Wednesday, August 31, 2011

First Post-Raya Entry

First up:  Selamat hari raya and happy independence day to fellow Muslim and/or Malaysian readers of my humble blog.

I'm back in my hometown, devoid of access to a barbell so I have not been doing any kind of proper training.  But I have been carrying weights around.  Cartons of soft drinks.  Babies.  Household items.  They're more like conditioning work though.  And it's good to know all that barbell stuff has transferred nicely to real-world function.

Anyway, I've been catching up on my studying and have just finished reading Convict Conditioning.  It's a fantastic book and guides you step by step on how to perform the 6 most essential bodyweight moves.  It's written by ex-convict Paul Wade and he explains how you can build a powerful and functional body with bodyweight only.  Which does come in handy when you're behind bars and have no access to training equipment.

Coach Wade ( as he is fondly known) is a strong advocate of bodyweight exercises because it allows for natural movements, hence prevents injury and improves joint and tendon strength unlike barbell/dumbbell exercises which forces you to follow a certain range of motion which may not be as natural.  It also takes a toll on your joints and tendon.

Coach Wade  outlines 6 key bodyweight exercise one should master in order to be strong, powerful and agile.  He calls it The Big Six.  They're listed below:

  1. The Pushup (master step: one-arm pushup)
  2. The Squat (master step: full one-leg squat)
  3. The Pullup (master step: full one-arm pullup)
  4. The Leg Raise (master step: hanging straight leg raise)
  5. The Bridge (master step: stand to stand bridge)
  6. The Handstand Pushup (master step: one-arm handstand pushup)
I'm a long way off to conquer the master steps of each of the Big Six.  But hopefully, with enough perseverence and proper training, I may at least be halfway there.  Anyway, I actually agree with Coach Wade in a sense that you don't really need the barbell to get powerful.  

BUT. I still think barbell squats and deadlifts MUST be incorporated in ones training regiment.  I don't care much about the benchpress as I honestly think pushups are a far more superior alternative. And I reckon the handstand pushup is a superior alternative to the overhead press too... but I am nowhere near being able to get... uhhh... vertically inverted, so I guess I will still have to get my overhead presses done while working towards a handstand pushup.

I've already written a post-raya training plan for myself.  It's a 5-day programme with alternate days of barbell training and bodyweight training.  Let's see if I can keep with the programme and whether it works for yours truly.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Mass Gaining Strategy Post Raya Hols

I have lost the war against mass loss.

My clothes are wearing me.  And I'm around 5kg lighter.

"Arghhh!!!" you say....

Arghhh is a good way to describe it.

2 years ago I would've panicked and hired myself a personal trainer.

But now I know what to do regain the lost mass.  It would be hard work.

At present, I have stopped my training.  I'm planning to shock my body to build muscle faster by letting it become 'complacent'.  By the time Raya hols are over, I think even 70% of 1RM lifts would help rebuild lost muscles.  Of course, this will only happen during the initial stage.

And I would have to eat A LOT.  That shouldn't be a problem.  Empirical evidence has shown that I tend to devour almost anything in sight during the holidays.  Cool thing about being an ecto is it would work to my advantage.

So yeah.  Just keep it simple.



Fairly easy to do, I reckon.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Of shrinking and niggling doubts...

My butt has shrunk.

My hard-earned butt.  Egad... I'm on a downward spiral of weight loss!  And I only have myself to blame.  Maybe age is catching up on me.  I used to have quite an appetite.  I still have quite an appetite, but it's been suppressed this fasting month.  I just don't feel like eating much.

It's a vicious cycle.  I get tired because I don't eat, and I don't eat because I'm tired.

Maybe it doesn't make sense to you, but it makes a lot of sense to me.

Good thing is I can still lift as much as before.  Which tells me that on normal non-fasting training days I am not fulfilling my lifting potential.  If I can lift as much as I can (albeit for fewer sets) when I am deprived of calories, shouldn't I be able to lift more when I'm free to take in as much calories as my stomach could handle?

Hmmmm... admittedly sometimes I lack faith in myself.  I know I can lift more, but somehow I doubt my own ability.  At those moments I wish I had a training partner to psych me up.  But I train alone, and most times I prefer it that way.

Any tips on how to build confidence and get psyched up to attempt a new PR?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Ramadhan Updates Part 2

I did a weigh-in last Friday and I now stand at 47kg.  A 2kg weight loss since the start of the fasting month.  And we still have another 2 weeks to go.

A part of me is obviously upset by the weight loss.  It took me months to gain 2kg and it just takes me 2 weeks to have it go down the drain.  A part of me has accepted the fact that this will be the case for as long as I live.  That for 1 month in the whole year I will shed hard earned kilos.

But this year I am quite confident that I can regain the lost kilos pretty quickly.  As long as I eat regularly and train hard, it shouldn't be that challenging.  Strength-wise, it seems like I haven't lost much of it.  I still can lift almost as much as I do on non-fasting days.

We'll see how it goes.  Another 2 weeks.  Let's hope the weight stops at 47kg and I don't lose much strength as well.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

This Ramadhan, focus on Technique

So we're into the second week of the fasting month.  My training schedule is back to normal.  I am training almost daily.  It's amazing how I can feel lethargic all day long but immediately feel so much more perky once I start lifting.  Must be all those feel good hormones coursing through my system.

As we all know, it's not easy to lift as much as you normally do during days when you are not fasting.  I used to think that's a bad thing.  But as these past 1.5 weeks have taught me, it is actually a blessing in disguise.  You see, sometimes I am too eager to increase the weights that I lift that I tend to forget about the most important thing: technique.

I've been going through some of the strength training books that I have in my possession and realize that I have overlooked or forgotten about some key points when lifting.

Take the squat for example.  It is advisable that you adopt a wider stance when you squat.  I've discovered that it is much easier to keep your knees out and your hips back as you move downwards as compared to when you adopt a narrower stance.

I'm actually glad that I have to settle with lighter weights this Ramadhan.  This way it is much easier to focus on technique.  You learn faster and your CNS would love you for it.

Monday, August 8, 2011

I would do anything, but I won't do that

I am a Malaysian. And you know what that means: I love food. Take into account that I used to study in Kedsh where delicious and cheap food are in abundance, and a foodie is born. Being a foodie and a fitness junkie sometimes do not bode well. The fitness junkie in me would go "tsk tsk" when I indulge in 'sinful' food like pizza and waffle topped with ice cream and strawberry sauce. The foodie in me would say "awww come on girl, live a little!".

The foodie always wins.

This doesn't mean that I eat junk all the time. Quite the contrary, actually. I tend to love wholesome food. They taste better than junk food, anyway. But I am not one of those people who go on a carb free, sugar free diet. Sorry, I love food to much to ever subject myself to such torture.

Would I love to get myself a six pack? Sure. But if it is at the expense of the food that I love, then I would be more thsn happy to just settle with my fairly flat stomach with some muscle definition.

I know I won't grow fat and flabby as long as I eat clean food most of the time. I may not look as athletic as those crossfit chicks or those sexy fitness models. But heck, I don't look that bad myself... Maybe a bit on the skinny side. But not too shabby I must say.

There are sacrifices in being a fitness junkie that I am willing to take, like reducing my late night partying and socializing so that I can spend more time training. But the one sacrifice that I am not ready for is eating bland boring food most of my life. Heck, Malaysia has too many delicious food. To not eat them is a sin, in my opinion.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Exercise Withdrawal Syndrome

I feel sluggish, tired, sleepy and irritable.  Not because I'm fasting.  But because I've not been training for some time.   Things keep cropping up and I keep having to skip my training sessions.  I don't like that.  I don't like that at all.

It got to a point where I was so sluggish, I just crawled into bed and slept like a baby.  The other night however, I've had enough.  It was quite late (by my standards, as I get to bed early) but I did my exercise anyway.  It wasn't much.  And it sure as heck wasn't what I am used to doing.  But it's Ramadhan anyway, and calories are not in abundance.  But the point is, I trained anyway.

The result?  I felt so much better and my lethargy was eliminated.  My brain was finally functioning at optimum capacity.  Could it be that I was suffering from exercise withdrawal syndrome.  I only felt much better after I got my training fix.

Oh well.  Better be addicted to exercise than to be addicted to unhealthy stuff.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Ramadhan Updates Part 1

The holy month of Ramadhan is here again.  The fasting month is a month that I look forward to eagerly as it is indeed a very special month.  At the same time, I am filled with dread because I know I will lose my hard earned mass no matter how hard I try to preserve it.

So far, I'm just trying to eat sufficiently.

Training wise, I'm still training.  But not as usual.  I do fewer sets.  And dropped the weight a bit.  I did squats today and yesterday.  Last weak, I only managed to train for one day due to unforeseen circumstances.  It was frustrating, but setbacks will occur.  What's important is you still trudge through.