All posts by Rick

Quick update on training

In this post, I describe the results of my barbell training and running in early 2015.


Per my last post on barbell training, I worked for awhile on a derivative of the Greyskull Linear Progression (GSLP), a program with a basic rep scheme of 5-5-5+, where the 5+ is an AMRAP set. Loading progress by 5lbs/workout for lower body lifts and 2.5lbs/workout for upper body lifts. Once the trainee fails at the third set of (at least) 5, she takes 10% off the bar for the next workout and works back up. The GSLP philosophy is that during the reset, one focuses on setting new PRs in the third set for rep maxes at each load: that way, one is always doing work which drives adaptation, not simply repeating the same work as before. During the reset, one is increasing volume rather than intensity.  Continue reading Quick update on training

American optimism, guns, and wealth

In this post, I speculate that American attitudes about guns and wealth are linked by a general optimism about the world, and about one’s ability to determine one’s own destiny.


John Steinbeck said, “Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.” This claim has often been used to explain why the poor in America seem so often to vote for right-wing policies which are opposed to business regulations, labor rights, powerful unions, and the welfare state. In short, Steinbeck suggests that the American poor don’t see themselves as essentially poor, only poor through some turns of circumstance which will be righted shortly through a combination of personal virtue, talent, and hard work. Continue reading American optimism, guns, and wealth

The NRA, Freddie Gray, and carrying knives

Today, I wrote to the NRA to ask them to speak out against the arrest of Freddie Gray, for legally carrying a pocketknife. I ask any readers who are also members of the NRA to do the same, and remind them that we support the right to lawful carry of weapons, and that we fiercely oppose the suppression of Second Amendment rights by anyone–police officer or politician–who tries to take them.

Update: the NRA wrote back to state that due to his criminal record, Freddie Gray was a prohibited person. While true, this does not negate his Second Amendment rights—only his gun rights.

Physical training philosophy

I have a crazy pipe dream that someday I would like to do work in the philosophy of physical fitness. It doesn’t even seem to be a discipline yet, although there is a philosophy of sport which is largely considered with the nature of sport and the ethics of competition. I am interested in doing work on the nature of developing physical prowess, but at this point I have not the faintest idea of what I would write about. Instead, today I thought I’d write about how I approach physical training itself.  Continue reading Physical training philosophy

Laying it down

Since somewhere around the end of 2014, I had been in a pretty dry and numb spot spiritually. I have various Christian-y sayings written up on my whiteboard — “When I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor 12:10) and “too busy not to pray” — and those would often gnaw at me a bit when I would think about how I ought to do some praying and Bible-reading. But I would inevitably set aside the still, small voice in favor of Netflix or thinking about training or schoolwork (least often). I knew the good I ought to do, but didn’t do it. In February 2015, I had finally had enough.  Continue reading Laying it down

2014 conditioning work: reflections on training (part 6)

This will be the sixth and final post in my series (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) on my 2014 physical training. In this post, I will discuss the conditioning work throughout 2014 and into 2015. I will particularly focus on my attempts to improve my running ability. 


I stopped running regularly sometime in the fall of 2011. I was getting out of the Marine Corps and decided that I wanted to focus my effort on getting stronger, rather than wasting time on silly things like running. This was one of the dumbest choices I have made in relation to my training, and it was over two years before I started running regularly again (early 2014). I maintained some passable fitness by continuing to hike once or twice a week, but by fall of 2013 (when I moved to a flat area) I had stopped hiking more than once a month or so. In late 2013, my RHR was around 80bpm, my blood pressure had climbed to the high 110s over the 80s, everything felt creaky and frail, and easy trails had gotten difficult. It was time for a change. Continue reading 2014 conditioning work: reflections on training (part 6)

2014 GST work: reflections on training (part 5)

In the previous post, I discussed the barbell training I did in 2014 and early 2015 as part of my series (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) of reflections on my training. In this post, I’ll cover my bodyweight work, with a particular focus on my use of the Foundation 1 (F1) and Handstand 1 (H1) programs from Christopher Sommer at Gymnastic Bodies.

I did a few different phases of bodyweight(-esque) training in 2014 and early 2015:

  • Accessory work phase: in this phase (which was intermittent throughout most of my 2014 training until I started the F1/H1 programming), I used bodyweight training as a way to augment by lifting.
  • First progression attempts: in this phase, I actually tried to make some progress in gymnastic strength training (GST) skills.
  • F1/H1 phase: I started using the Foundation 1 and Handstand 1 programming from Gymnastic Bodies.

Continue reading 2014 GST work: reflections on training (part 5)

2014 barbell work: reflections on training (part 4)

In the previous three posts of this series (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6), I sketched out my training experiences in 2014: the sorts of work I was doing, when, and why, along with general mistakes. In this post, I will focus specifically on my barbell strength work in 2014 (and early 2015): what worked, what didn’t, injuries, and so forth.


My 2014 barbell work can be divided into roughly 5 periods: (1) the first couple months (with intermittent returns for a couple of weeks), which I’ll refer to as my SS (Starting Strength) periods; (2) the maintenance periods (where I did not try to drive improvement in barbell strength); (3) the weightlifting period; (4) the high-intensity period; (5) the 5/3/1 period.  Continue reading 2014 barbell work: reflections on training (part 4)

Later 2014 and new programming: reflections on training (part 3)

In the previous post of this series (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6), I described the periodized training I attempted in the first half of 2014. I ended up pushing (a crappy version of) my weightlifting cycle through the summer of 2014 while I was teaching. I will discuss that more in my barbell strength post.

In this post, I will describe the programming changes I effected, beginning in August 2014. They can be summed up as follows:

  1. Modified 5/3/1 (deadlift as assistance work, no bench), based loosely on Jim Wendler‘s programming.
  2. Simple running progression involving two runs per week, and an increase of weekly mileage by one mile each month.
  3. The Foundation 1 and Handstand 1 programs from Christopher Sommer at Gymnastic Bodies. (Modified only in that the program is not intended to be run concurrently with other programming, but otherwise done as prescribed.)

Continue reading Later 2014 and new programming: reflections on training (part 3)

Early 2014 and periodization: reflections on training (part 2)


This is part 2 of a multi-part series (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) involving my thoughts on the physical training I did in 2014 and early 2015. I did a lot of weird, goofy stuff, and I hope my discussion will be interesting and helpful to others. Here is part 1.


To review, this is the program I laid out for myself and committed to doing in early 2015:

  • 6 weeks focused on barbell strength: the highly-modified SS protocol I mentioned in the previous post, plus some snatch work, some press-to-handstand (as I called it) work, pull-up/dip/muscle-up accessory work, and then twice-weekly conditioning sessions (usually step-ups on the hiking box with a pack, occasionally a short run).
  • 3 weeks of “GST”: 2x/week barbell maintenance, a front lever progression, a straddle planche progression, 2-3x/week conditioning (split between running and “hiking”), kip-up progression, and handstand work.
  • 2 weeks of barbell strength (same protocol as above).
  • 3 weeks of work capacity: focused on running, push-up volume, barbell maintenance, and some CrossFit-style metcons.
  • 2 weeks of barbell strength.
  • 3 weeks of hypertrophy work: lots of body weight, some curls, dips, and so forth, plus barbell maintenance.
  • 4 weeks of weightlifting: Bulgarian-esque programming training for the snatch, the back squat, and the clean and jerk 3x/week, strict press maintenance, and some accessory work.

Continue reading Early 2014 and periodization: reflections on training (part 2)