Friday Update, no Bullshit

I’m going to have to renege on my Friday Bullshit! for now. Too much going on, there was a doggie crisis the last couple of days (better now) and I’m working more and more on “the book” and might even have some interesting news along those lines shortly.

I’ll do the BS pieces, but probably not regularly or every week. Sorry for the premature announcement if anyone really cares.

So perhaps you’d like to know how I’m progressing along on my super-secret program to lean out to a state of rippedness. Today marks the end of week 4. OK, here’s the deal:

  1. In spite of the — gasp! — potato carbage, I’ve lost a net 4 pounds since starting.
  2. In spite of losing 4 net pounds I have increased impressively in all exercises but one (bench press). For instance, I’ve gone from 185 x 8 to 205 x 8 on the deadlift. But I’m most proud of the back squats. Four weeks ago I could only get 165 x 8 without feeling I was going to hurt something. Today I easily went for 200 x 8 and could have probably done two more if I was willing to compromise form. The legs are getting stronger. For leg extensions on the machine, 110 x 9 four weeks ago and today, 140 x 8.

So there you have it. And here was yesterday’s lunch whereby I made my own Caesar dressing using a recipe from Epicurious (Wolfgang Puck’s) on my new 3G iPad right there in the kitchen. No more printing recipes. Both the Epicurious and the Big Oven apps are fantastic for the iPad. Click for the hi-quality version.

Chicken Ceasar Salad
Chicken Caesar Salad

Today I had a great lunch on the sunny outdoor patio at Gordon Biersch in downtown San Jose with Patrik, creator of PaleoHacks, an increasingly popular Q & A resource for Paleos. Go get your questions answered by others who’ve gone through what you’re going through. And the best answers always rise to the top.

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Richard Nikoley

I started writing Free The Animal in late 2003 as just a little thing to try. 20 years later, turns out I've written over 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from diet, health, philosophy, politics, social antagonism, adventure travel, expat living, location and time independent—while you sleep— income by geoarbitrage, and food pics. I intended to travel the world "homeless," but the Covidiocy Panicdemic squashed that. I became an American expat living in Thailand. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. ... I leave the toilet seat up. Read More


  1. Janet (Pantry Bites) on May 7, 2010 at 15:41

    Question on the IPAD. It hasn’t been released here in New Zealand yet but I’m dead keen on getting one. Would love to get an honest review of it. I know it’s a bridge between an iphone and a laptop. Why would one get an IPAD over an IPhone?

    • Bill on May 7, 2010 at 17:23

      I have an iPad and it’s my favorite computing device. It doesn’t replace the computer or the iPhone, but does lie in between. The use is similar to the iPhone as far as navigation, touch, etc., but the bigger screen enables developers to create new interfaces that are much more usable. It’s truly had to describe without using one, so I’ll just give you an experience. I went to a conference recently. Previously I would have taken my iPhone and a notebook (MacBook Pro). I took my iPad and was effective. I couldn’t have gotten by with just my phone, but a) did everything I wanted to r/e notes, email, web, etc. and b) wasn’t constantly looking for a plug since the battery lasted the entire day. I’d also add that I just had a really small bag vs. the backpack I normally carry. I highly recommend the iPad if you can afford it in addition to your other computing devices.

    • Richard Nikoley on May 7, 2010 at 17:33

      Well since it’s not a phone the two really aren’t comparable. I have an iPhone too but for more than just a bit of use it gets tiring, especially the web.

      On the other hand, I prefer using the iPad to web browse or order stuff, pay bills — whatever I do on my MacBook Pro — to all other computers. Astoundingly, it’s way fast than my MBP in browsing and I have the fastest MBP available with 4 gigs of RAM.

      The other thing, as Bill mentioned, is the battery life. Phenomenal. I used it for two days regularly, lots outside where the light required the screen to be brighter, and the battery only got down to 50%.

      • Janet (Pantry Bites) on May 7, 2010 at 19:14

        I essentially want to be able to read, write, and check my e-mails on the Ipad. The large screen and the long battery life are very appealing. Also interesting that it’s faster than a MacBook Pro.

        Thanks very much for your comments.

      • Richard Nikoley on May 7, 2010 at 19:28

        Way excellent for that, Janet. When the update OS comes out in some months you’ll also be able to switch between account email inboxes easily. I maintain 5 email accounts and that has been a iPhone compliant for me since the beginning.

  2. Organic Gabe on May 7, 2010 at 16:23

    No bullshit? Hmmm, too bad 😉

  3. arlojeremy on May 7, 2010 at 23:03

    No bullshit? That’s bullshit!

  4. Al Ciampa on May 8, 2010 at 03:52


    As far as your potato carbage intake goes – I’m all for it… if your metabolism has healed to the point where insulin sensitivity has returned enough to process the extra glucose. That’s the difference between say you, and someone who is just beginning their journey toward healing. If the carbs don’t lay fat down, then you’re eating well within your physiological means, at this point in time.

    Your exercise lifts increasing are most likely die to the increased skeletal glycogen. To store glycogen, the body must store loots of water along with it (as a buffer?) this increase in muscular intracellular hydrostatic pressure allows the muscle to contract harder and more forcefully – thus lifting more weight. This phenomenon is severely overlooked in today’s sport and was the original purpose of “carb loading”. It’s just physics. Increased loads in your workouts are by definition increased in intensity and quite possibly, leading to some fat loss, if all else is equal.


  5. Mike Gruber on May 8, 2010 at 08:46

    Cool to see you focusing more on your workouts. Are you doing any sprinting? I laid off for the winter (no fun in the cold Seattle rain), but I think I need to start back at it… it’s gorgeous outside today.

    • Richard Nikoley on May 8, 2010 at 08:52


      Usually I’m doing intervals on the stationary bike a couple of times per week. But I should probably get out and sprint too.

    • ian on May 11, 2010 at 16:52

      laid off for the winter? i dont know what that means, in NY we train outside all year round, get some rain gear bub

  6. Kyle Murphy on May 8, 2010 at 13:07

    Do you attribute the weight loss and muscle gains to the potatoes (or at least partially)? I’ve been reading up on The Optimal Diet, and Kwasniewski seems quite adamant about maintaining that baseline level of carbs (less inefficient gluconeogenesis, wastage of muscle proteins, no ketones, etc) Do you think your experience supports his theory?

    • Richard Nikoley on May 9, 2010 at 13:52

      See Alex’s comment below.

      While I don’t know for certain, I think there’s a point of diminishing or even reversed returns with lower and lower carb. So, perhaps it’s a U-shaped curve with optimal being at the bottom of the U at some carb level that provides for the greatest balance of energy levels, strength gains and fat loss in synergistic combination. That level is going to be different for different individuals and is also going to shift for any given individual (probably toward higher carbs) the leaner they get.

  7. san fran J on May 8, 2010 at 16:56

    Richard is it 4 net pounds loss from 180 lbs. or 4 net pounds loss from 175. I know u said you bounced from 175-180 before starting this ripped routine.

    Any checks on your body fat percentage?

  8. Lynsey James March on May 8, 2010 at 20:35

    I love the salad, it looks great and fresh! The dressing sounds good too, you should post the recipe.

  9. Alex Knapp on May 9, 2010 at 08:39

    I made a conscious decision to start eating more potatoes because I was tired of missing a starch in my meals. I eat 3-4 a week now (pretty much the same way–baked with olive oil and salt, loaded with sour cream), and my weight loss has oddly accelerated. I haven’t changed any other habits (I’m still pretty sedentary) so I thought that was kinda weird.

  10. Gabe Rosen on May 9, 2010 at 17:23

    Good to hear you aren’t compromising on form with your back squats (I am familiar with the temptation). Not only will this prevent injuries, but squatting correctly will benefit just about everything else, including sprints, which are definitely not my favorite thing to do, but something I’m always glad to have done.

  11. Steve on May 10, 2010 at 07:39

    nice work.
    Are you doing the super slow/single sets Doug MacGuff style lifting?
    Also, are you measuring bodyfat %?
    Sounds like you’ve probably made much better strides in body recomposition in excess of the 4# net loss.

    • Richard Nikoley on May 10, 2010 at 11:46

      I’m not at liberty to provide too many details yet, but I can tell you that no, I’m not using the BBS approach. Not even close.

      Hit 225 for 8 on my first set of deads, today.

  12. Primal Toad on May 10, 2010 at 14:16

    That salad looks simple yet very delicious. I had a big ass salad for lunch. And, I want an iPad! I played around with one at the Apple store and loved it!

  13. Zune on May 10, 2010 at 19:27

    My HUNCH is that your working with M.Berkhan/Leangains. Was almost half expecting to see you in the latest client update though it seems to be a bit early for that.

    His clients get a) stronger and leaner b) with intermittent fasting c) with carbs now and then. All that seems to be happening here as well…just a guess though:)

    Anyway good luck. I for one will be very interested in seeing the final results.

    And Im totally with you on the potatoes. I eat paleo most of time but Ill have some starch 2-3 times weekly and it doesnt hurt my progress in the weight room or in the fat loss department. Quite the opposite even.

  14. ian on May 11, 2010 at 16:38

    hey man, love what your doing, primal thing, but your training is all wrong bro, give me a sec and i know i will have you, modern gyms have you isolating muscles, when we need our strength we never use one muscle at a time, we recruit as many as possible, check out these two guys, there is plenty to watch and read on them for free, they train in a primal fashion, dragging, pushing, lifting, but not lifting barbells, lifting big heavy, awkward implements, give these two guys five minutes of your time and you will be hooked, i have been training information for years, and these two lead the pack, they are doing to training what primal is doing to nutrition, most gym lifting is for professional body builders, who have different goals than those that want raw total body strength, let me know what you think Dave Lemanczyk
    paul chek

    • Richard Nikoley on May 11, 2010 at 16:53

      I know of — though not extensively — and respect both of them.

      But my goals are somewhat different. If I lived on some kind of rural property where I could fashion all manner of shit to push, pull, and lift around I would certainly do so. As it is, I live downtown just now with a gym and competent trainer I’ve been with for three years and the walk from my front door is precisely 5 minutes.

      I’m not claiming my approach is totally optimal, but it’s sufficient for now, and it’s advancing me toward my own goals.

      Check back in about a month to 6 weeks. That’s when I figure I’ll be just about done with this stage.

      • ian on May 11, 2010 at 16:56

        will do,
        be careful with those squats, without optimal flexibility in the hips,

      • Richard Nikoley on May 11, 2010 at 17:06

        Before I began this a month ago I had pretty much quit doing squats because my back would hurt, and this was at like 175ish. Same with conventional deads at even 150. I can’t yet reveal what exactly I’m up to but I just easily hit 225 on deads doing sumo (8 reps) and will move up to 235ish next time. Working my way down to a lower rep set, more weight.

        I was blown away with the squats. On the first rep I knew I had my goal.

        More later.

        I’ll just say that I have never been so psyched about woring out, though now that I’ve built a decent foundation and am motivated to really put on the iron, it’s still exciting but also serious shit (for me — I see these guys on YouTube squatting 350 and DLing 400+, both for substantial reps and I laugh at myself. On the other hand, I’m 49 and most of these guys are young grizzlies.

      • ian on May 11, 2010 at 17:14

        i hear ya on being psyched to work out, my trainer dave beats me up so that i am ready to run through walls after training or i want to collapse and sleep in my pile of sweat,

        we go for time, usually five minute sets, for low back work i do things like bear hug carrying a 130 pound sound bag and walking maybe 100 yards, or we do deadlifts using a keg, which also works on grip strength, using only 50lbs but for a 5 minute set,

        keep on having fun though

  15. Russ on May 11, 2010 at 16:50


    Great job on the lifts! Though – after 10 years in the fitness and strength & conditioning fields – drop the bench press altogether and replace with push-ups; superior in just about every way. One of them being you will still have healthy shoulder function in 5 years!

    DB press would be somewhat of a healthy compromise since the elbows/wrists would be free to rotate in(eccentric) and out(concentric) through the ROM. Keep your shoulders from rounding forward and you are better than most.

    • Richard Nikoley on May 11, 2010 at 16:58

      I hear you, Russ. I hadn’t done bench in a while and don’t intend to do so for very long. Yes, I have done the BDs, as well as decline and incline which don’t seem to affect my shoulders at all, though I’m clueless as to the physiology behind that.

      In this instance it’s a temp thing. I previously strained my right shoulder a bit with benches but now I seem — feel, at least — way more competent to not do it badly. And, i have been working hard experimenting with optimal hand position on the bar for the whole range of motion.

      Proceeding carefully for now, fingers crossed.

      • Russ on May 12, 2010 at 19:22

        Starting Strength by Mark Rippetoe does a decent job of explaning the mechanics of the bench. Problem is, once you understand it all you then see how difficult it is to move properly when your hands and wrists are ‘fixed’ like they are with a straight bar. But essentially most issues arise from your scapulae being ‘stuck’ because they are pressed against the bench. Since the inclines and declines are on an angle, there is a slightly more room available for your scapulae(more up and down as opposed to front and back) to move – which is in part why you don’t experience the same discomfort there.

        The two things just about every does incorrectly on the bench are having the elblows flared out and their shoulders rounded forward. Third would probably trying to move the bar in a straight line – there should be a slight angle in the path with your elbows always lined-up underneath the bar. Otherwise a rotator cuff or AC joint problem waiting to happen. These things are more easily corrected with the pushup. Not to mention greater trunk activation through the abdominals and serratus from having to support yourself in the proper ‘planked’ position. Throw in the flexibility of using bands and chains, elevating the feet, or working towards a one arm push-up – and you’ve got one highly underrated exercise.

      • Richard Nikoley on May 12, 2010 at 20:36

        I really appreciate that, Russ.

        As it happens, today was bench day and I hugely underperformed on the bench. -2 reps, same weight. I’ve been playing with hand position and decided to move in abbot 1.5″ on each side. Devastating! Went back to original position and did better on 2nd set. then a rest and onto the incline where I made weight and rep gains both 1st & 2nd sets, normal hand position.

        Every exeperiment is a success.

      • C. August on May 19, 2010 at 06:00

        Russ and Richard, I’ve been having left shoulder problems and am currently unable to do an effective bench press because of it. But, I’m at a loss about what the best replacement chest exercises are.

        I’m probably opening a can of worms with this, but I’m currently doing a modified HIT workout (Body by Science-ish) and it’s been working great at increasing my strength so far. (The short workouts also fit my busy life w/ work and kids so I’ll be sticking with this for awhile.) I don’t have a trainer.

        So with this context in mind, do either of you have any recommendations for what to do for my chest while saving my shoulder? I believe it is slightly injured already, and I want to keep working my chest while allowing my shoulder to heal.

        What about the dumbell fly?

      • Richard Nikoley on May 19, 2010 at 14:34

        DB flies and/or presses is what I’d suggest. Maybe a pec deck if you have access to one.

  16. Jan on May 12, 2010 at 10:52


    Have you seen the hack where a guy mounted his iPad in the kitchen cabinet? That would be my dream set up. All those food blogs and recipes at your fingertips!

    • Richard Nikoley on May 12, 2010 at 11:36

      That’s pretty cool. However, it kinda defeats the purpose of “mobile device” for my tastes. The thing I love about the iPad, especially for cooking is that I can move it to anywhere on the countertop I want, or onto my island on wheels, in order to have it where I’m actually working. Perhaps the next best thing would be one of those book stands so you can set it upright and at an angle for better viewing while working.

      It’s an amazing device. Most recent use is at the gym. I made a training log with Numbers, bought the app for the iPod and now my trainer and I can just input the weight & reps directly and when I’m done, I just email it to myself and save it on my computer for backup.

  17. […] my vibe?But let's finish on a positive, all-smiles note. My gym work is blowing my mind. I did report last week. Here's what happened this week.Deadlift: 205 x 8 to 225 x 8Overhead press (my fav): 125 x 7 to 125 […]

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