Wednesday, December 31, 2014

DragonCon 2015: Current Costume Plans

As per usual, my DragonCon 2015 plans started brewing in the bowels of DragonCon 2014.

Solo Costume: Frieza Final Transformation 100%
Group Size: 1, duh
Idea: This costume has been on my mind for the past 2 years. I still have many kinks to work out on the design, but the costume has otherwise already been started. My biggest concern is that the tail insertion point (i.e. via white compression shorts) will look silly as hell.

Frieza Cosplayers I Admire

My Ideal Frieza
If I could bottle everything I wanted to emulate in a Frieza cosplay...

Frieza Element 1: Bodybuilding 
Frieza's final form has some bulk to him. A few of my body parts are already good to go (neck, traps, lats, erectors, glutes, hamstrings, quads), but I have some major weaknesses that need to be addressed prior to this costume's debut.

Bodybuilding Weakness 1: I have Hodor bodyfat levels
For as long as I've been lifting, I can't ever say I've been lean (at best, I've hit 12% body fat). To hit my goal, I will not need to have bodybuilding stage ready bodyfat levels, but I should at least be able to see abs without flexing (as I do now). Cleaning up my diet (especially for off days) and increasing my cardio will be key here.

Bodybuilding Weakness 2: Shoulders, Chest, and Triceps
Along with chest, my shoulders and arms are among my weakest body parts. No surprise here really...I junked the barbell overhead press after injuring my neck for the 6th time (not hyperbole). Barbell bench press and dips were next to go after my left shoulder went tits up a month ago.

In the meantime, incline dumbbell bench press and machine work are serviceable options. I have no experience with these items, so this is really a 'do what you can' scenario for the time being. My biceps are taken care of via my heavy pulling work (Deadlifts, High Pulls), chin-ups, power curls, and hammer curls.

Frieza Element 2: Props
- Create a continuous skeleton chain via robotic connectors (Igus Energy Chains)
- Stretch skeletal muscle over the energy chain using gym pit foam (Pit Foam)
- Carve the skeletal muscle to the desired tail slope
- Coat the entire tail in an off white polymer for the skin (0 idea what to do here)
Tail Insertion
- Connect the tail through white spandex compression shorts
- Attach an adjustable harness for my waist
- Use expanding foam (i.e. Great Stuff) around cheap Kroc shoes to get a general foot shape
- Carve down the mold to the size/shape I need
- Color dat bitch
Purple Body Molds
- Right now, the plan is to create lifecasted latex molds of my shoulders, chest, and head
- The lifecasted pieces will be used to create final purple body molds
Calf and Forearm Bracers
- No idea...

Frieza Element 3: Makeup
This is completely beyond my expertise. My friend Mollie (blog: Glamor Cast) has offered to coat my body with the off-white it needs for Frieza.

Group Costume: Chickens (Zelda)
Group Size: As many as possible
Idea: There are always a wealth of Link (Legend of Zelda) cosplayers walking around the halls of DragonCon. My idea is to have a group of chickens slowly surround him from all directions. By the time Link sees two(2) giant chickens block his path, there are already 15 behind him. Then, gobble gobble kill kill.

Have a camera running while each group of chickens hunt, stalk, and kill each Link cosplayer. Set the video to Smash Mouth's rendition of 'Why Can't We Be Friends.'

Bonus 2: 
Carry a picture of my chicken parents being hit by Link. Show it to him before all of the chickens pounce.

Like this. Only 20 of us, and a pool of blood big enough to drown a horse.

Group Costume: Team America, World Police

Group Size: 5-10
Idea: Get a group of people to dress up like Matt Stone and Trey Parker's 'Team America.' Possible inclusions are terrorists (glue my chest hair onto my face), Kim Jong Il, and Michael Moore.

America. Fuck ya!

Group Costume: The Skyrim Experience
Group Size: ~5
Idea: Provide a first person Skyrim experience to anyone walking around DragonCon. Other people in the group will act as signs or random encounter enemies.
- Cardboard/Foam panel with title 'the skyrim experience'
- Velcro attachments with spells and weapons (the user can grab them at any time)
- GoPro attached to the top (films arms and things outside of the panel)
- Other people participate by holding up signs for pickpocking, sneaking, Detected, Run Bitch Run!
- People/Bears/Dragons attack them
- At the end of DragonCon, edit the GoPro footage into a completed video

It's like I'm really there...

Misc End of Year Cosplay 2014

I put together a few last minute costumes for Halloween (2 actually) and Christmas his year. Cosplay outside of cons is definitely a bit different, but always enjoyable just the same.

Halloween 2014 Costume 1: Terrance and Phillip (South Park)
My friend Keenan and I had a great time being Canadian, although depressingly few people knew who we were. I made sure to drink a buttload of chocolate milk prior to going out. The farts, so strong.

Halloween 2014 Costume 2: Mario Kart (The blue shell)
This night was a massive shit show in Orlando. I saw some things I'd sooner forget, and was down for the count well into the following afternoon. Video credits (bottom picture) go to Sean Pitts, the man with the golden Go-Pro.

Christmas 2014: Harry and Marv, the Wet Bandits (Home Alone)
Chain of events for XMAS
- Polished off a handle of Fireball by myself
- Played 'Sexy Sax Man' on my trumpet to a party of unsuspecting people
- Continued to party in downtown St. Pete, narrowly shoving my friend into a taxi before he tried to bust down the door of a closed bar
- Walked home for some reason, singing 'I'm a Jew on Christmas' to anyone still outside
- Made it back home in one piece
- Played a little Skyrim, ate some reheated dinner
- Found vomit outside my door in the morning

Someone is framing me. That was not my vomit.

Mysteries aside, I had an awesome time in this costume. My friend (the one who tried to kick in a bar's door) had never cosplayed before, and he really got into it. I'm dressed like a hunched over Harry (Joe Pesci), my friend is dressed as Marv (Daniel Stern).

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Training Update: Powerbuilding and Rep Range Dogma

Dan Green. Powerlifter who advocates bodybuilding.
Also, owner of the most mysterious medial delts in history.

For the past year, I've been fooling around with one variation or another of Doug Hepburn's methods. I've learned two critical points:

1. Powerbuilding is kind of awesome
The moniker 'powerbuilding' refers to a hybrid between powerlifting and bodybuilding (i.e. I want to wreck shit and look good while doing it). This typically manifests itself by working up to a top set (not necessarily a top single) then performing a few back-off sets at a higher volume/lower weight. Powerbuilding was ubiquitous in the golden age of powerlifting. Strong mother fuckers generally decided the best way to train for max strength was to get bigger at the same time.

This is hardly a novel concept, but it seems to be coming back among people who enjoy getting stronger but have no general desire to compete in powerlifting or bodybuilding.

Takeaway: Rep range dogma may not be the best way to go. Experience a variety of rep ranges.

2. Too much low rep work tears me down and keeps me down
The Hepburn Method involves high-ish frequency low rep sets of squats/deadlifts/benches/presses. What I found happening is I followed a vicious cycle of injury and recovery.

- Restart a hepburn cycle at a medium/high intensity weight
- Make progress for 1-2 months
- Stall indefinitely, getting tiny injuries almost weekly. Struggling to work around them to push through the cycle.
- Get frustrated, restart another hepburn cycle at a lower weight

This blows. Even when I was not necessarily injured, my joints felt like crap, my sex drive was kinda meh, and everything just felt tight all of the time. What is worse is that I perpetuated this cycle out of fear. Fear that if I stopped lifting the way I built my base (i.e. tons of low rep sets), everything I have built will fall to pieces.

I decided to break this cycle of crap after re-reading (sometimes things take time to sink through thick skulls) an article by Stan Efferding hosted on Paul Carter's site, LIFT-RUN-BANG.

I grabbed two(2) takeaways from this article (also echoed in Brook's Kubrick's book, Dinosaur Training):
- "Volume doesn't improve results, intensity does"
- "It’s never the training routine that’s limiting growth, it’s always the recovery phase"

Takeaway: It's very possible that my recovery is the bottleneck that keeps me from growing. I applied this to my training by decreasing the total number of sets done with low reps. Fairly consistently I felt myself performing low rep sets with poorer and poorer form during this past year. Why not shoot for rep PR's on a week by week basis instead of trying to pump out set after set of crap.

Edit 1/2/15:
Also see George Leeman's video on the best rep range for strength. 

Current State Training 12/24/14
So far, I feel pretty friggin awesome. Weights are moving quickly. I'm making new rep PR's on a weekly basis, and increasing the weight on the bar whenever possible (which is often). I'm going to ride this out as long as I possibly can before backing off.

- Increase the weight of any exercise when the rep range below has been reached
- In general, the difference in weight between rep ranges is -15% (this is just a starting point)
Ex: 1x5 100lbs, 1x8 85lbs, 1x10 70lbs
- Exercises separated by a '/' are worked together in a circuit
- Straight sets for rows, hammer curls, and tricep pushdowns level up in an incremental fashion
Ex: Session1 Power hammer curl 50x10, 50x10, 50x10 (level up)
Session2 Power hammer curl 55x10, 50x10, 50x10 (level up)
Session3 Power hammer curl 55x10, 55x10, 50x10

Front Squat 1x5, 1x8, 1x10
Weighted Chinup 1x3, 1x6, 1x8
Partial Front Squat 1x5, 1x8, 1x10/Wide Grip Pullups, Close Grip Chinups
Power Hammer Curl 3x10

Sumo Deadlift 1x5, 1x8, 1x10 
High Pull or Snatch High Pull 3-5x3/Seated Row 3x10/Leg Curl 5x8 or DB Swing
Power Hammer Curl 3x10

Floor Press or Push Press 1x5, 1x8, 1x10
Inc DB Press 1x5, 1x8, 1x10
Lying Lateral Raise 1x5 (heavy negatives only), 4x10
Tricep Overhead 3x10/Tricep Pushdown 3x10

Monday, December 1, 2014

Shoulder Super Set: DB Snatch (Press Negative) and DB High Pulls

In an attempt to build out my shoulders for my next costume (Frieza final form). I vastly increased my pressing and raises volume over the past few weeks. And then, the inevitable happened. 40 reps into a rear lateral raise, I felt a small pop in my medial delt. Boom! Bang! Bizow! My left shoulder is in sandy vagina mode.

I've only ever felt three(3) movements work for building shoulders: 
- Behind the neck push press (right wrist bends, pushing 80% the weight onto my left shoulder)
- Strict military press (tweaked my neck 5 times now, and it sucks harder every time)
- Weighted dips. Awesome overall at building the chest/triceps/shoulders, but pretty much impossible to use at the moment

Post injury, I've found a movement that I can still work with. Ultimately, I want to re-incorporate weighted dips and overhead pressing back into my life. As I've stated in previous posts, work around your injuries. Find a way to continue growing in the face of adversity. 

Dumbbell Snatch with Press Negative, DB High Pulls
I've already blogged about this movement here. Turns out it is incredibly shoulder friendly whether something hurts or not. To perform:
- Hold a dumbbell in the hang position
- Snatch the dumbbell over your head in one movement (technique be damned, just get it overhead)
- Bending your elbow, slowly lower the dumbbell (4-5 count) in the negative of a press rather than a snatch
- Perform 5 sets of 5-10 reps

For some extra volume per arm, perform high pulls with the same dumbbell after completing a set of snatches. Allow your lats and traps to stretch slightly at the bottom of each rep. Contract your glutes, lats, and traps to pull the dumbbell back up in the air. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Dragoncon 2014 Photo Album

Had to walk around post DCon with my last costume's haircut
Where's Wal-omfgrunrunrunrun
This guy is a dick in Punch Out
Oh hi Mark
El Fuerte and Chun Li
Best accidental picture ever
This Canti was a dancing fool
This guy was breaking it down without breaking character. Ever see a toy dance?
Instant prison murder
Vega and Dhalsim
Fat Chance
Most excellent Henchman 21
Perfect Rocky 4
Nick, Shea, and myself. 3, 2, 1, let's jam.
Shea and Nick as Kitinka and Mugatu
Terrifying Obama. He was break dancing while holding an AK47
Ryan being scary as hell
I'm Mr. Meeseeks look at me!
He said he didn't want to take a picture until he had powered up.
Comedian meets Mr. Smiley
They both were giggling while taking this shot. It was awful.
Dante from DMC
Not my picture, but a shot of the Dickbutt at a rave
Mr. Smiley versus Slenderman
Took 2hrs and a lot of vodka
Prey has been marked
Camera 1
Camera 2
Camera 3
Camera 4
Dark Link
What're ya gay or somethin? You know what I'm talkin about Fry Man!
It looks like Nick is farting his coat back
Squall FF8
El Fuerte and Balrog
Mr. 2
Dude was walking around during the wrestling match
Shea, Kit, and Andrea getting ready to go out
The most beautiful Batman
Me as Derek Zoolander
The group prior to drinking and costumes