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Doubles

As I have been re-exploring my workouts with higher repetition schemes, I have also been tweaking and experimenting within that context. Since there are no real measurables other than number of repetitions as I have removed feedback from any of the equipment thus leaving me with no real associative number for level of work, the only thing I have that I can record objectively is the number of repetitions done.

Even that can be suspect as to quality of work being done.

I have been falling into a pattern of a standard workout on Mondays and some sort of variation on Thursdays although last week I departed from that and did compound only movements on Monday and single joint only movements on Thursday.

Some variations I have used thus far have been to follow up high repetition infimetrics with negatives within the same workout. If post workout soreness is any indicator, these were, perhaps, too effective. I am not wanting to be that sore for that many days anymore.

This week I did a standard workout on Monday and then borrowed from last Thursday’s single joint workout where I tried to alternate speed and intensity throughout the working set. I had tried a scheme where I would do one maximum repetition followed by much lower intensity but maximum speed repetitions for four more so that each cycle was five reps. It didn’t really work in the infimetric context.

After thinking about it a bit I decided to approach this Thursday’s workout with a variation of that scheme.

First, I would start out each exercise with normal repetitions as if I was doing a regular Monday workout. After a set number of reps I would then switch to maximum doubles followed by a single slow low intensity rep. That way there would be respite from the maximum but not really absolute rest. I figured that a warmup of forty reps followed by 20 doubles would net me 100 total reps by count. Since this would be at the lower end of what I have been using for normal workouts, it seemed it would be a good place to start and I could adjust from there.

Turns out those numbers were pretty close for compound lower body and might even need to be upped just a little bit. They are probably right on for my back work.
But, once I got to other upper body work it was very apparent that I needed to change the numbers.

Warm ups were adjusted downward to twenty reps with the hopes that I could get at least ten doubles following the warmups. I did manage to gut it out to twenty on back and chest but by the time I got to shoulders, biceps, and triceps I could only manage seventeen, seventeen and eleven doubles respectively.

In all this seems like an incredibly useful variation.

There is one anomaly I observed when doing the doubles. When I was exerting maximum volitional effort I was able to maintain substantial tension on the system. In other words, the cable was always taut. On the other hand, when I was then doing the single low intensity repetition between the doubles, I was unable to maintain any semblance of tension on the system. It was as if I could no longer invoke subtle low intensity motor control. It was confusing at first as I thought I had reached failure and was surprised at how much upload I was then able to exert on the next set of doubles. This happened consistently with all the exercises except for leg press.

I don’t know if this is significant or means anything but I will see if it is skill based and happens less as I use this variation more or whether there might be something else at work with this.

Thursday’s Workout:

Leg Press: 40 Regular + 20 Doubles

Leg Extension: 40 Regular + 17 Doubles

Lat Pulls: 40 Regular + 20 Doubles

Chest: 20 Regular + 20 Doubles + 5 Regular

Lateral Raise: 20 Regular + 20 Doubles

Bicep Curls: 20 Regular + 17 Doubles

Triceps: 20 Regular + 11 Doubles

Rotary Neck: 100 Regular

I have been absent from my blog for quite some time but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been continuing to think about and use infimetrics.

I started to work out regularly about six months ago. Prior to that I had been working out sporadically at best due to obligations of time and physical resources that didn’t leave me with much spare time or energy, with energy being the prime limiter due to my health issues.

In these last six months as I return to regular workouts, with a target of twice weekly, i have been challenging myself to rethink what I think I know about infimetrics. The break was good for me as it allowed me to set aside some of my biases of training.

My contention has been that infimetrics is unlike any other form of training and yet I would continue to understand it in light of standard training models, especially as they relate to the world of HIT training.

I think this is where I have been most in error.

Granted, I have speculated on the theoretical possibilities of infimetrics and how one may be able to perfectly match strength and fatigue profiles for every second of every repetition. While this may be true, there is nothing saying that it is ideal.

At the beginning of this last six month stint of training I stepped right back in to fairly standard protocols in regard to rep schemes and so forth.

Then I stepped back from it all and decided to try something quite different.

I am not sure that this is revolutionary or anything, but..

The germ of the idea came from a past experience with trying out some HIIT training on the infimetric leg press. I figured it would be similar to High Intensity Interval Training on an exercise bike. Only, it wasn’t. It obliterated me. I had never experienced the soreness and prolonged recovery from any exercise quite like this. Even though I wasn’t using feedback as to how much I was loading bilaterally as I was doing the speed phase of the HIIT routine, it became apparent that I had done much more than I thought I was doing resulting in the catastrophic post workout soreness. That phase of training didn’t last very long and I put away the soundtrack I had made to pace the slow and fast phases hoping to never hear it again.

What exactly made this HIIT foray so different from my standard training which wasn’t, admittedly, creating much in the way of gains beyond maintaining or rebuilding what was already there? I have had serious questions about my age and physical condition being a serious limiter of any progress and have been somewhat resigned to the reality that this might be the best I could expect as I head toward age 60 in a few years.

I decided to try something different. I have, at times, done multiple sets without really accomplishing much more than single sets.

I don’t think I understand infimetrics at all. I hearken back to Arthur’s talk at West Point and of stories various people have shared about using his prototypes. I recall one subject relating to doing video shoots on the bench press and, after multiple takes, being so sore they could barely move for a few days.

It is true. I can go all out and reach some sort of high load failure within five or six repetitions. This, I have found, is the least effective way of training with this equipment.

So, I decided to go in a different direction.

I started with the idea of not even consciously trying to load the early repetitions beyond the minimum necessary to simply allow movement.

I also decided to go with what I thought would be ridiculous repetition counts in the thirty five to fifty repetition range (remember that you have to do the lifting phase with each limb for one complete repetition so this effectively double the time. Ten complete infimetric repetitions takes the same amount of time as twenty repetitions on a standard weight bearing exercise.)

With this higher repetition scheme I started to notice a much more desirable post workout response. For the first time in the last several years I have been actually gaining muscle mass at a noticeable rate with higher reps.

I never really reached failure in the classic sense on lower body but did so with a few notable examples for upper body. Triceps are the best example of this as I would have a hard time getting much more than twenty five or so reps for them.

I have been pushing rep counts higher and higher and thought I was approaching some sort of limit when they climbed into the sixties and seventies.

Lower body gains have been lagging relative to upper body response so I figured I needed to go higher and, in fact, decided to add some negative assists to the lower body work. This seems to be helping. So much so that I finally feel that I need an extra day here or there for adequate recovery of the lower body.

Here’s what my last workout looked like:

Leg Press: 100 reps

Leg Extension: 100 reps

Akinetic Squat: 25 reps

Negative Leg Press: 11 reps

Negative Leg Extension: 9 reps

Seated Lat Row: 100 reps

Combination Chest: 100 reps (5 positions X 20 reps continuous)

Lateral Raise: 100 reps

Bicep Curl: 75 reps

Triceps Kick Backs: 50 reps

One hundred reps ends up taking about three and a half minutes. There is no conscious attempt to load up at any point in the set. What does happen is that it transitions from being fairly easy to, about halfway to one hundred, being necessary to concentrate on breathing and holding form to the bitter end. Upper body exercises are approaching the point where I have a hard time moving at all by the last few reps whereas lower body isn’t quite to that point. My next workout I intend to push lower body numbers higher to see what happens.

I know this may seem like a lot of volume to some of you but I am not so sure that this isn’t exactly what is needed for infimetrics to be truly effective. I have never gotten the results I am now experiencing by using more conventional metrics. Thirty five years in and I may just have started to figure out how to make infimetrics work.

It remains to be seen.

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.