Friday, July 31, 2009

A Helper of God's Precious Infants

Those who know me in cyberspace and in the real world generally are aware of my profound belief that life begins at conception and ends only when God decides and not anyone else. The misguided might use the term “pro-life radical” to describe people like me.

While pro-lifers are generally identified by their opposition to abortion, their life begins at conception beliefs cover a longer lifespan than just unborn infants. Many pro-lifers, like me, oppose any form of euthanasia or comfort killing, including any health care proposal seeking to deny lifesaving medical care to anyone just because they are elderly and likely soon to die. Many pro-lifers, like me, also oppose capital punishment. These are beliefs that make us the target of mean-spirited gestures and words in debates and other interactions with those who believe differently. I’ve seen more middle-finger variations than you can imagine because of my pro-life beliefs.

Currently, I’m involved in the front-end of the pro-life world by praying, encouraging and offering support to pregnant mothers that they will choose life for their unborn infants rather than abortion. Here are two past Pierini Fitness blogflections where I’ve written about my pro-life activities:

Blessings from the sidewalk

Hermanos y hermanas de la Ciudad de Mexico

Here’s an amateur video I recently produced for use in promoting our local Helpers of God’s Precious Infants' apostolate:

So besides being the self-appointed ambassador of middle-age men around the world and a middle-age man fitness dude, I’m also a Helper of God’s Precious Infants.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Thursday, July 30, 2009

How an old man trains with barbells

My Dad is scheduled to turn 83 years young on August 14th and still spends time in his garage pushing and pulling the iron. He’s an old school guy whose lifting almost exclusively consists of barbell training. As a caregiver for my disabled sister, he applies the strength he maintains from lifting weights to everyday caregiver tasks like getting her in and out of the bathtub or sitting her on the toilet. It’s an acquired skill requiring balance and coordination but strength is also necessary.

As is common among children of aging parents, I often ask my Dad if he has any aches or pains or if he has any health conditions giving him trouble. He generally responds in the negative. One thing I’ve learned in these question and answer sessions is that aging parents, like the rest of us, generally like to give the impression that all is well even if it is not. They always seem to have the right answers to our probing and well-intended questions. They don’t want us to worry about little things like their health and well-being, so having a watchful eye and looking for little clues is a tricky way to get some assuring confirmation that all is reasonably well. My Dad does confess that he has pain on the bottom of his feet and some days this pain is a nuisance and source of discomfort when he walks.

One thing I’ve observed about my Dad is that he moves slowly but he always has been slow in his movement; I think that is how he is wired. I’ve also observed him bend over and squat down to pick something off the floor and bounce back up effortlessly. This has caught my attention and left me impressed more than once, and I regularly compliment him on his up and down agility. He attributes this to his leg strength from regular heavy squat barbell training when he was younger and the legwork he currently does on the hack squat exercise machine in his garage.

Like an old school barbell guy, he trains at least twice a week in his garage, sometimes three times, and performs 2 to 3 sets of between 6 and 12 reps of the bench press, upright row, bent over row, and military press. The weight he uses for these exercises is age-appropriate and safe for someone training alone. He completes a similar number of sets using the hack squat exercise machine and does some weighted neck work using a head harness. He’s never been a big cardio guy but lately he has been spending time walking on the treadmill in his garage.

A topic on my blogflections to write list is one that chronicles an actual training day of my Dad in his garage with some short video footage. It would be great to do that on his 83rd birthday and that will be my goal. If not his birthday due to conflicts with his schedule and mine, then as close to his birthday as possible.

I think it would be a great Pierini Fitness read, a blogflection of how an old man trains with barbells.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Your advice is respectfully sought

In less than one month Pierini Fitness will celebrate its one year anniversary of the day it burst into the blogosphere universe on August 28, 2008, joining thousands and, perhaps, millions of other bloggers around the world who think they have something important to say or are just having fun blogging. How time flies when us bloggers are having fun.

Naturally all kinds of thoughts swarm through my head as I approach this one-year anniversary. Should Pierini Fitness continue or should the chief executive blogger retire and move on to something else more productive? Even if not productive, the average of 15 minutes I spend daily writing my blogflections could be spent taking a quick nap, or spending more quality time with my wife, or performing more random acts of kindness, or getting neglected chores done, blah, blah, blah, the opportunities are infinite.

As shared before, composing these blogflections has been fun and, believe it or not, relaxing because it gives me a time out from the real world in which I live, a siesta to let my mind wander in reflection-land like a child spending a day at Disneyland, like that great daydream we wander into during the middle of the day unbeknownst to us and others around us. Good stuff for sure.

Then there are all the questions that I have if Pierini Fitness continues. Should I continue in my self-appointed role as ambassador of middle-age men around the world, advocating their interests and writing about the way life was, the way life is and the way life should be? Should I expand my horizon beyond middle-age man fitness and health, reflective ramblings and occasional economic and political thoughts?

Does my blog front page need a makeover? Perhaps a new photo, different colors and a new layout?

There’s so much to consider and so little time to think about it.

So maybe you can help. Tell me what you think. The pleasure of your advice is respectfully sought.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Back to the drawing board?

An internet news article that caught my eye is the topic of today’s blogflection - several Democrat and Republican lawmakers acknowledge that President Obama’s ambitious health care reform will not pass without the aid of doubtful Republicans whose members are almost united against the White House plan.

While it may be too early for taxpayers to breathe sighs of relief, this news is nonetheless comforting. How much more effort will be required before us taxpayers attend the funeral of this anti-competitive, anti-consumer misguided proposal?

A July 24, 2009 Fortune Magazine internet article reminds us of the five key freedoms we’d lose if the President’s health care reform became law. You can read the article for the details but here’s are one-liners of what these at freedom risks are:

1) Freedom to choose what’s in your plan

2) Freedom to be rewarded for health living, or pay your real costs

3) Freedom to choose high deductible coverage

4) Freedom to keep your existing plan

5) Freedom to choose your doctors

It’s always been my opinion that the health care reform ideas of unsuccessful Presidential candidate John McCain were better for improving our health care delivery system. They were based on these guiding principles:

1) Give families more control and choice of their health insurance and medical care choices.

2) Make more individuals and families eligible for health insurance tax credits.

3) Improve health care and reduce costs by promoting competition among health care insurers.

While John McCain’s general principles lack the detail of the scary details emerging with President Obama’s health care reform proposals, it’s also clear that these sound principles are not visibly present in the President’s plan. This is scary because the President’s plan lacks free market forces of competition and consumerism needed for real health care reform. Competition and consumerism work great when we shop for a new automobile or buy groceries so why not with health care?

Is it too late to go back to the drawing board?

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Monday, July 27, 2009

Back on the IF saddle

Last week I took a time out from my Monday through Friday intermittent fasting (IF) lifestyle. It’s a week later and my time out is now over.

How did it go? Glad you asked.

Quite well, thank you. While I didn’t keep food journal notes, last week is still fresh in my mind. Interesting is that I probably ate less on Monday and Tuesday than what I normally eat on an IF day, maybe ate a little more on Wednesday and Thursday, and about the same on Friday. It seems that I ate about the same on Saturday and Sunday as the prior week, both days of which are non-IF days.

My bodyweight remained about the same the past two weeks, fluctuating as it normally does. What follows is my daily bodyweight in lbs. Note that the first weight listed was last week during my IF-time out and the next weight was the prior week when I followed my IF-lifestyle.

Monday – 176.5 - 177.5
Tuesday – 176.0 - 176.5
Wednesday – 176.0 - 174.5
Thursday – 176.5 - 176.5
Friday – 177.5 - 177.5
Saturday – 177.5 - 176.0
Sunday - 177.5 - 176.0

Actually, if you do the math, my average daily bodyweight last week during my IF-time out was 0.4 lbs. higher than the previous week.

Last week’s time out was fun and a refreshing change of pace but it’s great to be back on the IF saddle.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Often imitated but never duplicated

How time flies when you are having fun and that is what this chief executive blogger of Pierini Fitness has been doing; having fun banging out one clever blogflection after another this past week. There’s only so much clever and creative fuel in my mind tank so a deserving rest is the order of today. It’s Sunday and, like clockwork, Pierini Fitness is closed so the chief executive blogger can rest his body, mind and spirit.

The last couple of months have been relaxing for me at work with a Tuesday through Thursday from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. work schedule. This has given me lots of time to ponder middle-age man life and compose some fun blogflections. People sometimes comment that it must take a lot of time to write my daily blogflections; believe it or not, it doesn’t. What I’ve learned in my blogging journey is that God has blessed me with the an ability to do this kind of writing swiftly once the topic is embedded in my mind. On average, I spend 15 minutes or less composing the daily blogflections you read here at Pierini Fitness. If only I could be so good and so swift in other aspects of my life.

Starting next week and for the next couple of weeks, I have a client assignment that will require me to work as most people do, Monday through Friday for at least a standard 40-hour work week. I’m trembling at that thought but am sure that all will be fine, although Monday might be a little bumpy. How this will impact my ability to cyber-deliver my daily blogflections at Pierini Fitness remains to be seen so stay tuned to find out.

Check back tomorrow for another blogflection about a topic yet to be determined but guaranteed to be creative and original. My Pierini Fitness blogflections are often imitated but never duplicated.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Will work for food

An internet news headline that caught my attention – “Eating Habits in the Obese May Echo Drug Addicts’ Patterns” - was reported Wednesday in an article by HealthDay News.

The article reported that when researchers gave similarly "sinful" snacks to obese and non-obese women, the healthy-weight women wanted less of the treat over time, but obese women wanted more. An article on this research study appears in the August 2009 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

All participants in the research study were asked to "work" for their food by performing tasks for which points were earned toward eating. Researchers discovered that non-obese women who snacked on 300-calorie portions exhibited no increase in motivation to eat, but motivation did increase in obese women who consumed the larger portion.

"They actually worked harder for the food," said Jennifer Temple, lead author of the research study. In some cases, women still wanted the food even though they didn't like it, a behavior similar to that seen in drug addicts. Ms. Temple stopped short of calling overeating an addiction but commented that she thinks it has all the same properties.

So the next time you have some chores requiring a reliable helping hand, don’t strike out by asking your “Slim Jim” friend. Instead, go buy some sinful snacks and ask your fatso food addict friend who, more than likely, will work for food.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Friday, July 24, 2009

PR or try again?

At the end of my hit and miss Wednesday afternoon workout, I got the bright idea to test myself with weighted standard grip pullups to see if I might pull off a new personal record (PR). My current PR is 82.5 lbs. of added weight set over 2 years ago at a bodyweight about 5 lbs. higher than my current weight.

My performance standards are that a weighted pullup does not have to begin from a dead hang (ouch on my elbows as the weight gets heavy) but there must not be any jumping momentum as I begin my upward pull (standard #1). Additionally, my chin must clear the bar (standard #2). Other people may have their own standards but these are mine.

So after a warmup consisting of 2 sets of 3 reps with just my bodyweight, I began a short singles progression that consisted of 45 lbs., 70 lbs. and finally a PR attempt of 85 lbs. Here's the video of my 85 lb. PR attempt:

Afterwards, I performed a set of of bodyweight pullups for 15 reps and failed on the 16th rep.

For the 85 lb. PR attempt, I'm satisfied that there was no jumping momentum as I began my upward pull (standard #1) but not totally convinced that my chin cleared the bar (standard #2).

Please tell me what you see, PR or try again?

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Sleeping on the couch

The honeymoon is over and the American public is starting to feel uneasy with President Obama’s economic leadership according a new USA Today/Gallup Poll released this week. Apparently, we have become more pessimistic about the American economy and when the current recession will end.

According to this poll, at six months in office, President Obama’s 55% approval rating puts him 10th among 12th post-World War presidents at this point in their tenures.

Here’s a synopsis from the USA Today website:

Percentage of Americans who approve of the way President Obama is handling:

Iraq - 57%

Afghanistan - 56%

Economy - 47%

Health care policy - 44%

Federal budget deficit - 41%

Source: USA TODAY/Gallup Poll of 1,006 adults July 17-19; margin of error: +/- 4 percentage points.

We all knew the honeymoon would end sooner or later but this is definitely very soon. Just like the first spat that married newlyweds eventually face, it looks like the American public bride is telling the Presidential groom that he is going to be spending some nights sleeping on the couch.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Rest and recovery

Today I’m going to eat throughout the day as I did yesterday and the day before. What! That’s not intermittent fasting (IF), a lifestyle that I follow Monday through Friday and really enjoy so what’s up? Nothing special but I made a “business decision” that I was going to take this week off from IF’ing it, just like we all periodically do with our fitness training and take a week off.

I’m still committed to a Monday through Friday IF evening food delivery schedule to meet my daily nutrition requirements and continue to enjoy the IF lifestyle and its convenience and simplicity. It will be interesting to see how my body responds to this time out and how much more or less I’ll eat this week.

Rest assured my IF brothers and sisters, there’s no reason to panic because I am not abandoning you. I’m merely taking a one week IF time out for some rest and recovery.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Singles progression

It’s natural in fitness training to chase and set a personal best or personal record (PR) in the various exercises that make up our training mix. In the running world, a PR may be the time it takes to sprint 100 meters or 400 meters, or run a longer distance such as 5k or 10k. In the bodyweight-only exercise world, it may be the number of pushup or pullup reps you can complete in a single set. In the world of static isometric postures, it may be the time you can hold a handstand, hang from a pullup bar or hold an ab plank. At one time or another, I’ve chased and set PRs in these exercises and got fitter and had fun in my pursuits.

Many chase PRs involving the maximum weight they can lift for a single rep, such as the bench press, deadlift or squat in the power lifting universe, or the snatch and clean and jerk in the Olympic weightlifting universe. In my short and recent Olympic weightlifting journey, I’ve chased and set PRs in the snatch and clean and jerk. As modest as my PRs are to the outside world, they are sources of accomplishment and pride for me.

I’ve also chased PRs with weighted pullups and weighted bar dips for a single rep. My best weighted pullup is 82.5 lbs. My best weighted chinup is 100 lbs. My best weighted bar dip is 105 lbs. Again, in the worldwide universe of fitness dudes chasing PRs, my accomplishments are modest but they are mine and I’m proud of them.

A time-tested and proven way that I use to test for a PR is singles progression. Let’s say I want to test myself for a weighted pullup and attempt a PR. I might warm up performing 2 to 3 sets of 3 reps of bodyweight (BW) pullups and then start a singles progression with added weight. For example, about 6 weeks ago I decided that I wanted to chase a new PR in weighted standard grip pullups and chinups. During one training session with standard grip pullups, this is what I did (all amounts are lbs.) - BWx3 – 25x1 – 35x1 – 45x1 – 55x1 – 70x1. I decided not to go any higher as I didn’t believe that a PR was possible. Then, I did a standard grip chinup for 88x1 and called it a day. Note that I have not yet set a new PR for the weighted standard grip pullup but have since done 80x1. It’s just a matter of time before I set a new PR.

Here’s a short video of my squat clean singles progression workout from yesterday:

One point to keep in mind is that singles progression is not for strength building but strength testing. Performing multiple sets of 2 to 3 reps is where you'll get a bigger bang for your buck with strength building.

Next time you are chasing a weighted PR, get it with singles progression.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Monday, July 20, 2009

Imaginary or real?

The term "busted up weightlifter syndrome" is used in the bodyweight-only fitness training community to describe guys who are banged up from their days of lifting heavy weights. Supposedly, a person afflicted with busted up weightlifter syndrome suffers from chronic pain and debilitating injuries brought about from lifting heavy weights day in and day out for year after year.

Is busted up weightlifter syndrome real, or imaginary like its yesteryear cousin “muscle bound” syndrome? Muscle bound was a term used by coaches and, even, medical doctors as recent as 50 years ago to describe a condition of being unable to move your body or be agile due to big muscles brought about from weightlifting. As a high school student, my Dad recalls being told by his physical education coach that he would get muscle bound if he lifted weights and would not be able to wipe his behind after going to the bathroom.

These weightlifting naysayers were flat out wrong as time has told. Is that the case with modern day weightlifting naysayers who are constantly crying wolf about busted up weightlifter syndrome?

If busted up weightlifter syndrome is real, how widespread is it and will all people who lift heavy weights day in and day out for year after year eventually get it?

Pierini Fitness is in search of the truth if busted up weightlifter syndrome is imaginary or real and welcomes your contributions of anecdotal evidence. We’d also appreciate you pointing us in the direction of published research studies related to weightlifting injuries compared to other fitness and sports activities.

Tell us what you think. Is busted up weightlifting syndrome imaginary or real?

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sunday blogflection quickie?

Today is Sunday and Pierini Fitness is closed so the chief executive blogger can rest his body, mind and spirit. Come back tomorrow for a creative and original blogflection about a topic not yet determined but guaranteed to be original.

How's that for a Sunday blogflection quickie?

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Let's do it again soon

On Wednesday I had the wonderful opportunity to meet and train with another middle-age man fitness dude, Mr. Franklin B. Herman, RKC of Middleton, Massachusetts. Meeting my cyberspace fitness brother from a different mother was the topic of this Pierini Fitness blogflection: It's a small world

The meeting began when Mr. Herman arrived at the worldwide headquarters of Pierini Fitness. After some initial middle-age man chit-chat over a bottle of refreshing Pelligrino mineral water, the two warriors made their way to Bodytribe Fitness for a light Olympic weightlifting workout.

Here’s a Pierini Fitness video exclusive highlight of Mr. Herman's workout at Bodytribe Fitness:

It was a great meeting and Olympic weightlifting training session Mr. Herman. I also enjoyed your company and conversation over dinner. Let's do it again soon.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Friday, July 17, 2009

You are going to be rich!

The news coverage has been heavy as of late of President Obama’s push to remake the U.S. health care system. While the dollars quoted of its cost are constantly changing, several moderate and conservative lawmakers have stated that the $1.5 trillion plan, presented earlier this week, costs too much. That proposed legislation seeks to provide coverage to nearly all Americans by subsidizing the poor and penalizing individuals and employers who don't purchase health insurance.

Would someone knock President Obama and these lawmakers on the head (gently of course) and tell them that money doesn’t grow on trees!

Just like the open bar tab that a generous person offers to pay at the end of happy hour, the bill has eventually got to be paid. Who will pay this bill? The “rich” are often singled out as the answer to that question. One proposal from last week would impose a surtax on individuals making more than $280,000 a year, a hard blow since this surtax would hit job creators especially hard because more than six of every 10 who earn that much are small business owners, operators or investors. So who really does pay the tab – the “rich” or those seeking employment or “everyone”?

And if you believe that only the rich will pay this tab, it isn’t going to happen because there isn’t $1.5 trillion of tax revenue to be generated from this rich-person surtax.

So who’s going to pick up the tax? Guess what? You are going to be rich!

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Thursday, July 16, 2009

What about you?

My California driver license was last renewed in January 2006 and a new photo was taken of me at that time. I was sporting longer hair then, bordering on a bona-fide middle-age man mullet, and I timed the photo session to showcase my full-blossom hairstyle. Looking at it as I compose this blogflection, I recognize its tremendous ancestral value for future generations of my descendents who may have an interest in knowing more about me. I have a modest collection of prior expired driver licenses but, unfortunately, do not have the first one issued to me on my 16th birthday. That license was in a wallet that was pick pocketed from me in a seedy night club in Seoul, South Korea when I was in the U.S. Army.

Well this rambling introduction is really about whether the height, weight and photo on your current driver license reflect your current truth, or whether a "reality gap" exists. If you were requested to present your current driver license to establish your identity, would the person inspecting it believe it was yours?

I’ve already described the photo on my current license and, from a distance and wearing no eyeglasses, I’m pleased to report that over three years later I look the same. But take this with a grain of salt from a person who sees a 16-year old kid when looking in the mirror.

What about my height and weight?

My current license lists a height of 5’11” and a weight of 175 lbs. The height is correct although prior driver licenses reported me at 6’0” when I was in to stretching the truth. At this point in my life, I no longer have any self-induced pressure to round up my vertical measurements. My current weight is 175 lbs. although lately I fluctuate between that and 179 lbs.

So at this moment, there’s no reality gap between the real me and the height, weight and photo on my current driver license. What about you?

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

It's a small world

Later this afternoon I’m meeting one of my cyberspace fitness brothers from a different mother face-to-face for the first time. He’s another middle-age man fitness dude like me and we have something in common in that we are both late entrants to the fascinating world of Olympic weightlifting; I believe we both have been at it for less than two years.

He lives in Massachusetts but is on a temporary assignment this week working for a client in a city about 90 miles from where I live. When I recently discovered that he competed at a nearby Olympic weightlifting competition last Saturday and is still in the area, I posted some comments on his blog here:

Franklin's Kettlebell and Olympic Lifting Training

Some subsequent e-mails back and forth and then a telephone conversation resulted in a deal in which he’s coming to Sacramento this afternoon to train with me at my gym. Afterwards we’ll get some dinner and have, I’m sure, some great middle-age man and Olympic weightlifting talks.

I’m looking forward to meeting Mr. Franklin B. Herman, my cyberspace fitness brother from a different mother. Thanks to the internet, just like the Disneyland song and popular attraction, it’s a small world.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Gosh darn

The measure of useless research is that with value along with $1.85 will buy you a large cup of coffee at Starbuck’s. Did you read about the research that found swearing makes pain more tolerable? reported on Sunday that swearing – perhaps yelling out the F-word - could actually make it easier to bear throbbing pain such as when you stub your toe. The results of the study will be detailed in an upcoming issue of the journal NeuroReport.

"Swearing has been around for centuries and is an almost universal human linguistic phenomenon," said Richard Stephens of Keele University in England and one of the authors of the new study. "It taps into emotional brain centers and appears to arise in the right brain, whereas most language production occurs in the left cerebral hemisphere of the brain."

The researchers enlisted 64 undergraduate volunteers and had them submerge their hand in a tub of ice water for as long as possible while repeating a swear word of their choice. The experiment was then repeated with the volunteer repeating a more common word that they would use to describe a table. Contrary to what the researcher expected, the volunteers kept their hands submerged longer while repeating the swear word.

What do I think? Glad you asked. I think these F’ing researchers should find something else better to do with their research talents. Swearing, in my opinion, is an emotional release with those who have a limited vocabulary. If my vocabulary consists of only 10 words and 5 of them are expletive depletive, it’s fair to say that I am more likely to choose a swear word than someone whose vocabulary consists of 100 words and 10 of them are expletive depletive.

Suave middle-age men like me get our emotional release in response to pain by writing a clever, creative, metaphorical, original and scholarly blogflection or bellowing out the classic “gosh darn”.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Monday, July 13, 2009

Monkey see, monkey do

Something that caught my attention last week in the diet and fitness world was a news headline and story reporting that a low calorie diet slows aging in monkeys. A recently completed 20-year study of monkeys funded by the National Institute on Aging showed that a reduced-calorie diet pays off in less disease and longer life.

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison led by Professor Richard Weindruch, the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center and the William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital reported that a nutritious but reduced-calorie diet blunts aging and significantly delays the onset of such age-related disorders as cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and brain atrophy.

Professor Weindruch and his colleagues tested the effects of calorie restriction over two decades in a group of rhesus macaque monkeys. Half of the monkeys were allowed to eat as they pleased, and the other half ate a carefully controlled diet that provided just two-thirds of the calories they would normally choose to eat. Professor Weindruch stated “We observed that caloric restriction reduced the risk of developing an age-related disease by a factor of three and increased survival.”

The research team found that half of the monkeys that were allowed to eat freely over the course of the 20-year study have survived, while 80 percent of the monkeys that ate 30 percent fewer calories over the same period are still alive. Apparently, rhesus macaque monkeys have an average life span of about 27 years in captivity so at the end of 20 years these research monkeys had lived 74% of their average life span, the equivalent of being age 59 years for someone with an 80-year life expectancy.

The animals that ate less had half the amount of heart disease and cancer, and there were no cases of diabetes in the low-calorie group. Animals on a restricted diet also had more brain volume in some regions than the animals that ate freely, suggesting diet may affect brain health in aging as well.

These research findings give a fitness and health perspective to the age-old adage of monkey see, monkey do.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Second Sunday in July

Pierini Fitness is closed today so the chief executive blogger can rest his body, mind and spirit. Visit tomorrow for a blogflection about a topic yet to be determined but guaranteed to be original.

Until then, enjoy your second Sunday in July.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Saturday, July 11, 2009

My brief Friday morning workout

Sometimes life gets in the way and planned workout times and duration change. When that happens, you can never go wrong with the something is better than nothing mindset and that is what I had to do yesterday morning. I like to train on Friday starting around 12:00 noon for about 90 minutes; yesterday I began my shortened workout about 9:40 a.m. and was done about 45 minutes later. I did something and that is better than nothing. Here’s what I did after a quick 5 minute warm up (all loads are in lbs.):

Olympic style back squats – 45x10 – 95x5 – 115x5 – 135x5 – 155x5 – 175x5 – 135x5

Behind-the-neck split jerks – 45x10 – 95x3 – 115x3 – 135x3 – 155x1 – 175x1 – 195x1

Weighted standard grip pullups – warm-up of BWx3 and then BW+65 for 3-2-1

Standard grip pullups - 2 minutes of BW for 7-6-4-2-2-1-1 with as little rest as possible – I quit at about 1:50 and 23 reps.

Here’s a video of my 1st set of weighted pullups BW plus 65 lbs. for 3 reps:

There was nothing spectacular about my brief Friday morning workout.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Friday, July 10, 2009

Take your pick

Is actively putting on muscle for years bad? That was a question recently asked on an internet fitness forum where I serve as a moderator. The person asking the question did so in the context of whether it was healthy because any extra body mass puts a strain on internal organs such as the heart and liver.

What do you think? My response was that plus or minus 10% of our truth is the healthiest bodyweight so the big question is what is our truth.

I always ask middle-age men like me how much they weighed when they graduated from high school because I believe that weight is a good first clue in knowing their truth. This, of course, assumes that they had finished growing for the most part; some people don’t until a few years later. Case in point is my brother-in-law who was about 5'4" when he graduated from high school and grew almost another foot by the time he finished college four years later.

I weighed 161 lbs. when I took my Army physical exam during my senior year in high school. Applying this plus or minus 10% test to me would put my upper end weight at 177 lbs. I'm currently weighing between 178-180 lbs. but was as high as 193 lbs. last year at this time. For me, I think the 178-180 lbs. is closer to my truth than the 193 lbs. What is your truth?

The litmus test for a healthy life, in my opinion, is to weigh the least amount possible to be as strong as you reasonably need to be and if actively putting on muscles for years to reach this goal is how you do it then so be it.

The way I see it, as a middle-age man or woman, you are either actively putting on muscle or passively putting on fat, take your pick.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Still chasing 20 reps

Yesterday afternoon was a training day and I did front squats, squat snatches, clean high pulls and clean & jerk singles. Other than the front squats, it was a light training day focusing on speed and technique rather than weight. I set a PR in the front squat but my form was terrible so I'll call it a technical failure. It's still a PR in my book but there will be no video to showcase my poor form. I've got more work to do in that department.

I weighed in prior to my workout at 175 lbs. which is the lightest I've weighed since the morning of my 50th birthday over 4 years ago. I'm still sold on a Monday through Friday intermittent fasting (IF) lifestyle but I do need to eat more. There's nothing for me to gain by losing more weight.

At the end of my workout, I decided to perform a single set of standard-grip pullups to failure. My PR from several years ago was 18 reps before I got sidetracked and started chasing other fitness goals. During that era, I also performed a single set of standard-grip chinups for 20 reps. I've always wanted to complete a single set of standard-grip pullups for 20 reps and believe that I'll do so sometime this year. If it doesn't happen then so be it because I will have had fun trying.

Here's today's effort of 16 reps, the most I've done since resuming pullup training:

Studying my video reminds me to work on my bottom extension. I still think my reps are decent enough for a middle-age man. The video gives the 25-year young "Form Police" something to do, and it motivates and reminds me that I'm still chasing 20 reps.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Don't go to burlesque shows

I continue to be baffled at the cyberspace confrontations on internet fitness forums, sometimes nasty, about the legendary Charles Atlas and his Dynamic Tension training system. The most disputed topic is whether Mr. Atlas achieved his superior physical fitness and strength solely from his bodyweight-only exercise system called Dynamic Tension, or if he also lifted weights.

Bodyweight-only exercise purists (and sometimes extremists) are convinced that Charles Atlas did not lift weights while other fitness enthusiasts argue that he did. If this is not the fitness world with which you are familiar, I guarantee you’d be shocked reading fitness forum posts of participants fighting like cats and dogs over this topic.

I recently stumbled across a short article published in the September 1996 issue of Iron Game History about the legendary Charles Atlas. Those who are well-read about Charles Atlas will probably find nothing new in this article, but those who know very little about him will find it a good instroductory read. Here it is: The 97-Pound Weakling . . . who became “The World’s Most Perfectly Developed Man

My 82-year young Dad had the wonderful opportunity to meet the legendary Charles Atlas in New York City at the end of World War II and his meeting was the topic of this Pierini Fitness blogflection: A young sailor meets Charles Atlas

In addition to his Dynamic Tension training course that many young boys and men followed, Mr. Atlas was known for the advice he routinely gave; advice that is just as relevant today as it was then, and advice easier to say than do now just as it was then. What was his advice? Charles Atlas' advice was was to live clean think clean and don’t go to burlesque shows.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Something to do

I recently made a “business decision” to enter my 3rd Olympic weightlifting competition in about one month. I’m excited about it and have officially begun my training even though I’m still sporting a bum right shoulder.

Here’s a prior Pierini Fitness blogflection about my first competition I entered last August 2008: If he can do it then I can try

I’ll enter the same weight division, the 85 kg (about 187 lb.) class. Last year I needed to shed about 6 lbs. to make weight. Right now I’m about 9 lbs. under the weight limit so I have some room for gaining weight. I’m not sure I’ll do that but it’s an option available to me.

Last year I placed 6th out of 10 competitors in the masters’ division making 3 of my 6 lift attempts. Who knows what I’ll do this year but it really doesn’t matter as long as I have fun preparing and fun competing. I have lots of experience coming in last place when I entered all-comer track meets several years ago. It’s no big deal to me.

My guess is that future Pierini Fitness blogflections in the next 5 weeks will discuss my training preparation, and I may share a few video clips of my training lifts. If you have no interest in the Olympic lifts, you’ll probably be bored to death and/or skip the read. If you have an interest in the Olympic lifts, you may still be bored to death and/or skip the read.

I’m excited about this upcoming competition and the training preparation. It gives me something to do.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Monday, July 6, 2009

So dog gone full

Last Wednesday, my state of California became the first state in the USA requiring all chain restaurants to provide calorie counts for all menu food items. The new law requires food facilities to provide nutritional information about the total number of calories, grams of saturated fat, grams of carbohydrates and milligrams of sodium. Many fast food restaurant chains have already been doing this for years, but now my California big brother makes it compulsory with fines for those establishments who do not comply.

What will we do with this information? Make different choices? Perhaps initially, but in the long run I don’t think so.

Take me for example. On the same day that this new law took effect, I made a “business decision” to eat bad as I was starving after a very hard gym workout on an intermittent fasting day. Around 7:30 p.m. that evening, I went to Carl’s Jr. and ordered a double western bacon cheeseburger and a chocolate milk shake made with real ice cream. My choices wouldn’t win an award in a healthy eating contest but this combo definitely left me full and content.

Curious about what I had consumed, the next day I visited the Carl’s Jr. website to determine the nutritional content of my previous evening’s meal. It “costed out” at 1,670 calories consisting of 156 grams of carbohydrates (38%), 66 grams of protein (16%) and a whopping 85 grams of fat (46%).

The new law would not have altered my food choices that evening but it did guarantee me access to nutritional information that confirmed why I was so dog gone full.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Sunday, July 5, 2009

My TGIF-mindset

Back in the old days over 25 years ago before I became self-employed, I remember the “Thank God it’s Friday” (TGIF) mindset on Friday workdays. While I enjoyed my profession and job, I enjoyed my weekends more. TGIF was a common utterance on Friday afternoons. It was a youthful rebellious barking in opposition to 3-piece suits and ties wrapped around our necks with briefcases in hands as we pranced around here and there like little junior business executives. That TGIF-mindset for the most part went away once I became self-employed because of an imaginary freedom that I didn’t perceive as an employee.

As I’ve shared before, on Monday through Friday I am an intermittent fasting (IF) practitioner eating once a day in the evening within a planned 5 hour window. I really enjoy the IF lifestyle and my plans are to continue with it indefinitely on Monday through Friday. Of course I reserve the right to change but not as of right now. Saturday and Sunday are my days to eat as normal people do. I look forward to my Saturday and Sunday and probably eat more on those days.

Today is Sunday and, just like the old days, I’m having a great eating day just like I imagined on Friday while knee-deep in my TGIF-mindset.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Keeping your mouth shut

Visit internet fitness and health forums or read a fitness magazine and sooner or later you’ll stumble across the topic of eating healthy snacks. Chances are that people interested in this topic are overweight and trying to lose weight.

I'm not trying to lose weight so this topic doesn't interest me; nor do those that advocate eating five or six smaller meals a day to lose weight. I agree that frequent eating is effective for someone trying to gain weight but beg to differ that it’s the best prescription for someone trying to lose weight.

Based on my personal experience with intermittent fasting or intermittent feeding – call it whatever you want or IF for short – losing those last 5 to 10 lbs. of bodyweight is no different than losing the first 5 to 10 lbs; you do it by just eating LESS! Snacking, in my opinion, makes in harder at the end of the day to eat less.

For anyone trying to lose weight, my advice is to eat less and skip those snacks. How do you do it? By keeping your mouth shut.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Friday, July 3, 2009

Excessive government spending

An Associated Press news article on Tuesday reported that as part of the federal government economic stimulus package, Congress set aside a down payment of $1.1 billion for research to discover the best medical treatments for a list of top 100 questions that doctors need answered. Despite all their schooling and continuing education, apparently our medical doctors have to guess at which treatment or test is best for a certain patient. Now our federal government is going to solve that problem for us patients and taxpayers.

Of the top 100 priorities identified in a blueprint report by the Institute of Medicine, one that caught my eye was the question of which of the myriad of treatments - from anti-inflammatory medicines to exercises - are best for lower back pain. How much is that specific research project going to cost us taxpayers?

Get this – the report didn’t put a price tag on the proposed studies but did indicate that the $1.1 billion will only cover a fraction of the projects; nor is it clear how quickly the answers will arrive.

It’s fair to say that not a dime of this $1.1 billion will improve immediate access to health care for Americans so the Pierini Fitness question of the day is what do you call this ambitious plan?

How about another example of excessive government spending.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Training for life

During a Tuesday evening walk with my wife around the one-mile perimeter of a park, I observed several people out for their evening jogging and running workouts. Watching them in action brought back pleasant memories of my yesteryear running days. Recently I made a "business decision" to retire from running.

One “older woman” out for her evening run caught my attention. She was wearing the kind of t-shirt they give to people who participate in fun runs; you know the 5k and 10k type. She wasn’t running at an impressive pace by any stretch of the imagination, but there was something about the way she was running that made me think she might be training for an upcoming fun run.

She was running in one direction and my wife and I were walking in the other direction so we were destined to cross paths at some point during our evening forward-motion movement activities.

At the moment we crossed paths, made eye contact and exchanged smiles, I asked her if she was training for something. I liked her answer. She told me she was training for life.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Rope fever

After a hard workout Monday afternoon that included front squats, squat snatches and weighted pullups, I wrapped up the day with a single attempt of a 12 foot hands-only rope climb.

After studying the video of my previous rope a dope session last Friday, I learned a couple things. First, it's important to keep my body as close to the rope as possible when climbing and this is tougher when trying to climb in an L-sit position. Second, my hamstrings are not as flexible as they need to be to maintain good form in the L-sit position. I'll work on both of these in future training sessions. Right now I have rope fever so I'll be doing more rope work at the end of my workouts.

Here's my Monday single attempt:

I'll post more rope climbing attempts in the future because right now I have rope fever.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum