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Jan 2013: Basic training and TSC

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Late 2012/early 2013 training has been influenced heavily from a number of points that came home to me strongly during the 'Fundamentals of Human Movement' workshop that Steve Maxwell put on in Canberra late last year; and my own continuing exploration/dabbling in movement, mobility and body awareness.

I've done some testing so I can mark progress throughout the year. Nothing too special; Chin-up max ( dead-hang and in good form); push-up; one-leg squat; broad jump; vertical jump. And some somatic markers, too. Basic strength work plus movement for a while yet; to condition before doing more intense agility work (deeper goal for this year) later in the year.

The methods that I've been trailing in my workouts are isometric Timed Static Contractions (TSC) and Embedded Statics. These, tied in with the Systema style breathing strategies that I learned at the workshop have been fun and challenging on many levels. It's fascinating to work with controlling the urge to making noise or mouth-breath at high intensity contraction and lactic acid level.

I get the full ROM in my body-weight movement work throughout the day. I've upped my volume of mobility and movement work, and added many new movements - to great effect! More on the specifics later.

Tuesday's Workout:

Chin-ups with Embedded statics (10 seconds): 4 sets of 3-4 reps

(holds at lower 45; just above 90 and top position of chin-up - 10 seconds each with added over-contraction i.e. not just holding the position with minimum energy/fascial cheating)

One-leg Squat hold TSC (just above 90°): 90 seconds w 5 negatives [L:R]

Push-up TSC: 90 seconds with 3 waves of intensity (followed by 5 negatives).

Unilateral Shrug TSC (done both sides) w 28kg KB: 90 seconds w 5 negatives [L:R]

One-leg Calf Raise TSC top position w 28kg: 2 x 90 seconds w 5 negatives [L:R] (Second set was more donkey calf raise angle)

One-armed Push-up TSC on knees: 90 seconds w 5 negatives [L:R]

Using strength training workouts as also breath-training workouts makes so much sense, to me. The controlling breathing under duress is worth the price of admission alone!

D

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Dave—this workout looks brutal! How is your neural system handling it? A few questions:

When you say (talking about chins) that you hold "added over-contractions" do you mean like we do it in the MG, following Sommer (mostly): full contraction of all the rest of the body (toes pointed, legs squeezed together, quads and hammies co-contracted, glutes squeezed and trunk tight when holding the locked-off top position? (3 x 48" last week, BTW; Gary did 3 x 60).

And what's the thinking behind the unilateral shrugs?

And I agree 100% with the Systema breathing Steve recommended; Miss O and I have been doing this on all our walks recently (and we found a new very steep track on Mt Taylor which has become the daily staple). We have found that nose-only breathing is significantly harder walking up rough hills vs. smooth ones; the rhythm is easier to maintain if each step can be roughly the same.

Last question: do you monitor your heart rate in these workouts? I have some ideas I want to share with you about this.

And I agree with your last point (strength and breathing workouts as one). This is crazy but true: I remember my Father saying exactly the same thing, as did Bernie Hall (my old boxing coach); boxers train this way as you know. Deep wisdom hidden in plain sight!

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Neural system is handling it very well, as I space it ~72hrs apart. I do movement play/mobility on the other days.

The over-contraction is similar in that I do all of the cues you mentioned (with slightly less strict form in the lower body), but the difference is through the torso and arms - you squeeze the absolute shit out of the bar instead of just maintaining enough grip strength to arrest your descent from isometric to slow negative.

I found with focusing on the other parts of the body, the mind goes off the grip a bit - and you very much need a disciplined mind to make the 60 - 90 second grip contraction maximal (I alternate TSC & embedded statics with chins workout to workout). For the TSC method, you really have to use the replenishing breath during the last 30 seconds, as it feels like the muscles will catch fire!

For both TSC and Embedded Statics the contraction in the muscles is far more intense than any I got in the Monkey Gym doing any other method.. comparable, perhaps, to the sensation when I did 3 reps in the Chin with an extra 32kg (in terms of muscle tension) - but the extra lactic and muscle irradiation effect trump that for total contraction-sensation.

Interestingly, for the TSC method, it is the seconds post the minute mark that make all the difference. As the primary muscles start to give out, you use force of will to make the body recruit anything nearby by doubling/tripling your effort at maximum contraction. Quite often you won't even begin shuddering until then, and miss the best part! I'm sure you've done this training in the past via power body-building type training, no..?

It's just one method, of course. It depends upon the goal of the training cycle. I'll cycle into something less intense next cycle, and also work some non-maximal isometric holds later in the year; but this method has been a great way to return to basic strength training movements, for me. I was finding I could easily get time via hanging off fascia somehow (and not getting anywhere near the muscle contraction I am getting now).

That's the real difference, I guess - you really make getting that ungodly muscles-about-to-spotaneously-combust feeling that everybody tries their best to avoid, or stops just short of, the goal (reps and time are secondary.. actually, trying to get to that sensation in as little reps as possible is what I am doing). It really is great mental training to force yourself to do this too, whilst training solo. Everybody should do cycles where they train by themselves, preferably out in nature, after getting good gains in a gym environment, IMHO.

I think before I was being far too lazy with my contraction intensity to ever safely get a one-arm chin-up.... now, I think it is possible, but a fair way off yet!

No HR monitoring; Steve reckoned it was 160-170 from a 7 minute workout using these methods. I'd like to get a HR monitor for this and morning resting HR measuring. My phone can't get that HR app, alas.

Unilateral Shrug works in well with the calf TSC (15 secs rest between sets for grip). I also want bigger, strong traps and to conditioning my neck generally before moving on to more complex neck strengthening. Lots of big, ripped guys in great shape in Sydney, but often with skinny necks and calves.. don't want to go that way myself. Mercilessly thrashing my calves into rampant growth is one of my goals of this year! The grip element is great, too (provided you squeeze the handle, not just hold on 'enough' like in the chin-up).

D

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Brilliant. So, when are you next here so you can take us though one of these? I can really see these working once a week interspersed with what we are doing, for sure. I wold need you to take me through one, I feel. Re. the BB work I used to do: no, because (except for back squats) some parts of the body can rest, some of the time (think of the archetypal bench press). It's true that when any exercise gets hard, and you muster the mental effort to keep going, then other muscles contract, but it was nit the objective. I think this will be something new for me, and completely consistent with what we are doing here. Great work.

BTW: got down on aerobic steps with one support in side splits Tuesday night, HB: look out!

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How about this weekend in Sydney? Sneak out of the family commitments and join me for TSC workout in a park... There is definitely a lot of value in this method, based on the body sensations and strength-hypertrophy response so far. Controlling the intense urge to gasp; yell or swear is really hard! It's almost like a 'shock' method for lazy tissues and muscles.. I'll be interested to see what 12 weeks of it do to my numbers (of chins, for instance).

Niiiice; one support! I am working on side splits via mobility and un-winding techniques at the moment. I'm going to try adding a once every 10 - 14 day massive shutdown threshold stretch to this. I feel that I will get it this year, as it looks like you will too. Let me know when the hallowed 'TT' event occurs!

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Well: the Balmoral workout has come, but not yet gone: some DOMS, particularly in the glutes and in the lower abs. An excellent result. An intense 7 minute workout.

We did just three exercises, once: approx. 90 degree supinated chin-up (CU), 90", and five negatives; same with single leg squat (SLSl above parallel position, decent forward lean), and PU (elbow angle about 90 degrees).

Addendum: I forgot to mention major lower abdominal DOMS: holding the half chinup position means the body is held at an angle (legs forward of the bar); and when you point, tighten, glute squeeze and so on, the abs contract mightily. This was the strongest effect for me.

Miss O will post her reactions tomorrow; she has already gone to bed!

More to come.

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Post Balmoral DOMS: glutes; feet(!); abs; lats and arms (esp biceps & brachialus). Great little workout. I love the fact they are so short, but so effective!

Today I'm going to play around with the Lizard crawl, maybe do some calves and and neck. Tomorrow another TSC workout.

D

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Replace 'Lizard Crawl' with 'Crawl to the toilet and projection vomit into it'.. Had some type of food poisoning this afternoon. Decent ab contraction whilst purging though!

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Hi DW

Sorry you were unwell, sounds yucky!

My body's responses to the Sat workout ... Sun, definite 'feeling' in glutes, biceps and elbow flexors, but nothing too horrible. Mon, soreness was really pronounced and I was flat; neural fatigue I suspect. Tues (today) I feel completely recovered. We will do the same session this evening in Adv. S&F (row/chin pull options, angled/parallel push options, one/two-leg squat leg options). Will report back here!

Cheers

O

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Hi OP,

Hmm; good response I'd say. How are you feeling today? I heard from two Adv S&F participants last evening about my 10 minute workout inspiration... they were both extremely polite and thankful.. ;)

Cheers,

D

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Re. feelings: last night I did three sets of five 40Kg overhead squats, so part of the soreness that I feel today is from that. I can't tell whether the unusual delt soreness is from there or from holding the crocodile bottom position. I had to imagine that the floor was on fire to hold me up for the last 15 seconds!

No glute or arm soreness at all (uh oh!). Stay tuned.

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Hi DW

I did the circuit again last night and it was hard. In the row, my grip felt like it 'locked on' and I could barely get up (using my legs!) to start the negatives. Didn't make 90 s on the 1-leg squat on either side, more like 70 s, and the negatives were hopeless! Had to work hard on the half-depth push-up hold, but this is by far my strongest static position so made the time period and negatives. In summary, I definitely needed more recovery and intend to do this circuit once a week only.

We put the Adv. S&F through the same circuit. Quite an eye-opener for everyone. Only one could hold the half-chin for the 90 s, and he said he had to work really hard. About half the group did a two-leg squat as they couldn't hold the one-leg. Everyone could hold the push-up, but only a couple had good body line (I suspect the rest couldn't get their glutes to cooperate and tuck the tail after the squats!).

Cheers

OP

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In summary, I definitely needed more recovery and intend to do this circuit once a week only.

Gold, right there, folks: recovery is essential to adaptation. The poorer your recovery (or the extent of the incompleteness), the closer you get to injury. The feeling in my body (and I am one of the two who was able to hold the 90" half chin position; John T was the other) is that my body had not recovered fully from Saturday's workout (only four days after all). I agree with Olivia that this kind of neurally intense workout is probably best done once a week.

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Hai; seconded. Definitely need to have a decent gap between hard workouts - which is great, as it leave me free to do movement-play/exploration on the days off, and still make good strength and hypertrophy gains!

I tried to do a workout last night (a bit too late) after doing stretching earlier in the day - got to about 1:05 in the TSC Chin-up, and it felt like rubbish. Did the 5 negatives anyway, then went home; ate, then went to bed shortly after.

This morning I put myself through:

TSC Chin-ups (made 1:17seconds) + 5 x 10 second negatives. (Did it from a 'neutral' grip on some metal gymnastics ring at a park in the CBD...I noticed something interesting I will post later).

TSC One-leg Squats: 90 seconds + 5 x 10 sec negatives (Each leg).

Parallel bar dip: 90 seconds + 5 x 10 seconds negative (Elbow position greater than 90°).

Great little workout. Went to a walk in the Botanic Gardens as active recovery.

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Last night's brief workout at the park:

Tuck front lever row top position [Normal non-TSC style Static-hold]: 60 sec; 50 sec; 40 seconds.

(knees very tucked; humerus fully extended - great holding position for time. Outdoors you also get to look up at trees, birds and airplanes as your torso and arm muscles heated up significantly in the final 10 - 15 seconds).

Jumping: two foot jumps onto a table (about navel height from ~1 metre away from table). Alternating sets of jumping with sets of Tuck front lever row holds (got to be an easier way of saying this!). Jumping for soft-landing on the table and jumping backwards onto the ground.

First set: 5 jumps.

Second set: 5 jumps then rest then 3 jumps.

Third set: 3 jumps onto table then sliding through to jumping off forwards on the other side. then rest then 3 jumps back and forth again. Then some lateral jumps --> ground to seat --> seat to table --> table to seat --> seat to ground. Repeated 3 times each set. 2 sets.

Finishing with some playing with running one leg jumps onto the table off my non-dominant right leg.

Very interesting body and brain sensations post workout. Jump training definitely feels different in the body than other types of training.. I remember then sensation from when I was a boy (I did A LOT of jumping as a kid). Some organ sensations, from the internal recoil of absorbing the force of jumping softly and silently, possibly... I was already going to start up some agility & Parkour/Free-running style training this year, but decided to have a go at medium intensity yesterday after reading a great article Simon T posted on fb yesterday (which I'll post over in the monkey gym forum now). Also did my standing broad jump test yesterday lunch-time.

D

maaan, I am really excited about having an agility, movement and jumping focus to my training in 2013!

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Testing [Early 2013]

Chin-ups (strict dead-hang form): 16 rep max

Push-ups (strict no-spinal change form): 18 reps

One-legged Squats [Pistols]: 21 reps Left; 20 reps right (first 13 are more or less up an down; 13 - 20+ have pausing and breathing at the top position)

Standing two-footed Broad Jump (measured from toes to heels): Best of 5 jumps

222cm; 224.5; 236.5; 246; 245cm --> 246cm, which I believe is smack on 8ft. Not bad for no specific jump training.

One stat missing is vertical jump.. would like to measure both highest object cleared from two-foot and highest mark with a piece of chalk.

D

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Small workout last PM:

At Park:

Tuck Front lever hold: 60 seconds; 45 seconds.

Jumping onto table (further away this time ~1.6-1.7 metres away): Jump onto table-slide- Jump off forwards x 6 reps

Jumping on/Jumping backwards off: 6 reps x 2 sets (this may be obvious, but I found pre-tensing my calves in mid-flight whilst jumping backwards took away any sensation of shock absorption being too quady or too close to the knee). Maaaaan; jumping is fun and my body feels 'alive' the day after.

At Home:

TSC for calves w 28kg KB: 2 sets on smaller right calf; 1 set on left calf.

I held the calf contraction longer than 90seconds the second time and the sensation really starts to make you squirm! The urge to yell or swear is very high, and the sensation in the masseter/pterygoid muscles from this 'build-up' is interesting..

RollStretch: Slow recoil work with ball on sternum; pleural fascia and rib-cage. Feels great in the thoracic; shoulder girdle and ribs today.

D

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Hi all

Adv. S&F last night at the Monkey Gym.

* Pull ex. (chin or horizontal row); static hold 60s or 90s then immediately 5x10s negatives, 15s rest (those who did 60s static hold got extra rest)

* Push ex. (half-depth push-up, floor or bench angled version); static hold 60s or 90s then immediately 5x10s negatives, 15s rest

* Leg ex. (one- or two-leg squat); static hold 60s or 90s then immediately 5x10s negatives, 15s rest (those who chose two-leg squat did it twice!)

* Gymnastics plank, 5 x 30s hold/15s rest

* Hollow, version of choice, 5 x 30s hold/15s rest

* Cossack squats, 15r L/R

* Arch, version of choice (lower body only, whole body with choice of arm position), 5 x 30s hold/15s rest

* Side-to-side low squats, 5r L/R

Total time working approx. 31 mins. Great effort from everyone involved; I was really impressed! Also, very happy that I was leading the session, not doing it! My turn on Friday at STS.

Many followed with Adv. P&F, focus on ... what else? ... side splits and konasana!

Cheers

OP

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Nice Workout ..I especially like the bit about working on side splits and konasana after Adv S&F!

Yesterday Afternoon:

A Clubs Lesson with Steve Maxwell(!).

Going through a whole host of '3-dimensional' strength exercises, as Steve calls them. I had a fantastic time playing with the clubs (which I haven't done any serious training with), and can't wait to integrate them into my mobility routine (low-intensity days) and as a finisher to my strength workouts. Body feels nice and sore in some normally under-utilized areas of the arms and torso.

Steve is amazingly generous with his time, and truly loves teaching his S&C methods to people. I highly recommend getting along to his workshops while he's still in Aus!

D

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Last Night ~10pm:

Didn't get a chance to have my full workout today, so did an experiment with my 28kg KB late in the evening.

Stairway TSC Bent over Row w 28kg: 1 set of 90 seconds plus 5 x 10 sec negatives. Both Sides.

Firstly, using the Stairwell was actually really great (have no bench at home). I'll have to photo/film the position; it allows you to work on optimum spinal alignment whilst recruiting the other 3 limbs in an interesting bracing pattern. Different from the Bench Row.. possibly not 'better', just different and fun (and cheaper than buying a bench!).

Secondly, using the bent over KB row for the TSC was awesome. I'd love to do a descending ladder of TSC sets with progressively lighter bells (28; 20; 16kg, for instance) and see what happens... I don't have the equipment, but maybe the Adv S&F class can try this.. >:-D

I think an error that is creeping in is trying to us the TSC with too hard a variant of exercise (i.e to close to the persons max). When I get access to a 16kg bell, I'm going to try multiple TSC sets on a medium/moderate resistance.

No soreness today, just nice, mild worked feeling.

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Yesterday evening on bus home: Somatonautica - Soft tissue work on hands: magick pts; fascial adhesions; spiral-diagonal traction stretches. Man, self-massage and soft tissue work is one of the secrets to longevity I swearz it.

Just then (Tuesday ~ 6:45pm): TSC Workout

A1) Crocodile Push-up: ~80 seconds then 5 x 10 sec eccentric.

A2) Two leg Goblet squat position hold: 90 seconds; then 5 x 10 ecc

B1) Stairwell Kb Row w 28kg (better name needed for this): ~80 seconds; then 5 x 10 ecc [ Left; Right ]

B2) Two leg Goblet squat position hold: 90 seconds; then 5 x 10 ecc

C1) One leg Isometric hold (just about 90°): 60 seconds then immediately into

C2) Stairwell Kb Row w 28kg: 60 seconds

In 'C' exercises done back to back; first on the left, then on the right.

• The one leg 60 second hold I used finger-tips to balance on object so I had perfect alignment in the second thirty - this was a big improvement on muscle contraction and form. I noticed a connection between turning the big toe pad slightly into the ground, whilst con-currently drawing up the arch via tib posterior contraction created a great 'line/channel' of contraction all the way up the inside of my leg and enhanced (greatly!) the adductor involvement to the hold. This felt great, and I normally have sluggish and inactive adductors - so much to explore from this.

The use of a 60 seconds 'normal' strong isometric hold after a set of TSC for the same muscle group worked very nicely.. you could definitely feel the fatigue from the TSC set - and I gave myself a decent break to drop heart-rate/breathing rate between sets.

Still a bit of a nausea feel, possibly via metabolic effect on the liver.

Some more movement exploration and stretching after shower.

D

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DW, I have something to report, and when Miss O has a chance, she will report too.

What we did on Tuesday was a variation on the TSC protocol as we did it at the beginning of this thread (90", five 10" negatives). This arose because, basically, she has been wiped out following the workouts. As well, she has not been able to lower from the top lock-off position following the static 90 degree holds; she would get help to the top position, then drop down from that to the 90 degree position, so she was getting no negative effect in the top half of the movement. As well, I had noticed that most attendees were doing more like 5" negatives, rather than the stipulated 10". And we were considering your comments above, too, about not pushing too hard (as some of us are wont to do!).

A general comment is that, in the chin up lockoff position, I am convinced that most people are using only their arms. Accordingly, in the last couple of sessions, I asked everyone to try to feel how to flex their lats (to pull the shoulder girdle down to the hips as strongly as possible) in this position and this substantially increases the back involvement and the overall effect.

So, on Tuesday we did very strict handstands for our pushing exercise (and I note in passing that the handstand is actually a better complement to the chin up considering the plane in which the effort occurs); 15 seconds holding good form, rolling out, and alternating with our partners. No negatives were done in the handstand because I felt that was potentially too dangerous. Adam however was able to do a number of these.

[An aside: I definitely want to try this but I am not convinced HS partials are a benefit to the HS itself because the all-essential shoulder position is lost as soon as you bend the arms. I might try L-sits as a variation some time soon.]

Then we did 30" 90 degree chin-up holds, followed by three real (counted out)10" negatives, and we repeated that three times.

For the last part of the session, we do 3 x 30" SLS with the three 10" negatives. As well, some folk are not able to do the single-leg statics, so these people do a two leg squat instead; they get more rest than the folk doing the SLSs, of course, but because they are weaker, this is fine (more recovery).

What I found was (and this could be a getting-used-to-the-protocol effect, too) my lats today feel 2" wider, seriously, and the delts and traps are significantly worked (I have to acknowledge though that we have not done HS for a couple of weeks, so this will contribute). And in the speedskater SLS my non-working leg's knee was only about two or 3 inches away from the floor, which suggests that I'm getting stronger, too. And an excellent glute effect and, this is the new sensation, a lesser but still strong quad effect.

Overall, my impression is that the shorter 30" statics plus really controlled (and full duration) negatives encourage even stronger contractions on the second and third sets then the same amount of time holding all three contractions in one go (the original 90") seems to provoke.

Finally, I have not had the post-workout wipeout effect at all; this might be individual variation; it might be something else, and we will keep an eye on this aspect for sure.

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Update: Liv tells me that there were only two negatives; could'a fooled me (felt like five, or fifty!).

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