Tuesday, May 29, 2012

My training observations

This applies to me, someone who is not naturally athletic and not genetically gifted.  This kind of training system/philosophy works really well for me.  And if it works for me, it would most likely work for anyone else.

  1. Always train sub-maximally.  Always quit well away from failure.  Having said that,  don't be a pussy and train light.  You must train heavy:  at least 70% of your 1RM and progress from there.  Don't be in a hurry to hit crazy heavy weights.  Your muscles may be getting stronger.  But your ligaments/joints take a  much longer time to strengthen.  
  2. Sets and reps have an inverse relationship with each other.  More sets means less reps.  Less reps means more sets.  For me personally, it gives me a psychological edge knowing that I will always be able to kill every set and rep. Your CNS will thank you too.

Personally, I think the beauty of this is that adapting the above system would minimize the risk of injury and allows you to train for a longer period of time before you experience symptoms of overtraining (if any).  The key is to always keep your CNS fresh and recovery period short.

JF's Inner Circle has really become the best training-related investment I have ever made (dare I say even better than my squat rack?).

Monday, May 28, 2012

Phat Fatz

Fat Gripz.  They're my latest edition to my collection of home gym equipment.  I've been eyeing them for ages but I didn't feel it was worth it to buy them overseas and suffer the exchange rate and shipping rate.  So when the good people of Fitnutritions finally brought in Fat Gripz to Malaysia I jumped at the chance of owning a pair.

For those who aren't familiar with them, Fat Gripz is a tool that would help you improve your grip strength without you having to dedicate a special session to training your forearms.  Just put on fatgrips onto a standard barbell (I even fasten them to my TRX) and just continue with your regular training.

You'll find that your training session has become a lot harder using Fat Gripz:  a thicker bar is harder to grip than a standard bar.

So far I've been using them for less than a week on exercises such as barbell rows and barbell hang high pull.  It's pretty cool in sense that I don't even have to increase the weight to get a tougher workout.  Much tougher.  Much much tougher.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Sled drag substitute for dummies

Prowlers.  Sleds.  They are undoubtedly essential for one's training.

Prowlers are out of the question for me because no one in Malaysia sells/makes them and where the heck am I gonna keep it and then push it?  I live in a pigeon hole.

Now sleds are a better bet.  They're smaller, easier to keep and take out any time I want to have a nice conditioning session.  But they don't sell/make them here either.

Admittedly it's quite easy to make your own home made sled.  Get yourself an old tyre and some sturdy towing straps/TRX straps and you're good to go.

Homemade sled for dummies.  Dummies like me, specifically.

However, I do think it's impractical for me to undergo my usual training then having to find some space outside where I can drag in peace.  While searching for ideas, I came across the perfect solution.  And it doesn't cost me a single sen.  Why I never thought of it in the first place, I have no idea.  Goes to show I'm not really creative when it comes to improvising.

Thank god for the internet.

Okay for those who are DIY challenged like myself, simply put a barbell plate or two on a towel and push away!  And I can attest that it is a pretty brutal workout.  For those training in a commercial gym, you can put the plates on a folded up yoga mat.

Easy peasy.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

My Mistakes

I cringe when I look at my past blog entries.  But I guess that's a good thing.  It means I have become more enlightened as I continue with this little hobby of mine.  I can quite safely say that I know more now than I knew back then.

But then again, if I still stick to what I believe 4 years ago it really means I am not serious in pursuing my interest in training.  Some of the things that make me cringe now include:

  1. Doing direct triceps work that kill the elbow joints (e.g. skullcrushers) or look so damn sissy (e.g. triceps kickbacks).  I like doing presses now.  Specifically overhead presses.  Badass compound movement that hit your triceps hard.
  2. Admiring Jillian Michaels.  
  3. Going overly minimalist and training the 'big lifts' only.  It may work for some, but it didn't work for me.
  4. Taking too long a rest between lifts.  Now it's a maximum of 3 minutes' rest and that is only for really taxing lifts like the deadlift.  For stuff like lunges and holds, it's 60 seconds' rest or less.
  5. Taking weight gain supplements.  I made my biggest gains without the aid of weight gainers.  It's all about proper training and eating sensibly.  All you need to do is just eat slightly above maintenance.
  6. Warming up by just lifting a few sets/reps of lighter weights prior to the actual work sets.  I still felt like crap when doing my actual workout.  Doing a quick but dynamic 5 minute warmup does wonders to improve your mobility and fire up your CNS.
  7. Never incorporating jumps and explosive lifts (like snatches) in my training.
  8. Going all out (i.e. heavy sets and high reps) all the time.  Smart  move if you want to fry your CNS real quick.
  9. Thinking that having wholemeal biscuits + milk for breakfast is a sufficient meal.
  10. Eating junk food like McDonald's and Sneakers are fair game when trying to gain mass.  I know now to always prefer whole foods.  Junk food may give you the calories but you end up feeling really really sluggish.  What do you expect when you abuse your body like that?
I am glad to have learnt about my mistakes than not to have discovered it at all.  Mistakes are after all, an investment towards my education.  I wished I hadn't had to made them all.  But I'd loath to repeat them.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The MOST important reason to train at home...

...is to avoid MAJOR embarrassment when you rip your pants while squatting.  Bloody hell.  It was my favourite pair of track pants.

Well, on the bright side it means my butt is bigger now (in a good way).

The scrooge in me would hate to spend money to replace the ripped pants though.


Sunday, May 6, 2012

Using deadlifts to improve squats

Usually it is the other way round.  Squats provide you with better quad development which then carries over well to the deadlift.  But this particular article that I recently read got me thinking.  Maybe deadlifts can help me improve my squats.

Squats are challenging for me.  I have always struggled with it.  But it is still one of the most efficient lower body exercise that has ever existed and for that, squat I must.

Anyway, the article was mentioning about segregating exercises into movement patterns, and how the trapbar deadlift and the sumo deadlift closely resembles a squat.  I don't have a trapbar.  But I sure can do sumo deads.

So testing out the theory, I first tried out the back squat (that's the nice thing about having barbells lying around in the living room) then I tried out the sumo deadlift.  There are differences.  But there are also similarities in terms of the movement pattern.

So when I start my next training programme (I am torn between Yoked and Triple Threat Muscle.  Yes, both are Jason Ferruggia's programmes) I'll be using sumo deadlifts instead of my preferred regular deadlift and see whether it could help improve my squat.

I have nothing to lose really.  If the experiment fails I still get a good workout at the end of the day.