Getting back into a routine

Well, we’re into September now and I still haven’t gotten into a decent/consistent routine of doing proper training between classes. It’s been a very wet six weeks which certainly hasn’t helped (though I’m not knocking the rain, it’s normally so dry down here it’s nice for a change!!), as I actually train in my nice big shed, but since it isn’t sealed around the base, when the weather gets really wet, I get some leaking around the area I work out in, which is far from a safe training environment (and as I’ve noted various times in this blog, I’m a little accident-prone :P). There’s also been other commitments that have come up after work, I’ve been distracted by a few things, I’ve been slack, stuff like that. None of it is any real, super-legitimate excuse though, and it’s proving hard to break the temptation of taking it easy after a busy day at the office and get into the shed for some training.

Fingers crossed the weather clears up a little so I can cross at least excuse off my list and get back into a decent routine. I know that as soon as I start it, I’ll be fine, it’s just breaking that habit. I’m particularly keen to get back into my stretching and weights routine in order to improve my kicks and build up my muslce mass again, and because I’m vain, I’m also looking forward to flattening my stomach again – the combination of cakes during the week and beer over the last couple of weekends while I was helping McAdam paint/renovate/move in have made my mid-section a little more plump than I’d otherwise care for 😉 I was watching videos of Kanazawa-sensei performing my kata via YouTube last night, and it’s demonstrated I have a long, long way to go in getting it right, so some extra training of kata couldn’t hurt, either.

We’ll see how I go – will post up some progress reports as I go!

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Weight watching

So there are two reasons I habitually check on my weight:

Number one, I’m vain 😉 I was a bit of a chubber when I was a kid, and got sick of it when I was around 15 and went on a crash, anally retentive diet for about 12 months. No snacks, smaller portions, exercise, no dessert, stuff like that. It ended up working – between a couple of growth spurts and a serious change in diet, I shed all the weight over a year, and managed to keep it off while my metabolism continued to kick in. Thankfully for me, despite my good dieting habits taking a bit of a dive during Uni (cheap meal deals at Hungry Jacks and a fresh doughnut place at the train station were good fun ;)), I managed to keep it all off throughout my studies and until I graduated and moved out. True, looking at some photos of when Wifey and I first moved in together I was definitely too skinny, but anywho, I managed to kick the fatty gene.

Number two, keeping your weight steady is *essential* as an amputee. The socket has to fit the form of your body, so if you drop too much weight or stack on too much, your prosthesis isn’t going to fit because your body shape changes in many subtle and not-so-subtle ways. Thankfully you normally get some warning – the prosthesis starts slipping off your stump or won’t sit on it correctly, you get chaffing, skin breakdown, stuff like that.

Note that I said “steady” up there – you get problems if you drop too much weight as well as put it on, in that the prosthesis just falls off in addition to all the rubbing and chafing! Mind, all that’s needed in order to fix this is to have a new socket moulded, but it depends on what you’re doing – if you’re trying to loose weight, it’s all good, but if you start stacking on the weight (and you don’t need the extra kilos), it’s the start of a slippery slope – it gets harder to walk, you might eventually get into strife trying to find a knee and ankle/foot that’ll support your weight, and the cycle hits pretty hard the further you go. As those who have been/are overweight know, it’s harder to exercise when you’re heavier, which makes it even more difficult if you’re an amputee *and* you’re overweight. Hence why I take it seriously and keep an eye on it.

In terms of my weight (moving on from my teen years), things started getting interesting once I started nearing my mid-20s and I found the weight was starting to roll back on, especially over the 12 months I had off from training around 2005/2006 (hit the archives for details – here’s the lot, most recent entry first). So, to keep it at bay and get back on track, shortly after moving into our current place I started keeping track of my weight each week. I had a few aims behind this – I wanted to trim some excess weight (particularly around my belly and waist), get back into my weight training and continue to intensify my karate training. With my weight, I was aiming to bring myself down to about 70kg (remember that I’m not that tall, coming at around 5’8″!) despite the fact that the weight training was going to pack on extra weight as well (muscle weighs more than fat, or so popular opinion tells me!), which would mean that theoretically I’d shed more fat weight by combining it with increasing my muscle mass at the same time.

So this brings us back to now – while I’m not too sure what my muscle mass is sitting at since I haven’t done any intense weight training in about a month, at my last weigh-in I was a hair’s breath away from my goal weight, so I’m pretty chuffed with myself at this stage. Funnily enough I’ve still got my damn love handles, but hopefully if I continue on, start up my weight training again next week (now my thumb’s sorted itself which means I can lift the bar without worrying about splitting the wound), kick in with intense, focused training at karate and some extra stretching and exercise between these (such as taking the dog for an extra walk or two), I might eventually get rid of them 😉

… and that ends my jumbled rant about weight, amputees, and another one of my stories 😉

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Good workout

Just finished up a reasonably quick after-work session, and I have top say, it feels really good to get back into some good physical training. I’m finding that I’m gradually increasing the scope of my training sessions between classes – I’ll now do 50 leg lifts, 100 crunches (with a mix of light- and medium-intensity focus on them), 10 divebomber pushups (yes, only 10 :P), and in an attempt to improve the quality of my kicks, I’ve also added a stack of leg stretches into the mix. The awesome bit is that I’m now back to being able to do side-splits all the way down to the floor again – it’s been a while, but it’s good to get back there. In response, I’m finding my leg is more limber than it normally is, and the muscles around my knee (and remember my knee’s prone to being a bit shonky every now and again) are more relaxed and strengthened… if that makes sense 😛

Anywho, now that I’ve cleared enough space, I also went through my grade kata a few times before hitting the weights. Following on from the principles I read up a while ago on Jesse’s blog, The Martial Explorer, I went for max intensity and minimum reps – got 51kg on the bench (no improvement from last time, but its been a fortnight since I last hit the weights, so I figured this wasn’t too shabby), hit higher weights on my other exercises, including 45kg on the… erm, I’m not sure the name of it – pull-downs or something? It’s the one where you pull down the long horizontal behind you and stuff, working your shoulders and back. I’ve found it’s helping balance out my muscle around my shoulders as well, which I think were becoming too front-heavy and not properly balanced on both sides – this has happened before when I used to do only light weight training and focused too much on my arms instead of dedicating enough time on my shoulders and back to support the extra muscle mass.

… not that I know a lot about weight training mind, just what I’ve read up on and learned from those more experienced than I, like my father-in-law, and other martial artists out there.

So yeah, good workout tonight – looking forward to having another one tomorrow night in prep for getting back to training this week!

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My foot’s still mangled :P

Well, dropped into the leg people yesterday to get them to do some work. Y’know, like a car service, but for a leg. I reckon I should slap on one of those “Your next service is due by June 2009, or 5,000 kms” on my leg. That way I’d be a bit better in getting it serviced regularly 😀

Anywho, the new foot enclosure is still on its way, at this stage it looks like I should have it done before Wednesday next week, which is good as I’m driving Wifey up the wall at the moment from walking around the house doing karate. Due to the foot I haven’t done anything too stupid (like running up and down the hallway doing jumping side kicks :P), just punches, shuto and the occasional kick. It’s now been three weeks since my last class, and I’m starting to worry about the quality of my kata, so I’ve started going through it in my head every now and again and trying to visualise it and train the pattern in my brain that way. In the meantime with my foot, they’ve fused the toes back onto the rest of the enclosure which should abate any paranoia I have about them breaking off entirely if I keep to my currently level of activity. They also serviced the knee while I was there – I hadn’t snapped the spring this time, but it was given a thorough once-over and its working much nicer now.

Anywho, in general training news stuff, I manage to squeeze back up to 50kg on the bench on Wednesday night, which was good (I could only get to about 46kg the night before). I was going to do weights last night as well, but the week’s catching up already so I gave it a miss as I had a few other things to do after work anyhows. So this ends my first week of minimal reps/maximum weights that I wrote about earlier on after reading Jesse’s blog. Obviously it’s still early days, but I enjoyed the challenge this week, and we’ll see how it translates into my usual training regime for next week. In the long run, I’m hoping it will be a positive addition to my between-class training.

More importantly, hopefully I’ll be able to get to class next week!

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Changing up the training a bit – achieving strength without size?

So, Easter’s over and I have eaten my fill of chocolate and hot cross buns. Over the last couple of days I’ve also started catching up on some blogs around the traps, and came across an excellent post on Jesse Crouch’s blog, The Martial Arts Explorer. To date, with my weight training between classes I’ve gone for mild intensity, emphasising reps ahead of pushing for heavier weight sets; this has seen the amount of muscle mass in my arms, back and shoulders increase over time (which is definitely a good thing!). However, I’m thinking of mixing things up a bit after reading one of Jesse’s recent posts, “Strength without bulk: Types of isometric training and what they can do for you”. While I’ve heard of these crazy terms before, I haven’t really looked into them all that much (will have to take a squiz at Wikipedia later on methinks!), but Jesse’s post introduced the concept of mixing up higher-reps training with short but super-intensive sessions to build up strength, but without the muscle mass behind it.

So, last night I gave it a go and really liked the change of pace. I’ve only been benching 40kg with an emphasis on the reps, and by the end of last night following a series of increases I managed to squeeze out a couple of reps at 50kg. This still puts me on the very low end of the scale in proportion to my body weight according to the chart on Jesse’s blog post, but at least it’s slowly getting me there 😛 My aim is to start mixing up this level of intensity with my regular reps-based exercises, maybe one week emphasising reps, one week emphasising intensity, something like that. Will keep everyone updated on how things go.

In addition to the new weight-training regime, I’m also adding a few other exercises to my between-training regime. Previously I’ve done 100 crunches and 50 leg lifts as a starter to work my toro/abs and get the blood flowing, before going into some light bag work for for 10-15 mins. I’ve now augmented that with progressive stretching on my legs to get myself back to being able to do full side splits (aka Chinese splits) again, with the aim of introducing more stretching exercises to improve my kicks.

I’ve also added Divebomber pushups to my start-up regime, inspired by Jesse’s posts on them here and here. I did 10 of these last night (2 x 5 reps), and they proved an excellent addition to what I’ve been working on. Mind, I don’t think I’m doing them anywhere near as gracefully in the YouTube vids posted in Jesse’s blog (I think the way I do it might look uncannily close to a self-indulgent dance move from a Rock Eisteddfod performance, though I say so in the spirit of the awesome Asher Treleaven, who wowed Fringe audiences a few years ago by channeling Space Invaders as if it were performed at the Rock Eisteddfod), but oh well, I figure since I can’t get any worse that I can only get better 😛

Since the foot’s not getting fixed up until Thursday, I’ll be trying to squeeze in extra training at home to make up for my absence in class, whilst still delaying the inevitable breaking of what’s left of my foot enclosure 😛 In lieu of training, I’ll try and add some random blogging madness, and perhaps write some more posts in response to other people’s blogs to continue facilitating discussion on all things martial arts or otherwise.

… and now that my car has finally been fixed with a new battery as of only a few minutes ago, I think I’ll post this and head off to work 😛

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