My New Workout Program

Posted: March 11, 2019 in Workout Reports

Theory:

  • Deadlift, squat, and press variation each day, plus one support exercise. Two heavy primary lifts, two lesser intensity.
  • 8×3 sets are composed of 3-4 heavy working sets, the rest acclimating sets.
  • On the 3×6, do one preliminary warm-up if necessary, then jump to working weight, moderating as needed for challenging sets. These take place in the second half of the workout, so everything should be warm and moving freely.

Warmup: (All days. Three sets for each) 

  1. 10 Kettlebell swings each arm
  2. 10 Goblet Squats plus 10 overhead globe presses

Day 1:

  1. Bench Press (Pause, narrow grip) 8×3
  2. Deadlift 8×3
  3. Squat (front/goblet/Zercher) 3×6
  4. Barbell Curls 3×6

Day 2:

  1. Box Squat 8×3
  2. Incline Bench (Pause, Wide Grip) 8×3
  3. Pendlay Row 3×6
  4. Triceps Extensions 3×6

Day 3:

  1. Trap Bar (Low) 8×3
  2. Trap Bar (High) 8×3 <start at low bar top set>
  3. Overhead Press 3×6
  4. Lat Pulls 3×6

Assistance/Mobility: 

  1. Stretch before warmups
  2. Rotator Cuff external rotations (exercise bands)

Cardio: 20 minutes, recumbent bike after weights

Do You Even Still Lift, Bro?

Posted: March 11, 2019 in Uncategorized

Heh. Yeah. Great question.

Here’s the thing. Different things become important to you as the years go by. Cavemanning. Archery. Shave stuff. You’ve seen this stuff come and go here on the blog, and you’ve seen me lose all interest in the damn thing and not write anything for long stretches.

And you’ve seen me work out in fits and starts, get hurt, take breaks, bellyache about getting old, etc.

But in the last few months, I’ve made it a priority to really, actually get in shape. Not just a trifling effort. Not just “because it’s healthy.” Actually hitting the weight room with a purpose.

What’s the secret?

It’s having actual goals. I should have written those goals here months ago, but here they are.

  1. Deadlift 500, straight bar, raw, and slowly work myself up to 600, which would be a lifetime PR.
  2. Bench Press 365 in the near term, later hitting better than 420, which would again, be a lifetime PR.
  3. Here’s the vanity part. Have big damned arms and generally be prettier than before.
  4. And here’s the caveat: I want to do all this without gaining a lot of weight.

So those are the goals. I’ve spent the last few months starting to get into good enough shape to even begin pushing toward them. With creaky knees, beat-up shoulders and elbows, and limited levels of recovery due to being far from a spring chicken, it’s been bit of a trial. But, torn up joints and all, I’m really here for the long road this time. I’m seeing gains. I’m feeling better. And that’s enough reward for now.

Mitchell’s Wool Fat is one of the absolute classic soaps in wet shaving. With its tallow and high lanolin formula (that’s the wool fat part), it delivers great slickness and excellent conditioning after the shave.

But.

But it can be a bit of a bear to get a really good lather. I struggled with it for a long time, and always gave it a demerit because of having iffy, thin lather. There’s a bit of a learning curve. More than a bit. For those of us who are spoiled by the fall-off-a-log simple modern soaps, it can be a bit of a downer.

Have faith, though. Regardless of your water, regardless of your gear, I believe I’ve come up with a methodology that will work for you, and give you excellent lather with “The Fat”.

Step One: Get the product in the puck format. No bowl/ceramic dish/ect. necessary. I have come to believe that this soap works best when out of a container, and you’ll need a loose puck to utilize the process I’m putting forward. Anyway, the plain puck is cheaper and doesn’t have much in the way of throw-away waste. Just a little cardboard box and some waxed paper. So there’s that.

Step Two: Do your prep, wet your face and brush as you’d normally do. Now, grasp the puck, dip it quickly in the water, and apply it to your wet beard stubble, as you’d do with a shaving stick. Don’t be stingy. Soap is cheap, and hard-milled soap doesn’t ablate quickly, anyhow.

Step Three: Hold the puck in your off hand and lather with the brush. Yes. We’re going to lather into the brush, too. That’s kinda the secret. You don’t have to get an unmanageable amount of lather, just work some into the bristles.

Step Four: Rinse off the puck and let it stand somewhere to dry. Now, begin to face lather as you normally would, and you’ll find that the combination of soap on your face and in your brush will come together as a nice, dense lather. Add water as needed, but I’ve found that MWF works really well when it is left in a fairly concentrated state.

From here, you’re off to the races, and should have a superb shave and a happy face. I’ve never had a lather be anything but amazing when doing this double loading technique. Something about the innate slickness of the MWF soap, when it’s applied right to the face, seems to create a wonderful boundary layer.

You can also use this to pump up another soap that just lacks slickness or conditioning. Just do the shaving stick part of the process, almost like a preshave. Mitchell’s doesn’t have a strong smell, so it shouldn’t mess with the scent of the other soap.

Give this technique a try and let me know if it worked for you. For me, it’s totally changed how I feel about Wool Fat, and I will always have that soap in my den from here on out.

Cheers, and happy shaving,

 

Patrick

 

As I recently did a review of the Crown King formula in my “Sun Down” article, I won’t altogether belabor the point. Okay. I’m going to belabor it a bit. This is me we’re talking about. Talky Verbose and the TLDRs, taking the stage.

The Crown King formula is pretty much as good as you can get. Buttery, slick, voluminous, with protection for days and excellent post-shave feel. There are precious few soaps that can be said to equal or exceed the shave quality you’ll get here. Phoenix Artisan Accouterments essentially puts the lie to the old idea that you have to have tallow and lanolin in a soap to make it awesome. Sure, I love a tallow soap, but tallow isn’t the only game in town.

The scent. Yeah. That’s the thing to talk about here. In the first round of shaves with this soap, the scent came off as very woody, for a Bay Rum. I liked it, but it didn’t seem to have the scent profile I thought it would. I couldn’t quite relate it to a straightforward Bay Rum, like Pinaud Clubman Virgin Island Bay Rum. It didn’t clash with a scent like that, but it was…so much denser and more complex. The complexity didn’t come as a surprise, since PAA is known for going beyond the obvious notes with many of their creations.

For me, it took several shaves to totally get the whole picture. This set of products, particularly the aftershave, has several tricks up its sleeve. You put it on, and get a good jolt of woody character at first, with spice behind it. As the scent matures and cooks away a little, you start getting the Bay, and all kinds of notes my nose isn’t quite able to assign a name to. There’s some alchemy here.

Both the soap and the aftershave have a bit more “punch” in terms of the scents than the average. I believe that this is due to having larger doses of the scent and essential oils than most makers use. This is a soap that will impart some lingering scent to your face for an hour or so after shaving.

In terms of the aftershave, it has good staying power and good feel on your face. Not too strong, but potent enough that you don’t need a whole palm-full to do the trick. Plan on at least three or four hours of perceivable scent after application, easy. Not quite a cologne, but a step up from a lot of the aftershaves that only stay for an hour or so. That also means that the splash will last longer per ounce (which it should, as it’s not the cheapest in the universe).

Altogether, a smashing home run for PAA. Unreservedly recommended. If you are a Bay Rum fan, a must-try.

Ease of Lathering: Pretty easy. It’s funny, because the promotional material for this soap warns that it’s more difficult to lather than Razorock’s typical soap formulation (a croap). They actually go on at some length about it. In my experience, if it’s any more difficult, it’s a matter of small degrees. In no way do you have to fight this soap to get it to load or lather. It isn’t terribly thirsty. I’m not sure what all the hubbub is about. In the scale of hard-milled soaps, it’s one of the easiest to work with.

Protection: The WtP soap can be whipped up into a voluminous lather. It has a lot of positive qualities. It rinses easily, has no negative ingredients, and provides decent protection. It gets the job done. The really good soaps provide more glide, more protection from the feel of the blade, but that’s no reason to judge this soap too harshly. Unless you’re shaving in a daredevil mindset, trying to test the outer limits of what you can do without getting injured, this soap is more than sufficient.

Residual Slickness: WtP soap leaves plenty of slickness behind. I think the palm kernel oil in the formula may have some impact on this. I would say that this is one of the best elements of this soap. It’s not Mitchell’s Wool Fat slick, but it’s not bad.

Scent: The Orange is a candy orange, sweet and easygoing. Like all of the soaps in this group, the scent is low/moderate, but carries through the shave. The lime is a slightly sweeter version of Lime Sec aftershave, by Pinaud Clubman. Friendly, crisp citrus. The blue is a barbershop scent, with plenty of powder note and an underpinning of floral scent. I believe it might be similar to Blue Floid, but I can’t say for sure. All the scents are friendly. I’d pick the orange by a small margin. That’s the one I performance tested. Nothing particularly nuanced about these. Just forthright and useful scents. The scent isn’t going to linger around your shave nook or take the place of an aftershave. With rinse, it’s pretty much gone.

Production/Value: This is a real, honest-to-goodness hard puck formula. It’s based upon palm kernel oil. It doesn’t have tallow, but it’s not a vegan formulation, either. Razorock seems to not have a dog in that fight. They’ll throw in lanolin, as they do here, even if they’re 95% of the way to having a vegan formula. There’s shea butter in here, too, by the way. Okay. These soaps are inexpensive to buy. I paid fifteen bones for all three. The 3.5 ounce puck has a really high yield, and you can do shave after shave without any perceptible wear on the puck. I wouldn’t be surprised if the 3.5 ounces of hard soap lasted longer than 5 ounces of croap. As such, this might be right up there with the least expensive soaps around. Given its solid performance and pleasant scent, there’s very little one could complain about here. As we’ve come to expect, killer value from Razorock. Finally, the packaging is a humorous drawing that captures the playful nature of the product. (Update: as of posting this review, the trio of soaps can be purchased for an insane nine bucks. At that price, they’re perhaps the best bang for the buck in the entire industry. Seriously. Get ’em, even if you don’t need them. They’ll make good stocking stuffers.)

Notes: Razorock seems to have a knack for being able to field good products at great prices. This is another example of such a product, further diversifying their lineup. This hard soap would be great for a travel option, being smaller and lighter than the average, while still being able to provide a ton of shaves. While these are not going to unseat your ultimate, favorite, perfect soaps, they do a nice job for a killer price. They’re worth a look.

Note: I reviewed another WSP soap of the same formulation (Rustic/Vegan) a long time ago. I thought that it had been long enough that I could go back and do another full review. Also note that this review has been “in the can” for several months, so make of that what you will. 

Ease of Lathering: Easy. The WSP rustic formula has about the consistency of putty, and it loads onto the brush without any struggle. Following my normal lathering technique, it works up very nicely. No fussing about required. No special attention as to the amount of water required (other than how wet you like the lather, of course.)

Protection: The WSP Rustic falls on the “voluminous” side of the spectrum. If you load up a good dose of soap, you’ll have lather in your ears, falling into the sink, and so forth. While it isn’t quite as dense and buttery as some formulas, it offers plenty of protection for all but the most ill-advised of shaving stunts.

Residual Slickness: Good. Not quite at the top end of the spectrum, but plenty of slickness. With the amount of lather you can create, you can always paint on a little more. A thing that some don’t take into account is that small deviations from your pattern to allow for the equipment being used can make a much wider array of soaps (and hardware) useful. Most soaps, even ones I have been a little tough on, can be made to work, and work well. It just takes some practice, familiarity, and a willingness to play to that soap’s strengths. (Come to think of that, I should write up a never-fail lathering technique I’ve hit upon for Mitchell’s Wool Fat. Hmm. Soon. But I digress.)

Scent: I ordered the whole gamut of soaps from WSP’s Rustic line through the mail quite some time ago. I’ve reviewed a few here, given a few to new shavers, and still have a bunch of them to go through. When I first opened them, Mahogany stood out. Rich, warm, dark, and spicy, it’s a great scent. It’s not quite Fortitude, from Soap Commander, but it’s along that same vein. I dig it. A lot. If I were to try some of their Formula T soap, which is a tallow formulation, I’d probably get a tin of this scent.

Production/Value: WSP is moderate priced soap. Given the yield of their formula and the price, it’s a very fair deal for the money. Even the one ounce samples last a long time. One interesting thing is that they carry on using tins for both small and large soaps. In 2018, the vast majority of artisans use plastic tubs. With the samples, it doesn’t make much difference. You spoon out the soap anyway. I’m not against tins, but have only one of them in my inventory. That really isn’t a big deal to me, but it might be for you. I am continually intrigued at the things that cause a mad-dog rage in people.

Notes: It’s been interesting to come back to WSP, one of the first soaps I tried after the mass market stuff like Proraso. I was concerned that I might be spoiled, but that hasn’t proven to be an issue. Because I’m better at working up a lather, I’m getting better performance now. WSP Rustic is solid soap. Good scents across the board, productive formula, reasonable price. Worth a try.

Ease of Lathering: Easy. No problems to report here.

Protection: Very good. This is a rich lathering soap. It has tallow and lanolin in the mix, but doesn’t come with the difficulties and wild thirst that this sort of formula is sometimes plagued with.

Residual Slickness: Excellent. This is a slick soap. I don’t think it’s any slicker than other top soaps, but it has nothing at all to apologize for.

Scent: I’m not specifically for or against the scent. It’s a fresh, if somewhat dark melange. I can’t say that it would be one I’d go after with any great vigor, but it isn’t a turn-off.

Production/Value: Decent. L&L is another soap on the high side of the mid-price bracket. High quality ingredients and a fine performing soap. 4 ounces for a bit under $20. Seems like a fair market price.

Notes: I wouldn’t be opposed to purchasing more L&L soap. I’d probably pick a different scent, were I to do so. Trismegistus, perhaps. If you find that tallow and lanolin are your preferred soap ingredients, L&L should certainly be on your list.