The 1000 Rep Month: Day 2

Today I woke up dreading another hour long workout, so much so that if I wasn’t publicly committed to doing this (and posting the video) I’d probably have skipped today altogether. So instead I’m going to change the program slightly to make it much more flexible and achievable.

Instead of doing 50 of one movement, I am now making it so I can do 50 of any movement. In my head, I was going to do 25 dips and 25 pull-ups today, and that was far more appealing than doing all 50 pull-ups only, or all 50 dips only. Doing different exercises also cuts down on the time needed between sets because you’re not necessarily using the same muscle groups. This of course cuts way down on the total length of the workout. Yesterday I was lifting for about an hour. Today I was done in about 6 minutes.

This flexibility is going to go a long way in ensuring I stick to this program long enough for it to become a habit (which, according to Google, takes 66 days). I’ll commit to posting a set of 70 videos, then deciding whether I’ve established the habit and can stop the videos or whether it’s still a struggle and I need to keep going.

Here’s today’s (much shorter) workout… with a tangent about how squirrels stay warm in the winter thrown in as bonus material:

The 1000 Rep Month: Day 1

I’ve been thinking about how I don’t want to get fat and weak in February when I cut way down on sports in order to help make time for baby #2. Until now I’ve been playing sports 3x per week. I’ll be cutting down to only one sports night per week, so I need to recover the deficit if I’m to maintain my current physical state(ish). Reasons for wanting to do this range from the superficial (I don’t want to lose muscle/feel like I’m getting weaker) to the emotional (I get cagey if I don’t exercise every day).

When change is necessary, simple is good. Complexity, for me, has often become a barrier to following through on past efforts to change my behaviour. Enter a dead-simple workout schedule – one that is also flexible enough to tolerate days where I’m feeling low energy (keep in mind the inevitable sleep deprivation inherent to every new and repeat parent).

1000 reps per month breaks up nicely into 50 reps/day chunks and lets me take the weekends off. It also allows me to choose easier or more difficult movements depending on how I’m feeling. I’m also locking myself into the routine by committing to posting each workout online. This way I’m socially obligated to keep going with it or face looking like that asshole who does plenty of talking and not enough of the god damn.

Enough rambling, here’s Day 1 of the 1000 Rep Month:

Post Workout Review

That was way harder than it needed to be. To be truthful, I had initially dreamed up a 3000 Rep Month routine but changed it to 1000 when I realized how much god damn time it can take to do even 50 reps of anything. Better to keep the reps lower and play with the intensity instead of struggling to make it to 150 reps of something every day (and probably doing a shitty job of it). 50 reps also felt like a nice intersection of quantity and quality in my head, whereas 150 reps simply scared the shit out of me.

Also I had a brutal energy drop after, probably due to a precipitous plunge in blood sugar levels, highly caffeinated blood and an early wakeup. I recovered by drinking juice, but for tomorrow I’m going to drink juice before and during the workout to see if I can prevent the post-workout energy slump.

 

The War of Monday: Me Vs. Myself

Only a fool wants war. But once a war starts, then it cannot be fought half-heartedly. It cannot even be fought with regret, but must be waged with a savage joy in defeating the enemy. – Derfel Cadarn (Excalibur, Bernard Cornwell)

Some things fucking suck, but we still gotta get them done. How we do these brutally painful things probably says more about us than how we do the easy stuff, the stuff we’re good at and the stuff we love.

The idea of committing to something painful and refusing to stop is well illustrated in this video of Gary V eating increasingly spicy chicken wings:

I’m always getting sucked back into my own comforts. For my family, Sunday is about comfort, taking the day slowly, and relaxing. Often we do that so well that shifting back into gear on Monday is a huge challenge. Caffeine and epic music can help grease the gears:

Then it’s a matter of getting down to the work. I’ve found that the thing I dread doing the most is the thing I should be doing. On days I’ve done well, I skip looking at emails and I go straight into doing the hardest thing. On days I don’t do so well, I end up wandering through emails and end up on chat support with an Amazon support rep trying to return a book for $8. The question I ask to determine whether I’m being productive or not is, “Does doing this activity bring me closer to where I want to be in 5 years?” If the answer is “No” the best thing to do is abandon the task and start doing something I can foresee contributing to a more successful future.

Sometimes that thing is studying a new technique or skill that will contribute to my work. Sometimes the activity is simply doing good work for a client I expect to be working for in 5 years.

Right now, the war I didn’t want is the war of Sunday Ryan vs. Monday Ryan. Monday Ryan cannot fight half-heartedly. He can’t fight with regret. He must wage war with a savage joy in defeating himself.

Winning Your Daily Battle with a Little Self Torture

This article is about how hurting yourself a little bit can turn a shitty day around.

A bad day isn’t a day that contains pain. A bad day is a day that contains no feeling at all. A totally neutral day. Frequently I have days like that, where I don’t feel anything, and for some reason I feel like shit at the end of those days. Styrofoam shit.

When people talk about how working out elevates mood, I think it’s actually that working out is painful. And you only feel awesome once the pain is gone and the endorphins come. But it was the pain that got you there. Nobody ever felt awesome after a half-assed workout.

Lately I’ve been exposing myself to pain where possible because it gives me a chance to wage war against myself, mentally and physically, and to win or lose some self-respect. If I can string together enough days where I can, for example, shower with only cold water – I seem to gain power and momentum for the rest of the day. That shower couldn’t fuck with me, so what’s next?

If I can’t take the shower I’m pretty much retreating into my shell, weakened, and certainly not feeling very powerful. Pussy Ryan won. The Ryan I want to be is nowhere to be found that day.

By default, I don’t at all want to feel pain. Nobody is wired to seek pain, we’re all wired to go for comfort and pleasure. But I make myself feel it anyway when I can bring myself to. I do this because I know the voice in my head that discourages me from feeling pain is the same voice that discourages me from taking risks, manning up, going for broke, and doing the meaningful things in my life. It’s the voice telling me to run from fear instead of smashing into it head on.

The voice is my inner wimp complaining. The voice in my head coming up with completely rational reasons not to do the belly flop (Thanks Ty!). And  thanks Kyle, for leading the synchronized flopping with flawless form.

We have more respect for people who can push through pain, and less respect for wimps. Exposing ourselves to pain, even just a little, is a way to win some self-respect and the feeling of being a badass every single day. It’s a way to turn shit around if we woke up feeling like thumb-sucking infants fresh from shitting the crib, then crying about it.

Slow Motion Ultimate Frisbee Pulls

It’s funny how I’ve never noticed how much a player’s “approach” factors into the force they generate during a pull. But after watching this footage it’s obvious that footwork plays a huge role in adding distance into a throw.

There seems to be a consistent “big last step” in which all that lateral force is planted into the lead foot and translated into torque. It looks like everyone instinctively does this. To get even more yardage, it looks like many players also “hop” into that big last step, probably storing even more elastic energy in their muscles and tendons during those last microseconds of their wind up.

One thing that’s really interesting to watch is what the “non” frisbee hand is doing. For backhand pullers, most of them seem to be using two hands to wind up, then (obviously) letting go with the non-throwing hand at the moment the forward twist begins. For my forehand throw, I actually seem to use my left arm to generate whiplash and “pre-trace” the path which the disc will take. Super strange!

Become A Plastic Magnet in 12 Minutes

This drill will turn your hands into plastic-magnets. And yes, contrary to popular believe, plastic IS magnetic. Watch the video for proof.

Ultimate frisbee players are handicapped much in the way football players are – it’s tough to improve throwing and catching skills without a buddy, nice weather, and lots of space. Getting way better at frisbee doesn’t need to depend upon the availability of friends. You can jack up your skills by yourself, in your own backyard.

For this drill I’ve isolated the pop pass for practicing. If the Backhand is King and the Flick is Queen, the humble (but important) pop pass is certainly on the dais during every feast. It just doesn’t get the respect it deserves.

flick backhand pop pass

A new player using a strong fake followed by a reliable pop pass (to a dump or up field) can damn near eliminate typical short range errors. Short range flicks and backhands, by contrast, are tough to catch and difficult to throw. So we pop.

This pop pass/catch drill is designed to improve the certainty with which you:

  1. Throw pop passes at super short range.
  2. Catch single-handed on both sides.

So, as promised, here’s the video for turning your hands into PLASTIC MAGNETS:

The Wood Workout

Splitting wood brings me joy. So much so that I’ve made a video detailing how it has completely replaced my previous workout with an olympic barbell. It’s just one of those things that makes you feel like a beast. It’s probably in our DNA to get satisfaction from splitting wood, and one of those rare things we can do which is super destructive yet legal and socially acceptable.

 

Sourdough: How To Piss Yourself Off

So about 8 months ago I stupidly asked my buddy Tyler if he could teach me how to bake bread. I didn’t even know or care what kind of bread we’d be baking, so in many ways the suffering I later endured was completely Tyler’s fault.

Tyler bakes sourdough. The most challenging fucking bread in the world to master.

Why Sourdough is so Fucking Difficult to Bake

This isn’t baking a cake. There’s no middle-ground. Either your bread is world-class or it fucking sucks. And when it sucks and you’re just starting out, you just want to scream at the ceiling and rip all of the hair off your body because it took you DAYS to get that bread made.

You don’t get to use commercial yeast. No. You get those fuckers out of the motherfucking AIR and from the flour itself. And that takes a long god damn time to happen. Days in the summer, weeks in the winter. Then only hours when you’re a Bread God and have a little colony of yeast domesticated in a jar in your kitchen, ready to bake with when you god damn well feel like it.

sourdough starter
Sourdough “starter” – fermentation using wild yeast that you fucking captured out of thin air.

For something with such simple ingredients (only flour and water, with some optional salt) – sourdough technique is next fucking level. If you don’t have a clue what you’re doing, you’re completely fucked. You stand exactly a 0% chance of getting it right. Luck can’t help you. You stand no chance. It’s that hard.

However, if you know someone who can teach you how to create sourdough bread, you’re marginally less fucked. I’m only saying marginally less fucked because during that first bake with a sourdough master, there’s going to be so much going on that you simply don’t have the ability to see – yet. The master has spent months developing a refined sense for each step of the process – from how “strong” the dough should feel after folding it, to how “alive” the dough seems after fermentation (all jiggly and full of air). The beginner only sees a ball of dough in a bowl.

The subtleties of fermentation are pretty much impossible to get a sense for by reading a blog or watching videos. Though you still have to spend many hours reading this blog if you want to stand a chance. Even with all that reading, you’ll likely have to fuck up dozens of god damn times before the table starts to turn in your favour.

Here’s a photo of a shitty loaf I baked:

shitty sourdough loaf

Every time one of these came out of the oven, I was very sad.

There were so many more depressing loaves like these. These things had the texture of hockey pucks. I threw some of this “bread” to a squirrel during the winter and it jumped over it. I baked some for my relatives and they made fun of both me and the bread. I would have laughed at me too, the bread was fucking terrible.

dense sourdough

Even near the end, when I was getting some success by using some angry-ass rye flour to power-punch my fermentation in the face, I still had to resort to using a pull saw to get through the bread:

pull saw through sourdough

It turns out that after months of fucking around and failing over and over and over and over and fucking over, I’d developed reasonably acceptable sourdough technique. Through repetition alone, I had gained a pretty obsessive understanding of the timing for fermentation and the development of strength, flavour, and how temperature retards or accelerates everything. I learned how to shape these shits with a drywall blade. It seemed like I was doing everything right.

But after half a year of failure, my bread still fucking sucked, and I was very sad. I had tried everything and nothing was working. Lia thought it was the flour that was causing the repeat failures. So I texted Tyler.

The TSN Turning Point

The next day I went down to the most reputable bakery in town and ordered 25kg of their no-fucking-around STRONG BAKER’S FLOUR.

PH Flour

And then I started dominating the absolute shit out of sourdough.

The bread was so soft and beautiful a normal bread knife couldn’t cut it without totally squishing it and ripping it apart. So I ordered the bread-equivalent of a god damn Japanese samurai sword.

And now I’m happy.

Final Thoughts

I wanted to give up so badly. And to tell you to truth, I did twice. In my head I’d quit. Fuck this, it’s way to fucking hard, I’m done.

But then I’d read something new like how you’re not supposed to cut into the bread until 1 full hour after you’ve removed it from the oven because it’s still baking and if you cut into it too early it will be all dense and shitty and the crust will be really thick and hard.

So I’d be like, “Well, I have to try that.”

And then through brute stubbornness, I stumbled into the solution, which was to switch up the god damn fucking shitty flour I was using.

And the final triumph felt amazing, made all the more blissful from all the struggling and failure.

Here’s how those beauties turned out:

Huge oven spring sourdough

 

blistery sourdough loaf

epic sourdough

Sourdough sandwich