Back to bouldering

I went bouldering for the first time in a long while this morning. I haven’t been that regularly since falling off last February.

I tried a new place (to me) close to home. It was great, a real nice mix of routes plus some very cool fake stone slabs.

If you’re around the Surrey, UK I recommend you check them out.

I went to the Sutton one.


The beast has landed


I’ve been pining after a bike for a while now. I spent many weekends tearing around on a bike when I was younger and always like to have one around.

I picked this up on eBay for a bargain ??70.

It isn’t actually very beastly, and needs a bit of work, but I like it. It’ll be nice to be take it out over the summer.

As well as riding for cycling’s sake I can also use it to get to different trail runs and more varied spaces to practice MovNat. There’s also a local climbing wall which is a bit too far to walk but an easy 15 minute bike ride away – happy days.

Why dads should keep in shape

I came downstairs a few days ago to find my eldest daughter trying to do forward rolls on our living room rug. I asked her what she was doing and she replied – “I’m doing my exercises like Daddy”.

This is the first time she’s really recognised the fact that I exercise, it’s something I usually do after she has gone to bed. It got me thinking about the reasons I train, why it is important to me and how being a Dad motivates me to be consistent.

I think there are three main reasons that, if you are Dad, you should keep yourself in shape:

1) Be a good example
We all know that obeisity levels are on the rise. What I find more worrying is that the average person in the UK is three stone heavier now than in the mid-60s. If this trend continues, and fat and unfit becomes an accepted norm in society, it will take more effort for children to look after themselves as they grow up.

As a parent this makes it even more important that you help your children build good habits early on. The simplest way to help this happen is to set a good example yourself. Cheap convenience food is everywhere, but if you don’t have it in the house they can’t eat it. If they see you keeping in shape they will be intruiged and want to copy you.

Make eating well and exercising normal in your home even if it is abnormal out of it.

2) Play
Children have endless energy. They run and jump, climb and roll for hours without stopping. They love playing, and it’s great to be able to share the fun with them. A big reason I try to keep in shape is just to keep up with them and I would hate to not be able to join in if they wanted me to.

Movnat is great for this as it closely mimics a lot of the activities you will see in children’s play. By focusing my training in this way I am confident I will be able to keep up, now and in the future.

If they want to charge around the park for hours – I can join in. If they are then too tired to walk and need carrying home, that’s fine too.

3) Your kids love you
At least I hope they do! The point here is that if you smoke, eat like crap and put on weight the chances that you will get diabetes, heart disease and host of other unpleasant illnesses goes up. 

Medical technology is helping doctors keep us alive for longer regardless of how much we fuck ourselves up. But longer is not necessarily better – what about quality of life?

Yes, you might be hit by a bus tomorrow, or be struck down with a horrible disease. Freak accidents happen but the fact that something unexpected could shorten your life is not an excuse to avoid trying to EXTEND it.

Work to enjoy the time you spend with your children as much as is possible, for as long as is possible.

A health first approach to fitness

There has been much internet brouhaha over the last week following this article about barbell squats by Anthony Johnson. He describes the squat as “the worst exercise in existence” due to it’s potential for injury.

I’ve never actually squatted with a barbell on my back so can’t really comment on the exercise, but I do think the article raises an interesting point about safety in exercise.

I try to follow a health first approach to fitness where I develop myself physically, but not to the detriment of my health. To me this means staying well rounded and pushing myself enough to make my training rewarding but not so far as to be injurious.

That said, assessing exercises based on safety alone would very quickly take the enjoyment out of them. An element of risk makes training fun and more vital.

One of the criticisms of barbell squats was that the legs get stronger faster than the spinal muscles, allowing you to squat a weight above what your spine can handle. This makes sense, but why not just chill out on the weight instead if piling it on? Isn’t that more an issue of ego than the exercise itself and could be applied to almost any exercise in the gym?

Coach Sommer’s steady state cycle for gymnastic static holds has you stick with a given progression for some time after it starts to feel easy. The idea is to allow the strength of connective tissue to catch up with the muscles. Surely similar principles can be applied elsewhere.

We all need progressive overload to get stronger, but the load should be appropriate for the whole system not simply as much as you can stand. The Gymnastic Bodies forum is littered with people who have ignored this and got injured in the process – especially with the planche.

I currently have long term goals of being able to do a handstand, press handstand, planche and one arm chin up. All of these have potential for injury, but as I plan on continuing training into old age I have around 40 years to get there. I hope to have them nailed before that, but with that much time available I’m in no rush.

Some exercises are inherently more dangerous than others, but the problem is not necessarily with the exercise but the mindset. I’d rather focus on health first, make slow, steady progress and avoid injury.

Current training – June 2012

The sun has been shining in England. This is a rare and wonderful thing.

Training indoors on a warm, sunny evening feels like a waste so I’ve added in some outdoor MovNat sessions during the week.

I was able to have a great session earlier this week with some crawls and climbing in the park (traversing a park bench anyone?). I had plenty of weird looks but lots of fun as well.

If the weather turns and I can’t get out I’ll just swap Wednesday and Friday. Also, if it’s really nice I’ll probably drop indoor sessions and get outside.

This is not the time of year to get too caught up in routine – better to get outside and play!


  • Warm up – wrists, shoulders, squat
  • A1: Low l-sit x 20sec
  • A2: German hang x 30sec
  • A3: Tuck front lever x 15sec
  • B1: Face wall HS x 20sec
  • C1: Back to wall HS (held close to wall and attempt to balance) – 20sec
  • D1: Pseudo planche push ups – 5-8
  • D2: Rope pull up with uneven grip R/L x 4-6
  • D3: Band assisted pistol R/L x 3-5

After warm up. 3 rounds of A1-3, 5 sets of B1, 5 sets of C1, 3 rounds of D1-D3.


  • Handstand drills
  • Get out MovNat about


  • Easy run at lunch – 20mins, about 2 miles


  • Warm up – wrists, shoulders, squat
  • A1: Low l-sit x 20sec
  • A2: German hang x 30sec
  • A3: Tuck front lever x 15sec
  • B1: Face wall HS x 20sec
  • C1: Back to wall HS (held close to wall and attempt to balance) – 20sec
  • D1: Ring dip – 5-8
  • D2: Tuck front lever row – 5-8
  • D3: Natural leg curl

After warm up. 3 rounds of A1-3, 5 sets of B1, 5 sets of C1, 3 rounds of D1-D3.


  • Easy run (plus some MovNat-ing) – 45mins, 4-5 miles