Workout Update 8/28/13

Posted: August 28, 2013 in kettlebells, Workout Reports

It’s been a little while. A few minor interruptions have put me back a bit, but I’m still working forward with the plan.

Friday last week, I did the pressing segment at 8 reps and found it pretty easy. I then did clean and press from the floor, alternating hands. I did the clean and press a long time, but I wasn’t counting reps. I seem to get better clean form pulling from a dead stop than during a swing phase. Probably a control issue that I’ll be able to work on as my technique gets better.

I’ve been pretty busy at work this week, and so today was my first workout. I did the standard stuff, and found that 8 reps was fine with both exercises. My form started to get a little sketchy at the end with my left hand, but nothing serious.

More to come.

Workout Update 8/12/13

Posted: August 12, 2013 in Workout Reports

As mentioned last time, I put bodyweight squats into the rotation. I’ve found that 5 x 20 is bracing, but certainly doable. The first few times, I felt it significantly, but my body seems to be starting to get used to it.

On Sunday, I did a set of alternating 5 x 20 on bodyweight squats and pushups. That got the heart rate up pretty well. I am not in my best shape ever. That said, I was able to complete the whole workout in a handful of minutes. The gasping and sweating continued for sometime thereafter.

I sense that, if I keep on with this addendum to my workouts, I’ll get inured to the load, and be able to keep increasing the intensity (or add another exercise, like situps, perhaps.)

That’s the news. I’m going to 8 reps on the k-bell exercises tomorrow, provided that I have enough time to do so. After that, I’ll be out of town, in which time I’ll probably do the squats and pushups to keep myself occupied.

That’s all for now.

So,

I felt like my current program, as neat as it was, lacked legs. We’re working from the stone soup recipe book here, it seems. Anyway, I was talking to my friend Dave the other day, who is doing the 400 challenge. That’s doing 100 pushups, 100 situps, 100 body weight squats, and 100 bodyweight rows in 17 minutes or less. Or, in most cases, trying to do that.

Now, I don’t want to go after that goal at this moment, worthy as it is, but it put me in mind of body weight squats. Which I will be adding to my routine. I did the first bout of them (100 total) yesterday. I did a few sets of twenty, then dropped to ten careful reps each set for the rest. My first foray will probably be working toward 5×20, then 4×25, and who knows what after that.

With the state of my knees, the bodyweight squats are a fairly friendly way to get some leg work in, and I can do them almost anywhere (but not at work, I’d rip my pants.)

I’m considering adding a few other things in, perhaps as part of a Saturday remedial workout.

Exercises that are on the docket:

Sandbag Turkish get ups

Large sandbag lifts to standing position (I have enough overhead work already)

Pushups (I’ve been considering making a run at a hundred consecutive for a while now).

***

Those are my thoughts at this hour. Cheers!

Cannonball, Week 3

Posted: August 6, 2013 in Workout Reports, kettlebells

I’m up to seven reps on the kettlebell snatches and push presses this week. I missed on Monday, as we were slammed, and I had no time, so I made it up today. All’s well at this point. It breaks a good sweat, but I’m not feeling any pain. I’m actually getting better in terms of form (mostly). I’m hoping that the trip to ten reps on this first ‘bell will serve as a good technique practice. I’ll need to not be flailing around and spazzing out when the weight begins to go up. I think that I’m going to do one extra 7 rep day, so that I’m on a schedule to go up in weight on Mondays.

So, everything’s going according to plan at this point. I’ll be interested to see how it feels as I get into the highest swing of reps, then increase the weight. On paper, dropping down to 5 reps for a 4 kilo increase shouldn’t be very tough.

That’s the news at this hour.

For some time now, I’ve wanted to find a simple, effective way to get some exercise at work. While one could sacrifice lunch hours, try to squeeze showers in, and do other such shenanigans, I didn’t think this was a great solution. The harder it is to exercise, the easier it is to quit, and thereby remain flabby.

One could also bring in equipment and keep it nearby. The issue with this is that most exercise equipment is big, bulky, and not friendly to the cubicle spaces so many of us work in. For me, I have an open-backed cube that’s about the size of a prison cell, and is generally filled with computer bric-a-brac. I couldn’t really have a barbell in there.

I did, however, have a kettlebell kicking around. Hmm…

Kettlebells are very compact, and they have a flat bottom, so they don’t roll around. They’re a solid workout tool, and don’t require a lot of changing weights. You can just up the intensity by choosing harder exercises or doing longer sets.

Thus, I came to my current plan. I have the 24 kilo ‘bell. I’m going to be doing snatch, clean, and press exercises with it in the afternoons between telephone calls and projects.

To begin, I started with five sets of five reps on each exercise. Each week, I’ll increase one rep per set, until I get to 5 sets of ten for each hand in each exercise. If that feels comfortable, I’ll jump to the 28 kilo bell, going back to 5 reps per set. I figured this out, and if I can keep this ascending scale going, I’ll be doing 48 kilo lifts in less than a year.

Now, this doesn’t count in the minor injuries, sore joints, time away, and plain-old stick points, but it’ll be an interesting journey. I’m about to switch up to seven reps on Friday this week (three exercises a week is what I’m feeling comfortable with, as more tends to give me a sore elbow).

Anyhow, that’s what’s going on. Cannonball in the cube.

More details to follow.

Writer’s Guide to Bows, Part Four

Posted: February 13, 2013 in Archery, Articles

Last time, I put forward a list of terms and definitions. This time, we’ll bat cleanup and see if I can leave you with a fair understanding of archery, such that you can portray it convincingly in your stories.

If there is one thing that I can stress before the end of this series, it’s that nothing I can say will teach you as much as actually trying out archery. Do yourself a favor and go down to your local archery club. Chances are, they’ll have a bow to rent and an instructor who can give you a few pointers. If you’re not lucky enough to be near a place like that, it’s possible a friend or relative might have a bow you can try.

Failing that, there’s always my article about how to shoot an arrow on this site. CLICK HERE to check that out, as it goes through a step-by-step process of a typical target shot with a bow. If you’re a little handy, you can also build your own bow out of PVC pipe. I have an article about that, as well. CLICK HERE to check it out.

Finally, if you want to see some footage of bows being shot by yours truly, please look in the Videos section of this site, and you’ll find me shooting a variety of different bows in all manner of ways.

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Last time, we talked about the usage of bows as both hunting tools and weapons of war. This time, I’ll be discussing terminology. As I wrote this one, it became clear that I’d need at least one more segment for the “thoughts” element of the series, so this one turned into an extended list of terms and ideas.

Terminology:

Riser: The fixed portion in the middle of the bow, where the bow’s grip area is located. On a traditional longbow or flat bow, these grips are often very simple. They may be bare wood or have leather, fur, or cloth wrapping.

Limbs: The bending portions of a bow. If, at rest (unstrung) the limbs are bent away from the direction they’ll be moving in use, this is called a reflex or recurve, recurve being a much more pronounced bend. The reflex is usually applied by steaming wooden limbs and pressing them into a form. It should be noted that any excess weight added to a bow’s limbs decreases efficiency. The highly ornate bow designs that are sometimes seen in fantasy art are unrealistic. Some of those designs would likely not function at all in practice. Functional bows are fairly plain.

Limb Tips: At the point where notches are cut into the limbs, such that the string is retained, you have the limb tip. Because this area is subject to a lot of stress, it sometimes reinforced. Animal horn, antler, or even bone can be used to reinforce this area.

Arrow Shelf: Primitive bows do not have this feature, instead using the archer’s knuckle to hold the arrow steady. If an arrow shelf is cut into the bow, it serves to be a channel where the arrow travels. Arrow shelves serve a few purposes. One is normalizing the point at which the arrow sits, rather than using the hand, which can be variable. The other is to protect the knuckle from the fletching, which can cut skin as it passes at speed.

Nocking Point: In order to fit the arrow to the string (nock the arrow) at the same point each time, archers often affix a small demarcation point at the middle of the string. This is most frequently done by tying a small amount of thread onto the string at the place which will put the arrow at the appropriate orientation with the riser of the bow. An archer can tune the arrow flight by raising or lowering this nocking point. When they find the best position, they can drop a dab of glue onto this string loop to hold it in place.

Brace Height: When a bow is strung, there is a measurable amount of space between the string and the lowest point of the grip. This measurement is called brace height. To string a bow is also called “bracing the bow”. In longbow history, an appropriate brace height was called a “fistmele”. To test this, make the “thumbs up” sign and place the bottom of your fist into the deepest part of the bow grip. If the string is touching or slightly above your extended thumb, you have sufficient brace height. Different bow designs require more or less brace height to shoot their best. In most cases, a recurved design requires a higher brace height than a longbow.

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