Saturday, October 30, 2010

Plice, Core, Travel

First off, specific training rules for performance results as measured by time expended and real-world results. I received the photos of a Pennsylvania "plice" (plywood ice, like the one in my back yard) today, so cool! Nice one JW! Total cost: $82. No excuse not to have one.

Next, I don't think I did a very good job of differentiating between "core" strength, body tension and "abs" in my last post. So I'll try again to clear it up in my own head.

People wouldn't have to work their "core" if they just did exercises that build a strong core instead of isolating muscles with exercises that exclude the "core." Basically, almost every exercise done sitting down (even on a ball, maybe especially while balancing on a ball) is getting rid of the body's natural "core" function, and will therefore result in a weak "core."

Do squats, deadlifts, front levers, your core will be plenty strong. Do hamstring curls, exercise ball ab curls, exercise ball flys, etc and get a weak core and strong extremities, which leads to problems that may require "core sessions" to fix.

Put another way, if someone does leg presses, hamstring curls and leg extensions they are doing exercises without using the "core" and will have to work on that on a ball. Isolation breeds imbalanced weirdness in a body. Do squats, deadlifts, knees to elbows and your "core" will get strong at the same rate as the extremities. If your "core" is weak while doing any basic movement it will be the limiting factor in the exercise, and will get stronger. Cool.

Body tension is the ability to put your feet on the wall from a hanging position in a roof or steep terrain, and then to keep 'em there. Front levers and deadlifts are good for this. Even better is to climb steep terrain.

"Ab strength" is only part of the puzzle in body tension or "core" strength. Body tension must be trained as a whole; training abs to do crunches is worthless without also training the shoulders to hold the load. Doing L-sits is better than doing crunches because it also engages the leg flexors, but again misses the shoulder/lat component, and then again the hamstring lower back engagement (although it has more of that than twitching around on a ball with one side of the body supported).

I used to think isolating muscle groups was good. It is, for a body builder. For an athlete it's all about training muscles t0 work together to produce useful power.

I'm happier with those definitions and ideas.

Otter, Westjet

I flew to and back from an athlete meeting in Tofino on Westjet, with a leg on Harbor Air. It was pretty pleasant overall, especially the Harbor Air leg on a old Otter on floats. I was in the seat right behind the cockpit, and got to watch all the dials. Because I'm close to my private pilot license I was able to understand a lot of what was going on; flaps, fuel, prop, etc., all pretty much the same. I kept searching for the RPM dial, which is really important on a piston plane, and finally figured out the Otter was a turbine... No huge RPM dial, ha ha!

The Westjet legs were good. I've got no status on Westjet, but as usual there were flight issues etc., what would have cost me $lots on Air Canada only cost me $50 on Westjet. Thanks for that.


Anonymous said...

What are the dimensions and materials for a plice?

James said...

As well, to anyone who's made one, I'd love to hear any construction advice -- although it looks fairly simple.

Does non-treated wood hold up?

I might try both wider rails and smaller rails in-between, so that I can choose either an easier or a harder "route."

Also, Will (or anyone familiar): Do you think I could screw on some Ice Holdz (I have 5 or 6). Would they last outside?

Great post!


Jake said...

The plywood is 3/4 inch. Cut in half for the 16 foot height. The ply was bought at Lowes and they cut the ply in half for free. Their rac saw cuts a lot straighter than I do. Helped getting it home and easier to handle. I shorted the plywood 2 inches at the top and drilled 1 inch holes in the side rails for tying into the tree and possible add ons for making it overhang. Side rails are 16 foot 2/4's. Risers are 1x3's 2 feet wide. Holes are 1 inch. I drilled three at each step, slightly into the risers. As Will advised, this is key. Helps to keep you from coming off. Screws are 1 1/2. A small box if you don't have any around the house. As far as lasting, I'll probably put a coat of primer on to add life. Don't know about the Ice Holdz. A thought. Anchoring to the tree. I used a piece of 10.6 mm rope, looped around and tied twice and tied tight. If you are uncertain about this ask for assistance. Easy enough but thata's the key to the whole thing. The whole thing assembled could be considered heavy and trying to push it off of you could be troublesome.The possiblities for a work out are endless. Be creative. Be safe. Plice is good!

James said...

Awesome -- thanks for the beta, Jake! It was very useful.


Anonymous said...


Thanks for the posting. My climbing partner and I (in Lethbridge) built one in our back yard in a few hours to get ready for our season in Waterton. Great fun! If you can send me an email to brad.hagen at, I'll send you a photo! (couldn't figure out a way to attach a photo to this blog)

Thanks again,