Should You Try StrongLifts 5×5

There’s a lot of misinformation out there and a lot of broscience following it.  You’ll hear so many things when you want to get fit.  Here’s a few bro-sciency things:

  • You have to have “muscle confusion”
  • If it doesn’t hurt you’re not working out hard enough
  • Eat this, not that, if you want to get big and strong

Now, let’s break these down a bit further to get at the root of what these mean.

Muscle Confusion

You hear it all of the time.  Advice to “change your routine every few weeks.”  Add more cardio, do less cardio.  Switch to 8 sets of 20 reps.  All types of crazy stuff.   Tom Venuto has a great article on why this is messed up.

No Pain No Gain

This is the guy who tells you that you should hurt everywhere the next day.  That if you’re not feeling Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) for the next week you’re not working out hard enough.

Eat This, Not That

Eat more protein, go keto, go paleo, follow Atkins.  This is the advice that is generally the most practical, and to be honest, the hardest work you will ever do.  Diet is 80% of your effort.

Let’s Get To StrongLifts 5×5

StrongLifts 5×5 is a linear progressive-overload strength training routine geared towards 5 sets of 5 reps.  Your exercises consist of:

Workout A:

  • Squats
  • Bench Press
  • Bent-over Rows (Pendlay Rows)

Workout B:

  • Squats
  • Overhead Press
  • Deadlifts (1×5)

Workout Schedule:

  • Monday – Workout A
  • Tuesday – Rest
  • Wednesday – Workout B
  • Thursday – Rest
  • Friday – Workout A
  • Saturday – Rest
  • Sunday – Rest

Each day you lift you add 5 lbs to the barbell.  Deadlift you add 10 lbs each time.  The goal is to progress 5 lbs at each lift each time you perform the workout.  Start with the empty bar (45 lbs).  Monday you do 5×5 squats at 45 lbs.  Wednesday you squat again so you add 5 lbs (2.5 lbs to each side) for a total of 5×5 at 50 lbs.  So on and so forth.  The weight will quickly challenge you as a new lifter.

Optional: Dips and Chin-ups/Pull-ups.

Now let’s use StrongLifts and attack that bro-science I mentioned before.

Progressive Overload “IS” muscle confusion.

This is a no-brainer.  You don’t need to swap routines every 2 months.  Adding 5 lbs to the bar each time  you lift is challenging your muscles.  Think “muscle challenging” not “muscle confusion.”  There’s a lot of science backing up linear progressive weight training.

No Pain No Gain

Silliness.  Any time you CHANGE your routine or TRAIN DIFFERENTLY you are going to get sore.  The real cause of Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) is unknown, but it is speculated that it is due to your body needing to adapt to new stimuli.  You WILL BE SORE after starting StrongLifts.  It will peak 48 hours after you lift and it will subside by the 3rd or 4th day.  LIFT THROUGH THE SORENESS.  Exercise is a proven analgesic.

Eat This Not That

True-to a degree.  This depends on your goals.  When you’re new to lifting your body and your central nervous system (CNS) must adapt and learn to recruit muscle fibers.  New lifters can lose fat and gain some muscle while on a calorie deficit.  You want to lose fat?  Eat less than your calculated Total Daily Energy Expenditure.  Want to gain muscle?  Eat MORE than your calculated TDEE.  Find a calculator, such as the one at IIFYM.COM, calculate your TDEE and your protein/carbs/fats macro requirements.

StrongLifts is an excellent beginner program.  Try it for 3 months (download the spreadsheet from Mehdi’s StrongLifts 5×5 page) and see how you do.  You’ll surprise yourself with how quickly you can progress!

 

 

 

Happy Fathers Day

Happy Fathers Day 2014 for all the dads out there.  Today was a great day and it was good to celebrate it with my daughter and my brother (who is also a dad).  My brother wasn’t able to spend this Fathers Day with his kids so it was fun to let him and his girlfriend spend time with Emma.

Also, How to Train Your Dragon 2 is an amazing movie.

Server Outage

Hooray! Excitement. So after months of procrastinating I finally took the time to setup anti-virus on the server. After a $1500 bill from my server host back in November it was time to stop procrastinating.

Apparently Parallels, a management utility for web-hosting, was susceptible to some pretty cool exploits that allowed a malicious nameless entity access to upload files, which they did. Namely some really nasty bots.

These nasty bots used some insane bandwidth. This has been fixed.

One more thing off my plate, now I can get back to writing!

iOS 7 iBookstore Not Loading?

As much as I love technology, I’m no longer a super-early adopter. Yesterday I finally updated my iPhone 4 to iOS 7. It went really smooth minus a few hiccups.

I did live-on-the-edge-balls-deep-go-big-or-go-home and didn’t even back my phone up first. Adventure is my middle name.

Anyways… I went to buy a new book on the iBook store and it wouldn’t load the store. My library had all of my books but for the life of me, the pages wouldn’t load. I tried via wifi and 3G. No change.

But yes I fixed it. Hopefully if you’re having the same problem, this will fix it.

Settings > Safari > Block Cookies > Never

Previously I blocked all cookies on Safari with iOS 6 and it wasn’t a problem. It carried through the upgrade but iOS 7 and the iBook store in particular are more Safari-dependent.

This quick change also fixed Netflix not loading.

The Wool Omnibus – My Review

I haven’t posted in quite a while, but I wanted to start off a new round of posts starting with my Wool Omnibus review.

Wool Omnibus is a series of related novellas compiled by the author, Hugh Howey. Wool paints a painful dystopian future, character driven tale spun with many twists and turns along the way.

Let’s set the stage, shall we?

In the future, man-kind has been driven into giant silos to protect them from the hostile ravaging environment that rages outside the giant viewscreen in the top-level cafeteria. To survive, people have formed different castes based upon their jobs led by a mayor that oversees everything inside of the silo. The rules are simple, follow the rules, do your job, don’t have children outside of the “lottery” and don’t question what is happening outside of the silo. The silo is your life.

Wool first introduces to Holston, the sheriff of Silo 18. Holston is a good man, trying to do his best to keep the peace in the 100+ levels of the underground silo and struggling with the death of his wife, Allison. Holstons’ wife was sent to “clean” the viewscreen outside, a death sentence, three years previous to the start of the book. In the three years since her death, Holston attempted to voluntarily clean, and finally takes it upon himself to investigate why she was sent out to clean. His questions and investigations lead to even more questions until Holston himself questions the very reality of the life he lives.

And that’s just the start of it. The investigation/personal crusade that Holston starts drives the rest of the series of Wool and introduces us to even more important characters as the book(s) unfold. The Silo series starts with Wool, transitions into Shift and ends with Dust (more to be seen if there are more books in Dust).

Hugh Howey has drawn a colorful (or colorless depending on the setting) world.  Thousands of people crammed together, following a life where the biggest dream allowed is to raise a family and have a child.  Life is a constant balancing act of trying to survive between birth and death.  The tenuous thread of a circular stairwell that rises from the depths of Mechanical, passes through the Mids and peaks in the Up Top is the only thing that holds these thousands of lives together.

Through his simple prose, Howey paints this picture in bits and pieces, presenting you the lives led by Holston and the others.  The continual struggle to live held in check by the caustic world outside where those who question the status quo are sent outside to die.  Every year a criminal is selected to clean the cafeteria viewscreen, the only view of the outside world.  Howey uses that same symbology as he unravels the mystery of Silo 18, slowly scraping away the dirt to show us behind the scenes of what drives this world.

The characters are compelling and all have their virtues and flaws.  But above it all is the constant reminder of the human condition and the power of hope.  In Wool, hope is a dangerous thing.  Curiosity can be deadly.  The characters in Wool are rarely transparent and none are one-dimensional caricatures.  Holston, the tortured sheriff who wants to find out what happened to his wife.  Juliette, the mechanic-turned-sheriff who questions what she sees around her as she starts to put the clues together.   Lukas, the man who sits in the cafeteria at night and sees the stars and dreams of what they are.  Solo, introduced in the later part of the Wool Omnibus, the eccentric survivor who has lived 34 years alone.  They all come together in Wool, their lives and their struggles laid out before us, story lines intertwining into a mystery as deep as the Silo.

Any fan of dystopian futures will love Wool.  The setting is perfectly setup as a great mystery novel combined with action and suspense.  I’d almost call Wool “genre-breaking” but the book really combines many elements into a novel that sets itself apart through great storytelling and world-building.

Wool Omnibus directly leads into the second set of books, Shift, which I will talk about in a different article.  Thankfully, if you’ve not read Wool yet, Shift and Dust have all been published so you won’t have to wait  years to find out what happens through the story.  Lucky for me, I didn’t know Shift existed until a week before Dust was published.

So zip up your coveralls and look out the viewscreen at the world outside.  But don’t ask questions!

Wool Omnibus Edition (Wool 1 – 5) (Silo Saga)

 

Moving To a New Home

FYI, The server will be relocating to a new home this weekend. Articles and the RSS Feed will both be down while it’s moved and the content is relocated. Unfortunately some of my search engine rankings will be going away.

Operation Flashpoint Red River Review

I’m a huge fan of military shooters and have been for a long time.  My first, and one of the most memorable, was Airborne Ranger by MicroProse that came out in 1987.   I’ve been an avid player of most, not-all military shooters since then.   My latest military first-person carnage-fest was Operation Flashpoint: Red River (OFRR) released by Codemasters.

The Story

OFRR is set in modern-day Tajikstan.  You and your fireteam, lead by Sgt. Knox (voiced my Reno Wilson) are part of a Marine Expeditionary Unit deployed in Tajikistan to prevent insurgents (insert fake Al-Qaeda-esque name here) from gaining a foothold in the region.  This becomes rapidly unimportant.

Like any military shooter, things go from bad to holy-shit-storm after the third mission.  There’s not really a lot of spoilers available; the plot isn’t full of of twists and turns.  In case you want to read between the lines, Tajikistan is on the eastern border of China and China doesn’t like that.  Once more, like Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising things turn into a battle royale (with cheese if you’re French) with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army.

Gameplay

The gameplay in OFRR is pretty standard fare.  The missions are based on scripted checkpoints, so if you fail you’ll go back to the last auto-save.  Unlike previous OF games, you aren’t humping 2000 m, 2 kilometers for you metric muckity-mucks between objectives.  On the rare occasion that you do have to travel long distances, there’s a HUMVEE present, unless you’re not careful and it gets destroyed.  Then  you’ll be taking the shoe-leather express, and let us hope your mission isn’t timed (which most of them are not).

Progression through the game unlocks additional levels, weapons and equipment.  As you gain levels you unlock other equipment you can use to customize what you are carrying as well as add points to attributes, like endurance, sprint speed, situation awareness (which lets you spot enemies quicker and farther), and weapons handling.  You can customize each role in your squad as well as what role you want to play.  There aren’t a quadrillion items to choose from so don’t fret.

As part of your massive array of skills (sarcasm) you can also change stances between standing, crouching and prone. Cover is available and if you attempt to use iron sights while behind a wall or under a window you will “pop-up” automatically to aim.  Taking cover will tend to keep you from becoming chow mein (see what I did there?), for the most part, but heavier ammo will penetrate walls and blood tends to obscure your view.

Graphics

OFRR is an amazing looking game.  The visuals are quite beautiful when you have a chance to look at the scenery between fire-fights.  Character models and animation are smooth and life-like.  Bullet holes appear when walls and vehicles take damage, walls explode and will break into pieces and vehicle explosions look realistic.

Operation Flashpoitn Red River
Look...Boobs!

That being said, there’s not a lot of variety when it comes to the graphics.  The PLA soldiers look identical (though I did tend to shoot them far away) as do the Marines not in your fireteam.  I did run into some issues when using the sniper scope.  Buildings that I would look at would tend to have pixellated graphics in certain areas.  Honestly, I didn’t care too much at the time because I was trying to save my ass and keep a minimal number of holes in my body.

Sound

Sound quality was excellent, though it felt more like I was using a paintball gun and less of a heavy rifle.  Ambient sounds, voice chatter and vehicle sounds were realistic.  There was variety between weapons while being fired, but they seemed to lack the “heaviness” you’d associate with firing an assault rifle.  The heavy machines do sound like you’re ripping open Hell Itself and the grenade launcher has a pretty hearty explosion and works to great effect.

Artificial Intelligence

The AI in OFRR was hit or miss.  Squad mates are controlled via a Radial Menu and can be assigned specific tasks, go here, run there, suppress THOSE guys or HEAL IDIOT WHO DIDN’T LISTEN.  Get used to HEAL IDIOT WHO DIDN’T LISTEN.  Your squadmates are useful and will put the enemy down, but from time to time they will act like morons and run between you and the enemy, particularly if you’re defending a location, and get shot for their idiocy.  They will call for help and now your corpsman will run out and get shot for being such a team player.  Thankfully, in such cases, you can heal yourself as well as your team, unless they are incapacitated aka dead as door nails.  Overall, your AI is useful 80% of the time, but you’ll get used to the radial menu after the first few missions and memorize the few keystrokes you’ll need to get them to do what you ask (or close enough for government work).

Enemy AI on the other hand, are almost all crack shots once you get above Normal.  They don’t really flank or attempt to do more than suppress you.  Those that aren’t attempting miraculous 300m headshots will attempt to run in and blast you to tiny pieces and fill you with lead.  Upon many occasions they will charge at a fixed .50 cal machine gun and then CROUCH (because I’d totally crouch in front of a gun shooting half-inch bullets at me at a couple hundred rounds per second) to take a shot.

The enemy will use RPGs and rockets on you, but only in later missions.  They can use these to devastating effect and obliterate you and your Marines in short order.  When your squadmates yell “AT Soldier at …” you should hone in quick and remove that threat.

Enemy vehicles don’t do much more than act as targets. They will shoot at you, and use their main weapon and grenade launchers, but you only run across APCs and very few tanks.  They can be dealt with pretty simply as during those events a SMAW or Javelin is available.  The same goes for any missions with enemy helicopters, there is normally a Stinger missile around that you can use.  Handy.

Overall

I enjoyed OFRR, it was an enjoyable romp playing super-soldier in a group of super-soldiers.  There’s not a huge amount of weapon variety and you’re not going to be driving any tanks here.  The heaviest weapon you will yield will be a .50 cal emplacement or hand-held weapon such as the SMAW or Stinger missile.

The game is a mix between Call of Duty style play and Arma.  It’s slightly more realistic than CoD and 1/10th of military simulation that Arma or Arma II (and expansions) is.  CoD is full of “holy crap I can’t just believe that” moments while OFRR is closer to “Jeez that was kinda hellish but thankfully I only had to reload my game TWICE that time” moments.

The voice work is well-done, Sgt Knox can be annoying.  I’ve worked with Marines while in the service and none of them had quite such a foul mouth as this guy.  He’s a little over-the-top, most of the time, and you’ll hear from him constantly.  His most endearing speech is actually delivered at the end of the game after the final battle where he finally answers “Knox’s Rules of Combat, Rule Number Three.”

Al Williams, who played Sgt Apone in Aliens voices Colonel Hardaway, who is also a bit over the top and seems half-crazy as you work your way through the ten mission campaign.

Operation Flashpoint Red River is a fun game, it’s like a summer movie you’d see just to enjoy explosions and pop corn.  It’s a mindless ride that requires nothing more than a quick trigger finger and a little tactical thinking.  OFRR appears to be a game that couldn’t decide what it wanted to be, but what it does it does well.  OFRR is the bastard child of Call of Duty and Arma, and does neither of those games justice.

Overall verdict: 2.5 out of 5 whatevers.

Games For Windows Live Section 8

If you’re like me and play to completion try out a lot of PC games, you’re bound to run across a few errors or two.  Today I picked up Section 8 by TimeGate Studios.  Section 8 is a team-based first-person shooter and overall it’s pretty fun (I’ll put a review up one of these days).

The Error

I’m not a huge fan of Games For Windows Live, though thank you to Microsoft for trying to merge their gaming into one place.  When I tried to start the game I received the following error.

“Games For Windows Live Failed To Initialize”

Oh error message, thanks for the symptom.   That’s real helpful.  So I took to the Internet to find out, fearless adventurer that I am.  (No kobolds were harmed in the solving of this problem.)

I ran across this post that fixed the issue.  If you’re lazy and don’t want to click the link here’s the gist of it.

Games For Windows Live Failed To Initialize – Section 8

This is an issue with the executable file protection aspect of Comodo Personal Firewall.  Oddly, in my case, I have Comodo’s “Defense+” feature disabled but it was still biting me.  Take note: even if you have it disabled this will still affect you.  One more time for those who don’t like to read: EVEN WITH COMODO DISABLED YOU WILL STILL HAVE THIS PROBLEM. Okay, I feel better now…

Here’s how we fix this problem:

EVEN WITH COMODO DISABLED YOU WILL STILL HAVE THIS PROBLEM

  1. Open Comodo and click on the Defense+ Tab
  2. Click on “Defense+ Settings”
  3. Change to the “Execution Control Settings” Tab
  4. Click the “Exclusions” button
  5. Add the these two files “<Steam Directory>\Steamapps\common\section 8 prejudice\s9.exe” and “<Steam Directory>\Steamapps\common\section 8 prejudice\binaries\win32\s9-win32-F.exe”
  6. Apply those and click “Okay” until you’re back to the main menu and then close Comodo’s settings panel

EVEN WITH COMODO DISABLED YOU WILL STILL HAVE THIS PROBLEM
I do feel better this time.  You’ve been warned.

You should be good-to-go. If you run across any issues drop me a line in the comments.

My Justifiable Justified Review

Justified
Justified on FX

If you haven’t checked out FX Networks’ Justified, you should pick up Season 1 on DVD, catch Season 2 however you can and then weep with joy that Season 3 has already been announced.

Timothy Olyphant stars as Raylan Givens, a US Marshall who has been reassigned by the Marshall’s Service back to his home state after a questionable, but possibly justified, shooting.

Life in Kentucky is complicated; his ex-wife has married the man she left him for, his estranged father is a borderline criminal, and an old flame has just killed the brother of one of the friends of his youth.

It’s a complicated tale that twists and turns throughout Seasons 1 and 2.  Olyphant is superbly accompanied by Joelle Carter, Natalie Zea and Walton Goggins, who play excellent roles that fit them well.  Walton Goggins is exceptional as his old friend Boyd who is more complex as the show develops.  He really shines at the end of Season 1 and throughout Season 2.

Justified is gritty, realistic (for the most part) and well-delivered.  Actions have repercussions and this isn’t your run-of-the-mill police drama, lines get crossed, for better or for worse.

If you are looking for a deep show with developed characters and back story, this show will hold you at gunpoint until the curtain falls.