To visit the Vegan Bodybuilding website click here

Sunday, 29 January 2012

REVIEW: lift, run, bang ebook

Now there is a title you'll either love or hate!  These two books are based on the blog of the same name ( click here to check that out).  A friend of mine had the books & so I thought I'd check them out as they are both quite short.  I won't give away the whole program here, but the ideas are pretty basic (translated: that means I like them!), you get two books, one for mass building, one for strength peaking, you also get excel sheets to plug-in your own numbers & use the system.  The whole system is built upon eating a lot & lifting pretty heavy most of the time.  I liked the 80% : +10%: -10% rule.  It's so easy to add into your training & yet I'd never thought of it, that is a change to my 2012 log book right there! (80% of your workout should be 'ok', 10% great, 10% will be crappy.  Simply writing it down in your log will allow you to see how you are going, if you have too many -10% then you are doing something wrong, if you are hitting a load of 80% &/or +10% then you're heading the right simple is that!).  That one rule was worth the read in itself & there is plenty more in there for someone who wants to improve their lifts.  The good thing is neither book is over 40 pages!  Read the mass one first (it's a little over 30 pages), then read the strength one (26 pages).  Read them in that order as some stuff is covered in the mass but not in the strength, so it makes more sense that way.  You can read & digest these in an hour or so, then go straight to it if you want.  I liked the simple style & common-sense approach to lifting.  The dietary advice is pretty much useless to the vegan, veggie or even meat reducing athlete, but you can get some ideas of the amounts needed to eat to grow larger & yes sometimes the younger guys & gals need to slip in some junk to add mass (but outside of the very youthful, 'bag of bones' junk food should be a very rare treat).  There is a little swearing in the book, if that worries NEVER hang around with powerlifters or similar types as aggression tends to 'loosen the tongue' when you lift flat out max weights.
As a final note there was plenty about lifting, a very little about running & nothing about banging in the book, so if you expected anything else you are out of luck (also all the pictures are of big, sweaty guys, not the heaving bosomed young ladies, so again tough luck).
The whole thing costs $15 USD so if you like the powerlifting/powerbuilding style of training then this could be of use to you.  I can probably guarantee you have heard 90% of what is being said before, but if this book actually gets you DOING IT, then it's $15 well spent!

To get hold of lift, run, bang click here

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Contest time

We'll be having quite a few contests over on the VBB facebook page - click here then join & join in!

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

REVIEW: Barology 101

Barology 101 is the first in what is likely to be a series of DVDs that covers the activity commonly called 'extreme callisthenics'.  The activity itself uses bodyweight (this doesn't prohibit the use of weights outside of the time you devote to the activity).  Basically you have a bar, or bars & throw yourself around like a cross between a gymnast, a trapeze artist, a tumbler & a hand balancer.  It is VERY high intensity stuff.  If I remember correctly the word 'callisthenics' is derived from the ancient Greek words 'beauty' & 'strength', so callisthenics would have roughly translated to mean 'beautiful strength' (my guess I'm not sure if that's fact?).

In this 2 DVD set you are introduced to the movements commonly used in the sport.  It is not an instructional DVD as such.  They do show progressions, but you are not taken through the activity.  The DVD set is more of a demonstration film, showing you what can be achieved & showing you the progressions, but you don't get training advice & pointers.  For a visual learner this would probably be enough, but if you are a trainee who likes to be talked through their training, then this one on it's own will not be enough.

The 2 DVDs cover a lot, from memory I can remember progressions for:
ab wheel
some flag progressions
obviously muscle-ups
even some equipoise thrown in

...& there were plenty more I probably have forgotten about.

One small niggle I did have was that although each progression was clearly stated, they didn't name each exercise & as someone not experienced in the extreme callisthenics field I had no idea what to call some of the movements?  Even a numbering system would mean you could say "Let's try muscle-up variation number 2" so you could have some idea what you should be calling something.  I'm guessing detailed instructional DVDs are to come in future instalments, at least I hope so as some of the movements look tricky for a novice & I'd certainly be interested in seeing some detailed instructions on how some of this is done as I've not seen any other product attempt to bring this sort of training to the general public.

A final point is it does seem that a lot of vegans gravitate towards bodyweight exercise, so if you're going in that direction it will certainly be worth you seeing just how far you can take it, this certainly isn't the callisthenics your mother did watching that VHS video in the living room!

Would I recommend this set?  If you are interested or intend to try out extreme callisthenics then yes I think it might help you avoid some pitfalls you might stumble into without some advice being available.  I think with some spoken instruction this would have made the ideal starter kit for the novice 'barologist', as it is it offers many insights that will help you design progressions, but not give you all the details you need for every exercise.  As more instalments come out hopefully they will cover these shortfalls.

One of the guys involved in this project Dan Attanasio (aka Kalosthenos on the internet) is a vegan & you can find out more about him here
To get hold of barology 101 Click here

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

REVIEW: I will be Iron by Budd Jeffries

First off a disclaimer.  I have had issues with bud Jeffries in the past, to be honest he ripped me off when I sent off for stuff (I wasn't the only one view click here for full details of that), anyway with that disclaimer out of the way here's the write-up.
Bud wrote this book about how he lost about 120 pounds by doing kettlebell swings.
I must admit the book didn't grab me.  The first point was that Bud did a load of different things.  Yes, he did swings, but he also changed his diet, did 1,000 rep sledgehammer work, did 1,000 rep bodyweight stuff , 1,000 rep punching etc., so which worked?  Did anything work alone, in combination, if so what & was anything unnecessary?  We just don't know?
His idea is to work up to things like 1 hour of continuous swings, doing 1,000 swings without a break etc.
Bud seemed surprised he gained endurance & put it down to swings.  My first option would be that he lost 120 pounds of fat, if that didn't increase endurance then nothing will!  What impressed me a lot more was the fact that he lost so much & yet kept most of his strength, now that is pretty good going as most guys lose their strength as they lose weight, so that is a good result.
I got the impression that Bud was one of those freaks of nature & so found that doing 'stuff' made him strong & he developed amazing endurance.  Unfortunately he is what's known as an 'outlier' or outside the normal, so the 'stuff' that works for him probably won't for most of us, in my view.  He seems to be born strong, he mentions himself  that he comes from a family of exceptionally strong, robust people.  My experience would point to most people being unable to do many of the routines he supplies without a very long time building up basic strength & endurance first.
I consider the routines like this.  You could spend an hour doing swings & get some benefits, maybe very good benefits, or you could spend an hour doing a fully rounded training routine.  Which would give the best results in terms of muscle make-up, balance between muscles & physical performance?  I can't see how any one movement could compete with a fully rounded routine unless you were specifically training to do endurance swinging?
Towards the end he gives a few variations adding in other tools, a few that stuck out are:
Tire flip (or biceps remover as I'd like it renamed) let's be honest tire flipping is a fairly high technique movement, most people deadlift it up & then heave it over (you actually push forward with your torso & then use the knee to help turn it over), even guys who train with tires a lot (strongmen) know that tires done badly for even a rep can cause biceps tears & yet Bud wants you to do high reps repeatedly until exhaustion, a good way to destroy your biceps in my view.
Another odd choice is very high rep punch bag work for fighters, I prefer purposeful training.  It's like the martial arts instructors that have you doing 1,000 kicks.  You ingrain how to do a sloppy kick a 1,000 times! I prefer to learn with skill, quality practice makes perfect, reps do not matter & for a fighter learning to punch sloppily can be the quickest way to meeting the canvas in my view.  You don't need to do hours punching & punching endlessly, a round lasts a couple of minutes then you rest, then you go again, slogging away for ages won't improve that, it will just stop you learning the perfect punching form & THAT will end your match a lot more quickly than you can imagine. I'd prefer a fighter getting a few minutes of picture perfect punches, then rest, then repeat for the allotted rounds (+ 20%, so if you fought a 10 round match, you train for a 12 round encounter OR do ten rounds with 20% longer each round, do not do both at once, this leaves you enough in the tank to overpower a fading opponent), Quality trumps quantity every time in this case.  One good punch can finish a match whereas 500 sloppy punches will be brushed off.

OK those are the bad things I found with this book.  The good things are; I do like swinging, it does seem to aid the recovery & also has a good effect on the lower back of some lifters (see this abstract here for a look at loading mechanics & possible back benefits).  Bud is quite motivational & a really, REALLY strong guy who can encourage great performances from people.  He does lay out a lot of options for you to play with, just do what you are able.
One of the best bits of the book in my view was actually the end where you had a lot of different kettlebell users of different knowledge levels giving their views on swings.  There was a LOT of info tucked into those last few pages that (for me at least) was a lot more usable.  You had one guy talking about how he fit swings in to help his deadlift, another guy about how he used swings recovering from knee surgery, it was a gem of an ending in my view.  I would suggest someone buying the book got their moneys worth in those pages, & a lot more immediately useful to you unless you are already a swing machine.

Anyway having just finished the book that was my initial thoughts about it.  If you want to check out the full details click here & get swinging :-)

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

New VBB artcle about Dan Attanasio aka Kalosthenos

Just added a new article about Dan Attanasio (Extreme Callisthenics athlete) on the VBB site, to check it out Click here
Just to give you a taster here's a short video clip: