Monday, December 15, 2008

Grease the Groove

Specificity + Frequent Practice = Success

As I work to figure out this whole physical training deal, along the path to finishing Ironman, I'm finding there are a variety of areas to focus on. The word "fitness" means different things to different people, and maybe even different things to one person at any given moment. While I work on improving my speed on the bike and running, I also am concerned with changing my body composition (body fat), altering the physical form my body takes (waist measurement) and enhancing my overall stability and strength (core) and ability to do work effectively over a long period of time (VO2 max/aerobic). The Crossfit Journal of October 2002 lists 10 "General Physical Skills" that might be measured to establish criteria for optimum physical competence.

  1. Cardiovascular/respiratory endurance - The ability of body systems to gather, process, and deliver oxygen.
  2. Stamina - The ability of body systems to process, deliver, store, and utilize energy.
  3. Strength - The ability of a muscular unit, or combination of muscular units, to apply force.
  4. Flexibility - the ability to maximize the range of motion at a given joint.
  5. Power - The ability of a muscular unit, or combination of muscular units, to apply maximum force in minimum time.
  6. Speed - The ability to minimize the time cycle of a repeated movement.
  7. Coordination - The ability to combine several distinct movement patterns into a singular distinct movement.
  8. Agility - The ability to minimize transition time from one movement pattern to another.
  9. Balance - The ability to control the placement of the bodies center of gravity in relation to its support base.
  10. Accuracy - The ability to control movement in a given direction or at a given intensity.
However you look at it, getting fit is big target, unfortunately cumbersome if you try to wrestle the whole thing into submission sumo-style. With this in mind, I am focusing on parts, and hopefully building a unified approach.

By the way, Crossfit looks pretty cool, heh? The high intensity, core fitness orientation, and high bad ass quotient, make it a natural for Ironman training, i think.

Problem is, I can't do one pull up. I have been able to effectively increase my number of pushups to 3x40, and crunches are coming along similarly. I found that loosely following some of the principle of 'Grease the Groove' gave me good results quickly. Bascially we are talking about excercise specific, low number of reps, high number of sets, resulting in huge number of reps when done periodically all day long. This accomplshes "Synaptic Facilitation", teachign the nueromuscular pathways to perform more efficiently.

Admittedly I do not know what I am talkign about, really. So this is a bit of an experiement. I bought The Perfect Pull Up and installed it in my office. My fellow Endurance Nation Citizen 'Turbomentor' sent me his two week grease the groove routine, as follows

Day 1 test Max reps in 2 minutes. Remaineder of day do 30% of max every 60 minutes
Day 2 50% every 60 minutes
Day 3 60% every 45 minutes
Day 4 25% every 60 minutes
Day 5 45% every 60 minutes
Day 6 40% every 60 minutes
Day 7 20% every 90 minutes
Day 8 Test max reps n 2 minutes. Remainder of day do 35% every 45 minutes
Day 9 55% every 20 minutes
Day 10 20% every 15 minutes
Day 11 65% every 60 minutes
Day 12 35% every 45 minutes
Day 13 45% every 60 minutes
Day 14 25% every 120 minutes

After that I will rest a day or two, then test the 2 minute max again.

I am goign to do the first cycle with 'Upright Row' (a little easier than the standard pull up so I can actually do this ;) ) and regular sit ups. I am thinking that for the next cycle I can move up to 'Australian Pull Ups', and then finally full pull ups, some time in lat January or early February. i will check back in periodically with updates.


SpeedySasquatch said...

I'm not big on the whole pull-up scene either Rambonie ... but it is something that I am working at slowly and incrementally ... this is a mental discipline thing that needs to be conquered. There is a strength-pain barrier that exists that needs to be appropriately humbled.

When building a temple, the foundation and base is never glamorous, but it so much stronger and does so much more than the rest.

I feel you on this one and we will see where we BOTH are in the coming months.

Javier said...

Great post. I find that now after having recovered from my accident, I have some strength to rebuild in general especially the upper-body. However, I am going to focus on the pushups myself due to its also helping with core overall.

ramster said...

good point, Javier, the push ups definitely will help with the abs, psoas, and back. interestingly, the Australian pull up is also known as the reverse push up. if done correctly it also works your core. and 'normal' pull ups hit the same core muscle group and also include the lats. its all connected.

i am wondering how beneficial it is to change up exercises. for example, 2 weeks of push ups is going to leave your arms pretty tired. what about recovery time? one of the keys to the grease your groove concept is 'stay fresh', hence we never see working to failure.even the max tests should be until form deteriorates, not till failure.

on the other hand, if 2 weeks of pushups is good, then wouldnt 4 weeks be twice as good? on the other hand, is promotion of 'muscle confusion' more beneficial. and should such work be included within a workout, or should we work with longer periods?

but again, as i say, i dont know what i am doing, just a lot of questions in my head :)

Jen said...

Looks fierce! Can't wait to see how it goes. Synaptic facilitation is so underrated.

Jamie said...

Bad Ass.

I think Crossfit makes awesome base building workouts, but I don't see many guys that huge cross IM finish lines. You'd have to burn off a lot of that muscle before race day to get real fast.

And I totally added a pullup bar to my christmas list. C'Mon Santa! Hit Me Up!

HolisticGuru said...

Sounds like a serious plan dude. I'm still mistressing the pull up with my reverse attempt. Yet, I'm nowhere near pulling myself up, even once. I was thinking about this the other day... what if I fall off the edge of a cliff and by chance I grab on to the ledge. My only chance of survival is if I grab on in underhand fashion (chin up- which I can do) because if I happen to grab overhand, I'm dead. Until I get better at pull ups I'm staying away from cliffs.