Thursday, September 29, 2011

My barbell training progress thus far

The good thing about documenting your fitness journey in a blog is it puts things in perspective.  In my mind, I have been exercising regularly for about 3.5 years now.  But I was caught by surprise to rediscover that I have only started using the barbell extensively since mid June of 2010.

And looking back at my previous post, I'm quite pleased at how much I have progressed.  AWhat I used for my work weights a year ago are now pretty much my warm-up weights.

But I still have a long way to go.  I don't see myself as strong.  I mean, I am strong but I am not as strong as I want to be.

There's still a lot of work to be done.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Improving my grip strength

I did squats and deadlifts for tonight's training.  Based on my training log, it seems like I have made some progress... which is good.

For deadlifts specifically, I am pulling well below my 2RM.  For now I'm pulling 58kg only.  But I don't actually plan to improve my deadlift numbers.  My goal is to improve my grip.

Basically, I plan to pull strictly using the double overhand grip.  I've had enough of having a pussy grip.  I've had enough of using straps.  What's the point of lifting 73kg with the aid of straps?  It doesn't mean crap to me.  I am ashamed to have to use straps.

It's double overhand or nothing.  The reverse grip may be used.  But sparingly.  To complete sets when the double overhand grip can no longer be sustainable.

And I am quite confident that I will have no problems hitting my current 2RM (using straps) anytime even if I have not been pulling nowhere near it in recent times.  I don't have studies to back it up, but instinct tells me that if I improve my grip strength substantially, then the rest of the body will follow.

Perhaps its a stupid theory.  But someday soon I'll test it out and see whether I am right.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Battling the 48kg Curse

I can safely say I have fully recovered.  So far this week I have managed to train every single day (taking turns between barbell stuff and bodyweight training).

The good news is I wasn't as weak as I thought I was (prior to being sick).  Good thing I kept a training log. If you have never kept a training log, I suggest you do.  It really keeps things in perspective.

The not so good news is I'm still on the skinny side.  I've regained some of the mass I lost, but it's a long way from my peak.

The great news is it now takes a shorter time for me to regain my lost mass as compared to before.  That's muscle memory doing its work.

Hopefully, with consistent training and consistent eating habits I'll reach my previous peak.  Who knows?  I might even surpass it.

Sunday, September 18, 2011


I am frustrated that I am so freaking weak.

My squats are pathetic.  So is my overhead press.  And I can't deadlift that much without straps.

I am so weak it's just sad.

But I'm not going to quit.  Not a chance.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Missing It

I feel fully recovered.  Coughs are still there.  But they're fairly mild.

Tomorrow, it's time to get under the bar.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Training Programme Evolution

First up, I'm recovering from that dastardly bug that's been plaguing Klang Valley.  The worst is over, but the very bad cough is still there.  I am sure as heck not gonna get under the bar until I get this coughing fit under control.

So, I took the time I should be using to exercise to ponder a bit and write in this humble blog instead.

Right.  So I've been reflecting on the various exercise programmes I've been on and I'm quite amazed at its evolution.

Initial Phase
When I first started out, I heavily depended on my personal trainer to write a programme for me.  I tried to make sense of the programme, to see if there was a clear pattern but it just left me even more confused and felt that I need to depend on my trainer for guidance.  This of course, never happened.

Intermediate Phase 1
I then moved on to 'training templates'... a pre-written training programme written for different objectives.  Specifically, I followed the Turbulence Training programme.  They're pretty decent.  I love that it is structured.  Provides me with the kind of exercise, required reps, sets and rest time, and the kind of warmup to use.  It's heaven sent for someone so confused like I was.

But even though in principal I knew how the programme was constructed, and I had access to an array of exercise that could be used I felt that there must be a simpler way to achieve my objective.

Intermediate Phase 2
This was when I discovered Jason Ferrugia's Muscle Gaining Secrets book and programme.  His was also 'cookie cutter' programme but specifically for hardgainers.  JF's was by far simpler compared to Turbulence Training and suited me fine.


In time and through various research I discovered a common thing that all (creditable) fitness gurus preach about:

  1. Stick to compound exercise
  2. Go heavy
  3. Don't train for too long.  Ideally only for 30 to 45 minutes per session
  4. The 3 to 5 guideline: 3 to 5 exercises, 3 to 5 days a week, 3 to 5 minutes of rest between sets
If you take a look at my previous entry on my post-raya training programme, you would see that I've incorporated all 4 of the general guidelines given.  Basically, it's pretty easy to write your own training programme.

Just keep it simple.  Simple doesn't mean easy.  And complex doesn't mean effective.  Always have that in mind.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The 48 Kilo Curse

I was making such good progress.  From 45kg, my weight surged to 48kg and I believe they're mostly mass, not fat.  And as always, when I reach the 48kg mark I fall sick.

Maybe it's just a coincidence.  There's a bug about town and it doesn't help that it's been hazy as heck in the Klang Valley.  Combined with the fact that I am susceptible to colds and flu, it's only a matter of time until I catch the darned bug.  It's pretty bad this time.  I haven't had asthma for ages and yesterday alone I lost count on how many doses of ventolin I took.

Worst part is I've lost weight again.  Sigh.

Back to square one.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

My Post-Raya Training Programme

Okay.  As you know I lost about 5kg during the fasting month.  I stopped training for 2.5 weeks and have started my workout routine starting this past Sunday.  I've written a training programme for myself.  It's a 5-day  plan but note that the plan includes recovery workouts.  So it's basically 3 days of barbell training and 2 days of  recovery workouts using bodyweight exercise.

My programme goes like this:

Week 1
Sunday: Squats, OH Press
Monday: Pushups, BW Squats, Leg Raise
Tuesday: Squats, Deadlift
Wednesday: Pushups, BW Rows, Leg Raise
Thursday: Squats, OH Press

Week 2
Sunday: Squats, Deadlift
Monday: Pushups, BW Squats, Leg Raise
Tuesday: Squats, OH Press
Wednesday: Pushups, BW Rows, Leg Raise
Thursday: Squats, Deadlift

Repeat between the 2 workout sets accordingly.  I reckon I'll be using this programme for 8 weeks.  Notice that I excluded my kettlebell swings.  At least for now.  I gotta concentrate on rebuilding my muscle mass first.  Once I think I'm 80% there I'll start swinging again.

Also, I know my programme doesn't look like much.  I like to keep it simple.  And I notice my body responds better if I just do 1 or 2 basic exercises (but of course you gotta go heavy... that's a given) per training session.

On another note....

I've never been very organized.  Lots of things I do I just plan it in my head and execute as I see fit.  I know it's bad because what I think I did may not be what I actually did.  It's best to have black and white.  So beginning this post-raya workout I am FINALLY logging my training sessions.

One good tip I learned from reading Convict Conditioning is to note down how I feel after each workout (e.g. I started struggling in the final set of my deadlifts/My squats felt really good after the second set onwards).  This way I know where my sticking points are and what I should concentrate more on.

On yet another note...

My legs are damn sore after not squatting for almost 3 weeks.  It still felt sore (or perhaps felt even worse) after I did my recovery workouts yesterday.  I was foolish enough to start my warmup set using the barbell.  It didn't feel good at all... after 1 rep.  So I re-racked the barbell and started with a few reps of bodyweight squats first.  Then only I started with the barbell warmup.

I'm happy to report that I felt so much better and managed to pile on slightly more weights then my previous session.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Oh... the blasphemy!

Be forewarned.... this is a bitching post.

Amongst the list of people (some whom I hardly know and remember) in my FB account, there are bound to be those who are into direct selling/multi-level marketing/crap like that.  You know the type.  Heck, I can bet you that almost everyone who owns an FB account would have at least one annoying friend who promotes his/her little business online.

I usually tolerate the kind of crappy marketing some of them put up on FB.  I mean, it's only natural that you'd want to earn extra income.  But when you start making stupid statements like wearing a miracle corset would help you get the figure that you dream of without having to go through the hassle of exercise, or taking certain supplements would allow you to eat the kind of crap you've been eating that made you overweight in the first place then I have a bone to pick with you.

It's one thing to promote your business online.  It's another thing to make idiotic statements.

Let's take my pet peeve... the 'miracle corset' for example:

  1. Yes, wearing the corset will make you appear slimmer than you really are.  It's the same as a woman who looks beautiful with make up on but look absolutely hideous without it.
  2. I don't think a guy would appreciate being deceived.  You hook up with a girl thinking she's got great curves only to discover once she took the bloody corset off that she doesn't have curves.  She's just a big blob (ok, I'm being mean... but I'm stating a point here).  
  3. Really?  Do you really wanna waste a thousand bucks to buy a bloody corset?  A kettlebell would set you off for about 100 bucks and you only need to swing it for 10 - 15 minutes a day to burn your excess fat off.  Come on... don't tell me you don't have 10 minutes.  I have a suspicion it takes longer to put that damned corset on. 
  4. 1000 bucks could hire you a personal trainer.  But then again, with the kind of trainers that we have you're better off buying the corset.  KIDDING!!
  5. If you're silly (read: dumb) enough to believe that wearing a corset would mean you can eat whatever crap you want then you're sorely mistaken.  You're just going to make your bloody corset seller happy because she now can sell you a bigger (more expensive) one that you can actually wear.
  6. Geeeezzzz.... isn't it uncomfortable wearing that thing underneath your regular clothes?  ESPECIALLY in our humid climate?
Apparently, I just pissed off a girl who sells this corset bullcrap.  I couldn't care less.  I've always been opinionated.  But hey, I stand for what I believe in.  I won't apologize for that.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

I don't do planks no more

I no longer think doing any variation of planks will work your abs.  I mean, it does work your abs but I have discovered several moves that would smoke them harder if not just as hard.  And it's not as boring as doing the plank.  Yes, I find planks boring.

Okay... here's my list of stomach cramp inducing ab exercises:

  1. Pushups.  Don't  splay your legs.  Keep them together.  It will make it your core work much harder to keep your body in a constant straight line.  Plus, it works your pecs as well as your triceps.  Talk about being efficient, huh?
  2. Leg raises:  You can do leg raises while lying on the floor or hanging on a pull up bar.  If you think you're too macho for leg raises then you might wanna try the dragon flag ala Bruce Lee.  I'm still not up to that standard yet, though.
  3. Pullups/Chinups/Bodyweight rows:  Again, your core plays a major role to ensure that your body is propped up effectively.
  4. Turkish Getups:  Done correctly, this will totally kill your abs... and your whole body.  Expect expletives to involuntarily spew out of your mouth when doing this particularly exercise.
Anything else you wanna add to this list?