Monday, November 4, 2013

Eat Organs and Reverse Your Push-ups

As much as I find strength training interesting, I'm not always interested in talking about it with other people.  Originality in the world of weights may have died a long time ago but that doesn't give everyone a reason to have the same four or five reasons for lifting weights, getting their routines from a cultish mothership web site, or doing anything resembling a fitness class.  I enjoy being at least a little bit different and I have a severe aversion to following other people's programs. 

While I could care less about taking other people's marching orders, I do spend some time reading what other people are up to and using my blog to react to what I see out there.   As luck would have it, life has dropped two interesting ideas in my lap that I felt compelled to share with the world. 

Reversed-Hand Push-ups
I've seen these around for years, tried them once or twice, and then discarded them.  They were the wrong combination of not particularly challenging and uncomfortable on my wrists and elbows.  In other words,  they were just nothing more than another piece of high-rep nonsense that plagues BW training.  That is until I read this article about reverse-grip bench pressing.  For some reason, I wondered if I could use a couple of the cues given in a reverse grip push-up.  So, using a seam in my driveway as a guide, I set my hands up so the seam passed diagonally through my hands, much like the bar does in the picture below with my hands just past shoulder width and  about the same point as my solar plexus.

While this was more comfortable than previous attempts at reverse grip push-ups, it still wasn't very challenging. So, I decided some more weight was in the order.  I opted to throw one of my sandbags (about 50 lbs) around my neck and upper back.  Now, I was onto something.  I enjoyed the weighted reverse hand push-up immensely, doing 15-20 reps per set.  

It definitely solicits gets more pectoral recruitment.  Try this right now:  put your hands straight out in front of you like you're pushing someone.  Now, turn your hands upside down.  Notice the difference in the contraction of your pecs?  There's also no forgetting about using the Lats when pushing-up.  Like the reverse grip bench, this reverse hand push-up is also easier on the shoulders.  That may be due to that increase in lat contraction that you felt when you turned your hands upside down.  It also gives the biceps more eccentric contraction work too.   It seems to dovetail nicely with my standing overhead press work...when I could do standing overhead press work. 

Eating Organs
One thing that didn't change for nearly a millennia was the rich and affluent had a bad habit of eschewing healthier, more nutrition dense foods.  They, in turn, ate the junk food.  The Romans grew rye but the rich and royal favored wheat and left the more nutritionally-sound rye to the poor people.  Those were the same old days where they killed an animal they ate everything but the squeal.  So, it strikes me as odd that when we fast-forward to the 21st century, I had to go to a Yelp-$$ (barely, I can't get out of El Gaucho Inca without spending $100 for two people) restaurant to eat calf thymus glands and pancreas (aka sweetbreads) . 

Yeah, that's a mistake that we don't eat organ meat like our ancestors did because, generally-speaking, offal is more protein-dense than muscle meats.  That's just the start.  After I fell in love with sweetbreads, I stumbled across this article on T-Nation.  Who knew that organ meat could have that kind of micronutrient content?   Most organ meats totally kick muscle meats ass in micronutrient content.  That's why there are cultures that can subsist on almost nothing else but meat and not suffer the diseases that we associate with not eating enough fruits and vegetables.  If you think about it, that all make sense.  Most micronutrients are supporting some kind of organ function.  So, it only makes sense that they're concentrated more in the organs than in the muscles.

Maybe Jack Lalanne, Joe Gold and Armand Tanny were on to something when they would raid slaughterhouses looking for cows blood to drink.  Yeah, I've also ate cow's blood (in blood sausage).  If you care to take a break from looking up porn or celebrity gossip, check out the protein content, and the price, of cows blood.  I doubt you'll find a cheaper protein out there.  I'm even a fan of the Scottish dish known as Haggis.  If burly men who invented throwing telephone poles for fun eat it with pride then maybe there's a lesson for the rest of us to learn. 

So, sweetbreads are awesome.  I'm not the fan of liver that TC Louma is.  If you want an organ meat that has a similar texture to the muscle-meat you're used to then try heart (just don't cook it past medium).   Best of all, these nutrition powerhouses (are you sick of that phrase yet?) are cheap since they're barely considered good enough for dog food by some people's standards.  Their loss. 

Anticuchos:  Grilled beef heart.  That green sauce kicks ass too!
If you've ever driven in a crowded parking lot and pondered why people follow the next five cars in front of them, knowing they won't get the first available spot then you've got an idea of how I feel about our subculture.  Yeah, we all move in between the same lines and we all want to arrive at a good spot but we don't need to follow everyone else to get there.  We can take a turn away from where everyone else is going.  Who knows, we might even find what we're looking for quicker.   In other words, we don't all need to bench press and subsist on chicken breast and protein powder.

A special thanks to my lovely wife, Melissa,
for the gracious help with the video and photography!

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