Last year was undoubtedly defined by the Ragnarok workout.
That being said...
It is time to up the ante.
It is time to take it to the next level
It is time, for the MANTATHLON!!!
This was created by Martin Rooney and you can see the original article by clicking here.
What is the MANTATHLON?
It is a timed test of upper body strength. You have 20 minutes to complete up to 20 reps in each event.
Bodyweight Bench Press for Reps
Bodyweight Chin-ups for Reps
Half-Bodyweight Overhead Press for Reps
1.25 Bodyweight Dips for Reps
Half-Bodyweight Barbell Curl for Reps
You must weigh yourself before you begin
Once the clock starts it does not stop
The events must be performed in order
Form must be perfect for a rep to count (no quarter reps awarded)
If you rack it, or let go before achieving 20 reps, the event is over
Any reps after 20 min do not count
If you didn’t film it, it didn’t happen
0-10 – Low Man on totem pole
10-20 – Skinny Man or Man Boobs
20-30 – Average Man
30-40 – Wing Man
40-50 – Door Man
50-60 – Athletic Man
60-70 – He Man
70-80 – Super Man
80-90 – Mega Man
90-100 – Man of War
So where do I stack up?
My best is a score of 56 at a bodyweight of 260.
What is the best I have ever seen?
96. It was wildy impressive to watch and he only missed the last 4 curls.
And that, ladies and gentleman, is the defintition of tragic.
***It is important to note that Seth is half bear.
Have you figured out where am I going with this?
My 2017 goal is to get 100.
I desperately want to complain about how much I hate upper body workouts for a full calendar year.
Thought of the Day:
Spider-Man invented the selfie.
Finally! Life has offered me some consistency. My squat everyday aspirations were quite futile during the move to the north. But alas, I have settled in, I have some semblance of a routine, and most importantly, I am squatting.
I have decided to go back to my old ways. Essentially, both to look like a superhero as well as lift like one. I know this will take time, but just as the stream carves out the valley, I too will chisel away at my new physique.
My new goals include:
1) Train consistently
2) Lose weight
3) Add upper body muscle mass
The first goal is my biggest priority. I have made a plan and now I need to stick to it. I once read a Jerry Seinfeld article about his secret to being such a successful comedian. He had a huge calendar that he would put Xs on each day he wrote. He said "After a few days you'll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You'll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job next is to not break the chain."
That will be my approach. Except in place of Xs, I will draw HULKs.
Thought of the day:
How I Met Your Mother was the world’s longest TED talk.
Today's variation was speed squats with accommodating resistance. The band tension really helps you finish the movement. I am still trying to find the sweet spot with average velocity. A lot of older data (done with a tendo) can over predict velocity versus a gymaware. I think that a little bit slower of a reading ( in m/s) may be acceptable when using a gymaware to cultivate speed. I need to play around with this a bit more.
Thought of the day:
There should be a brand of chocolate milk called “The Dark Side of the Moo."
The 3 amigos have returned. Finally, Ben, Tayler, and I lifted together. Today I squatted to a 15” box with a safety bar .
Oh yeah… Getting fancy.
That begs the question. How can you squat every day and keep it fresh? Well, I plan on using many variations. Not only with different implements, but sets/reps/percentages as well. There is a really cool programming tool called Prilepin’s chart – google it. I plan on using some of this as a guideline for back off sets.
I’ll explain later.
Thought of the day:
If I use the self-checkout, I feel like I should also get the employee discount.
Today felt like I was starting to turn the corner. Grease Groovin as I like to call it. It's like adding oil to a machine. Even though I felt slow, my joints started to feel great.
Tayler decided to join the swole session as well. He did some pulls from a deficit and smoked a new PR.
Thought of the day:
If you replace the “W” in Where, When and What with a “T”, you end up answering the question.
I pulled an all-nighter…
Is this unusual for me? Hardly. I suffer from artist brain. When creativity strikes, I work through the night until I am finished with whatever thought is depriving me of REM. The second I finished my project, I went to go squat.
Much to my dismay, my legs felt like someone hit me with a pillow case full of dead batteries. I was slow, my knees sounded like cracking tree branches, and my enthusiasm was at an all-time low. On a scale of 1 to 5, 1 being I didn’t want to squat, and 5 being I really wanted to squat, I was only at a 37. I hate to admit it, but I think lack of sleep may have gotten the best of me today.
Like I said yesterday – baby steps.
I showed up. I squatted. I’m stronger for it.
Thought of the day:
I often wonder... Are Jessie’s girl and Stacey’s mom the same person?
Day 1 – Squat Everyday
High frequency training rocks!
Often times I get asked, “When do you take your off days?” My response is, and always will be, “Where is my off day and how do I train it?”
This desire to go back to squatting everyday stems from 2 things…
1) It’s how I got to a 600 pound squat
2) I’ve been reading too many old training manuals
In these old manuals, they talk about lifters who have accomplished a 3 times bodyweight squat. When dissecting commonalities between all the programs, frequency matters. The frequency is anywhere from 9 to 15 squat sessions per week.
I am going to start by squatting to a daily minimum every day. This will be a weight I don’t have to get psyched to perform and I won’t grind during the upward phase. Over time I will step up the intensity and frequency.
But for now, baby steps…
Thought of the Day:
A British man discovered a crazy trick to lose millions of pounds overnight.
After a long break… the blog is back!
Mass before Mass.
Today, Tayler and I did some serious ARM FARM. I hate direct body part training. It burns, it’s not very athletic, and you often have to count above 5. Dumb.
That being said, tomorrow starts a new block of training with new goals and a lot of higher rep ranges. This block is all about body recomposition. My legs are gigantic and my arms are Meh – at best. If there was a contest for most representative of an iceberg, I’d take 1st place.
So why the change? This desire to completely transform myself has come from my current literature interests.
No, it’s not from comic books… This time.
Recently I’ve been reading a lot about epigenetics (how your environment affects your own body’s makeup). Being the science minded person I am, I need to investigate on myself. I will get my full genetic profile and make tweaks to my nutrition and exercise programs as I go. I will track and record my results to see how my body transforms.
In the meantime, since I will be doing many more body building activities, I may just start titling my blog posts as ways to say jacked.
Thought of the Day:
The rotation of the Earth really makes my day.
Yesterday’s Maximum Effort was humbling. After some discussion, Ben and I decided it would be optimal to try and slide my snatch grip out to the end of the bar.
You may be wondering, why now?
I had surgery on my wrist and there is a screw which had limited my mobility. Over time I have gone from being told that I will never be able to do a push up, to now, which there is no stopping me. Initially my lack of wrist extension mandated a closer overhead position.
Now it is time to adjust.
The wider grip allows me to achieve much better hip extension. That being said, my wrist is not quite ready for the change. Today I tried out a sotts press to see where my strength was at.
Old Position: 135 x 3
New Position: 50x5
Saying I have some work to do would be an understatement.
Thought of the Day:
Seven has the word even in it… And that is odd.
Day 36 – GPP and PRI
As I lunge away, I think about the areas that have been lacking during this last 3 week cycle. Posterior chain, upper back, and triceps. These areas need to take the driver’s seat during my next phase.
Also, PRI is magic. It restores neutrality and always makes me feel better. That being said, my last 3 week block may have had too much extension based activities. I will continue to add more flexion exercises in hopes to remedy my over reliance on correctives.
Thought of the Day:
The guy who said “Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird!” in the old superman intro was strangely excited to see a bird.
Day 35 – Dynamic Effort
Upon completing speed squats, I droped to the floor and remained in child’s pose. “Oh how the tables have turned.” Tayler extoled.
Karma took the W for the day.
This is what I get for bailing on Tayler during Ragnarok. My back pump was the truth. Today, Ben and I had back squats for speed. The total weight was 340 at the top and all sets had to be over .8m/s on 40s intervals. Can you get rigamortis while you are still alive? Today’s squat session lead me to draw the conclusion that yes, yes you can.
To add further insult to injury, everything else was posterior chain dominant. Speed deadlifts, hang power cleans with a high catch, and hamstring curls. Ben and I did 3 sets of 20 reps at a weight that was basically refusal. When we got of the machine, we couldn’t stand up straight or properly flex/extend our knees. I’m certain we looked like a Gallimimus running away from danger. Or in this case, hamstring curls.
Thought of the Day:
If the number 666 is evil, then 25.8069758 is the root of all evil.
Day 29 - GPP
Ben and I had incline walking and lunges. Nothing super flashy about it. So I give you Tayler's Grand Finale!
Here it is. The final Ragnarok session.
I grabbed a squat rack next to Dan and Ben. On their agenda is max effort bench press. Between max effort attempts the athlete needs to fully recover, so typically the rest is somewhere between 3-8 minutes. Keep this concept in mind.
So I begin as always with squats. The first set felt really heavy today, but could I expect anything less from this program? NO. Regardless, I took down squats. I started my first set of RDLs. I, then, notice Ben and Dan resting between their sets. Second Set of RDLs. Their rest continues, and now their conversation has sparked laughter. 3rd set done, and they are still resting. So as I’m struggling to catch my breath, and get my step up weight situated, I go over to them and mutter “I hope you guys are enjoying your rest because some of us don’t get that luxury."
By the time I finished step ups, my heart was racing, and I was completely drenched in sweat. The first set of bench press is always particularly hard because there are no lighter warm up sets to get your “push” muscles ready. In addition, your lower back is so pumped that any arch would give you an immediate cramp. This prohibits you from driving into the floor like you typically would. I struggled through the first two sets, but I completed them all. My third set was at 205. I knew I would need some help. I got pulverized by each rep. I had to rack the weight three times and I only managed to get 7 reps in 80 seconds.
After that last set of bench, I was dead. I can’t describe how my body felt. It was if the culmination of the past 4 weeks all hit me at once and I wasn’t even half way finished with this lift. The highlight from Lat pulldowns was that I was able to finish all sets, and my last set was at 170, a weight that I had failed the week prior.
We now come to push press. Up until today, I had managed to accomplish all push press reps without having to stop. Today was different. On my third set, I had to pause after 5. I felt like Lou Ferrigno in Pumping Iron. You know the scene where he is doing shoulder press and he stops to say “NO MORE” before his crew yells at him to do more. Today, that was me, just a slightly different exercise… with a different weight. And, I didn’t have some out of shape guy in a V-neck doing dumbbell curls behind me.
Next is my least favorite part of Ragnarok. Plate math for the seated row. For the life of me, I could not figure out what 170 divided by 2 was. I knew 160 divided by 2 was 80, but I did not know how to handle that leftover 10lbs. Brodie, a fellow sports science student, was walking by, so I had to ask him for help. “Brodie, I cannot math right now. What is 170 divided by 2?” I asked him. After telling me that 85 was the answer, I had to verify that I was actually putting 85 on each side. “45 + 25 is seventy right? So I still need to add a ten and a five”? Brodie confirmed. Thank you Brodie.
After defeating seated rows, I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. Literally, I was seeing bright lights. I was on the verge of fainting, but I could also see the figurative light. I had triceps, biceps, and calf raises to finish this beast out. I beat triceps with little struggle. Biceps curls were difficult but I was able to finish my 3rd set at 85 pounds, which is something I was not able to do a week before.
I ended with crunches and back extensions. I was finally done. It was such a great feeling. I am hoping to get a Post-Ragnarok DEXA scan sometime next week, and I will include the results in subsequent posts. Now it’s time for a recovery week, and then I am turning my training over to my prep coach. I hope you guys enjoyed reading about these experiences. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to get in contact with me.
Thought of the Day:
I wonder if I will ever have to write Earth at the bottom of a postal address?
Day 28 – Dynamic Effort
Today was excellent! My legs felt like spaceships. The bands have really helped me accelerate through the whole movement.
Deadlifts felt good. Power cleans felt explosive. Abs were cruel and unusual. We did garhammer reverse crunches. See below…
Thought of the Day:
The first professor never went to college.
Day 27 – GPP
My day was boring… I give you Tayler g
Down Goes Frazier
Here we go. Squats up. RDLs on deck. Step ups in the hole. As I have previously mentioned, Ragnarok never seems very intimidating on paper. Oh how naïve I was. After going through 6 exposures, I have developed the proper respect for this program. There is no easing into this workout. You get hit hard on the very first set.
I was on my own this lift. No coach to yell at me or help to change plates. Just me and the bar.
Squats, done. RDLs, finished. Step ups, kaput. I’m burning in all the usual places, but I’m feeling good. Bench was next. My 1st and 2nd sets were heavier than last week, but my third set is still 200. After struggling with the first set, I realized the latter sets would be a battle. Prior to beginning today’s workout, I had helped a fellow intern change weights as well as spot him. So, when he came waltzing by the bench press, after my first set, and told me that if I ever needed a spot that he would help me out, I had to capitalize. He spotted me on the 2nd a 3rd set. I was only able to knock out 7 consecutive reps on Bench before I had to rack it. I was able to get the remaining 3 before time was over. Another one bites the dust.
Having failed on lat pull downs on my last session, my weight was dropped to the previous line on the poundage chart, but by no means were these sets easy. I was, however, able to complete all of my sets without having to take a break.
Next up, was push press. My legs are shot. I am brought back to exposure one when Dan told me that he didn’t have any leg drive. This was now my current situation. Nevertheless, I defeated all three sets. Here comes the dreaded seated row. I use the word dreaded because I despise having to do the math for this exercise. Of course my first set is at 165 which means 2.5’s come into play. Awesome. I think because I’ve had to deal with 160lbs the past few weeks, it didn’t take me too long to decide that I needed 82.5 pounds on each side. I finished seated rows with minimal brain fails.
I knocked out triceps extensions with no problem. Like lat pull downs, I also failed on barbell curls during the last exposure, so my weight was reduced slightly. I finished the third set within the allotted time, meaning that I had done something that I hadn’t done for two weeks. I had beaten Ragnarok.
Because the rest is so little, there is no time to strip the bar weights, so at the end of the session, you have to go around and clean up all your weights. During my clean up time, Jodie, a fellow strength and conditioning coach, asked how it went. My response was simply “Down Goes Frazier.”
I looked at the poundage chart to see where I was on each lift. The Danimal has been making the adjustments each week, so this is the first time I have checked it out. The stand out number was that I was benching weight for an estimated 1RM of 275. I have never benched over 260. Couple that, with the fact that these poundage chart estimates are typically LOWER than your actual 1RM, I got very excited. I can’t wait to max.
Thought of the Day:
Calling macaroni and cheese “MAC” is both an abbreviation and an acronym.
Day 26 – Maximum Effort
Today was a little uneventful. Maximum effort upper and some boulder shoulder work. The highlight of the day didn't come until plyos. Ben proceeded to perform his box jumps with some Eddie Guerrero flare.
Thought of the Day:
Wrestling consists of men with no pants fighting over a belt.
Day 25 – GPP
Today was cardio and lunges. It was time to up the protocol. 1min of lunges with 2min of rest for 4 sets. Doing 50m at a time instead of 25m put me in a new world of pain. Ben elected to do these occluded. That’s ok… He is a crazy old man who has clearly lost his marbles.
I give you Tayler G
A Defining Moment
Give Danimal a tough time about bailing on Ragnarok.
Okay, now it’s on to the workout. The moment before my first set of squats was, surprisingly, a defining moment. My training partner had tapped out. My temporary training coach had just left. I was tired. All these excuses were screaming reasons to give up, but, even louder than the excuses, was a voice in my head that said “forget everything else. You’re doing this for you.” I think it is very important that we remind ourselves why we show up to the gym in the first place. Whatever your reason is, let it motivate you.
Squats went well. RDL’s brought some heat… to my low back. Jodie, one of the strength and conditioning coaches at FSU, was nice enough to help me change weights. Step ups added fuel to the fire. On my second set, I heard Ben say “Come on Tayler.” YES. Extra motivation. Once you focus on the reason why you are training, it becomes easy. When you have a friend or coach to help you, even easier.
Next was bench press. If you remember from my last exposure, I completed 5 pounds less than prescribed on my final set of bench, and that was a serious struggle. So, when I noticed that Iron Dan progressed the weight, I was almost convinced I would fail on my last set at 200lbs. ALMOST convinced. On my first set, I kept my heels away from my body to avoid any arch in my back. An arch would’ve surely given me a cramp, and I would’ve failed. On my second set, at 185lbs, I was able to bring my heels in. My set at 185 felt easier than my first set at 170. I kept my heels in on my final set, and, to my surprise, I crushed all ten reps. It actually felt easier than 190lbs on my previous exposure. LET’S GO!
Side note: Danimal hit a 35lb PR on close grip bench press.
You are very welcome
Lat pulldowns were next. I’ve mentioned that my back is one of my weaker areas. Last exposure I was only able to complete 7 consecutive reps on my last set, but because I finished the last 3 reps before my time was up, my weight on this exercise was progressed. Last set was defeating. I used all 80 seconds and I only managed 7 total reps. Dang you Ragnarok. Oh well. Take it on the chin, and move on.
Ben already had my push press weight loaded. How awesome. It was perfect too because I had just forfeited my rest on the last exercise because I couldn’t complete 10 reps in time. I survived push press. Next was seated rows. Oh great, math again. First set at 160. 80 pounds on each side I told myself. I got this. Surprisingly, I did not have trouble with plate math on my following two sets. Triceps extensions were fun. You know what sucks? Having to add and remove the 5 pound block to the weight stack. Usually, the 5 pound weight is a slender rectangle, but the one by this cable machine is a thick fat block. I had more trouble moving that thing on and off than I did with my actual sets.
Finally, biceps curls. For those keeping score at home, I failed on biceps curls last week, so my weight stayed the same. First set felt fine. Second set wasn’t awful. But, by rep 3 of my third set, I was dead. I was able to get a measly 6 reps on my third set before the timer went off. This was frustrating, but I can tell that I’m getting stronger.
Let’s appreciate Ragnarok real quickly. 3 sets of 10 reps. That protocol should promote hypertrophy right? Maybe minor gains in strength. Let’s check the facts. In 3 weeks Dan added 35 pounds to his close grip bench max WITHOUT DOING CLOSE GRIP BENCH ONCE!!! And, I just hit 200 for 10 reps which would put my estimated 1RM at 265 which would be a 10lb PR for me. I know 10 pounds doesn’t seem too impressive, but let me remind you that I had already completed 3x10 squat, RDL, and step ups, as well as 2x10 on the bench with little rest.
Following the workout, I was fried. Shirt was drenched in sweat, and if I raised on my toes, my leg would shake like a leaf. I think I drank a muscle milk too quickly afterwards because I felt like yacking. All in all today was a good day. I progressed on everything except lat pull downs and biceps curls. Destroying bench was a great feeling. Three weeks down. 2 exposures left. One final week. Wish me luck.
Thought of the Day,
A boxing ring is a square.
Day 24 - Maximum Effort
Need protein. Today is maximum effort day and I need protein. I grab the last of my eggs out of the fridge. They expire today. Whew! Dodged a bullet there. I hate throwing food away. Unfortunately my stupid brain took over. I couldn’t help but wonder if they took leap day into account when they put the food label on the container. Had the eggs gone bad by one day? Stupid brain.
Ben crushed today’s maximum effort day. By the end I felt as though I had merely participated. First on the docket was above parallel back squats. I have never done these and OMG! I have read over and over that by pushing your legs out in this movement you get better recruitment of the muscles that help you move laterally. Isn’t that the truth? My groin muscles were firing faster than a six shooter.
Note to self: lacking development of lateral muscles, do wide box squats.
Snatch grip deadlift from a deficit. Man I’m tired just from typing that. This is the point where I became a mere participant. Ben went beast mode. Watch the video below. I need not explain more.
The last thing was seated goodmornings. I was a little jaded that Ben hit a massive PR and I did not. So when he said “185 is a good weight", I made sure we did 275. How do you like them apples Ben?
Later today I have to make up my Friday lift. It will be a blood bath.
Thought of the Day:
How many people have said the F-Word more than their own name?
Day 23 - Off
Day 22 - Light Day
Hamstrings feel like a struck match - LIT UP! There are basically zero high speed movements during Ragnarok. So after my first dynamic day, this makes total sense. Since My lift won't be very entertaining today, I give you Tayler G...
Ragnarok Growing Pains?!?!
As previously mentioned, Ragnarok has a significant impact on one’s body. Specifically, it causes extreme hunger, sleepiness, fatigue, and even GI distress. While driving to the gym, my stomach was in knots. The feeling was comparable to what one might feel a couple hours after competing in a bean and cheese burrito eating competition. Ragnarok is evil. It will beat you up inside and out, and its effects extend before and after each grueling session.
On this day, I was able to train at an actual athletic club (vs Anytime fitness), so the first few minutes were spent trying to locate a squat rack. Once I found it, it was on. I crushed squats and RDLs. My lower back was pumped but it wasn’t yet debilitating. The challenge with step ups, again, wasn’t with the reps, but rather with my inability to catch my breath after the reps.
I’m convinced that Ragnarok workouts restrict oxygen to the brain which causes lapses in the ability to count. Between sets of bench, while I was changing the weight, I swore I was seeing bright lights. I was on the verge of fainting, no doubt about it. Usually mental lapses come later in the workout, but this one came on my third set of bench press. Instead of the prescribed 195 lbs, I put on 190lbs for bench press. I only realized my mistake when it was time to strip the weights.
Next was lat pull downs. On my third set I was only able to complete 7 consecutive reps, but the fighter in me was not satisfied. I mustered up enough strength to knock out 3 more before my time was up.
Success. Push press was next, and I was spent. After my second set, my phone vibrated. A reply from the Danimal. I had texted him earlier asking for words of encouragement, and his timing was perfect. He replied with “every rep you are a better version of yourself. You got this!” On my last set, I imagined that after each rep I was growing. On an exercise like push press, the imagery was awesome.
After push press was when I started talking to myself. Seated row math is so difficult. The weight listed on the sheet is in total pounds, and the machine requires you to evenly distribute the weight to both sides, meaning I had to divide by 2. Are you kidding me? I used my calculator to verify that 160lbs divided by two was 80. There was already a 35lb plate on both sides, meaning I needed to add an additional 45 pounds to both sides. Of course there were no 45lb plates nearby, so I had to grab a 35 and a ten. As I’m moving weights around between sets I am talking to myself, going over the math, to ensure that I wouldn’t make another mistake. At this point in the workout, I felt drunk. I’m talking to myself, and I can barely stand up straight. That’s no joke. It was hard to simply stand upright. It got better from here. So the next exercise, triceps extension, is right next to the lat pull down. They are adjacent to each other if you will. I don’t know why but had I had left my water bottle at the lat pull down. Between sets of extensions, I attempt to reach over the lat pull down to retrieve my water bottle. For whatever reason, I tried to rest my arm on the leg pads of the machine. If you’ve ever done a lat pull down you understand that these pads roll. As a result of putting all my weight on these rolling pads, I almost fell over completely. “Wow” I thought to myself. “That could’ve been really bad.” I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that you literally feel intoxicated.
Following the workout, I was sitting down on a couch when I realized that it felt as if a heating pad was under my back. Or, if you’ve ever been in a car with heated seats, this was exactly the sensation I was feeling. Could this be another Ragnarok symptom? Dan confirmed that he experienced the same phenomena.
I’ll conclude with this. I think Ragnarok is giving me growing pains. I have not felt the achy sensation of growing pains in years, but twice now I have struggled to get to sleep because my quads feel like they need to be contracted. What in the world is going on? How awesome would it be if Ragnarok was somehow the impetus for a very late growth spurt? I know it’s a stretch, but hey, you never know.
Thought of the Day:
Computers are the only thing that freeze when they overheat.
Day 21 – Dynamic Effort
“5 Burpees!” Ben shouted.
Ugh… I had just done something awful. I stepped over the bar.
Ben and I are all about discipline. When your hands grab the bar, its game time. You wouldn’t step over a teammate so why would step over the bar. It’s about respecting your craft. I was disrespectful and now I have burpees.
The dynamic lift was awesome. The goal of speed squats was to maintain an intermediate velocity of .8m/s. I crushed that. Most of my sets were above 1m/s which indicates that I can handle a much higher training load. In addition, bands were applied for an additional 25% tension at the top. This provides an over speed eccentric effect yielding much greater gains in the future.
Finish the Pull
I never really understood accommodating resistance on pulls. I thought it would slow you down. I could not have been more wrong. The bar would not move at .8m/s not matter how hard I tried. We don’t have the proper rack to add bands, so Ben and I used chains. Boom! I hit .8m/s. The only way I can explain it is when you pull fast you feel like you’re going to fall backwards and you naturally decelerate. The weight increasing at the top helps you finish stronger and feel more stable. If I wasn’t using a GYMAWARE to measure my velocity I never would have believed it. Measuring velocity is such a game changer. Knowing how much you’re moving AND the way you’re moving the weight has made me a better lifter and coach.
There is a puddle of sweat on our platform. Squats were on 40s rest and deadlifts on 30. Meathead cardio at its finest. The next exercise was power cleans and surprisingly they felt extremely light. The goal was to perform a hang from below the knee and catch in a tall power position. Lastly, we had was good mornings. 20 reps on the minute. Holy erectors Batman!
Ben and I decided to add some PRI to the end of the lift to return pelvic neutrality. That felt great, the lift felt great, the day was great.
Thought of the Day:
"Smelly" means something smells bad, but "tasty" means something tastes good.
Day 20 – TUT and BFR
Blood flow restriction (BFR) training is, well, intense. Ben came into my office overwhelmed with curiosity. “What’s on the agenda for today?” I had toyed with the idea of adding BFR to our GPP day, but I was crazy sore. “Well Ben, I had thought about BFR today, but I could really use some corrective work.” He started hoping in place and replied “I’m not sore at all!” “Well, there you have it.” I said while stretching in my chair. “We are doing BFR.”
Lately I have been reading about the cellular response to muscle damage and how your body repairs itself. It is noteworthy that there are some similarities to the way you heal from a burn. The biggest difference is the burn starts to heal at the ectodermal level and muscle repair from the meso. Meaning: muscle repair takes longer than the burn. Which is crazy to think about! I believe that this may be where the theory of super-physiological doses of glutamine comes from. Glutamine is miraculous when it comes to burns, people with sepsis, etc. However, the same thing cannot be said for muscle growth. To me it seems like people used the transitive property for mechanism of action. Sorry people, body doesn’t work that way. It’s like the supplement companies just want your money and don’t care about strong support from academic literature. But that can’t be true ;)
I am still fascinated by time under tension. So the meathead in me wants to combine TUT with BFR. Why not? My thought process behind what I will call “pump work” is to get increased blood flow to the previously tax muscle. Ben and I had a maximum effort upper day yesterday, therefore, gun show today.
We landed on using a 5-0-5 cadence for 7 reps for 2 exercises. Super setting hammer curls with triceps pushdowns would give us 2min and 20s of work while under BFR. This keeps us in the optimal range for structural hypertrophy as well as the recommended time to keep a muscle group occluded.
Ben’s arms turned purple. All I could think off was the scene in Willy Wonka when they shout “You’re turning violet, Violet!” I counted the time and Ben did a great job of maintaining cadence. After he took of the occlusion wraps he laughed and said “You may turn green, but I can turn purple.”
My turn. I wrapped my arms, grabbed my weight, and let it rip. Thank god Ben counted out loud. I am certain that I would have started to increase my cadence had he not. After finishing the set, the pump was insane. It is everything Arnold incoherently rambled on about in Pumping Iron. AWESOME SAUCE!
Wrapped up the rest of the day with some much needed external rotator work and a feast of a lunch.
Thought of the Day:
Why do all of the paintings of Adam and Eve portray them with bellybuttons?
Day 19 – Maximum Effort
This was my first max effort day. Tayler didn’t talk to me for a while for jumping programs. I bought him some peanut butter, we hugged it out, all good now.
I set a personal record in close grip bench press today. I love going heavy and I finally feel like I am back in my element. Can’t wait to see what this new training cycle brings.
I am performing this Westside program with my assistant Ben. Just before I started Ragnarok, Ben smashed my lifetime best in snatch. DAGGER! This will bring a healthy competition to our training. No quarter will be given
Tayler will keep Ragnarocking and I will keep posting his experiences.
Enter Tayler getting Ragnarocked
I arrive at Anytime Fitness. There is only one squat rack, and it also doubles as the only place to bench. It is well known, among bros, that Monday is national chest day, so it was not too surprising that I had to wait 30 minutes for a bro to complete his bench sets.
The rack opens up! I immediately begin my warm up. I could tell after squats that this workout was going to be a battle. My lower back was already starting to tighten up. It was at this point that I regretted going against conventional wisdom the day before.
One convenience that comes with having a training partner is that they can help change the weights. You don’t realize how valuable this is until you have to change weights on both sides for every set. That minute and 20 seconds seems to go by so much faster. My second set of RDLs brought me to the ground. The pump in my lower back was excruciating. I was trying whatever I could to try and relieve the burn.
After RDLs, were step-ups. Just bending over to set up the step-up platform was miserable. After my first set of step ups, the burn in my lower back decided to migrate to my lungs. I just could not catch my breath. This was definitely the worst I’ve ever felt during a Ragnarok workout. I think it was a combination of flying solo, pushing myself too hard the day before, and the fact that the weights are heavier.
Finally, I get to lay down for bench press. When you get to this point the weight itself doesn’t feel heavy, but your muscles just don’t want to fire. I had to ask for a spot on my third set, but I managed to squeeze out all ten reps.
Here is where my brain decides to follow my muscles and not fire properly. The weight for my first set of lat pull downs was 140lbs. The weight stack on this lat pull down only went up to 130. No problem. I’ll just add 10 pounds to the stack. When it was time to go I realized that I was attempting to pull 130 kilos, not 130 pounds. I don’t know what made me think, all of a sudden, I could max out a lat pull down machine, but it happened. This was the worst time for me to attempt basic conversions, so I had to pull out my calculator and make adjustments. I made the same adjustments for seated row and triceps extensions. It was on my second set of biceps curls that it happened. Ragnarok took its first victory. I failed to get even 6 reps. It didn’t make sense to add weight for the last set, so I kept the weight the same and got myself 6 more reps. I had to do calf raises on a leg press machine, and of course my calves cramped on every rep.
Today was awful. No partner + Ragnarok progression + not smart decisions the day before = W for Ragnarok. I will keep my light days light from here on out.
Thought of the Day:
Kings and Queens are appointed by birth right, conquering, and marriage. The first elected prom king and queen marked the downfall of our education system.
Day 18 – GPP and Cardio
I started my next training block and I am SO PUMPED! After reading the Westside Olympic lifting book and talking to Louie, It is time to embark on a new lifting adventure.
Today's workout was simple. 15min in zone 4 of incline walking, walking lunges, tempo inverse curls, and tempo GHR crunches. I want to stress the importance of GPP (General Physical Preparation) for any strength/power athlete. There are many different was to accumulate GPP volume in your program. These include: rowing, incline walking, sled pushes/pulls, med ball circuits, etc.The fitness and training benefit that comes from these cannot be understated.
The picture above shows 3 drastic spikes in heart rate from my walking lunges. This was after my incline walking and I had almost completely recovered. My workout was to cover 25 meters in 30s with 1min30s rest for 3sets. This is to illustrate the point that you can get good fitness, while working strength movements, and not destroy yourself (by destroy I mean the crazy HIT/interval/crossfit style workouts I keep seeing when people think they are talking about being fit). Improving fitness though out your training cycles allows you to recover better and train harder. Since that's what it takes to keep pushing the envelope, I am all about it.
Side Note: Polar really hates it when my HR goes over 200. It isn't even on the graph anymore. I will have to make a new Hulk Training Zone just for myself.
Thought of the Day:
Water is just rusty hydrogen.
.Day 17 – Travel Day
I am certain that sitting all day makes me sorer than a Ragnarok exposure. Hmmm… not sore. Achy. That’s worse.
My focus since Christmas has been body recomposition. I have discovered the ultimate meathead measurement apparatus – a seat on an airplane.
When I visited my family over Christmas, I didn’t fit in the airplane seat. My legs were so wide that the arm rests couldn’t go down. My glutes and quads combined in a manner that did not allow the belt to make it over my legs. I had to sit on the edge of the chair so the belt could only go over my waist. Yes, my waist circumference was that much smaller than the circumference of my glutes. This was a giant problem and the most uncomfortable way to sit in the history of ever. That seatbelt light couldn’t go off fast enough.
This trip was much different. I would have finally beaten Gabriel Iglesias in clicks.
I fit in-between the arms of the chair AND the belt had slack! I have decided that this, even above a scale, should be the gold standard of body composition changes. LOL. Only kidding.
There is one question I still need answered. What do strongmen do?
Thought of the Day:
Sleeping in is considered lazy, but going to bed early is not.
Day 16 - Sick Day
I am obliterated. Everything has shut down. To drive home how crazy this circuit is, today's post is brought to you by the inner thoughts of Tayler.
Enter Tayler G
I have just completed my first week of a 3 week “execution” phase. This was the beginning of a 12 week, hypertrophy oriented, training program. I am competing in my first physique competition in early May. Following my workout, I start talking to Ben and Dan. Ben is the strength and conditioning coach for the swimming and diving teams, as well as the preceptor for my practicum class. Essentially, I am his intern. Dan is the director of strength and conditioning, as well as a former professor of mine.
I’m not sure what sparked the conversation, but I remember Dan telling me “you have got to put on size, man”. Following this statement, he said that I needed to do “the Husker”. I was brought back to the previous semester, in Dan’s class, where he told us that “the Husker” is an insane training plan used in the off season by the University of Nebraska’s football team. He informed me that during his experience with the husker, he was able to add about 20 lbs of muscle in 3 weeks. This sounded promising, so in my own ignorance, I agreed.
After agreeing to the challenge, Dan repeated the following phrase “Dude you’re going to die. This is going to be awesome”. After receiving this reassurance, I was confident that the Husker would be awesome, and that it would result in my demise.
2/21 Not my day to die
I show up to the weight room, ready for my impending doom, only to get the news that today was my “power day” and that tomorrow’s workout would result in death. Believe it or not, I was actually upset because I was so excited to attack this deathly awesome workout.
The first exercise on this day is the overhead squat. I have very poor shoulder mobility, so I was quickly humbled by this workout. However, the rest of the workout was not too difficult. With that being said, the program does include variations of the Olympic lifts. I do not have much experience with Olympic lifting, but I was excited to start doing them. Olympic weightlifters typically have amazingly developed backs, and I consider my back to be underdeveloped.
2/22 Trial Run
After viewing the husker in its entirety the day before, I was not very intimidated. Three sets of 10, that can’t be too difficult, could it? Before starting, I ask Dan to take me through the process of using the poundage chart. The poundage chart is your reference to decide what weight you will use on the exercises. He told me to take a very conservative estimate of my 1RM squat. I decided to start with 300lbs as my starting point (≈50lbs less than my actual 1RM).
I should start by mentioning that I did not follow protocol exactly due to a misunderstanding. I gave myself a full 80 seconds between sets. The actual demands of the Husker is a minute and 20 seconds to complete both the set as well as the rest before the next set. This means if it takes me 30 seconds to complete a set of ten, I have 50 seconds rest before my next set. Keep this in mind as you read this post. So, because I gave myself extra rest and I used a conservative 1RM I got through the squats without much struggle. Next exercise is the RDL. Let me tell you, if you want to add size and strength to a particular area, incorporating a barbell is the way to go. I was reminded of this on this exercise. The pump in my lower back was pretty sick after my last set. The third exercise is a Barbell Step up. This leads me to my second flaw in executing the husker. Instead of interpreting 3x10 as three sets of ten total reps (5 each leg), I saw 3 sets of 10 reps on each leg. I asked Dan what weight would be appropriate, and after considering my final squat set, he suggested 125, 135, and 145 as my weights for the step up. I cannot describe how hard I tried to convince myself to keep the weight at 135 for my third set; however, Dan’s words resonated with me. If he thinks I should be able to do it, then I need to suck it up and do it. I completed my last set at 145, and it was at this point that I had seen the puddle of sweat on the ground. I hadn’t sweat like this from weight training in quite some time. It was also at this point that I was convinced all the blood in my body decided to migrate to my lower back. Bench press was next. This was exciting because it meant I could lie down. Again, I chose a conservative estimate of my 1 rep max. Bench was not terribly difficult, but I still could not seem to slow down my rate of perspiration or my heart rate. Next was lat pull downs. When training for size it is important to take momentum out of the equation, and isolate the single targeted muscle. On my last set of lat pull downs, I started swinging and using momentum to help me complete the movement. I wrote “cheat” on my paper as a reminder to reduce the weight for the next exposure. Next exercise was push press. This seemed like a cruel joke. Why was this overhead power movement placed at the end of this monster of a workout? Then I remembered this is the Husker. It doesn’t play by the rules. After the push press is when my body started to feel normal again. The last three exercises are seated rows, cable triceps ext, and barbell curls. I recorded my numbers, drank some protein, and went home to shower. Exposure 1 complete.
2/24 Dan joins me in battle
My hamstrings are obliterated. Every other muscle in my body was sore, but they could not compare to the pain in my hammies.
Even though this was a planned off day, I need to include it because it is the true start to my Husker experience. After reading a bodybuilder’s blog depicting his experience with the Husker, Irondan texted me that “he was missing it (the husker)”.
I had just finished watching the Lord of the Rings the fellowship of the ring, so my reply was that he was welcome to join me in battle. I had no idea how this would play out, but I was excited for the opportunity to train with the director of strength & conditioning.
2/25 This is AWESOME!
I arrive at Danimal’s office where he is diligently typing on his computer. He tells me that he “superbeasted” the Husker. Superbeast is the program Dan created to allow paperless, and effortless, programming for the Florida State strength coaches to use for their teams. He also informed me that he did not feel right calling it the Husker and that we shall call it Ragnarok. Ragnarok, to my understanding, is a series of apocalyptic events in Norse mythology. Seems fitting. After seeing the “Day 1” sheet print out, I was more pumped than Dee Brown’s Reeboks in the 91 dunk contest. I mean I’m just a student, but here I am about to train with the Director of Strength & Conditioning. This is AWESOME!
This would have been my third day into Ragnarok, but it makes more sense to start fresh and consider the first two training sessions as “feel out” days. Day 1 and 3 are lighter, lower volume, “power” days. We are allotted longer rest periods, lower reps, and lighter weight. There are two exercises where repetitions are performed to failure, which is fun, but for the most part, this workout is not too tough. I decided to put a barbell on my back for walking lunges to add some intensity. For the past 4 weeks, I had done 400 bodyweight lunges per week, so doing 3x5 bodyweight lunges, just seemed weak.
2/26 And so it begins…
I arrive at the weight room, and see no sign of Dan. I decide to text him. It is at this point I realized how fitting the term Ragnarok is for this program. My text simply said “you Ragnarok?” Not a second after I send the text, Danimal comes bursting through the double doors like a starved lion being let out of his cage straight into a butcher shop. He proceeds to tell me that he is going at this lift all wrong. When I asked why he replied “I AM WAY TOO HYPED FOR THIS!!!”
I was excited, but not nearly as pumped as he was. This was so cool to see. We throw on the Rap Strength Training Playlist on Pandora, hit some warm up sets, and get to work. Squats were fun. RDL’s brought on the crippling lower back pump again, but we managed. It was when we got to step ups that I realized how wrong I did them the time before. Not only did I do double the amount of work, I was stepping completely off with both feet. This makes it much more challenging than if you leave a foot on the step, complete your reps, and then switch. I remember asking Dan if he had heard of a recovery technique I had read in the book Serious Strength Training. The recovery technique was to flex a muscle that you are not currently working between sets. So, if you are doing squats, RDLs, and step ups, like us, if you maximally contract your chest, for example, for a few seconds, it would aid in the recovery of your working muscles (legs, lower back). I think his reply was something along the lines of “you’re talking too much”.
Bench press was next. To my surprise Dan, failed to get all ten reps on his second and third set. How could this be? He is much stronger than me. Dan had told me that day before that he was going to use the weights that I use throughout. My response was really? My weights won’t even be slightly challenging for you. To that, he said that the sheer volume and low rest is what will get him.
He was right. The next exercise was lat pull downs. I am still learning how to efficiently pull with my back, not my arms, so I am pretty limited with the weight that I can use on most pulling exercises. Dan on the other hand was destroying these sets. The weight stack was shaking with every pull. It was impressive to watch.
After watching Dan’s first set of push press I expressed that I thought I did this exercise wrong the first go around because I used a lot more leg drive. Dan replied that was all he had. After the second set, Dan tells me he has to use the restroom. I didn’t think much of it at the time. Part of me wanted to wait for him to do the last set, but when the timer got back around, and he wasn’t back, I decided to finish it out.
The next exercise, the seated row, is where I started losing it mentally. I ended up doing 4 sets because the weight on my first set was off by ten pounds. For some reason, I could not correctly add 45 + 25. Somehow, I was getting 80lbs, not 70. When I finished with rows, I went to triceps pushdown. This exercise uses a weight stack, so I did not have to worry about simple addition. After finishing my last set, Dan returns and tells me that he puked for the first time in his life from training. I told him that was awesome and that I was honored to be a part of this experience. The last exercise was barbell rows. Here is where we find another mental lapse caused by Ragnarok. Dan did a set of curls with 15 lbs loaded on one side and 7.5 lbs on the other. I was glad to see that his math skills were failing him as well.
I want to conclude with the take home quote of this workout. We were finishing up with some shoulder care exercises and Dan says to me “I don’t even want to drink post”. At the time, what he said made perfect sense, but seconds later Dan says wait that’s not what I meant. What he meant to say was that he was so exhausted that he did not want to drink his post workout recovery drink.
The 30 minute nap I had later did not even put a dent into how tired I was. Tired and hungry would be the two words I would use to describe myself the rest of the day.
2/28 Superhero Sunday
Danimal and I have decided on Superhero Sundays, so he came ready in a Batman tee, while I disguised myself as a the long haired, powerlifting, Captain America.
This was our second power day. Nothing crazy, except the look Dan gave me when I told him I was going to load the rear foot elevated split squats.
2/29 Syrup & Peanut Butter
Dan invited me to be a guest speaker with him for an undergraduate exercise science class. We decided that we would lift when the class was finished. I could tell that Dan’s mind was somewhere else. While he was stressing out over our battle with Ragnarok, I was anxious for the speech I was about to give. I’ve spoken in front of people before, but this was a much bigger audience than I was used to.
Before the lift, Dan told me that he adjusted his weight on the squat and bench and that his one goal today was to finish. Great idea. I needed him not only for motivation, but to help me with simple addition as the workout progressed. We also decided to add seated calf raises as a final exercise.
Danimal made it through the workout in its entirety while rocking a crazy high heart rate. The calf raises at the end were more tough than I thought they would be. Squeezing the calf at the top resulted in an immediate cramp. Take note, if you decide to attempt Ragnarok, exercise calf raises with extreme caution.
Following the lift is when things got weird. While drinking my post workout recovery shake, I got a strong scent of maple syrup. I didn’t think much of it other than how awesome it smelled. I hadn’t had any syrup that day, so I figured maybe someone close by was eating pancakes. Then, I smelled it again as I was driving home. Ok I know it wasn’t somebody near me tearing through a short stack, and because I hadn’t had any sort of maple syrup foods in my vehicle, I was convinced my brain was playing tricks on me. I believe it was leading me to sugar. Most of you probably know that during intense resistance training, your body uses stored glycogen for energy, so it would make sense that after a Ragnarok session that my body give its best attempt to get me to refill my glycogen stores by reminding me of the sweet smell of syrup.
While leaving my job as a graduate assistant, I was reminded of two things. The first came from my stomach, signaling that it was time to eat. Not shortly after came a reminder from my brain that I had a jar of peanut butter in my backpack. While it may seem unusual that I would have PB in my backpack, let me remind you of my early morning presentation. I knew I needed sufficient calories before going into Ragnarok, so I brought protein powder, a banana, and PB to snack on before the lift. Ok, back to me being hungry. After twisting off the lid, the intoxicating aroma of peanut butter was indescribable. You know how your brain makes water seem to taste awesome and refreshing after doing yard work or any other activity where you are sweating for a prolonged period of time? Imagine that same thing happening with peanut butter. Oh my goodness. It was perfect. Absolutely perfect. I texted Dan about it, and we agreed that peanut butter is an absolute necessity when tackling Ragnarok. We are also putting together a list of “symptoms” that make up a Ragnarok flu if you will.
3/3/16 Theacrine struggle is real
Being an intern with the swimming and diving teams at FSU, I get the privilege of opening the weight room. This means that 4 days out of the week I am up at 4:30am. Because I am also a student, it is tough to get the recommended 8 hours of sleep. However, I was able to get 8.5 hours of sleep the night before. I should be fresh and ready to go right? WRONG. Ragnarok seems to have some effect on sleeping patterns.
I arrive at Dan’s office and tell him that I just don’t have it in me today. We had split the cost of a 5 gram bag of a stimulant called Theacrine. Theacrine, like caffeine, stimulates the release of dopamine, but it does not have an effect on adenosine receptors in the brain. This is awesome because over time the brain produces more adenosine receptors, and therefore more caffeine is needed to elicit the same results. However, since Theacrine does not play on these receptors, theoretically there is no need for an increased intake.
Dan is so excited to lift. Apparently, he witnessed one of the strength and conditioning coaches destroy his sets of squats yesterday, and that sparked Dan’s eagerness to get back into the gym. I, on the other hand, am struggling. I take some Theacrine and we hit the weights. I think I caught some of Dan’s excitement because after the warm up sets I was ready to go.
Because I was so beat, I was excited to hear the news that on these light power days, we are supposed to go even lighter than what we had done previously. I’m hopeful that a good night sleep will prepare me for tomorrow.
I think the Theacrine just kicked in. Really strange feeling, but I seemed to get an energy surge out of no where. Why couldn’t this have happened four hours earlier?
3/4/16 Unexpected symptom of Ragnarok
I have number 2'd three times today and it is only 10 o'clock. I don’t know how or why but it seems that Ragnarok literally scared it out of me. I got solid rest and ate well, but my guts were twisted. I think this should be added to the list of Ragnarok flu symptoms.
Ok sorry. Back to the training. After the second set of squats, Dan went awole and decided to go heavier than he had originally planned. This was awesome.
RDLs were next, and where I usually get a crippling back pump, today was different. I felt like the weights needed more rest between sets.
Step ups weren’t too difficult, but bench press was different. I managed to complete all sets, but I had to fight. Lat pull downs felt really good. Usually, I can pull the bar all the way to my chest 5 or 6 times and the rest are pulled below my chin. However, today I was able to pull 7 plus reps all the way to my chest. I’m still not crushing it like Dan, but I’m getting better and that’s a good feeling.
During push press was when Ragnarok took its claim on our ability to do math. You have to experience this phenomenon to believe it.
We added forty pounds to the calf raises as well as the addition of toe curling at the end of the movement. If you haven’t done this, please try it, it’s effective.
Following the lift, I had a basketball jones. Against my better judgment, I decided to play. I ended up playing for about an hour and a half.
Later on in the day I ate the biggest omelet of my life. 3 eggs, a cup of egg whites, 1 oz of mozzarella cheese, and 10 oz of ground beef.
So far the Ragnarok flu has caused:
1) Disruption of basic math skills
2) Increased appetite- especially for peanut butter
3) Increased need for sleep
4) Pre-lift GI Distress
3/6/16 Against conventional wisdom
I am back in Canton, Ga for my spring break week. This means I have to Ragnarok on my own. One of my aunt’s has a membership to anytime fitness, and she told me that it would not be a problem to get me in for a training session.
I had to ask Dan for the program, and he sent me the weights that we used for day 3 on the first week. If you remember, we decided to reduce the weight. However, I was feeling good, so against conventional wisdom, I decided to stick with the weights listed. I also weighted the RFEs again.
The session was not difficult. I beat my pushup total by 6 and my inverted row by 7. However, the trouble was in doing it by myself. I am worried about how I am going to get through tomorrow by myself.
More to come...
Thought of the Day:
Milk is a flavor of chocolate and chocolate is a flavor of milk.