Sleep Well & Refine Fitness, Aikido and Movement

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I’m Logen, a ninja enthusiast who, through fitness, movement, martial arts and mindfulness, seeks to usher in the way of the ninja into the modern world. Having run Way Of Ninja since 2008, I’m presently ramping up my efforts in establishing a warrior lifestyle routine that touches on the four mentioned aspects.

My program, which has faced numerous setbacks along the way, consists of Aikido, calisthenics (street workout, bar callisthenics and Convict Conditioning program), movement (MovNat and Parkour) and running. This year, my core purpose is to find balance in my family, social, work and fitness life, after being overly obsessive last year.

With that in mind, the following are my achievements in the first quarter of 2015, followed by crucial goals I need to prioritise.

Achievements

  • Gold award for IPPT (military fitness test) in February
  • Incorporated MovNat and Parkour moves in training in January
  • Graded and received my black belt (2nd Kyu) in Aikido recently
  • Reworked my fitness routine to incorporate street workout and bar calisthenics recently

Achieving the Gold award for the fitness test means I will have to rework my program to focus on other fitness goals, notably movement, flexibility. balance and functional strength.

On the martial arts spectrum, I feel like a deficient black belt due to quirks in my techniques, especially the Ushiro and Kaiten range of techniques. And I found issues with my shihonage ura movements.

Prioritised Goals

1. Get enough sleep

I fell back into sleeping less, after the hectic two weeks schedule where I trained for the fitness test, obstacle race, military standby and Aikido grading. Once again, my performance and motivation took a severe hit. I had to cut down workouts because of intense headaches and fatigue. And I snacked more, got sleep paralysis often and became very temperamental.

Fitness, martial arts and eating right require fighting spirit, and I can’t summon that state of mind without proper sleep.

Benchmarks – How would I know I achieved this goal?

  • Have at least 6.5 hours of sleep daily
  • Sleep no later than 3.30am on weekends (Fri, Sat)
  • Exception: Out for night activities on weekends
  • Exception: Emergencies pertaining to family & friends
  • Exception: 3 chances to fail in my benchmarks

2. Perform calisthenic exercises correctly

I ignored the Convict Conditioning program advice on proper form and mastery of the basic moves, causing my progress to be slower, from both minor injury and ineffective conditioning.

Furthermore, I recently discovered that I exert more force with my dominant arm when doing pullups, which is bad for developing symmetrical strength.

I need to go back to basics and focus on form over numbers. And with the new Bar Brothers routine, this is more crucial than ever.

Benchmarks – How would I know I achieved this goal?

  • Perform exercises with correct form (the numbers matter less than the proper way)
  • Be mindful over not relying on one dominant side for all exercises
  • Keep core tight for all exercises
  • Regular pull ups (2 sets of 10): Pull to chest level & balance out arm strength used
  • Flat straight leg raises (2 sets of 12): Keep legs straight & breathe correctly
  • Regular push ups (2 sets of 20): Keep core tight and straight
  • Full squats (2 sets of 15): Angle feet outwards, avoid inward knee tracking, sit back down & keep back straight
  • Straight bar dips (1 set of 5): Perfect and consistent form
  • Triceps dips (1 set of 6): Triceps parallel to the floor at lowered position; avoid locking elbows at top position to maintain muscle tension
  • Chest dips (1 set of 6): Lean forward. Triceps parallel to the floor at lowered position; avoid locking elbows at top position to maintain muscle tension
  • Full hanging leg raises (1 set of 3): Toes must be at bar level at ending position

3. Movement refinement and progression

Had to stop myself from adding excessive movement refinements from MovNat and Aikido. The purpose is to focus – goal 2 already has plenty of benchmarks.

Benchmarks – How would I know I achieved this goal?

  • Step vault – smooth transition from running to vault movement on both sides
  • Lazy vault – transition from slow jog to vault movement (still awkward to get correct placement)
  • Side vault – transition from slow walk to vault movement (occasionally still slam knees on rail when transitioning)
  • Aikido forward roll – be able to roll on the right hand side from kneeling position