Monday Musings

Monday Musings 8/22/11: Pancakes, Crawls, Squatmageddon

1. For the past 2-3 years I've been enjoying better pancakes than anyone else on the planet. It's about time I share them with you, no? They are buckwheat pancakes, and, even thought they look like poop, they taste incredible and are extremely versatile. Buckwheat is impressive for many reasons: it's a complete protein, high in fiber, has a low impact on blood sugar, and is gluten-free. As such, you don't have to feel quite as guilty if you consume buckwheat pancakes compared to your usual buttermilk cakes.


To give you an idea of how excellent these things are, I first began eating them with a good buddy of mine in college. Due to our schedules, the best time to do this was at 6:30AM on Friday mornings. As more of our friends discovered this, our little duo on Friday mornings quickly morphed into an event that we (oh-so-cleverly) dubbed "Pancake Friday." On the average, we'd have 7-10 guys in attendance, with an upwards of 15-20 as it grew in popularity. We always ate outside (yes, even in December...I didn't say we were the smartest of human beings), on a large wooden picnic table we had in the yard.

The fact that 8-20 college guys would wake up before 6:30AM on Friday mornings to partake in the awesomeness of these pancakes is, I believe, quite a case for how good these things are.

My two favorite fillings to use are chocolate chips (Ghirardelli is where it's at), and blueberries. While chocolate chips are obviously the less-healthy option, I've found them perfect for a weekend treat, especially after lower body training on Sundays.

I particularly love them with a thin coat of Organic Valley pasture butter, along with peanut butter and Agave Nectar on top. If you're a "skinny-guy" looking to gain some weight, be very liberal with your use of peanut butter and number of pancakes you consume. If fat-loss is your goal, I'd stick with blueberries for the filling and eat just a few of the pancakes with a side of eggs and/or veggies. Either way they're freakin' amazing.


Oh. It's a MUST that you use the Bob's Red Mill Buckwheat mix. I've tried nearly every buckwheat mix on the block and I can say that Bob's Red Mill takes the cake on this one (pun intended).

2. I recently received an email from a female reader of our blog, Juliet. She keeps an GREAT blog over at HeyJoob, and I encourage everyone to check it out; especially the females in the audience.

Anyway, she wrote me to let me know that she was reading our website and stumbled across a post I wrote (Animal Crawl Variations), and was inspired to give them a shot for herself. She filmed the session and I thought it was incredible:

  1. She was training outside, and I've written about the superb benefits of training outside HERE.
  2. She has absolutely no shame in posting a video of herself doing something "abnormal."
  3. It's always refreshing to see a female that "gets it" and tries something besides the elliptical for a change. It was cool to see Juliet getting in an aerobic training session utilizing a slightly unconventional modality. And trust me, these things are way harder than they look.

You can see the video below:

3.Squatmageddon. Tony Gentilcore recently wrote an incredible (and entertaining) response to the fact that some gyms (that shall remain unnamed) up in NYC have BANNED squat racks in their facilities!! WHAT?!?!?!

It's a HUGE shame to see this, and is, unfortunately, an indicator of the current state and mindset a shockingly-large percent of the fitness industry. I highly encourage you to check it out, as I'm sure you'll find it entertaining as well.

You can read about it HERE.

Monday Musings: Captain America, Exercise Pairings, etc.

1. Lyme's. So I forgot to mention that - when I went on a backpacking trip a couple weeks ago to catch some breathtaking views of the Shenandoah Valley - I also went to, apparently, catch a nice dose of Lyme's disease. This bear is brutal (crazy how large a punch that little tick packs), and I don't wish it upon anyone. It completely wipes you out, and is extremely tough to diagnose (all my blood tests came back negative). When I was in the ER, they even shoved a needle into my spine to withdraw spinal fluid in order to search for an infection in the nervous system. (Doctors, I know you meant well, but I'd kinda like my spinal fluid back whenever you get a chance). Anyway, I'm extremely blessed to have access to medical aid, a family/fiancee that took incredible care of me, and awesome co-workers that were able to pick up the slack while I was out. Those 10 days were pretty grueling (lost about ten pounds, too), but I'm on the mend and fortunately they were able to catch it before it evolved into something much worse. And, yes, I realize you spell the fruit in the picture l-i-m-e, but give me a break! Just trying to keep some pictures in here for you all.

2. Captain America. I have to admit, I was very disappointed with this one (you let me down, RottenTomatoes!). As the worse of the Lyme's symptoms were dying down over the weekend, I decided the natural course of action for my first low-key outing would be to go see the latest Marvel character on the big screen. Even though I cringe when spending the outrageous fee that theaters are charging, I generally enjoy Super Hero movies (Batman, X-men, the first Spider Man, etc.), so I decided to take my chances with Captain America. Anyway, they pretty much blew it with this one. The plot was sub-par, and even the action just seemed a bit forced. Not to mention, whenever the bad guys would salute their leader, they'd throw up both arms and yell 'Hail, Hydra!'

Hail Hydra?! Really??? Is that the best you can do?

The only thing they did correctly with this movie was show Chris Evans with his shirt off intersperse a fair amount of humor throughout the film, which was actually pretty funny.

3. Quick Thoughts on a Common Exercise Pairing. Is a Chinup and Bench Press a *true* antagonistic pairing? Most lifters who’ve investigated training understand how important it is to balance one’s program. For example, you should “pull” just as much (if not more) as you “push” in order to promote structural integrity and keep shoulder health in check. In other words, if you perform 3 sets of a bench press, you should also be performing 3 sets of a row variation. Or, if you perform 4 sets of a military press, then you should perform 4 sets of a lat pulldown or pullup. Often these are performed as supersets, or “alternating sets” to save time and increase work density. One premise of this, in the context of shoulder health, is to include as much external rotation of the humerus (upper arm bone) as internal rotation.

HOWEVER, while it's a great place to start, it's not always just about 'pulling' and 'pushing.' Using just one example: It's very common to see a chinup and bench press pairing. What many don’t realize is that as you execute a chinup, you actually drive internal rotation of the shoulder joint. Guess what you’re also driving when you bench press? Internal rotation.

So, a chinup and bench press pairing, while it may look good on paper, isn’t a true antagonistic pairing. I’m not saying it’s a bad pairing and should never be used, but just trying to elucidate the point that it’s not always just about pushing and pulling, It’s important to understand what is occurring, mechanically, at each joint, if we’re seeking true balance in our programming.

4. The Bull Shark is the only shark that can live in both salt and freshwater. Just sayin.'

5. My Current Program. Well, more accurately, the program I'll be following once the Lyme's is out of me. Long story short, I'm pretty beat up. As I noted in a post a couple weeks back, my left shoulder is pretty angry, so not only is bench pressing going to be nixed for a lonnngg time, but unfortunately I need to cease back squatting, too (holding the bar in back squat places the shoulder joint in a position of pretty extreme horizontal abduction and external rotation, which can be pretty risky (depending), and I've experienced plenty of pain from it so it's out for now).

Also, I did something pretty stupid a couple months back (for the sake of brevity) and injured my left leg. I haven't figured out exactly what it is yet, but I do know that I experience a significant piercing sensation in my quad when I'm under load and undergo hip flexion greater than roughly 110 degrees. As such, unfortunately, I need to omit any exercises that exacerbate the symptoms (which, through experimentation, include most quad-dominant exercises such as front squats, forward lunges, and also pretty much any plyo drill involving significant deceleration).

As such, here's what the jist of my program is going to entail:

    • Loads of horizontal pulling (can't really do enough of this)
  • Pushup Variations (weighted, suspended, etc.)
  • Hip-Dominant lower body exercises (namely, deadlifts and their variations)
  • Sled work
  • Lots of Pullups. I'm going to use this time to see what I can get up to in the pullup realm.

I'll be sure to keep everyone posted, and, hopefully, garner some solid results from the program in spite of the injuries.

That's it for today. Hopefully it was random enough for you all and that you learned some things (you'll thank me later for the Bull Shark trivia).