to test quite a bit lower than that in Drag Curl because of the mechanical disadvantage induced by pulling the elbows back to load the biceps more intensely. 45 lbs however is little higher than I thought. For Drag Curl, I decided to set Isochain to 1 link above the link on which I have a white tag to indicate medium angle bicep curl. This takes my hands close to what I estimate to be the top of the drag curl movement, but not quite at the top. I just have to remember to pull the elbows back, then down, to help minimize the load on the forearms (don't want Golfer's Elbow again!) and distribute more of it around the back.

I figured out that the Isochain coil needs to be near my heel for Zercher Lunge. It will take some practice to exert force for this exercise without letting the foot plate move. I had guessed my right leg would be the weaker leg but it's intersting to verify it. I forgot to write down the chain setting for this exercise, so I had to find a setting again - not so low as to cause discomfort, nor so high that I won't feel like I'm making much effort. I decided to got with the same setting I used for Calf Raise in Iron Main.

My Chest Press 1RM is very close to what it was when I tested my 1RM for it to start Promethean Mk II earlier this year.

I expected my Seated Row numbers to be lower than my Bent-Over Row numbers, due to the standing position allowing more extension chain muscles to be used. But wow, what a drop! I was pulling in the 150s in the standing Bent-Over Row. I thought about going with supinated grip, but decided a pronated grip would be better to balance out the supinated grip used for Drag Curl, and thus try to avoid Golfer's Elbow.

I was tentatively planning to start Burn Count with target loads of 40% of 1RM, but then I found this video by Chrys, a professional fitness trainer on the Isochain discussion group. I think Chrys is actually talking about the 3 Days On program, which is a different hypertrophy program in the manual. Still, he's an experienced trainer so if he says 60% of 1RM is the way to start for hypertrophy, that's where I'll start. I'll round down to the nearest multiple of 5, because I'll be at the start of the program, and I'll be spending 6-8 weeks on it. If I do a hold for 45 seconds easily, per program guidelines, I'll just raise the load by 5 or 10 lbs for next time. If I can't make the minimum 20 seconds, I'll just lower the load for next time, no big deal.

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Next Routine: Isochain Burn Count

I decided to do the Isochain Burn Count program for my next exercise routine, starting next week. The heavy club training was fun, but I think that in order to help my recovering shoulder progress towards less pain and more stability, it's time to switch back to isometric training with the Isochain again. Isochain training is the one form of training available to me that I know for sure will not bother my joints, and actually seems to make my joints feel better.

So far, I have tried the following Isochain programs:
Promethean and Promethan Mk. II - focused on strength with some hypertrophy Iron Man - Focused on endurance, which may build some slow-twitch muscle, tendons, and fascia, but not likely to build as much muscle as a hypertrophy program
Promethean helped my shoulder regain some strength and feel better, but did not help restore the shoulder to 100%. Iron Man did not seem to improve the feeling in my shoulder, but I only did it for 4 weeks. The next type of Isochain program I want to try is a hypertrophy-focused program. I selected Burn Count because it looked the simplest out of all the hypertrophy/bodybuilding programs described in the manual. I have not been able to find any information on the effects of hypertrophy-focused isometric exercise on joints recovering from injury. So this will be an experiment to find out. From what I could find by Google search so far, hypertrophy-focused training tends to favor fast-twitch muscle fibers over the slow-twich fibers that protect the joints. However, those findings seem to be based on dynamic exercise rather than isometric exercise for hypertrophy.

I've been looking for ideas on what target load values to use for starting Burn Count. I found Pavel Tsatsouline's article on Slow Fiber training. The article says "30-70% 1RM for the lower body and 10-40% 1RM for the upper body". So I will keep it simple - take my 1-rep max measurements per the protocol in the manual, then start with a target load of 40% of 1-rep max.

The selected exercises for Burn Count Day 1 are:

Shoulder Press Low Angle
Drag Curl
Romanian Deadlift Med Angle

For Day 2:

Chest Press
Seated Row High Angle
Zercher Lunge Medium Angle

The shoulder press and chest press are part of the Burn Count program in the manual. The choice of the 4 other exercises as substitutes for the manual version was influenced by Red Delta Project's video, in which Matt explains his exercise choices.

The particular criteria:

  • Low skill - do not need great skill to perform
  • High muscle activation - works muscle hard for given load
  • Light load, heavy technique - body is in technically challenging position to put lot of stress in muscle,  less on body itself.

I kept the shoulder press because shoulder press has been good for my shoulder, as far as reducing pain and restoring some strength.

Friday, August 20, 2021

WRP: Week 5

I started the week with 12 sets of 5 reps of Shield Cast, Outside Circle and Inside Circle with the 15 lb. heavy club. Rest was about 2.5 min. between each of the 3 exercises. My form got really bad for the last couple of sets. So, I'm going to take an idea from the Mark Wildman Introduction to Heavy Clubs program that I bought - drop the exercise volume and go up to the next level fo complexity. The paid program organizes the exercises into 3 levels. Level 1 is all simple movements. Level 2 are a mix of simple and combination movements, and Level 3 is all combination movements. The program rotates between the 3 levels. The idea is that you will progress to more complicated movements, so that when you drop back to Level 1, the simpler movements are easier to do. When the movements feel easier to do, you can do more of those movements. When you have worked up to 10 or 20 sets (depending on whether you're training with a fixed-weight club or the Adex adjustable club) of 5 reps of the movement, you will have gotten much better at that movement, and are probably very close to maxing your possible gains in strength, hypertrophy, and endurance from that movement, at that club weight.

Shield Cast, Outside Circle and Inside Circle are Level 1 of what I call the Wildman Reconditioning Program (WRP) for single-arm heavy club. The exercises at Level 2 of WRP are Single-Arm Pullover, Inside Pendulum, Outside Pendulum. It's not hard to see why Wildman wants trainees to practice at Level 1 before progressing to Level 2.

Single-Arm Pullover - The Shield Cast is more forgiving in that the club pulls your torso upright and teaches you to keep the elbow in line with your shoulder. In the Single-Arm Pullover, you have to pay more attention to squeezing the glutes and tightening the abs. I really like what he says about saying things aloud, by the way.

Outside Pendulum - Outside Circle practice should get you used to rotating your torso and shifing your weight from foot to foot, while keeping your spine straight and upright, not turning your hips that much, and not moving your feet at all - this is all to prevent injury to your knees or back. Outside Pendulum has the same requirements, but adds an additional challenge. The bottom part of the movement will require you to hinge at the hip, but you still have to keep the spine straight

Inside Pendulum - I don't think he has a "for overweight or deconditioned people" version yet but this video is still applicable. The requirements and challenge are similar to Outside Pendulum.

For this week, I did 5 reps per set for each exercise, as before. On Wed. I did 5 sets. On Fri. I did 6 sets. I'll sleep on what I decide to what direction to take my training for next week. I switched from Isochain to heavy club training in the first place to improve the strength and conditioning of my forearms. I feel like I got the gains I could have possibly gotten for my forearms for this training cycle. Another reason was, I wanted to see if the heavy club work would result in my still-recovering shoulder feeling better - since this club work was supposed to traction my joints as well as condition the external rotators.. I felt there was someimprovement but it didn't come as fast as when I was training on Isochain.

Saturday, August 14, 2021

WRP and GMB Elements : Week 4

For this week, I did 9 sets on Monday, 10 on Wednesday, and 11 on Friday for each of the 3 exercises in Wildman Reconditioning Program - Shield Cast, Outside Circle, Inside Circle. I did 5 reps per set. I gave up on practicing sessions of GMB Elements on Tuesdays and/or Thursdays, due to DOMS in my shoulders and upper back. If my body adapts to the steadily increasing volume of heavy club work so that the DOMS subside, I may practice Elements again. My left hand starts to fatigue in the last couple of sets of the workout. I can complete the workout but it's a struggle to keep the club stable. Despite my effort to practice CST style intelligent grip - shifting the load more to the middle, ring, and pinky fingers when the club is in line with the forearm, and shifting the load to my thumb when the club is perpendicular - I wore off some skin on my left thumb. Hopefully I'll remember to apply a couple of coats of liquid bandage on Sunday to try to protect the skin for the Monday workout.

Sunday, August 08, 2021

WRP and GMB Elements : Week 3

I worked up to 8 sets of 5 reps per side in each of the 3 drills in the Wildman Reconditioning Program - aka the heavy club version of Mark Wildman's program for overweight and deconditioned individuals.

On Tuesday, I did GMB Elements Session 11 for 30 min.

On Thursday, I felt soreness in the shoulders and upper back, so I decided to do leg training instead. I opted to do this leg micro workout, because it emphasizes endurance and power to some extent: