Training With a Purpose: Ski Season is Upon Us!

Hi folks,

I think I may have touched on this idea before in a previous post, but I am a big believer in having something to train for.  Generalized goals like “get in shape” or “lose weight” have admirable objectives, but without more concrete milestones, I think it’s too easy to either a) fall into a training rut, or b) stop training alltogether.  If you’ve got a race or some other activity to train for, you can see how sweating today is going to help you tomorrow.

Right now, I’m sort of without a goal.  The Tough Mudder has come and gone, and the next one on my radar is a ways out (Las Vegas 2013 perhaps?).  A friend has talked to me about doing a trail race sometime this winter, and I may actually do that, but to be honest, I’m not a huge fan of running in the dark and cold, which is what my post-work/commute schedule leaves me with currently.  So I’ve decided to focus on my favorite past time: skiing.

I love skiing.  Probably more than any other activity.  Growing up in Colorado completely spoiled me in terms of snow, terrain and availability, but I’ve tried to keep up with it out here.  My take on East-coast resorts will have to wait for a later post, but there’s potential for a pretty serious ski trip in a couple months, so that’s what I’m prepping for.

Skiing is actually a pretty good sport to train for.  It works a lot of different areas of the body, and works on both strength and cardio.  Admittedly, it’s light on the upper body, but I think you can work some of that into workouts.  Now me, I’m a telemark skier.  If you don’t know what that is, go hit up YouTube, because directing you there is a lot easier than trying to explain it.  But basically, every time I make a turn, I do a lunge.  You can imagine that when you get into the moguls up around 12,500 feet in Breckenridge, it’s a pretty good workout.

So obviously the legs are a primary focus of any ski-centric training, but I think it’s more useful to do more functional lifts than just load up the leg-press sled with half the weights in the gym.  Because you’re never static while you ski, you need to activate your stabilization muscles and work on your balance.  Remember that when you’re selecting your weight.

Here’s one workout I did recently.  It comes courtosy of “Outside” magazine.  It’s a CrossFit-inspired workout nicknamed the “Slump Killer”.  You do the following exercises back-to-back as fast as you can:

  • 5 Handstand Push-ups
  • 10 Dead Lifts
  • 15 Toes to Bar
  • 20 Box Jumps
  • 25 Kettlebell Swings
  • 30 Wall Balls
  • 25 Kettlebell Swings
  • 20 Box Jumps
  • 15 Toes to Bar
  • 10 Dead Lifts
  • 5 Handstand Push-ups

I can’t do a headstand pushup.  And even if I could, I’d look like a lunatic doing them at the gym, so I substituted pullups.  Also, I didn’t have a place to do the wall balls, so I did squat presses with a 45 lb plate.  The above workout took me 12:37.  I think I probably could have increased the weight on the deadlift (I was only pulling 185 lbs, and you should be aiming for your body weight), but still, this left me gasping.  I guess you could do muliples of this, but make sure you are keeping your form.  Deadlifts and box jumps provide a lot of opportunity to hurt yourself.  The toes-to-bar move is my new nemisis.  I think it’s a great exercise to work on abs, grip strength and shoulders, but I’m truly terrible at it.  Something to work on.

Some other exercises I’ve incorporated into my workouts are:

  • overhead squat
  • overhead lunge
  • unbalanced overhead lunge (choose two dumbells with a 10-20 lb difference in weight)
  • single leg squats
  • cleans (this one needs a LOT of work)

Yes, it’s very heavy on the legs, but I’ve tried to choose exercises that also require a lot of core strength and balance.  And of course you can add a BOSU ball to any of these to make them harder.  Throw in some cardio (and some yoga probably wouldn’t hurt), and hopefully when you hit the slopes, you’ll be ripping fresh powder instead of nursing sore muscles.  Of course, based on personal experience, if you’re not sore after a day of skiing, you didn’t go hard enough.

I’d love to hear any advice/opinions on training for skiing from you readers, so feel free to comment.  In the meantime, pray for snow.

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Back to Basics: Oven Roasted Chicken

Hi folks,

I know it’s been awhile since I’ve posted, and I wish I could blame it entirely on Hurricane Sandy, but alas, that’s only part of it.  A week without power does put a damper on computer usage, but then with Thanksgiving, a work trip and a pyscotically hectic life over the last month, and this sort of fell by the wayside.  But I’m back!

Anyway, the recipe I’m showcasing here is what I like to call “Wifey Chicken”.  The original recipe (found here) calls this “Engagement Chicken”, but by the time my wife made it for me, we were already married, hence: “Wifey Chicken”.  It even has its own Wikipedia entree.  That’s how you know it’s legit.

This is a pretty basic recipe, but it’s undeniably delicious.  First you wash and season the chicken, and pour lemon juice over and inside it:
P1020603Then you stuff it with a couple of lemons and throw it in the oven.
P1020624While it bakes, I suggest prepping some vegitables.  We’re currently following the “paleolithic diet” for a couple of weeks to make up for a somewhat glutenous Thanksgiving week, but it’s also very good with potatoes or risotto.
P1020625Anyway, I find the chicken’s cooking time to not really match the recipes, but once the temperature hits 180 degrees in the thickest part of the thigh, it’s probably done.  While it rests, I’d recommend making a gravy, because who doesn’t like gravy?

I started by browning the giblets:
P1020609And then simmering them in the pan drippings.  I seasoned it with salt, pepper, nature’s seasoning and gravy master.  Then just mix in some flour and your done!
P1020628And then you end up with this:

P1020641A nice homey meal, that tastes especially good with the cold weather of the season.