Thursday, November 5, 2009

Workouts (plus a typically longwinded digression re: the relative merits of the tabata protocol and Viking Warrior Conditioning)

So far so good. I think my training plan is working in terms of including the variety I want/need without overtraining.

Here's how it has gone so far:

1. Sunday was my "Viking Warrior Conditioning" day, except that I can't really say for certain that I was following the protocol correctly because I haven't actually read Kenneth Jay's book. Hence the quotation marks. Whatever I did, though, seemed to hit the spot.

Cath, you asked whether I thought VWC was more effective than the tabata protocol. Honestly I can't say for certain since I'm not sure I've done either correctly. I certainly haven't done tabatas as per the study, i.e., 6 days a week for 6 weeks or whatever it was. And I tend to doubt that when I was doing them I was hitting 150 percent of my VO2 max, or whatever it was that the athletes in the study were doing, during the work periods. Elite athletes can do that, but most of us cannot. That's the thing about the athletes in the tabata study: they were all world-class speed skaters, not Joe or Jane Wellness Seeker. I don't think anyone has ever done a study to determine whether the tabata protocol's benefits extend to those of us who are just sort of your typical fitness buff. Anyway, I think Sandy's point was that VWC is more accessible to non-world class athletes (which of course is most of us) and therefore a better option for them.

I think there's a lot of anecdotal evidence that the tabata protocol as performed in gyms, bootcamps and CrossFit studios actually does yield considerable benefits. Certainly it's not a waste of time ... though possibly that time might be better spent doing VWC. But possibly not. Again, until someone does some studies determining the relative effectiveness of the two protocols as performed by athletes at the sub-Olympian level I really can't say which is a better choice for most of us. What I can say with some confidence, however, is that both protocols are good, useful, and well worth trying.

I think most of us have a tendency to overthink this stuff. If you're an elite athlete training for a specific goal it pays to worry about this sort of thing. For the rest of us what works best is just to pick something and do it.

2. On Monday I did a strength workout featuring deadlifts, incline bench press, and 1 armed rows. I was very conservative with my weights--too much so, really, because this is my first week on the program and I haven't been doing any of these exercises with any regularity for a while.

Also there were these idiot young men in the weight room who were also deadlifting, with too much weight on the bar and some of the worst form I've ever seen. My back hurt just looking at them! So I wanted to make a point of modeling perfect form in the hope they'd take the hint, but I'm not sure it sank in.

3. On Tuesday I did an unpleasant metabolic thing on the TRX:

1A: TRX suspended lunge
1B: TRX Suspended Incline Press

2A: TRX single leg squat (each leg)
2B: TRX Atomic Push up

3A: TRX Sprinters Start
3B: TRX Single Leg Chest press

4A: TRX Hamstring Curls
4B: TRX Inverted Row

5A: TRX Hip Press
5B: TRX Power pull

6A: TRX Hamstring Bicycle
6B: TRX Swimmers Pull

I performed each superset twice, 45 seconds per exercise (or 90 seconds in the case of the unilateral exercises, which sucked) with no rest between exercises and 45 sec. rest between sets. Then I finished with 1 set each TRX curls, tricep pressdowns, side planks, pendulums and suspended crunches My heart rate was a solid 75% of max for at least 30 minutes, and I burned over 300 calories in a little more than half an hour, which for someone my age and size is quite good.

3. Wednesday I went for a lovely run on the beach, and was rewarded with a glimpse of dolphins frolicking out in the bay. I think they were Pacific white-sided dolphins but they might possibly have been bottlenoses. There are about six species that frequent this area, but some are commoner than others.

I also had a great ballet class. I'm strong enough now that I can pull up on one leg into retire without assistance from the barre. I can only do it on one side, but that's okay. The other side will get there.