I finally got around to finishing Beyond Brawn: The Insider’s Encyclopedia on how to Build Muscle & Might.  Throughout his book, Stuart McRobert talks about how to increase your strength and gives lots of detailed instruction on how to do so.

One important point he emphasizes is that in order to increase your strength you need to focus on poundage progressionEvery week you should be increasing how much weight you are lifting.

Once you’ve been lifting for a while, however, this quickly becomes easier said than done.  At most commercial gyms the minimum poundage increase you can make is 5 pounds at a time.  If you are maxing out each workout, to think you can continually add 5 pounds to your weight successfully is crazy.

So that’s why Stuart McRobert advises that you invest in your own weights to bring along with you to your gym.  He suggests owning a couple pairs of ½ lb and 1 lb weight plates that you can use to make very minor poundage progressions each week.  While these increases may seem small, they add up to big increases over time and help keep you from burning out in the process.

After doing some Google searching, however, I realized that finding ½ lb and 1 lb weight plates is also easier said than done.  So I went for the next best thing.

Ankle Weights.  At Fitness Resource in Bethesda I was able to find Adjustable 2.5lb Ankle/Wrist Weights for about 30 bucks.  The best part of these weights is that each Ankle-Weight is comprised of 10 ¼ lb weights… making it VERY easy to adjust your poundage increase.

Yes… I definitely get some funny looks when people see me strapping ankle weights to my squat bar… but honestly the progress I’ve been able to continually make from it has well been worth it. 🙂


Homemade Dip Station FAIL

This winter break I found myself with a lot of free time on my hands.  So in an effort to use my time wisely and save a little money… I decided to build a homemade dip station.

The process sounded simple enough. In fact all of the instructional sites made it sound easy.  I specifically remember reading “will cost you less than $20” and “will take you less than an hour.

A Homemade PVC Dip Station Requires:

  • 4 – 3 ft. segments of 2 in. PVC pipe
  • 4 – 2ft. segments of 2 in. PVC pipe
  • 4 – 3 in. segments of 2 in. PVC pipe
  • 2 – 1 ½ ft. segments of 2 in. PVC pipe
  • 8 elbows
  • 4 T’s
  • PVC cement

And the good news is: I made it! 🙂

And the bad news is: it was NOT easy!

In total, the materials cost me $45.  This is still cheaper than the commercial ones, which retail for $80 not including shipping,  but $45 is still more than twice the price of the original $20 that I thought it would be.

It also took me 3 trips to Home Depot.  I acknowledge this was mostly my fault; I may have forgotten to get the 3 inch segments cut and then later realized I had bought the wrong size elbows… but still.

But most importantly, it’s not safe.  It stands up straight and supports my body weight, but the thing wobbles more than it would during an earthquake.  This is partly because the guy at Home Depot didn’t cut the pipes perfectly and partly my own fault.  But if I continue to use it I can tell it’s only a matter of time until I’ll be crashing to the ground…loudly and painfully.

So what’s the lesson here?  It is possible to make your own dip station out of PVC pipe.  A handier person than myself could have probably done a much better job.  But for the average joe: just by yourself one.  Some things are better left to a professional 🙂

Hunting for Vibrams

Me in my new Vibrams

After wanting a pair for over a year now… I have officially joined the club.  Last night I bought my first pair of women’s black KSO Vibrams.

I’ve currently owned them for less than 24 hours and have been wearing them for less than 3: but so far they are amazing.  What kept me from purchasing them sooner, however, was their price tag.  I’m still a college student, living on a college budget.  I make $150 a week and dropping $85 of that on a pair of shoes barely leaves me with enough money to afford my primal groceries, let alone my not-so-primal vodka.

This got me thinking: is being frugal a primal instinct that I should embrace?  After all I doubt ancient cavemen were blessed with excess resources.  Why waste two spears hunting down a saber-tooth tiger when you can get the job done with one?  I really wanted these shoes, and since I didn’t feel like foregoing groceries for a week, I decided it was time to go on a hunt of my own… a hunt for a bargain.

I found that bargain via craigslist.  A lady named Theresa was selling a pair of BRAND-NEW Vibrams (still in the box with the tags and everything) for $45.  Unfortunately for her – but fortunately for me- she had bought them a size too small and was no longer able to return them.  Maybe I’m crazy but finding these shoes gave me a natural high so intense that I’m convinced smart-shopping is a primal instinct.  I know Cavemen didn’t have to shoe shop… but I’m certain they would be frugal if they did 😉