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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March is off to a good start

Well, so far I’m actually doing what I set out to do this month and have started exercising between classes. My in-laws recently moved interstate, and my father-in-law has passed along his old weights and benches to me before they made the move (along with his blower-vac, which should make cleaning the floor of the shed much easier now!), so I’ve got some new additions to my setup. I’ve also put my boxing station together, and while it isn’t bolted into the floor as securely as I’d like, I’ve piled on plenty of weights on each corner to stabilise it for the moment (I need a slightly wider masonary drill bit to finish the work) and it’s behaving itself. At the moment I’m starting off each session with a short workout on the bag to loosen the muscles up, then crunches and leg lifts before getting into light weight training, alternating exercises during the week to target specific areas (chest and torso/arms/shoulders/etc). At the end, I’ve tried to slip in a little bit of lighter bag work, but so far it’s been pretty crappy since I’ve been a bit exhausted afterwards 😛

I’m not aiming to bulk up too much, primarily I’m looking at increasing muscle mass to the point of being toned and with a degree of greater physical strength. I realise there’s a correlation between size and speed when it comes to martial arts, so my aim is to hopefully balance things correctly (as opposed to over-doing the weight training and becoming a sluggish meat-head :P). At the same point though, because of my condition I don’t have the same level of agility that an able-bodied martial artist would have, so I figure the increased muscle around my chest, back and torso will help to deflect at least part of the damage caused by a blow (i.e. the ‘suit of armour’ concept — turn the muscles into an organic suit of armour to withstand strikes where possible). It will also mean that, in combination with proper technique and correct use of biomechanics, I could deliver greater impact with a strike to make it count.

Plus, I find it an enjoyable way to augment my training – it builds up a sweat, normally leaves me feeling pretty knackered afterwards, and is hopefully going to reduce the amount of ‘padding’ around my midsection 🙂 I think the really good part is integrating bag work in there, and down the road I’d also like to put together a makiwara so I can alternate or complement bag training with makiwara work too.

So yeah, so far so good, but we’re only two days in 🙂 My muscles are really sore at the moment, but I’m of the opinion that the best way to loosen up sore muscles is to give them a workout, so I’ll be looking forward to training tonight, especially since I missed it last week because of my mangled stump. I’ll add another post before the end of the week with a roundup of tonight’s training for those interested.

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Archive: Lift some steaks, eat some weights

Source: Gisoku no Jutsu
Original post date: 18 May, 2007

You know, I don’t even know the name of the song that aforementioned quip is from. All I know is that I keep on seeing it on VH1. Oh, and the correct line is ‘lift some weights, eat some steaks’ hahahaha, it’s sooooo bad! Except the random board kicking in the clip was cool. And the slapper girls in it are amusing as well.

Anyway, the reason for the title is because I did weight training last night. Nothing terribly intense, as I didn’t want to push myself, just wake the muscles up as my father in law said. Speaking of my father in law, I was telling him about the blog and that I’m using pseudonyms for peoples’ names – he’s informed me he will now be known as Fat Dave, as that was his moniker when he used to be on a radio show.

So anywho, did some weight training last night, which was ace. My arms are a little sore this morning, so I figure I must have done them some good. In my plan to shave off the extra couple of kilos I’ve put on over the past two months, I’ve also decided to bring back the size of my meals to the same portion as Wifey’s – it was acually her suggestion, and so far it’s all been good. I remember last time I made the conscious effort to bring back the size of the meals I was eating, and I actually started feeling better because I wasn’t eating to the point of feeling bloated; the same thing’s happening this time as well, so it’s all good.

I ended up skipping on karate this week – I had some torn skin on the back of my stump that I was hoping would heal up; it hadn’t by Wednesday, so I’ve thrown a couple of bandaids over it since Wednesday night, and it’s been feeling much better, and I’m not making it worse when wearing my leg, which is why I think it was taking too long to heal up before. Looking forward, therefore, for training next week 🙂

In non-training stuff, I want to mention two things briefly. First, I’ve added a handful of photos and stuff to the pics section – go and have a look. Hamez has been kind enough to add some comments, so feel free to add some additional ones 😛

Secondly, McAdam, Tank, Wifey and myself went to see Spider-man 3 on Tuesday. Y’know, ’cause it’s cheap to go on Tuesday nights. Tight-arse Tuesday and all that. Anywho, I won’t wax lyrical on it, but I did enjoy it, there was heaps going on which I thought was really good. Some comments though, and be warned there might be some spoilers in there:

  • The strut scene was complete awesome
  • The news reporter bit was dicky and unnecessary – please cut it out for the DVD release 😛
  • Venom looks uber
  • The scene towards the end where Spidey swings past the flag should have featured “America~~, f*ck yeah!” from Parker/Stone’s sublimely golden Team America instead of the film’s score. In fact, as soon as I can get some footage of that clip, I’ll rip out the audio and throw that in there instead, then YouTube. Though I might be drop-kicked by The Man if someone gets cranky about it
  • Speaking of flag waving, Spidey 3 was much improved over the unnecessary plastering of it over the course of the previous film. I mean, the fact it’s set in New York and they all have American accents kinda gives it away that the movie’s set in the US. Just say no to unnecessary cultural/political propaganda in Hollywood films 😛

So yes, those are my thoughts of Spidey 3 🙂

I’ll fire up another update next week, and I’ve decided I’ll try to make the time over the coming weeks to cover two things – firstly, recount my first lesson at karate, and secondly, talk about how I used to do Taekwondo with my older brother Miguel and my Dad when I was much younger, probably around 8 or 9 years old. Oh, and hopefully I’ll update my profile stuff on what I’m watching/reading – it’s really out of date now 🙂

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Archive: We can rebuild him, we have the technology

Source: Gisoku no Jutsu
Original post date: 26 March, 2007

Ack, wasn’t able to squeeze in a third blog last week – my bad. Between another busy week at work and crunching in an assignment for post grad stuff at Uni, I wasn’t able to get one done. Bummer. But I’ve made up for it by having such an awesome title for this blog. Maybe.

Anywho, it turns out that last Wednesday I managed to get an appointment and had my leg fixed. The problem was the usual one – the big-arse spring in the knee broke in half, hence the weird clicking noise. For those unawares, the knee for my fake leg (see my pics/previous blog for an image) has a big spring inside that helps make it do its usual trickery. Assumedly, after it’s given a fair bit of abuse, the thing shatters/bends/brakes, and so on, which leads to the knee not operating as well as it should (normally, this means it doesn’t swing through as smoothly as it should), and in the worst-case scenario, the knee completely seizes up and won’t move – it stays locked in place.

The last time I had the spring changed, I’d waited ages before I managed to grab some time off work to go in and have it looked at, and the result staggered even the guys who take care of these things in their daily work. I was hoping to have a pic of it uploaded by the time I wrote this up, but was having trouble finding the pic on my mobile phone – thankfully, I’ve finally located it, so I’ll upload it over the next few days. It’s a really cool pic – I placed a brand new spring alongside the mangled one. The result was very amusing. Or at least I was amused, but I’m like that 😉

Anywho, back to the story – the leg got fixed, but due to craptacular study commitments, couldn’t make karate training on Wednesday night, which makes it three weeks in a row that I haven’t trained! Very annoying. I get the feeling my karate will be uber sloppy come Wednesday… and it just emphasises even more that I have to organise the extra night’s training to continue to push myself, and it means that in the future if I have to skip a night’s class due to work or study commitments, it means I won’t be missing an entire week’s worth of training!

Even though I’ve had the time off, I’ve been working hard on my leg stretches in the evenings, and I’m almost at the point of being able to do Chinese splits (i.e. side splits, as opposed to front splits). When I had my previous style of prosthesis (my current style uses a silicone liner for my stump, which is easier on the skin; the previous style had a flexible, plastic-type inner lining and the stump used to slide in and have direct contact with the socket… methinks I’ll have to do a post, or a series of posts, on how my leg(s) have worked over the years), there was greater flexibility between the socket and my stump, and doing the Chinese splits didn’t stress my legs as much as the current leg does, and I could get myself perfectly flat on the ground whilst balancing on my heels. With the extra work I’m putting in, I think I’m beginning to reach that same level again, which is awesome.

In addition to the stretching, I had two pretty intense weight sessions last week – Tuesday night’s workout emphasised chest/upper torso, and on Thursday my father-in-law put me through what he calls his ‘Killer Arm Workout’, with “killer” signifying intensity, and not the usual slang its used for in Australia 🙂 And you know what – he was right! After the workout, even washing my hands was difficult! It was pretty funny mind you – I felt like a penguin, moving my arms from the shoulder to get them to do anything 🙂 Hence on Friday, I was a little sore, and by Saturday, wow… I must have slept with my arms folded or curled up, because the muscles around my elbow were so sore and stiff that the tendons didn’t want to stretch at all, so I had to work on them all weekend to actually be able to stretch my arms out straight! I would like to thank the packet of voltarin for adding some anti-inflammatory goodness, and the magic mud heat rub stuff Wifey and I brought back from NZ in helping me being able to get my arms better! I can now stretch my arms out straight, and it only hurts a bit 😉 Methinks a less intensive session is in order for tomorrow night 🙂

And that’s pretty much it. I’ll post something else in the lead up to training, and will finally be able to do a post-training blog later in the week. Can’t wait – I’ve missed karate!

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Archive: Weight training

Source: Gisoku no Jutsu/MySpace
Original post date: 13 February, 2007

This one’ll be a short post – just wanted to note that I had my first weght training session Thursday last week, and it was great. Wifey’s Dad took me through everything and it was a great workout (Hamez joined in as well). I’m not benching that much at the moment, but I figure I have to start somewhere, and hopefully it goes well. I’m of course not in this to become some huge beefcake, just to build up some extra strength and temper it with speed as well.

I’m hoping to do weight training at least once a week with this – I’m heading over tonight, so it’ll probably be every Tuesday until I start up the extra karate sessions on Mondays, whereupon I’ll train Tuesday one week, then Thursday (when Wifey and I go over for dinner) the other week. In the meantime, I’ll train three times a fortnight until I begin Monday classes.

See, I told you it would be a short post 😛 I’m not going to training on Wednesday night as it’s Valentine’s Day, and I’ll be spending it with my other half. If I get time, I’ll post another random story or something, maybe a recap of the various ways I’ve injured myself over the years whilst doing karate 🙂

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