Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Challenges of Homecoming

I'm off to my hometown over this long holiday period. I'm definitely looking forward to my grandma's scrumptious cooking and the company of my adorable nephews (another one on the way. My my.. we got a lot of boys in the family). But I'm not too keen about being away from my beloved barbell.

I guess I'll have to get by with bodyweight training. Maybe it's a good time to start practicing on my pistol squats and improving on my pushups. I'm gonna concentrate on these two exercise only. After all, it's just a week and I'm sticking to my minimalism principle.

Shall report on my progress. If any.

p/s Currently reading The Naked Warrior by Pavel Tsatsouline.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Kettlebell: Good or Bad?

Confession: I haven't bought my kettlebell yet. Yes, I know I've been meaning to buy one for ages but poo happens and my money had to be allocated elsewhere. Truth of the matter is, purchasing a kettlebell is way way down on my Need List. So it has to wait.

Also, this year I plan to attend kettlebell classes. Just to learn the proper technique of using one. And, as much as I admire Jillian Michaels her form in the clip below is really bad that even someone who has not trained with a kettlebell like myself knows that something is wrong. Really wrong.

So what's with my obsession with the kettlebell? It's not an obsession, really. I just want to learn something new. I want to know what the brouhaha about this cannonball with a handle is all about. Is it really what it's made out to be? Or is it just a glorified ball of iron?

That's what I'd like to find out.

But having said that, I think the kettlebell is a cool tool to have if you're a trainer who'd like to incorporate a bit of strength training for their clients. You're all set with a few kettlebells in the trunk. No need to look for a gym.

But I reckon it's only suitable for clients that are new to strength training. A kettlebell will be much less intimidating than a barbell. But nothing beats a barbell though. It's essential for anyone who's looking to gain some considerable strength.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

PTs and their role in motivating clients. Hmm.

So Adeline and I were discussing about personal trainers. Both of us have entertained the thought of becoming trainers but unlike Adeline, I have some reservations.

Adeline says that it is the PT's job to motivate clients. I say that motivation comes from within and the PT is there to lead the client to the right direction.

I agree that even the best of us needs a bit of prodding. But I've also seen those who give excuse after stupid excuse on why they can't exercise. Most of the time, it's because of the lack of... well, time.

So I sent them a few links that show that you could still get a good workout in 15 minutes tops.

Then they say that they don't have a dumbbell at home.

So I provided them with some bodyweight moves that they could substitute the dumbbell exercises with.

And then they say.. "well, I'll think about it."

See what I mean. A person who wants to change his lifestyle will go through hell and back to make sure that things go the way he wants it. This person is internally motivated.

A person who doesn't have the burning desire or a profound reason to change will NOT change even if everything that could help him make the change happen is right in front of his eyes.

So yeah. I have no interest being a trainer to those who have no internal motivation. I'll just stick to my day job. Thank you very much.

p/s My buddy Adeline has been wondering whether a woman PT could make it in the industry. What's your take on it and why?

Looking forward to hear from you guys.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Keep it Simple

Okay, first up: My training schedule is up and running full speed ahead. I train almost daily but I'm keeping my training sweet and simple. Just one compound lift a day, except for upper body day. The upper body can take more heat than the lower body. Well at least for me it's true.

It's basically Squats/Overhead Presses (with pushups and backrows supersets afterwards)/Deadlifts/Rest Day.

Rinse and repeat. I was omitting squats from my training for quite a while. Maybe I've overtrained it somewhat. And it came to a point where I kind of started loathing it. So I didn't train squats for some time. I only recently started training squats and I'm starting to fall in love with it all over again.

I'm pretty happy with the training arrangement. Until the day I get bored again, then I'll switch it up one more time.

For now, I'm just keeping it plain and simple but intense (read: heavy).

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Exercises with just a barbell to fool around with

Okay. So this is the deal. You have a barbell and a few plates at home. That's about it. No bench. No squat stands. Nothing. Just the barbell. And most of the time you'll be training alone. So what kind of exercise/lifts could you do without the luxury of a spotter or a safety catch?

Off the top of my head, I can think of:

  1. the deadlift
  2. the overhead press (you need to look for something to prop the barbell near chest level. I just use a pair of dinner chairs)
  3. the side press (easier to do with a dumbbell. But if you could do it with a barbell - and it is possible - i salute you)
  4. barbell row
I don't know about you, but I think they're sufficient to be strong with these few exercises. Fine, so you can't bench. Do pushups instead. Don't be one of those clowns who bench but can't do a single pushup to save their lives. If you can't do pushups then stay the hell away from benching.
Just my two sen.

Of simplicity and knowing what's important

Fret not. Fear not. For I am still alive and well. I've taken a brief hiatus from blogging and lifting and was focusing on several more important aspects in life. But yes indeed. I am back. I've actually started lifting again a while back but lately I tend to be done with my training in 20 to 30 minutes tops.

I still train everyday though. Well, almost everyday.

I think I lost focus on what's more important. Yes, lifting is an important part of my life. And I can't deny that I feel edgy and nervous if I don't get my daily dose of iron. But frankly, I'm done trying to stuff myself as much as possible just for the sake of gaining weight. I'm done doing lifts that I don't enjoy doing and make me fret hitting the barbell. I'm done being overly obsessed.

When I first started lifting, it was as a good way to spend my time. And then it became pretty much a lifestyle. And for a while it became an obsession. Obsessing about anything will not do anyone any good.

I'm just gonna stick to the simple things in life. And to be honest, I'm loving it. I'm rediscovering my mojo. Definitely less stressed out. And more at peace.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Case of the Missing Mojo

As much as I hate to say this, I think I've lost my weightlifting mojo. Did some back squats and deadlifts but just didn't feel the urge to grind it out. I already took a few days off. I don't feel tired. I just didn't feel like lifting heavy.

So what should I attribute this slump in form to? What is my excuse? I got no excuse. I'm just lazy as heck. The funny thing is when I'm not training I actually miss it. But something just doesn't feel right when I get under the bar.

Confused? So am I.

On another note... I was reading some articles over at DragonDoor when I stumbled across a writeup on programming the deadlift, of which the writer mentioned about the Russian Squat Routine, or specifically... the pre-RSR. You can read the article here.

It made me recall the stuff I read in Pavel Tsatsouline's book Power to the People. Hmm... gotta do something to bring my mojo back. I gotta go back to the drawing board.

Thursday, January 6, 2011


I've decided to take a few days off from training. Seems like I have all the classic symptoms of overtraining. Irritable (okay, I'm irritable most times but I'm more irritable than usual lately), tired, not looking forward to training. I have trouble sleeping.

I did 2 reps of front squats today and didn't feel like continuing with the workout. Something's definitely wrong. I'm not sick though. I can safely say I've recovered fully.

I'll just lay off the weights for a few days.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


Still not feeling top notch. Haven't taken ventolin in quite a while and I've been taking it each night this past few days. Not good at all. Went to the clinic today. Complained about the asthma induced eczema and had to endure two jabs. Two! Ughhh...

Anyway, I still trained tonight since I always feel better when I train. Believe it or not... I only did deadlifts and nothing else. Too lazy to do anything else. I gassed out quickly even though I think I've eaten sufficiently.

This was pretty much it:

20kg x 8 reps (warmup) - easy
30kg x 8 reps - still easy
40kg x 8 reps - yep, still easy
50kg x 5 reps - just nice (I could do more reps but again, I felt lazy)
60kg x 5 reps - challenging
70kg - didn't budge. Hahaha...
65kg x 2 reps - again..I could do more but decided to back down
65kg x 1 rep - tried to do a second rep but gassed out

I really thought I could hit 70kg tonight. I guess it's just not my night.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Under the Weather

Crazy weather these days, huh? One minute it's hot as heck and the other minute it's raining cats and dogs. It's no surprise that I keep on falling sick. Weird weather takes a toll on me. But I'm trying to fight it.

Antibiotics aside, I'm still working out. I took Friday and Sunday off since I was too tired to do anything. Heck, even slept with a sweater on and the fan off.

Still not feeling in the pink today but trudged ahead with the training. It's pretty toned down though:

20kg x 12 reps (warmup)
25kg x 8 reps
32.5kg x 5 reps (3 sets)

Overhead press
20kg x 8 reps (warmup)
22.5kg x 5 reps (5 sets)

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Mind Games and Music

The good news is my safety catch works.

New year. Peaceful morning. I had breakfast with a close friend who just came back from performing the Hajj a few weeks ago. After breakfast I loaded up my bar. The other day I barely did a set of back squats. So today I tried again.

Warmup of 20kg x 12 reps. A breeze. Then 30kg x 8 reps. A bit challenging but nothing major. Then I loaded up the bar to what I thought was 40kg. I put the bar on my back, the tried to squat. Went down, didn't get up. The crude safety catch saved the day.

I was confused. What the heck was that all about? I looked at the bar again. Oh. Sheesh. I loaded 50kg instead of 40kg. Duh. I took out the excess weight and 40kg wasn't too bad.

But my mind was playing games again. I started doubting myself. I felt scared of the bar. It took me quite a while to psych myself up. But once I started squatting everything was okay. I did okay. Although I know I can do better. I think my neighbours think I'm crazy because I was shouting at myself. Trying to give my self motivation. Part of the pitfall of solo training.

And during times like this, when you need some extra psychological push, playing good background music is actually important. Back when I was training at the Bangsar gym, they played 60s Malay pop songs, songs by Take That and other songs by various pop tarts and tartlets. Thank god they didn't get Bieber Fever in the gym. But I didn't really care about songs then because I had a trainer to push me along.

Training solo's a bit different now. Today, as a way to psych myself up, I chose to put on Eminem's Not Afraid, Kanye West's Stronger, Breaking Benjamin's Let's Start a Riot and Guns N Roses' version of Hair of the Dog. Not too shabby for a training soundtrack, if you ask me.

What kind of music do you put on when you're training?

This was today's workout;

Back Squat

20kg x 12 reps (warmup)
30kg x 8 reps
35kg x 8 reps
40kg x 7 reps (2 sets)
40kg x 8 reps

Overhead Press

20kg x 8 reps (warmup)
22.5 kg x 6 reps
22.5kg x 7 reps (3 sets)