The Culture.

Our culture is expressed each day in the work that we do, the hand we extend, the garden we tend, the wealth we create and the love we share. The yawp of life and liberty. That is the bounty of America.

Let’s together animate the better angels of our nature in tender pursuit of happiness.

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tennisNow 36 days into this hybrid, I have to say I’m feeling satisfied with my progress. My shoulder is slowly improving. I’ve been able to play tennis again. I even signed up and played my first match of the singles tennis fall season.

I attribute my progress to date to several factors:

  1. This hybrid round ramps up in difficulty over three weeks, then includes a recovery week, then ramps up again in the same cycle. This prevents me from over-taxing myself.
  2. I continue to swing the kettlebell light. The first 4 weeks, I kept it at 8 kg. Now, I’m using the 12 kg and dropping to the 8er for high pulls and snatches. This keeps my shoulder happy.
  3. I do Tai Cheng Neural Reboot or X3 Yoga prior to tennis play. I refrain from other workouts when playing tennis. This obviously extends the duration of this hybrid. But it also prevents me from overdoing it.

Thus, I am in pursuit of a long, ego-less round. I want to work the cardio, endurance and to a lesser degree, strength. I played a two set singles tennis match yesterday in 95 degree heat. I basically won by having more endurance than my opponent (7-6, 6-2). So, even though I’m not 100%, it was a good feeling to be able to push through that heat to a win. The legs felt very good. I give the kettlebell work a lot of credit for overall strengthening of my legs.

Also, it’s been three years since I’ve done the original 60 minute long P90X workouts. I can state unequivocally now that they are more difficult than X2 or X3. Just sayin’.

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A Weak Week

Nutella-pudding1One week into this round, I can confidently report that taking two months off of any resistance exercise results in material gains in weakness.

Some of this weakness is out of respect for my still compromised right shoulder. In each routine, I reduced weight amounts from prior levels. But even still, at the close of week 1, I am sore as can be.

Even with The Challenge, at only 5 pull ups and 15 push ups per set, I was humbled with total body soreness for two days after.

And with today’s kettlebell routine (after a rest day), at Level 4 with an 8 kg bell, I was like the tin man when I started. The good news is that after the first round, blood flow lubricated my muscles making the subsequent rounds very productive. It remains a good decision to stay low with that 8 kg bell. With it, I’m doing more, good form reps and good, very deep squats.

My hope is that by not “pushing it” I’m getting a decent workout, good cardio and rehabbing my shoulder. So far, I’m satisfied that I’m accomplishing this.

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Round 16: The Mother of All Hybrids

P90X_X2_Round-16It’s with some trepidation that I am re-entering the blogosphere and dipping my toes into a new and extended workout round.

Why? Well since completing my last round, now over two months ago, I’ve been in general “recovery mode” playing some mixed doubles tennis, doing yoga and listening to Mozart operas. It’s also been something of an extended recovery period because at some point I did something to the back of my right shoulder that was causing discomfort and weakness. Range of motion wasn’t really compromised, though. So while this annoyance was happening, I stopped tennis play and just did yoga (and opera).

After a month and a half of no tennis, I played a recreational mixed doubles match only to find that the shoulder felt better the next day. And that better feeling continued to the next day, and the day after that. OK, that was weird. I still feel some minor irritation, but nothing like prior to playing that match.  Could it be that swinging my arm released some kind of impingement? Well I guess we’re about to find out.

After about five days of my shoulder feeling better, and bored as hell with yoga, I decided to try starting up my self-designed, 20 week P90X/X2/X3/Insanity/Skogg Kettlebell regimen. I started today with the kettlebell via the Skogg Roots workout. I opted to go full Level 4, but with my lightest 8 kg bell. Doing Level 4 gave me a decent cardio workout. And keeping it light with the 8 kg kettlebell allowed me to focus on form, do really good, deep squats, and test out that shoulder.

The shoulder felt ok throughout the routine. I’ll have a better sense of everything tomorrow morning, but so far I’m doing fine. It felt good to be back at it.

What about the opera? Well, kudos to Mozart for keeping me sane while in low activity mode. Perhaps I’ll write about that at some point. For now, let me just say that opera on blu-ray can be very enriching. Uncompressed sound, high definition picture and English subtitles combine to create a captivating experience.

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Round 15 Hybrid Complete

doneThis post is a little late in coming, but just to tie this round up with a bow: I completed this hybrid on May 29, 2016.

In all, it took me 118 days to complete this 111 day Hybrid, begun on February 1.

I started this round at 160 lbs and finished this round at 165 lbs.

That’s tough to type. Back in the day, a few years ago, I was a steady 150 lbs. I’ve been gradually creeping up since. I’m willing to concede that some of this may actually be blamed on muscle gain. Since I started with the kettle bell, my thighs have gotten bigger. And there ain’t no fat in my legs. Neither in my shoulders and arms. But there’s no way I’ve gained 15 lbs of muscle mass. No, the fat resides as a sort of “modesty shield” covering my awesome abs. It’s there to make me more approachable and less intimidating to others.

This is all so much whining though, as I’m feeling in pretty decent shape.

Summer mixed doubles tennis starts this weekend and I’m looking forward to it. That knee/hamstring issue that began last June (!) is now almost fully resolved. Since completing this round, I’ve been doing Tai Chi and the Tai Cheng Neural Reboot each day. Just doing that has improved my range of motion to now be essentially the same on both legs. Still, I opted out of summer singles play. I plan to start that up in the Fall.

I must say I really enjoyed this hybrid. The variety. The mixing in routines of varying duration. I placed the recovery periods at good points where they turned out to be needed. Overall strength improved well. Pull ups improved throughout as well (even with the added weight gain).

So, this may me the new normal for me: extended regimens that incorporate a variety of workouts from multiple sources. I’m planning to take some time off, just focusing on walking, tennis, yoga and Tai Chi before starting up again. I drafted up another hybrid that incorporates P90X and Insanity along with P90X2, X3 and the kettlebell. The Mother of All Hybrids is what I’m calling it. Because of all the routines, it will extend to about 150 days. I plan to start up with that at some point this summer.

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Round 15: Everything is Awesome Edition

the-lego-movie-awesome-e1392309318427Today, I’m at week 10, day 67 of this hybrid round. Everything, as they say, is awesome because I’m on schedule and things continue to trend well.

No injuries. Strength, mobility and flexibility are gaining. Tennis play is improving, with actual wins on the doubles court. I’m still not playing singles and am refraining from doing so this summer as well. While I’m moving fairly well now in doubles, I can tell the demands of singles would really overtax my knee/hamstring.

With the kettlebell, I’m swinging that 20 kg bell a bit longer before retreating to the 16 and the 12, depending on the routine. I remain happy with the structure of this hybrid. It seems to offer up recovery days just as I need them. This is good because I’ve been messing around with structuring another hybrid that incorporates P90X and Insanity along with P90X2, X3 and the kettlebell. The Mother of All Hybrids is what I’m calling it. Because of all the routines, it will extend to about 150 days. I hope to try it out beginning this summer sometime.

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Round 15: Strength in Numbers

strength-in-numbersToday begins week 7 of this 16 week hybrid round. And while some days are better than others, the general trend is one of increasing strength and muscle gain. I’ve expressed this gain with the purchase of a new, 20 kg (44 lbs) kettlebell. It’s very satisfying that I’ve gone from swinging a 16er for about half my rounds, to now starting out with the 20 and falling back to the 16 as my baseline bell.

So things are generally trending well. My injured knee/hamstring issue continues its healing. I’ve introduced deeper squats and moderate plyo into my routines. Movement on the tennis court is getting better. Hiking and backpacking performance is decent. Range of motion in yoga routines is getting closer to normal on the injured side.

In February, I went on our Troop’s annual backpacking trip to Pine Mountain, Georgia. We hiked 10 miles the first day. 10 miles is a pretty good distance with a full pack. As is usual for me, around mile 8, the tendons around my knees started getting bitchy. Likewise, with the better weather, I’ve started doing a 5.5 mile loop hike down by the river near my house. My time is good, but my steps lack that plyo spring I enjoy when in very good shape. So the 8 mile backpacking knee pain and the lack or elan in my hiking steps are why I characterize my performance as “decent,” as opposed to something more exuberant.

Also, since I’m sort of complaining, there is still zero weight loss. And it’s definitely not because of all the awesomeness and muscle gain I’ve developed. It’s that damn belly fat. I’ve resolved to work harder at it because it’s really starting to bug me. It’s also, I know, at the root of what’s slowing me down.

On the positive side, pull ups are getting stronger, even though I’m pulling up 10 lbs more weight. So the optimist would say I’m enjoying the cost savings of not needing to purchase a weighted vest to make my pull ups more challenging. I would say: lose the weight and do more pull ups! So far, it’s the pull ups that are proving the most draining, particularly the needed ab effort. Two days afterwards, I still feel it.

Kettlebell day today.

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Round 15: The Beast in Me


Was Gaston modeled after P90X star Tony Horton?

If not for the beast within us we would be castrated angels.
~Herman Hesse

I’m now into week 4 of this round and it’s something of a recovery week, which is appreciated. Yesterday, while swinging my kettlebell, I had to drop down to a lighter bell earlier than I’d hoped. I was just so sore and completely out of gas. Why? Well, two days prior, I’d done the P90X3 routine called “The Challenge.” It’s a routine that just alternates eight sets between push ups and pull ups. Now heavier (still 160 lbs), those pull ups aren’t what they once were. But I set my goal at 25 push ups and 10 pull ups for each set. And yes, in those final sets, my pull ups were not consecutive. But I did them for a total of 80 pull ups and 200 push ups. And that, that is what caught up with me yesterday as I was doing my kettlebell routine.

So far this round, I’ve managed to stay on schedule. I’ve also played some poor, uninspired, uncoordinated mixed doubles tennis. My knee continues to recover. The hamstring that tore seems healed, though still somewhat stiff, perhaps this is scar tissue. My movement on the tennis court is poor and I haven’t tried to force it to a higher level, not trying to do too much, too soon. Yeah, there was no risk of that this past month. Anyway, I’m hoping I’ll be in better form and more fully recovered as the men’s doubles season starts. I’ve opted out of singles because that’s just too much right now.

Over the weekend, I watched Beauty and the Beast (in 3D) on BluRay HD. I hasn’t seen it since my son was little. All I can say is “wow.” In high definition, in 3D, with uncompressed audio, it’s a reference-quality flick. And Gaston, that villain, was he modeled after Tony Horton of P90X fame? Damn if he doesn’t look exactly like him!

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Round 15: A New Hope

P90X_X2_Round-14My last attempt at this hybrid ended first by adjusting the schedule, then by acknowledging that I needed to quit to allow for my hamstring to heal.

Now, months later and five pounds heavier, I’m still not 100% but there’s no pain, just awareness of the issue. I spend January swinging kettlebells without any deep squats and riding a stationary bike. Now, with a new month, I’m feeling that I should dip my toe in the water and try to get back into a more diverse routine.

So I started this hybrid again yesterday. It begins with the kettlebell and I swung it heavy (16 kg) in Round 4 for 4 out of 6 moves before retreating to the 12er in the Skogg Roots DVD. Still attentive to my knee/hamstring issue, I’m only doing very shallow squats. And again, with today’s P90X3 Total Synergistics, I refrained from any plyo moves and kept those squats shallow.

It feels good to be on a schedule again.

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2015’s Top 10 Posts

Once again, it’s time to commemorate the year’s top 10 posts for this blog. The Top 10 represent the posts which have the most visits during the course of the calendar year. Given this, recent posts are at a disadvantage because they haven’t has as much time to accumulate hits.  Again this year, the tennis elbow saga dominated the hit list. So much so, that I should probably petition to get a commission of Thera-band revenues.

But it wasn’t all about recovery. P90X/Insanity related posts remain popular as well as my rants about getting a scholarship in the State of Georgia.

I’m also happy to report that my initial Austrian Hut to Hut post came in at number 7 as well as my wonderful Teton Crest Trail account at number 10. I re-visited the Alps this year with my son and that post (below) very nearly reached the top 10.

  1. Tennis Elbow Rehab with the Thera-band Flexbar & Tyler-Twist Protocol
  2. My P90X-Insanity Hybrid Review & Results
  3. P90X-Insanity Hybrid, Day 0: Fit Test & Schedule
  4. The Zell Miller Scholarship GPA Requirement is Seriously Flawed
  5. Round 4 Hybrid, Day 0: Insanity Fit Test
  6. P90X Day 0: Fit Test
  7. Pitztaler Runde 2013: Hut to Hut Hiking in Tirol, Austria
  8. The Case for Eliminating the GPA Requirement from the Proposed Zell Miller Scholars Program
  9. My P90X Review
  10. Into the Tetons. Our 4 Day Backpacking Trip Along the Teton Crest Trail

As the author of this blog, I offer up some additional favorites of my own. These 2015 activities capture the fruits of my labor, as it were:

Thanks for visiting this blog. Have a happy and healthy New Year!


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