Sunday, March 31, 2013

Powerful forearms like Popeye - The first 2 steps of the hang progression

Hey guys,

In this post I'm gonna show you the first 2 steps to strengthen your forearms (the muscles that provide the power to your hands). Strong forearms are the key to success for many other exercises. For example every move executed in a hanging position like pull ups, leg raises and climbing moves are more often limited by the power of your forearms than by the strength of the original target muscles (e.g. the latissimus dorsi by pull ups). Additionally everytime you have to carry something (e.g. your shopping bags or beverage crates) or when you hold on to something (imagine you are in the mountains hanging on a rope with one hand and holding your best friend with the other hand...you really need a lot of forearm power for this!). Last point: With strong forearms you really look more impressive if you wearing a tee...
I hope by now you understand why it's so important to train your forearms as well.

If you ask some personal trainers or some guys in your gym how to train the forearms they pobably gonna explain you some exercises with dumbbells and low ranges of motion. I disagree with them and suggest instead the method Paul recommends in "Covict Conditioning 2" - The Hang Progression.

I'm gonna show you the how-to-perform explanations of the first 2 steps of the series:

Step 1: The Horizontal Hang


Find a horizontal bar, table or other base that is stable enough to carry your bodyweight. This base should be approximately as high as your hips. Get underneath that base and grab it with an overhand grip (like you can see in the video). If possible (depends on your base) your hands should be shoulder-width apart. Pull yourself up a bit so that your back is off the floor and your arms are slightly bent. Keep your body under tension and locked straight the whole time, so that its weight goes only through your fingers and heels. Hold this position for the requested time.


Target: 4 sets of 30 sec (if you can't manage the target instantly, hold as long as you can and try to increase the holding time from session to session)


Step 2: The Bar Hang


Jump up and grab an overhead bar with an overhand grip (like you can see in the video). Your hands should be shoulder-width apart and your feet have to be off the floor. Keep your shoulders tight and your arms, trunk and legs symmetrical.

Target: 4 sets of 1 minute (if you can't manage the target instantly, hold as long as you can and try to increase the holding time from session to session)


Caution: Remember the stuff that is important for all hanging techniques -  Keep your shoulders tight and your elbows slightly bent all the time!

Side-note:
Other good alternatives for strengthen the forearms are heavy-load carry exercises like the farmers walk. As you need dumbbells or barbells for those exercises I decided for myself to stick to the hang exercises (further more I think that they are better than carry exercises because your increase of strength is faster and they are bit more functional).

Cheers,
Andi

Friday, March 29, 2013

The Plan - Part III

Hey guys,

At my latest result post "Cycle 8" I told you that I'll stick to the last plan for 4 more weeks. Yesterday, during the straight bridge exercise, I recognized that it might be more helpful to reconsider the plan and that it could be a mistake to stick to it without any adjustments. I have no problem with most of the exercises but there are still my mentioned problem areas...

To boost my performance and to overcome the plateaus in some areas I changed my mind and designed a new routine design.
For the next 4 weeks I will do the convict conditioning exercises in one part of the cycles (3 days) as usual and at the other part I'll do some variations, which mean I'll substitute exercises from CC by other exercises for the same muscle groups (e.g. instead of horizontal pulls in a 2-1-2 cadence I could perform a few full regular pull ups with a faster movement speed). After every cycle I'm gonna show you what I've done in that cycle to improve.

So let's see how it works...

Cheers,
Andi

P.S.: How often do you change your routine? And do you always make big adjustments or just small ones? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment area below!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Glycemic Load - The Gold Standard in Low-Carb diets

Hey guys,

The earlier versions of the low-carb movement were built on the maxim that you should avoid any carbs and try to eat just fat and proteins combined with vitamin supplements. More advanced versions had already implemented a differentiation in carbs with high glycemic index and carbs with a low one. They allow their followers to eat some food that has a low glycemic index (e.g. some vegetables and fruits). The glycemic index is a figure that shows you how fast your body absorbs the carbs and how strong their effect on the blood sugar level is. High glycemic index carbs are the ones that are absorbed fast and increase your blood sugar level dramatically. This leads to a strong insulin reaction and this, in turn, promotes the storage of fat in your body cells. Another effect is that a strong rise in blood sugar favores excessive insulin peaks. The high amount of insulin relocates the blood sugar into the cells, sometimes more than the previous normal amount was before. As your blood sugar level could be too low afterwards (there is a normal level which the body always try to maintain) you become a little hypoglycemic which makes you hungry again and, as a side-effect, it makes you tired (the famous fatigue after lunch is one result after eating in a regular canteen). A lot of processed food articles, fast food, white flour, sugar and pasta are good examples for high-glycemic index food. There are also lots of fruits that contain carbs with a high-glycemic index...are they bad for us as well?
Recent findings say no, they aren't bad. Instead we need them to fill our vitamin and mineral nutrients storages. They also provide us with fibres that we need for a good digestion. So what's the solution?
Some scientists developed the concept of the glycemic load (GL). I, personally, like to orientate my diet on its principles because they totally make sense to me. The glycemic load combines the gycemic index with the actual amount of carbs contained in different food.
The formula is:

GL = Glycemic Index * Carbs per 100g
                                 100

The GL tells you the equivalent of pure glucose/100g according to its effect on the blood sugar level.

Why is this method more adequate than the orientation just on the glycemic index?
I give you an example:
Cooked carrots have a glycemic index of approx. 85 and baguette (white bread) has just 70. Does that mean to you that carrots are worse than baguette, which is made of high-processed white flour? I believe that it may have crossed your mind that this is impossible. Here's the solution to the riddle:
100g of cooked carrots contain approx. 3,1g carbs which brings us to a GL of  2.64 but 100g of baguette contain approx. 48g carbs and that equals a GL of 33.6. As you could see the difference is huge. To get the same bad effect on your blood sugar that baguette gives you, you have to eat 700g (!) of cooked carrots. Another good example are watermelons: They have a glycemic index of 72 but they mainly consist of water (that's why they called watermelons) so their GL is 5.98 which is within the limits. Don't hesitate to eat them in summer as a refresher.

I hope now you understand why I call the glycemic load the gold standard of low-carb diets!

A good rule of thumb is to avoid food with a GL above 7.5/100g (at least that's my rule), if you want to maintain a low blood sugar level and avoid insulin peaks. This rule will help you to lose bodyfat and gives you still enough power for working out hard.

You can find a very clearly arranged list of different foods at: http://health-diet.us/gid/

P.S.: Of course you can make exceptions to that rule from time to time. A dictatorial adherence of rules could possibly lead to frustration. Some sweets (or other unhealthy stuff) every now and then won't stop your progress but help you to stay in line with the diet in general.

Cheers,
Andi

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Cycle 8

Hey guys,

This week was weak...
Ok it was not that bad and I made really good progress in some areas, but I'm still very disappointed with my performance at the horizontal pulls and the straight bridges.
Here are my results:

Cycle 8
Additionally I made "Bar Hangs" and "Single Leg Calf Raise from the floor with bent legs" 2 times per cycle and every day the "Trifecta" (L-Hold - step 2, Twist Hold - step 2, Bridge Hold - step 3).

As you could see in the table I moved on in 3 of the 6 progression series, which I'm proud of. The flat knee raise is definitely manageable. I believe that I can progress to the next step during the next 2 weeks. In the squat progression series I have a run...fourth exercise and again I met the target instantly and already twice. I'm looking forward to the next leg session when I finish the half squats and can move on to the full squats. The progression in the push up series worked out well, too. I now perform kneeling push ups. They are really more difficult as the incline push ups and are the first push up exercise that is done on the floor. But they are manageable as well. I'm progressing with the wall handstand so no need to doubt on that one. Still my biggest problems...horizontal pulls and straight bridges... Those two exercises kind of depress me, progress is really slow and I guess it will take at least 2-3 months until I'll be able to move on to the next step. However, I keep trying until I finally reach the target reps. As I told you last time I've started to do horizontal pulls from a higher base (breast height) which worked out pretty well (at day 2 I made 30/30/30) but as I lowered the base a bit my reps diminished to an unsatisfying level (day 6) again. I hope this will get better...
Regarding my cardio: I cut out HIIT on day 4 because this was my birthday and I hadn't been in the mood to do any training that day. On day 8 I've done two sets and afterwards my lungs burned like hell...That shows me again that I definitely have to stop smoking (my big vice)...I'll attempt it on Easter Sunday.

Up to the next week!

Cheers,
Andi

Btw.: I won't apply major adjustments to my plan this time so I prolong it for 4 more weeks before I make some changes.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Video + exercise description - Jackknife Squats

Hey guys,

It's time to work your legs harder...After performing sufficient sets of shoulderstand squats you should be flexible enough and your joints and tendons should be strong enough to move on in the squat progression series. The second step is the Jackknife Squat. Jackknife squats are also the first squatting exercise that really works the muscles of your legs strongly, because they have to manage a much higher weight load than they had to in the shoulderstand squat exercise. I've already talked a lot about the reasons why leg training is so importent in this post, so I won't repeat it here again. The jackknife squats are undoubtedly a great exercise to tone your legs in the beginning and also to help you gaining even more flexibility (which you gonna need in the further steps, too) and stronger joints/tendons as well. A side-effect of squats, in general, is an improving endocrine system. As many big muscles are involved, the body starts to produce more anabolic (muscle-building) hormones during squats than in any other exercise. They could help you to build up stronger muscles (in the whole body) and prevent you from amyotrophia (loss of muscle mass).

Let's start with the how-to-perform explanation:


Stand in front of a robust object that is about the hights of your knees (or slightly below). A side-table or a bench should be fine. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart (or a bit wider) with your feet rotated a little outward. Keep your legs fairly straight and bend at your hips until your palms contact the object (like in the video). Tilt forwards so that some of your bodyweight is carried through your hands. Now bend at the knees and hips until your hamstrings reach your calves and you cannot go any further (this should last 2 seconds). Your torso should remain as parallel as possible to the floor during the exercise. Simultaneously you have to bend your arms as well. Hold the finish position for 1 second, and then push yourself up again by using combined leg and arm power (again 2 seconds). Repeat the movement without a rest. If you can't manage to meet the target instantly, do as much reps as possible until you can do the requested amount.


Target: 3 sets of 40 reps


Caution: Do not raise the heels at any point during the exercise and, even more important, try to avoid that your knees travel forward past your toes (leads to less strain on your knees and this could prevent knee injuries)!
Last to say:
Shut up and squat! (famous saying in strength training)

Cheers,
Andi

Friday, March 22, 2013

Video + exercise description - Incline Push Ups

Hey guys,

Before I start with the article I wanna make an announcment:
Today I published my first eBook about nutrition at amazon. The book is in German language and is called "Die LLA-Methode - gesund, fit und sexy werden & bleiben - Teil I: Ernährung". So if anyone is interested you can buy it here at amazon! Now let's start the article:

Once you mastered the wall push up rep target it's time to move on to step 2 of the push up progression: The Incline Push Ups.

If you've made the wall push ups correctly, it shouldn't be a problem to perform this exercise already with a low rep figure (I made 30/21/12 the first time). You're going to realize that this exercise is a bit harder than the first one but it is definitly manageable (the increase of intensity of this 2nd step is not as challenging as the one of the 2nd step of the pull up progression).

Let's come to the how-to-perform explanation:


Find a secure object that is about half your height (around the level of your hips). It has to be strong enough to carry your bodyweight while performing the exercise. Desks, pieces of furniture, low walls, kitchen tops or some objects in the gym normally are good choices. Keep your feet together and align your body. Now lean yourself over and grasp the object with shoulder width apart, straight arms. Your body should now be in an almost 45 degree position seen from the floor (like me in the video). Lower yourself by bending your elbows and shoulders until your torso touches the object smoothly (2 sec). Hold the position for 1 second (don't put pressure on your torso!). Press yourself back in the start position (again 2 sec). Repeat the movement without a rest. If you can't manage to meet the target instantly, do as much reps as possible until you can do the requested amount.


Target: 3 sets of 40 reps


Paul recommends to do the exercise only once a week but I prefer to do it twice (see "The Plan -Part II").

Time to work your chest, shoulders and triceps!

Cheers,
Andi

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Roasted apples - The low-carb way for the delicious dessert

Hey guys,

Everybody needs a dessert sometimes...if you just like to finish your menu with a nice dessert, invite your girlfriend or boyfriend over to a romantic dinner or just like to cook two- or three-course meals. If you want to follow a healthy diet this actually could be a problem since most of the common desserts contain huge amounts of sugar or other fast carbohydrate sources (e.g. honey). But there are still opportunities for delicious and healthy desserts. The recipe of one alternative is the following:

Roasted apples (healthy style)

Ingredients:

- 6-7 small-sized sour apples (it's quite important that they are sour!)
- 2-3 oz. (approx. 50-80g) butter
- 2-2.5 oz. (approx. 50-70g) flaked almonds
- 1 vanilla bean
- 1 tbsp. cinnamon powder

Preperation:
Wash the apples properly and cut them to quarters. Get rid of the seeds and the apple core by cutting them out. Now cut the quarters to smaller cubes. Heat the butter in a saucepan until it is melted. Put the apple cubes inside and stir them. Let it cook for approx. 12 minutes and then add the cinnamon powder and the flaked almonds. Let it simmer 5 more minutes. Meanwhile scrape the vanilla bean and add the extract to the apples.Stir it from time to time. Finally your healthy dessert is finished! Pretty simple, isn't it?



Btw.: Apples are great even for a low-carb diet, because they contain few carbs (and few calories as well). Additionally some nutrition scientists assume that cinnamon may also help you to lower your blood sugar level. If you put this together, few carbs (small insulin effect) from the apples + the effect of cinnamon (lower blood sugar levels lead to less insulin production) the final carb influence is pretty low. As there is no high insulin level there is no big transportation system for fat (butter) into your body cells either. So you get a tasty dessert with almost no negative side-effects that normally accompanies the common desserts.

Enjoy it without any worries or regrets!

Cheers,
Andi

Monday, March 18, 2013

Cycle 7

Hey guys,

One week passed by since I published my last results, so it's time for the next table of results:

Cycle 7
Additionally I made "Bar Hangs" and "Single Leg Calf Raise from the floor with bent legs" (I moved on to the third, way harder, step) 2 times per cycle and every day the "Trifecta" (step 2).

I'm very happy with this cycle athough I haven't done HIIT cardio this week. Due to the return of winter in Germany with all its facets like snow and ice I've decided to take that week off regarding cardio training. Two years ago I broke my left foot while I was running in Febuary and I didn't want to risk that this happens again. Now the weather is getting better so I'm confident that I can do HIIT in the following cycle.

I followed my diet very strict at the last seven cycle with one exception. On day 4 of this cycle I visited the restaurant with the golden M to devour a super-size burger menu and afterwards some sweets. I always try to avoid such overindulge with high-carb food but every now and then an exception is ok (shoudn't be oftener than 1-2 times a month). Total abstinence could lead to frustration and dismotivation, so I don't blame me for that incidence.

With regards to my calisthenics results I have to say that this week was a good one again. I've hit the targets in incline push ups once, in supported squats twice (after I reached the rep target once last week = already 3 times in a row), in knee tucks twice and in the crow stand. As I've already done wall handstands to prepare for the crow stand I switched the exercises on day 7. I am able to hold the crow stand for around 1 minute so on day 7 I started to do crow stand as a warm-up exercise and moved on to the third step of the handstand series (wall handstand) as the main exercise. I'm gonna move on in the squat progression and the leg raise progression in cycle 8 and if I'm able to hit the target in incline push ups once again in cycle 8 I will progress to the third step of this series as well. I know I said that I'll wait until I achived the target three times in a row but if I feel that I can manage it easily the second time I'll decide from case to case if I move on already. I still have big problems with short bridges but my performence is still improving (very, very slowly). I'm gonna perform this exercise without adjustments anyhow, as I still believe that it will better up in time. My other problem exercise was (and still is) the horizontal pulls. You may have recognized that my rep figures increased enormously. This is not caused by a miracle but by an adjustment in the execution of the exercise. I've started to do the pulls on a chest-high bar (which is much easier). When I'm able to do the rep target like this I'll use a bellybutton-high bar and then, after succeed there, the normal bar higth for the exercise (around the hips). I made this adjustment because I felt like not enhancing at all in this exercise. Situation with short bridges is a bit different, cos here improvement is just very slow. From the table you can see, that I'm now able to improve in the pull move.

I hope that I can show you good results again next week.

Cheers,
Andi

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Video + exercise description - Horizontal Pulls

Hey guys,

Today is the first time I'm gonna talk about a second step in a progression series of "Convict Conditioning". I had to decide with which second step I should start...and the winner is...

The Horizontal Pull

I start with the second step of the pull up progression because it was the first series where I progressed. After 3 sessions with vertical pulls I already hit the target (3 sets of 40 reps) 3 times in a row, which was my personal requirement to move on.
Horizontal pulls are really a good exercise for your upper back, biceps and shoulders. But I have to admit that they are much, much harder as the vertical pulls so you really should be able to perform vertical pulls with ease before you progress to the horizontal pulls. Btw: Don't be ashamed when you can't perform more than 10 reps (or even less) at the first times you do the horizontal pulls...the work load is seriously much more demanding! That's how it is...if you want to gain incredible strength you have to perform harder exercises once you're able to accomplish a previous step easily.

Let's start with the how-to-perform explanation:


Find a horizontal bar, table or other base that is stable enough to carry your bodyweight. This base should be at least as high as your hips (the higher the easier). Get underneath that base and grab it with an overhand grip (like you can see in the video). If possible (depends on your base) your hands should be shoulder width apart. Pull yourself up a bit so that your back is off the floor and your arms are slightly bent. Keep your body under tension and locked straight the whole time, so that its weight goes only thorough your hands and heels. Now pull yourself up slowly as high as you can for 2 seconds (ideal would be if your chest touches smoothly the bar/lip of the table). Hold the finish position for 1 second and then lower back to the start position (again 2 seconds). Repeat the movement without a rest. If you can't manage to meet the target instantly (which is probably the case), do as much reps as possible each set until you can do the requested amount.
Remember to keep your shoulders tight all the time (as mentioned in the post about the vertical pulls)!


Target: 3 sets of 30 reps


Paul recommends to do the exercise only once a week but I prefer to do it twice (see "The Plan - Part II").

Cheers,
Andi






Thursday, March 14, 2013

Chili con soja...the vegetarian low-carb alternative

Hey guys,

I know, a lot of you are interested in following a low-carb diet. Obviously meat is a good solution to add good protein and fat to your diet without the nasty carbs. But you might have recognized that there are some studies which found out that, for several reasons, it could be bad for your health if you eat too much meat  (e.g. traces of medicine in the meat, cholesterol, acidaemia and so on). Now you can believe in that findings or not, though it won't be a disadvantage if you substitute some of the meat with soy products (high in protein, low in carbs) to be on the safe side. Some other reasons for using vegetable protein could be that you are a vegetarian or just don't want to spend that much money for high-quality beef/pork. Different reasons same point...you need some possibilities to replace meat with another source of protein instead (like soy). I personally really enjoy the taste of fresh high-quality meat but I try to eat it only 3-4 days per week while I substitute it with vegetable alternatives on the other days (I believe in a happy medium). So, today I'm gonna provide an easy recipe for a delicious alternative to chili con carne...the chili con soja

Ingredients:


- 1 red pepper
- 17 fl.oz. (approx. 500ml) organic vegetable stock
- 7 oz. (approx. 200g) soya granules (texturised vegetable/soy protein)
- 1 dash of white or red wine
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 onion
- 1 can of chopped tomatoes (approx. 14 oz./400g)
- 2 tbsp.(approx. 30ml) olive oil
- 7 oz. (approx. 200g) dried tomatoes
- 1 tsp. smoked paprika
- 1,5 tsp. italian herbs
- salt and pepper
- chili powder/dried chilis
- (1 can of kidney beans if you want)

Preparation:
Chop the onion and garlic to small pieces and cut the pepper in squares. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan and fry the onion and garlic for a few minutes. Meanwhile take a measuring jug, put in the soya granules and pour in the hot vegetable stock (leave it like that for some minutes). Put the pepper into the saucepan and sauté them for 5 minutes. Now add the content of the measuring jug (soya granules and vegetable stock). Cook it for 5 minutes. During this time use an electric chopper to chop the dried tomatoes. Add the dried tomato pieces, a dash of wine and the chopped tomatoes (from the can) to the saucepan. Now boil the whole for 10 minutes and stir it from time to time. Add some (not too much!) chili powder(or dried chilies), the smoked paprika, the italian herbs and some salt and pepper to taste. Let it boil with low-heat for 15 more minutes.
Ready to enjoy?


If you try it, I'd love to hear how you liked it!

Cheers,
Andi

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

HIIT - Cardio at its finest

Hey guys,

I haven't written about cardio training yet. This was mainly caused by a lack of time I recently had so that I haven't done any cardio training for the past few weeks. Now I have some more spare time (but still not that much) and I want to fill it 2 times a week with short "High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)"-sessions.

When you ask someone about effective cardio training for fat loss, probably the answer will be that you should run/row/swim with low-intensity for a longer time (at least 30 minutes). One main argument for this advice is that your metabolic system changes its main energy source from glycogen (carbs) to fat after approx. 20 minutes of low-intensity training and then your body starts to burn fat as fuel. Another point is that it's comfortable and you can relax your mind with slow long runs. So far so good....

BUT even though it's true that steady state cardio does bring you in your fat burning mode, your body won't burn much of it...in fact, long sessions let your body become very efficent with its sources which leads to a very small amount of energy that is needed. That way you burn fat, but just a little (very little!).
If you are like me, then you prefer results. You prefer a fast loss of fat, and efficiency is the last thing you need for that. What's the solution? Use HIIT as your main cardio training!

HIIT means that you alternate high-intensity intervalls with low-intensity recovery parts. You won't get in the efficient fat-burning zone with HIIT, but you gonna burn so much more energy (cal) that your body is forced to burn a huge amount of fat afterwards because your glycogen storages are already empty after the cardio session (and, as you know, the human body still needs energy for living, adaption after workouts and so on). There's one more effect that helps you burning even more energy and fat AFTER your training session as well - the after burn a.k.a. EPOC (excessive post-exercise oxygen consumption). During a HIIT your body will be in an anaerobic zone for most of the HI-time where oxygen is in short supple and your body produces lactic acid due to a second way of energy supply (without the use of oxygen). This energy from anaerobic exercises lasts for just a few seconds (up to 20-40 sec) which also is the reason why nobody can sprint for an hour but almost anybody can do it for 10 seconds. After your HIIT training your body contains a lot lactic acid which it has to remove with effort. And this is the reason why you burn additional energy after the session.
So you have a higher energy consumption during the session and also a few hours afterwards...sounds great, doesn't it?

As a side-note it is mentionable that, if you follow a low-carb diet (like mine), your body doesn't have that much glycogen in its storages so that it is forced to burn fat as fuel (instead of glycogen which is produced by carbs) almost instantly by starting your cardio training. You can burn even more fat with the combination of HIIT and a low-carb diet!

A possible HIIT-design (also the one I use), which was developed by a Swedish scientist, is the following:

5 minutes warm-up (important to prevent yourself from injuries due to the high intensity of the session)

1 set equals 5 reps of:
30 seconds fast walking/very slow running
20 seconds running at your normal pace (faster than the first 30 seconds)
10 seconds sprinting as fast as you can

Do 3-4 sets like this with a 2 minute walk between every set.

This HIIT-design also works with swimming, biking, rowing...

If you want to, you can use other high-intensity intervals as well like running up a hill for some seconds and walking it down again slowly, but I prefer to stick to the 30-20-10 stuff first.

Btw: Also endurance-orientated athlets could profit from HIIT because their heart and lungs become more efficent and stronger!

That's how I do my cardio work...what about you?

Cheers,
Andi

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Cycle 6

Hey guys,

Time flies...it's time again for the results of the recently finished cycle:

Cycle 6
Additionally I made "Bar Hangs" and "Double Leg Calf Raise from the floor with straight legs" 2 times per cycle and every day the "Trifecta" (step 2).

This week was an uneven one seen from the results. I've made good progress with the incline push ups, knee tucks, squats and the crow stand. Mostly I'm proud of the squat progression! I'd hit the rep target for jackknife squats 3 times in a row (never failed on that one), moved on to supported squats and achieved the target reps directly again. Squatting evolved to my specialty event! Hope that this goes on like that. I'm also very satisfied with the crow stand. I personally like this exercise a lot (I tried it when I was younger but never made more than 1 sec that time). As I told you I performed one set of wall headstands before I did crow stands. On day 7 I replaced wall headstands by wall handstands (2 times of 30 sec), which is also step 3 of the handstand push up progression. Unfortunately there are still 2 problem childs in my routine. Straight bridges and horizontal pulls. I really have difficulties to increase the actual reps in both. As a solution for horizontal pulls I think about raising the heigth of the horizontal base (and lower it again when I'm stronger). If you use a higher base (e.g. height of your bellybutton) the exercise becomes easier (I post its description in a few days). Still haven't decided how to ease the straight bridges (but I'll think about it).
You may have recognized that something has changed in the sheet. On day 8 I started with another innovation in my routine. I integrated high-intensity intervall training in my plan as cardio (I haven't done any cardio during the last six weeks). What exactly HIIT means and how/why I use it is gonna be explained in the next post (day after tomorrow).

Let's see if HIIT and the easier versions of horizontal pulls and straight bridges can boost my results in the next weeks.

Cheers,
Andi
    



Friday, March 8, 2013

Video + exercise description - Wall Headstand

Hey guys,

The Wall Headstand is a nice little preliminary exercise for mastering handstand push ups. In fact it's not a hard exercise for your shoulder and arm muscles but for your vestibular system. For people like me who are used to stay with the head above the feet almost always it's pretty weird to be in an inverse position. And that's what this exercise is all about...you should get used to a position like this before you start to pump your muscles in that pose. I hadn't been in an upside-down position for many years (actually, I think the last time was during my studies...) so in the beginning I was a bit insecured about kicking my legs up to the sky (even if I knew there was a wall). I thought about falling down to the side or hurting my neck or or or...but once I stopped thinking about what could happen, I kicked strong enough to reach the wall with my feet (it took some attempts)...in the end it was no problem. After you got into position the main part of the exercise is holding this posture as long as you can (until you're able to reach the target). It's an unusual felling and you have to be secured in this pose before you can do the other exercises of the handstand push up progression.

Let's come to the how-to-perform explanation:


First you have to find a solid wall or tree stem. To make it more comfortable for your head place a pillow, mat or a smooth folded towel by the base of the wall (not directly at the base). Get down on all fours and place the top of your head on the pillow (approx. 6-10 inches from the wall). Put your palms shoulder-width apart on the sides of your head. Now bring the knee of your stronger leg close to your corresponding elbow and straighten out the weaker leg. Push down with the strong leg and kick the other leg simultaneously in the air. Both legs should now move up in the direction of the wall. After your feet touched the wall, straighten your legs until your body is aligned. Breathe easy through your nose. The contact with the wall should be with your heels only (the body is slightly curved in the pose). Now try holding the position for the requested time (balance your weight between your palms and head) and bring the legs back down slow and safe! If your neck starts to ache during the exercise stop it!


Target: 3 sets of 2 minutes (if you can't manage the target instantly, hold it as long as you can)


Caution: If you don't believe that you can manage this exercise or if you're totally unfit or if you feel to weak for holding this position then skip the handstand push up progression (and also this exercise) until you feel you can do it safely!

Paul recommends to do this exercise only once a week but I prefer to do it twice (see "The Plan").

At my youtube channel (Andreas Heller) you can already find more videos to the Progression Series (I'm gonna explain these exercises in further postings).

Cheers,
Andi

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Video + exercise description - Short Bridges

Hey guys,

The Short Bridge is a nice little exercise that marks the start of the bridge progression. Few people around the world use this exercise (or other steps of the bridge) in their normal routine, but, if you want a really healthy, strong and flexible spine that prevents your lower back from being hurt, you should do it on a regular base. Bridge exercises train your lower back muscles, your spinal muscles (the deep ones as well), the rear hips and the back of your thighs. Their interaction (which is used to a lot of daily moves) is trained as well. You also need a strong spine to forward the power from your legs to your upper body (like used in strong punches). The muscles around the spine are no show muscles...but without them your spine (and the spinal cord with all its nerves) is as vulnerable as a raw egg. If you hurt your spin it could happen that you lose the ability to move your legs or, worse, to move your whole body (and then you have a problem to maintain the show muscles...). If you want to protect your spine and its functions (which you definitely should) you have to build strong (not big) muscles as a flesh armour at your back. And the best way to do this is by bridging. Bridging gives you strengh, flexibility and a perfect posture instead of the bad posture you get from sitting on a chair every day. It also prevents and heals back injuries. Lots of reasons why you should start with it, don't you agree?

I hope you understand the important of a strong spine now...let's start with the how-to-perform explanation:


Lie down on your back and bend your knees (feet shoulder width apart). Your feet should be flat and around 6-8 inches away from your butt and your arms should be crossed in front of your chest. Now press down through your feet and lift your hips and your back off the floor until your thighs and trunk forms at least a straight line and your bodyweight is supported only by your shoulders and feet (2 sec). Hold the position for 1 sec and  reverse the motion until you almost touch the ground again (2 sec). Now start the next rep without a rest. If you can't manage to meet the target instantly, do every time as much reps as possible until you can do the requested amount.


Target: 3 sets of 50 reps


Paul recommends to do the exercise only once a week but I prefer to do it twice (see "The Plan").

Time to start working your spine and back!

Cheers,
Andi

Monday, March 4, 2013

Yet another soup - it's squash time

Hey guys,

Today I'm gonna show you how to prepare a healthy and delicious red kuri squash soup (German recipe). Unless the squash contains some carbs it's still in line with my diet (remember: carbs from vegetables and fruits are allowed because of the fibres that compensate them partly). Squashs provide some really nice benefits for your health and your diet. They are low in calories (approx. 60 cal/100g), rich in vitamins and mineral nutrients, abundant in antioxidants and also rich in carotene. So give it a try and enjoy your healthy happy meal!

Ingredients:

- 1 red kuri squash (a.k.a. hokkaido squash, onion squash)
- 1 onion
- 1 thumb-sized pc. fresh ginger
- 1 garlic clove
- 25 fl.oz. (approx. 750ml) organic vegetable stock (without glutamate)
- 7 oz. (approx.200g) soy cream
- 1 tbsp. (approx. 15g) butter
- 1/2 fl.oz. (approx. 15 ml) olive oil
- salt and pepper
- pumpkin seed oil

Preparation:
Wash and cut the squash into small cubes. Cut the onion and the garlic as well. Now heat the butter and the olive oil in a saucepan, add the onions and the garlic and fry until the onions become transparent but not browned. Add the squash cubes and sauté for 4-5 minutes. Pour in the vegetable stock and boil it with low heat for 20 minutes until the squash is tender. Meanwhile cut the ginger in small pieces and throw them in (after it already boiled approx. 15 minutes). Add some salt and pepper to taste. Put in the soy cream and purée the soup with a blender. Arrange the soup in bowls and use a dash of pumpkin seed oil to decorate the soup (it also improves the taste!).



If you try it, I'd love to hear how you liked it!

Cheers,
Andi

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Cycle 5

Hey guys,

It's time to present you the results of the fifth cycle (the first one since I've adjusted my plan).

Cycle 5
Additionally I made "Bar Hangs" and "Double Leg Calf Raise from the floor with straight legs" 2 times per cycle and every day the "Trifecta" (step 2).

Again this cycle was a good one. I improved with every exercise, which makes me pretty happy after the hard cycles 3 and 4. As I mentioned in "The Plan - Part II" I moved on in the handstand push up progression. I still do a set of wall headstand for 2 minutes (to stay used to the inverse position) everytime before I do crow stands. As the target of crow stand is 1 set of 1 minute, I decided to attempt the hold several times and write down the result of the best attempt. I have to admit that I like this exercise a lot because it feels pretty cool to be in the crow stand (and it looks impressiv as well ;) ). You might have seen that I progressed to step 2 of the squat progression too. This happened at day 2 during I was performing the second set of shoulderstand squats. I just finished the first one with 50 reps and somehow I thought that moving on to the next step might be a good idea (maybe this thought crossed my mind because the second set hadn't worked out that good due to some pain in my neck). I interrupted the set and started with the jackknife squats. As you can see in the result table this turned out to be a good idea because my leg power is high enough (and my flexibility is now good enough as well) to hit the target instantly. And the same happened on day 6 (second time). If I can do it one more time I'm going on to step 3 (which I would enjoy). Last, but not least, I also progressed to step 2 of the push up progression. In fact I just reached the target reps for wall push ups 2 times in a row, but as I was highly motivated due to the other improvements, and because it was easy to hit the target again I moved on to step 2. The incline push ups were hard (afterwards I've had muscle soreness) but manageable so I stick to them. The progresses in straight bridges, knee tucks and horizontal pulls are absolutely slow but there are improvements eventually.

I'm satisfied with this cycle and I hope that it goes on like this.

Cheers,
Andi