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Perhaps it’s time

I may be selling off my prototypes on eBay. I am heading a different direction with my training. I can always build new machines if necessary. I will post a link here to the listing if I follow through with this.

simplify

Just checking in during busy times.
I have been working with some slight modifications on the multi exercise unit and have come up with a way to do regular and front squats.
As a result I am now doing a very simple workout consisting of seated lat pulls, a cable chest press and squats.
This simple workout has been great for a number of reasons. It is, obviously, very efficient. I am looking for the potential to take my equipment with me if business requires me to travel for any period of time. This one machine has the greatest promise for being able to do this.
I have also been tweaking dietary issues related to my celiac disease and have been reading up on MTHFR gene snips. I have not yet been tested specifically for this but have had reasons to believe it is an issue. The biggest resistance I had was reading that it is recommended to remove all dairy. I have been using butter and raw dairy cheeses liberally in my post celiac diagnosis and was reluctant to give up an easy and reliable source of calories.
I am now on week number three of completely dairy free and the results have been amazing. Exercises where 6 heavy reps were a challenge have turned into ten rep sets very easily. There are a number of physical changes that have me convinced that dairy was, indeed, a problem for me. Energy metabolism has definitely improved during this time. I miss my butter.. but not that much.

The challenge of obesity

I was watching a video from the Ancestral Health Symposium yesterday that spurred the memory of an issue I was writing about over twenty years ago.

It was mostly conjecture on my part and had to do with the issue of obesity and the link with congestive heart failure. My thinking was influenced by some items I had been learning relative to the phenomenon of cardiac counter pulsation.

There have been cases where congestive heart failure has occurred in subjects where the heart was still capable of sufficient capacity to sustain the body but where the skeletal muscle mass was so deficient that there was no longer enough venous return to prime the pump (the heart.)

Tis is when I began to look not at it as a cardiovascular system but rather a musculo-cardio system in which the most important organ of circulation was the musculoskeletal system which would feed the heart. Given this counter pulsation feeding mechanism, the heart works in a balance that might lessen the workload of that organ over its lifetime. Perhaps a prolonged one with sufficient muscle mass if sarcopenia (the loss of muscle mass) can be avoided.

That’s where obesity comes in.

Obesity is abundance run amok. Obesity has its roots, not in failure, but in the body’s ability to store energy for future use in an environment of abundance. That abundance used to happen periodically and for rather short periods during ripening and harvest times. It was to our advantage to be able to store up some energy for the relative short term in order to survive the often lean months of winter where accessibility to calories was more of a challenge.

The mechanisms of fat storage would allow for this and I won’t go into too many details of the pathways that signal this other than to say that chronic availability of calories in the form of carbohydrate can signal insulin to the point where so many excess calories accumulate and may lead to insulin resistance.

Thing is, we don’t then crawl into the cave and sleep it off like bears do.

We live in a state of perpetual harvest with the ease and availability of cheap calories. So when a person susceptible to this gets metabolically broken, the eventuality is the condition of obesity.

What does this have to do with heart and cardiac counter pulsation and sarcopenia?

Anabolic versus catabolic states.

Any fitness enthusiast eventually grapples with the issue of overtraining. It is easy to become addicted to exercise to the point of over doing it at some point. This is usually characterized by a number of rather benign to sometimes serious consequences depending upon how long the overtraining has gone on or to what degree a person overtrains.

In its most extreme, as seen by what has become known as uncle rhabdo among some.. Those who know, know.. There is a serious breakdown of muscle tissue that follows extreme bouts of overtraining. This can be fatal.

Backing off just a bit, if someone lifts heavy or with too much intensity without sufficient recovery there is the slow decline in ability to progress. Sometimes there is stagnation of progress and sometimes there is actual loss of measurable strength that can only be reversed by sufficient rest.

Anything that brings about this stated of trained muscle loss is detrimental to the musculo-cardio circulatory system as decreases in skeletal muscle mass reduce the ability for that cardiac counter pulsation that primes the heart pump.

Enter obesity.

Yesterday I heard a disputation of the concept of the so called healthy obesity. There has been conjecture that it is possible to be obese but strong and healthy. But more recent studies appear to show that this is not the case.

I believe that both might be true. It’s just a matter of when in the process you measure muscle mass.
In a person who has become obese after a reasonable period of growth and normal development coupled with athletic endeavors, it may be possible to show all the hallmarks of an otherwise non obese healthy subject.

What then happens to this subject over time if the obesity is not addressed is that they enter a state of chronic overtraining. The simple act of having to carry the excess body fat around puts them in an inescapable cycle of chronic heavy lifting simply in the carrying out of day to day activities. This leads to the eventuality of being in a chronic catabolic state leading to loss of muscle mass.

Couple this with a lifestyle that may necessitate entertaining clients and other food based corporate functions that enhance the late harvest chronic calorie overload and you have loss of muscle mass coupled with continued accumulation of body fat. Remember, the body has a great mechanism for storing abundance for later use. But, as muscle mass decreases and later never comes it all becomes broken to the point of serious breakdown.

Lack of core muscle strength begins the cycle of congestive heart failure through lack of sufficient venous return. The solution is not to medicate the heart to make it pump more. An empty pump will burn out. The solution is to restore the muscle portion of the pump system.

So, does that mean that the solution is strength training?

Perhaps not at this point. Remember, there has been muscle tissue wasting, in all likelihood due to chronic overtraining. It may be that radical periods of complete rest would be needed between workouts if muscle is to be restored. Certainly an odd scenario and one unlikely to happen in the course of normal western lifestyles that act strongly against this.

It is quite a difficult situation. I have been thinking through all this in light of a conversation with a lifelong friend who knows they have begun to deal with what is potentially a serious condition if it continues to decline. This person has always been strong and athletically gifted.. Fast and talented at many things. But, they are now distressed to find that measures of core strength are declining. I hope that this will shed some light on the possible mechanisms that may be at work and may lead to an understanding of how to begin to address those issues.

What is failure? Is it even necessary? How can it become a limiter to progress?
These are questions that have been on my mind a lot over the last several months as I experiment with infimetrics and negatives in my training.
I have finished my multi exercise infimetric platform so that it is now functional. I have been using it almost exclusively for leg curls as this is a machine I have not had for quite some time and it has been nice to be able to add it to my leg training. Thing is, it is only infimetric whereas all my other machines can be used for either infimetric or negatives.
It has been interesting to observe the relative impact of this infimetric exercise in the context of an otherwise exclusively negative workout. I take that back. On occasion I will do some initial warm up with a little infimetric work before going into the negative sets. Yes, I said sets as in plural.
Negatives and failure. It is sometimes hard to gauge what failure means when training with negatives as once you get past the first few repetitions where it might be possible to almost stop the resistance momentarily, the last several repetitions are increasingly difficult to control. How many more should be done when it is running away? Or, is it better to stop after the first one that is out of control? I find it interesting that if I rest long enough for my respiration to slow down to near normal that I can then start a new set nearly like the first set. However, the fatigue sets in much more rapidly after, perhaps, one or two reps.
So, I will do the first set that may consist of five to eight reps followed by rest. I then will do as many as four more single reps with a slight rest pause between.
This brings me to occlusion and pump and infimetrics.
Because I can safely and easily disengage during negatives, there are a variety of ways to set up how a set is done. I can, if I so choose, to immediately transition from eccentric to maximal concentric with no rest and constant load. This is, it would seem, optimal. Failure seems to come on quickly. But is this actually effective or optimal? I also notice the same phenomenon with infimetrics. Done in “perfect form” without ever disengaging during the set, infimetrics is brutally difficult to do. But there is this huge fall off in produced loading. There is such an early accumulation of pain that it is hard to carry a set to completion with meaningful levels of resistance. Oh, it burns all right, but I am thinking that this is less and less a good indicator of effectively recruiting the muscle fibers that one would desire to target.
So, with infimetric leg curl, I have begun to do one rep per leg all out. I will then disengage for a moment and then do another rep each side all out. I will continue on with this purposeful disengagement between paired repetitions. It seems to allow for a much greater level of engagement of the whole hamstring. Of course, what is really needed would be medical measurement of activation, etc in a side by side comparison to see if there really is a difference. I do not have access to the necessary equipment to do such a study at present.
I came up with a way to describe the difference between these two forms of exhaustion/failure:
The first I dub Constant Engagement Occlusional Exhaustion.
The second: Intermittent Engagement NonOcclusional Exhaustion.
It seems that the second is the type that has been driving my gains more effectively than the first, which sort of comes out of the old dogma of HIT and other such schools. there was this fear of losing TUT by breaking. It seems to have a real downside of creating this false occlusional failure that actually limits intensity. It feels intense. It burns and is certainly hard to push through. It is mentally exhausting as it take a large amount of motivation to push through it, and it seems to severely limit the ability to load the muscle with a load that stimulates growth past a certain point.
Purposeful disengagement during working sets, even fractions of a second, contrary to being counterproductive, actually seem to allow for much greater load and stimulus.
This is hardly revolutionary, nothing new and probably obvious to many trainees out there, but for someone who was seeking the elusive perfect exercise form, was quite a jump outside of dogma for me.

a video tour

DSC01728

Here are some videos of the

 

 

 

equipment as promised last time.
I would like to make some videos in a more professional setting so that you would be able to see from multiple angle. As it is, I have done no editing on these and am in cramped quarters as well so there isn’t much chance for wider shots or better angles to capture the equipment in action.
I am not currently able to embed video so you will have to hit the back button to get back to the blog. Apologies for now.
First is a general look at all the equipment:

Next is a demonstration of infimetric leg curls on my recently finished (well, at least functionally finished) infimetric multi exercise machine:

This is a video of leg press done a few ways. Not edited and so you might want to skip the first twenty seconds as I didn’t have it set up for infimetrics before I started. After several infimetric reps I then transitioned to negatives. These are done with a pneumatic cylinder. There are multiple ways of combining these elements in a workout.

Next up is leg extension:

And last is a demonstration of my newly modified upper body multi exercise unit. There are more exercises that can be done on this unit. In fact, pretty much anything upper body. A very versatile piece of equipment. Just a note here. Most of my equipment has the capability to be used either as infimetric or, as a result of having the pneumatic systems hooked up, for akinetics or negatives with some variability on the concentric portion as well. The infimetric only version of any of these pieces would be less complicated than what you see here:

Please feel free to ask any questions on what you see here.

Overtraining!

Since last Wednesday I have been seriously overtraining.

Fighting for every pound has been a challenge as has endurance.

I have managed to hang on to the gains I have made in the last month but this last week has been an extreme challenge.

Last Wednesday I got this idea, in the midst of my unfinished multi infimetric prototype, to work out some design issues with two other prototypes.

On a side note, I told my son this morning that the definition of Prototype is derived from the Latin and must mean thing with lots of extra holes.

I recycle the steel I use to build and tinker and there are some frames that have been repurposed over and over again.

Not so with the multi unit but quite the case with a number of other machines I have slowly modified over the years.

So, on Wednesday I tore apart my pulldown unit as well as my upper torso unit. I had scribbled out some basic plans and measurements but where I thrive is when I am in the shop. I can see it better when I am cutting steel and prepping parts.

My son Michael gave me a new drill press for Father’s Day recently. this allowed me to have the capacity to upgrade to heavier duty bearings, among other advantages.

I also picked up a new welder. I have told my children to keep tools when they buy them. I tell them to learn from my mistakes. I should have kept the original Lincoln AC225 unit I purchased years ago but, no, I have sold and then purchased a number of units thinking I would no longer want to make any more machines. Fool!

What I don’t have is a metal cutting band saw. Part of the recent overtraining revolves around cutting much box tubing with a hack saw. I was too frenetic and too cheap to go buy new blades. It is amazing how much you can cut with one dull blade. I broke the rule of the gentleman who taught me how to weld.. this definitely breaks with his admonition to “work smarter, not harder.” But, the welding unit allows me to heed his other sage wisdom: “Don’t give me no birdshit welds. Turn up the heat. You can always fill in your mistakes.”

By Wednesday evening I had managed to cut, re-fit and make new pieces for the two re-designs. Or so I thought. Thursday morning brought me to the inevitable point I reach after a good night’s rest. I realized I had more to do.

I am never in a hurry when it comes to finishing a new design. If I get stuck, I almost always wake up the next morning with a complete solution in mind, even to the point of knowing what drawer what part can be found in or where I can get just the right piece of steel in my collection of cast offs.

By Friday I was ready to put in a day’s worth of welding. Can’t do it here but I have a friend who lets me set up shop at his place whenever I need to.

I was sure I would just simply put everything together Saturday morning and be back at it with the workouts.

Wrong!

When two things, in principle, seem to work, it’s always best to triple check them anyway.

I blew it. As I assembled the newly made pieces and then attempted to change from one configuration to the other, I had my “doh” moment number one.

So, I set that machine aside and went to work on the other.

And had another one of those moments.

And the fit and welding had gone so smoothly.

Time to give it a rest.

I was really feeling worn out by this time. All that cutting and welding and hauling my equipment was wearing me down.

But… I was handling it. A year ago I was in the throes of a major set back and had lost a whole lot of weight and strength in a matter of a week. It took a long time to finally regain that strength.

All that negative training and added muscle mass was paying off big time.

By Sunday I had worked out all the details of the corrections. I made more cuts, fashioned some new pieces to add on to what I had already made and by today (Monday) I headed back over to finish up the new welds. That welder is a heavy sucker but I have had no problem carrying it up and down stairs, and out to the car.

Spent the rest of today re-assembling.

When I take something apart, I intend to put it back together in better shape that when I took it apart.

That’s the case with both of these machines. I have been not only adding functionality to the physical aspect of the exercises, but also improving the control mechanisms for the pneumatics for the negative upload function.

The changes appear to be worth it. Just testing out the infimetrics on the pulldown/seated torso row affirmed this. It has become a much better machine. Much better. I was also able to add another configuration to this machine as well. It is, for all intents and purposes, a very capable multi exercise machine.

Amazingly, after all this physically exhausting work, it was very easy to dig deep when testing this out. Now, I wonder if I can gain some weight with a little rest in the next few days.

A year ago I was at the doctor’s office dealing with a real crisis. Tomorrow I go back to see him for my yearly follow up. I was able to handle a brutal physical week of work. The one thing that leads me to suppose I have overtrained, even though it is mostly work based and not workout based, is that my Rheumatoid Arthritis has reared its ugly head. My hands have not been this bad in the last five years. That is, I believe, a signal that I have not given myself sufficient recovery.

The good thing is, the added muscle mass I have regained has helped carry me through a very difficult week.

Muscle mass is the principle that will carry us in to old age. Keep adding to your account any way you can, whatever your training methods.

My next goal is to take a video or pictorial tour of the gym. If you have read this far, it’s the least I can do for you!

Science.. Just.. Is..

Science-ism..

Religion-ism..

Both are dangerous.

Especially in the hands of fanatics and dogmatists.

Science.. Just.. Is.

Science is neither good nor bad. At least not real science.

Real science reveals truth regardless of the desired outcomes and that is where we most times get in trouble.

I cannot tell you how many research studies I have tried to read where I finally gave up simply because it was very obvious that science was not the outcome desired. Rigged, biased, faulty constructs meant to support someone’s agenda are not science.

Science doesn’t prove anything. Science is simply the revelation of observable phenomena finally and completely understood. I am not sure anyone has arrived at a truly scientific understanding of anything. And yet, the world is filled with those claiming to be doing science.

If it is in the service of trying to prove the effectiveness of a drug, or an exercise regimen or a theory, the human element of truth bias has effectively nullified the science at hand.

Perhaps my definition is too strict, but I know what I am trying to say here.

There are so many levels of interaction of elements in even the simplest of biological systems that I am not sure anyone is truly on the path to enlightenment of the greater truth of how things really work.

So, what’s my point?

I don’t know.

But, this has been running through my head as I have been revisiting the Colorado Experiment.

Why?

Because I have been trying to follow infimetric training to its logical end, to make it work in light of what appears to be such an ideal mode of exercise.

My end goal was to gain muscle mass and work towards greater overall health.

Granted this is complicated by my own health struggles so I am not the ideal subject. The ideal subject would have great baseline health markers and potential. I am old and have been sick.. Not the ideal subject by any means.

But, Casey Viator had been ill for a time before Arthur undertook the Colorado Experiment with Casey.

There are many that excuse away his incredible gains as merely gaining back what he had lost during his time off from training.

Maybe so. Maybe not.

It’s complicated, isn’t it?

I have been hammering away at infimetric training for some time now. As hard as I have been trying, I have to admit that the results have been disappointing. I was maintaining some semblance of muscle mass for a few months of training but the last three or four months had been particularly discouraging as I watched my weight slip lower and lower. I was keeping up with calories to no avail. I certainly wasn’t starved at any time but, nonetheless, found my weight dipping perilously close to 140 pounds. I am not that tall.. 5’ 7” when I stretch, but facing the prospect of weighing less than when I graduated from high school 35 years ago (really?.. Really!) was not sitting nicely with my sense of well being.

So, three weeks ago or so, I hooked the compressor back up to the equipment and started on a journey back into negative assist workouts. Dialing in the resistance and pushing far harder than I had previously with any form of resistance. I am not sure where it was coming from but I somehow turned a corner relative to determination

In the last three weeks, I have gained eighteen pounds. I am fast approaching one hundred and sixty pounds, a level I have not seen in nearly six years of post diagnostic recovery. I think there was one period of a few weeks where I managed to climb close to one fifty five about four years ago but that was short lived.

So, the hack scientist in me has wanted infimetrics to be the ideal workout. To me, that would mean being able to gain muscle mass as a result of that protocol.

That hasn’t worked out so well.

The most muscle mass I carried around was back when I trained negatively some 23 years ago.

So, if science just is, my bias that infimetrics is the perfect form of exercise would have to devolve to some sort of cultic religion if I wanted to put it out in the market place and hard sell it. It might very well have limited use as a way to maintain muscle tone without really stimulating fiber transition to type II a muscle. Wow, that sounds like the perfect way to market to women who are afraid to squat. Not sure I like THAT idea.

No, in light of my response to revisiting negative training, the Colorado Experiment begins to make perfectly good sense. I can well imagine that with Arthur pushing Casey through workouts that it had all the ingredients necessary for plenty of strength stimulus.

There’s some truth in there.

Science.. Just.. Is..