Saturday, September 5, 2015

Thoughts about life, crap, training, and stuff - The Dominican Pakulski version

The last few weeks I was out of pocket traveling back to the Dominican Republic to do another seminar (this time on some basic nutrition concepts and hypertrophy work), and then to spend about a week training with Ben Pakulski in Tampa, Florida.

I love going to the Dominican Republic.  I love the food, the people, and teaching there with my close friend Juan Carlos.  I also love the traffic believe it or not, because those people drive with a god damn purpose.  It never fails that after spending a week there that when I come home I am incredibly annoyed with the drivers where I live (that's right outside of Kansas City, Missouri).

I've been all over the states and traveled to other parts of the world, and I can tell you that of all places I've been the drivers in Columbus, Ohio and Kansas City areas are the fucking worst.  They drive slow as fuck, well under the speed limit, pull out in front of you to drive slower than you are going (when there is fifteen miles behind you of freedom and they should wait), and make turns without signals and slow down to Driving Ms. Daisy speeds to do so.

Anyway, I arrived and we went over the stuff for the three days with a huge turnout in regards to people.  The stuff we went over was simply how to set up your macros for fat loss or weight gain, nutrient timing, muscle protein balance, the resistance curve in determining movements, stimulus and recovery, etc.  Fun stuff.  Then there was an actual training session at the end of each day.

The leg day was interesting.  After calves, and hamstring work, we went into the Crossfit gym, which has a large open area, and the women were challenged to do lunges until someone quit or their form broke down.  Women are incredibly competitive (not that men aren't, but women are on some other batshit level about it most of the time) and I knew it would be interesting to watch.

I think the lunging went on for over 20 minutes.  Eventually one was left standing, and she was so sore the next few days she had trouble getting around.

This isn't the kind of thing you do on an every workout basis of course.  But sometimes getting nuts is fun.

To the real life stuff, I ended up getting very sick the day after I was done teaching.  I'm not sure from exactly what or how.  So you can spare me all of your theories.  I ate sushi the night before yes, however we all ate it together and shared it all.  Could that have been it?  Sure.  But it could have been any number of things.  Either way I spent the next few days shitting my guts out.

Luckily, I got well enough (temporarily) to go stay at an all inclusive resort in Bayahibe for a few days.

I liked it so much I actually extended my stay by a full day.  I was scheduled to arrive in Florida on Thursday and train with Ben Pakulski on Friday, however Ben forgot he was out of town until Friday evening so the reschedule worked just fine.

I spent the day relaxing at the beach and training a bit at the beachside gym.  Which was fun.  The place was pretty amazing as there were swans and pink flamingoes walking around, and a massive pool near the beach as well.  I haven't had a real vacation in a very long time so it was much needed.  Especially after that much time on the porcelain throne.

I wrote about what happened to me at the DR airport on my facebook timeline.  In case you don't check there, here it is.......

While I was in the airport at the Dominican Republic there was a very old man in a wheelchair waiting in line to get to the ticket counter. People kept walking by him to get to the check in desk, and paid no mind to him. He kept motioning that he was next but no one gave a shit.

This pissed me the fuck off something awful.

I stopped the people behind me and told them "this man is next." I asked him if he needed assistance to get to the counter and he said "that would be really nice, thank you." But he wanted to walk.

So I helped him out of his wheelchair to the desk. He told me "I've been like this since I was three years old, but at this age every now and again I need a little help."

Despite the fact that my morning was hectic, and I was running late, I felt like it was the right thing to do.

I had an issue getting on the plane (long story) and by the time I got in line for customs I was for sure I wasn't going to make it. The line for customs wraps around without a barrier, and an older gentleman got my attention and said "you're the young man that helped that elderly man to the counter."

I said "yessir I am. Looks like I'm going to miss my flight. I'm late and they are boarding now I think."

He motioned for me to get in line in front of him and his wife, and I was through customs within a few minutes.

Call it karma, call it paying it forward, whatever you want to call it. I have always felt like you get back what you give.

This isn't a "look at how great Paul is" post at all. Just remember you're not the center of the universe and that taking a moment out of your day to help someone less fortunate often means good things will come your way as well.

The worst thing about that day of flight was that I barely got to hydrate all day.  I literally ran through the Dominican aiport to make my flight on time, and had nothing to drink.  Then barely got anything on the airplane despite asking for more.  Then I had a 1 hour layover in Atlanta.  Getting through customs and security took a while, and I was for sure I would miss that flight.  I literally ran through the Atlanta airport holding my belt and shoes in my hands and barely made it.  So once again, didn't get to hydrate much.  

When I got to Tampa I finally ate and drank but was fucking exhausted and turned in shortly afterwards.

I knew we were training legs on Saturday because Ben let me know earlier in the week we would be.  I also knew what this meant.  That we would be going balls out trying to kill each other in doing so.  

We started with some calf raises, which were more or less done at our own leisure.  Then we started doing alternating sets of lying leg curls and leg extensions.  I am not sure how many total sets we did, but we did about 7 sets that were to failure with forced reps after, then partials as well.  

Afterwards, bending our knees was quite the chore.  But it was a good pain.  For now.

Afterwards was hack squats with band tension added to increase resistance throughout the entire range of motion.  We worked up to 4 plates per side and on the second rep of that set, my felt my right VMO tear a bit.  Nothing serious, but painful enough to cut my hacks at that point.  

After that we did the strive leg press, which actually made my legs feel a bit better.  Ben and Joe (Ben's training partner) finished off with walking lunges.  All in all, it wasn't a total puke fest but it was very solid work.  

Outside of the pec tear I've actually been very healthy for a long time now, so I attributed the quad issue to my lack of hydration from the day before.  I could tell even in warm ups I didn't feel "just right".  I think the entire week of being sick, then a whole day of flying and not hydrating was the culprit here, and not much else.

Let me add that training legs alongside Ben, can be summed up like what I told Joe.

"It's like being on the set of a porno and having to do a scene with John Holmes next to you.  You're just not going to feel very good about yourself."

Day 2 we did chest work.  Which started off with incline barbell press for several sets.  Then a low incline db bench press.  Afterwards we did some standing cable flyes where you step forwards after so many reps to increase the resistance curve more at the beginning/stretch portion of the movement.  We supersetted that with some incline hammer strength bench, and finished with Hammer Strength seated bench presses.  

Let me say about how Ben approaches training, it's very exact.  I mean more than anyone I have ever worked with.  Ben really applies the "with a purpose" to everything he does, to everything he does.  And he drives this home.  Initiate the movement with the desired working muscles, lock everything down to make sure the greatest amount of tension is being applied to the right area, what are the joint angles of hips, ankles, knees, elbows, etc during every movement.  Actually, to say he's exact in how he applies his training modalities would be an understatement.  It was very impressive to watch and be a part of.

We took the following day off as Ben was swamped with work, and honestly I was glad because all the travel and training had left me pretty fatigued.  That evening Ben picked me up for Sushi.  And this is where the fun starts.

Once again, I posted about this on Facebook, so I will just copy-pasta for you right here......

Last night Ben comes and picks me up for sushi. I had bought a couple of dark chocolate dove bars the day before. Because you know, they are delicious.

I took the first block of squares off and ate them before he arrived. I get in the truck and offer Ben the rest of it. He says no, that he doesn't want it.

So we go eat sushi and leave. I pick up the dove bar and ask again, if he wants some. He says no yet again.
He drops me off at the hotel and I take the dove bar with me. A few minutes later, this text happened....

The last day I was there, we just did some arms then I was off to the airport to return home.

All in all, it was a great trip and I had an awesome time working with Juan, training the people in DR, and training alongside Ben and learning from him. In the near future I plan on making it back down to Tampa to train and learn even more from him.

I can't say enough about either of those guys. Juan and Ben are both very giving and considerate people that I consider lucky to know and have friendships with. Juan always takes awesome care of me when I in the Dominican and we have an amazing time teaching and hanging out. The same can be said for Ben, who is constantly making fun of me, or any troubles I may be dealing with, but in a way that makes me laugh.

When I got sick he swore it was the sushi and texted me "dude, you can't eat sushi there. It's a third world country! They don't throw anything away!" I was literally on the pot laughing (my ass off?) when he texted me that.

Ben took great care of me while I was there, and made me feel like a part of his friends and family while staying there, and regardless of what I needed helped me out. Sometimes people may have a persona online, and I know Ben has taken his share of flack over whatever, but he's a great dude, down to Earth, very funny, very very smart, and very selfless. Both of these guys are "shirt off my back" type people that make you want to go the extra mile for them.  And that's a rarity in this day and age.

If you are ever in the Dominican go find Workout Gym.  And if you're in Tampa or near the Tampa area, go find MI40 gym or plan to attend a camp there.  It will be well worth the investment.

Huge thanks to Ben and Juan for making this trip memorable, but most importantly for being genuinely great people.

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