Saturday, 25 June 2011

Homemade protein bars

Protein bars can be extremely expensive and contain all sorts of unnecessary or unwanted ingredients for primal eaters. So I searched around for a recipe to make my own, I found a lot, but none that really appealed to me. So I took the basic elements of each and made my own recipe. I’ve now made two sets of protein bars, varying the ingredients to taste so I’ve put together this basic recipe which you can change, add and subtract from according to taste and availability of ingredients.

Melt together:
¾ cup of peanut butter (100% peanuts, no added oils)*
½ cup of coconut cream
2-3 Table spoons honey to taste
50-100g of dark chocolate (I used 72% cocoa)

Combine to the melted ingredients:
1 cup protein powder (I used chocolate flavoured whey protein)
1 – 1 ½ cups chopped almonds (I bought whole and chopped them in a food processor)
½ - 1 cup coconut meal to taste

Spread out in a dish and set in the fridge. Or you can roll them into small balls to set in the fridge.

The first time I made this I didn’t use enough dry ingredients so the bars remained quite soft, they still tasted good, but I wanted them to be more solid. So for the second batch (this recipe), I added more dry ingredients until it was rather hard to mix. When this batch set it stayed much more solid. You can adjust quantities and ingredients to taste, but I suggested adding as much dry ingredients as you can mix in.

*I know peanuts aren’t primal, but I’m a grad student and can’t afford almond butter. And these bars are still more primal than a muffin, or cookie from the supermarket. Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.

The leftovers Meatza

Meatza’s are simple to make, delicious and can be topped with leftovers in the fridge. This recipe is from the first Meatza that I made with inspiration from Free The Animal.

The Base
500g of Beef mince
500g of Pork mince

1-2 eggs
Half a chopped onion
Salt, pepper, herbs, garlic to taste.

The base is really easy to make, just combine all the ingredients, place in an oven dish, shape and cook. I used half beef and half pork because the fat from the pork makes for a moister base (not so dry). I tried to make an edge with my Meatza base to hold all the toppings on. Cook the base for 10 minutes at 180˚C. Then pour off any juices that have escaped the meat. 

At this stage the base will have shrunk slightly, though not a lot. Now it’s ready for toppings.
I topped mine with tomato paste, chicken, salami, camembert, feta, mozzarella, capsicum, onion, and Bok Choy. These were all fried up quickly to pre cook them a bit. All of these were leftovers from other dishes and were just waiting to be used. Pile everything on top, use lots of cheese to bind it all together. Cook for a further 10 minutes and its ready to eat.

I piled mine high and the Meatza feed 5-6 people.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Homemade Tornado Ball

So as you all know I'm big on homemade equipment and recently I was interested in making a tornado ball for rotational strength. I saw Matthew Palfrey from sandbag fitness uses them sometimes for his workouts. He suggested between 5kg and 8kg depending on your current strength level. So I made myself another medicine ball (seen here) and picked up a cheap tow rope from a hardware store. I also found a guild to building the ball on Ross Enamait's website.

First step is to tie your rope around the ball as tight as you can (I wanted two handles but just one is fine.), then duct tape the hell out of it. You really don’t want the ball coming out as you swing it around your head, it will do a lot of damage to people (yourself included) or property.  I ran out of duct tape otherwise I would have kept going. In his guide Ross used a basketball net and load of duct tape, but I think the tow rope I used for mine (with some more tape added) will work great.

And that all it takes, your done in no time. Since this ball is not totally full I think it could take being used for slams, using it like you would a sledgehammer but I don’t know how long it would last - I think it would need more padding.

Now all you need to do is start swinging. Feet shoulder width apart (don’t let it pull you over), back straight and tall, shoulders back. Take it easy, start by going slow and chocking up the rope. As you get used to using the tornado ball (or if you find its getting a bit easy for you) try lowering your grip on the rope and/or swinging faster.


Thursday, 9 June 2011

1 tonne, 50 metre challenge.

This will be my first workout post and it’s a hard one. The challenge is to carry a total of 1 tonne over a distance of 50 metres. So gather all of your heavy weights together at the start line and pace out 50 metres (or 25 metres to walk there and back). For my walk I used a 50Kg log, two 20Kg water jugs, a 20Kg sand bag, a 10Kg and a 15Kg Bulgarian training bag (the 10kg and 15kg carried together). A person would make a good weight too. The inspiration for this comes from the natural method and being strong to be useful. Be prepared to carry supplies or people a long distance; be it while moving house, or during a natural disaster.

So the goal is to carry an item for 50 metres, drop it down, pick it back up and walk back 50 metres. Keep going until you reach 1000Kg moved a distance of 50 metres.

It is important to remember to keep good form the whole time. Use your legs and hips to lift items off the ground, don’t round your back. Keep you back straight while walking, head up, shoulders back, and basically keep good posture. Bare feet is best, or vibrams. 

Grip strength bag.

Our pre agriculture ancestors would likely have had superb grip strength just from living their daily lives. They would be climbing, throwing, skinning animals, carrying home a kill; all of which require and build good grip strength. This strength is still important today but we often don’t train for it in our day to day work life, so we have to find ways to work on it at home.

The inspiration for this came from a video I saw for grip strength work on My Mad Methods. In the video the guy had a loosely filled sandbag that he threw from hand to hand. The sand was constantly shifting so the area to grip was constantly changing. This unpredictability and fluidity is perfect for natural training.

 The bag I made is built much like a Bulgarian training bag. 

Take an old tire inner tube and cut out a section (300mm or 12 inches would be a good start). Fold over and zip tie one end. Fill with sand. I wanted mine to be 8Kg which I thought would be a good weight to be throwing and catching.

Once the bag is the desired weight, lay it down on the ground and flatten it out. You want to be able to get your hand around it in a flat pinch grip, but not too flat, remember the sand is going to move around a lot. When you’re happy with the shape, tie off the other end.
Test it out, if it’s not right cut the tie off and put a new on one higher or lower. When you’re happy, cut the excess rubber off, and duct tape the short end pieces up.

You now have a throwing bag ready to use. Throw it from hand to hand; try some kettlebell movements like alternating one arm swings and juggling. Have fun and feel the burn in your forearms.

Why I enjoy weighted hikes

I’ve mentioned weighted hikes a few times now, and talked about carrying my medicine ball or a Bulgarian training bag, but now I want to talk about why I do weighted hikes.

I started doing long walks and hikes even before I found marksdailyapple because I really enjoy getting outdoors, walking around and being part of nature. Most of the walks I do are only one to three hours max, but generally involve a reasonable hill climb. Doing these I quickly became very fit and was able to complete 3 hour walks in close to 2 hours. So my walks were getting pretty easy for me, and there was no challenge. 

Then I decided to take a sand bag with me after seeing one of the WOW’s on marksdailyapple. I grabbed my 13kg sandbag (an old duffel bag) and went up the hill. It was a hard climb. I had to swap the bag from side to side as it was heavy and awkward to carry; my legs were killing me on the way up, and then on the way down the stairs destroyed what was left. But all in all I felt great and it was an excellent whole body work out.

One thing I found really difficult was the wooden parts of the stairs were hell on the balls of my feet - I was in my vibram KSO’s and coming down with an extra 13kg. To recover my aching feet that evening and the next day I took a golf ball to the bottom of my feet like a foam roller or lacrosse ball. It’s taken a while of having achy feet (doing lots of weighted hikes and parkour training) but they are finally strong enough to take it after the 22 years I spent with them in shoes.

I enjoy weighted hikes because it increases the difficulty of the walks I do, and gives me a good workout, hitting my core and lower body the hardest. I can also get my heart pumping hard and my legs burning for a short spell by taking an uphill section or a stair climb as fast as I can (think of it like a weighted hill sprint). The heart rate comes up for a few minutes then normalises again after a few minutes of walking on a flat section. It’s great to mix up the intensity a bit when the desire strikes. I also find that doing weighted walks is excellent training for if I were to do a longer day trip or go camping where I have to carry my gear for a long trek. Or for a survival situation which required me to carry something vital over a great distance (I’d love to get one of the weighted training dummies the police and army use).

I’m sure our pre agriculture ancestors often performed weighted walks, weather they were carrying meat, building or tool making materials back to camp. They may also have been carrying young children with them while gathering or migrating. It is this long hard physical activity that I strive to emulate.  

So next time you’re out for a walk grab a sand bag, medicine ball, rock or small child (preferably your own child) and carry them with you. It’s a hard and rewarding exercise.

Monday, 6 June 2011

How to make a medicine ball (Attempt 2)

This is my second medicine ball and I’ve taken more progress pictures this time. Attempt one can be found here.

This ball is going to be turned into a tornado ball for rotation strength, slams and whatever else I decide to use it for. I asked Matthew Palfrey from sandbag fitness what the best weight for a tornado ball is and he suggested 5Kg – 8Kg depending on strength level. This ball ended up being 9Kg since is felt kind of empty at 8Kg so I filled it up a bit more.
This time around I decided to keep the valve so that I can pump the ball up, so I drilled a hole just off to the side of the valve where the rubber is thicker.

The sand I got was also dryer this time, so at the start it filled up a lot easier than last time.

Once the ball had started to fill up I had to start using a stick to push the sand in again since the sand still wasn’t super dry (its winter right now so everything is wet).

I finished this ball like the last one with sugru and duct tape. Stay tuned for a ‘how to make a tornado ball’ post.

Edit: I have since turned this into a slam ball, see here for details (bottom of the page).

Homemade Bulgarian training bags

From the top down, 10Kg, 15Kg and 20Kg.
I’m always keen to try new homemade training equipment and I first saw these on marksdailyapple, in his post on low tech primal tools for primal living with this link on how to make one.

A homemade Bulgarian training bag is just a tire inner tube filled with sand and the ends made into handles. These bags have 100’s of uses and can be used similarly to a mace, sandbag, kettlebell or tornado ball for strength and conditioning. The bags are great for wrestlers, MMA fighters and of course the average back yard primal exerciser.  Throw them over the shoulders for a weighted hike or to increase weight on things like push-ups, swing it over head like a tornado ball for rotational strength and all kinds of lifts and squats. If you’re low on imagination on what to do with it do a YouTube search, there are loads of good video, some with 40 or more different exercises. 

The bags were made popular by a Bulgarian wrestling coach in the US for training wrestlers and were inspired by the old Bulgarian strongman methods of training, including carrying goats on the shoulders. He chose them as a training tool that would allow his wrestlers to improve explosive actions and dynamic movements involved in pushing, twisting, swinging, pulling, bending, rotating, squatting, lunging, and throwing (natural method anyone?).

These kinds of bags can be bought, but they carry a heavy price tag of around the $150-$250 mark. I made three for a total of NZ$30 (Two bags of sand, duct tape and zip ties). I even had sand left over for a medicine ball.

I went down to the local tyre shop and picked up a few old tubes (13-15 inches) from their bin and bought 2 bags of sand for NZ$6 each. Note – if you’re getting used tubes check for holes first, it they are near the valve that fine, you can cut them out, but if their opposite the valve get it. I also got some zip tires (cable ties) and duct tape from Mitre10 Mega (our version of home depo) for NZ$20.

The first step is to cut the bag to size. The best way to do this is to cut out a 100mm (4 inch) section including the valve. (You could cut away a 300mm (12 inch) section if you’re making a lighter bag.)
Then take one end in your hand, however large you want your handle and put a zip tie around it, do it up tight. You can duct tape it up now if you like or leave it until the end.
Take a small shovel (cup or your hands) and fill the bag with sand. Best thing to do is weigh it as you go, pick it up swing it around and decide on the weight before you close it up. I eventually made 3 bags, a 10kg (22lb), 15kg (33lb) and a fat 20kg (44lb). They are cheap enough to make extra ones if you’re not happy about the weight.
 When you’re happy with the weight tie up the end, tape up the handles and start swinging. You’ll be done making your Bulgarian training bag in 15 minutes.