A bit on posture – it should be easy

Chris posted something interesting about posture over at Condition Research this week. He highlighted Dan John’s explanation of some advice from Art DeVany:

“Art De Vany???s wonderful presentation in Las Vegas (May 18, 2008), and available on DVD, sums a very simple way to follow this idea: Lift your Heart! Not only does it have a beautiful ring to it as a way to live one???s life, it is a simple (elegant) way to move.”

Dan has written about posture before saying you should hold your head as if the back is being combed upwards.

Both of these tips are great and instantly give you a more upright posture. They also work when sitting and help to avoid slouching over a keyboard at work.

Other animals don’t seem to think about maintaining good posture. Unfortunately, many modern human habits promote poor posture (too much sitting being the main culprit) meaning we have to re-learn something that should be natural and easy. It is well worth doing though as it is can be a simple way to improve movement and reduce back pain.

Chris’ full post can be found at:

I would also recommend Esther Gokhale’s book ‘8 steps for pain free back’. It’s an excellent resource on regaining a natural posture with some easy to follow exercises to help get you there.


Timed sets – big volume

More volume work with timed sets. The 24kg swings were 30 seconds on 30 seconds off, on everything else I just switched hands after each 30 second block.

I really like these timed sets, they make any additional ‘cardio’ completely unnecessary.

Joint mobility warm up

16kg snatch – 3mins, 30sR/30sL, 20RPM = 30R/30L (960kg)
1mins rest
16kg snatch – 2mins, 30sR/30sL, 20RPM = 20R/20L (640kg)
1mins rest
24kg swing – 4mins, 30sR/30s rest/30sL/30s rest, 32RPM = 32R/32L (1,536kg)
1mins rest
20kg swing/jerk – 6mins, 30sR/30sL, 32RPM/12RPM = 48R/48L/18R/18L (2,640kg)
2min rest
8kg shield cast – 2mins, 30sR/30sL, 28RPM = 28R/28L (448kg)

Time = 22mins (6,244kg)

Cool down:
Prasara yoga – wind x 2 each way, ocean x 1 each way

Current strength routine – a little more informative

My recent posts have settled into being mostly a workout log with a small bit of additional chitter chatter. Fearing that they might not make the most informative or exciting reading I wanted to give a bit more explanation around my current strength routine, why I have chosen the exercises and what I hope to get out of them.

I have recently started climbing so many of the exercises have been chosen to build attributes that (I hope) will help me be a better climber.

As I mentioned in my last post, I like to get this session finished in about an hour. This means most of the exercises work more than one thing at once and my rest breaks are short. This isn’t the best for pure limit strength but works for me.

On to the exercises. I divided them up in the same the way as the workout: warm up, upper body, grip & lower body and cool down.

Warm up:

Joint mobility
I work my way from head to toe working all my major joints, starting with gentle rotations and moving onto more active body flow. This loosens me up nicely after a day in the office and warms my body, it takes about ten minutes.


Handstand practice
Handstands are awesome, I really want to have a ten second free balance by the end of the year. To help get there HS are currently my primary pushing movement. I practice for a short while each day and have a longer go during these workouts, trying to spend as much time upside down as possible. I’m now at the final stage before free balancing. I kick up near a wall and try and catch the stand without using the wall.

I’ll go into more detail of the stages I’ve gone through in a later post. I want to successfully get the HS first though, otherwise I’ll feel like a bit of a fraud 😉

Tuck planche
This is an additional pushing exercise working through a different plane of movement and is a way of getting in an extra bit of hand balancing. Planche is also a great skill and strength builder. It will take a long time but planche is what I will aim for next after the handstand.

Front lever pull/360 pull/yewki
I will cycle through these three as my primary pulling movements. They all work the pulling muscles through multiple planes so have great carry over for climbing. I’m cycling through them for variety, they all work similar muscles so I should be able to progress on each – this is a bit of an experiment though.

Grip and lower body:

Card tears
I love working on this skill. It’s fun and is a great for grip and wrist strength. I can’t wait to wow my kids with this party trick in a few years time.

Next up are a couple of supersets of a leg exercise and a grip exercise. I am doing this to save some time and it works well as neither exercise works the same muscles too hard.

All the lower body exercises are single leg. I have read a couple of arguments against single leg work recently as the additional weight you shift in bilateral exercises produces more systemic fatigue and therefore a bigger response (i.e muscle growth). This is certainly true but, as I am lifting to aid my climbing, lots of extra muscle mass (and therefore weight) is not ideal. I find single leg stuff to be more functional for me (right now) as it is rare that you work your lower legs bilaterally, and in the same movement, when climbing. Plus single leg work enables me to load the muscles fairly heavily with limited equipment.

Superset 1:

One leg/two arm deadlift
This trains hip extension of hips and core stability. It has good carry over to climbing. You are often required to apply tension to wall with one leg in similar way to remain still while moving opposite side of body.

Plate curl
One of my favourite grip exercises. They work many aspects of grip at once: wrist flexion, pinch and open finger strength. Getting stronger in this movement has also helped my HS as it has increased my ability to grip the floor hard.

Superset 2:

Bulgarian split squats
Another great exercise. Trains hip and knee extension and hip mobility in one go. This also has good carry over to climbing as you often perform assisted one leg squats when moving up wall.

Towel chin ups
Trains support plus crush grip and is also an additional pulling exercise. Winner.

The cool down:

The idea here is to counter the stresses put on my body during the workout and build some active flexibility.

Bridge wall walks
Builds back flexibility and also opens up hip flexors, shoulders and chest when in the bridge position.

Pike compression/hamstring stretch
Active and static flexibility for the hamstrings.

DB side lever
Done with a light weight these are great at loosening up my wrists and forearms. My grip takes a bit of a beating during this workout and also from climbing earlier in the week. I am sure that this exercise was a great help in reducing soreness/fatigue the next day.


So, that’s the thinking behind my current strength workout. Phew, what a long post!


Strength day – in an hour

I always aim to get everything done in an hour. I usually feel like I could carry doing new exercises and more sets but like to call it a day after 60 minutes. There’s nothing too scientific about the decision but it suits me personally. My recovery is better and it leaves more time free to spend with my family. Exercise is important for healthy living, but it isn’t the only thing – you have to find balance.

All change this week. This workout is a mix of my standard Wednesday and the session I had last Friday. Joint mobility warm up

HS practice – 8mins
Tuck planche – 4 x 5sec
Tucked front lever pull – 5,5,4

Card tears – 26 1/4d, 23 1/4d

Superset 1: One leg/two arm deadlift – 36kg x 5, 44kg x 4,4
8kg plate curl – 7R/7L,6R/6L,6R/6L

Superset 2: Bulgarian split squats – 36kg x 5R/5L,5R/5L Towel chin ups – 8,8

Cool down:
Wall walk x 3
Pike compression/hamstring stretch x 3
2kg DB side lever – 2 x 12R/12L

A mixed bag

Joint mobility

Press to HeS – 4
5mins HS practice

Card tearing – 26 left, 23 right

Superset 1:
One leg/two arm deadlift – 16/20kg x 5, 20/24kg x 3,3
8kg plate curl – 6R/6L,6R/6L,6R/6L

Superset 2:
20kg one arm row – 6R/6L,6R/6L
3.5kg DB side lever – 4R/4L,4R/4L

A nice mix of stuff tonight. I’m giving the long kettlebell sets a miss until next week as I find they hit me harder the next day. I’ve had a busy week and have a fairly full weekend and there’s no point rigidly sticking to a workout plan only to not function properly during the day.

The supersets were a great way to get more done in less time. Pairing a grip exercise with something that isn’t grip intensive works great, heavy weighted chins wouldn’t go so well.

I’m finding I am much stronger tearing cards in one direction than the other. Bizarrely I’m stronger when my weaker (left) side is doing the bulk of the work. I think it’s down to pinch strength. When my left side is working my stronger right thumb is holding things tight, when it is reversed my weaker thumb can’t do as good a job. It’ll come on with practice though.

Gymnastics, bells & clubs

I’ve got a big day at work tomorrow and will be on my feet a lot. Kettlebell timed sets tend to make my legs a bit wobbly the next day so I gave them a miss tonight. Snatching is quite tough after handstands and ring work. My shoulders and grip were already quite fatigued. I’m too close to getting a handstand to back off. It may be best to go back to having a strength day on Wednesday, saving the snatch work for Fridays so I can go at it fresh.

Joint mobility warm up

HS practice – 8mins
Tuck planche – 5 x 5sec
Rings, 360 pull – 2,2,2

16kg KB snatch – 3 x 10R/10L
8kg PC shield cast – 4 x 10R/10L
8kg PC swipe – 2 x 15R/15L, 2 x 10R/10L

Wall walk x 3, back bridge x 20sec

Prasara yoga – wind flow, ocean flow