My left shoulder is still sore. I’m going to take 5 or 6 days off completely from any left shoulder work and just let it recover. Then I’ll start adding shoulder rehab work for another week. That doesn’t mean that I won’t be training.

Menu of Exercises

Zero Shoulder Usage:
Ruck / Weighted hike
Jingle Jangles
Step ups – weighted / unweighted
Box Jumps
Leg Blasters
Ab Bridge right side

Minimal Shoulder Usage:
Sandbag Get Ups
Bulgarian Split squats in KB Rack position
Sandbag Squat Cleans
Goblet Squats holding most weight with right side

One Arm Work
1-arm Bench
Bar Get Ups
KB Clean + Press
KB Snatches
One arm DL
One arm OHS w/ DB or KB
One arm Rows

Using these, here’s my next week mapped out:

R – 6.17

3x Right Side Mobility Warmup

60 min 40# weighted brisk hike

F – 6.18
Objective – Work Capacity
3x Right Side Mobility Warmup


(1) 20 Rounds
1x Suicide Sprint every 30 seconds
5 yards and back, 10 yards and back

**** Rest 5 minutes *****

(2) 5 Rounds
Mini-Leg Blaster

S – 6.19

Easy 25 minute run – real easy

S – 6.20

Hangover Fog – Modified (Rob’s workout, so not posted)

M – 6.21

60 min 25# weighted brisk hike

T – 6.22

JUNUARY – Modified (Rob’s workout, so not posted)
Obj: Base Fitness – Strength

W – 6.23

Easy – 50 Sandbag Getups @ 65#

Today is Day 1 of my Whole 30 process.

Honestly, I really like no bull approaches, and this is definitely one of those:

Don’t tell me you “slipped”. Unless you physically tripped and your face landed in a box of Krispy Kremes, you DID NOT SLIP. You made a choice to eat something of poor quality. It’s always a choice, so do not phrase it as if you had an accident. You make a poor choice, even once, you’re out.

The general logic I think is unrefutable: If you haven’t really truly given your system the time to heal, how do you really know what does and doesn’t do your body bad?

I’ve eaten pretty close to paleo + dairy for more than a year. I say pretty close, because I drink 6-8 beers a month and have half+half in my morning coffee. Then once a month I’ll have some ice cream or one of those delicious DOC pizzas at Two Amy’s. However, I can’t say I’ve really seen the fat loss that I expected. I’m sure that part of this comes from chowing a ridiculous amount of almonds every day. But here’s the thing: I really don’t know. Until you try it cold turkey, and then slowly add things back you just don’t know what your body can and can’t get away with.

For now, coconut milk in coffee seems to work ok. Tastes a little different. Rather than mellowing the coffee flavor, it’s almost as if it draws it out more. I could definitely get used to it and not miss anything.

On a related note, I’ve finally found a consistent source of coconut milk. You know what I mean. Not having your coconut milk separated into solids and liquids while still in the can is a pretty big bonus ;-). After trying 6 or 7 different kinds, the “365 Organic” brand coconut milk is the only one that consistently makes the cut.

Why do we train? When people use the verb “to train” it’s usually with a purpose. There is an event, sport, or other endeavor that is driving their efforts. When people say they’re going “to workout” they usually don’t have such a purpose. They are usually looking for general fitness.

Of course, training for different sports will involve doing different things in the gym. That’s a no brainer. However, an athlete’s age is also going to have a big impact. I’m not talking about recovery periods, volume etc… I’m talking about training for durability.


Risk is a combination of probability and consequence. The risk of injury for an older athlete increases via both factors. The consequences of an injury at age 35 are very different than they were at age 20. Recovery that may have taken as little as 2 or 3 weeks can stretch to 6 months. Likewise the probability of injury to a body burdened by a couple extra decades of imbalances is notably higher. As a result, the purpose of training becomes mitigating these risks: making the athlete durable.


Durability is the combination of a lot of things.
A durable athlete has to be balanced. There can’t be physiological time-bombs ticking away inside an athlete’s body. For example, someone with powerful quads but a weak posterior chain is not going to stay healthy once the power requirement goes up. (power is the amount of work produced for a unit of time)
A durable athlete must have stable and mobile joints. An athlete can avoid a lot of problems by focusing on a stable lumbar spine and stable knees and shoulders. On the flip side, joints that tend towards stability, such as the hips and ankles, need to be restored to full ranges of motion.
A durable athlete is strong. Injuries happen when muscular fatigue sets in. A stronger athlete gets fatigued less quickly. This is even more important for older athletes because recovery times are longer, so getting less fatigued in the first place lets you get up and do it again the next day.

I learned these lessons the hard way after breaking my ankle and injuring my shoulder. It took nearly 5 months until I could really train again (broken left ankle, right shoulder in a sling at the same time). It will probably take a full two years until I have my pulling strength back to what it was. That is an eternity. The ankle injury was unavoidable unless I had chosen not to step onto the rugby pitch that day. However, I could have saved myself a lot of shoulder trouble by having a stronger more balanced musculature and a more stable joint.

This is one of the reasons that I actively discourage friends from jumping into Crossfit as it’s practiced at most affiliates. Durability isn’t a focus at all. Rather, the focus is on a narrow conception of gym-based fitness and a method of getting there that rarely includes any form of periodization or progression. A large number, if not the majority, of Crossfit clients are over 30 and would derive more benefit training for durability and correcting whatever imbalances they have accumulated.

Durability is also important for younger athletes. However, for older athletes it should be the primary purpose of their training. There is little doubt that if you tell most 35-40 year-olds to trade 100% performance with the near certainty of 1-2 years of rehab at some point in the next 10 years for 90% performance with the near certainty of being able to do their sport with no injury during the next 10 years, how do you think they would chose?

I spent some time over the weekend refinishing the handles on the cheap bells I originally bought when I started training. I’m not going to post a how-to. It takes a long time and is just a pain. I am very pleased with the results, but I can’t recommend this to anyone. GoFit and York go straight to my personal “hall of shame” for the kettlebells that they’ve produced.

Just buy a Dragon Door or a Lifeline bell and save yourself the trouble.

Today I looked on this blog and saw my Big 24 numbers from last September. The results were sobering. Despite working out rather regularly since that time. I was doing 20 lbs less on “The Exercise”. Whoa!?! What happened? I am way stronger than last September. All my other lifts are up. I think this drop comes down to one thing: location. Last time I was doing Big 24s I was on an olympic platform. I could let myself go all in. This time around I’m doing Big 24 in a confined apartment complex gym. If I miss the lift I just don’t have a lot of space to bail. The solution is simple. The gym in my apartment building is right next to the roofdeck. All I got to do is drag the weights outside. We’ll see how that goes.

There is a clear, larger lesson to this. If you’re serious about improving performance, you have to keep track. I would have had NO idea if I hadn’t written things down here on the blog.

This got me thinking, what else should I be tracking? My 30 day push ahead of July 4th is a perfect opportunity to keep track of a wide variety of data points to see what makes sense and what doesn’t:

- Training.
- Food. Obvious, low-hanging fruit. I eat pretty darn clean, but I’m quite sure that I eat way too much
- Sleep
- Supplements
- Weight
- Body measurements
- Some sort of qualitative measurement of how I feel.

A few days ago I got an email from a guy who is broke and untrained. He just didn’t know where to start, what to do or what equipment he needed. He was under the impression that I had a sumptuously outfitted home gym. Nothing could be further from the truth. I cobble together workouts with what’s available at the tiny little gym in my apartment complex, a few items I’ve purchased, and some stuff I’ve made.

First, if you’re untrained, the most important thing is to just start. Stop letting “I need the perfect setup” be the excuse behind getting your butt off the couch. That’s not what’s keeping you back. You don’t need any equipment at all. Nothing like burpees w/pushups, 400m sprints, leg blasters, chair dips, ab bridge complexes, and hindu pushups to get you started. I sent him a 8 week bodyweight routine that should be a good ass-kicking start.

Once you’re done with that, become a craigslist hawk. There’s a lot of perfectly functional equipment out there that can be had at a fraction of retail. Take advantage of people moving that need to get rid of stuff asap. I would add equipment in the following order, over the course of a year of training:

1) Pair of simple, used 25 lbs hex dumbbells. I’ve seen them for as low as $5. Don’t pay more than $20. Lunges, Goblet Squats, Thrusters, Renegade Man Makers, Scotty Bobs, Mr. Spectaculars, Shoulder presses, One-arm overhead squats, Russian twists, Weighted situps, Turkish Getups etc, etc… It’s going to take you a while to run out of possibilities

2) Home made suspension trainer with thin and thick PVC grips: $40. If you don’t need lots of flexibility as far as where you hang these and have some spare rope around you can make these as cheaply as $1.50 (Home depot will sell you 2′ lengths of 3/4″ and 1 1/2″ pvc pipe for 75 cents each)

3) Make two sandbags using wood pellets, military surplus heavy duty laundry bags (look for ones that are rubberized on the inside) or USN heavy canvas sea bags, contractor’s clean up heavy duty plastic bags, duct tape and zip ties: $20-$50 depending on if you need to buy a whole roll of duct tape, a whole bag of contractors bags, and how cheaply you can get the surplus military bags for (I paid $2.95 each). If you live in a place where people don’t use wood pellets, then try a pet supply store. They’ll sell you 40# bags of “natural kitty litter” – the exact same thing – for a 3x markup. If you’re starting out, you may want to go make 40 and 50# bags. Intermediate level, you’re probably looking at 65 and 80#.

These three items can run you as cheap as $26.50 and at most will run you $110 if you go cadillac. Frankly, you can get pretty fit with just this.

4) Home made 20″x 24″ plyo box: $30 I’m assuming access to a table saw and some basic wood working skills. You need a sheet of 3/4″ plywood for this, which if you really want to dirtbag it, you may be able to scrounge for free at a building site etc…

What I’d buy next depends on how much space I have.

Assuming I have unused space in a garage or basement where I can set something up “permanently” – that is I don’t have to clear out the space at the end of every workout. In this case I would buy:

5) Used, solid power cage w/ pullup bar, bench, oly bar, 300# of weights in decent condition: As cheap as $250. Seriously, that cheap. This is pretty much everything you need from a strength perspective. Maybe spend another $50 on a couple more pairs of 45# plates if and when you need to go heavier for deadlifts.

6) Muscle Clamps or Rogue HG clamps. $40-45. This might seem like a convenience item, but it lets you do heavy olympic lifts with regular old iron plates. Get a $10 piece of plywood if you’re worried about damaging a concrete floor.

7) 20kg Kettlebell. Fitness Factory Outlet has 45# Body Solid KBs for $1.10 a lb if you live in the chicago area (+10% tax): $55. The handles on these are actually pretty good. Every once in a blue moon someone sells a dragon door bell on craigslist. Probably worth jumping on it if you can. Some would make a kettlebell your very first purchase. If I could only buy ONE piece of equipment after the dumbbells and suspension trainer, that’s probably what I’d get. But that’s not what we’re talking about here. Don’t get me wrong. I use a kettlebell daily, however the only exercise I can’t easily do with a dumbbell is a swing (and even that is doable).

Assuming I have unused space in a garage or basement but I have to clear it out when I’m done. In this case I would buy:

5) Oly bar and 300# of weights: $100-$150.

6) Muscle Clamps or Rogue HG Collars $40-$45

7) 20kg Kettlebell $55

Assuming the only space I have to train is a small apartment or a park, and everything I use has to be stored under a bed or in a closet I would get:

5) 16 kg Kettlebell $45

6) 20 kg Kettlebell $55

7) Pullup bar (probably over door mounted) $40-$50

8) Gymboss $25 – This is a personal preference but I find it’s essential if you’re going to stick to work/rest intervals. You can go all out and never have to worry about checking a clock.

Over the past months I have culled down the fitness and nutrition blogs I read on a regular basis. I guess the best way of putting it is that I was sick of reading posts that required a healthy dose of Kool Aid. At the moment there seems to be a lot of Kool Aid going around in the Paleo-blogger “community” – whether it be the blogs themselves or on their sponsored forums.

I follow a paleo diet about 95% of the time (the other 5%? mmmm …. beer). I’m on board. However, the single-mindedness of the dialogue and posts doesn’t do anyone any good.

Matt Metzgar has a series of blog posts that I think addresses the issue pretty well.
- It worked for me
- Cross subject expertise
- Hypnotic writing
- Disappointed

40 min run in the woods at lactate threshold. Focused on form and a mid-foot strike but it just seemed to come naturally. I don’t know if it’s running on dirt trails, running in the woods themselves, or what. I felt like I could run forever at that pace.

My hamstrings are s-o-r-e from yesterday. I didn’t even complete Big 24 V, but I’m more sore after Monday’s session than any previous gym day during this cycle.

Today went wrong – quick. I went in pumped to throw up some heavier weight, but from the very start it didn’t feel right. I don’t know if it was the lack of sleep, something I ate, the bike ride on Saturday, or all of the above, but today’s numbers were terrible. I tweaked my shoulder during one of the last sets of snatches.

Just an absolutely gorgeous day today. I went for an easy 38k bike ride down to Arlington Cemetery and back. Kept the heart rate below 150 almost the entire time. It felt good to be back on the bike.

Over the course of the rest of the day I’m going to do 30 pullups. At some point I’ll also crank out:

5 Rounds
2 min Sandbag Getups (65#)
20 Pushups


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