Urban climbing

I’ve just had a bit of an urban climbing binge on YouTube.

Check out Alain Robert – amazing stuff


Beginning judo

I was totally hooked on judo during the Olympics – it was simply awesome to watch.

It has inspired me to get back on the mats and start some martial arts training again. It’s been a couple of years since I’ve done any and I really miss it.

I stopped as I was struggling to schedule training around a new baby and an increasing number of late nights at work. If had to choose between going to training or going home to see P, she would always win (and rightly so!).

Life is different now. Family and work are both more settled and I feel like I can commit some time to training.

I never really stuck at anything I trained previously, often because life moved me away from the dojo.

Now I want to be able to sustain training over time which makes judo a great choice.

There are dojos everywhere, just between work and home there are three to choose from, and all are easily accessible.

I’m starting next week on a BJA adult beginners course at the Budokwai. Its a legendary club – the oldest judo dojo outside of Japan.

I can’t wait.

Current ring dip/muscle up progression

This is a summary of the progression I plan to work through for ring dips and muscle ups.

It’s a good example of how bodyweight exercises can progress and become more challenging without simply adding weight.

I’ll be working on them twice a week.


Session 1 Goals
Muscle up Increase ROM – currently can’t do reps without starting with bent arms
Increase sets/reps to 3 x 5
No momentum
Session 2 Goals
Ring dip No arm contact on rings, rings held turned out (palms slightly forward)
Keep hollow position during reps
Increase sets/reps to 3 x 5

Turning out the rings on dips makes them much more difficult. Adding the hollow position even more so.

I was able to do these dips for 3 x 4 on the first session. Adding an extra rep per set shouldn’t take too long. Once there I’ll keep the sets/reps static and focus keeping each rep slow and controlled.

The muscle ups started at 3 x 3 so there’s a bit more work to do there – my wrists are the limiting factor more then anything else.

Stage 2

Session 1 Goals
Muscle up Integrate RTO/hollow dip into muscle up
Remove any momentum required to do this initially
Increase sets/reps to 3 x 5
Session 2 Goals
Ring dip Maintain ability to do higher reps (3 x 5) with RTO and hollow while building strength in MU
All reps at slow, controlled tempo

Turning out the rings and adding the hollow will make the muscle ups much more challenging. My reps will definitely drop so I’ll keep the dips as they are to maintain the ability to do at least 5 reps.

I expect the transition to be where I’ll need to build most strength. If progress is slow I’ll start dropping into the transition in my dip reps as well to work that section of the movement more often.

Stage 3

Session 1 Goals
Muscle up Maintain ability to do 3 x 5 with hollow and RTO dip
All reps at slow, controlled tempo
Session 2 Goals
Muscle up with embedded static holds Work ability to use MU to move into static holds
MU to l-sit – come into l-sit as dip rather than from support, work up to reps
MU, lower to front lever – work up to reps (i.e. front lever pull to MU)
MU, roll to back lever from top of transition (no dip) – reduce momentum in back roll, difficulty in back lever

In this stage the RTO/hollow muscle ups go into maintenance. I will continue to progress the exercise by starting to play with different entrances and exits.

I’m planning to do this rather than work full ring routines simply because I’ll be able to work the individual skills harder this way.

And after that?

I’m not sure – full ring routines
would be an obvious direction to go in. Chances are I will be a bit dipped out and want to introduce a different pressing movement.

As always – thanks to Ido Portal & Gymnastics bodies for the information and inspriation.

Great indoor MovNat combo – adaptability

There was a great post on the MovNat site earlier this week by MovNat Team Instructor, Kellen Milad.

The post explains how you can add adaptability to your training by varying the type of walk, carry, crawl etc as you go through the combo – it’s a great idea.

MovNat training is at its best when done outside but it is not always possible. I really liked how this post demonstrated a range of MovNat skills being trained in an indoor setting.

The facility Kellen is using is amazing – what an awesome collection of toys! Luckily the combo is fairly simple to tailor so it can be done at home with minimal equipment. .

A slight change to the climbing techniques would mean they could be done on a pull up bar. You could even do the carries with a chair, or bag full of tin cans, and reduce the equipment further.

Check out the video:

Current training – September 2012

Much has changed since last month! My foot getting better has brought more varied movements back into my training again.

Kettlebell pressing is out and dips/muscle ups are in. I tend to enjoy KB pressing for about six weeks, and then very quickly get stale. The skill and complexity of ring work is much more engaging for me.

The times on static holds have gone up. A 30 sec german hang is comfortable now so I’ve introduced back lever in its place.

My current pattern is to have Monday and Friday pretty static, and then Wednesday totally random. The fulll week goes like this:

Warm up

  • Becoming bulletproof drills
  • Naked TGU
  • Wrist routine
  • Ido’s shoulder warm up


  • A1: Low L-sit – 2 x 25sec
  • A2: tuck back lever – 2 x 20sec
  • A3: Tuck front lever – 2 x 25sec
  • B1: Face wall HS – 5-8 x 30sec
  • C1: Muscle up – 3-5 x 3-5
  • C2: KB swing, 28kg or double – 5-15
  • D1: Rope climb
  • D2: Bridge wall walk


  • Rest


  • Outside – MovNat, parkour.
  • No routine – mostly jumps, climbs, running


  • Short run at lunch


  • A1: HS practice
  • B1: Low L-sit/l-sit on floor – 3 x 20sec
  • B2: Ring dip, RTO in hollow – 3 x 4-6
  • B3: Tuck back lever – 3 x 20sec
  • B4: Rope pull ups L/R – 3 x 2-3
  • B5: Tuck front lever – 3 x 25sec
  • B6: Pistols R/L – 3 x 3-5
  • C1: KB swing, 24kg – 3-5 x 10-15


  • Rest


  • Longer run on trails 



Endurance/HR training update – June to August

Ok, I now have a fair bit of data from my heart rate monitor and have been for a few runs and bike rides with it.


Initially I was surprised how slow I had to go to manage my heart rate. I had been aiming for this style of training for a little while using nasal breathing to check my pace rather than a HR monitor. It turns out I was way off.

Anything remotely resembling a hill sent my heart rate way out of my target zone of 138-148 BPM and I had to walk for a lot of my usual lunchtime route.

It was pretty humbling, but also enlightening – I have obviously been relying too heavily on my anaerobic system.

I’m finding it much easier to manage now. The time I’m able stay in the zone is increasing, which in turn increases my average time per km simply because I’m doing more running and less walking.  

Here are some stats:

Date Distance (km) Time Ave HR Max HR Time in zone Ave time per km % in zone
28/06/2012 3.8 00:23:00 142 160 00:15:03 00:06:03 65.43%
12/08/2012 4.73 00:30:21 136 153 00:17:32 00:06:24 57.77%
18/08/2012 4.18 00:24:24 142 153 00:18:23 00:05:50 75.34%
26/08/2012 7.26 00:42:54 139 154 00:28:32 00:05:54 66.51%
29/08/2012 6.11 00:36:19 140 155 00:23:33 00:05:56 64.85%

As you can see from the table, the first three runs are of comparable distance and the amount of time I was able to say in the right zone steadily increases. The total time in the zone for the last two longer runs is way above what I could manage a couple of months ago – and at a faster average pace.

This is exactly what I want to happen – I hardly had to walk at all on the two longer runs, which compared to walking a significant amount of my earlier, shorter runs is a massive improvement. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still running very slowly on these runs but it’s great to see things progressing in this way.


It’s a very different story on the bike. I find keeping in the right zone much harder. It’s difficult to maintain a constant level of effort for a few reasons:

  • Going downhill – this obviously takes a lot less effort so my HR goes down. On a steep hill I’m barely working at all so will be way below the zone. 
  • Traffic lights – there are quite a few of these on the roads near me which inevitably makes bike riding a bit more stop-start. 
  • Going uphill – a slight incline is good, and actually makes it easier to stay in the zone, but anything remotely steep sends my HR out of the zone very quickly. Dropping down gears helps but doesn’t control it. I can manage my heart rate when running by stopping and walking up the hill, when riding a bike on a busy road that’s much harder, and more dangerous, to do.

The result is not being in the right zone for the bulk of the ride. I have the odd spike where I’m going uphill but spend a lot of time with my heart rate below my aerobic zone.

Here are the bike stats:

Date Distance (km) Time Ave HR Max HR Time in zone Ave time per km % in zone
30/06/2012 5.44 00:19:50 133 158 00:07:29 00:03:38 37.73%
30/06/2012 5.57 00:15:37 118 140 00:00:13 00:02:48 1.39%
07/07/2012 10.97 00:27:58 132 154 00:09:33 00:02:32 34.15%
22/07/2012 13.26 00:35:12 135 152 00:15:12 00:02:39 43.18%
29/07/2012 13.6 00:39:48 124 159 00:07:07 00:02:55 17.88%
05/08/2012 14.41 00:39:10 131 155 00:14:07 00:02:43 36.04%

The issue with hills is really obvious in the first two bike rides in the table. This is me riding to and from a local climbing wall, which is mostly uphill on the way there, so obviously mostly downhill on the way back. My max HR on the way back was barely in the target zone and an average of 118 means I will have spent a fair while below that. Considering my HR is about 60 when I’m sat on the sofa that is nowhere near a higher enough level of effort to get the effect I’m looking for.

So what next

To get the effect I want on the bike, I need to spend a lot more time in the saddle to build enough strength to maintain the HR on a bit of hill, and find some routes with fewer traffic lights!

As my main aim with this is to strengthen my aerobic system, not become an awesome bike racer, I’ve been focusing on running instead. I’m able to train the right way much easier and I also enjoy getting out on the trails more. My foot injury meant I couldn’t run at all so I’m loving just being able to do it again.

I’m still using my bike, but more as a fun means of getting from place to place than for any specific training purpose.

I’ll keep posting my running progress over the next few months.