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Exercise

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It’s now six weeks since I said that it’s time to shape up. Since then, I have followed the schedule I devised, at least in general, except for one week I rested because of a troubling pain in my back. I said I would write something about how it’s going later, when I actually have something to say, and that would be now.

First, a general observation. This exercise regimen (see the previous post) is extremely demanding for the forearms and hands, something I anticipated, but didn’t really understand until I had tried it properly. Even now, after six weeks, I still feel that my forearms are not strong enough (or in other words, for some of the exercises, the limiting factor is not strength or endurance in the target muscles, but rather in the forearms and hands). Each session starts with one minute planche progressions and one minute front lever progressions, which perhaps don’t sound that stressful for the forearms. They aren’t, except perhaps at the very end of the last front lever when my grip starts feeling weak. However, I don’t regard this focus on hands and forearms as something bad, because it’s useful for almost any other kind of practice and probably prevents injuries later.

Moving over to the the first of the two routines, the arm/shoulder part of the program has worked very well so far, both regarding self-discipline and actual progress. There were some parts I had difficulties completing the sets (advanced tucked planche and handstand push-ups come to mind), which I can finish more or less easily now. At last, I feel that my planche is progressing, something I haven’t felt for a long time. For the earlier sets, I feel strong and can strive for better posture and raising the hips, whereas at the beginning of this period, I had to struggle even to complete the sets. The planche workout is still exhausting and I still find the latter sets almost hopelessly difficult at times.

Regarding the core/leg program, I’ve had some problems, partly for practical reasons, but also due to lack of self-discipline. I have recently begun playing around with different exercises here, modifying some, removing others. I think I’m homing in on something I like, but it’s too early to be sure. My main problem is finding good core exercises which work well with leg exercises, but perhaps the key is to separate these parts entirely. The only truly good exercise I’ve found apart from L-sit (not really new), is back arches, which for some reason make my lower back feel a lot better (even though my old back problem is mostly gone, it still haunts me, and back arches seem to make it better).

Looking ahead, I plan to finish the eight weeks of the program (three weeks left) and then spend one or two weeks just playing around with various exercises, testing new limits and trying to assess how far I’ve come. I’ll advance some of the progressions, but I’m afraid I still have a very long way to go both for planche and front lever, but these sections will definitely remain on the program in roughly the same manner as before. Other things might change, for instance I might start focusing on the one-arm chin-up again or focus more on handstands. To round this article of, I do feel a lot more in shape than six weeks ago, but I think I need to complete these eight weeks and then forage further ahead before I feel that I’m firmly on the road towards accomplishing some of my long sought-after goals.

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Online Highlights 1

This is the first post about Online Highlights, which is simply a convenient way for me to share things I find awesome in some way. Click here to view other posts like this.

Cthulhu and Christ – A highly interesting comparison between the Cthulhu mythos as created by H.P. Lovecraft and Christianity.

The Call of Cthubuntu – An article about computing and Lovecraft, highly entertaining.

Spiders on Drugs – Pictures of spiderwebs spun under the influence of various drugs.

VNV Nation – Illusion – An unofficial video accompanying VNV Nation’s “Illusion”, nice both to listen to and watch.

Raphael Lacoste – I don’t fancy this artist’s motive, but some pictures are really, really good.

Gymnastic Bodies – A repository and web forum concerning gymnastics and associated body-weight exercises; very nice indeed.

One hand handstand demo – One of the best one-handed handstand demonstrations I’ve seen (it changes about halfway, so if you’re not interested in the beginning, please skip it rather than missing the other half).

More handbalancing – Another one-handed handstand show, this time from Golden Circus.

How to construct your own workout routine – an in-depth article about creating work-out routines, highly interesting.

Neural mechanisms are the most important determinants of strength adaptations – An interesting article about neurology and strength gains when exercising, fairly academic.

CrossFit Exercises – A long list of various kinds of exercises, pretty useful if you want to know what a certain execrise looks like.

Surreal Art Update – Some surreal art from Dark Roasted Blend, some of it extremely inspiring.

Dark Roasted Blend – Just in case you’ve missed it, this is one of the best picture blogs out there, and I visit it frequently

The Natural History of Unicorns – A review in the January 29th edition of the Economist of Christopher Laver’s book “The Natural History of Unicorns”, not only a nice review, but also an interesting book.

Base jumping more crazy than usual – I have seen base jumping before, but this was by far the most freaked out so far, a must-see!

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Exercise regimen

This exercise regimen is a result of collaboration between myself, Niklas and one of our diving instructors (we basically took her suggestions, went through them keeping some exercises, discarding others, then we added our own for goals not covered by diving at all). I approximate that these exercises will take roughly two hours to perform, including warm-up and stretching. I am sure that this will require a lot of adjustment and tuning, but this is were I begin.

Update: After testing one session each and discussing the various parts of the program, some slight changes have been made, primarily to decrease the amount of time required. The program itself feels good, though.

Another update: The program still proved to be too demanding (taking 71 minutes to complete with almost no rest). It was alright when motivation and energy levels were at their premium, but this is a regimen we want to incorporate regularly, not only when the circumstances are suitable enough.

Warm-up
Skipping rope – 3 x 100 reps
Dynamic stretching* – 15 min

Legs
Leaps, one-legged, from stool – 3 x 10
Leaps, two-legged, straight knees – 3 x 20
Leaps, two-legged – 3 x 10

Arms and shoulders
Handstand, push-up** – 3 x 5
Pull-ups, chin-ups, fewer fingers – 3 x 10
Push-ups from chair, piked, weight forward – 3 x 10

Abdomen
Ab wheel, standing** – 3 x 5
Pike raises, sitting – 3 x 10
Tucks, sitting – 3 x 15

Back
Bridge – 3 x 1 min
Diagonal arm/leg raises – 3 x 30
Pike raises, headstand – 3 x 10

Hands and forearms
Wind weight – 3 x 3
Fingertip push-ups – 3 x 15

Stretching* – 30 min
Calves
Thigh, front
Thigh, back
Thigh, inner
Hip flexors
Glutes
Back
Pike (explicitly)
Abdomen
Chest
Lats
Shoulders
Forearms
Neck

*Juji’s guide is excellent and probably the most extensive and best website about stretching I have yet found. Highly recommended.

**Beast Skills provides abundant information on this exercise, as well as on many, many others.

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