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Archive for June, 2016

An Update on… stuff

I really don’t have any single points of interest to focus on or talk about. Instead, this is a mini-grab bag of items to share. I’m trying to blog a little more frequently to fill in the blank space and make sure everyone knows I’m still hard at work. So, without further delay, on to the stuff!

First up, Vitalis: Valkyries. It’s ready and waiting on cover art. I thought I’d have something by the end of the month, but we’re not quite there yet. Soon! The story is edited and ready to roll out and I’ve got the blurb written up for when the cover art is ready.

Now current events: I’ve been helping the lovely and talented Dawn Michelle with her Continuum series, which is a deviation from her paranormal romance roots, but a continuation of the world she’s crafted. Here there be dragons, my friends, and all sorts of other wonderful people and monsters. This particular series explores some ancient civilizations that have survived to present day as secret societies working behind the scenes… and as often as not against each other as for each other. The main characters are caught up in all of this and come to discover their own surprising legacies left to them down the generations. That includes a hero who can’t seem to keep his pants on and a heroine who is torn between who she wants and who she needs. Since I’m helping her write this series, I expect everyone to enjoy it just as much as you would any of my books. Not only that, but I’m quite taken with it and enjoying it immensely as we near the end of the third novelette in the series.

Let’s see, what else can I share? I’m a little stiff and sore today, but in a good way. Great workout last night picking up heavy weights for lots of reps. Measured myself at 11.5% bodyfat this morning thanks to the weights too, just in time for a 4th of July weekend spent getting sunburned and hanging out with friends at a pool.

Hmm, in other news, I just got a promotion at my day job too. Sort of. 95% of it is what I already do, but I get a fancy new title – System Architect – that sounds nice. Not to worry, I don’t expect the new responsibilities to cut into my writing time much, if any.

Speaking of promotions and my lovely wife, Dawn Michelle, she deserves some props in writing as well. After only working at her new job teaching pre-school kids she got a promotion to a lead teacher there. I’m not sure anyone there has ever been bumped up as fast as she was, which is a testament to her dedication, commitment, and professionalism. Her job, however, is cutting into her writing time – but given the downturn in the book sales market it also pays better.

Not sure what else to touch on. Brexit seems popular these days – personally I have no opinion on it other than the hit to the exchange rate is another kick in the pants on top of decreasing book sales. I do like a little chaos and pandemonium, I admit. I think it shakes things up and forces people to innovate and improve. So I guess I’m for it, but only in the most uneducated way possible.

To hit closer to home I could discuss the impending US election… but I’d almost rather become an ex-patriot than be forced to choose between the individuals presented to us this time around. Personally, I think that America should change our voting system to include a no-vote cast, and if that wins, we ditch the chosen candidates and start over. The presiding president would remain a lame duck until another election round occurs with new candidates. Perhaps better the devil we know than the one we don’t.

And how about Michael Phelps? He qualified for his fifth Olympics. That’s pretty freaking amazing. Sure, he’s made some mistakes along the way but haven’t we all? I don’t know what kind of person he is, but athletically speaking, this guy is something special. I wish him the best of luck and hope he can snag a couple more medals this year to round out what has already been an amazing career.

Well, how’s that for a sampling of topics? I promised a grab bag and there it is. Enough randomness, now back to your day for you and my day for me. There’s work to be done and words to be written!

 

To learn more about Jason Halstead visit his website to read about him, sign up for his newsletter, or check out some free samples of his books at http://www.booksbyjason.com.

Why Cardio Disappoints

This post isn’t about books! It’s about another passion of mine – and one shared by few people: fitness. So you have been warned, read on at your own peril.

Longtime friends and readers (one and the same, as far as I’m concerned) know that I’m a weightlifting junky. A former competitive powerlifter, in fact. Not one of the super heavyweights that crammed anything and everything into their mouths either. I was a fairly lean powerlifter when I competed – and I was in the 242lb weight class (my highest competition weight was 232, usually I was 229 or lower).

Sadly, my competing days are over, courtesy of an injury caused by overtraining for a meet and not being as safe as I knew I should have been. Some major surgery to reattach torn tendons and muscle to a bone and I’m back in business, but never like I once was. These days I still lift heavy 3 – 4 times a week, but I don’t push myself as hard as I used to. That means I have to make up for the lack of work to keep myself looking decent with other activities. And that means including some cardio elements in my routine.

I read a few studies and educated opinion pieces long ago stating how weightlifting was better in every way for a body than cardio. Since I agreed with it out of principal, I took it as gospel and moved on. Many years later, I still believe that way and happily share such information when asked (no, I’m not the kind of guy who offers it unasked and pesters people). As I get older and my routine is changing to more health and maintenance based instead of trying to amass raw strength, I’m finding more and proof that supports what I’ve believed to be true.

I measure my progress in many ways. How much I can lift, how many times I can lift it, what the dude in the mirror looks like, what the calipers figure my bodyfat is, and what the scale reads. I hit the scale almost every morning and every night because what gets measured gets done. It’s those measurements that leads me to posting this blog and supporting my belief of why cardio is disappointing.

First a mild info dump, here’s a typical week for me:

Monday: Heavy Bench Press, Heavy Cable Rows, supportive exercises (curls, tricep extension, etc.)

Tuesday: HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training – Clean and Presses supersetted with running on a treadmill)

Wednesday: Deadlifts / Squats / Rack Pulls (only one exercise, it varies by month), Declined situps, more arm and shoulder work

Thursday: rest

Friday: Volume bench press, volume lat pulldowns, supportive exercises (arm stuff)

Saturday: HIIT (same as Tuesday)

Sunday: rest

 

Every day, if possible, I try to get in some rollerblading or low impact cardio around my subdivision, typically 10 – 20 minute’s worth. I’ve ramped that up recently, leading to this post.

 

 

So Sunday, father’s day, my wife decided she wanted to start doing my 2 mile cardio with me. For me that means rollerblading around our subdivision several times (rather fast, I push myself and keep my heart rate in the 140 – 150 range). I’d also mowed my lawn today in the 91 degree sunshine, which takes about an hour with my push mower thanks to a couple of short but steep hills. So no weights on Sunday, just cardio…

 

On virtually any weightlifting night I will lose 1.5 – 2 pounds overnight while I’m sleeping. Doesn’t matter the exercise, as long as I work myself hard. Without fail I wake up lighter in the AM, although if I strain my lower body too much it can cause some inflammation in the muscles that takes a couple of days to wear off – the weight comes off over those couple of days though. On any day where I do cardio only I will lose .4 – .8 pounds overnight. Less than half what I lose when I lift weights.

 

Weightlifting works the muscle, breaking it down and building it back up. The building part takes time though, and also requires calories. That means burning calories, both to do the repair work and to strengthen the muscles. A workout will continue to burn calories for 1 – 2 days afterwards. Cardio, on the other hand, only burns calories while you’re doing it and, unless you bust your hump for more than 20 minutes, you’re only burning the calories in your bloodstream and not any stored fat. With weights, it’s a constant slow burn happening behind the scenes, which takes care of the calories in the bloodstream and then moves on to stored fat. My two mile rollerblading only takes around 10 minutes, so the only gain I get out of it is an improvement to my energy systems (heart, lungs, cardiovascular, and flushing water out via sweat).

 

So why not do long term cardio – 30+ minutes? Even if there weren’t studies showing the damage it can do to joints and muscle fibers, it’s f***ing boring! I’ve got way too many things to do to spend that kind of time. I’ll never run a marathon, and I’m okay with that. I ran a 5k once, by myself, and that was enough. I much prefer more intense focused training to keep my energy systems where I need them or close enough that I can ramp up sport specific training as needed (e.g. if I ever joined another hockey league). For those that do it and, somehow, enjoy it, I salute you. You do what works for you and godspeed, just as I’ll do what works for me.

 

If you’re wondering what HIIT is, it’s weight training done aerobically, for lack of a better term. In my case I do a set of 6 – 135lb clean and presses (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e_OGoQ94mPQ, except I make sure I go all the way to the floor on each rep). After that set I hit the treadmill and run for 2 minutes. Ideally there should be next to no rest between exercises. For me I rest 30 seconds or lest just to catch my breath. My heart after the clean and press is in the 150s, typically, and then in the 140s after the run. Five sets of that and I’m done. Any compound exercise can be used – I’ve done squats, front squats, and bench pressing as alternatives from time to time, but I really like what clean and presses do for the body – it’s a full body workout and helps support every other exercise as well as general strength and conditioning.

 

So there it is, my rare workout post. Social media is a funny place – people get upset about others posting about working out, which baffles me. I encourage it, but I don’t want to upset anybody either (unless they deserve it, and even then I’d typically rather just save my time and walk away). Still, I got some great feedback on my workout posts a couple years ago, so maybe somebody can learn something from this and use it for their own good.

 

These days I’m floating in the 225 – 230 range, depending on whether it was a bad weekend or not. Last night I was 226.4 and this morning I was 226 (remember the cardio only yesterday). My bodyfat is in the 11% – 12% range and I can still bench 315+ and deadlift 500+. I figure I’m doing okay for a dude in his 40’s.

 

 

 

To learn more about Jason Halstead visit his website to read about him, sign up for his newsletter, or check out some free samples of his books at http://www.booksbyjason.com.

The Universe is Going to be a Scary Place

I don’t blog enough. I’d like to, but I don’t. I think about bloggable topics all the time, but thinking and finding the time to write those thoughts down are few are far between. When I do blog, I try to keep it as on topic as possible for the majority of people interested in my blog. Books. My books, in particular. So, with that said, here’s the latest on what’s happening.

Vitalis: Valkyries is what’s happening. It’s book #9 in the Vitalis series and I’m happy to announce it went out to my editor last night. I anticipate releasing it late this month or possible very early next month. I apologize for the delay, I didn’t remember to schedule time with my cover artist and editor in a timely manner.

So what’s Valkyries about? Well, it picks up a few weeks after Commandos finishes. It includes those characters as well, focusing on Lieutenant Simms and Corporal Mendez primarily. There are plenty of new and old characters too though. Astra and Leona are back, for example, and there are four new people joining the story (Pandora, Shannon, Evan, and Faramor). The story takes place back on Earth and not only explores what’s happening there, but it opens up a whole lot of other opportunities down the road.

That’s a quick hint of what’s coming in a couple of weeks. Now for my next project. I was inspired by something I read recently, a story by an amateur writer that explored a man trapped in an Amazon culture. I liked it so much, it made me want to write something similar. Not about Amazons though. My problem was, should I start another story that would possibly become a series, or could I fit it into one of my existing settings? Dark Earth seemed a natural, but there were a lot of reasons I didn’t want to do that.

Enter Dawn Michelle (my wife).  I was talking to her about it and discussing my protagonist. She fell in love with him right away (in a sort of platonic way…I think. He’s fictional, so at least I’ve got that going for me). She demanded that I stop ignoring her and help her finish up her Continuum series that was first exposed in Claimed by the Dragon King (part of the recent Christmas anthology she took place in that landed her another spot on the USA Today bestsellers list). This character, you see, would fit perfectly into that series. Book 2, in fact, would focus on him.

So what was my idea became ours (come on guys, you know that’s how marriage works, and no, ladies, I’m not complaining). I’m okay with it though, because we’ve been working on the concept and it sounds extremely cool. It’ll be a joint effort between us, but with her name on the cover since it’s her series. Fast paced and action packed fun, with the main character being somewhat of a cross between a playboy and a hero straight out of Greek and Roman mythology. And let’s not forget the gargoyles, wyverns, dragons, and other mythical creatures that are coming out to play. After all, this guy is the first full blooded heir to the Kingdom of Atlantis in thousands of years.

 

To learn more about Jason Halstead visit his website to read about him, sign up for his newsletter, or check out some free samples of his books at http://www.booksbyjason.com.

Categories: Writing