Thursday, October 30, 2008

Friday 081031: Rest Day

I like lions.
Penguins, bears, and eagles are cool too.

They used to have these amazing lion cuff links at Thomas Pink but now I can't find them. It was a gold male lion's head with a mane and red jeweled eyes. Anyone who can find them . . . I'll give you a cookie.

Thursday 081030: Rings Strength, Rings Technique

Dismount (flyaway 1/1) training and drills: 60 minutes

Cross pullout (4 sec. count): 1-1-1-1-1-1-1

Tuck planche (4 sec. count): 5x1

Front lever pull: 5x1

Ex post comments: This dismount business is a pain in the neck. I also threw in a couple kips, felges, and forward roll to muscle-up in for good measure at the start of some of the swinging sets. Forearms, for some reason, seem to be aggravated and started cramping at a few times toward the end of practice.

Wednesday 081029: Lifting, Rings Technique

Had to go to the gym early in the afternoon, was only able to make it to gymnastics facility for about 45 minutes due to Law School matters (dinner with the former Delaware Supreme Court Chief Justice Veasey... couldn't turn down that opportunity!).

Anyway, the first workout of the day was
~Weighted pullup 1-1-1-1-1 (75-75-85(f)-75-75)
~Handstand pushup 2-2-2-2-2 (improving!)
~Maltese dumbbell press: 5x4 @ 25lbs. (elbows felt fine)
~Horizontal row on cable machine: 5-5-5-5 (took it up to around 180)
~Clean (technique): 1-1-1-1-1 (135-155-155-185-155)

Later went to gymnastics, worked some technique things; kips, presses, planches, and (with the counterweight harness) kip to cross.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tuesday 081028: Rings Strength, Rings Technique

Rings Technique
Handstand: 3x10 sec.
Felge, swing, dislocate: 5x1
Kip, swing, dislocate: 5x1
Dismount: 10x1 (may be done after successful dislocates after felges and kips)

Rings Strength
Cross pullout: 3-3-3-3-3
Forward roll to muscle up: 5x1
Tuck galimore* (front lever to tuck planche): 5x3
L-sit: 4x1

*Galimores are described at

Ex post comments: Ended up mixing the forward rolls to muscle up in with the technique work. Galimores are very hard. I was not able to string together more than two of them, and not in anything close to a smooth fashion. However, it definitely is a good exercise which will be useful to learn better body control. Dislocates are problematic but are slowly improving (probably only did a total of 5 before shoulders started telling me to lay off), and the dismount is getting both higher and more comfortable. Time to start thinking about twisting.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Sunday 081026: Lifting, Rings Technique

Did a little technique work on the snatch with the Crossfit crew, then did some technique work on the rings, mostly forward rolls, muscle-ups, and L-sits. The forward roll to muscle up is coming along nicely, although I'm still struggling with locking into the right position on the forward roll to front lever. Was feeling pretty sick so I did not end up doing much work. Plus Armando got his first muscle-up today, and I got a good shot of Ben's muscle-up as well. Check out more about that one at Certainly looking for feedback on the L-sit -- I know the rings should be turned out, but if anybody else sees corrections to make, please point them out.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Saturday 081025: Lifting

Today is the start of the second week of the second strength cycle.

Deadlift (215lbs.): 3x3 (focus on form)
Overhead squat (95lbs.): 5x1
Back squat: 1-1-1-1-1

Ex post comments: That went well. The technique on the deadlifts at 215 is very good. Overhead squats felt ok, but visually, the right shoulder is far from symmetrical from the left. Back squats only went up to 225lbs. but the form is getting much better. Also threw in some victorian and maltese dumbbell presses with 20lbs (3x3 on the victorian 3x5 on the maltese) for joint preparation. I found that I can't really even support 20lbs. dumbbells directly overhead with the right arm, but I have no problem going well over body weight with a barbell. Conclusion from all this is that while I might have no problem balancing things out if I do handstands on the floor or on high bar or P-bars, handstands on the rings look like they might be a problem due to the continuing problems with winging scapula.

Plan A: Keep working handstands on rings and hopefully things will work out.

Plan B: Shouldn't be as much of a problem to swing through handstand. Ring giants? Might be a long shot but if the right shoulder can't do handstands physiologically, I'm going to have to come up with something else. I'd better get to work on that dislocate, and fast.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Friday 081024: Rest Day

Well, now there's a good reason to turn the rings out during a kip beyond using proper technique: skin damage.

The first picture is from last night after getting back from practice, the middle one is today (healing very quickly for some reason and somehow not very bruised), and the last one is a picture of a friend's kitten playing with my shoe.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Thursday 081023: Rings Strength, Rings Technique

L-sit press to handstand w/bungee belt: 6x1

Technique work: 60 minutes
(include swings, dislocates, felges, kips, dismounts)

Kip: 5x1

Cross pullout: 3-3-3-3-3

For time:
21- 15- and 9-rep rounds of

Ex post comments: Managed to start a little bit of spin on the dismount (trying to get to a flyaway 1/1), although it's going to take much more practice. The first attempt, I ended up spinning all of about fifteen degrees and landed flat on my side. The best attempt got me around a little more than 90 degrees and I landed that one feet first. Frustrating, but I suppose progress is progress.

On the L-sit press to handstand . . . I wasn't able to press with the bungee belt so I went to the counterweight harness and added the weight vest. The right shoulder feels somewhat less stable than the left in the handstand position, although I'm trying to use the straps less with my feet for balance.

Beat up the arms pretty bad with kips, but all of the work with cleans (the lifting exercise) certainly have paid off in the form of making that exercise relatively easy (esp. compared to a felge or muscle-up). Hopefully I can develop that to a straight arm or L-sit kip with the addition of some better technique and timing. Seriously though, it feels like the exact same muscles in the hips as one would use in a hang power clean.

The 21-15-9 circuit at the end felt great; although my hands were shredded from the rings work so I kept my grips on for the pullups to avoid ripping. Finished it in 5:02. For anyone unfamiliar with candlesticks, the idea is to stand, sit back, roll onto your back with your legs in the air, until you're doing a shoulder stand, then snap your legs down, roll forward into a low squat position, and jump to full extension. I think it's cousins with the burpee.

Wednesday 081022: Rings Strength, Rings Technique

Rings technique work: 40 minutes

Fwd. roll to front lever: 1-1-1-1-1

Cross (spotted and blindfolded): 1-1-1

For 12 rounds, alternate 10 sec. on and 20 sec. off of:
~Tuck planche

Spotted planche-maltese pushup: 4x3

P-bar row: 2x8

60 sec. handstand

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Mental Toughness

Why is mental toughness important? Why is it important to have the dedication to keep going? Why do I stress the mental aspect of training as an equal to the physical? Because you can do all the physical training in the world and it won’t help you when things get rough.

~When trying to psych yourself up for a maximal effort, someone says, “Nobody expects you to work this hard, why do you beat yourself up?”

~Trying to choke down the last bit of the big dinner you know you need in order to recover, when all you want is to go to sleep.

~Hop in the alternating temperature shower or ice bath, or take a nice hot one and call it a night?

While this goes for all athletes, it is especially true for self-coached athletes. We don’t have someone telling us you can hit one more rep. We don’t have anyone assuring ourselves that no, it’s not too hard. We don’t have anyone making up our workouts, telling us what we can and can’t do. Successful self-training almost requires a bit of multiple-personality disorder. You’ve got to reserve a place in your mind for the voice to answer your own questions. When you’re thinking I can’t do any more, you need some other voice in your head, equally real and even stronger, responding yes I can.

Some people look at me funny. Some people say I’m too hard-core, and others just label me flat out crazy. But you know what? If I need to put on headphones and be antisocial between my sets to keep focused, so be it. If I need to talk myself through something under my breath, just seven more – just take three more breaths and go; if I need to let out a grunt or some other noise; if I need to straight up yell at myself in the midst of a workout YOU WANNA QUIT? to get the message through my own head, and if that’s what works for me, so be it.

I’m not training to be mediocre.

Tuesday 081021: Rings Strength, Rings Technique

40 minutes technique work; swings, trampoline, dislocates, forward rolls

Cross weight machine: 5-5-5-5-5
L-sit to shoulder stand: 5x1
Front lever pull (x4) + "ice cream maker" (x4): 4x1
Harness handstand + inverted cross + press to handstand: 5x1
Harness handstand: 60 sec.

Ex post comments: Crosses on weight machine were with 65-75-85-95-85. Not sure what happened on the inverted cross presses to handstand but my left shoulder feels like it took a little too much of a beating and is a little strained. On the plus side, the right shoulder is feeling much better on the swings and dislocates; I took it a little easy on it tonight to make sure it would hold up and will be working more on those big swinging moves in the future.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Sunday 081019: Lifting

Met up with the Charlottesville crew today to work on front squats and push presses. Some of the weight totals are strange due to using a mix of lbs. and kg. plates.

Warmed up with kb swings and goblet squats, then did some barbell work. Tossed in a few muscle-ups and L-sits.

Front squats up to 215lbs.
Presses to 132lbs.
Push presses to 174lbs.

Check out the group and some pictures at

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Saturday 081018: Rings Strength

Today is the first day of the second strength cycle. I'm am currently planning on alternating between the strength and technique (Bulgarian) cycles in the following blocks: 4-3-4-4-3-4.

Warm-up: Row 500m.

L-sit (5 sec. hold): 5x1
Back lever: 5x2
Front lever: 5x2
Muscle-up: 4x4 on 4:00
Cross pullout: 2-2-2-2-2 (blindfolded)
Tuck planche: 60 sec. total
Handstand: 60 sec. total

Friday 081017: Rest Day

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Thursday 081016: Rings Strength, Rings Technique, MetCon

Ex ante comments: Going to the Charlottesville gymnastics gym with the team for the first time in almost two weeks, so I'm looking forward to it. The right shoulder is feeling quite a bit better, but I'm going to try to take it easy on it tonight, maybe just a few swings to get it reaquainted to the full range of motion.

Note: Today is the last day of the current technique cycle, a new strength cycle will begin this weekend.

Rings Technique
Kips: 10 minutes technique work
Trampoline work for dismount: 10 minutes
Swings, forward rolls to front lever, dislocates and any other ideas: 10 minutes

Rings Strength
Spotted kip to maltese: 5x1

3x1 of Practice Routine #5
Tuck planche
Forward roll
Front lever
Back lever

Wednesday 081015: Rings Technique

Went to Rocky Top today and spent about 2 hours on technique and other random stuff. Finally got a kip, and then did it about 12 more times. Worked on crosses, forward rolls, levers, planches, L-sits. Also worked on some dumbbell exercises for maltese and victorian crosses -- not that I'm anywhere near a victorian, but I figured it wouldn't hurt to say hello to those muscles. Did some Pendlay rows up to 60 kilos, and a few cleans just for kicks.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Tuesday 081014: Rings Strength, Rings Technique

Ex ante comments: Workout today will be at Rocky Top Rec. Center as the gymnastics gym is closed due to an undergrad school break. The right shoulder does not seem to be bothering me, but I have not been asking much of it recently. I am going to continue to let it heal until Thursday before doing any dead hang, handstand, or overhead weight moves.

Forward roll to front lever: 4x1
L-sit to tuck planche: 4x1
Forward toll to muscle up: 4x1
Forward toll to front lever: 4x1

Cross pullouts: 1-1-1

5x1 of Practice Routine #4
Dip x3
Tuck planche
Forward roll to front lever
Basket hang
Back lever
Ice-cream maker x3

Cross pullouts: 1-1-1-1-1

Work on forward roll to front lever, back levers, kip to support, tuck planche, and feet-supported planche: 45 minutes

1x1 of Practice Routine #4 (supra)

Front lever pulls: 3x4

Ex post comments: Ended up staying in the gym for quite a while, mostly just resting and working on some technique moves. I did the second grouping of cross pullouts blindfolded to help increase concentration on body position, and it seemed to be very helpful getting rid of extra distraction and focusing entirely on the movement and hold. It is strange how even a slight swing on the rings is much more perceptible with the blindfold on.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Sunday 081012: Lifting

Back squat at 135lbs: 3x3
Deadlift: 1-1-1-1-1
Front squat at 185lbs: 3x1
Maltese dumbbell press: 3x4
Horizontal rows: 3-3-3

Ex post comments:
Deadlifts were 375*-345-365-375**-365
* bad technique, rounded the back
** failed
Failed on the third front squat.
Dumbbell presses were done with 25lbs and then 30lbs on the last set.
Horizontal rows were done with the cable machine, sitting on the ground. No idea what the labels mean, although I worked up to around "220." I say this because any rowing motion with normal free weights (sitting, Pendlay, etc.) I do seems to get very shaky over about 115, and these were hard but not problematic. The right shoulder still is a little sore where it was bothering me after swinging over a week ago; I'm trying to avoid extending it above my head (e.g., handstand, snatch, hang from rings) which seems to be the motion which bothers it.

Saturday 081011: MetCon/Mental Toughness

Worked out at The Black Box in Manhattan ( - thanks to Court Wing for letting me drop in a little early so as to be able to work out, return to hotel, shower, and still check out on time.

Cat Breath
Five rounds for time of
30 seconds (combined) L-sit
15 skin-the-cats
20 kg kb alternating clean-burpee combo (10 each arm)

Ex post comments: Finished in 47:58. Did the L-sits on rings with pointed toes and good form, which took a while in the last two rounds to add up to thirty seconds. It was nice to do a long metcon for the first time in weeks.

Friday 081010: Rest Day

Thursday 081009: Rings Strength, Rings Technique

Once again at Upper Merion Dance and Gymnastics Center ( which has an awesome facility and very friendly people working and working out there.

40 minutes assorted technique work:
Front roll to support
Trampoline flips
Basket hang to back lever

Cross pullout: 1-1-1

3x1 of Practice Routine #3:
Muscle up
Tuck planche
Front roll to front lever
Back lever
Tuck planche

Ice-cream makers: 2x5

Ex post comments: Shoulder is still giving pain at a full hang; it's not ready to start swinging yet. Will have to give it some more time.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Wednesday 081008: Rest Day

Took an unscheduled rest day today. Might not have been a bad idea to accelerate the recovery of the shoulder. Going to have to hit it hard tomorrow though.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Tuesday 081007: Rings Strength, Rings Technique

20 Minutes Technique Work
~Front roll to front lever


3x1 of Practice Routine #3
Muscle up
Tuck planche
Front roll to front lever
Back lever
Tuck planche


Front lever pull: 5x2

Ex ante comments: I'm in Philadelphia visiting the girlfriend, so tonight's workout will be at the Upper Merion Dance and Gymnastics Center ( The right shoulder is getting much better, but I'm going to refrain from swinging and full dead hangs so it can get back to 100%.

Ex post comments: The session went very well, although I was having a hard time locking out in the front lever, even with one leg tucked. The facility was amazing and very reasonably priced at $7 for an hour long open gym session.

Monday 081006: Rest Day

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Sunday 081005: Lifting

Deadlift: 2-2-2-2-2

Ex post comments: 315-315-335-335-315.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Saturday 081004: Rings Technique, Rings Strength, MetCon

Rings Technique
Give muscle-up, L-sit, and lever training pointers to UVA Crossfit group

Rings Strength
Cross pullouts: 1-1-1
Front lever: 1-1-1
Back lever: 1-1-1
Tuck planche: 6 x (10 sec. on 50 sec. off)
L-sit: 6 x (10 sec. on 50 sec. off)

Muscle-up ladder 1-5-1.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Friday 081003: Rest Day

No idea where it's actually from, found it on the crossfit board:
"Don't practice until you get it right. Practice until you can't get it wrong."

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Thursday 081002: Rings Strength, Rings Technique

Ex ante comment: Something is still wrong with the right shoulder, something was overstressed on Tuesday doing swings and dismounts. It really only is a problem overhead, e.g., when hanging from the rings or swinging. I'll be working around that limitation tonight, which means that hanging elements, swinging elements, and handstand elements are out.

What a great opportunity to focus on a competition perfect L-sit!

Rings Technique
Support forward roll to front lever (also start from L-sit and straddle): 20 mins.
Back tuck to layout progression on trampoline: 20 mins.

Rings Strength

Jump to maltese (3 sec. hold): 3x2

3x1 of Practice Routine #2:
Dip x3
Tuck planche
Dip x3
Tuck planche

3 rounds, not for time of:
10 x reverse hyper (on vault or horse)
15 x parallel bar situp (cf. GHD situp)

Ex post comments: Not sure if it was just stretching out or being excited to be at the gym, but the shoulder felt a lot better after working out for about half an hour. Ended up doing some spinning moves on the trampoline instead of flipping. The maltese is going to take a lot of work to get, although the cross is improving. The front roll to front lever seems like it is going to be a great addition to the routine and the training: it's not particularly taxing, but it demands a great deal of control and will need quite a bit of practice to get it nice and smooth.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Wednesday 081001: Lifting

Going to have to mix the schedule around a bit for today because the right shoulder is sending me some very negative signals in terms of strain from the swings last night. Hopefully a good day of staying off of any arm work combined with frequent ice and a trip to the hot tub later will be beneficial and I'll be able to get back on the rings tomorrow, albeit taking it easy on the swings.

20 meter tire drags: 6x1

Ex post comments: That tire is very heavy!
Times: 14-12-12-12-11 seconds.


The current goal is to put together a competition-ready rings routine for club-level competition. There are a number of meets in the first few months of 2009 where this will be possible.

I am developing my own programming, but am actively seeking out assistance with this. I have drawn guidance from Crossfit, Performance Menu, Gym Jones, postings on various message boards, and numerous other fitness blogs. My thanks for making their information public, I hope to continue in this same spirit with my own experiment.

Note that I will be changing this plan as time goes by and I get advice from the many people who have offered their help with this process. I will be making notes for changes in italic font; anyone using this blog in the future will be able to gather more information by looking at the process of what I've learned and changed than by just observing the finished product.

The plan is for a 2/1/3/1 schedule. The reason for this is that the gymnastics gym is going to only be available Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. The equipment available there is far superior to that available elsewhere, both for skills and strength work.

Here’s the main idea of the programming:

Saturday: Ring Strength, MetCon
Sunday: Lifting
Monday: Rest
Tuesday: Ring Technique, Ring Strength, MetCon
Wednesday: Ring Technique, Ring Strength
Thursday: Ring Technique, Ring Strength, MetCon
Friday: Rest


Once a week perform Olympic lifts and their component parts, as well as other activities using the big muscle groups. Go heavy on these days, but also use the time to make sure that technical proficiency on these lifts does not backslide during this period of stepping out of normal programming.


Two or three times per week, perform a short, intense workout, generally a combination of multiple exercises. The workout should last between three and ten minutes, and should be done at a very high level of intensity. Combinations of different movements, not necessarily all ring-focused are favored.

Ring Strength

This is the main portion of the programming geared exclusively to reach the goal of building and perfecting a routine. Inspired by Catalyst Athletics / The Performance Menu, the idea here is going to be to program in 4-week intervals.

Strength elements will generally be trained at relatively low volume and near-maximum capacity.

The odd-numbered four week cycles focus on building strength for the individual components of the routine while improving technical proficiency throughout. For elements already learned, this means repeating them, sometimes with weight added, with an emphasis on holding correct form. For elements which have yet to be learned, this cycle will focus on developing the correct form and technique, which means more assistance and repetition, and repeating the same exercises more often through the week. Expect a great deal of work with elastic bands and harnesses as well as work with weights and other exercises off the rings.

The even-numbered four week cycles focus on developing the entire routine, connecting elements together, and increasing the ability to train elements at or near maximum exertion on a frequent basis. For elements already learned, this will mean connecting all of them together in a single effort to practice execution of a competition-length routine. For elements which have yet to be learned, training will be low in quantity but performed at a maximum level of execution, preferably with a spotter rather than bands or a harness.

Ring Technique

Practice the more technical elements of the rings routine in large quantity. Focus on swinging, balance, and dismount elements, repeating them at great quantity, limited generally by fatigue preventing proper execution technique.

These will require strength but also focus on form and will generally be done when fresh.

Other Elements of Programming

In addition to this schedule, at least twice a week, do other activities such as swimming, running, or playing any sort of other sport. Keep lose and keep sane. Make sure that at least one of these activities is some sort of outlet in which performance is not tightly tracked and measured and is instead done just for the fun of it. For me, that’s playing volleyball or going hiking. The concept is to retain sanity and prevent burnout; although that does not mean that this part is less important than any other component of the programming.

Additionally, and somewhat conversely, do a mental workout once every few weeks. These are workouts that, while not necessarily physically draining, they are mentally demanding. Examples serve more for definition than anything else: 10x25 meter underwater swim on 1:00 intervals; muddy trail run during a rain storm with belly-crawl component; or a mile sand bag carry.

The idea is to push yourself toward a goal that you know you can physically do, but may or may not be able to push through mentally. You have to keep your mind sharp and will yourself to finish the workout. Once you’ve gone through this type of thing to reach your goal, you will be less likely to drop out of the program. You’re quite literally hazing yourself.


That is the programming schedule in a nutshell. I am very much open to feedback on this: it’s the primary reason I started this blog in the first place.