Saturday, January 31, 2009

Last Thursday's training

For many years I maintained a cyberspace online training journal but now I don't. I still keep a bricks & mortar training journal using a notepad as I have for many years. Lacking creativity to write another clever and original blogflection, I've chosen instead to share my last Thursday's training. Here is what I did:

Early morning in my basement at 6:40 a.m.
I've been doing this 9-minute drill every Monday through Friday morning for the past 4 weeks. It's a quick way to wake up my body.

(1) shoulder dislocate/overhead squat combo with a light pole x 54 reps

(2) 4-count cherry pickers x 54 reps

(3) standard grip pullup hang hold x 0:54

Here’s a prior blogflection where I demonstrate the shoulder dislocate/overhead squat combo: My shoulders feel great

Late afternoon workout at my gym beginning at 4:10 p.m.
(1) flexibility and warmup drills for about 10 minutes

(2) snatch warmup drills – all weights are lbs. – 45x5 of snatch pulls, snatch high pulls, overhead squats, snatch balance and then squat snatch 65x3 for 3 sets.

(3) squat snatch singles progression: 95-115-135FAIL-135-145-155FAIL-155FAIL-135-135-135FAIL and then 115x3 for 3 sets.

(4) clean pulls – 135x3 – 185x3 – 205x3 for 3 sets

(5) squats – 135x3 – 155x3 – 175x3 – 195x3 for 3 sets

(6) standard burpees x 54 reps completed in 5:45.

Here’s a video of my 145 lb. squat snatch. I had one of those bad form days.

It was nothing spectacular but just another middle-age man training day; that's what I did during last Thursday’s training.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Friday, January 30, 2009

Open arms and abundant opportunities

Yesterday, the U.S. Army reported the highest level of suicides among its soldiers since it began tracking the rate 28 years ago. In 2008, there were 128 confirmed suicides and an additional 15 suspected suicides in cases under investigation among active-duty soldiers and activated National Guard and reserves.

The Army continues to study this problem to determine why its suicide-prevention programs are not working, and the extent to which post-combat stress may be a contributing factor. Many of the suicides occur after troops return home. Personal stress -- including financial, relationship and substance-abuse problems -- is a major reason for suicides, but deployments to a war zone may play a larger role.

On Tuesday, my wife spoke to a 28-year young Army veteran while at the sidewalk in front of a neighborhood abortion facility where she counsels pregnant women. He had accompanied his sister there who was planning an abortion. While waiting for his sister, he shared war stories about Iraq with my wife and how he is still haunted by the guys he had to, "take down." He said sadly, "I can still see their faces and hear their voices everyday."

He also shared that since being discharged from the Army last year, he has not been able to find employment or obtain psychological counseling from the Veterans Administration for the combat-related emotional scars he carries. There just aren't enough trained counselors to meet the demands of all the veterans seeking help. He plans on returning to military service soon, in default, because no opportunities await him in the civilian world.

My wife thanked him for protecting our country, expressed sorrow about his traumatic experiences in Iraq, and shared that Jesus is the ultimate "Healer" of his pain and memories. He said he was a believer and admitted, "one day I will regret having brought my sister to this place." Their encounter at the sidewalk ended with my wife expressing sorrow about his sister's situation and giving him literature for his sister about abortion alternatives and post-abortion counseling services along with pink and blue rosaries for each of them. She told him that she would keep both of them in her prayers as he quietly walked away.

Dear God, protect all our brave soldiers and sailors who serve our country and heal them of the emotional scars they carry from their traumatic combat experiences. Bring them home safe and sound to a country that welcomes them with open arms and abundant opportunities.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Unless I forget

This post was accidentally deleted and I am in the process of restoring it.

Thank you for your patience.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

When Tommy Kono speaks wise men listen

After a Sunday evening telephone conversation with Tommy Kono, I decided to resurrect an interview article I wrote in August 2007 for another fitness forum website. It has been modified for today's blogflection at Pierini Fitness.

From the time he won his first Olympic weightlifting gold medal in 1952, Tommy Kono was invincible. He was undefeated internationally until the 1960 Olympic Games, where he took a silver medal. He set a total of 26 world records in 4 weight classes. He also excelled in physique competitions as well, winning the Mr. World contest in 1954 and Mr. Universe contests in 1955, 1957, and 1961.

After his competitive years, Tommy Kono then turned his energies toward coaching. He was the Olympic weightlifting coach for Mexico in 1968, bringing lifters to the Games from a country that had little history in the sport. He then went on to coach the West German Olympic weightlifting team in 1972, and returned to the U.S.A. to coach its team in 1976.He is in the International Weightlifting Federation Hall of Fame, U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame and one of the 100 Golden Olympians honored at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games.

Tommy Kono was born in my hometown of Sacramento, California in 1930. He was a weightlifting buddy of my Dad’s until moving to Hawaii in 1955. I grew up listening to my Dad tell me countless Tommy Kono stories. To make a long story short, during an August 2007 visit to Sacramento, I arranged a surprise 52-year friendship reunion of Tommy Kono and my Dad during his stay as a guest in my home. I had a chance to visit with him at length and he agreed to be interviewed by me for a fitness forum website article.

Grab a chair and get comfortable and enjoy the sage fitness counsel this wise Olympian has to offer.

Pierini: Many new exercise enthusiasts ask questions about a beginner weight-training routine. Please provide a beginner weightlifting routine with set and rep recommendations.

Mr. Kono: I have designed a workout that I call the Kono Plan for increasing overall muscle size and strength. It consists of barbell exercises that concentrate on large muscle groups of the body and on exercises that call into play many muscle groups at one time.

There are 8 exercises that make up the Kono Plan. They are as follows: (1) situps - 1 to 2 sets of 15 to 25 reps - ( 2) overhead press - 2 (later 3) sets of 8 to 12 reps - (3) upright rowing - 2 (later 3) sets of 8 to 12 reps -(4) bench press - 2 (later 3) sets of 8 to 12 reps -(5) bent over rowing - 2 (later 3) sets of 8 to 12 reps -(6) squats - 2 (gradually work up to 4) sets of 8 to 12 reps - (7) breathing pullover - alternate with squat exercise for 12 to 15 reps - (8) deadlift - 2 sets of 8 to 12 reps.

This program is for a 3 days a week training frequency such as Monday-Wednesday-Friday or Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday. Additional details of my Kono Plan are included in my book, "Weightlifting, Olympic Style".

Pierini: How many reps and sets should be performed. What do you believe is the optimum number of sets and reps to perform for (1) strength, (2) hypertrophy, (3) general conditioning and (4) endurance.

Mr. Kono: For strength, I recommend 7-10 sets of 3 reps using heavier weights and longer recovery periods. For hypertrophy, I recommend 3 sets of 8 to 12 reps, and for general conditioning, I recommend 2 sets of 8 to 12 reps. Finally, for endurance, I recommend 3 sets of 8 to 12 reps with the exercises done following a circuit format with very short recovery between circuits.

Pierini: What do you think of training that consists of a single set to failure for each exercise? For example, doing 20 reps of squats, picking a weight that is your 10-rep max, but taking standing rest pauses and continuing until you have completed 20 reps?

Mr. Kono: I believe this is very hard and a different type of training, but the principle is a sound one. In my opinion, it is more mental training. I believe you need a training partner to successfully train this way.

Personally, I have never trained this way although when I was young (about 20 years of age), I performed a 20-rep set of squats using 360 lbs. when I weighed about 154 lbs. At that time my single rep squat best was 420 lbs. Years later at a heavier bodyweight, I tried a 20 rep set of squats with the same 360 lbs. and quit after 14 reps after I told myself I wasn't going to suffer any longer. In your example of picking a weight that is your 10-rep max and completing 20 reps, that weight is not your 10-rep max because if it was, there is no way you could complete 20 reps

Pierini: Should women train any differently from what you have recommended above?

Mr. Kono: No, they have the same muscles.

Pierini: What words of training wisdom do you have for competitive powerlifters to help them to improve their bench press, squat and deadlift performances?

Mr. Kono: I don't have a lot to offer other than to say that they should tax themselves and allow plenty of time to recover.Pierini: Have you ever used kettlebells in your training? What do you think of them?

Mr. Kono: I have never used kettlebells in my training, but I think they are good. I don't see them replacing barbells and dumbbells.
Pierini: Have you ever done just dumbbell only training? What do you think of dumbbell-only training?

Mr. Kono: I have never done dumbbell-only training. I consider dumbbells to be auxiliary or supplemental to barbell training. I believe that weight training should concentrate on using the most weight possible, which you can do more with barbells than with dumbbells.

Pierini: How much attention do you think a weightlifter should devote to macronutrient percentages, for example, the percentages of calories consumed of carbohydrates, protein and fat?

Mr. Kono: I have always favored a high-protein diet. I think carbohydrates are what make you gain or lose weight. I have never paid much attention to macronutrient percentages, instead just concentrating on maintaining a well-balanced diet.

Pierini: How important is meal frequency for the weightlifter/bodybuilder? What frequency did you follow during your competitive days?

Mr. Kono: Your choice of food and amount eaten are very important. Meal frequency is an individual thing depending on how your body responds and your goals. Mostly ate three meals a day, evenly spaced apart. I have a small stomach and cannot eat a lot at one sitting. When I wanted to gain weight, I had to eat more often. When I wanted to lose weight, I went back to three meals a day. Gaining weight was hard for me. Losing weight was easier.

Pierini: What are your thoughts about vitamins, protein and other supplements? What vitamins and supplements did you consume during your competitive days? What vitamins and supplements do you consume now?

Mr. Kono: I am not a nutritionist, but I believe vitamins, protein and other supplements are very important because modern food processing methods do not provide reasonable assurance that you will get all essential nutrients. During my competitive days, I took a multiple vitamin, and additionally Vitamin C, Vitamin E, wheat germ oil and protein drinks. Currently, I still take a multiple vitamin, and additionally Vitamin C, Vitamin E, fish oil capsules, and a glucosomine/chondroitin combination. I don't know if the latter helps me but it sure does help my nails grow faster.

Pierini: How prevalent were steroids during your competitive years in America and other countries? What about now?

Mr. Kono: Steroids came into existence in the early 1960s and then the word steroid was not used to describe these pills; rather they were referred to by their actual name such as Dianabol. This was during the latter part of my competitive years. There was hearsay many years earlier that a Dr. Ziegler, who traveled with the American weightlifting team to Copenhagen and Vienna in 1954, claimed that he spoke to a Russian weightlifting coach who acknowledged that the Russian team was using "something" to enhance their weightlifting performance. I never attached a lot of significance to anything Dr. Ziegler said.  Now, there is random testing of weightlifters to see if they are taking any performance enhancing drugs.

Pierini: How important were training logs and journals to you in your training? Do you still maintain a journal?

Mr. Kono: Training logs and journals were very important to me during my competitive years as I did not have a coach. My training logs and journals were very detailed. I no longer maintain a training log or journal for I am not so goal-oriented as in my competitive years.

Pierini: What is your current training? How many days a week do you train and what exercises do you do? Reps/sets. Free weights versus machines?

Mr. Kono: At 77 years of age, I now exercise to maintain my muscles and health. I train three times a week on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday for about 35 minutes each. There are seven exercises I perform for two sets of 12 reps. My first set is a lighter weight for a warm-up, and then I perform the second set after minimal recovery. The seven exercises that make up my current training are: (1) machine leg press - (2) lat pulldowns - (3) sitting machine bench press - (4) machine abdominal crunches - (5) machine sitting lower back extensions - (6) sitting rear deltoid pullback using the pec deck machine -(7) machine overhead press.

Pierini: Have you ever trained using isometric contractions? What do you think of this training? Did you ever perform the exercises that were part of the Hoffman Functional Isometric Contraction System?

Mr. Kono: I experimented with isometric contractions as outlined in the Bob Hoffman course but found that this way of exercising was not for me. You have to be able to give all that you have for a maximum effort and I wasn't able to do this by myself; it was just too difficult for me. I believe you can fool yourself into thinking that you are giving your maximum effort when, it fact, you are not really. Therefore, in my opinion, this training works better with a training partner who can encourage you to try harder. I personally did not and do not think much of this as a primary training method so there is no sense in me training this way if I do not believe in it.

Pierini: American weightlifters Bill March and Louis Riecke made phenomenal gains in their weightlifting totals in the early 1960s that Bob Hoffman attributed to his Functional Isometric Contraction System? Did this get other lifters into doing isometrics? How prevalent is this training for today's national and world-caliber Olympic lifters?

Mr. Kono: Other lifters tried isometric contractions after observing the gains made by March and Riecke. I do not know how far they went with this training. I do not know how prevalent this training is today for national and world-caliber Olympic lifters.

Pierini: The term "busted up weightlifter syndrome" is used in the bodyweight-only training community to describe guys who are pretty banged up from their days of heavy lifting. How is your back? How are your shoulders? How are your wrists? How are your knees? What about other lifters you know from your competitive years?

Mr. Kono: I have never heard of the term "busted up weightlifter syndrome". It reminds me of when people would say that if you lifted weights you would get "muscle bound". We knew that wasn't true. This term also reminds me of a humorous phrase in the old days that bodybuilders were burnt-out weightlifters. I don't think it exists, but I will say this, if you strive to be the very best, you have to challenge and extend yourself and some injuries will occur. A former Bulgarian Olympic weightlifting coach said it best when he said: "if you go to war there will be casualties."

As far as me, at age 77 my back is good, I have a bad left shoulder, my knees are bad and I had my left hip replaced which I damaged due to my knees. My fellow Olympic team members, specifically Pete George, Isaac Berger, and Chuck Vinci are all doing well with their bodies.

Pierini: How much does America owe Bob Hoffman for his contribution to weightlifting/bodybuilding?

Mr. Kono: Bob Hoffman was the father of barbell and dumbbell training. He stressed the importance of weightlifting for all aspects of fitness, not just strength or appearance. Mr. Hoffman's contribution was tremendous. He gave a lot, including funding the travel costs so the American team could attend world championships.

Pierini: You've written a book called "Weightlifting, Olympic Style". I have read this book and think it is great. It doesn't really cover split style snatches and cleans. Are there any competitive lifters who split snatch or split clean? Your book also doesn't discuss the power jerk or the squat jerk that a small percentage of competitors use. What do you think of the power and squat jerks?

Mr. Kono: Split style snatches and cleans are extremely rare nowadays. They are as obsolete as the "Western roll" high jump technique, you just don't see it. I believe the split jerk is superior to the power jerk and the squat jerk, and will always be the predominant jerk method used by lifters. A competitor has got to have superior leg strength to successfully perform the squat jerk. Most of the time, coming out of the squat is the limiting factor when performing a very heavy clean and jerk so to be able to then squat jerk a heavy weight takes exceptionally strong leg power.

Pierini: You have designed and marketed weightlifting accessories. Tell us a little about these products. Are the knee bands a good knee injury prevention measure for those who do not have any knee problems?

Mr. Kono: I have designed and market Tommy Kono knee bands and waist bands and I believe both of these weightlifting accessories are equally good for lifters who do not have any problems, as a preventative measure, and for lifters who have problems and need extra support and stability.Pierini: What is your website address for our members interested in learning more about you and your weightlifting accessories or your book "Weightlifting, Olympic Style"?

Mr. Kono: My website is

Pierini: Thank you very much for this interview, Mr. Kono, and best wishes for you and your family's good health, fitness and fortune in the coming year. Come back to Sacramento soon. You are always welcome in my home.

Click here for some nostalgic photos and clips of Tommy Kono

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Continuing to march forward

Last Friday was the end of week 3 of my burpee challenge. I felt like I did when in Army basic training 36 years ago this same month of the year. Time seems to move so slow and “graduation day” seems so far to go.

For those who missed my burpee challenge, you can read about it here:

No burpees today no food tomorrow

The following is my third week status report:

A single set of 54 reps of the standard burpee/jumping pullup combo with a different grip for 9 sets of a 6 rep circuit (standard grip pullup – standard grip chinup – close grip pullup – close grip chinup – wide grip pullup – wide grip chinup). Time to complete: 12:02 - last effort was 10:07 on January 13th but there were some differences between the two efforts.

The 12:02 was done using a higher pullup bar than the previous effort, and after an Olympic lift training session that concluded with 5 sets of barbell squats. My prior effort was done with fresh legs during an evening workout that only consisted of the burpees.

A single set of 54 reps of the standard burpee. Note that each rep of my standard burpee includes a strict pushup and a jump with hands overhead. Time to complete: 6:10 - prior week time was 6:34.

A single set of 54 reps of the standard burpee. Time to complete: 6:06 - prior day time was 6:10.

A single set of 54 reps of the standard burpee. Time to complete: 6:05 - prior day time was 6:06.

A single set of 54 reps of the combo of a standard burpee followed by 2 walking lunges with a front kick (left and right) for a total of 54 burpees and 108 walking lunges with a front kick. Time to complete: 14:33 – last effort was 12:28 on January 23rd.

This effort was after an Olympic lift training session that concluded with 6 sets of front squats whereas my prior effort was done during an evening attempt when my body and legs were fresh. That’s my excuse for this dismal effort.

So I've completed week 3 of my burpee challenge. I believe my conditioning continues to slowly but surely improve, even though my times were slower on Monday and Friday when compared to past week efforts. Like the young soldier I was in Army basic training 36 years ago, I am continuing to march forward.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Monday, January 26, 2009

Health advice for President Obama

The Health & Fitness section of my city's online edition of the Sunday newspaper had an article titled "Can you help President Obama quit smoking?" Readers were asked to post their advice for President Obama.

As a fitness and health advice philanthropist, I felt compelled to offer my advice. Here is the advice I gave with some additional clarification in parenthesis that was not included in my original post:

"The best way is to avoid stress because stress triggers it (his desire to smoke). The best way for him to avoid stress is to resign as President because that (job) is stressful. Therefore, I encourage him to resign."

It was just another day in my fitness and health advice ministry, and yesterday it was giving health advice for President Obama.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Sunday, January 25, 2009

4 down and 48 to go

Pierini Fitness is closed today as normal on the fourth Sunday of 2009. I’m resting my body, mind and spirit, thinking about how sore my lats, glutes, quads, and hams are from last Friday’s workout. Visit me tomorrow for another original blogflection about life in the middle-age man fast lane about a topic yet to be determined but guaranteed to be original.

There are 48 remaining Sundays in 2009 so that means 4 down and 48 to go.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Saturday, January 24, 2009

A lot of words about nothing

My blogging journey has given me an appreciation of daily newspaper columnists who day in and day out write something original for their readers. I have a newfound appreciation of the challenge of creating daily and original blogflections, and an awareness of creativity "dryness" that all writers periodically experience.

Today is one of those days for me where I have an episode of creativity dryness. Today's blogflection is nothing more than a 100-word short essay that such a condition exists. I'm not going to resist it but instead learn from it rather than write a lot of words about nothing.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Friday, January 23, 2009

I wish it would rain

Rain finally returned to my city yesterday after weeks of a dry spell. I like it when it rains this time of the year. I'm working long days now and it seems easier to do so when it's raining because I don't have that "I'm missing something" feeling from not being outdoors.

I'm not the only person who wishes it would rain. The great Motown Record's vocal group, The Temptations, sang about it here:

I know to you it may sound strange, but I wish it would rain.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Fiscal fitness checkup

The rhythms of life have predictable patterns for many of us, including resolutions at the start of a new year. Generally, for middle-age man fitness dudes like me, these resolutions center on fitness and health but can and should include personal finances.

One of my new year rituals is to prepare a personal financial statement of our family assets, liabilities and net worth as of December 31st for the year just ended. It gives me a snapshot of our financial resources and obligations, generally not providing me with new information but merely archiving that information for future reference.

Here's a link to a website providing a free personal financial statement template for preparing a financial snapshot of your finances. I suggest you use December 31st of 2008 as a measurement date because you'll have most of the information about your asset values and liability balances as of that date. Chances are you are already sifting through that data as you accumulate the income and deduction information needed to prepare your income tax returns.

Click here for a free personal financial statement template

My advice is to invest some time this month and get a fiscal fitness checkup.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A new appreciation of TGIF

This is the third week of my burpee challenge of performing 54 burpees at the end of my Monday through Friday workouts. I gave a status report of my first week's effort on January 12th here:

So far so good

The following is my second week status report:

A single set of 54 reps of the standard burpee. Note that each rep of my standard burpee includes a strict pushup and a jump with hands overhead.

Time to complete: 7:05 - prior week time was 7:51.

A single set of 54 reps of the burpee/jumping pullup/double front kick combo with a different grip for a 6 reps circuit (standard grip pullup – standard grip chinup – close grip pullup – close grip chinup – wide grip pullup – wide grip chinup). I did the pushup part of the burpee using the pushup handles on the bottom of my pullup/bar dip work exercise equipment, so my pushup depth was much deeper.

Time to complete: 10:07 - prior week time was 10:25 but did not include the double front kick.

A single set of 54 reps of a combo that included a burpee at the end. I used a pair of 15 lb dumbbells - the only ones I own - collecting dust in my basement to perform a combo of bent over dumbbell rows/dumbbell overhead swings/dumbbell squat and overhead press (also known as thrusters)/standard burpee equals 1 rep.

Time to complete: 13:21 - no prior time for comparison. This was a tough one! The toughest part of this combo was the dumbbell squat and overhead press. I definitely don't want to go much heavier with this one since I'm doing 54 reps, maybe 20 lb. next time.

A single set of 54 reps of the combo of a standard burpee followed by 2 walking lunges with a front kick (left and right). This was the first time I tried this combo and realized afterwards that I completed 108 front kicks.

Time to complete: 12:28 - no prior time for comparison.

A single set of 54 reps of the standard burpee.

Time to complete: 6:34 - an improvement over Monday's time of 7:05.

My times are slowly improving but are much slower than the past when I was doing higher-volume bodyweight-only training, burpees and running. Training in the Olympic lifts has definitely resulted in some cardiovascular erosion. I'll keep at it and I'm sure my times will continue to improve.

This Monday through Friday burpee challenge is a tough-as-nails closing chore to my workouts. One thing about them is that they have given me a new appreciation of TGIF.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Breath of life

Breathing is something I take for granted because in most instances, my normal breathing rhythm matches the oxygen requirements of my body. That changes, however, when I'm engaged in rigorous fitness activities - such as doing a set of burpees, taking a run or some other anaerobic activity - that create an oxygen deficit. I'm more aware of my breathing when this happens, because I've gone from unconscious hardly working breathing to conscious working hard breathing.

There's an early morning breathing exercise I sometimes perform to start my day with breathing awareness, and an appreciation for my breath of life. I like to do it lying on my back in bed with my hands folded and resting on my stomach, with an easy view of a clock or watch that measures seconds. The exercise uses diaphragmatic breathing - also known as abdominal breathing, belly breathing or deep breathing - which is the act of breathing deep into your lungs by flexing your diaphragm rather than breathing shallowly by flexing your rib cage.

Begin the first minute with 10 breaths per minute - 3 seconds to inhale and 3 seconds to exhale for one breath. For each subsequent minute, you take one less breath per minute so that's 9 breaths per minute for the second minute, 8 breaths per minute for the third minute and so on, until the tenth minute where you take one breath lasting an entire minute - 30 seconds to inhale and 30 seconds to exhale.

If time is precious and you can't spare 10 minutes, try it for 5 minutes. Begin the first minute just like the 10-minute drill - 10 breaths per minute or 3 seconds to inhale and 3 seconds to exhale for one breath. Then take 2 less breaths for each subsequent minute so that's 8 breaths per minute for the second minute, 6 breaths per minute for the third minute, 4 breaths per minute for the fourth minute and 2 breaths per minute for the final fifth minute.

After you've completed this exercise, don't be surprised if you feel like staying in bed all day and doing more rounds of this exercise. One thing is for sure - it will give you an appreciation of your breath of life.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Monday, January 19, 2009

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, a United States holiday marking the birthdate of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., observed on the third Monday of January each year, around the time of Dr. King’s birthday, January 15th.

In the words of his wife, the late Coretta Scott King, “the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday celebrates the life and legacy of a man who brought hope and healing to America. We commemorate as well the timeless values he taught us through his example -- the values of courage, truth, justice, compassion, dignity, humility and service that so radiantly defined Dr. King’s character and empowered his leadership. On this holiday, we commemorate the universal, unconditional love, forgiveness and nonviolence that empowered his revolutionary spirit.”

Below are a few selected quotes of this great American civil rights leader:

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

“Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”

“Now, I say to you today my friends, even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: - ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal’.”

“I submit to you that if a man hasn’t discovered something he will die for, he isn’t fit to live.”

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

Today we honor the life and legacy of a great American with an American holiday bearing his name - Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Thank you President George W. Bush

President George W. Bush declared today, Sunday, January 18, 2009, National Sanctity of Life Day, 2009. Below is a proclamation he issued:

All human life is a gift from our Creator that is sacred, unique, and worthy of protection. On National Sanctity of Human Life Day, our country recognizes that each person, including every person waiting to be born, has a special place and purpose in this world. We also underscore our dedication to heeding this message of conscience by speaking up for the weak and voiceless among us.

The most basic duty of government is to protect the life of the innocent. My Administration has been committed to building a culture of life by vigorously promoting adoption and parental notification laws, opposing Federal funding for abortions overseas, encouraging teen abstinence, and funding crisis pregnancy programs. In 2002, I was honored to sign into law the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, which extends legal protection to children who survive an abortion attempt. I signed legislation in 2003 to ban the cruel practice of partial-birth abortion, and that law represents our commitment to building a culture of life in America. Also, I was proud to sign the Unborn Victims of Violence Act of 2004, which allows authorities to charge a person who causes death or injury to a child in the womb with a separate offense in addition to any charges relating to the mother.

America is a caring Nation, and our values should guide us as we harness the gifts of science. In our zeal for new treatments and cures, we must never abandon our fundamental morals. We can achieve the great breakthroughs we all seek with reverence for the gift of life.

The sanctity of life is written in the hearts of all men and women. On this day and throughout the year, we aspire to build a society in which every child is welcome in life and protected in law. We also encourage more of our fellow Americans to join our just and noble cause. History tells us that with a cause rooted in our deepest principles and appealing to the best instincts of our citizens, we will prevail.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim January 18, 2009, as National Sanctity of Human Life Day. I call upon all Americans to recognize this day with appropriate ceremonies and to underscore our commitment to respecting and protecting the life and dignity of every human being.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this fifteenth day of January, in the year of our Lord two thousand nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-third.

Thank you President George W. Bush.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Opportunity 2009 words of wisdom

Yesterday I received a letter from a client, friend and financial consultant with words of wisdom about the current economic environment. What follows is an excerpt of his letter with some minor edits for clarity by this chief executive blogger.

"We are graced with an opportunity in 2009. The constructive attitude I personally implement and recommend during challenging times includes perspectives as follows:

Perspective #1 - there are more ups than downs
All aspects of life have inevitable up and down cycles, including the economy and our investments. In respect to our investment experience, please note the upward trend line of the stock and bond market over the last 80 years.

Perspective #2 - negative recreates the positive
Lessons are always available as a result of the attitude we maintain during the negative cycles. While past performance is not indicative of future results and market conditions of the past differ than those of today, historically growth often follows, and we can look back and see how the negative has been instrumental to recreating the positive.

Perspective #3 - faith and trust creates vision
It is our faith and trust in the opportunity of life that moves us to get up every day, regardless of the challenge of yesterday. So too, the United States and international community are applying the same faith, trust and action to create solutions for an ever evolving economic and investment process.

Perspective #4 - maintain a long-term perspective
It is always darkest before dawn; however, the dawn always unfolds. Market bottoms often emerge when investors are most pessimistic. The marketplace seems to be incapable of finding its way in a sustainable manner, and expectations are extremely low for business earnings and market growth. We are most likely still in a "cleaning and rebuilding the house" mode. Now is the time, more than ever, to keep a cool head and maintain a long-term perspective.

Perspective #5 - we are not alone
We are not alone as we experience the travails of life and finances. We have the opportunity to be supported and to support others. Creativity unfolds in personal and government action to meet these challenges and life goes on.

Perspective #6 - affirm success
Hold the vision for what is important to you, commit to action, and affirm success in reaching your objectives, goals and aspirations. This same attitude is critical to manifesting a successful lifetime financial picture."

Thank you very much my client, friend and financial consultant for your opportunity 2009 words of wisdom.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Friday, January 16, 2009

Listen to Albert Einstein

Yesterday I attended a continuing education seminar and a couple of PowerPoint “slide” presentations were the following quotes from the great scientist Albert Einstein:

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results.”

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”

What great reminders for me to think outside my box, expand my horizons when confronted with challenging and complex issues and tasks, and listen to Albert Einstein.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Thursday, January 15, 2009

What is the sound of one hand clapping?

When I was a young boy, I watched my grandmother when she would sometimes talk to herself. When she noticed that I was watching her, she'd tell me that it was OK to talk to yourself but if you answered back it meant that you were crazy. I sometimes wonder what she would think of people if she came back from heaven for a day and observed them on their cell phones walking down the street or in their cars appearing that they are talking to themselves.

During my blogging journey that began 141 days ago, I oftentimes feel that I am talking to myself when posting my daily blogflections at Pierini Fitness. Writing blogflections is like making an entry in a private diary but instead of tucking it under my bed pillow when finished, I paint it on a cyberspace canvas for others to "see" my cyberspace art of middle-age man reflections about this and that. But what if nobody showed up to the blog gallery to view my art?

Thanks, however, to the curious souls who surf the internet in search of this and that, I have comfort in knowing that others are viewing my cyberspace art blogflections. During the last three months of 2008, Pierini Fitness had 1,645 visitors who accounted for 3,309 visits and viewed 6,513 pages, spending an average time of 2:19 per visit. Visitors from the U.S.A., Canada and the United Kingdom accounted for 91 percent of all visitors. The other visitors were a more geographically diverse group from 44 countries.

What a sigh of relief! It's nice to not be alone at least not all of the time. What if I had a big party and nobody came? What if I started a business and had no customers? What if I died and nobody came to my funeral? What is I started a blog and nobody viewed my blogflections?

What is the sound of one hand clapping?

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Treating myself to a Green 3 cocktail

Inspired by a cyberspace fitness brother's discussion, about 6 weeks ago I went to my local health food store and purchased 10 individual serving packets of a powdered green drink - that stuff that looks pond scum mixed in water. My friend wrote about his improved fitness performance when he drank one of these powdered green drinks before his workout.

Well I eventually finished all 10 packets and didn't notice any improved training performance. In all honesty, I wasn't doing any maximum-effort anaerobic training at the time like my friend, so perhaps I should temper my conclusion about the benefits of powdered green drinks for another day.

Drinking these powdered green drinks reminded me of several years ago when I was into "juicing" - making fruit and vegetable juices from fresh fruits and vegetables using a homemade juicing machine. After much experimentation with several fruit and vegetable juice concoctions, I eventually strayed into the green zone. After developing the necessary acquired taste, I actually began enjoying a green vegetable juice I coined my "Green 3" cocktail.

The Green 3 cocktail is made using equal parts of spinach, celery and cucumbers. An 8 to 12 ounce drink served in a chilled drinking glass does the job. It will also give you an Incredible Hulk-looking tongue.

Lately I've been thinking about resurrecting my juicer to the kitchen countertop from the kitchen cabinet below where it sits and collects dust. Maybe this weekend I'll visit the produce department at my local health food store, buy some spinach, celery and cucumbers, and treating myself to a Green 3 cocktail.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The day we went our separate way

The exact day escapes me but I'm guessing it was almost two years ago. Who would have thought we wouldn't spend our entire life together because we had been together for so long. I remember the first glance so ever long ago, knowing that it was love at first sight; we spent countless hours together - morning, day and night.

As our relationship grew, I remember the time we spent together increased to the point that it started to be more important than the other things I could and should be doing with my time. As is often the case in all relationships, however, there came a point when I took things for granted. I became complacent, and soon found that I wasn't excited in the relationship as before.

I became less and less aroused in the company of my partner and even had episodes of performance anxiety when I found it increasing difficult to do it. Intimacy started to fade and before long I became interested, again, in going to places I hadn't been in a while and doing things with different people. This continued for a while until it was time for me to get honest - to break the news that our relationship was over. We could still remain friends and cherish the good times spent together, but that inseparable relationship bonded by a deep love for each other was now a thing of our past.

As is the case in all broken relationships, there was initial hurt and a sense of loneliness especially at night. Holidays and special occasions were also tough because of all the pleasant memories of the time we spent together. But by reaching out to others, and responding to the invitations to go here and do this and that, new healthy activities and relationships started to be a part of my life. Once again, life now had meaning, purpose and zeal. It was like being in love all over again.

Every now and then I look back and remember the family television that I gave away, and the day we (my television and I) went our separate way.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Monday, January 12, 2009

So far so good

Last Monday I began a Monday through Friday commitment of performing a single set of 54 burpees at the end of my workouts. I wrote about it here:

No burpees today no food tomorrow

Well I survived week one and am ready for week two of this challenge. Here’s a quick summary of last week’s effort:

A single set of 54 reps of the standard burpee demonstrated in the video.

A single set of 54 reps of a modified burpee, replacing the jump with a double front kick. This modification is easier on my knees but much more demanding on my hip flexor muscles.

A single set of 54 reps of the burpee/jumping pullup combo with a different grip for a 6 reps circuit (standard grip pullup – standard grip chinup – close grip pullup – close grip chinup – wide grip pullup – wide grip chinup). I did the pushup part of the burpee using the pushup handles on the bottom of my pullup/bar dip work exercise equipment, so my pushup depth was much deeper.

A single set of 54 reps of the standard burpee, the same as Monday.

A single set of 54 reps of the burpee/jumping pullup combo with pullups and chinups performed as follows: standard grip pullups for reps 1-10 – standard grip chinups for reps 11-20 – close grip pullups for reps 21-30 – close grip chinups for reps 31-40 – standard grip pullups for reps 41-47 – standard grip chinups for reps 48-54. Like Wednesday, I used the pushup handles so my push depth was deeper than a standard pushup.

This week I’ll try some new burpee variations and am looking forward to better performance. I survived week one - so far so good.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sunday playful deeds and jokes

Today is the second Sunday of 2009 and, once again, Pierini Fitness is closed so the chief executive blogger can relax and rest his body, mind and spirit. Come back tomorrow for another middle-age man reflection about a topic yet to be determined but guaranteed to be original.

We all have our Sunday ways of relaxing our minds. Here’s what St. Thomas Aquinas had to say about relaxation of the mind:

“It is requisite for the relaxation of the mind that we make use, from time to time, of playful deeds and jokes.”

That sounds mentally relaxing to me. I’m going to relax my mind today with a feast of Sunday playful deeds and jokes.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The party is over in four Saturdays

Last April 16th I made a bold change to my work schedule lifestyle and began working on Tuesday through Thursday from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Other than about four weeks that required me to be flexible and work more, I did a good job of sticking to this schedule. Being self-employed and having a seasonal workload the first four months of the year made this lifestyle possible. It worked amazingly well and I'll probably do it again this year beginning on April 16th.

But now I'm about to begin my busy work season. Starting in February I'll work a lot harder - longer days and six days a week - probably 225 hours in February, 250 hours in March and 170 hours the first half of April. Sunday will continue to be my well-deserved day to rest my body, mind and soul.

Supposedly I'm well rested from this relaxing work schedule lifestyle and should be ready to raise my work ethic bar to work some serious hours. Beginning in February, I'll start working on Saturday so the pleasure of a standard Saturday and Sunday weekend will temporarily no longer be mine.

That means the party is over in four Saturdays.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Friday, January 9, 2009

It just doesn't pass the smell test

President-elect Barack Obama said Thursday the recession could last for years unless Congress infuses unprecedented sums from Washington into the economy.

Mr. Obama is proposing a huge infusion of taxpayer dollars to revive the critically ill national economy by borrowing money from the taxpayers he is trying to save.

"A bad situation could become dramatically worse," Mr. Obama said, painting a dire picture - including double-digit unemployment and $1 trillion in lost economic activity.

What is the source of these unprecedented sums from Washington with a federal budget deficit projected to reach an unprecedented $1.2 trillion ($1,200,000,000,000) this year, nearly three times last year's record. The answer is borrowed money and increases in the money supply not supported by real economic activities, because the federal government's bank coffers are broke and have been for a long time.

And how will the federal government repay this enormous debt? With higher taxes paid by the same taxpayers who will be "saved" with this misguided approach to fixing the economy. And with cheaper dollars from future inflation caused by fake increases in money from these fake economic rescue tactics. Cheaper dollars that will make our productivity and savings worth less tomorrow than what they are worth today.

It just doesn't pass the smell test.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Thursday, January 8, 2009

A day older

On Monday and Tuesday, I attended continuing education seminars required to keep my job skills current and to comply with professional license requirements. These daylong seminars were well attended with upwards of 300 people both days. I enjoy these annual knowledge updates delivered "bricks and mortar" style rather than getting my education in cyberspace because of the social interaction. I'm able to chitchat with fellow professionals I haven't seen lately.

I've been attending seminars like these for over 25 years, beginning as a professional "youngster" and now being slightly past the middle-age point of my career. I've seen the old-timers pass on and those who were once what I am now age to become the elder statesmen of my profession. Humorous verbal sparring with these "oldsters" - both giving and receiving - makes for an enjoyable day.

On Monday, I approached my middle and elder age men and women comrades with greetings followed by an exclamatory "hey, you're a year older!" That brought a guaranteed chuckle 100 percent of the time. Those who were quick-witted had an immediate response for me. We both had fun with our aging reality.

The following day, I approached some of these same people with a good morning greeting that was followed by another exclamatory "hey you're a day older!" That had the same result as the previous day - a guaranteed morning laugh before we all sat down to feed our brains with an overwhelming update of tax law changes.

Give this a try if you are ever in a similar situation. It works best with people you've known for a long time but see infrequently, and who are middle to elder age in their lives. It will produce a guaranteed laugh and set the stage for great conversation to follow. But before you put this chuckle-maker to work, begin your day by looking at yourself in the mirror and notice that you are a day older.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

A video exercise demo worth 1,000 words

About two years ago I had a friend record a short video of me demonstrating five bodyweight-only exercises. I’ve recently resumed a brief early morning body limbering workout lasting between 5 to 10 minutes and one of the exercises I am doing is the 4-count cherry picker, demonstrated beginning at 0:28 of the video.

In my blogflection yesterday, I stated that there’s nothing new under the sun and that certainly is the case with exercises like these. That being said, watching a video can oftentimes motivate me to try something new and maybe that will be the case with you. These exercises are easy to perform so there’s no need for me to give you a long-winded explanation because I've given you a video exercise demo worth worth 1,000 words.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

There's nothing new under the sun

One of my clients sent me an e-mail the other day of the following quote:

"The budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest Rome become bankrupt. People must again learn to work,instead of living on public assistance."

If you thought this was something you heard during the most recent Presidential election, then you’ll be surprised to learn that it was actually said almost 2,100 years ago in 63 B.C. by Marcus Tillius Cicero (106-43 B.C.), a Roman statesman, philosopher and orator.

Click here to read more quotes of Cicero

This proves, once again, that there’s nothing new under the sun.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Monday, January 5, 2009

No burpees today no food tomorrow

After much deliberation, or maybe it’s hesitation and procrastination, I’ve made a business decision that it’s time to include a regular dose of burpees in my training. Starting today and until my birthday next month, every Monday through Friday I’ll perform a single set of 54 burpees at the end of my workout. Where does the number 54 come from? That’s how old I’ll be on my next birthday.

Here’s a short video demonstration I found on Youtube of the burpees I'll perform most of the time; I'll perform some other variations on some days that do not have a jump to give my knees a rest:

Wish me luck and hold me accountable but rest assured that I’ll live up to this task. How do I know? Because I’ve given myself some punitive motivation - no burpees today no food tomorrow.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Sunday, January 4, 2009

First Sunday of 2009

Today is the first Sunday of 2009. It’s no different than any other Sunday because Pierini Fitness is closed so the chief executive blogger can rest his body, mind and spirit. But do come back tomorrow for a visit and read another rambling middle-age man blogflection about a topic yet to be determined but guaranteed to be original.

Enjoy your first Sunday of 2009.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Middle-age man in motion

On New Year's Eve morning at Starbuck's Coffee, I asked the worker who was taking my order if she was a track athlete in high school. I'm guessing she is between 55 and 60 years of age. She said yes that she ran track in high school, and was curious why I asked. The reason was I noticed her initial take off speed was athletic-like and fast as she moved from the cash register to other areas behind the counter when filling customer orders.

Driving to work, I thought about what people see when watching me in motion. Do I move like an athlete with explosive take off speed and a brisk pace when walking or taking a flight of stairs; or do I move like a lethargic middle-age man strolling at a snail's pace with hands in my pocket whistling Dixie?

Do I have a strong lower back arch, chest expanded, upper body uprightness, and a ready and strong rooted stance capable of lifting a heavy load; or do I have a forward lean accompanied by a frail look of ready to collapse if a heavy load was placed in my carrying arms?

What's my truth when in motion has been my question since that morning observation.

As middle-age men, it's easy for us to lack rigorous honesty in assessments of our physical self. I wrote about this deceptive predisposition in one of my past blogflections here:

Every man who looks in the mirror sees a 16 year old kid

What about you? Join me as I think about what people see when looking at this middle-age man in motion.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Friday, January 2, 2009

Training efficiency at its best

A busy work season is one of the many things I associate with the start of a new year. I work the hardest at my job during the three-month period beginning the middle of January and continuing until April 15th. Between now and the start of that busy work season, I’ll attend continuing professional education seminars required as a condition of my professional license. So for all practical purposes, I’ll be busy starting now until April 15th.

That means fewer exercise training days, and shorter workout durations. This is not something new for me; it’s been that way for a long time.

One of my earlier blogflections discussed that something is better than nothing when it comes to training during time-challenged periods. You can read about it here: Something is better than nothing

My something is better than nothing mindset will once again be my fitness maintenance trick the next couple of months. It’s training efficiency at its best.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year 2009!

With my heart beating, my lungs breathing, my brain working, my ears hearing and my eyes seeing, I realize that I am alive and well to begin a new year - I made it! Thanks be to God for all the blessings He has given me.

Happy New Year 2009!

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum