Monday, July 21, 2008

Day 123, I Know This Great Little Bar...

I can't believe this! As you remember, on Day 83 I detailed my efforts to find a suitable chin up bar around the Yokohama metropolitan area. The one I found was ok, but it was always populated by kids giving me a hard time, which is cute for, oh, about 45 seconds.

So recently I've been going to a community gym to use their bar set up, which is really out of my way and which I have to pay money to access.

Anyway, today, I took a walk because the weather was nice, and I took a backstreet behind my yoga studio which I rarely use. After about 30 seconds I came onto a little playground in front of Shinto shrine. And there it was. A perfectly designed chin-up bar. All by itself, without being attached to a jungle gym, in front of a peaceful little shrine and under a cherry blossom tree. I couldn't make this stuff up!

So, here's my magical bar. Isn't it great!?

Here's the most important exercise you can do from a bar. The classic pull-up. You'll notice the fingers point forwards. This will put muscle on your back faster than anything else.

After that is the chin-up, which mainly works the biceps. I don't need any bigger arms than I have so I don't do this one much. You can see that the fingers point backwards in a pull-up.

A fun variation is one hand in chin-up position, one in pull-up position. This will work a lot of muscles along the diagonal of the back.

I've done so many crunches over the course of this project that they don't really challenge me much anymore. So Chen started me doing my abs-work on the bar. Here are a few of the abs-workouts you can do with a parallel bar.

First is lifting the legs up to touch the bar. This requires every muscle of your abdomen at some point along the movement. The key is to control the return movement and not just swing down like a monkey It's a fun one!

Next is the same idea, but with the legs coming up at 45 degrees. This hits the entire line of obliques along the side of the body.

And finally, adding a fully extended kick at the end will require your entire core as well as superior upper body strength. This one isn't for the faint at heart! Holding the legs for a moment static in the air is even harder.

And lastly is a half kung-fu situp. With just a bar it's a little tricky to get the full Jackie Chan version, but this one works almost as well, with one arm providing stability. Start hanging from the knee joints.

And do a side crunch just like you would if you were on the floor.

It's almost funny. For all these weeks this perfect bar was just 30 seconds away. All it took was me breaking out of my habitual patterns and walking down a different street to find it.

Which is the PCP in a nutshell. Inside all of us is a strong, healthy, slim person who we just haven't found yet because we are stuck in the same old habits. Breaking up these samskaric patterns is hard at first, but the rewards to be found are immense.

Two more blog posts and my PCP is history! Tomorrow I'm going to open that box!

If you'd like to apply for round 2 of the PCP shoot me an email at thepeakconditionproject (at)


Nate said...

I love the irony to things like that. When it's right under your face all the time. I have a perosnal example that's similar i guess in the principal of breaking habits.

I have never eaten very healthy and I used to "hate" vegetables.

However, All my life we have had a 30'x50' vegetable garden, and some fruit trees (cherry, apple, peach, pear) and some berries wild-growing around our house. I always took this things for granted and never enjoyed them until I started to make an effort to be healthier and relized how amazing it is to have this stuff. My quick ticket to eating right was right under my nose! I just had to stop buying crap and eat what's in my own yard! And stop lying to myself and saying I don't like food like that. I love it now!

Cheers to the PCP

Andy said...

I hate to nitpick, but you ot the names of chinups and pullups reversed. =) Pullups use a pronated grip, while chinups use a supinated grip.

...But that's awesome! And congrats on making it so far with your program!

Patrick said...

Thanks man I always mix those up. I'll fix the post.

HANNES said...

I’m starting an excersize regime…… Try to do excercise everyday…… ^^( And be an example to all the other medical students![lol I decided I what I want to study today say がんばってます!