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Thursday, October 27th, 2016
5:56 am - Dammit, Hardison.

“Right now, you're suffering under an enormous weight. We provide… leverage.”

Most of my kvetching and self-flagellation hasn’t made it to any public/semi-public blog posts (or anywhere outside of IMs and notes to my coach) because I don’t imagine it’s of much general interest, but, you know, it’s my space and I can unload shit that’s on my mind with relative impunity.

tl;dr - my back squat has gone to complete shit in the last couple of weeks because my left leg hurts a lot when I get under a moderately heavy* load.

I believe my response to being unable to lift for more than one rep at a time yesterday a weight I did for over a dozen six or so weeks ago was, “fuck me with a rusty minivan; I just want to scream and puke in frustration.”

The pain hasn’t responded to any of the therapies I’ve applied to it where it hurts (ie: my left thigh/butt): stretching, massage (self-administered and professional), a wide array of painkillers, muscle relaxants, NSAIDs, various liniments, TENS electrical stimulation, heat, and cold.

My clue light may have gone overnight - the line of discomfort is, to a rough approximation, very close to where a nonstop pain line showed up when I partially crushed one of my vertebrae and caused one of my lumbar discs to bulge two and a half years ago. And, hey, dumbfuck, notice how it only hurts if you move a particular way, or put over X pounds on your back at the very bottom of your range of motion? You don’t suppose that maybe, just maybe, you’re putting pressure on that in a way that pinches the nerve and makes it suck?

So, going forward, I will probably be revising my squat mechanics to, you know, stop doing that.

* in my case, this is about 1.5x bodyweight; for some people, that is, as the quote implies, an enormous weight. For others, it’s somewhere early in their warmup. For me, it’s about 65% of my PR, and about 70% of what my current working max ought to be, which is to say, it’s enough weight to pay attention to, but it shouldn’t be hard.

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Sunday, October 23rd, 2016
3:22 pm - enstrongening?
455x9 - https://youtu.be/l133YRFh1Tg (suggesting 1rm @ ~585, woot; a 10th would have crested 600 for a predicted 1RM, which is why I was hoping for it :-) SOON.)

have been dealing with a mystery issue in my left vastus lateralis with some aggrieved sartorius (which i always parse as the "sartorial muscle," meaning it's in charge of my fashion sense) for the last two and a half weeks, and it's manifested in positively shitty squatting and some weirdly acute pain when i move in particular ways. three 90 minute massages on consecutive weekends and what felt like something going 'poink' in a good way towards the end of today's workout has me feeling a bit optimistic, if rather tired after doing a lot of work in some gorgeous fucking weather.

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Friday, October 7th, 2016
6:48 pm
Once upon a workout dreary,
My squad rolled up, weak and weary,
After Jaeger bombs the night before.
Blearily, I recalled a honey,
Booty tight, thighs like money,
Wearing body paint and nothing more.
Beside the iron squat cage, curling,
Knuckles white around the knurling,
Black wings buff despite the feathers,
Bedecked with bling and other treasures,
A crow-like bro just knew the score.
“Skinny pins and triceps poppin’?
You dudes use gear but your gains are droppin’
Droppin’ like your lame Wilks score.
Get your ass beneath the squat bar or in my gym you won’t just snore.
Either bring it hard on leg day, or call yourselves lifters nevermore.”

in reaction to: http://evilsupplyco.tumblr.com/post/151488438014

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Friday, September 23rd, 2016
5:35 pm - Talking Like a Mammal
So, I was interviewed by Alex Bove of the Talk Like a Man Project.

Thus far, nobody has shown up to set their servers on fire, but it's still early.

http://talklikeamanproject.tumblr.com/post/150826948159/rafe-brox-is-a-not-very-mild-mannered-tech-support

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Friday, September 16th, 2016
3:44 pm - Throwing a T Party

This is not the kind of thing a lot of guys would want to admit or discuss in semi-public, which is all the more reason I’m doing so.

I was, in late 2011, feeling generally like the floor of a taxicab, I got a physical done, and discovered that I had what is colloquially known as “Low T.” In my case, it wasn’t merely low, it was about 50% of the threshold for the bottom of normal (180ng/dl), or, put another way, closer to “healthy teenage girl” than “healthy adult male.”

Consequently, I was put on testosterone replacement therapy (TRT), and, today, I finally got the call from my physician’s office - I can back off on my dosage from 14 per week to 10, because I’ve had supra-normal (>1300ng/dl) readings at two consecutive quarterly checkups.

To what can I credit this?  Several things, all of which are interrelated, but some more directly and emphatically than others.

I eat less shit, and drink less booze. This is annoying and adult-y, but, yeah, feeding the machine and not doing things that directly and indirectly depress T production matter.

I am working on getting better quality sleep. This is for general wellness, but is crucial for hormone production and management - it allows your body to produce the good ones and handle the less-good ones (lookin’ real squarely at you, cortisol).

Both of these contribute to my strength training, which is both dependent upon, and supports, healthy T levels.

And lastly, I’ve been supplementing my prescribed medication with two things - Chaos & Pain’s “Legendary,” and 1stPhorm’s Primal Pack; the former, I’ve been using for a while, which helped bump my T levels from ~500ng/dl to ~800ng/dl, and the latter, which have provided the additional bump that my bloodwork showed today.

I understand and appreciate that a lot of folks view the supplement industry askance, having either been disillusioned or disappointed by it, but I can say with what feels like justified confidence that these products have worked, and worked well, for me.

So, yeah. Guys who talk about their happy bits letting them down in a capacity other than, “baby, i swear, it’s not usually like this” during an amorous encounter (for that, there’s Cialis, which, honestly, if taking it meant I’d suddenly come into possession of two wrought-iron claw-foot bathtubs? fuck yeah, i’d take it; i want one of those fucking bathtubs) is still something that isn’t typically done. I’m here to help dispel the stigma and hopefully spread some knowledge, even though over-35 dudes are pretty thin on the ground here on tumblr. *waves to mckitterick *

I don’t see why it’s anything to be ashamed of; “if you can’t make it yourself, store-bought is fine,” as the saying goes.

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Friday, September 9th, 2016
6:38 am - Kitten Foster Fail/Win


So, I will not be adopting all three of the Weights & Measures kittens out this weekend; Hectare has insinuated herself into the colony to a degree that I don't want to discard. She attempts to nurse from Kirk and drapes herself over Magellan like a neck pillow (which is no small feat, as he is historically the most hostile towards new arrivals of any of my herd). Furlong and Parsec are rambunctious and occasionally snugglesome, but Hecky/Hex/Heckle will actively seek out and submit to extended pettings, whereas the other two are much less overtly affectionate, at least with so many other feline companions (they may, in their new homes, take after Spawn & Nymph's brother, Grub (now "Kona Sligh Rafe"), and become human-centric when they're in their own future-humans' homes without other cat distractions.



This is a typical scene at the foot of the bed. (Clockwise from left: Magellan, Hectare, Kirk, and Spawn)

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Monday, August 15th, 2016
6:27 am - lifting feelz - part 3
So, this happened:

Coach: Rafe- Jenn's expressed an interest in working with you on your programming. I think it is an AWESOME idea, given the proximity to her. Interested?

Me: what's the next level of enthusiastic assent above "hell yes"? :-)

this is absolutely no reflection of any kind of dissatisfaction with the coaching and guidance and feedback I've gotten from Alex (and, though i may not be cognizant of it, whomever else has handled my programming during my tenure with CHP) - i'm going to be a client as long as my body holds up and y'all will have me on the roster, because y'all are fucking awesome. ... this might not make the best marketing copy. *laugh*


Coach: Done and done. :) Jenn! He's all yours, make him a monster.

Jenn asked me for some thoughts on my percieved weaknesses as she takes over my programming later this week/next week (she's got a big competition this weekend, so I am going to livestream it and probably shout at my laptop).

Weaknesses I'm aware of:
- Hamstrings (and glutes (?) (pulling, squatting) : I never feel them engage

- Thoracic tightness/weakness (squatting - forward lean / bench - scapular set & arch / dead - upper back set)

- Shoulders (?)

- My wrists are weak as fuck; they want to bend back on squats (as you've seen)

Weaknesses of which I am unaware:
- probably several :-)

Less technically? I think my bench is shit, my squat is terrible, and I only really feel moderately confident deadlifting, but i've been making my pulls based on lumbar strength rather than legs and technique. (i have a *tremendous* case of impostor syndrome, which is made more acute by getting more familiar with how truly strong folks are. comparing myself to others is a fool's errand, and I'm near my own PR levels and chasing records, but i still need to work on my calibration/validation matrix to recognize my progress and not lose sight of that, while remaining goal-oriented and not getting complacent. working on getting my head right in terms of that, in addition to cues and technique - getting to know you makes me feel almost like a newbie, and i am trying to use this to rekindle that kind of open enthusiasm; i am really optimistic about this, and alex's 'monster' comment was a real encouragement there, even for as small a thing as it was)

cardio has been as noted - 30 minutes after most lifting days (or the following morning if it runs too late); this is a challenge to me because i lift after work. two days of cardio-only at the moment - friday and saturday. i am good with an additional lifting day, since the change in intensity and volume, as it's been a good while since i've done a hypertrophy/powerbuilding split or something similar (I trained under josh bryant for a while before coming to chp).

I play ice hockey on saturday nights, through about the next 14 weeks (i am taking the spring season off to focus on the orlando meet)

Injury history:
- left clavicle broken, 1994
- left shoulder, arthroscopic repair of a torn labrum, re-anchored bicep tendon, removal of bone spurs, 9/14
- left tricep, slight tear/strain, no formal rehab, 2010
- partial L2/L3 disc compression, 2/14
- umbilical hernia, dx'd 2015, repaired 1/16
- left MCL, strained/incomplete tear 5/15 & 6/16

if there is anything else you can think of, email or fb or notes here - whatever is most convenient for you. i'm excited and want to live up to the high expectations i think we both have.

meet history:
- orlando europa, 5/15 (florida records in all three lifts and totals, 198, 40-44, raw)

upcoming meets / goals:
- us (maybe int'l) records, 181 or 165 @ orlando europa, 4/17 (definitely want to take DL @ 250kg+, maybe squat; possibly total; bench is nearly 100# over my current 1rm, so I don't know if that's feasible at this meet; maybe one later in the year? we can calibrate as we gauge my progress. it may never be mine)

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Sunday, August 14th, 2016
1:40 pm - stupid meatsuit tricks
just barfing this out so i can stop fucking dwelling on it and turn my attention to the positives from today's workout.

those of you who recall my profoundly visceral admiration response to Jenn R fainting on the platform during her meet rekindling my drive and desire to emulate that... it happened today. unfortunately, it happened about fifty pounds sooner than i was hoping it would, but i am going to lay the blame for that solidly on getting one of the worst nights' sleep in recent memory.

495# on the bar, struggled to break it off the ground for what felt like three or four very very long seconds, my ass got high, and i refused to give up on the pull. dragged it up my shins. got shaky hauling it past my knees, locked it out hard and fast, and promptly greyed the fuck out, twitching on the floor, unable to let go of the bar as a couple of other people at the gym switched from cheerleader to caretaker mode.

afterward, there were some good points:
- richard, the gym's co-owner: "the good news is, you would have gotten three white lights. the bad news is, you shit on my floor." (he was kidding about that second part, but I did glance down to check)
- fred "dr. squat" hatfield, first man to squat a thousand pounds: "that's a result of the valsalva manouever. don't hold your breath so long. let it out once you break off the floor - not all at once, but as you come up with it."
- jenn: "that was one motherfucker of a straight-legged deadlift, and i don't mean that in a bad way."

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Tuesday, August 9th, 2016
12:15 pm - uncharacteristically, i have just done a thing
despite outward appearances, tend towards inertia, so getting off my ass and engaging with the idea of doing something a little out of my comfort zone (that doesn’t directly involve putting a shitload of weight in my hands) is kind of a big deal.

i’m now officially a 1st Phorm independent sales rep. *nervous woo*

don’t worry, i’m not going to be a spam-caster, because nothing is more annoying than someone who used to be an actual person turning into some kind of ad-spewing asshole; i like their stuff and when i asked if they did athlete sponsorships, they said, “no, but how does recommending the ones you like sound?” to which i said, “as long as i don’t have to be some kind of woo-woo sales bro,” and they replied “ok.”

thus, if anyone is interested in checking out their stuff, the link to do so is 1stphorm.com/rbx - that’s my “i get paid if you buy stuff” custom url.

i’ll be more than happy to talk shop and make recommendations and tell you what my experiences with the ones i’ve tried have been (this is why i’m not good at pushy sales shit; i don’t really get hyped up, but will happily shoot the shit about stuff i enjoy)

so, yeah. i did a thing. now, if you’ll excuse me, even being this close to sales-dude mode has me wanting to go throw up.

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Monday, August 8th, 2016
6:28 am - continuing education, and the ironslinger's creed
TIL yesterday while lifting:

- I've been pronouncing the word "hypertrophy" incorrectly for several years (hy-PIR, not HY-pur, and the "o" in trophy is more clipped)
- the female gaze is alive and well, and not currently aimed in my direction all that much when there are much hotter (and shirtless) dudes doing cleaning work in the vicinity, but, hey, that's part of why i lift (also, large, beautiful, muscular young men have the ability to cause athletic women to spontaneously need to lose their shirts to a degree that invites wry amusement from slightly more mature athletic women)
- even great lifters deal with frustration, and i'm not confident enough in where i currently stand to offer much more than supportive noises and memes (when I related sharing the 'tiny potato' to CS, she, not-incorrectly, chided me for being "star-struck")
- brand-new deadlift bars** have very assertive knurling
- being trusted to spot someone strong is a really big vote of confidence

On the bookface, someone asked about a day in the life of a CHP coach* or athlete as far as nutrition, rest, and training are concerned... to which, of course, I had a wiseass response.

I do not sleep in my bed; he who sleeps in his bed has forgotten the face of his Father. I sleep with my mind.

I do not eat with my mouth; he who eats with his mouth has forgotten the face of his Father. I eat with my soul.

I do not lift with my body; he who lifts with is body has forgotten the face of his Father. I lift with my heart.

- Roland Deschain, Last Gunslinger of of Gilead (paraphrased)


* flatteringly, during my training session with Jenn this morning, Dawn (the co-owner of the gym) asked if I was on the company's coaching staff, which I took as high praise indeed; the previous evening, i had sent the owners a quick letter of inquiry/interest if they were looking for someone to help with the administrative overhead to let the coaches focus more on coaching.

(i also have an appointment today to speak with a rep from a supplement company whose products i find to be excellent on the subject of being on their team as far as an outside rep; rest assured, my sales skills are still as terrible as ever, so i won't be turning into a shill, but i've had good results from their stuff, and am really happy with how it tastes, so recommending it is easy.)

** the difference between a deadlift bar and a regular barbell is threefold: it's a little bit longer, a little bit thinner, and "whippier" or "bendier" to facilitate pulling the slack out of the bar before it leaves the floor (this is due to both the first two factors, as well as metallurgical differences that i am not informed enough to talk intelligently about, but would probably be interesting to someone like _project_mayhem if he ever had free time ;-) )

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Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016
6:30 am - lifting feelz - part 2
[on my training group’s fb page, one of the coaches asked us to recount our most memorable training day. i’m sharing it here because i think it went some interesting places]



Early on with Complete Human Performance, Alex had a lot of things programmed for me that I had never seen or heard of before, despite being a reader and forum lurker on a couple of well-known weightlifting sites for quite a while. You folks brought in so many new accessory lifts to help support my development and rehab (I had shoulder surgery literally two months after joining up for a pre-existing injury, and my programming hardly skipped a beat then, or during subsequent injuries and surgical rehab stints) that it was obvious to me, despite the half-dozen years I'd been lifting and the year I'd been an online client of a very strong and knowledgeable and accomplished coach/lifter, that this was some next-level shit.

I may yet delve through three years (!!!) worth of training logs to find the most onerous, sadistic, demanding, or ecstasy-inducing training sessions - which, until recently, would absolutely have been my plan of attack to answer your question. Right now, that's a trip down memory lane, supplemented by paging through a badly sweat-stained logbook. There have been sets taken to failure in many lifts at many weights. There have been runs where "stopped to barf" is in the recap notes. There are a couple of memorable lunge sessions where the only thing that kept me from weeping openly in public is that I couldn't spare the breath for it, and all my available fluids and electrolytes were being turned to sweat, so my tear ducts had to take a number.

Have there been non-training highlights? Absolutely. Winning my division and setting state records at my first powerlifting meet - which was also my introduction to how warm and friendly my fellow CHP athletes and trainees are - Paul and Derek - is always going to be a cherished memory. Joining the team for our distributed virtual assault on the Kinghthood of Sufferlandria fundraiser - and then still having enough gas in the tank to play in my rec league's ice hockey championship two hours later was an absolute blast. Trying my hand (feet? heart?) at an ultramarathon with Derek and Jonathan was one of the more entertainingly questionable decisions of my life.

All that being said, I have a much more recently-minted memory that stands out as my finest training day with CHP.

A couple of weeks ago, Jenn Rotsinger generously offered to mentor me during her own Sunday morning workout session a few days before she was announced as the newest member of CHP's coaching staff - she was simply helping out a fellow athlete and trainee. The selflessness and willingness to share her knowledge and expertise is absolutely in line with my experience with everyone else I've worked with here, but knowing the context of where this workout was in her training cycle - getting ready to compete in an event where, if all goes well, she'll be topping her own world records, *and still being this generous with her time and attention,* in addition to, frankly, prying the top of my head off to pour in a tremendous amount of invaluable feedback - nothing else I've done in my training comes within miles of touching that.

My numbers that day were, to me, a small disappointment, but that wasn't the point. I've been a better lifter, both objectively and subjectively, since that day. I've been more careful about how I eat, just based on a casual, off-hand remark she made during some talk about our future goals. That workout didn't just change me as a lifter, it has made me a better person.

So, to sum up, before I get any more maudlin on y'all - a huge thank you to everyone at CHP - both the coaching staff and my fellow athletes. Now, if you'll excuse me, I seem to be leaking some emotional electrolytes.

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Thursday, July 28th, 2016
8:35 am - In Defense of Insularity
Periodically, some wag will pen yet another epistle against how people curate their own echo chambers on social media - citing the unfriending or unfollowing of people with different views on the bookface, most commonly, or, for the less social-media savvy, decrying the splintering of cable news into slanted offerings.

The latter criticism, I agree with - news should be presented with as little inflection and as much context as possible, so that viewers and consumers can draw their own conclusions and perform their own analysis, not be spoon-fed some pre-digested opinion like so many baby birds gulping down gizzard emissions. (I say this, not as some kind of pure and unbiased scion of journalistic objectivity, by the way - I enjoy the occasional episode of The Daily Show, used to tune into Keith Olbermann’s “Countdown” for a nightly dose of righteous indignation and schadenfreude, would happily body-check anyone who gives Rachel Maddow a hard time, and who finds the Fox News Channel odious); I am subjected to eight or so hours of mercifully-muted CNN coverage on a monitor at my workplace, and it’s a case study in how not to provide depth and insight. My preferred information source is the ecru wallpaper of American broadcast journalism, NPR.

As to the former, I think that it misses the point - people are not, generally, on social media for the primary purpose of being news consumers, necessarily - many of us use it as an escape, a sanctuary, a half-step away from the nine million stressors and flavors of shit the world throws at us constantly; having boundaries and self-selected safe spaces is a self-defense mechanism, and nobody should be made to feel bad for having them.

People can, and should, have a place where comfortable agreeableness is the rule, rather than the exception.

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Wednesday, July 27th, 2016
6:08 am - the three-skwatz haderach
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AlBw7cAA5oA

and here is me less-than-threeing (ie: <3) more than three reps:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8GQyDfVHOuE

super-encouraging note from Jenn: "Based upon the velocity of the bar, you had more in you."
me: "YAY. felt myself getting loose out of the hole and don't yet have the re-set routine down to get my tightness back, but that's very encouraging to hear; thank you!"

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Friday, July 22nd, 2016
10:41 am - the fight and the fridgings (weights and cats)
this may not make a lot of sense at the outset, but i promise it will all coalesce somewhat by the end. the concept/trope of "fridging" - that some unfortunate thing that happens to a female character to catalyze a male character's development as a response to manpain[tm] is very much awake, aware, and alive for me, and sort of comically on display on two fronts.

on the one hand, the deaths of a couple of my most-favored feral cats, whom i had hoped to bring into my household, are part of why i have gone out of my way to be a caretaker for so many. Drake (Magellan's sister) was struck by a car before my renovations in 2012 were complete, and tiny's first litter featured two super-assertively-friendly kittens, who were the unfortunate victims of a well-meaning neighbors to feed them milk because they were vocal and mobile and they succumbed to the improper ingestion of cow's milk before they were weaned.

i don't like seeing needless pain or suffering, especially if it is in my power to help prevent it. so there's that.

On the other hand, one of the things that has rekindled my lifting motivation of late is seeing what it looks like when someone fights for every rep, and trying to apply that to my own practice and training. it's easy to half-ass stuff, or not bring everything to bear on a rep, or whatever - this isn't news to folks who do martial arts, for instance, and it shouldn't be news to me, either - but, as a non-perfectionist, i chafe at the "perfect practice makes perfect" dictat as well; i am much more a zeno's paradox kind of guy, incrementally creeping towards a near-ideal. this is sub-optimal on two fronts - one, you're not going to hit your limits, and, tangentially, you get more out of a rep when you move the bar with speed rather than slowly; F=MA doesn't give a shit.

so, watching Jenn R miss that world record deadlift pull was literally seeing someone try to give 101% of what they have, committing absolutely everything to a lift (her training videos show the same kind of focus and intensity); i honestly am more inspired by the failed attempt at the absolute extreme of her capability, rather than yet another (impressive-as-fuck) successful pull. we've talked briefly about how to develop that and bring it to bear, which is one of many facets of my strength practice that i want to improve in order to achieve the goals i have recently set for myself. i've been putting this into practice this week, after my chance to train with her last weekend - i may not have made every lift this week, but i have sure as shit fought my best fight on every rep (though this still isn't happening every rep of every set, i've ground out some number-of-rep PRs by stomping into this relatively new psychological territory as I remind myself what it looks like when one of the best refuses to give up, and trying to emulate that in my own performance)

so, yeah, i am kind of embracing the trope that is so tiresome and problematic in our imagined fiction, because, for better or worse, "grizzled white cishet dude" is the current protagonist in my personal narrative.

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Monday, July 18th, 2016
10:55 am - lifting feelz
maybe other people get this kind of unmooring, furniture-moving emotional/intellectual shit from doing other types of activities; i'm not accustomed to having an emotional hangover from an arduous workout. so i went on a babblestream via chat with the coach.

me: i'm still going over a lot of what we covered in my head and mulling over a lot of things. i assume this level of introspection was kicked off by how comprehensively i need to revisit my fundamentals - not bad, but a very necessary reality check. :-) (so, you continue to kick my ass even while not actively kicking my ass)

her: Sore today?

me: not nearly as much as i was expecting. most of the discomfort is psychological. i'm going to be doing some light mobility work and those 5x5 hamstring breathing exercises during my breaks at the office. i was beaten flat all yesterday evening, though *laugh*

her: Good. We didn't do a lot of volume, so soreness shouldn't be bad. CNS had a wee bit of a shock, so I wouldn't expect you'd feel perky. You might feel fatigue, but not necessarily sore.

me: i think the combination of just working so long in the heat, and trying to focus a lot more than i am accustomed to took a toll. it's the thinky bits (which is what i assume other folks get out of doing endurance events or yoga/meditation) that are unexpectedly taking a lot of my attention. i knew, intellectually, that i would be excited to learn stuff from a technical standpoint, but it's the second-level motivations and goal evaluations that i'm trying to get a handle on. you're a hell of a role model. :-) (i have no idea if the other chp clients/trainees wander this far into the weeds *laughs*)

her: Thanks. ☺️ glad I could help

me: profoundly. and i hope to continue to benefit from your guidance, both directly and indirectly

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5:57 am - stupid meatsuit tricks


That was probably the most arduous fitness thing I've done since attempting the ultramarathon. Four hours in the gym, and I'm pretty confident that I sweated on everything except the ceiling. (failed to set a PR deadlifting, and came away with fairly copious notes on how to improve my setup and execution for pretty much everything I do with a barbell in my hands, because i have a lot of room to get better. there's no better way than to have one of the best lifters in the world say, "try this" and help figure out how to get it right)

my workout notes for my coach in the aftermath:

So, Jenn completely kicked my ass, and I loved it. Heh. I have been completely useless since getting home five and a half hours ago; maybe it's Stockhom Syndrome, or maybe it's Maybelline. Whatever it was, I want to bottle it.

NOVEL INCOMING

tl;dr - i have a lot of work to do on my setup for all three lifts, but Jenn gave me a ton of valuable feedback, that I was, with varying degrees of accuracy, able to put into practice for real-time feedback.

squat cues: get narrow, get tight, bull the bar, hips through
dead cues: head back but straight, fall back to pull, hips through
bench cues: unrack at eyes, lockout lower, traps tight, load the lats, drive the heels

in a nutshell: i am way too lacking in tightness pretty much everywhere when i first get engaged with the bar on everything. *laugh*

Deadlifts: Tore my callouses off going for 525; probably had the strength (even doing these after squats), but the bar twisted on me and I helicoptered. so, a bit of a disappointment there, but it's what i had today.

DL keys: JR recommended a narrower overall approach to the bar, both feet and hands, and to stop fucking around while bent over with my hands on the bar, so we decided to go with a more SLDL-style setup - breathe, grab the bar, take out the slack, drop the ass, fall back, and get after it. did some moderate weight pause work (bottom of the knee sleeves) and a bunch of singles to try and groove this; some reps were better than others.

Squats: to combat my lawn chair / squat-morning tendencies, i need a lot more upper thoracic tightness, from more assertive bar grip all the way to lat engagement along the whole chain. on the upside, working up to 315 with a conventional bar caused no notable strain on my shoulders or elbows, though i still break my wrists backwards (somewhat mitigated by employing a false grip, but i was able to bring my hands in a lot narrower than i had previously, which was a nice surprise). again, she recommended bringing my feet a lot closer together when i am unracking the weight and using leg extension rather than hip hinge to do so to keep the weight back where it should be. i was less sloppy in the hole than i was afraid i was going to be, but bar control on the descent is going to require some attention so i don't dive-bomb them. out of the hole, i still have a tendency to go ass-first, so driving my shoulders back is going to require practice and attention.

benching was a struggle due to fatigue and electrolyte depletion - my hips, hamstrings, and even my rhomboids wanted to cramp by the time we got to these, but working on better leg drive mechanics and trap tightness and taking a better position under the bar definitely helped. i suspect part of my happy feet when i lift at home is because my bench is higher than the competition ones at her facility - i didn't have to reach for the floor to get (what passes for) solid contact, so i will be laying those pavers alongside my bench in my garage to try and bring that into a more normal alignment.

overall, i have a lot of notes and things to work on, and some plans of attack that the two of us discussed (you'll probably be getting her take on things as well), and it was definitely one of the most informative and educational and valuable gym sessions i think i've ever had.

we even finished the day with some comic relief yoga. :-)

other things i learned: it's possible to SWEAT COMPLETELY THROUGH TPS SLEEVES WTF (ballpark estimate, i dropped ten pounds of fluids in four hours; weighed in at 189.9 out of bed, 24oz pre-workout drink, approximately 100oz of fluids during the workout (50oz mercury blend, 50oz plain water), weighed in at home at 187.5 before downing a recovery shake. EVERYTHING WANTS TO CRAMP NOW. BRB, GOING TO SHOVE MY FACE IN A HALF GALLON OF MERCURY AND CHOCOLATE MILK AND A STEAK.

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Thursday, July 14th, 2016
7:08 pm
TFW a knee injury impacts bench day. Trying to find a comfortable position, and then having to monkey around with leg drive in a manner that didn't cause shear on the injury (SBD sleeve plus Shock Doctor 872 brace to avoid doing anything *excessively* stupid to it)

270# for 3 and... less than three.

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Tuesday, July 12th, 2016
4:17 pm - [Review] Making Money and Mort, by Terry Pratchett
I went on a mini Discworld binge in the run-up to vacation so I would have plane and hotel/pool/beach reading, and so I went with the three kickoff books for his grand arcs ("Mort" for Death; "Guards, Guards!" for the Night Watch, and "Wyrd Sisters" for them) and snagged "Making Money" because I was considering using it as a book club title for a group at the office, since, you know, I work at a credit union.

MORT is a fun introduction to the Big D, and an entertaining tale to boot, featuring derring do, daring dudes, and a couple of lovely satirizations of tropes, as is Pterry's wont. If you enjoy the Discworld stuff and somehow haven't read it, you will like it.

As the lattermost (maybe, I think?) of the Moist von Lipwig tales, MAKING MONEY drops the reader into a later-days version of Ankh-Morpork, where many of the machinations have already been machined, so it was a lot of adjustment for me, since I have only read a scant handful of the series thus far, and hadn't met any of the principals previously, but knew who they were by reputation and fandom exposure. It's kind of like a cheerfully Saturday-morning-cartoon version of Steven Brust's "Taltos" novels, with the rapscallion going straight, mostly.

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Sunday, July 10th, 2016
6:23 pm
nice-ish to know that on a strained MCL and 2.5 hours of hockey the day before, I can still pull 455#. hopefully next weekend when i'm with the seriously strong people, i won't be compromised and can take full advantage of her expert critique.

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Friday, July 8th, 2016
11:44 am - kittenstream is back
http://www.ustream.tv/channel/GDFpGbNtCkH

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6:51 am - 16 days, 12.5 ounces
Not sure what caused my livestream to tank - possibly something with the USB connection for the external webcam, which I was too tired to fuck with last night.

So, here's a shot from this morning.

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Tuesday, June 28th, 2016
6:53 am - big weekend of bigness
had a fairly excellent night of hockey on saturday after a decent day of lifting, but it was sunday that is going to stick with me for the long haul.

my strength and conditioning coach and several of his staff, as well as a few of my fellow athletes, were in town for a women's powerlifting meet, co-hosted by and named for one of them. i was only able to make it for sunday, but next year, i am going to make it a priority to get to all three days, and potentially volunteer to work the event or help with prep and whatnot (funny coincidence: it was at the same venue as the friday night stuff of c14 - and some of the lifters' walk-out music would not have been out of place; there was a young woman who came out to evanescence's 'wake me up,' and another woman who hit the platform to NIN's 'wish')

https://www.facebook.com/events/1530705470572015/

so, naturally, i was hanging out at my coach's merch table with one of the other coaches while everyone else was getting lunch and no fewer than four people thought i worked there, and i had to improvise a sales pitch for the service or figure out how to take payment for a shirt. *laugh* "i'm... not actually a coach. i'm just a client."

the hostess, jenn rotsinger, was fucking inspiring, and has earwormed me with a song i'd never heard before (the refrain from flo rida's "welcome to my house") in a manner that i hope never abates.

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Saturday, June 25th, 2016
4:21 pm - weighed, measured , and found adorable
there are fresh kittens as of wednesday. three of 'em, tone on tone black tabbies all.

one, assuming there's a male in the bunch, has been spoken for by a coworker. the other two are available if anyone wants them, and they'll be weaned and ready in september :-)

tiny, of course, still hates me.




the most adventuresome is, for obvious reasons, being named "Furlong."



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Tuesday, May 31st, 2016
6:53 am - [Review] A Companion to Wolves - Sarah Monette & Elizabeth Bear
A COMPANION TO WOLVES is one of those things that I was aware of since it had been published, but only recently got around to buying and reading. If you like high fantasy, don't mind intense sex scenes in service to the narrative, and are a dog person, just stop here and buy the fucking book.

The tag-team duo of Bear (matociquala) and Monette (truepenny) is one of my favorite collaborative voices (their short story "Boojum" and the follow-on fiction in that world is excellent sci-fi), and here, they have tackled a slice the Norse mythos by way of turning the "warrior/chosen one finds their animal familiar and heroics ensue" from 45 to 270 degrees around a several axes.

Young men are tithed to the force that guards their homeland from trolls and other threats, which kicks off the narrative, as our protagonist brings us into that world. It is cold and harsh, and things promptly begin to go into multi-named and/or hard-to-pronounce[1] handbaskets.

As anyone who has gone to a breeder or animal shelter knows, you aren't the only one choosing a friend; so is the animal, and here, the wolves drive the bus, and the humans need to keep their shit together in service to the pack. Thus, there are two sets of politics, two sets of social hierarchy, two sets of friendships and yearnings, and two sets of chains of command to be navigated and negotiated, and it's as overwhelming for our protagonist as it is for us as readers, as he tries to keep himself and his wolf-sister alive and only appropriately embroiled, with the expected varying levels of success.

It is a tough read in some places - it's not grimdark for the sake of grimness and darkness - but there is hard sledding to be done socially, in combat, and a handful of scenes that are a starkly visceral blend of both.

I will definitely be picking up the two further books in the series - A TEMPERING OF MEN and AN APPRENTICE TO ELVES, because, even though this book absolutely stands alone, I want to see what else Bear and Monette have in store for this world and its inhabitants.

[1] If you enjoy Russian novels for their [sarcasm font]ease[/sarcasm font] of identifying individuals who can be referred to by six or seven different names/titles and casts of characters running to fifty or so, this will not be the challenge for you it was for me. I found myself having to pause frequently to try and remember if it was Skjaldir or Skollmir or Skaljir who did the thing with the stuff, or if that was Hrolldir, Hrair, Hrafn, or Harry and the Hendersons who had. There were, however, definitely no militant moles wielding Mjolnir, although subterranean creatures swinging clubs *do* feature prominently.

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Friday, May 27th, 2016
12:34 pm - [Review] Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear
The one good thing about air travel is reading opportunities in larger than 40 minute increments, which is why I blew through matociquala's KAREN MEMORY in such short order, as opposed to only having lunch-hour time to nibble (the hardcover is a fairly svelte 350 pages cover to cover, whatever that means - I certainly wouldn't have objected to another couple of tens of thousands of words, but I'm not the guy supplying the ink and paper or paying the freight).

It's set in the gold-rush era PNW in a mildly steampunked semi-alternative history shortly after the Civil War, and the narrator is a "seamstress" in a house of ill (but pretty good) repute. There is a serial killer, an international intrigue plot, a local political scandal in the making, and a human trafficking scheme overlaid one another like the Olympic rings, and we're promptly embroiled in all of them, along with a keenly pining love interest.

Bear doesn't do fluffy popcorn; even as rambunctious as this is - whore-house bar fights, a sewing machine that's an homage to Ellen Ripley, a mechanical Kraken - it's rich and layered in the ways that restaurants too fancy for me to patronize are lauded for their wine pairings and plating presentation - it's still delicious and multi-layered and shot through with surprises that entice even if you're expecting to find them merely satiating.

It's no secret that turning tropes on their ear is one of Bear's hallmarks and favored motifs (A COMPANION TO WOLVES is the next thing on my TBR pile), and KAREN MEMORY shoulders enough social consciousnedd freight that a certain bad dog blue devilman would probably break out in self-loathing hives if it merely crossed his line of sight. there are no punches pulled in acknowledging the racism of the society that just freed African-American slaves, the deeply problematic treatment of Asian slaves and expatriated individuals, as well as the omnipresent, multi-dimensional sexism that still haunts our politics and society.

I'm giving it to my dad to read next, since he keeps watching old John Wayne westerns, and KAREN MEMORY is a wry, smart, sassy, and brassy update to the Louis L'Amour/Zane Grey cowboy opera it inhabits the tradition of (and it pairs and contrasts well with suricattus' SILVER ON THE ROAD as a rainier, rowdier one-two punch)

heartily recommended.

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Wednesday, May 18th, 2016
8:59 am - witness me, bloodbag!


The hotel was lovely and super-close to the donation site - that's a keeper for anyone else they need to send that way.

The donation site was... more of a mixed bag.

I got there before any of the staff when I rolled up at 0815, because both the phlebotomists thought the donation was at 0900; the on-site coordinator arrived about 0820.

Things remained a little rocky with the facility staff once they arrived and got down to business.

Them: "We're ready."
Me: *picks up tote bag with snacks, Tums, laptop, and cell phone*
Them: "What do you think you're going to be able to do?"
Me: "... keep myself occupied?"
Them: "Oh, no, honey, you ain't going to be able to do nothin'."
Needles: *go in both elbows, rather than an elbow/back-of-forearm, to allow one hand any kind of freedom of movement*
Me: "Well, at least my girlfriend had the foresight to load movies* on her computer."

The apheresis equipment looks to be a half-step up from what they had at Shands, or maybe they just used a bigger-gauge needle, because it needed a lot less intra-donation hand-holding to make the centrifuge happy - or maybe the process is better able to extract the T cells from what they drew off and it doesn't need to be micromanaged as much anymore. In either case, the attending nurses paid a lot less attention to what was being drawn off than during either of my previous two donations. There were no other donation/recipient folks present until noon, and, while I try to be as low-maintenance as possible as a patient/guest, it was a notably less-welcoming environment than the previous ones had made me accustomed.

They also seemed to be a lot less actively involved with the process as a whole, especially towards the end, when all the saline replacement and calcium depletion had me feeling rather desperate to use the restroom, and they took an almost ostentatiously long time unhooking one, and then the second, needle. When my answers to "how are you feeling?" are increasingly pointed iterations of "I really need to use the bathroom," maybe... pick up the pace just a scosh? Nobody likes a bedpan, folks. I had a sense of urgency there that was, perversely, in inverse proportion to what it looked like the staffer was feeling - the more uncomfortable I got, the more slowly she appeared to go about her tasks.

Despite being hooked up to a calcium/saline** IV on the return line, I still got to "enjoy" the symptoms of calcium depletion at varying levels of acuteness throughout.

The blood return warmer on the rig I was wired into had two temperature settings: OFF and FRESH COFFEE. I opted for OFF. Which was funny, because everyone else was in long pants, scrubs, and fleece jackets, and i was in a T-shirt and shorts.

The staffers mentioned that they (OneBlood) have a facility in Orlando; if my donor recipient needs another refill, maybe that's an option. The combo platter of a pair of four-plus hour drives compounded by a lot less favorable bedside manner than the folks at Shands had me feeling pretty crispy, even though the donation itself went more quickly this time than either of the previous iterations (18,000 ml to be drawn and spun, rather than 23,000 or whatever it was the previous ones)

... and I totally forgot to pick up a well-wishes greeting card for the recipient.

* Captain America: The First Avenger (and CA: The Winter Soldier, but we only watched the first one at the facility; TWS was once we got home)
** I had to laugh that, the last time they checked my blood pressure before unhooking, it was elevated 30 extra points, and their concern was that I was *dehydrated* rather than, you know, tense from trying not to piss my fucking pants and at a five or six in terms of discomfort due to calcium depletion. I pointed out that the more saline they wanted to push, the more I had to pee, which had approximately no effect on their attitude whatsoever. I weighed EIGHT POUNDS more when I got home yesterday than I did when I left the house Monday morning - snacking on some homemade beef jerky and drinking two 16oz bottles of water ain't gonna do that, folks. How about you just turn off the fucking spigot and let me take a much-needed leak.

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Monday, May 2nd, 2016
10:32 am - fiddy. (if you round up)
Sunday, at the encouragement of friends and due to an astonishing lack of foresight, I did a thing.

Well, that's both true and misleading - I did a thing, but it was not the thing I had set out to do.
Putting the rest behind the cut, because long w/ picturesCollapse )

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Sunday, March 20th, 2016
10:13 am - It's like Mr. Met. Sure, he's goofy, but you still need to call him "Mister."
Pending some administrative folderol, yesterday's ten hours in the stationary bike saddle will render unto yours truly the title of Sir, Knight of Sufferlandria.

Here's what yesterday's menu looked like, beginning at about 0645 (parenthetical notes are from our coach; numeric notes are ride length without/with the 10 minute recovery before the next one):

1) Blender (100/110)
2) The Rookie (55/65)
3) The Wretched (48/58)
4) A Very Dark Place (51/61)
5) Power Station (nice break here) (50/60)
6) Angels 2015 (56/66)
7) Nine Hammers (55/65)
8) Hell Hath No Fury (this will be the worst part of the day) (75/85)
9) Do as You're Told (47/57)
10) The Best Thing in the World (48/58)


The rest of my cohorts, save two, began with "Rookie" and ended with "Blender," but I wanted/needed to get the earlier start so as to have the extra recovery before playing in my rec league championship game last night (Sadly, we came up on the short end of the score sheet, but the look on the ref's face was priceless when he asked why my stickwork in net was sloppier than usual. "I biked a hundred and some miles today." "Well, shit, if I did that, I wouldn't be here!" "And here I am.")




My FitBit kinda freaked out, and only recorded the first six hours as an "activity" (honestly, I probably just had my wrist pinned back at just the wrong angle after 5:45 in the saddle while catching a breather and it pressed the watch button), but at least the calorie graph tells the whole gory tale. Yes, playing goalie is hard fucking work from an aerobic/anaerobic standpoint in a completely different way than skating out is, where it's one minute on, two minutes off.

If someone had told me that I'd cycle a hundred miles or so in a single day, much less still have anything at all in the tank afterward, I'd probably have scoffed. As it stands, I've got tight calves and equipment I need to discharge from my garage before I can lift again and a ferociously tight arch in my right foot this morning, but I've also got the glow of doing something kind of nuts with friends and that's gonna help get through the next thing, whatever it is.

The scale also told an interesting story - 194.0 at bedtime friday, 191.6 upon waking saturday, and 193.3 with sneakers and shorts throughout the ride, save for an hour and a half 3/4 of the way through where I bumped up to 194.2. Hydration and electrolytes/carbs was handled drinking 24oz of Chaos & Pain's Mercury or GAT's JetMass (each were supplemented every second drink with C&P's BCAA complex); it remained so flat that i got on the scale with one of my cats in hand to make sure it hadn't gone into "stop checking your weight compulsively, it's not changing" mode. bumped up a pound when i flagged, then started sweating heavily again for the last two rides. (maybe taking a midday multivitamin was better in theory than practice?)

Woke up this morning, down three pounds from yesterday morning. Breakfast was a cup of coffee and an entire pizza. :-)

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Friday, March 4th, 2016
7:13 am - Stupid fitness things... now for charity!
http://www.completehumanperformance.com/donations/knights-sufferlandria-charity-event/

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Thursday, February 25th, 2016
6:48 am - yasss. (I had missed this initially, but the author rebageled it to tumblr this morning)
Originally posted by copperbadge at post
This morning I was asked to change my password on my work computer, as I must do every four months. And I sat there waiting for it to authorise my new password, and I thought, I have measured out my life in login codes.

And, as it so often does, then my brain screwed me out of several hours of productivity.

Edit to add: Why hello there, entire internet! If you'd like to know who I am or what I think of this poem, I made a separate post that you can check out. Hope you enjoy your stay here at chez Copperbadge.

The .doc File Of J. Alfred PrufrockCollapse )

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Tuesday, January 5th, 2016
7:27 am - snippets
so, having a couple little hernias fixed via an incision at the navel isn't nearly as big a deal as five little entry points for shoulder repair - i was under for less than an hour, and the discomfort after an 8 hour sleep window of no pain management (5mg hydrocodone / 525mg tylenol) is a 3 with spikes to 4.5 if i move the wrong way too abruptly.

proof that i am even boring while on drugs: my impulse buy at CVS while waiting for my prescription to be filled was a bag of dunkin donuts' decaf.

knowing that i am a hirsute bastard and they'd need to mow, i more or less clippered the entire front of my torso last week, and it still took the poor prep nurse the entire charge of two handheld trimmers to clear the drop zone.

pic of the little razor that couldn"ts work under the cut. it"s not flattering, but that"s why i need to do cardioCollapse )

with the arrival, finally, of fall-like temperatures (and my relocation to the bedroom while my dad is here to snowbird), there are typically between three and six cats arrayed around me from the hips down at nearly all times. the moat depicted here is my left leg.



(Clockwise from bottom left: Nymph, Kirk, Garbanzo, Magellan, Spawn, and ThreeBob)

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Friday, December 25th, 2015
7:14 am - SW: TFA re-watch
As I had hoped, based on the remarks of others, the new Star Wars holds up very well to subsequent viewings - the whole movie slows down so you can take in little details you’re too caught up in the rush of the first watch to catch.

I was struck more, emotionally, by the climax this time around because I knew it was coming, for instance, but I was also able to pay a lot more attention to the little compositional details - especially the lighting effects when anyone Force-sensitive was on-screen.

Admittedly, this was *far* from subtle (and anyone who has seen the movie will look at the poster with new eyes), but was easy to miss in all the excitement of an opening-night packed house, when the pre-crawl words LONG, LONG AGO, IN A GALAXY FAR, FAR AWAY… appeared, and then John Williams’ horns kicked in and drew a standing ovation from people who might have been too choked up to speak.

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Thursday, December 24th, 2015
9:47 am - Review: ZER0ES - Chuck Wendig
For a guy with as big and foul a mouth as Cherk Wendigo has on the twitternets and interwubs, it's no surprise that folks I get along with enjoy his writing (I peruse his blog on occasion, and sometimes trade comic volleys on the twitters), but this is the first time I've picked up his fiction. I mean, a guy who can incite the racist, homophobic portions of Star Wars fandom into such a frothy lather is probably somebody I'd enjoy having a literary beer with, right?

Zer0es is a fairly straightforward "AI goes rogue" story, told from the perspective of a group of tech-savvy folks who are dragooned into government service (and a couple of the government agents doing the dragooning). There are hacking events, chase scenes, shootouts - all the stuff of summer action movies, though it never feels so big that the ominous end-of-the-world implications it hints at seem to be happening, despite background details that suggest this is exactly what's going on. It just didn't seem to have the doomy immediacy for me, as a reader, that it seemed to warrant, because the characters themselves didn't seem to be greatly imperiled after a pre-climax OH THE FUCK YOU DIDN'T, Y'ALL moment.... the fact that the tension didn't ratchet up from that, but seemed to back off and not regain traction until the denouement (and, even then, it still felt somewhat small and lower-stakes than maybe it could have)... I was left feeling like there was a bigger payoff that didn't quite reach the page.

There are a lot of individually-fleshed motivations, though they tend towards being "one broad stroke per character, with a little shading on both edges" - there are a lot of guilt and redemption motivations, a nontrivial amount of justified mistrust of Big Brother and US policy in general, and a deus ex-ex machina character I had a hard time reconciling with the rest of the worldbuilding. There was some good action, some good conflict, some good atmosphere, and enough handwavium at the actual hacking to provide plausible deniability (because if there is one thing hacking stories almost invariably fuck up, it's how generally uninteresting it is to anyone not actually sitting at the keyboard or reading the chatlogs; Wendig smartly pulled the camera back enough to keep this from being a stumbling block).

Overall: Good with popcorn and a soft drink, if a bit lighter and fluffier than my tastes currently run. Five bits out of a byte.

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Friday, December 18th, 2015
8:54 am - An Old Hope
The Force Awakens is an outstanding Star Wars movie; if you like the franchise, you will almost certainly enjoy it.

Bonus goodness: seeing a couple of friends in the lobby pre/post.

No spoilers, but will cut-text out of courtesy.Collapse )

Also amusing: I got mistaken for theater staff at one point, somehow, despite the utilikilt, t-shirt, and conspicuous lack of nametag. Apparently, I just give off the door/line thug vibe whether I want to or not. I was just standing around and shooting the shit with TheOneBob.

The new movie makes me crave the next one; the prequels made me dread theirs.

Well done, rekindling that old hope.

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Saturday, December 5th, 2015
7:44 pm - flavor of the weak
(with apologies to front line assembly, i don't care how canadian they are, there's no 'u' in that first word)

did my first officially-sanctioned workout since the diagnosis, and... doing moves that try to put no strain on the valsalva maneuver for abdominal stability is tricky fucking shit, and taking a month more or less off cold turkey (other than hockey, which is not a strength-building endeavor)... i am fucking weaksauce, compounded by my repaired shoulder getting tetchy due to disuse despite stretching and mobility work.

in lieu of bench press, floor presses, up to three sets of ten at 135# - i might have had 165 or 185 for that much volume, but was babying the shoulder rather than be a heroic idiot. some unscripted mobility work - 50# overhead pressing and pullup bar hangs with some light twisting - the latter caused some good-feeling but crunchy movement where it was probably needed.

for leg work... pistol squats, with the concession that i could hold onto something. because otherwise, i go about a third of the way down, and fall the fuck over even when i'm in unhindered condition, since my ankle mobility is shit and my leverages mean i fall on my ass because my center of gravity is somewhere aft of my heel. maybe if i lose thirty or forty pounds, i can lean further forward. which is not the reason i'd want to lose that weight, but being a trapezoid rather than a faintly narrowing and bulging tube shape would be nice.

and for back, bench-supported rows. tried doing these on my roman chair, which would, in theory, press against my abdomen so i wouldn't have to stress the hernia sites with stabilization. which it does, of course, but makes it damn near impossible to breathe. 3x10 of 135 here, too.

plus, three hockey sessions this weekend, and a 3km stroll for groceries wearing my 40# weight vest... which, in retrospect, probably makes me look like the world's least-discrete suicide bomber.

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