Monday, February 27, 2012

Barbell snatch vs. Dumbbell snatch - which is better?

Well, the barbell snatch is definitely more bad ass. But it is much harder to learn and control as opposed to the dumbbell snatch. I tweaked my right trap doing the barbell snatch even though I lifted very light. Goes to show technique is of the utmost importance.

Luckily for me it was just a minor tweak and I am happy to report that I am as good as new. But it did got me thinking about the merits of the dumbbell snatch.

The dumbbell snatch is just as taxing but much easier to learn. Plus, it also allows your shoulder to follow a more natural movement. But what I like most about the dumbbell snatch is it gives both arms a fair amount of work. With the barbell snatch, it seems like my right side compensates for the weakness of my left side. Which is also why I think I tweaked my right trap in the first place.

So for now I will be using more dumbbell snatches while I perfect my barbell snatch technique.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

TRX Handstand and some dismal discovery

So in preparation of embarking on Jason Ferruggia's UNCAGED programme, I did some research and tested out some gymnastic-esque 'holds' that would be a staple throughout the 16 weeks of training.  The holds that I am talking about are:

  1. Handstands
  2. L-Sits
  3. Front-lever holds
Now I must confess that I am no good in all three of  'em.  I have a long way to go.  While I think I can manage the beginner's progressions of L-Sits and front-lever holds (front-lever holds are a bitch!), doing handstands.. let alone handstand pushups give me the jitters.

With no spotter to assist me, the thought of tumbling over or not even being able to kick up to a handstand position is pretty much off-putting.  Enter the TRX.  It has definitely been one of my better investments (I am staring at my stability ball, sitting dormant on a chair while I type this).  I tried doing a TRX-assisted handstand earlier this afternoon, and I am happy to report that I have succeeded.  

Granted, my body is not totally upright; but I am definitely getting there. (No.  That's not me in the video.  Just so you know).

My confidence boosted, I tried doing some chin-ups. I haven't done chin-ups for a while. Most times I substituted with TRX rows.

I could only do a single proper chin-up. Egad! What the heck happened?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


I work in the investment industry where a fund manager's performance is scrutinized in a scientific manner. How much of his performance is attributed to stock selection skill. How much to asset allocation decisions? There is a mathemetical formula for almost everything.

Maybe something similar is also available to measure a trainee's performance. How much is attributed to strength training? How much to conditioning? How much attributed to nutrition? How does supplements come into the picture?

Can you measure how these different factors contribute to a trainee's performance gains in a precise scientific manner?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Good progress and going UNCAGED next

This is the beginning of the third week that I am on the Advanced Muscle Formula programme. And I am seeing very positive gains. My arms are getting bigger. My tummy leaner. And I am getting much better on the snatches and other olympic style lifts.

Pushups are easier to do now. My upper body strength was never my strong point. But everything feels lighter now.

And I've returned to weighing 50kg! Cool huh?

After this programme is done I am continuing with Jason Ferruggia's UNCAGED for building size, strength and power. It is very similar to what I am doing right now but knowing Jason's inclination towards programming for the ectomorph, I think I will be enjoying his programme as well.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Swimming. Hmmmm...

Hi. My name is Aizan. I am 32 years old and I can't swim. At best I can float and do a couple of breaststrokes before running out of breath.

I have entertained the idea of going for swimming lessons but I don't really know where to look for an instructor. Plus I'm a scrooge.

So I was pleasantly surprised when Groupon posted an offer for 6, 30-minute swimming lessons for RM88. I kind of have some inhibitions on going at it alone. If I am gonna make a fool of myself, it is best to do it in the company of friends.

Unfortunately they are not as keen as me. And although I have my insecurities, I am NOT going to let it be a stumbling block for me to learn something new. So yeah, I have already booked my lessons and I shall make a fool of myself starting from 19 February 2012.

Hopefully in 7 weeks' time I will be a better swimmer than I am now.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Strength/Power and conditioning on the same day? Hmmm...

Bloody hell. This new training programme (Travis Stoetzal's Advanced Muscle Formula) is brutal to say the least. My body has been aching all week. For the first week, these are my observations and thoughts on it:

What I Like
1. It incorporates a lot of explosive movements like the snatch, the push press, and power cleans. Since a lot of these moves are unfamiliar, I had to start really light to make sure my form was as perfect as possible.
2. Recovery days are about quick and effective conditioning. Sprints, barbell complexes and core exercises galore.
3. The sessions are never boring. It sure does beat doing just squats, deads and presses. Makes me feel more athletic.

What I Don't Like
1. I am not keen on the tabata-style exercises done (usually as the last set of exercises for the day). Yes, it is challenging but I don't think my ectomorph body appreciates it.
2. Since many of the exercises are new, I can't go heavy. Yet. I know the best is to start light but I just feel unsettled. I'm not stuoid enough to go heavy unnecessarily though.

Today was the beginning of the second week. And I think I'm starting to get the hang of things. On the first day, even the warmups left me dripping with sweat. Now I am more coordinated and they aren't as taxing anymore.

The exercises is as fun and challenging as always. I think my CNS are starting to fire correctly. But I did not do the tabata-style exercises which are also the last set. I think if the other participants of the AMF programme knows this, they would say I am being a pussy and I have to step it up a notch.

Hmm... May be they're right. However, I know how my body works and it's not gonna react well with intense albeit short conditioning sessions on the same day I train for strength or power. Conditioning sessions are best done on seperate days.

Let's see how things turn out in week 2 excluding the tabata-like sessions.

Saturday, February 4, 2012


I have not sprinted in a long while. I would probably not have sprinted anytime soon if not for the fact that the programme I am following now requires sprinting. So I put on my running shoes and a cozy sweater (weather was cool, it's been raining heavily lately) and went out to sprint.

Sprint I did. 10 rounds of it with the walk back to the starting point as rest. The distance is about 100 meters give or take. I've never felt so alive. Makes me wonder why I didn't do this before.

It was only a 20 minute session. Perhaps less than that. I'll time it next time.

Screw jogging. Sprinting is king. At least for me it is.