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Thursday, 27 November 2008

CWC this Sunday

Don't forget the Christmas without cruelty fayre is this Sunday (30 Nov) 10-5 at Kensington town hall in London (get off at the kensington high street tube).
Exciting extra news. We've got Joni from vegan fitness on the stall (also known as the North west of England Bench Press champion 2008) & he's bringing along some vegan (obviously!) chocolate coated protein bars 22 grams of protein per bar, so keep an eye out for him on the stall (I don't think you'll miss the over 100K of him some how :-).
The annual push-up contest will be being held at 4PM & remember the earlier register for the contest, the later in the event you'll be competing (so you'll know what to beat!), so sign up early.
See you there!

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Illegal to exercise!

In this place it is! You can jog & walk, but stop & stretch out or do a sit-up & get yourself arrested

Saturday, 22 November 2008

A review: Muscle, Smoke & Mirrors vol 1 by Randy Roach

Here's a quick summary of the above book. Basically before we start this book was funded by the Weston Price foundation, so we kind of have an idea exactly which direction this book is going to take & where the main focus is going to be turned before we even open the pages (we all know about the Weston Price Foundation & their anti-veg stance).

First of all the book opens in the early days of strongman (Sandow et al), & on to Barnarr McFadden (& that silly veggie diet he promoted-yep, a negative view straight from the start), then takes a quick swerve to suddenly include the dentist Weston Price (who up until this moment history has never mentioned as being so important in the physical culture movement :-), but according to this book, he appears as an almost pivotal figure, there is a brief mention of Robert McCarrison & his study of the virtually veggie Hunza, but that is soon passed over as we moved back to the momentous events of Dr Price!

This book makes a few errors in their timings in my view. It is implied that any interest in vegetarian living is just about replaced by the high (meat) protein diet by the 1940's (possibly only slowed by war time rations in the UK & Europe-although this isn't mentioned), but in the 1940 Bob Hoffman book "Better Nutrition" He clearly states that a lot of his mail to the magazine "Strength & Health" is still concerned with having more articles on vegetarian eating & planning vegetarian bodybuilding diets! Not quite so dead really (& Hoffman is a renowned "anti-veg", so for him to confess that must have been difficult). As a side note I believe it was actually Hoffman & the introduction of steroids that really hit vegetarian physical culture movement, keeping these drugs secret while Hoffman could show his athletes success story on the 'Hoffman diet' that was high meat & dairy, but as I said that's just a theory, but the dates do seem to fit rather nicely & Hoffman did basically own both the bodybuilding & weightlifting community at that time.

Anyway, back to the story, the next anti-veg statement is first a story about how amazing Armand Tanny (Mr America 1950) is eating a diet of predominantly raw meat (something Armand only admitted publicly only later), which he accepts, without question & yet when Roy Hilligenn (Mr America 1951 & pound for pound the strongest clean & jerk in the world ever-according to some sources) admits to being a life vegetarian who has never consumed an animal in his life he basically calls the guy a liar (because you can't get big &/or strong without meat-that's about the perfect example of circular logic as you're going to find!). It then goes on about how the high (meat) protein diet really improved physiques, with some mention of steroids. He also takes issue with Bill Pearl & his disservice to the sport by giving up meat & goes on to say that Bill is wrong as there are substances in meat that are vital (classic Weston Price Foundation propaganda with no basis in truth). Mr Roach also calls Bill Pearl a liar about his steroid use (which Bill admits taking), but he's always said he gave them up towards the end of his career, which Mr Roach discounts without proof (as it would also mean a veggie, ex-steroid taker could compete against the best in the world, which to Mr Roach's eyes is impossible, as you cannot be big & strong without eating meat - again note the circular logic - it cannot be true because you cannot build or maintain a big body without meat, so he must have eaten meat???).

I know a small bit about oldtime physical culture & even my limited knowledge could pick flaws in the book. From the early days when George Hackenschmit mentions in his book "The way to live" published in the early 20th century that he knew many vegetarian men who were very strong (so is George a liar as well-George was a meat eater, with no reason to lie about what he knew), right up to Guys like Bill Pearl competing on a veggie diet or Doug Hepburn fighting back to health from alcohol & drug abuse on a vegetarian diet to set records in strength in his 70's that not many men in their peak could match! Are all these people liars? Did they all secretly consume their steaks? Why would they even bother to lie, there is no gain in them lying. Bill Pearl won't get any extra glory by saying he was a veggie than he has already, what did Doug Hepburn gain by saying he became veggie? These guys out there & many others who may not be quite in that strength league, but plug away in gyms week in/week out go to PROVE you don't actually need any animal product to become big & strong. Certain there is no substance in meat that is vital to human survival & health as the Weston Price Foundation have touted in the past.

Now before you go away thinking I didn't actually enjoy the book or find it useful, you'd be wrong! Despite the (in my view) inaccuracies & the dismissive attitude to anything that didn't fit the Weston Price view of the world, let me say it did open up several new avenues of research for me & was quite an enjoyable read (if you like old-time physical culture stuff like I do). Also I have focussed on the negatives I found in the books, the points I believe that reflect the Weston Price Foundation involvement (not to say Mr Roach 'doctored' his research, just that his interpretations are coloured by his own beliefs - as are all of ours). The majority of the book, when outside the obvious anti-veg stance, is a great read. It also made me consider that maybe it's time to actually try & find those original works by Dr Western Price & Dr Robert McCarrison for the beginning of the 20th Century & see what the guys themselves had to say about the Hunza people & there virtually veggie lifestyle (& amazing health) & Dr Weston Price & his studies of people who ate a predominantly meat based diet (I'm not sure what Dr Price exactly even measured-I know he was a dentist, & I have heard mentioned that it was actually the teeth he studied predominately, but I'll find both their works at some point soon & see what they actually did find during their studies).

I’d say overall it is a good book to read, but bear in mind it does have an agenda of its own, like any publication funded by an organisation with certain goals in mind. But I’d still buy it if you like reading about the greats of old-time physical culture.

Friday, 14 November 2008

The arm experiment...the beginning

I've been reading Coach John Christy's book "Real Strength Real Muscle”. He advocates micro-loading for a long time, using the same exercise. As a challenge he offers you a chance to prove for yourself whether his system works, by using the humble barbell curl. His challenge was simple pick a weight you can get 3 sets of 7 reps (3x7) with, but only do 3x6 (for week 1). Rest 5 full minutes between sets. Next week add 1 pound. That’s it! The trick is you do that every week for 1 whole year (52 weeks), & if you’re still gaining after that move down to ½ a pound a week, then continue on until you stall. He believes you’ll gain anything up to 2 inches (or more!) on your arms by following this simple formula.
OK what about illness, we all get sick, right. Well that’s covered. Any minor illness that makes you miss a session simply drop the weight to 80-90% what you were doing, then add 5% each session until you’re back up to 100%, then back to the pound a week.
I not completely convinced (or completely disbelieving) about this system, but I thought, I’ve never done very long term micro-loading & keeping to one bodypart means I can see how that fares against the rest of me & how I have been growing (I didn’t fancy the idea of being stuck with EVERY exercise being long-term micro-loading as I get bored with any exercise & like some variation, but I can do a curl with a barbell once a week no problems for a year, so we’ll see how it goes (you could use an EZ bar or similar if you prefer, but stick to the one you choose as bar weights differ).
If anyone else wants to jump onboard with this let me know (as accountability is a real aid to motivation) & I will need the odd reminder to stay with one exercise, without variation, for a whole year!
So barring any illness or injury you’ll be looking at me adding 1 pound per week until I stall or the 52 weeks end.
Bring it on!!!!

Thursday, 13 November 2008

I've got to get me one of these!

I've never, ever seen one of these peg boards before, maybe they're
more common in the US, but I've never seen one...I WANT! Got no idea
where I'd put such a thing, but man they look cool to do :-)

The guy doing it in a weighted vest...AWESOME!

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

you ever wonder...?

...what would happen to those guys if they ever gave up the steroids & stopped training completely...
well have a look at these 2 youtube clips


I personally would have hoped the guy would have tried to keep in some sort of shape, he had fans (& in my view that translates to responsibilty). I mean obviously the size would slip with ending the gear, but with his natural design he'd have slipped into a great drug-free physique, if he'd kept the diet & training going. maybe the loss of strength & size was too much so he had to back away competely from fitness in any form? I was a little disappointed to see one of the great physiques slip down like this, but I'm biased I like bodybuilding, natural & unnatural, it's kind of like art, the aestetics appeal to me, I suppose it would be like someone doing a great painting, then slashing it up, sure it's theirs, they can do it, but it's disappointing no one will be able view it as it was.
think I've gone on enough on that one....

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Fantastic Elastic?

We’ve all seen them, maybe you’ve used them? People love them or hate them. I’m talking about the resistance band. Resistance bands can be used for a host of things. Rehab, activation work, adding resistance to bodyweight training, used in place of weights, mimicking strand pulling moves, right up to adding substantial resistance to heavy squats, deadlifts, shoulder press or bench press work.
I’ve personally found bands to be great for dynamic work (improving acceleration of certain moves) & for certain rehab. Although certain conditions like chronic fatigue syndrome & fibromyalgia don’t usually respond so well to band work, for many conditions it’s a real boon! (with any medical condition consult your doctor before trying them out)
Most of the activation exercises I’m presently working with I’ve learnt from reading the works of guys like Mike Boyle & Eric Cressey, if anyone is particularly interested I can bring someone in to film a couple moves, but both these guys cover his stuff much more fully than I do. I have found activation exercises useful for preparing to lift & although I don’t agree 100% with these guys about everything, I’d say the case for learning to activate the right muscles at the right time does help with lifting & I do use it myself. So, if you want a few activation protocols let me know & I’ll drag a camera person over to film a few basic activation moves using bands & bodyweight.
I have found some use for dynamic training of various exercises both to improve acceleration & just for a change of modality while still focussing upon a particular movement. Here I’ve pictured a couple of set-ups I’ve used with some success. One is the dynamic box squat using a safety squat bar (you could use a straight bar, but I prefer the SSB for this exercise);

The other is the dynamic dumbbell shoulder press (in this case using a jumpstretch platform). This is actually quite a challenge for the core as well as the delts & triceps.

Unfortunately, being a somewhat reclusive trainee I often train alone, so therefore you can only see the set-up, not the bands in action, but I’m sure the idea is clear enough, the bands stretch & so as you lift the apparent weight increases, so you are forced to accelerate harder to achieve you goals, by doing this you learn to accelerate HARD, which is what you need to improve your lifting. By the way ‘accelerating hard’ will not translate into moving quickly when you get heavier, sure with lighter weights you’ll move relatively fast, but once a heavier weight is lifted the extra acceleration you’ve learnt will really help you get a lift you previously failed to master.
If you’re interested in other moves using bands before you rush out & purchase some leave a comment & I’ll see what I can do about doing some of those (photos or maybe youtube if you don’t mind crumby stills camera video quality), so any band questions let me know & hopefully this will be another tool in your training box you can have fun with over the colder months.

Monday, 3 November 2008

Off the Hoof magazine

A new vegan/veggie magazine hits the stands today.
Off the Hoof is light hearted & more exciting than the average vegan magazine. It also has bits from me in it regularly, as well as interviews of fitness, sporty & health names from around the world, rants from Maz the Gob & at around 100 pages plenty of other stuff.
You can subscribe by going to

Postage is free within the UK, but even those outside will enjoy it I expect as it offers something very different to the world of magazines.

Oh yea & issue 1 has an interview with Robbie Hazeley the vegan bodybuilder in it!