Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Of being deceivingly strong

"You lift weights? But you're so skinny! Aren't weightlifters supposed to be big?"

"You lift how much? Seriously? I don't believe you."

Yeah, I get this crap all the time. Not that I mind. I'm not even pissed off. Amused is more like it. You see, the thing is if you're a girl and you lift weights chances are you're not gonna get bulky. You'll get more defined and fill up in all the right places, but provided that you maintain a fairly clean diet you won't get anywhere near bulky.

Yes, you're gonna gain weight but in a good way and in all the right places. And you're gonna get STRONG.

Check out this lady powerlifter. Deadlifted 230kilos would you believe it.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

New Deadlift PR: 73kg 2RM

Okay so I went out partying on Saturday night. Came back home in the wee hours and by the time I hit the sack it was almost dawn. Woke up a couple of hours later and went to sleep again at about 10am. Woke up yet again at almost 2pm just to grab lunch. After lunch I thought I wanted to do some work but ended up sleeping until almost 7pm.

So yeah, my Sunday was 'wasted away' by sleeping.

But I wanted to get some training done. Besides, it's supposed to be deadlift day. The deadlift is my favourite exercise. So no excuses. Feeling crappy because of excessive sleep, I loaded up the bar. I knew today was gonna be a short 'practice day'.

Happily, I managed to hit a new PR. Here's what I did tonight:

40kg x 5 reps (warmup)
50kg x 5 reps (warmup)
68kg x 5 reps
70kg x 5 reps (new 5RM)
73kg x 2 reps (new 2RM)

So yeah, I'm pretty satisfied with my numbers. And I know I can do better.

P/S I stopped at 2 reps although I have a feeling I could get away with perhaps a few more reps. Maybe I shall test new boundaries next week.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Get on with the programme

The day before yesterday was upper body training day. I did overhead presses, pushups, bodyweight rows and some chin-ups. Topped it all off with some kettlebell swings. Good times. But the DOMS onslaught was especially painful.

Yesterday was spent moving around like an old lady and refraining myself from laughing because it makes my stomach hurt like hell. I was in pain.

Today was a bit better. But I still haven't recovered fully. My upper body is still a bit sore but my legs are good to go. Today's supposed to be squats day and my heart wasn't in it. In my mind I made a lot of excuses for why I should take one more day off.

Luckily, I trudged through with the training. Loaded up the bar and squat I did. Didn't do too bad. Didn't break any PRs but I didn't slack off either. And I'm feeling so much better now after breaking some sweat.

Sometimes you just have to get on with it. It's amazing how you're able to power through even when you're feeling sub-par. Goes to show how fantastic our body is.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Things that make me keel over and go ARRGGHHHHHHHH!!!!!

There are things that I can tolerate. And there are things that I can't. And these things specifically could make me go into violent convulsions when I think about how atrocious they are.
Unfortunately, so many have become victims. Enough of the ramblings. Ladies and gentlemen, here are the things that make me keel over and go ARRRGHHHHHHH.....

Treadmills, Elliptical Machines and the likes of them

I Know!! WTF right????

Like the innocent/ignorant mass, I too slaved upon these machines thinking that it would help me gain cardiovascular endurance. Instead, all it did was provide me with the much dreaded cortisol.

Worse still, a lot of people who want to lose weight think they have no choice but to subject themselves to hours upon hours of boring, monotonous 'exercise' when in fact there are better ways to burn off those excess fat and gain muscle.

And don't get me started on those foolish enough to buy a treadmill (all of them are bloody expensive) only to use it as a gigantic clothes hanger 2 weeks down the road.

Yeah... right.

Everytime I open my Facebook page some nitwit will be promoting this stupid corset you wear underneath your clothes which apparently helps you to burn fat while making you look slimmer. Oh... My... God.... seriously??? SERIOUSLYYYYY???? I mean, geeee... if it was that easy we won't see so many overweight people walking around right?

And maybe it does help you look slim. But what happens when you take off that godforsaken corset at the end of the day? All those flabby bits are finally free from their confinement and the reality is, you still don't look good naked, baby.

Herbalies Herbalife

Herbalife. What can I say? Maybe it's not the product. Maybe it's the agents that make cringe and entertain the thoughts of murder. I remember when I first entertained the thought of joining the gym. I asked around about affordable gyms and this fuckwit told me that I don't need to spend money for a gym membership. All I need to do was consume Herbalife crap and I'd look a heck of a lot better. Even back then, I knew it was crap.

Then there were the comments made in DM's blog by one of his readers. The reader mentioned that after taking herbalife, he feels a whole lot healthier. His skin was not botchy anymore. Heck, Herbalife was sooo good that it even made his crooked teeth straight.

All I could think of is that that guy may be one heck of an ugly dude.

Meal Replacement Powders (MRPs)
Okay, to be fair MRPs are not that bad if a person knows how to use it. You can use it to avoid catabolism when you really don't have time to have a proper meal. But if you're pretty much on a liquid diet than you're just asking for trouble. Sure, you might lose weight but be warned that you will gain it all back. Plus a few extra kilos for good measure.

Smith Machine, Leg Press Machine, and other similar stuff
I think my readers already know my disdain for all things machine related. Say all you want about the virtues of these monstrosities but it won't beat free weights. Not now. Not ever.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Importance of a Support System

It has dawned on me for quite some time that we are a lonely bunch of people. Some of us may train in a gym full of people but all it does is to accentuate that loneliness. What am I talking about, exactly? You see, although it is a no-brainer fact that strength training coupled with a decent dose of conditioning will make you stronger and.. ehem... sexier, the majority of (mostly commercial) gym goers think that doing squats, deadlifts and kettlebell swings are 'hardcore' and pretty much an overkill.

Fellow fitness junkie Adeline for example, has always been subject to snide remarks from fellow gym-goers who can't even squat and deadlift even half as much as she does. Yet they shamelessly give stupid advice. I once told Adeline it's like the bonsai plant telling the mighty balak tree how to grow bigger and stronger. The irony is so apparent.

Luckily for us in this day and age of cyberspace, we can look for like-minded souls and get support and encouragement from them. To know that you are not in it alone is important. It serves to keep you going; not to mention that these people would also push you to become better. Healthy competition is vital as well.

Fellow blog-o-buddy Kev has setup the Malaysian Powerlifting Group over at Facebook so that people passionate about powerlifting (obviously) have a go-to place where they can hold healthy discussions and seek support. So why don't you guys head on over and like the page, eh?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Of cardiovascular endurance

As your typical hardgainer, I have long ditched any typical cardio exercise in order to hang on to as much lean mass as I can. I did that gladly, since cardio is not something I look forward to doing. The monotony drives me absolutely crazy.

Unfortunately, I've become extremely deconditioned. While I may be stronger than the typical woman, I get winded pretty quickly. What's the point of being strong when you have the endurance of a 90 year old?

Maybe even Homer Simpson can beat me at a marathon

So I tried to run again. From hating to run I became indifferent to it. But I sure as heck don't enjoy it. Running is actually good, provided that you know how to run properly. Or else you're just gonna be susceptible to injury (this applies to everything else in general). And when you don't enjoy doing something you tend to not do it. So I stopped running.

I still want a decent VO2 Max though. I want decent cardiovascular health.

Enter the kettlebell. Initially, I saw the kettlebell as yet another strength training tool. But as I did my research on it I discovered that a lot of people are using it to improve their cardiovascular health as well. Seriously? How could something like that be better than something as classic and old school as running?

I quickly changed my mind when I went to the kettlebell class at Pushmore. The feeling was the same running. I was panting, sweating loads and begging for mercy. Yet unlike running, it wasn't monotonous. It wasn't boring. There are plenty of ways to spice things up.

It saves my joints from all that jarring that I tend to experience whenever I run. Some are natural born runners. I'm definitely not one of them.

Kettlebellin' y'all....

Anyway, even the humble kettlebell swing would burn your lungs; as I discovered. Yesterday, after my upper body training, I finished it off with 3 sets of kettlebell swings. 25 reps per set. I used my newly acquired 12kg kettlebell. Interesting how a less than 10-minute exercise left me drenched. Maybe it's because I'm not used to it. But I like the feeling it gave me.

It felt good, like a decent running session. But can be done both indoors in a limited space, or at the great outdoors... on a field or at a playground.

My kettlebell is definitely a keeper.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Updates on Development (Redundant; I know)

Well I am happy to report that I weigh 49kg and filling up in all the right places. I am feeling stronger too. Granted, my progress is not as fast as fellow fitness junkie Adeline (you can read about her progress here) but like she said: "it's not a competition. We progress at our own pace."

I shall TRY to take those words to heart. But knowing how antsy I can get, I'll be trying my darnedest to catch up.

I am deloading on my overhead presses. Working on technique, mostly. I'm just doing 5x5 with a 20kg barbell only. Feels good. Wrists need to be a whole lot stronger, but I'm getting there.

Squats... I'm progressing from 43kg to... wait for it... 44kg!! Yeayyyy!!!! What a huge progress, huh? Again, I am working on technique. I'm pretty confident I can progress to 45kg come the next squat session.

As for deadlifts, I'm doing pretty okay I guess. 3 sets of 5 reps of 65kg. Will hit another session with the same set and rep scheme and then try to increase the weight.

Diet wise, this is what I've been eating:

Breakfast: Disgusting, fried stuff. I get an egg for the protein.

Lunch: Rice, Vege (usually spinach), Fish (oily ones like Ikan Keli)

Pre-Workout: Soy Milk + Cashew Nuts

Post Workout: 2 bottles of Soy Milk (equivalent to 18 grammes of protein)

Dinner: Pretty much whatever I want

I was a bit apprehensive about taking soy milk at first. But it seems to work for me. I don't get any skin inflammation like I do if I drink dairy milk. It is pretty filling so I need some time before I eat my dinner. Other than that, soy milk is pretty okay.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

More rants about trainers

A good friend gave me a call the other day. Said she was about to meet a trainer (she lives in Melaka, so trainers are pretty much scarce) that would help her lose weight. I'm always wary of trainers. I personally think most trainers out there teach a whole lot of bull. Of course, there are the occasional trainers who know what they're talking about but most of them talk crap.

Take a look at the trainers of the Biggest Loser fame (doesn't matter if it's the American, Australian or Malaysian version), they're all teaching crap. They're doing more damage then they're doing good (if any).

Anyway, back to this so called trainer my friend was meeting. Oh by the way, she was calling me while waiting for the trainer to arrive. He was already 15 minutes late. Wow, very professional. Great first impression. Absolutely fabulous. Anyway, these are the things that she told me:

  • Training will be held at a pay per entry gym (RM5 per entry) - fair enough
  • Training will last 2 hours - you're trying to make a sedentary person train for 2 hours. That is stupid. It's gonna give a negative psychological effect to the trainee. 2 hours is way too long. The trainer obviously has never heard of cortisol.
  • Fee is RM50 per session (0r RM25 per hour I presume) - way too expensive. I wouldn't part with a dime if I were my friend. Why would you pay people to teach you crap?
Probably some would argue that this trainer may not be certified hence explaining his utter ignorance and lack of professionalism. I have personally met trainers who are 'certified' or graduated with at least a Sports Science diploma.

They're still stupid as heck.

Not saying I'm better (well, perhaps I am... who knows?) but in my defense, I am pretty much money-motivated. I am NEVER gonna part with my hard earned cash and give it to some delusional prick who thinks that he knows what he's talking about but in actual fact know squat about... well, squat.

I say screw these fake trainers. At times it's better off to research and train on your own.

p/s be wary of trainers who advocate corn flakes. Corn flakes are high GI (i.e. 'fast burning' carbs) hence not advisable to be taken for breakfast. They're probably ignorant or have been paid good money by the corn flakes company (i.e. he's sold his soul to the money making factory)

Using a 6kg Kettlebell... still a great workout

Never underestimate a kettlebell. Doesn't matter if a kettlebell is 16kg or 6kg. My sister's 6kg kettlebell wreaked havoc on my body. I used her kettlebell for some brief workouts which still left me sweating and breathless. Here's what I did:

Day 1 (2 sets)
1-arm swing x 10 (each arm)
2-arm swing x 10
Snatch x 10 (each arm)

Day 2 (3 sets)
2 arm swing x 10
Goblet squat x 10
2 arm swing x 10
Press x 10 (each arm)

If you don't have a kettlebell, you can use a dumbbell to do this simple workout. Give it a go!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Balik Kampung

Going back to JB for the birth of my third nephew (I only have nephews, no nieces yet). Can't wait. It's hard to go back to my hometown and leave my barbell behind when I'm making good progress so far. Will have to borrow my sister's 6kg kettlebell and improvise on some exercise.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Omigod... this is far worse than running, dude!

Woohoo!! My kettlebell has arrived and I've finally taken it home with me yesterday. It's supposed to be a rest day for me today but I wanted to give my kettlebell a testdrive. I actually ordered an 8kg kettlebell but the good people at Pushmore ordered a 12kg for me instead. They said that I'd easily outgrow an 8kg kettlebell so it's best to get a 12kg one instead.

It's the same price, so I don't have any issues. So took it home, I did.

Today, after waking up so early in the morning and having had breakfast, I decided maybe I should see what kind of challenge this lil cannonball of mine can provide me with. This was what I did:

2-hand kettlebell swing x 15
Pushups x 15
2-hand kettlebell swing x 15
Goblet squat x 15

I only did a single round. One. And I'm sweating like a pig and whimpering like a baby. Guess I'm extremely de-conditioned. Will definitely incorporate more kettlebell work in future.

p/s I consider my home gym complete now.

Sunday morning thoughts

It's a beautiful morning over here in my part of town. What better way to celebrate the day than to nip out for a quick breakfast? So went out I did and it was heartening to see my neighbours already out and about at the playground exercising.

There's this one particular neighbour of mine who religiously jogs every single day. When I come home from work, there she is running round the playground doing countless laps. There she was again this morning, running laps as usual.

She's definitely not overweight, I can tell you that. If people were to calculate her BMI (which personally I think is a dumb way to measure whether you're fat or not), her weight would fall into the ideal range. Yet, she has no definition to her body. Skinny legs. Skinny arms. Whimpy back. No ass.

No doubt she could outrun me at any given time. But I'm fairly confident I can beat her in everything else. And more importantly, I have a hotter body (please exclude boobs when making the judgment call.... every woman in town has bigger boobs than mine. That part of my body seems to think I am still in my pre-adolescent years).

Takeaway message: ladies, if you wanna have a hot looking and functional body, throw in some weight training on top of those endless cardio sessions. Heck, concentrate more on weight training and redefine what you understand as 'cardio'.

Some would argue that running is good for you. Maybe it's true. But it is boring as heck. I'd rather do bodyweight + kettlebell combos, barbell complexes, sprints, and farmer carries rather than run laps. So there. Pbthhhh...

Saturday, May 7, 2011

What I Have Learnt So Far

  1. Strength likes rest. I've tried training daily. And I've also tried training every other day. Training daily works for a while. But I discovered that training an ideal 3 times a week gives the best results in terms of performance as well as giving you a better physical appearance.
  2. Eating fast food post workout is okay. But in the longer term you feel sluggish if you do this too often. Besides, whole food tastes so much better.
  3. You don't need supplements to get bigger or stronger. Eat natural, nutrient-dense food and you're good to go. (Having said that, I'm doing my research on BCAAs... will write on what I have learnt in another blog post)
  4. Keep it simple. Training doesn't have to be complicated with 15 different types of exercise per session. Stick to the basics. Squats, deads, presses... and you're on your way to become stronger (and more importantly for some... look a heck of a lot better).
  5. Get enough sleep. Going out clubbing and staying awake till the sun comes up after a training session won't do your body any good.
  6. Drink milk instead of one of those expensive supplements after training. Much cheaper and still does the job. Can't drink regular milk? Take soy milk instead.
  7. Pre-workout meals must consist of low GI carbs and protein. So far, I've been eating cashew nuts and washing it down with soy milk. Sometimes for additional fuel I eat a couple of egg sandwiches. So far it works. It could be better, though.
  8. Never underestimate bodyweight training. Being able to do countless pushups, chinups and single-leg squats is damn impressive.
  9. Forget the benchpress if you can't even do 10 pushups with perfect form. You'd be insulting the barbell. You'd also be susceptible to injury.
  10. Take care of your joints (e.g. knees, shoulders). Do your lifts with perfect form. If you can't, reduce the weight. It's ok to look less macho. It's better to work up to being macho than not being able to train at all because of injuries.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Diet Observation

I am back from a very enjoyable holiday in Kuching with a bunch of my buddies. And in a typical holiday, I threw my diet to the wind and didn't hit the gym. But in my defense, we did a heck of a lot of walking and the food we ate was really good.

About the food. As most of my regular readers would know, I have pretty bad eczema and my food intake is pretty much restricted. Shellfish (i.e. crabs, clams, prawns) are out of the question and there is only so much dairy products that I could tolerate.

Funnily enough I ate prawns and crabs in abundance when I was in Kuching but my skin didn't act up at all. My theory is that the food was so fresh that there are hardly any toxins that are often associated with shellfish. Which is why my skin didn't act up.


As a hardgainer I can easily get away with eating stuff like pizza or a McD burger on a fairly regular basis without receiving any sort of punishment (read: get fat). Therefore I always eat these high-calorie food as its easier to meet my daily caloric needs. Keep in mind that my objective is to gain mass.

The only setback with this diet regiment is that I feel pretty sluggish putting in that much junk in my tummy. Then I noticed that my energy levels are better when eating nutrient-dense food (like spinach and even ikan keli) although to total caloric intake is much smaller than say... a McDonald's value meal.

This is all good news for me because I honestly feel like puking whenever I get a fastfood overload. Give me nice, warm, 'real' food any time.