Monday, April 25, 2011

Shoulder Update and Training Ques

Went for a massage on Sunday and my shoulder feels so much better. No more pain when lifting my right arm overhead. But for safety measures, I am refraining myself from any kind of overhead presses until I am super confident that my shoulder is as good as new or as close to it as I can get.

What I can't refrain myself from doing any longer is training. So I trained squats the other day. Also did pushups (which I can do without any pain whatsoever) and TRX backrows (ditto). I think my squat technique is getting better. My previous trainer told me that I was more of a hamstring-dependent person (i.e. my posterior chain is stronger than my anterior chain).

I agree. And I also agree that I squat funny. Especially when trying to get up to the neutral position. I've always found it difficult to activate my quads for some reason that befuddles me. Until I bumped into these series of squat tutorial by Matt Wenning of Elite Fitness Systems.

The training que that I find most helpful in improving my squat technique was to look up. That way the body follows you in an upward direction rather than horizontal, than upwards... like I usually do. Okay I don't know how to describe my funny squat posture. But what you need to know here is that giving out the right coaching que helps a trainee immensely in improving technique and body-consciousness.

All in all there are 5 parts to this squats tutorial. I'm gonna just post the first one in this blog. The rest you can find in YouTube. Shouldn't be hard to find since it's titled "So You Think You Can Squat Part 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5. I believe my readers are smart enough.

Enjoy the vids! Hope you find it as helpful as I did.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Shoulder Injury Update

The good news is the shoulder feels better. The bad news is it's still not as good as new. Hence I am still not doing any exercise whatsoever. I will let my shoulder be subject to another massage session this Sunday.

In total my shoulder has been massaged twice, a week after the injury happened. My friend nagged me about it for ages. She told me I should not take any kind of shoulder tweak lightly and I should have gone for a massage immediately.

In my mind I thought I am still in my early 20s and have healing abilities of the likes of Wolverine. Apparently I was wrong.

Anyway, I noticed a funny thing during this involuntary resting period. I'm getting bigger and more defined. Clothes and pants are tight in all the right spots. Perhaps it is coincidental that it was about time I de-load? Maybe not. But whatever it is I like the effect.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


I'm pretty much a relative newbie to things health and fitness. But being a relative newbie doesn't mean that I can't form my own opinion. And my opinion is this:

For those who are absolute beginners, I would recommend mastering the two things first:

  1. Bodyweight squats
  2. Pushups
I believe these two exercises are the foundation of weight training.

Knowing the correct mechanics of bodyweight squats (ass back, not ass down) would serve you in good stead for future pursuits of weight training: barbell squats, deadlifting, heck... kettlebell swings even.

And there's a lot more to the humble pushup than meets the eye. Do you know that the pushup works your back muscles as well as your pecs? And it also activates your lats quite a bit. And of course, it also trains core strength.

Once you get decently good at these two moves I think it would be so much easier for you to learn other things.

Sunday, April 17, 2011


My right shoulder is tweaked somewhat. Even doing dumbbell presses with a mere 7kg (my warmup weight) feels uncomfortable. I'm not sure whether it was tweaked during one of my overhead press sessions or it was tweaked doing something innocent... like sleeping.

It feels better now. But still not back to normal. Funnily enough the shoulder feels better after a squats session. Probably the positioning of the shoulders to the bar has relieved the pain somewhat.

Doing pushups doesn't inflict pain on the shoulder though. So probably I'm gonna have to just settle for pushups and bodyweight rows and perhaps dumbbell floor presses for my upper body training sessions.

Hopefully my shoulder will recover very soon. I miss overhead presses already.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Failure, Despair and a Challenge

When I saw Adeline's Facebook update saying that she had achieved a new 5RM of 52.5kg I was very proud of her. I also felt extremely jealous. Squats are not my strongest lift. Nor is it my favourite. But it is a necessary evil.

You see, having low body fat means I'm virtually boobless. So I need a nice perky butt to compensate for (the lack of) it.

Jokes aside. I felt that I should up my ante. On Tuesday night I thought I was ready to increase my weights from 43kg to 45.5kg. I managed to get 2 reps before failing miserably. I felt upset and angry at how pathetically weak I am.

And today, Adeline and I got to talking. About how I was jealous of her squats achievement. She on the other hand was jealous of how much I can deadlift. Somehow it came to a point that we challenged each other. So here's what we're gonna do:

By 18 June 2011
Aizan will have to squat a 5RM of 50kg
Adeline will have to deadlift a 5RM of 62.5kg

I have a suspicion Adeline would easily achieve 62.5kg in a month. Me? I'm not so sure.

Anyway, today I trained squats and this was what I did:

23kg x 8 reps
33kg x 8 reps (2 sets)
38kg x 5 reps
43kg x 5 reps (3 sets)

The 43kg sets were a bit tough. I was shouting to myself to get me fired up and motivated. Sometimes I wonder what my neighbours think of me. Oh well.

I know my progress is slow and I'm not sure how the hell am I supposed to reach 50kg 5RM in 2 months' time. But I shall try my best.

Monday, April 11, 2011

5X5 = I'm waving it

So today's upper body day. Overhead presses, backrows and pushups are on the menu. Main workout is the overhead presses while backrows and pushups are pretty much for desert.

Anyway, I was supposed to add more weights today since I could already comfortably do a 5x5 of 23kg. So today total weight lifted was 25.5kg. And...

I failed miserably.

I couldn't even complete 5 reps in even one of the sets with 25.5 kg on. It went pretty much like this:

Warmup sets
23kg = 8 reps
10kg db shoulder press = 8 reps per arm

Actual sets
25.5kg = 4 reps
25.5kg = 3 reps
25.5kg = 3 reps (cheated on the third: did a push press instead of a strict one)
23kg = 5 reps (felt like my CNS was in danger of being overcooked... so back to easy stuff)
25.5kg = 4 reps (again cheated on the last rep. Not good.)

I think reducing the weights for one of sets helped. But perhaps I was a bit too overzealous in wanting to lift 25.5kg. Next time I might wanna try this instead:

20kg = 8 reps
23kg = 8 reps
24kg = 5 reps
25.5kg = 5 reps
25.5kg = 5 reps
23kg = 5 reps
25.5kg = 5 reps

Let's see whether next time I can actually get 5 reps for all the sets with the new weights.

And yeah... I know. I can't even press 25.5kg. Pathetic. I'm weak as heck. Don't rub it in.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Of training programmes and pre-workout meals

When I first started my journey as a fitness junkie wannabe, my main concern was how to fit in so many exercises in a single workout. The horror of waiting in line for the more popular machines and having to work at various body parts was enough to leave me stressed out.

But now I know that you don't need to use machines to have a good training session. A barbell and a few tried and tested compound exercises would suffice. So I can pretty much safely say I got my training programme down pat.

My focus is now more on nutrition. Given my allergy to dairy (especially milk), my source of protein is significantly limited. So far my substitute for dairy milk is soy milk. I know soy has received some bad press but I figured if our forefathers have taken it for many years then how could it possibly harm me?

Drilling down, post workout nutrition is not my main concern. My concern is pre-workout. I know I need a good mix of slow burning carbs (i.e. low GI) and protein. Plus the meal should not be too big that I need at least a couple of hours to digest. Off the top of my head I can think of a few pre-workout meals:

  1. Cashew nuts + Soy Milk
  2. Tuna Sandwich + Apple
  3. Roti telur bawang (Got eggs in it... fair game(?))
I'd put oatmeal in the list to. But I hate it. Tastes like cardboard. So yeah. There's only about three pre-workout meals I can think of and I'm not even sure if they're all legit.

What do you think? Any suggestions?

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Maybe I should charge an entry fee...

So after much deliberating, debating, calculating and re-calculating I finally decided to get myself a squat rack. This time, it's for real - as you can see in the pictures. I'm still not used to having a big chunk of steel placed right smack in the middle of my living room but over time it won't be so glaring, I guess.

Along with the squat rack I got myself a 7ft barbell, since the 6 footer is to short to fit into the rack. Minor problem. Got that fixed pretty quickly. The asking price for the squat rack was RM1,900 (including delivery and installation charge). Bought it from Weider. I almost purchased one from Transmark but they are charging RM2,300 for something similar. So I count myself lucky that I could save RM400 overall.

Besides, I can always get a tax rebate next year for buying sports equipment.