Tag Archives: Gym

80% Big Time and 20% Small Time

I’ve been catching up on my reading after a little time out. I have literally 300 articles and dozens of magazines to read dating back months on subjects ranging from health, website design, science, physics and computers. I’ve been playing catch up ever since the surgery, I’ll get there… one day. 

Man And Muscles

Man And Muscles

I just read an article which suggests the best split of muscle groups is 80% big muscles and 20% small muscles, which is not exactly headline news. What is interesting but again not surprising is of the X many people surveyed, the vast majority revealed they trained at almost exact opposites to this. With men focussing on their upper body, primarily their arms (tri/bi) and chest (pecs), and women focussing on their lower body, primarily their bums (glutes) and thighs (ab/ad-ductors/quads/hams). It also revealed the majority used isolation exercises rather than compound and multi-muscle exercises to this end. 

This is not new information, its always been a case of the majority going on the big compound moves like Deadlifts, Squats, Bench Press etc, which most often hit big muscles hard, followed by smaller muscles secondary and stabilisers tertiary. After this, you hit accessory/assistance moves such as for the bench press you may do Dips, Triceps Extensions and Flys which covers most muscles.

Totally made up numbers but I think before my surgery I had been hitting closer to 30% big moves / compounds, around 30%, accessory (which often included compound) moves, followed 40% isolation moves (bicep curls, leg extensions, etc), so it would appear I am in the wrong.

Since I’m starting from scratch after my shoulder surgery I’m going to consider this 80/20 split a little more and see how I get on.  I’m only just starting to introduce cable station / pod work, and the odd machine. My range of motion is still impinged from injury on the right and to a lesser extent on the left side.

The New Stuff

The magazine did add one interesting thing which I liked, and its a really good tip as far as I’m concerned.

It suggests where possible do movements standing up, do movements on one leg, do NOT sit down unless you absolutely have to. If you must sit down, as soon as you get your breath, get back up.

I like this little tip.

I try to walk off my rest periods and walk while getting my breath back. I call it “active recovery”, its often really “If I sit down, I may not be able to get back up”, but sometimes… just sometimes you need to sit down and regenerate. Top up with a little glucose, or pre/intra workout or even a Banana before getting back to it. Just don’t let yourself cool down too much or you’ll tighten up and struggle.

Man And Muscles image by Andrzej Pobiedziński.

A Manchester Based Photographer and Website Developer with interests in Strongman, Fitness and Geekery.

Its My Birthday… Again

In just a few hours its my birthday, I’m assured its time I lied about my age. I’m going with that I’m 3869 years old, and changing my name to Methstevelah, Methuselah’s cooler brother.

Spirytus 96% Polish Vodka

Spirytus 96% Polish Vodka

Last year I bought my self a new Synology NAS Unit, this year I bought myself an Amazon Echo which I mentioned wanting to learn to code in C#. I have found Javascript maybe a better option rather than C#, but I’m still exploring.

I have worked on many JavaScript applications, so I have a basic understanding, as for Node.JS I have no idea, so maybe order a book or two for my birthday. 

I have wrote my first Skill and won a Echo Dot, and working on my second skill which is domainer related and once its more complete I’ll post more about it.

My sister got me the bottle of Polish Rectified Spirytus at 96% Alcohol by Volume, which is my 4th Strongest Alcohol in my bar. 

1, Denatured Alcohol at 100%
2, Spirytus 96%
3, Knockeen Hills Poteen at 90%.
4, Hapsburg Premium Absinthe 89.9%.
5, Balkan Vodka at 88%.

The denatured alcohol was acquired for a science project, such a hassle, its not really drinking, but given its pure alcohol I listed it.

Diet Death

Amazon Echo

Amazon Echo

I have just ruined my work out today by polishing off a pack of Sainsburys sugar ring doughnuts, but as my friend Saskia says Birthday Cake or Doughnuts in my case have no calories, so my hour on the cross trainer today is still valid 😛

A year on I have actually had the first part of my shoulder surgery, the left shoulder is done and and I’m well into rehab. I’m just starting to warm up my shoulder in the gym with some light machine work. Irony is when I say I’m doing light work, everyone is like should you be lifting that much ? My light seems to be most peoples heavy.

New Skillset

Sadly my new skillset isn’t going off this year as the training courses in both near by colleges who offer the course are full. Upside I’m ÂŁ6,000 a year better off, which is what the course would cost, plus books and whatever else I would need.

College is bloody expensive.

A Manchester Based Photographer and Website Developer with interests in Strongman, Fitness and Geekery.

Rich Piana In Chemically Induced Coma

Body Builder and 5% Nutrition founder Rich Piana has been placed into a chemically induced coma following a medical emergency. The 46 year old star were found unresponsive by medical staff after being called out to a potential overdose at his Florida home on Monday afternoon. 

Rich Piana at Body Power 2017

Rich Piana at Body Power 2017

Its not clear what the current situation is, or how Rich is but I do sincerely hope he makes a full recovery. While I’m not a huge fan of Rich Piana’s whole synthol and whatever-the-hell he injects or his persona but the man is a sound guy.

You can’t put a guy down who values his fans so much. I have seen the guy at multiple different shows, and he  always takes his time with each and every fan, talks to them, advises them, guides them and inspires them to be more. I have never seen him rush a fan, cut one off and lose his patience. Well apart from the slapbox incident, which was massively overplayed imo. 

What I have observed is many other stars give fans 30 seconds before rushing them off, many spend a few hours with the fans then they go hide in the green room. Anyone not in the queue at the time time just misses out. With Rich Piana, I have consistently seen him take 5-10 minutes with just 1 fan laughing and joking, taking his time. Rich has spent 10 hour days for 2-3 days in a row on his stand with a never ending queue of fans, only popping off his stand for short periods. 

When I took the above picture, Rich actually asked the next fan in the queue if he minded waiting for a few minutes while he did a quick press picture, then apologised to fan, then apologised to me for the wait. You can’t fault the guy, so hopefully he’ll recover and it will turn out to be a mistake or accident. 

A Manchester Based Photographer and Website Developer with interests in Strongman, Fitness and Geekery.

Arthur Saxon The Iron-Master

Arthur Saxon circ. 1905

Arthur Saxon circ. 1905

Its OFFICIALLY Christmas Day, well as of a few seconds ago its Christmas Day. So I’m posting about one of the men who inspires me to be stronger. 

Much is said of contemporary strongmen like Eddie Hall, Zydrunas Savickas, Brian Shaw, Hafthor Bjornsson and the legends of old such as Mariusz Pudzianowski, Bill Kazmaier and Jon Pall Sigmarsson. Half of those legends I have met through my press photography work and all really nice if not monster sized guys. All the top of the Worlds Strongest Man and Strongman World past, present and future.

However long before any of these men were born and possibly even before their grandparents were born were a man called Arthur Saxon, born 28th April 1878 and died 6th August 1921.

Arthur were known as “The Iron Master”, and along with his brothers were the Saxon Trio, he wrote some of the earliest literature about strongman. On a side note I believe all Arthurs written work is now free of copyright. They can be downloaded freely, but I suggest buying them in hardcopy for a few pounds each.

Development of Physical Power via Amazon.
Textb00k of Weight Lifting via Amazon
Being Strong (Writings of Strongmen of Old) via Amazon

Arthur Saxons Feats

This man were forged of iron and fire, no drugs, no steroids, no growth hormone and no gyms, just absolute strength, raw power, and pure determination… oh and a rather dapper moustache.

This man is reported as tossing 90kg (200lb) dumbbells overhead as if almost juggling with them, like it were an insignificant inflatable toy dumbbell. He could Bent Press (not bench) 168kg / 370lb overhead with a single arm, just to put that last lift into perspective in Worlds Strongest Man 2016, the Jumbo Dumbbell Press is a 115kg circus dumbbell.

Once while supporting over a dozen men and women with his legs (picture below) in Cambridge, the weight of himself at 200lbs, and the men/women along the frame resulted in the stage collapsing underneath the focus weight (think shoe in snow) injuring him quite badly.

With a good sense of humour, Arthur and his brothers used a lead-shot loaded dumbbell for a ÂŁ250 prize challenge. All you had to do were lift up the dumbbell. The brothers left it on display at the entrance to their show 24/7 and watched as various local bodybuilders and strongmen lifted the weight. At each nights show Arthur lifted the weight with ease above his head numerous times and issued the nightly challenge.

Arthur Saxon Arms Length

Arthur Saxon Arms Length

Various strongmen and bodybuilders sauntered up on stage smirking with dreams of walking away with nearly a years wage in prize money, Yet none could lift it. What they didn’t know is, the Saxon boys had deloaded shot from the dumbbell reducing it to 150lbs during the days and reloaded it up to 300lbs at night which Arthur lifted with ease before they tried..

This is the one which shocked me, in Birmingham, UK he were challenged by Mr. McCann’s who were known for beating Eugen Sandow some years earlier.

McCann has a barbell at Gough Street Gym in Birmingham, weighing 100kg / 222 lbs, and two x 25kg / 56lb square weights (think weight plates). They told him no one had ever lifted even one of them with 1 hand (assumed pinch grip).

Saxon placed the 222lb barbell overhead with his right hand while holding both 56lb / 112lb in his left hand in a arms length rise position liking his arms in an L shape. You can see the arms length hold above with ring-weights (kettlebells), but do it with a pinch grip at 112lb / 50kg with a weight plate is insane.

Worlds Strongest Man

Considering Saxon were born nearly 100 years before Worlds Strongest Man were launched in 1977, I can almost credit Saxon with Worlds Strongest Mans inspiration, in one of his books he near enough describes WSM…

“I have broadminded enough views on this important question, i. e., “What is real strength?” Therefore, if a weight-lifting competition were held, I should like to see quite a number of lifts attempted, as is the method on the Continent, and to see each man go on with the lifting without too many opportunities for rest, so that we should not only ascertain who is possessed of greatest momentary strength but also who is possessed of enduring strength as well, and it is a combination of these two which makes real strength.”

That sounds a lot like the modern Worlds Strongest Man, doesn’t it ?

In my head, if Arthur were in WSM, I see him as being somewhat like hybrid of Jon Pall and Pudzianowski, only shouting “I am the Saxon Dominator”, a true showman and powerhouse.

Arthur Saxon vs Eugen Sandow

Arthur Saxon Bent Press

Arthur Saxon Bent Press

Just before the turn of the 20th century in Sheffield at the Grand Music Hall while performing with his brothers as the Saxon Trio, Arthur were bragging how he could out lift any man alive. This included Eugen Sandow who were the reigning king of strongman in England, and as fate would have it he happened to be in the audience that night.

Sandow came up on stage to put this rumour to rest once and for all, with every intention of showing Arthur up as a liar. The two titans of lifting went toe to toe with the goal of deciding who were the strongest man in the world.

They appeared fairly evenly matched until Sandow were unable to match Saxons bent press (right). He tried many times as the audience and Saxon brothers giggled and jeered, he were just unable to lift the weight over his head.

Sandow like a girlie-man went crying to the courts, and due to a misunderstanding by the judge, Sandow won the claim and were therefore Arthur were unable to claim he were the worlds strongest man. Everyone knows Sandow were a cry baby and thus Saxons record bent press still stands today getting on for a 100 years after his death.

Skipping Leg Day Brah

Saxon were an advocate of Physical Culture as he called it. He believed you had to train everything, and that were the key. He puts down injuries and broken athletes to under-developing all the muscles. Its interesting that critics back in his time used sporting injuries and wear and tear on an athletes body to decry sportsmen.

Saxon Dozen Man Leg Press

Saxon 16 Man Leg Press

I [don’t] consider a man a really strong man if he is in certain parts developed out of proportion to others. If a man has tremendous arms and chest and weak legs then he is only half a strong man.

If he should have strong legs and arms and weak lungs or a weak heart, then again he is by no means entitled to be called a strong man… Some day the inevitable breakdown will occur which will cause carping critics, always ready to attack physical culture, to point to such a broken-down athlete and say, “Here is proof of the harm done by physical culture and weight lifting.”. The cause really is that this man has not properly understood physical culture, and has developed one part at the expense of another.

This is still the case day, how often do you see guys with rounded shoulders from excessive chest work but neglected backs. How about guys with chicken legs and huge shoulders, or even those guys who use straps to lift less half their bodyweight.

Saxon vs Beer and Food

Arthur were nothing less than a beast both inside and outside the strongman world. There are stories of him and brothers cracking open a barrel of lager beer and running back and forth filling their jugs up between lifting sets. More often than not drinking the whole barrel in a single session.

150oz Steak at The Duck Inn

150oz Steak at The Duck Inn

One newspaper reported Saxon in order to impress a girl, he gripped a bottle of beer between his feet, grabbed a 113.4kg / 250lb barbell and lifted it into a bent press. Once in position he reached down with his other hand, and proceeded to drink his beer while holding the barbell above his head perfectly still.

It were also reported he would drink anywhere between 50 and a 100 bottles of a beer on an average night.

You don’t even want to know about his eating.

A typical main meal would be 4.5kg / 10lbs / 160oz of beef / mutton / meat with plates (plural) full of fruit, vegetables, cakes and cream. The picture to the left is of a 150oz steak challenge which The Duck Inn in Redditch, its 10 inches wide, 14 inches long, and 4 inches thick. Its bordering on a doorstep.

A typical breakfast would be 3lbs / 1.3kg of bacon, 2 dozen (24) eggs, 2lb / 1kg of porridge with honey and cream, that’s as well as another meal and 50-100 bottles of beer per day.

Makes Eddie Halls 10,000 kcal diet seem… erm small.

Its reported he trained excessively and extreme intensity 7 days per week. Its hard to believe with all that eating, drinking and intense training he gets time to sleep, but he stresses the importance of sleep too.

Arthur Saxon’s Legacy

Some of the most brutal and fun exercises were created and named by the Iron Master. I actually like a few of his moves. His moves have various names these days but originally they were named after him or by him. Many of these movements you won’t see in your every day gym, infact most people will look at you like your insane when you do these moves.

Saxon Press

This is essentially a 1 handed clean and jerk, Arthur used to do 112.2kg / 247.5lb with apparent ease.

Basically clean a heavy ass dumbbell up into place on your shoulder. You should brace the arm against the body and perhaps rest the elbow against the hip keeping your core and torso tight. Slightly dip your legs, explosively drive your legs up and steady the dumbbell. As the dumbbell reaches head height, dip your legs a little, drive the dumbbell overhead and snap upright to a standing position with the dumbbell overhead. Now gently lower the dumbbell down safely, use both hands if you need to. Safety first to avoid injury.

This builds excellent unilateral explosive and functional strength. Start light and work up.

Saxon Side Bend

Saxon Side Bend by Muscle and Fitness

Saxon Side Bend Photo by Muscle and Fitness

You see people all day long holding a dumbbell at their sides and leaning as if reaching deep in to their pocket and then return only to reach into the other pocket.

The Saxon Side Bend is performed ideally using dumbbells but you can use with barbells, medicine balls, weight plates to help building up. With dumbbells, stand with your feet at shoulder width apart and your knees slightly bent. Raise the dumbbells overhead, arms slightly bent, palms facing forward and dumbbells as close to touching end to end as comfortable.

Keeping your core, torso and glutes braced with the dumbbells steady, slowly and under control bend or lean to one side as far as is comfortable. Don’t lean forward or backwards and keep your arms in line with your body don’t allow your arms to over lean. Then return to an upright position, repeat 6-8 reps per side.

This takes a blowtorch to your abs, core and obliques, better leaving this towards the end of you work out, and a few times per week. I often superset this with Pallof Press and Pallof Rotations for a killer core and mid-section work out from abs to spine.

The End of the Iron Master

Arthurs demise were a tragedy, after going to war and fighting in World War 1, he suffered from malnutrition, and a whole host of health related problems. This meant no matter how hard he tried to bring back he legendary strength he failed to produce due to those problems.

On 6th August 1921, at 43 years old, Arthur died from pneumonia, leaving only his Legacy behind.

To this day his Bent Press world record of 370lbs still stands, as does his “two hands anyhow” at 448lbs. The legends of his showmanship, humour, charisma and spectacular functional strength live on and continue to inspire many, myself included.

The Saxon Side Bend Photo is taken from Muscle and Fitness, they posted an article on this very move which is worth a read.

A Manchester Based Photographer and Website Developer with interests in Strongman, Fitness and Geekery.

Penile Shrinkage In The Gym

I did debate whether I really wanted go here, but I have since had the discussion with a few other guys and they had noticed but thought nothing of it. They thought perhaps it were cold, the supplements, too tired or some other random thought.

Non-Essential and/or Luxury Tissue Shrinkage is the medical term or Penile Shrinkage. Personally I think the science guys needs to get out more, non-essential ? Luxury I guess depends how far from the floor it hangs.

When you are working out, especially heavy resistance (weights, strongman, etc), circuits and load bearing exercises or activities your muscles swell with blood. This “Pump” as its called, results in muscles holding up to 10 to 20 times more blood than when your sat on the sofa chilling with the latest Lucifer.

You have probably guessed where this is going, in my best grease “where does the pollen go” voice, “Where does the blood go from” ? Well almost any part of your body which isn’t being actively used, starting with luxury tissue, then non-essential tissues, all donate blood, this blood is sent where its needed most by your body.

Less Lunch Box More Snack Box

There are various mechanisms at work here, not only the muscles needing more nutrients and oxygen, but also you’re cortisol levels raising, adrenalin is blocking dopamine, testosterone spikes, growth hormone releases and more. I’ll include a few links at the end for further reading, but its kinda interesting how we are “primed”.

This reduced blood volume can be extreme as making you look almost prepubescent downstairs. If your one of those guys who likes to wear spandex, lycra, cycle shorts and the likes, its time to cut the flirting unless your not really working out to your maximum potential, in which case, GET OUT THE WAY FOOL!.

Otherwise your reputation may not be based on the size of your muscles, athletic prowess but more having a snack box where there should be a lunch box.

The role of adrenalin blocking dopamine, is the same sort of effect you get when using popular fat burners like Stackers and T5s. The precursor of sorts to adrenalin, causes a fight or flight response which in turn murders appetite, primes the body for action and prepares you for intense activity. The more natural effect means that blood can’t pump back until the adrenalin effect is overcome and dopamine becomes dominant. This means it doesn’t matter if a smoking hottie decides directly in front of you, is The Place to do her squats and bent over rows there shall be no wind in the sail… I’m talking about you EF Blondie 😉

Further Reading

This article explains why your muscles need more blood during exercise, worth a read to understand the process.

This article covers mostly stress and depression along with penile shrinkage is interesting since many of those factors associated with heavy gym work apply. Such as cortisol, nitric oxide and testosterone production, I suspect training triggers some of those same processes and has the same effect.

A Manchester Based Photographer and Website Developer with interests in Strongman, Fitness and Geekery.

Cardio Exercise is Evil

I usually do strength and strongman type lifting, anything ridiculously heavy. I’m not in league of competition but then I’ve not used “extra help” from a needle but still some of the heaviest lifts in the gym are mine.

I’ve recently been working on increasing my cardiovascular health after a bout of basal pneumonia last year where I very nearly died. Long story short, my GP called paramedics after I thought I had man flu, spent half a day in A&E resuscitation (which is scary), and around 10 days in hospital and about 4-5 weeks after out of the gym. My lungs, breathing and en energy have not been the same since.

I recently had a iDXA (a type of DEXA Scan) Body Composition Scan done at Derbyshire University and it showed about 10-15% of my right lung is dark and cloudy, but about 40% of my left lungs dark and cloudy. Given its not a specific lung exam, I can’t take too much from this, but it matches up with my respiratory rate (the number of breaths you take per minute) increasing along with my resting pulse and the force of my breathing inout. It all seems to fit up, but I’m not an expert and I’m piecing things together rather tenuously.

I started the programme about 5 weeks ago, and about 4 weeks ago I changed my strength programme too, and it were a mistake…

Every time I change my routine or programme I get a little run down, so introducing an hour of lung stressing cardiovascular exercise with a new program has hit me with CNS Fatigue often called Over Training Syndrome.

CNS Fatigue – Over Training Syndrome

  • Washed-out feeling, tired, drained, lack of energy.
  • General aches and pains in muscles.
  • Sore Joints.
  • Reduced Performance in training.
  • Neck Stiffness and Aches.
  • Decreased Immunity (bring on the colds, and sore throats).
  • Moodiness, Irritability and Feeling Down.
  • Increased Incidence of Injuries.

I have about half of that and caught a damned cold, so a few days of rest for me.

A Manchester Based Photographer and Website Developer with interests in Strongman, Fitness and Geekery.