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Anthony Mychal | Evolutionary Athletics

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  • Anthony Mychal 12:25 am on June 21, 2017 Permalink | Reply  

    long slow walks 

    I started doing a new kind of walk (out of necessity) a few weeks ago. I'm enjoying this new kind of walk…a little too much.

    I'm looking forward to my walks, which is strange because I haven't looked forward to most of the physical activities I've done in…years.

    I've even started to (sometimes) take two walks every day.

    I'll tell you about this new kind of walk in a second.

    First, some context.

    I'm not new to walking. Before this new kind of walk, I used to walk daily (pending weather). Most of these old walks…I did them, but I didn't really look forward to them.

    I just wanted to get the benefits of walking.

    To clarify…

    I don't walk for fat loss purposes; I don't walk to burn calories. I did enough incline treadmill walking back in 2006 in the heat of my fat loss craze.

    The days of me huffing and puffing my adipose tissue away are long gone. As are my days on treadmills. I'm shivering just thinking about those memories.

    I walk because, when I'm walking, I'm not (a) sitting down (b) inside of a room (c) in front of a computer.

    I need less of those three things.

    Most people need less of those three things.

    I also walk because a long list of writers, thinkers, and creatives have said that walking is better than cocaine.

    All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking.

    -Friedrich Nietzsche

    Nietzsche convinced me to walk more than any modern “health expert” has.

    Now…

    Prior to this new kind of walk, I didn't put much thought into walking. Sometimes I'd listened to a podcast. Sometimes I'd leave everything at home to fast from technology.

    Whatever.

    I didn't put thought into walking. I'd just move my legs like they knew how to move.

    But then I injured my heel.

    Some nuckfugget jumped into the air and landed on my heel (he was wearing spikes). I couldn't put any weight on my left heel. Which sucked, obviously.

    Couldn't do any lower body lifting. Couldn't walk heel-to-toe. Couldn't cut potatoes.

    (Okay, I could cut potatoes just fine. I was just seeing if you were still paying attention.)

    But I'm an aggressive rehabber. I've wrote about my rehab philosophy a few times in the past — not gonna get into the guts here.

    TL;DR, I get moving as quickly as I can after I'm injured. I walk the line between discomfort and pain.

    So I started walking as soon as I could.

    At first, I hobbled. I stayed on the toes of my left foot, making sure my heel didn't touch the ground. But then, after a few days, when I could walk with discomfort and not pain, I started to put a tiny bit of weight on my heel.

    This required me to sloooowwww down my pace. A lot. To a uncomfortable degree, just because it felt so…different. My steps were shallow. Slow. Gentle.

    I walked like a 97 year old retired iron worker, really.

    It took me twice as long to walk my normal route, which sounds boring…even to me, right now. BBOOOORRRIIINNNG. I'm going to close out of this window myself, I think.

    But it wasn't boring.

    It was invigorating.

    When I slowed down, I had no choice but to notice things. To open my eyes and look at things I normally didn't see. I felt like a guy sauntering around town with no where to be. Without an agenda —

    A flâneur.

    And it felt amazing.

    And that's when I realized something about the act of walking. Something best described through a conversation I had with my fiance as we were walking.

    “Walk slower,” I said.

    “Ugh. This is painfully slow,” she said.

    “Well, I'm hurt. And, besides, what's the point of walking?” I asked.

    “What do you mean?” she asked.

    “We aren't walking to lose fat. And we don't walk to get from one place to another. Otherwise, we wouldn't even leave the house because we'd already be where we need to go. We start and end at the same place.”

    “What's your point?” she asked.

    “We walk to walk. That's the point: to walk. So why rush?”

    I realize this might be very anticlimactic. I'm telling you to walk slower, which doesn't seem exciting or new.

    But you should try it. Walk as if you have no where to be. Walk as if time doesn't exist. You'll feel the difference…mentally.

    And you'll realize that most people are walking with the exact opposite mindset. They're walking fast. They're walking to get somewhere they want to go (or so they think).

    I'm sure I could mention something here about enjoying the moment or relieving stress or…

    But that's going to bounce right off the walls of your skull, as is most of this. Because self-limiting your walking speed isn't going to feel fun or exciting.

    So I'll 1-UP things…

    I'm getting older. My eyesight is going bonkers. I stare at a computer screen most of the day. So, on these slow walks, I make a deliberate attempt to alternate between focusing on things far, far away — like the clouds or the top of trees.

    And then I focus on things really close to me.

    Not very formal or scientific. Just something I think will help my eyes in the long run.

    “To become a philosopher, start by walking very slowly.”

    -Nassim Taleb

     

    P.S.

    If you want to get a little more serious about fixing your eyes, check this out from GettingStronger.org.

    P.P.S.

    Hat tip to Nassim Taleb for introducing me to the word “flâneur”.

    The post long slow walks appeared first on Anthony Mychal.

     
  • Anthony Mychal 6:17 pm on June 5, 2017 Permalink | Reply  

    This is the most important page on this website if you’re a skinny-fat dude looking to build a lean athletic body 

    Dearest Skinny-Fat Brethren,

    I’m going to show you the exact steps you need to take if you want to build a lean athletic body.

    They’re the same ones I used to build the body I have now.

    skinny-fat secrets

    You don't need anything fancy. I train in my garage. Alone. I don't live in a mansion with a personal chef.

    So here's the deal…

    I going to give you a chance to see the steps.

    But not right now.

    Because you’re not ready.

    You’re (probably) missing a vital piece of information — a secret — that glues together my three step skinny-fat transformation system.

    And I can’t just spew this secret into your cerebrum. You have to know “enough” in order for it to stick. And I’m not going to make assumptions about what you know.

    If you want to learn about this secret (and my system), then you should sign-up for my free email crash course on body composition for skinny-fat dudes.

    This crash course'll treat you like a wet sponge. It'll squeeze all of the muck and evil out of you (things you know now that aren't doing you any good), so that I can fill you up with the good stuff (things you don't know now that will do you much good).

    Hmm…

    That sounded pretty sexual.

    Oops.

     

    P.S.

    If there’s one thing you need to know, even if you don’t take the crash course, it’s this:

    If you're skinny-fat, you’re…

    …different.

    I’m guessing you’ve experienced why first hand. Otherwise you wouldn’t be here. I’ve experienced why first hand, too.

    But don't get your tubes tied. “Different” doesn't mean “broken.” Most skinny-fat dudes aren't broken, they're simply playing the wrong game.

    As Einstein once said, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

    But I’ve said enough. If you take the course, you’ll see why you’re different (and why it matters) soon.

    The post This is the most important page on this website if you’re a skinny-fat dude looking to build a lean athletic body appeared first on Anthony Mychal.

     
  • Anthony Mychal 3:47 pm on April 12, 2017 Permalink | Reply  

    muscle is a byproduct 

    Everyone wants muscle mass, but muscle mass isn't really something you directly train for. This is why things are (probably) more confusing than they should be.

    Muscle growth is a byproduct of moving your body a certain way through a certain environment; growing is a calculated decision your body makes in order for you to be able to better tolerate an environment.

    A better (more human) way to think of volume, reps, muscle mass, and everything I've been trying to explain is via (a) load, and (b) time.

    Muscle mass is a product of load and time. A higher gravity environment (more strength) encourages better muscle gains, but you have to stay in that environment long enough to convince the body that the investment (in more muscle mass) is worth it.

    • Higher load is better.
    • Sustaining load is better.

    The key is combining the two in some way or another.

    It's sort of like building a callus.

    You can rub your hand on a brick aggressively for one second, but you're not going to get a callus from that short exposure.

    You can rub a feather on your hand all day, but you're not going to get a callus from that soft of a surface.

    You need repeated, sustained harsh enough exposures.

    If you're struggling to gain muscle, it's probably because of one (or both) of these variable isn't developed enough.

    Either you aren't exposing yourself to a high enough gravity environment, or you aren't sustaining exposure enough. (Assuming you're also accounting for food.)

    The post muscle is a byproduct appeared first on Anthony Mychal.

     
  • Anthony Mychal 3:44 pm on April 12, 2017 Permalink | Reply  

    best rep range for muscle 

    Your 1RM is the greatest expression of strength you can muster, meaning it has a big influence on the volume equation.

    But you can't churn out 1RM after 1RM.

    The nature of a 1RM is such that it can't be repeated often (otherwise it isn't a 1RM). So by training at (or near) your 1RM, you aren't going to accumulate a lot of volume.

    This is why you often see the following breakdown between size, strength, and number of reps:

    • 1-3RM more max strength, less muscle mass
    • 4-8RM combo of strength and muscle mass
    • 9-15RM more muscle mass, less max strength
    • 15-20RM muscle mass for selected body parts

    But I'm compelled to clarify some things that the simplicity of this breakdown neglects.

    Imagine Ted has been doing a lot of maximal-effort training, using 3-2-1RM loads.

    He tests his 1RM and it's 300 pounds. If you use the percentages thrown out before, this equates to an estimated 8RM of 240 pounds.

    But if you had Ted test his actual 10RM, it'd probably be lower than expected because 10RM's are a different kind of enemy.

    Sets of 10 are more metabolically (muscularly) taxing. The type of training Ted has been doing doesn't bias those adaptations.

    Imagine Sam has been doing a lot of submaximal-effort training, using 8-9-10RM loads.

    He tests his 10RM and it's 240 pounds. If you use the percentages thrown out before, this equates to an estimated 1RM of 300 pounds.

    But if you had Sam test his actual 1RM, it'd probably be lower than expected because 1RM's are a different kind of enemy.

    Singles (sets of one rep) are more neurologically taxing. The type of training Sam has been doing doesn't bias those adaptations.

    I mention Sam and Ted because the breakdown between reps and adaptations are clearer at the fringes. The middle is soupier.

    You can gain muscle using lower reps, you just have to compensate for the volume lost. And you can get stronger using higher reps, you just have to have a progressive mindset. If you do nothing but 10 reps per set but continually add weight to your sets, you're getting stronger.

    The post best rep range for muscle appeared first on Anthony Mychal.

     
  • Anthony Mychal 3:42 pm on April 12, 2017 Permalink | Reply  

    max-effort versus max strength 

    Increasing maximal strength — getting stronger — shouldn't be confused with maximal-effort strength training.

    Increasing your maximal strength is pushing your gravitational ceiling higher. It's your ability to move through the highest gravity level possible, which is usually accompanied by additional external resistance — weight attached to your body in some way, shape, or form.

    If you're using more weight (assuming good technique), you're expressing more strength. Lifting 210 pounds showcases more strength than lifting 200 pounds.

    But increasing maximal strength isn't (necessarily) maximal-effort strength training, and here are some definitions from Westside methodology to help explain this:

    1. Maximal effort method: lifting a maximal load against a maximal resistance.

    2. Repetition method: lifting a nonmaximal load to failure; during the final repetitions, the muscles develop the maximum force possible in a fatigued state.

    3. Dynamic effort: lifting a nonmaximal load with maximal speed.

    Say you're doing bench presses. You go in and you lift as much weight as you can for one repetition. This is your one rep max (1RM).

    The max-effort method entails lifting weights at 90% or above your 1RM. This is essentially training with your three rep max (3RM), your two rep max (2RM), or your 1RM.

    Most people shouldn't (initially) use the max-effort method to increase strength; you don't need to use max-effort method to increase strength.

    Most people are better off using a strategy not included in the Westside system: the submaximal-effort method.

    Zatsiorsky, in Science and Practice of Strength Training, describes the submaximal-effort method as lifting a load lighter than maximum (90-100% 1RM) for submaximal number of repetitions (not going to failure).

    “About 70% of strength work should be in the 70-85% range, which actually allows you to develop greater strength than when you lift only in the 90-100% zone.”

    Dr. Yessis

    Which sounds confusing, so let's unpack by first establishing this: anytime you're doing more than three reps per set, you're automatically using a submaximal load.

    Below is an extremely crude and non-scientific way to remember how reps correlate to a percentage of your 1RM: subtract 5% for every repetition beyond your 1RM.

    • 1RM = 100%
    • 2RM = 95%
    • 3RM = 90%
    • 4RM = 85%
    • 5RM = 80%
    • 6RM = 75-80%
    • 7RM = 70-75%
    • 8RM = 65-70%

    So if you're doing 4, 5, 6+ reps per set, you're training below 90% of your 1RM and thus not training with a maximal load.

    You don't have to max out or train at your real maximum every day in order to increase max strength.

    Starting Strength is one of the most popular beginner strength training programs. You go into the gym, start light, do five reps per set, and add weight to your sets every session.

    Meaning you're training submaximally, yet you're still getting stronger.

    If all this technical jargon is offsetting, here's a more straightforward example:

    If your 1RM is 200 pounds, you don't have to go into the gym and (try to) lift 200 pounds every week.

    You can lift 70-85% of 200 pounds and still see maximal strength improvements over time.

    The post max-effort versus max strength appeared first on Anthony Mychal.

     
  • Anthony Mychal 3:36 pm on April 12, 2017 Permalink | Reply  

    volume 

    The biggest variable correlated to muscle mass (eliminating food from the equation) is strength training VOLUME.

    Training volume is often misunderstood.

    Trivia question:

    Five sets of ten reps (5×10) is more volume than four sets of six reps (4×6) — true or false?

    Answer:

    What's twelve divided by zero?

    There's no solution because “load” is also a variable in the volume equation. Load is gravity plus external resistance. Considering we all deal with the same gravity, load (simplified) is simply an external resistance.

    VOLUME = SETS x REPS x LOAD

    Which is why 3 sets of 10 at 100 pounds (3×10@100) is less volume than 10 sets of 3 at 150 pounds (10×3@150).

    • 3x10x100=3000
    • 10x3x150=4500

    In general, “external resistance” — strength — is the most malleable and influential variable on volume. But in order to understand why, you have to take a cognitive leap and undress the numbers.

    Let's look at a simple (3×10@100=3000) and play a game of doubles.

    • Double the sets: 6×10@100=6000
    • Double the reps: 3x20x100=6000
    • Double the weight: 3x10x200=6000

    It appears that sets, reps, and load all carry the same impact. But that's not necessarily true.

    First:

    Look at the second example. A doubling of reps wouldn't happen unless maximal strength was also improved.

    Consider maximal strength to be your ceiling, the highest gravity environment you can sustain. You won't be able to sustain it for very long — only a few seconds.

    Sustaining a high gravity environment is more along the lines of strength-endurance. And strength-endurance (to a certain degree) is at the mercy of maximal strength.

    • Ted can bench 300 pounds.
    • Sam can bench 200 pounds.

    Throw 150 pounds on the bar. Who is going to do more repetitions?

    You can't really increase reps per set unless you also increase maximal strength. So if you're thinking about upping repetitions to increase volume, a more realistic example has to account for a commensurate drop in load.

    Meaning if you can do 3x10x100 and you want to do sets with 20 reps, you'll probably have to drop to 3x20x50.

    Of course, you can compensate by doing a billion sets. Sets are less dependent on maximal strength. But, at some point doing sets ad infinitum becomes impractical, boring, and time consuming.

    Second:

    Remember stickiness? And muscle mass being a product of honest sticky movement? As the reps increase, you go beyond the “sticky sweet spot.”

    In other words, say you can do 3x10x300. Doing 3x30x100 isn't going to have the same effect inside of you, even though the volume is consistent.

    You're lifting a load that you could be springy with, meaning it won't spur the same adaptations inside of you.

    Doubling and tripling the reps doesn't always mean what it mathematically says. Nonlinearity prevails in biological entities.

    The post volume appeared first on Anthony Mychal.

     
  • Anthony Mychal 3:22 pm on April 12, 2017 Permalink | Reply  

    Ahhhnuld 

    arnold schwarzenegger strong

    Arnold Schwarzenegger was a competitive powerlifter before turning bodybuilder. In 1966, he put up the following numbers:

    • Squat: 440-pounds
    • Bench: 374-pounds
    • Deadlift: 616-pounds

    In general, getting stronger means you’re going to gain muscle. In general.

    Just connecting some dots…

    • No gravity / no load = no muscle
    • Earth’s gravity / some load = some muscle
    • Earth's gravity + / more load + = more muscle

    But doesn't always shake out this way because your body can get stronger without building muscle.

    Envision rowers in a boat. The oars connecting with the water. Water is a sticky medium, which helps move the boat.

    When you get stronger, the rowers in the boat are doing their job better. Somehow. That's strength, in a nutshell. Your system is improving…somehow. You're increasing your output.

    One way to increase output is to get more out of what’s already there.

    When you’re a noob, it’s like having a brand new rowing crew. No one knows anyone else in the boat. They get in the water and row.

    Billy is rowing at his leisure and Bobby is rowing to the tune of Disarmonia Mundi and Ben is rowing to Macklemore. No one is in sync. The boat goes nowhere.

    But then the rowers practice. And practice. And practice. Suddenly, they’re rowing more efficiently. Everyone is working as a team. Output increases.

    When your rowers get better at rowing (firing in sync, etc.), you get stronger. This skill-learning mechanism behind strength happens (primarily) via neural and technical improvements.

    Your inter-muscular and intra-muscular coordination improves. Rate coding improves. More things happen that I’m sure a physiology book would do a better job explaining.

    Another way to increase output?

    Continue working at a reduced (inefficient) capacity, but add some beef to the rowers. You replace 100-pound pipsqueak rowers with 200-pound muscular brick houses.

    Getting bigger rowers is like building muscle mass.

    Under most circumstances, both adaptations happen in tandem. Your nervous system improves, and your musculoskeletal system improves.

    The biggest influence, the thing that's going to decide whether or not you build muscle, is how much (and what kind of) food you're eating.

    Also, a useful thing to note:

    Eventually, you'll hit a bottleneck with neural and technical adaptations at which point you'll need to gain muscle to improve output.

    Once your rowers have their timing and technique perfect. The only thing they can do to increase output from there is beef up.

    Most people looking to optimize strength to bodyweight ratio mess this up. They starve themselves in order to stay lean. They're afraid of gaining weight, even if they don't have a lot of muscle mass.

    Imagine a natural 160 pounder trying to stay 160 pounds. He doesn't have a lot of muscle mass, so he doesn't have a high strength potential.

    Compare him to a natural 140 pounder that added 20 pounds of muscle to get to 160 pounds.

    Who do you think has the upper hand?

    The post Ahhhnuld appeared first on Anthony Mychal.

     
  • Anthony Mychal 3:18 pm on April 12, 2017 Permalink | Reply  

    gravity bottleneck 

    Most of us aren’t walking around all huge like the incredible Hulk because Earth’s gravity is constant. It’s always 9.8 meters per second squared. There's an inherent bottleneck.

    anthony mychal hulk

    Most of us have “enough” muscle to neutralize the threat of gravity. Think about all of the times in your every day life when you face an honest sticky situation.

    Probably never.

    Building muscle tissue beyond what your body feels like it needs is like a quadriplegic buying a six story mansion. It’s like hiring ten mafia men when you only need one.

    You’re just wasting your money. The extra dudes are sitting around, zapping you for cash, eating all of your cheese and waffles.

    If the same two burglars try to break into your house, and your mafia men thwart them every time…

    …why spend money on more men?

    You don’t.

    If you want more mafia men around, you have to increase the threat. You have to tell your body it needs more.

    And this is where “strength” comes back into the conversation.

    Strength training is the act of seeking more “load” than what Earth has to offer. It's you pushing the adaptation envelope.

    The post gravity bottleneck appeared first on Anthony Mychal.

     
  • Anthony Mychal 3:06 pm on April 12, 2017 Permalink | Reply  

    contract (stick) + relax (spring) 

    You can contract your muscles. You can relax your muscles. These are the extremes, but you can't move when you're 100% in either extreme.

    • Total relaxation, you can’t move.
    • Total contraction, you can’t move.

    Overcoming gravity is a combination of contraction and relaxation, with certain movements being biased towards an extreme.

    Contraction based movements are sticky. Grindy. Friction. In order to be sticky, you have to contract.

    If your car breaks down on the side of the road and you have to push it, chances are you’re going to be sticky.

    Relaxation based movements are springy. Bouncy. Ballistic. In order to be springy, you have to relax.

    If I ask you to throw a baseball as far as you can, chances are you're going to be springy.

    Muscle, from an empirical standpoint, is a byproduct of honest sticky movement…

    …but what's this “honest” qualifier about?

    Did you cheat on me? I need to know. Was it me? Was it my fault? I can't change, baby, but I can sure as hell put on a façade and make it seem like I can (and will) even though I won't; we'll be back in the same spot two years from now; it'll be a recurring loop and we'll die unhappily ever after.

    You decide to walk slow and sticky up the steps, but you could leap and bound quickly up those same steps. So walking up the steps, no matter how you do it, isn’t an “honest” sticky movement.

    A good marker to judge honest sticky movements: can you be springy or leave the surface of the earth?

    If you can't (to a huge degree), you're probably in an honest sticky zone.

    Springy movements (probably) don't trigger the need for more muscle mass because, typically, springy movements shock the system. And big creatures don’t handle shocks well.

    An elephant won’t survive a fall of half it’s height, but an ant can survive a fall from the moon. The biggest cats aren’t the most nimble cats.

    spring shock muscle

    In adults, stickiness precedes springiness. A total noob that wants to do clapping handstand push-ups has to first build the strength to hold a handstand, and then build the strength to do controlled handstand push-ups.

    Sticky training encourages muscular adaptions that support the (eventual) springiness.

    The exception to this rule: newborns.

    Babies are mostly spring with little stick, which is why they lack control. They bounce around like a pinball.

    Stickiness and springiness work in tandem. You won't be very powerful without stickiness.

    springy baby

    The post contract (stick) + relax (spring) appeared first on Anthony Mychal.

     
  • Anthony Mychal 2:42 pm on April 12, 2017 Permalink | Reply  

    muscle mafia 

    Mafia men are expensive. They’re paid an hourly salary. They get a signing bonus upon hire.

    But they protect you from danger.

    You, as a homeowner, in charge of the funds, are frugal. You need good reason to spend money on anything (except cheese, cheese is the fifth element), let alone a mafia mob.

    muscle mafia

    So the first question(s) you ask:

    • “DO I NEED A MOB?”
    • “AM I UNDER ATTACK?”
    • “IS THERE A THREAT?”

    If no, eat pancakes. And make sure you put cheese on them. All of the cheese.

    If yes, continue.

    If you're under attack and you need the mafia's protection, you reach the second tier of concern: can you pay the men?

    Even though you need the mafia's help, it's not an automatic decision because there's a financial burden.

    Do you have the money for the up front cost? Does it appear that you'll have the money for the continued investment?

    If no, uh oh. Can’t spend what you don’t have. Mafia men don’t do pro bono work. So just eat more pancakes. With more cheese.

    If so, pay. Hire the men.

    muscle mafia flow chart

    This waltz between NEED and $$$ is continual and constantly under assessment.

    If the threat goes away, you lay off the men you've previously hired. Why spend money on something you don’t need? You’re thrifty, remember?

    …unlike my parents. They have fine china they never used when I was growing up. But it’s still there.

    The body isn’t so kind.

    The post muscle mafia appeared first on Anthony Mychal.

     
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