Route 8, just north of Waterbury. Ahh, the sweet sensation of an open highway.
This morning I set out on a mission to find a decent farmer's market near Waterbury. Waterbury sort of has one, but it doesn't even start until mid-July and pickings are slim. I had faith that Connecticut could do better. Waterbury is right on the edge of the CT wilderness.This was one of the "newer" homes; built in 1855.
I heard a rumor that Litchfield, a town about 15 miles northwest of Waterbury, had a solid farmer's market. So Nymeria and I hopped in the Yaris and made our way there. As soon as you leave the city heading north on route 8, the scenery immediately greens up and the awful Connecticut traffic FINALLY settles down. Sorry, I'm from rural northern Wisconsin. This traffic is insane.
Litchfield is a gorgeous little town filled with colonial-era homes, antique shops, wineries, and meticulously groomed lawns (of which Nymeria peed on at least 3).
We walked around the town exploring for awhile because I had no idea where this farmer's market actually was. Nymeria had a blast romping in people's perfect grass and chasing all the fat, upper-middle class squirrels.The inner workings of a honey bee hive.
Eventually we did find the farmer's market and it was......GLORIOUS!
There was stand after stand of fresh fruits and veggies, baked goods, soaps, baskets, jams and jellies, honey, grass-fed beef, etc. I was fascinated by the people from the apiary. It was an elderly husband and wife duo and he was so excited to show me his queen bee and all the others working diligently around it. Beekeeping rules. I bought a nice bear bottle of their honey. But the best was yet to come. As we wound our way around to the last few booths, the heavens opened and revealed a hidden Connecticut treasure.
Two thousand miles east of the Great Plains, nestled into the rolling hillsides of the CT antique trail, there exists a grass-fed bison farm! I was ecstatic. It's hard to even find grass-fed beef in the Waterbury area without just handing them your paycheck, but here, in Litchfield, I could buy bison directly from the farmer! I geek out over stuff like this pretty hard if you couldn't tell.
The farm is called Mohawk Bison and it's in Goshen, CT. It's a 60-acre farm where the bison chomp on the grass and anything else that's tasty and grows out of the ground. This produces an incredibly nutritious meat because it's coming from a healthy animal. Check out their website and if you're in Connecticut, try it out!
Mohawk Bison website
Here's what I've been up to lately in training:
-Axle Clean & Press 40x15x10, 90x10, 130x8, 150x4
-Axle Clean & Push Press 170x3, 180x2, 200x1(PR)
-DB Incline Press 60'sx15x15x15
-DB Side Laterals 20'sx15x15x15
-Front Squats 45x15x12, 95x10, 135x8, 165x8, 185x8x8, 205x5x5 (no belt)
-GHR 15, 15, 15
-Lat Pulldowns 110x15, 130x15, 150x15, 170x10, 190x8(PR)
-DB Rows 100x20 each, 110x15 each, 120x8 each
-Seated Rows Wide Grip 150x12, 180x12, 210x12x12
-Canonball Grip Pull Ups 8, 8
-Face Pulls 110x15x15x15
-DB Incline Press 60'sx15, 70'sx11, 80'sx8, 75'sx8x8
-DB Bench 75'sx8x8x8x8
notes: My pressing is still a joke, but it's been fun focusing on it for once.
-Squats barx10x10, 135x8, 225x8, 275x8x8x8x8 (no belt)
-DB Shoulder Press 45'sx10x10x10x10x10
notes: Pulled a muscle pretty bad in the middle of my back on my last set of squats. Still stiff today so I took it VERY easy on my deadlifts. Better to just heal it up quick than to try and fight it.
-12 pound Sledge Hammer Tire Swings 20,20,20,20,20
-Deadlift 135x8, 225x8, 275x8, 315x8x8
-Barbell Curls, because why not? barx25, 65x20, 75x15, 85x10
-DB Incline Curls 35'sx16x16x16x16
So that's that. Looking forward to some bison in the near future.
About a week ago I decided to give carb backloading a shot. I'd heard a lot about it and the idea excited me. I've had trouble gaining weight and I spent weeks convincing myself that this method would help me. So now after 3 days of no-to-low carb and then 3 days of backloading, I'm sad to report: I Feel Awful.
Here was today's consumption:
-9:30am 2 slices of bacon
-11am 1/2 pound of ground beef, garlic, mushrooms, spinach, and snap peas
-3pm Trained Deadlift 135x10, 225x8, 315x5, 365x3, 405x1x1x1, 315x8x8x8
-4pm banana and an orange gatorade
-5pm 2 bowls Fruity Pebbles and 2 slices of cheese pizza
That's a recipe for feeling like you got hit by a truck...at least for me.
The first 2 days of carb depletion went smoothly. I kept my carbs below 30g both days and ate a lot of fat and protein. I felt strong and looked lean and mean. By the 3rd day I was starting to crash around 1pm. Then I would start training around 5 and feel better, but would be totally wiped by the end of the workout. So I backloaded on that 3rd night with ice cream, a burger, and sweet potato fries. After that I felt wonderful. I woke up on days 4 and 5 feeling great, but then devolved sooner each day. As I write this on day 6, I've had a headache for most of the day. My training felt totally flat. And when I did finally eat some carbs, I felt great for about 20 minutes and then crashed hard. Headache is back full force. So what does this all mean? Am I going to just scrap it and move on? Sort of.
The way I've eaten for the last 6 months or so has been working great for making me feel good both physically and mentally. I'm happy with what I put in my body. Doing carb backloading as written in Kiefer's program makes me feel like crap. Eat junk, become junk. I'm not going to completely scrap his ideas though as I am still searching for ways to put on mass without becoming a tub o' lard.
I'm going back to my eggs, bacon, and oatmeal breakfasts. I might try waiting a little longer before eating though because I liked that about carb backloading. I'll keep lunches low-to-no carb by eating ground chicken or beef with ample veggies. I need to invest in some whey protein powder again so I can start incorporating that before I train to alleviate that low-energy feeling I have before training. And then post workout I'm going to try to add in some of the high glycemic carbs that Kiefer suggests, but not loads of them. Maybe a few cookies, a bowl of ice cream, or a bowl of cereal. After that it's back to healthier carb sources like brown rice and sweet potatoes and of course, the proteins. My body can't take the ups and downs. I'll keep you posted.
You can't feel the heat until you hold your hand over the flame
So it's about 5pm on my first day of the Recalibration Phase of my carb backloading experiment. Basically the plan for today, and the next four days, is to eat as little carbs as possible. Kiefer calls this the Recalibration period because the purpose is to prime your body for using fat as its primary energy source. If you read through his research you'll also see that this allows you to more efficiently use carbs too when you reintroduce them after training on the 6th night.
The day started out easy enough. I had 4 natural maple sausage links with 3 eggs and 1 egg white. I would usually have a bowl of oatmeal too, but.....carbs. So by 10:30 I was starving. For "lunch" I had a pound of grilled chicken with spinach and peppers (negligible amount of carbs). I downed that pound of meat and I kid you not, 20 minutes later I was hungry again. I had to drive to Hartford for a meeting with the community partners of a Film Festival I helped organize last month. Luckily, we provided boxed lunches. So around 1pm I was able to score a grilled chicken sandwich. Don't worry I didn't fall off the wagon yet. I made a grilled chicken and cheese wrap using the lettuce as the wrap. This brings me to about a pound and a half of chicken by 1:30.
That satisfied me for about an hour, but around 2:30 I started to really feel flat, like my blood sugar was low. I figured this was bound to happen at first. So I ignored it and did laundry. After the laundry, I again felt like my stomach was eating itself. So about 10 minutes ago I cooked up 4 strips of bacon, 2/3 cup of broccoli, and shredded some sharp cheddar on it. Turns out when you eliminate carbs, you have to replace it with a LOT of other stuff. It might sound like I'm complaining, but I'm not. I plan on eating a couple more chicken breasts with cheese and lettuce at my second job tonight and I have to say, I haven't experienced any feelings of bloating or uncomfortable fullness. I feel great right now. Day one has been a success. Total carb intake will end up around 15-20 grams. The goal is to keep it under 30. I'm going to have to up my breakfast tomorrow though because I seriously missed my oatmeal this morning.
If you have tried out carb backloading, paleo, or keto diets, please please please, feel free to give me some tips.
Powerlifter Mark Bell used these methods to go from the picture on the left to the one on the right. I'm a believer.
If you read things related to the health and fitness world, chances are you might have come across the words "carb nite" and/or "carb backloading". I've been reading about these two phrases, coined and popularized by a physicist-turned-nutritionist, John Kiefer. I'm not going to spend much time explaining what these terms mean because Kiefer does an excellent job in this write-up he did for Men's Fitness magazine.
It's a 3 page article, but it's a quick read. I encourage any of you who are looking to either lean up or gain weight/strength without getting fat, to read the whole thing. Kiefer has, theoretically, solved the mystery of the now-bedeviled carbohydrate. Just like fat was deemed evil throughout the 80's and 90's, now they're after our sweet, delicious breads, pastas, cookies, etc. With good reason I might add. We eat more sugar now, in the form of processed sugary starches, than people a hundred years ago would have ever dreamed possible. We flood our bodies with insulin to the point where our hormones start freaking out because they're so confused. But you've heard all this before....and cookies and ice cream are still delicious. What's a person to do? Could it really be that you can have your cake and eat it too?
That's exactly what I'm going to find out. Over the next few months I will be strictly following Kiefer's Carb Backloading protocol and reporting my progress on here. I'll take a before picture and several others as time goes on. My favorite strength blogger, Paul Carter, has been touting his success with carb backloading for months now and I am thoroughly convinced that this is a solid method. The first day of depletion starts tomorrow. Stay tuned!
Sluggish drones assault my radio
After finishing the competition on the 11th, I've had a chance to evaluate where I'm at in my training. I've uncovered some weaknesses that I was only mildly aware of before. For the past couple months, I had been training specifically for the events at the competition. Now that that's over, I have a chance to tweak my routine toward new goals. I'm considering competing in a contest on July 20th in New Hampshire. This show has a healthy mix of weightroom staples and old-time strongman events. Here's the list (I'd be competing in the 200-lb class): ·
Hercules Hold –Event will be timed. No limit. Grip handles attached to chains for max time.
o Women: LW(100lbs)/HW(150lbs)
o Men: LW/175/200(220lbs)
Monster Squat –Bar will be loaded with 55 gallon drums, drums must touch stands for rep to count. 60 second time limit.
o Women: 150lbs
o Men: Novice/175 (200lbs)
Monster Farmers Walk –Standard farmers handles with car/truck tires. 100 foot course. One drop allowed.
o Women: 150lbs
o Men: Novice/175/200 (200lbs)
Giant Hammer Front Hold –Hold large hammer facing forward. Hammer head must stay between eyes and chin.
o Women: 20lbs
o Men: Novice/175/200/231/Masters (30lbs)
· Fingal Fingers -4 fingers with increasing weight and length.
o Women: 160lbs for 4 flips
o Men: Novice/175/200 (160/220lbs for 2 flips each)
231/Masters/HW (160-300lbs all 4 fingers)
That sounds like fun. In order to prepare for that AND address the weaknesses I discovered, I've come up with the following routine:
-Front Squat (8's, 5's, 3's...occasional, controlled, singles)
-Squat (5x5 OR 3x3)
-GHR (3 sets of 10-15)
-Log Press OR Incline Press (8's, 5's, 3's)
-Bench OR DB Bench (3 or 4 sets of 10-15 reps)
-Hammer Hold (3 or 4 sets of increasingly heavy hammers for max time)
-DB Side Lateral Raises OR Face Pulls (3 or 4 sets of 15-20 reps)
-Deadlift (8's, 5's, 3's)
-Pull Ups (3 sets AMAP)
-DB Rows OR Seated Cable Rows (3 or 4 sets of 10-20 reps)
-Farmer's Walk OR Kettlebell Suitcase Holds (whatever I feel like)
-Clean & Jerks (50 reps in as few sets as possible, starting with 135-lbs)
-DB Shoulder Press (3 or 4 Strip Sets)
-Any accessory work ( Pick any two: bi's, tri's, shrugs, shoulders, chest, abs, etc)
I started it a couple weeks ago and I really like it so far. Front Squat has a lot of carryover for Strongman. It's easier on my back, harder on my core, and it's an area that I'm definitely weak. My regular Squat numbers will go down for awhile, but that doesn't bother me. It's all for the greater goal of being a more well-rounded athlete. I'd also like to add a little more overhead and chest volume, since my pulling is considerably better than my pressing. My back is starting to dwarf the front of me. Here was yesterday's workout. I had no frame of reference for programming my Front Squat, so I wanted to test my everyday max. I didn't grind it out or overexert myself. I just found the heaviest weight I can easily hit right now.
-Foam Roll/Leg Warm Up
-Front Squat barx20x10, 145x8x8, 175x5, 185x4, 195x3, 205x2, 225x1, 235x1, 255x1(PR)
-Squat 255x5, 285x5x5, 325x3x3x3
-GHR 10, 10, 10
I'll let you know how things progress. Dan Green says that if he can hit a weight on the front squat, he's good for 200-lbs heavier on a back squat. Here he provides some Front Squat motivation, hitting 635:
My Mom and Step Dad representing Poundstone Performance all the way at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin. They ran a 5k and a portion of the course took them through the legendary home of the Green Bay Packers.
If you have any Poundstone apparel, snap a pic somewhere neat and send it (with a short description) to firstname.lastname@example.org so we can see all the Poundstone fans out there!