Month: May 2012

Blast Strap Sissy Squats

Looking for a reasonably safe bodyweight style exercise for your quads and legs? The Blast Strap Sissy Squat is a great option for you to explore. I have done Sissy Squats using a number of different hand-holds, from doorways to bars to railings, but none of them gave me the full range of motion and focused the movement on the quads like the Blast Straps have (and as of this writing they’re on an awesome sale).

I hooked my straps to the top of my power rack, and there’s enough other weight on the rack that it doesn’t slide or tip when I use them.

For those of you who already have, or would rather have them, the TRX Pro Pack + Door Anchor would work just as well plugged high on a sturdy doorframe or other support.


The only tricky part is to line up your feet under your hands so that you have full range of motion up and down without sliding or tipping, or putting way too much weight on your arms. With the straps your hands go up and down quite a ways that they wouldn’t be able to on a static surface like a doorway.

Go slow, figure out your alignment, and remember that my full range of motion and yours might be quite a bit different. Another alignment issue is to point your toes so that they are lined up with your knees so as to avoid knee pain or stress that might lead to or irritate an injury. This may be straight or not, depending on your own joints and muscles and mobility.

In general bodyweight exercises are a good choice for warming up the joints and muscles for larger weights, or even as your main workout. If you can do 10 full range of motion controlled reps, you can either call that a warmup for something else, do 10 sets of 10, or work into sets of 25 and then up to 4 sets of 25. Research has shown that a good effect can be gotten from lighter weights at 4 sets of 25, and if that works for you then by all means, go for it.

Be careful, go slow, stay in control, and don’t get hurt.

Healthy Food – Eat Like a Bodybuilder

This is an example of my recovery evening meal the day after a 10 mile training run on the trails in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah County. I ran a connector of the Bonneville Shoreline Trail near the power towers on the bench below Mount Timpanogos yesterday. Today I had mostly protein shakes during the day, and a massage to work out my IT Band issues, and tonight I’m having steamed chicken breast strips with steamed broccoli and steamed cauliflower.

steamed chicken and veggies
Steamed Chicken Broccoli and Cauliflower - Bodybuilding Diet Staples

This is actually quite similar to the types of meals bodybuilders eat to rebuild muscle after their intense training. Though if they’re large enough, they’d have it 3 or 4 times a day, and usually with whole breasts, rather than “tenders”. I normally don’t eat very much meat, and when I do, it’s generally chicken or shrimp or salmon. The non-mammalian meats. That’s just me. My body just kind of tells me when it’s time, based on various recovery and health issues, so I have something as clean as I can normally (unless I just got back from a week-long or longer expedition – then I’ll be a bit more liberal in my choices) to help rebuild my body.

Grays Peak Training Hike

Drove to the Stevens Gulch road, then up to the Grizzly Gulch junction and parked. Hiked about 2 miles to the trailhead, then about a mile up the trail. I was wearing old hiking boots I haven’t worn in two years, but my feet seemed to have changed shape in the meanwhile (probably from all the running) and they were cutting into my tendons above my toes. I ended up removing the insole to allow for more room, which helped a bit, but let me slide around some. I was planning on doing both summits (Grays and Torreys) but decided to just call it a good training hike and return to the car. I am training for the Aspen Backountry Marathon, and can’t afford to take a week off while my tendons heal.

On the way back to the car it started snowing, in spite of the beautiful sky just minutes before (see pics) and I-70 was really messy. Over the divide into Dillon it was still snowing. Sometimes you get get weather on one side of the Divide or the other. On my hike I’d gone from 10,300′ to 11,900′ in 1:09, so not bad overall – maintained about 3.0 mph average.

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Seated Calf Raise Machine

This video shows me doing one of the most common calf training exercises, the seated calf raise. I normally do sets of 25 at 85 pounds on the arm. I’ve never checked the amount of leverage, but the weights are at the end of the arm, with your knees about the middle of the arm, so if you just do the math that way, it’s about a 5/8 mechanical disadvantage, but the weights swing about a pivot point that your butt sits around, so not sure if that helps or hurts? I’d have to use some type of scale to measure.

ice climbing in Ouray Colorado
Ice Climbing takes strong flexible calf muscles

Anyway, physics aside, I like to push fast on the way up, and slow it on the way down. In the video you can see the muscles of my right calf, in spite of the Zensah Compression Leg Sleeves.

A good idea, especially for beginners, is to get some sensory feedback going by lightly tapping your calf muscles with a few fingertips to make sure they’re good and flexed. It’s best if you let your heels go as far down as possible to get a good stretch since your calf muscles are typically pretty tight – you generally use them all day every day just walking around.


You could also experiment with a few little pulses or bounces at the top and bottom, but please be gentle so you don’t tear anything. A Seated Calf Machine could be pretty expensive (I got mine on clearance as a floor model at a local fitness store) for a decent model, but if you belong to a club, most have some version of it that you could figure out in a heartbeat.

Strong calf muscles help with ice climbing, rock climbing, hiking, and general scrambling on rocks. If you’re going to run for training, your calf can help stabilize your ankles and prevent injury, especially shin splints.