I recently received a couple of reminders that practicing martial artists read my books and come here to the website. Thanks very much! Well, that's one thing... Another is, apparently I turned fifty earlier this year. Surely some mistake.

So I thought I'd talk about working out, just for one blog entry, since I've not discussed matters physical for a while. If my next blog is about psychological stuff, I'll maybe call it Going Mental.

This is my diary, not a training manual, and always see your physician before starting a programme of exercise, and you know all the rest of the legal disclaimer... Also bear in mind Mark Twain's dictum (which I got from Matt Furey): "Be careful what you read in health books. You might die of a misprint."

Actually, that reminds me, that I own several (otherwise decent) books on weight training that fail to properly highlight photographs of poor technique -- as in, do NOT do it this way -- alongside those showing the correct method. Hmm.

Personally, I don't do much scheduling in advance. Then again, I'm not a professional athlete; I'm someone who manages to train solo when there's no one around to motivate me. (And I used to do it while holding down a full-time day job that entailed over four hours a day commuting -- or else being away from home in a hotel somewhere -- and writing as well.) What I do is, select from a series of modules that fit together to form a workout.
I recorded a week's training, starting the Saturday before last, just to give you an idea. Another week will be different.

The week in question I trained solo, but with access to equipment, meaning my dungeon-like garage gym (which I used only one day) or just in the house, where I have dumbbells, plus running around the streets. There's plenty you can do with just your bodyweight and a pair of running shoes, and if you're in a hotel room you can always use flexible exercise bands -- use 2 or 3 together for proper tension, or buy one of the high-tension loops you can get nowadays, with up to 200 pounds of force to work against.

Well, this was John's training for 7 days. To begin with, my wakeup routine every morning was an exercise flow from Scott Sonnon's prasara yoga system. The main workout was later in the day (in fact, often late at night).


3 mile run
then 4 sets of the following mini-circuit (tri-set)
* push-ups x 25
* chin-ups x 5
* ab crunches x 50

light stretch


5 sets of the following circuit:
* Hindu push-ups x 50
* Barbell curls x 15
* Hindu squats x 100
* Ab crunches x 50
* Shadowboxing x 2 minutes
(total 250 Hindu push-ups, etc.)

then 3 rounds on the heavy bag under normal conditions (i.e., wearing gloves, ordinary lighting, techniques: punches/kicks/knees/elbows, all power shots)

then 1 round in darkness, no gloves (this tends to emphasise open-hand techniques)

then 1 extended round (over 10 mins) of groundwork on mats, with non-suspended heavy bag used as a wrestler's dummy (to practice striking techniques when lying on ground, and some body-shifting drills)

then wrestler's bridge (neck bridge) for 250 seconds,
finish with rolling breakfalls, then stretch into splits (1 minute left front splits, 1 minute right, 1 minute box splits),
followed by light stretch


6 miles run; splits (3 mins), light stretch


recuperation day (prasara yoga only)


Hindu push-ups x 250
Hindu squats x 500
Neck bridge x 250 seconds
4 sets of mini-circuit (superset):
* ab crunch x 50
* dumbbell floor press x 20
(a floor press is like a bench press... but without a bench!)

followed by 4 sets of 1-arm dumbbell rows, x 20 repetitions with each arm

followed by4 sets of mini-circuit (tri-set):
*dumbbell squat x 20
*dumbbell shoulder press x 20
*dumbbell alternating hammer curl x 40 (20 per arm)

followed by 4 sets of triceps kickbacks x 10 reps each arm

then light stretch


3 miles run, then splits (3 mins), then light stretch

5 mile run, splits (3 mins), then rest for 10 minutes before:

5 rounds of this circuit:
*kettlebell swing x 10 each arm
*Hindu squat x 100
*Hindu push-up x 50
*Shadowboxing x 2 minutes
(shadowboxing includes kicks, knees, elbows, some takedown moves and anti-takedown sprawling)

followed by
Neck bridge x 250 seconds
Ab crunches x 100
light stretch

And that was the week that was! So, am I showing my age? Well, I trained to music just once during the week, and that was to ZZ Top.

Next week: how to turn your Zimmer frame into a deadly weapon...

Or to quote the magnificent Rickson Gracie, just 'flow with the go.'


Blogger Lou Anders said...

Hey! A proper blog where folks can comment! Yay!

September 8, 2007 at 2:02 AM  
Blogger John said...

Yay! Thanks for noticing so quickly!

And who is that clean-shaven dude talking in Japan about Pyr books?

September 8, 2007 at 2:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I loved Rickson saying that, was it the film 'Choke'? Great line.

Hey John I've been hearing a lot about kettlebells lately, not just the 'hype' but from guys who really know. What do you like about them?

Take care.

Tricia Sullivan

September 10, 2007 at 12:43 PM  
Blogger John said...

Hi Tricia! Thanks for stopping by...

I've been tending towards the high-rep bodyweight exercises -- it just seems to work for me -- and swinging the kettlebell for high-ish reps is an easy way to fill in the gaps. Push-ups & squats tend to hit the front of the body, broadly speaking, and the bridge is great but static. KB swings added to that work back/hamstrings/biceps/grip.

My kettlebell is coloured bright yellow, and I named it Yvonne, same as my missus. Story #1 is: It's beautiful and I can't keep my hands off it. Story #2 is: It's hard to control and f***ing dangerous when it flies off the handle. Ahem.

I've done very little of the scary heavy stuff so far. I'll experiment and let you know!

My brother, who doesn't do so much of the bodyweight stuff, used KBs as pretty much his only form of exercise. It was enough so that when he started training in krav maga last year, he was straight in with the rest of them.

I really can't speak for krav maga in general, but Steve would approve of the way they train in my brother's gym... They have MMA as well as scenario-based training, and the instructors all train with Bas Rutten. The KBs prepared my bro for that.

I can't imagine what you mean by 'hype'. Surely you can see I've the ripped-sinew iron-muscled Soviet special forces look that blowtorched the fat off me in 3 milliseconds a day...!

And yeah, that was 'Choke'. Definitely a great line.

'Choke' shows how much yoga Rickson does... That's got me interested in Scott Sonnon's stuff, which I like so far.

Cheers, and all best to Steve!

September 10, 2007 at 11:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's interesting. I know Mick Coup likes them, and with arms like that who can argue?

LOL about 'Yvonne'

One of the things about 'Choke' that I thought was cool was how he'd created a solo ground workout that he did on the beach. I guess it's commonplace now, but at the time it seemed really creative and different--very flow with the go.

All the best to you and both Yvonnes ;-)


September 12, 2007 at 12:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm exhausted and in pain just reading about it.

And while I always knew you could kick my butt on a whim, this healthy reminder certainly makes me rethink the wisdom of all the crap I gave you that night with Harry, Cary & Garp...


September 12, 2007 at 7:08 PM  
Blogger John said...

Yay, JIM!!!!

How are you doing? What are you doing? Whom are you...? Well.

That was a brilliant night with Harry et al. So brilliant, I'm beginning to regret having zapped you with that delayed death touch...

September 13, 2007 at 1:06 AM  

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