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My Book Reading

The Border - Don Winslow

Metropolis - Philip Kerr

The Paris Diversion - Chris Pavone

The Network - Jason Elliott

Our Man Down In Havana - Christopher Hull

Mission To Paris - Alan Furst

A Dangerous Man - Robert Crais

Resurrections - Jeffrey Meyers

Spy Games - Adam Brookes

Podcast Favorites

   In this episode of the entertraining Books of the Year podcast, Simon Mayo and Matt Williams ask Lee Child about his legendary coffee consumption, at my request. 

@booksoftheyear, @simonmayo

I'll listen to Layne Norton discuss and argue passionately about nutrition any day. Mark Bell does a great job moderating an engaging conversation between Norton and Shawn Baker about health, fitness, food and nutrition. Science wins! @marksmellybell, @BioLane

Shane Whaley and David Craggs talk spy and espionage fiction, writing, politics and books with the outspoken, brilliant writer, Charles Cumming.

@Spybrary, @CharlesCumming

Malcolm Gladwell digs deep into the one song Elvis Presley couldn't consistently sing, "Are You Lonesome Tonight?" This episode is a gripping, utterly fascinating discussion of how Elvis recorded, sang live, and interpreted his life through music. @Gladwell


Louie Simmons is the Master

Years ago I used to see Simmons and the Westside gang enjoying breakfast during the Arnold Classic weekend. I'm glad to see they still get together like that. Looking forward to seeing Louie this coming weekend at Powerlifting at the Arnold Classic. Always interesting.


Squatting With a Band

For today's squat workout I thought I'd try a session using Mark Bell's Hip Circle. I've long used the Hip Circle during warm-ups, but today I thought I'd wear it for an entire session. Result:  it felt good, I had no problems or aches or weird pains. 

I've lifted weights for 48 years, and somehow this was the first time I'd tried this! Never stop experimenting. Keep an open mind and always be open to learning.


Walking in the Sunshine - Today's Workout

It's early October here in central Wisconsin. Fall this year seems superior to the summer we just enjoyed. Whether it's global warming or the western U.S. on fire or just unseasonably warm weather, today the temperatures was near 80 when my scheduled workout rolled around, and I decided to hell with being indoors, it's a great opportunity to be outside in the sunshine! No walking on a treadmill inside; no cycling indoors. No, not even any weight-training today!

Within a 50 yard walk of the gym I work in is a long (probably quarter mile) figure-eight crushed granite walking path in a huge field. It was built and is maintained by the factory next door, for their employees, none of which I ever see out there walking. I've used it for years.

Today I slapped on a baseball cap (sunburn on my shaved head isn't funny), fired up the headphones and my Podcast app, and walked at a pretty quick clip, in the sunshine, shirt off, for 45 wonderful minutes. Call it an active rest day. Or call it good mental health hygeine. Considering I get in 5 or 6 weight-training sessions weekly, I'm feeling damn good about today's session.

#walkingisunderrated, @marksmellybell


Flattery in the gym

Yesterday in the gym a couple of young, new members asked me how they could build biceps like these 62-year-old arms! 

First, I told them I'd been consistently training for decades. After I asked how often they work their biceps, and they answered "three or four times weekly," I delivered the news they didn't want to hear.

My advice (to anyone who wants to build bigger arms) is to train biceps specifically only once every week or two! All workouts should be based around lifting heavy weights, all the time:  deadlifts, squats, presses, cleans, rows, etc. Every truly strong person I've known works out their entire body, and they always have big arms!

I didn't even touch on nutrition with these two relatively skinny guys, or I'd probably still be talking...



Training Outdoors in the Wisconsin Summer

It's an understatement to say our season for sunny, warm, outdoor training is brief. Take advantage of cooperative weather when you can, get outside, feel the sunshine and honest sweat.

Bodybuilders should work on the muscle groups lagging behind the others. Often this means less bench pressing and bicep curling, and more squats or rows or hamstring work. Powerlifters sometimes need to add a greater variety of assistance work to their program, and not spend so much time on the big three of bench, squat and deadlift. Competitive CrossFit athletes hammer themselves through a dozen or more primary movements, and an almost endless number of assistance and secondary exercises. These athletes run out of time and energy to fit everything in.

I'm fortunate. I'm a gym rat with extensive experience in all three of these areas, making my living in a large, well-equipped commercial gym. Two different CrossFit gyms are part of my protocol, so I have access to all manner of weight-training toys and devices.

When it's hot outside and the sun is shining, I'm happiest if I can get out there and sweat, moving dragging and lifting heavy stuff. Yesterday was a great example:Pushing my old standby, the Prowler, was enjoyably taxing. Dragging a sled for a couple of hundred yards at a time was grueling. Switching from walking backwards to forwards, I found the longer drags to dig deeply into some mysterious area of my hip. Tough stuff. The cherry-on-top was taking an Assault Bike out into the sunshine. An interval session to begin my workout, and more intervals to end, made for a tough workout.

I rotated between the Prowler and the Sled a whole bunch of times, for an hour, probably. Afterwards, the finisher was joining a group of Olympic lifters carrying a fat bar across the gym, made challenging with kettlebells dangling from bands. Always fun and interesting with a supportive group.

At age 62, I'm overjoyed with my varied, outdoor sessions, and happy to be able to handle the workload.