Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Office Setup

I'm sure you've heard that sitting is the new smoking.  Well I wanted to share my office setup so you can see some of the tools I use to try and counter act the lack of movement throughout the average work day.

Fortunately for me I have a pretty progressive employer who understands the benefits of making employees happy.  Based on employee feedback we were given the choice of a sit/stand desk or a new chair (we had a choice of 4 different chairs that we could try out).  It was a no-brainer for me to go for the sit stand workstation.  A new chair doesn't address the fact that I would still be sitting all day.  The one you see in the picture is an Ergotron, I think they are around the $500 range.  When I first got the desk I was standing 30 mins at a time sometimes longer.  However I started to get calf cramps in the middle of the night.  At first I thought it was my workouts or a mineral deficiency of some kind but I couldn't figure it out.  However eventually I realized it might be the amount of time I was standing.  I eventually settled on standing 10 mins of every hour.  Now I tend to stand a little longer but with less frequency.

Office Setup

That fancy looking chair I have is a HAG Capisco Chair.

I bought it sight unseen.  I had been looking for an alternative chair for a while as a regular chair really bothers my lower back.  I heard Joe Rogan talk about the chair on his podcast.  It is $850.  I really balked at the price of this chair but once I figured how much I would be using it I treated it like a bed purchase and that it really would be worth while to make the investment in the chair.  My fairly constant lower back pain was also a good motivator to purchase the chair.  The particular model I got is designed to work with a sit stand desk and when you sit in it you don't really use the back of the chair as it naturally puts you in more neutral spine position.  I also like that you can adjust the height and sit a little higher up like a bar stool.  It works great with the sit stand desk in this way and enables me to adjust my seating position throughout the day.  It is still possible to slouch and have your pelvic tilt but it starts you in a much better position.

The mouse I use is an Evoluent vertical mouse.  A coworker turned me onto these.

I switched to this to take some pressure off my right wrist.

You can see in the picture where a lot of the pressure was on my wrist with a regular mouse.  This is from years of working on a computer.  It took a little while to get used to the mouse but overall I think my wrist thanks me for the change.

I use an anti fatigue mat to stand on when I'm standing.  I bought this Joe fatigue mat for $14 and have been very happy with it for the price.  The carpet is very minimal and the floor is quite unforgiving if you're standing on it.  I also take my shoes off when I'm at my desk.  I use the golf ball to massage the bottoms of my feet when I'm sitting.  When I'm standing I use the half moon foam pad to stretch my calves.  

I have these captain of crush grippers at my desk which I use periodically to improve my grip strength.  They are pretty much the gold standard in grippers and come in various strengths so you can just purchase the next one up once you get strong enough.  I have the sport (80 lbs) and the trainer (100 lbs).  I started on the sport and had a pretty weak grip.  I'm only 140 lbs so your mileage may vary.  You might want to start with the trainer or higher if you already have a strong grip or have bigger stronger hands.

That's a himalayan salt lamp.  My wife got me some of these for xmas and I put one in the office.  She got it here.  They are supposed to negatively ionize the air and have some benefits.  Worst case it gives off a nice soothing glow to bring out your inner hippie.

That's the ping pong table in our game room at work.  Yes we have a game room at work and I play ping pong almost daily.  Great way to break up the day and get some different movements in.  Read more about how I stay healthy during the day with my office work outs.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

2015 Fitness Goal - Touching My Toes

To some my fitness goal for 2015 might seem to lack a certain degree of difficulty.  However, there has never been a point in my life where I remember being able to touch my toes.  I'm sure my parents could come up with a few stories of me touching my toes when I was a baby playing with weeble wobbles.

The last time I was close was when I was doing two a day practices in high school soccer.  I remember towards the end of two a days I was just about able to clip my toe if I bent my toe towards me and really went for it.  There was certainly no grabbing of the toe or holding a position where my finger was touching my toe.  Now some 25 years later and lots of sitting and staring at a computer screen you can imagine how flexible I am.  This is my starting point.  A pretty ridiculous 10 inches from my toes.

I started doing a fitness goal each year in 2014.  My goal for that year was running 3 miles in 21 mins.  Admittedly I hadn't done any running for many years.  I didn't achieve that goal as the best I managed was around 21:30.  It gave me a new appreciation for my brother's running prowess, who is 3 1/2 years older and runs 6 miles in 36 mins.  2015 I really wanted to improve my mobility for a host of reasons.  I had already started doing some foam rolling and tissue work with a lacrosse ball to fix my tight hamstring and my lower back pain on the advice of my chiropractor (if you need a good one in Indianapolis see Dr Scott at Summit Spine).  I also needed more hip mobility to allow me to do a proper back squat without stressing my lower back.  And finally I wanted to reduce my chance of injury playing indoor soccer.  I'll probably do a whole post on mobility but my goal of touching my toes was just part of a general goal of increasing my mobility and flexibility.

The main protocol I used was based on this move skill  post.  


  • 2 rounds of Leg Swings, 10x Side to side, 10x Front and back
  • 25ft of Waiter’s Bow without rounding your back (this isn’t the stretch yet, you are just warming up!)
Now for the hard work. You are going to perform 2 full rounds of Band Hamstring Stretch.
Be sure to watch the full video. Each Round will consist of:
  • 10 Straight Leg Kicks – Kick high as possible with your knee straight and then drive your leg to the ground working against the tension of the band.
  • 10 Second Straight Leg Hold – Again knee locked out, you are going to be pulling your leg towards your head while simultaneously driving our heel back towards the ground. DON’T LET YOUR LEG WIN.  The intention here is to work against the stretch.
  • 20 Heel Drives – This is where things get spicy.  You are going to attempt to drive your heel up and overhead while pulling the band towards your body. Pull hard! The idea is to momentarily hit a stretch that would otherwise be unbearable. You should always be able to lock your knee. If you can’t, back off just a bit.
  • 10 Second Bent Leg Hold- Pull your knee Into your chest with the bottom of your foot facing up or slightly overhead. Choke up on the band to increase the tension and pull in hard towards your chest. Simultaneously try to push the bottom of your foot up and overhead. You should feel a deep stretch in your high hamstring.
  • 10 Straight Leg Kicks- Repeat exactly like the first round, notice how much range of motion (ROM) you have gained.

I would do this mostly in the evenings, choosing to spend most of my evening tv time crawling around on the carpet and pulling my legs into uncomfortable banded stretches much to the bemusement of my wife.

About half way through the year I also added a few things from this nerd fitness blog post

I also started attending a weekly 60 min yoga session.  Flexibility was the main reason for starting yoga but I found I really enjoyed the relaxation that yoga brings and the calmness I feel afterwards.  I am admittedly one of the only men in the class and I was careful to wear the appropriate under garments as I didn't want to shock any middle aged women with my downward dog.

I also wanted a more balanced approach to working out instead of all weights and cardio with no focus on mobility.

Finally for xmas I got a Rumble Roller.

As you can see this is an aggressive foam roller.  And to be quite honest it is pretty painful to use at first.  But I have to say after using it for a couple of weeks it does the trick and I'll be using it regularly to break up the muscle fascia.  I went full bore on this thing every night from xmas to the end of the year in a last ditch effort to reach my goal.

So how did I get on?  Well I unfortunately I didn't track my progress regularly which I'm regretting now because I would have loved to see how my progression tracked over time.  I certainly feel like I hit a bit of wall as I got close to the end of the year.  Here are my results on 12/31/2015.  I measured the stretch after just a minimal warm up.

As you can see I'm still about 4 inches away.  Until looking at the pictures and despite my wife telling me I was 3 inches away I was sure I was much closer.  Still work to do.

Despite my failings I'll log this one into the memory banks as something I'd still like to do along with my 21 min 3 mile run.  I will post quarterly updates of my progress through out the year.

So now its 2016 I need a new goal, any suggestions?  It needs to be hard enough that there is a  chance of failure.  Here is what I'm considering

15 good form pull ups
1.75 x body weight back squat
2 Hand stand push ups
1 Muscle Up

What do you think?

I'm leaning towards doing a muscle up in 2016