Wednesday Afternoon Gym Class Update

by Frost on July 6, 2011

This week has been hectic – but when is that not the case? If you can flawlessly adhere to a regimented diet and exercise plan, day in and day out, your life must be pretty boring. That’s fine if you’re 40, but at my age, my food-and-workout recording booklet is going to include a few 12-hour booze and barbecue binges.

Thursday of last week, I drank my face off and had a bun with my triple burger. Fortunately I was able to counteract these indulgences through exercise, i.e,  a long night of dancing, walking home because I’m too cheap to spring for a cab, and selfish drunken sex.

Friday, I got my vitamin D on by walking around all day wearing nothing but shorts and a cape. Again, I drank like a fish and ate junk food all day, but I managed to work it off by exchanging 3am words and blows with an insolent hooligan who looked at me stink-eyed.

Saturday, I slept in late and spent the day in bed eating, banging, and watching crappy movies.

Sunday, I woke up bright and early to spend an hour running, climbing, crawling and trudging my way almost to the point of passing out. I hadn’t worked that hard since my intercollegiate rugby days, and I’m still feeling it. I ate a delicious post-race meal of chili, a hot dog, blueberries, dark chocolate, a brick of cheese, and a bag of sliced salami. Healthy-ish.

Since Monday, I returned to form. The past three days I have eaten nothing but nearly-perfect paleo meals, and done some light exercise – a frisbee game and a long hike – each evening. I’ve been slowly stretching and foam-rolling the knots out of my brutally-punished muscles.

Overall, it’s been a week of extremes. Two nights of hard drinking, with all the ill health effects that entails, and one day of extreme exercise. I honestly think that the not-even one hour of extreme challenge is worth more to my body than 3 months of dinky workouts and jogging would have been. I also re-discovered a physical and mental capacity for pain endurance that I’d forgotten I possessed during my almost-two years outside of the competitive sports scene, and realized that I desperately want it back.

I thus award myself an B for this week. Some poor choices, yes, but also an achievement that I’m quite proud of. (Edit: No matter how grueling the race was, two nights of hard drinking is still two nights of drinking.)

Freedom Twenty-Five Readers, two questions for you:

1) What are your current health and fitness goals, and how did you do in them this week?

And,

2) What style of martial arts would you recommend to a beginner with no fighting experience outside of drunken wrestling his buddies? Some additional information that may help you tailor your advice: I’m mostly interested in the physical and psychological benefits of competing in a martial art (i.e, I want to fight people, not just punch the air) but I would also like to have a few tools in my belt that would be useful for self-defense. Also, I’ve had a few concussions in my day and would rather not needlessly expose myself to a large chance of serious head injuries.

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Dulst January 2, 2012 at 7:52 pm

For fighting other people as approached to punching air, go for martial arts that don’t have the “mainstream competitive sport” status. Eg. Tae Kwon Do, kick boxing, karate.

Go for a “street fight” kind of martial art. Eg Aikido, Jui Jitsu or hapkido.

Mannerheim July 28, 2011 at 2:53 pm

An important thing to remember about self defense vs. competitive martial arts is that in an actual self defense situation most of the things you ought to do are specifically prohibited in any sort of competitive martial art (or else they won’t teach you until a very high level due to the risk of injury): attacks to the eyes/throat/groin, small joint manipulation, hairpulling, biting, etc. If you’re seriously concerned about self-defense then Krav is the way to go, but understand that were you ever to actually use it you’d better to be ready to explain to the cops why it was necessary.

If your focus is on fitness, building confidence, or training for competition then I strongly second the recommendations for Muay Thai/kickboxing and BJJ/Judo. The defense applications are so-so (if you get jumped by a group then BJJ ground fighting is the last thing you want to try) but they’ll definitely toughen you up and give you the aura of a man who can handle himself, not to mention they’re fun and exhilarating as hell.

Srdjan July 14, 2011 at 10:37 am

I’m currently training for three things – increasing strength through bodyweight excercises (think http://www.rosstraining.com and http://www.beastskills.com stuff), increasing my conditioning (I’m doing 400m sprints as recommended in the “Running Man” article on T-Nation.com). I’m also controlling my carb intake in order to reduce my BF% .

As far as MA goes, since you say you’ve had some concussions, may I suppose that you would prefer something that excludes punches to the head? If so, I would recommend Kyokushin karate (or any of its spin-offs – Ashihara karate, Enshin karate, Seidokaikan karate). It’s full contact bareknuckle fighting, with punches to the head prohibited. That stuff will make you as hard as a nail, trust me.

J.W. Black July 9, 2011 at 1:49 am

Lots of good responses here…I’ll just reiterate what some of the others have said regarding Muay Thai and Jiu-Jitsu. I take both styles, if you can find a school that offers that mix, try it out. You’ll have a new confidence in handling yourself in just two or three months if you train consistently – you’ll be comfortable with everything nature gave you to strike with and won’t panic if the fight gets you on your back.
Regards,
J.W. Black

rawr July 8, 2011 at 1:49 pm

did you do the spartan race? man, do you live in toronto?

ParatrooperJJ July 8, 2011 at 10:35 am

Bujinkan Budō Taijutsu

Michael Byc July 8, 2011 at 10:25 am

I would highly recommend Muay Thai. I’ve been training in it for two years and for the first time in my life I feel that I could take on anyone without relying on my size 6’2 215lbs.

You need to check out a couple of places and find the one where the instructors constantly remind the students that you want to hurt someone when they show you a technique. Also look for a gym that is accredited by the Thai Boxing Association of the USA.

The gym I study at in DC reinforced “you want to break their body, aim for the floating rib, you want you destroy their face with your elbows, etc.”

They understand most people will not compete so they teach you ways to defend yourself in a street situation such as a street cover or punching with your palms (if you’re not wearing gloves you raise your chances of breaking your fist).

I’ve been in a few fights and I wish I knew how to utilize my knees and elbows for them. Not to mention I’ve developed my kick to the point where if I hit someone with my shin its the equivalent of hitting them with a baseball bat.

Iain D July 7, 2011 at 3:33 pm

1) I’m working on aesthetics right now; just straight up building muscle. It’s kinda nice in that I get to eat a lot more, and allow for lots of recovery time. Moving to a strength cycle in a few weeks will be a transition.

2) Agreed on the Krav Maga. Not as much fun as other MAs, but very practical. A big part of it is finding something you can keep doing. The *practice* in staying calm when somebody is trying to hurt you is just as valuable as knowing 20 ways to kill someone with a paperclip.

I’ve done martial arts since I was about seven (when did Power Rangers come out in North America?). I’m past the point of thinking style really matters. It’s the quality of instruction. If you find a school in your area, go in and ask to try a lesson. If they want money to sample, walk out. You will be able to tell from the tone of a class whether the emphasis is on practical value, spiritual development or charging you a fee for your next belt. The strength and weakness of MA right now is that there is no standardization. Anybody can open a school and call themselves an expert.

Other stuff:
– Keep in mind with fitness that recovery time is just as important as exercise. Moderate workouts 2-3 times a week are much more beneficial than one monsterous workout. If you don’t give yourself time to heal you’ll just end up with an injury, and that’s when you get really de-conditioned.

King July 7, 2011 at 10:52 am

Western Boxing
Virtualy everuthing else will get you beaten in real street situation.
Targetfocustraining.com will get you killed. It is bull beyond belief.
Stryker is on spot.

For self-defence check Geoff Thompson. Real deal.

All the Best

Elliott July 7, 2011 at 10:45 am

In response to your questions:

1. My current fitness goals are to get strong, stay lean, and not hurt myself in the process. I did pretty well this week thanks to copious amounts of weight lifting, scrambled eggs, whey protein, and icing and heating problem joints. I snacked on some chips once or twice, but it was only a handful, which isn’t that noticeable over the course of a week.

2. Boxing and Krav Maga would be my recommendations for martial arts. I did boxing in college, and it does a decent job of introducing you to the two most important aspects of fighting: hitting the other guy without getting hit yourself, and not dropping like a little bitch when you do get hit. I’ve never done Krav, but from what I’ve seen and heard, it’s basically the art of neutralizing an assailant as quickly and efficiently as possible by kicking his ass. Sounds good to me.

On the subject of social drinking and eating, I agree that it can be worth it even when it isn’t the healthiest thing to do. That being said, I never drink too heavily any more. For me, the problem isn’t the calories but the dehydration and the fact that processing the alcohol means your body can’t perform other necessary maintenance and repair activities. I’ve lost 6 pounds of mostly water in 1 weekend and then felt like a 12-year-old girl in the gym for three or four days after that, which wasn’t fun.

whiteboykrispy July 7, 2011 at 10:43 am

I did BJJ for awhile, and sparring for just a few minutes is one mother of a workout. And it’s fun shit, of course. Not to mention that all the moves have real life applicability if you ever find yourself in trouble.

Highly recommended.

I’ve also heard great things about Krav, and would try it if there was a place around my area that did it.

Stryker July 7, 2011 at 2:15 am

Boxing or Muay Thai kickboxing. That shit will get you in shape and practice will hurt every day. Nothing toughens you up like getting hit and hitting back. A man becomes dangerous when he is not afraid to get hit and knows how to hit back.

Go find a rat hole gym in the bad part of town where kids from the ghetto or the barrio are trying to come up in the world. Do that for 6 months or a year and get some real matches under your belt. It will change your perspective.

Jeff July 7, 2011 at 12:16 am

BJJ all the way. You can train with 100% resistance, but the injury rate is remarkably low. Plus it’s probably the most self-defense applicable martial art out there. The only downside? It ain’t cheap.

Capsaicin July 6, 2011 at 11:30 pm

Cinnamon,

I tend to agree with you–two days of binge drinking in one week just doesn’t really fit into a high-quality fitness/health program.

But, I also get where Frost is coming from, too. Being young and socially active will put you in situations where the alcohol is flowing, and there are great benefits to living it up and enjoying it while you’re young. Plus, it’s summer.

And yet…even one day of binge drinking in a week should automatically rule out anything above a B. And junk food beyond one day a week (as in a cheat day, which is acceptable, and perhaps recommended) ought to strongly downgrade the grade.

Not getting holier than thou on you, Frost–I’ve drank the last four nights in a row. Only two drinks a night, but still. That’s an extra 300 non-nutritious calories each day that can’t help me.

Tangent July 6, 2011 at 8:40 pm

Krav and/or BJJ.

Cinnamon July 6, 2011 at 7:26 pm

If a week that includes two days of binge-drinking and eating junk food merits an A- I am terrified to ask what would get a C or a D from you? With these standards, you’d have to literally lose a limb to get that low a score. More realistically, if an “A” week means missing no scheduled workouts, getting plenty of mobility/recovery work, eating 95% healthful meals, and so on, then this past week was probably closer to a C+/B- for you. Be realistic so that you can truly push yourself: if this effort merits an A-, then what’s the point of trying to improve?

Frost July 7, 2011 at 9:35 am

Agree and edited.

My reasoning for the A- was that 1) The race on Sunday was incredibly grueling, and probably worth a month of meh workouts, and that 2) I am much more forgiving of myself for trading off healthy choices for valuable experiences. So, drinking beer with my best friends around a campfire until dawn = awesome, but snacking on half a bag of chips when there are almonds/blueberries/beef jerky within arms reach = bad Frost.

Still, by awarding myself an A- for this week, I’m implicitly saying that ‘ve approached the upper limit of how disciplined I can be. Since I’d like to have super-intense workouts regularly, and severely limit my drinking at some point in the future (if not right now), that’s simply not the case.

Appreciate the reality check (Capsaicin too).

Cheers,

Frost

Cyprian Korzeniowski July 6, 2011 at 7:19 pm

I did boxing for two years in college, and the psychological and physical benefits I obtained from it were immense. Sparring gives me a rush that lifting can’t; this may be a natural predilection or at least an acquired taste for fighting. You might not want to do a ton of boxing because of your previous concussions, but it will teach you how to throw a good punch (when I started, my idea of punching was using my arms like they were hammers).

Jack Dublin July 6, 2011 at 6:07 pm

“…wearing nothing but shorts and a cape.”
1. You wore a cape?

2. Realize that most martial arts have become competitive, have rules and are therefore useless for self defense. Good for exercise and “social fights” with some idea of fair play, but a criminal sociopath will kill you. Check out Krav Maga and look into targetfocustraining.com. read their blog, lots of violent videos, good science.

3. Seriously, a cape? Sooo… I’m gonna hafta call you Frostman from now on.

b-nasty July 6, 2011 at 4:07 pm

1) Camping over the weekend w/ buds: hikes, cutting/splitting wood, cooking mostly meat and eggs — manly shit. Been trying to adapt to a super low (keto) diet, so many of these things kicked my ass.

2) A: Kickboxing without a doubt. It doesn’t have most of the silly tradition and kata (forms/routines) of kiddy MAs. The classes will kill you from a workout perspective, and the pad/sparring drills teach you worthwhile skills.

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