Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Embracing Minimalism

Being the nerd that I am, I read a lot of fitness and training-related articles when I first started my gym rat journey.  And while I caught on fairly quickly about the philosophy of training, nutrition has always left me dumbfounded.

....Drink a protein shake post workout.

Eat 6 times a day....

....More protein, less carbs.

Anabolic window....

....You're a hardgainer, you can eat junk food to get more calories in.

And so many others I don't even bother to mention here.  The irony is, I made my biggest and healthiest gains when I tuned out all but the most basic of information.  All I do is:

....Drink a vegetable juice post workout

Eat only 3 square meals per day...

....Cut out soy drinks and reduce dairy intake

Follow a basic, natural supplement regime (probiotics and olive oil)...

To sum everything up, I am at my healthiest and at my 'biggest' when I:

  1. Follow a good training programme
  2. Eat clean as best as possible (although I am not nearly as stringent as most people)
  3. Cook my own meals
Goes to show too much information can be counterproductive.  You're more likely to suffer from analysis paralysis.  

Monday, November 18, 2013

Back Squats revisited

I think I have not done any back squats for more than a year.  After the hiatus I have finally decided to incorporate them once again into my training albeit with much lighter weights than before; which is saying something because I never was good at back squats and  the best I could muster was 55kg for 5 reps.

I'm up to 40kg for 4 reps now.  Feeling steady and sturdy.  Knees aren't hurting.  That's a good sign.

One tip that I've started to follow is to do a few sets of leg curls first to get those hammies warmed up and pumped before I hit the squats.  It has worked like a charm so far.

Thursday, November 14, 2013


So... it's been a while since I last updated this blog eh?  When I first started this blog, it was to write about my learning experience in my journey as a fitness junkie wannabe.  Initially I learnt a lot of stuff and was excited to share it with whoever that cares.

As my go forward with my journey, this particular quote from Bruce Lee came to mind:

"Before I learned the art, a punch was just a punch, and a kick, just a kick.
After I learned the art, a punch was no longer a punch, a kick, no longer a kick.
Now that I understand the art, a punch is just a punch and a kick is just a kick."

Not to say that I have learnt everything that needs to be learnt.  Far from it.  But I have come to realize that we often tend to overcomplicate things.  Life should be so much simpler.  If I were to summarize what matters to me (fitness-wise) in a nutshell, they are:

  1. Incorporate some kind of squat, deadlift, pressing and mobility work in your programme and you're golden
  2. Eat (or drink) your greens.  Raw is better.
  3. Cook your own meals.
  4. Spend less on unnecessary materialistic stuff and spend more on good quality food
  5. Read a lot
  6. Try not to take any sort of modern medicine.  Natural is best.  Refer to #2
  7. Discipline

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Using straps when front squatting

I'm not the biggest fan of front squats.  Heck, I'm not the biggest fan of squatting.  But it's an integral part in any training programme so squat I must.

The latest programme I'm following requires quite frequent front squatting.  And recently I've stumbled upon a pretty cool way to ensure that I keep the bar racked properly without having the resort to breaking my wrists (due to inflexibility) or rounding my upper back, as is the case if I use the cross arm technique.

Instead, I use lifting straps to act as a pair of handles.  This way I can keep my elbows up in place without hurting my wrists.  I've tried it last night and while it does work better than the traditional or the cross armed hold, I still find it a bit difficult to hold the bar in place.

My straps setup.  Any pair of old lifting straps will do.
It's probably to be expected since I have a small frame anyway.  It's hard to rack the bar snugly in the first place.  I find it easier to keep the bar static if I flare up my elbows a little bit.  Does look a bit funny though. But all in all, I kind of like this setup.  Will keep at it and practice keeping the bar in position.

And oh... the video below demonstrates the different ways you can hold the bar up in place on a front squat. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Lucky/Selfish: Another Rambling Rant

My dad is a lucky man.

He has diabetes, heart problems, and goes for dialysis 3 times a week.  But heck, he's a lucky man.

He's lucky because he has a family that takes care of him despite the fact that he could've easily avoided all these diseases if he would just take care of himself better.

When he was younger he's a multiple packs a day smoker.  Stays up late into the night.  Doesn't take care of his diet.

He was such a hardcore smoker that after having had bypass surgery, he solemnly promised not to smoke cigarettes again.  He didn't.  He graduated to cigars instead.

So yeah, he's a lucky man.

Lately I've been going through a healthy living phase.  I've always been a bit paranoid about my health since I know I've always been a weakling with a shot immune system.  Not to mention the fact that genetics-wise I'm fighting an uphill battle.

But I owe it to myself to take care of me.  Besides, I won't know if I would be as lucky as my dad.  He has people to fall back on when he's not feeling all too well.  I on the other hand have a higher probability of ending up dying alone.

And even if I have people who would take care of me, I owe it to them not to be selfish in the sense that they deserve better than to spend their days taking care of a sickly being.  People who take care of sick people are highly stressed individuals who need a support system of their own.

Of course, if you fall sick even though you've taken care of yourself decently enough that's just plain bad luck.  But the fact of the matter is most sick people have been selfish pricks for having been abusing their body for years and then depending on others to take care of them.

If you really love your wife/husband/children/brothers/sisters... you OWE it to them to take care of yourself.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Deload Week

It's been a great couple of months of training.  I particularly love the last 5 weeks of it as the programme incorporates more explosive movements like the clean and press and also more bodyweight iso hold stuff e.g. front lever and frog stands.

I've been seeing a lot of progress and am back at 50kg.  I don't feel sluggish at all but the training has left me a bit beat up.  Made it a point to have a massage session.  Now my body feels a bit better.  And I'll have a deload week before embarking on a brand new programme.

A cursory view sees Mr. Ferruggia concentrating more on building strength with a day per week dedicated on power and strongman stuff.

Looks promising.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Current Hip Thrust Personal Best

About a month actively incorporating barbell hip thrusts and I'm at 50kg for 12 reps.

This is far from impressive as some other ladies that I know START hip thrusting at 60kg and are now hip starting 110kg for reps.

I feel like I should be a able to hip thrust much bigger weights.  Most likely it's a confidence issue.  Or maybe I'm just weak.

Anyhow I'll just trudge through and hopefully I'll be joining the >100kg club some time in the near future.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Fitness Reads: David Dellanave's Off The Floor

My favourite lift by far is the deadlift.  There's something so satisfying about lifting heavy shit off the floor.  So when I learned about a new e-book making its rounds about how to deadift more frequently, I didn't hesitate on making the purchase (despite the fact that I had crazy bills to pay this month).

Off The Floor is a 90-page manual on all things deadlift-oriented. In the manual, Dellanave naturally reveals the more popular deadlift variations.  But he also highlights the less popular, quirkier deadlift variations that is actually more 'body-friendly' that we could incorporate into our training programmes.

But what I find most mindblowing was Biofeedback Testing.

I'm quite sure all of us in our training history have felt that certain lifts felt especially shitty on certain days. And not wanting to feel like a loser, we plough through the lifts only to feel shittier still.  The thing is... our body is actually telling us that that particular exercise is not a good idea for that particular day.  So the next best thing is to use another variant of the exercise instead.

It could be something as simple as changing your stance slightly or change the lift altogether e.g. from conventional deadlifts to sumo deadlifts.  So how do you know when a lift is not suitable on a given day?

Enter Biofeedback Testing whereby you test your CNS readiness for a particular lift with something as simple as monitoring your ROM.  I believe Dellanave himself could provide a better explanation on this.  So head over here for a video on how to execute biofeedback testing.

I won't earn a single dime if you purchase the e-book.  I'm just excited about this new-found knowledge and just had to share.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Weight... regained!

So I checked my weight on two different scales and they both read 50kg which is a pleasant surprise.  I somewhat knew I have regained most of the size that I've lost during my high fever episode and the fasting month, particularly on my upper body as my clothes fit me better now.

My lower body has always been a bit of a laggard so it doesn't really bother me much.  I know it'll eventually catch up.  I am however pretty happy with the progress in my glutes area.  Hip thrusts have become a staple exercise on leg day (at present I can hip thrust 40kg for 20 reps... and something tells me it's time to load on the weight).  On upper body days I make it a point to include single leg hip thrusts after the main training session.

So in effect I am targeting the glutes at least 4 days a week and the results have been encouraging.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Natural Healing... 1 year on

I've written a few times about my suffering from atopic eczema i.e. allergy-induced eczema.

My condition was severe enough to warrant a course of antibiotics every few months and taking allergy jabs as well.

Around Ramadhan last year I started juicing.  The funny thing was I started juicing because it was recommended by ex schoolmate who sold me collagen drinks (don't ask).

She said before I start drinking the collagen drinks I should detox my body first.  Or else it doesn't matter how many supplements I consume because my body won't be able to absorb it.  I realized she was spot on about this when I did some research on my own.

So I detoxed by juicing apple and celery.  Pretty tame stuff compared to what I juice now. Even back then I was impressed that I could feel some positive changes to how I was feeling and how my body reacts to juicing.

And one year on...

  1. I have yet to take any antibiotics (for eczema or any other kind of illness)
  2. I still get skin inflammation but it's definitely controllable without having to resort to medication and steroid creams
  3. I recover quickly from the flu
Just like training, juicing has become a lifestyle for me.  I've a feeling I'll be sticking to my juicing regiment throughout my lifetime.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

1st week of the 30-day thrusting challenge

I've completed 6 days of the 30-day thrusting challenge last night.

Last night was also legs session.

Positive development:  I can definitely feel my glutes firing when performing zercher squats and sumo deads. Those lifts also felt more solid.

Weird observation:  Also did glute bridges last night... but didn't feel my glutes firing quite as much.

Glute size-wise (which is the whole reason I'm embarking on this challenge - yeah I'm shallow sue me), it's too early to tell whether I've made any progress.

Pants do feel a bit more snug... but it could just be my head playing tricks on me.

Friday, August 16, 2013

And the quest continues...

...for a rounder butt.

I found this at the Glute Guy's blog.  30 Days of Thrusting Challenge.  Did day 1 yesterday. 29 more days to go.

Source:  "30 Days of Thrusting Challenge", Bret Contreras
You can view the original post here

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Comments on my training programme

I just started on the second phase of the current training programme and it does look promising.  Personal favourites like iso holds (e.g. front lever, planche progressions and L-sits) and power movements (e.g. hang clean and press) have been re-introduced.

They're personal favourites because I've always great progress in terms of size and strength with these kinds of exercises despite the fact I'm not really good at them.

To be honest I was starting to feel a little jaded with the programmes I've been following since it has not resulted in the kind of size and strength gains I've been expecting.

I reviewed the programmes that gave me the best results and what I've discovered is that:

1.  It always includes iso-holds
2.  Always includes power movements
3.  Includes various kinds of jumps (e.g. vertical, hurdle)
4.  Knee-friendly exercises (read: little or no back squats)

I was actually planning to use a couple of the older programmes but then Phase 2 was introduced and since does have the characteristics of my past favourites I've decided to give it a chance.  Hopefully I'll be able to see some much needed gains.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Raya Observations

Back from Raya hols at last an back to my routine of juicing greens, training and eating.  Ironically I didn't get to eat that much during Raya celebrations despite being stationed at the kitchen most of the time.  Was too busy manning the fort to be thinking of food.

Anyway, I didn't do any structured training at all throughout the holidays.  But I guess I did plenty of lifting e.g. nephews, cartons of soft drinks, bags of beras, and a plethora of meat and vegetables from the local wet market.

These are the movements I often used throughout the hectic holiday season:

1.  The deadlift
2.  Farmer's walk
3.  Zercher's squat/Front squat

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Tips for tight hips and a more effective way to perform glute bridges

I've tried the tips from both videos below and it really works.  Feeling amazing.

My hips have been feeling especially tight lately so this vid (check out the original site here) came up at just the right time.  I've always incorporated cossack squats in my leg day warmup but the inside leg lift was something new that I haven't tried before.

The exercise looks a bit weird but it does wonders for my tight hips.  Give it a try.

I've come to a point where doing a 20-reps of 40kg barbell glute bridges doesn't give me the desired burn anymore.  After reading this and this, I realized it was due to anterior pelvic tilt.  So in this video Bret Contreras shows how barbell glute bridges could become more effective when you flatten out your lumbar spine when doing them.

I gave it a go last night and oooo yeahhh... the burn's back, baby.  It's back!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Ramadhan, Training and the Butt Conundrum

As I'm writing this, I'm already half way through my 13th day of  fasting.

Training wise, things are going along fine.  I have hit a plateau in certain lifts, but to be honest I think it's more to do with my ability to digest food than my true strength level.  What the heck do I mean by that, exactly?

During this fasting month, I have made it a practice to eat light first (light is pretty much a few pieces of bread with eggs/corned beef or a few pieces of kuih) then perform my Maghrib prayers and then start training. This is usually around 8.30pm.  So I actually have more or less a 45-minute window to let the food settle in my stomach.

Sometimes this works well.  Other times I feel like I'd start regurgitating what I've eaten earlier.  So during times when my stomach feels a little weird more often than not my lifts start to suffer a bit.

But overall, progress has been okay.


My quest to re-inflate my deflated butt has had its ups and downs.  So determined was I to improve the state of my glutes that I read a lot of articles posted by Bret Contreras (the Glute Guy, as he is known) on glute development and activation and even bought one of his e-books to satiate the nerdier side of me.

So far I have been including barbell glute bridges on leg days and have faithfully performed Jason Ferruggia-prescribed bodyweight buttsercises daily but with a single modification.  The original prescription was this:

Glute bridges 4 x 25
Clam shells 4 x 25
Bird/Dog 4 x 25
Lying side abduction 4 x 25

I discovered performing donkey kicks (see vid below) activates my glutes much better than performing Bird/Dogs.  So I switched.  So far I can see some slight improvements on my butt and I am pretty encouraged because I've only been seriously sticking to this regiment for a couple of weeks.  Hopefully the state of glutes would improve soon.

Monday, July 15, 2013

And the fasting month comes again

The good news is I've regained some of the weight I've lost when I was sick the other day.  The gains were noticeable not only to me but to one of my colleagues as well.  She was actually quite surprised I put back the weight fairly quickly.

I'm pleased as well but less surprised than she was.  All I did was shove food down my throat as much as possible and made sure I don't miss a single training day.  Training's gone really well too.  I've just embarked on a new programme and I'm loving every bit of it.  It's turning out to be one of my favourite programmes so far.

The bad news is my butt is still as flat as a bloody pancake.  I'm doing extra glute exercises on training days although I know I should be doing it on a daily basis.  I get lazy sometimes.

The fasting month is here so I do expect some weight loss yet again but I don't foresee any big problems.  I'd still train but perhaps lay off the conditioning.  Perhaps.

I haven't trained for the first few days of the fasting month since I was at my hometown.  Today will be the start of the first Ramadhan training session.  I plan to eat light, and then train.  And only then settle down with a bigger meal.  Which is actually what I've been doing this whole while anyway.  So yeah, we'll see how that goes.

Monday, July 1, 2013

I apologize for the long silence.  To be honest I didn't feel like writing much of late.  And it's not just the blog.  I make a living writing research papers and even that has grinded to a halt.  Talk about a massive writer's block, huh?

Anyway, some updates:

  1. Had high fever and severe migraine which has caused to be on MC for one whole week.  I didn't know what the heck happened.  I had a good weekend and on Monday my body ached like mad and on Monday night I had high fever.
  2. Due to the fever I lost my appetite which caused my weight to drop to 46kg.  I haven't hit a weight this low since 2007.  It made me upset that all the hard work I've put in goes down the drain in just one week.
  3. I have now recovered fully and am throwing myself into training.  And of course, shoving food down my throat like nobody's business.
  4. Recently had a medical checkup for the company insurance.  Had an ECG done and apparently I have an "extra heartbeat".  Doc said it could be a thyroid thing and he said I may need medication.  Screw medication.  I don't believe in popping pills.  Not anymore.
Yeah so that's my update.  Hopefully I can bust through this writer's block and write more often going forward.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

You have NO right (Rant mode)

I was having a chat with a friend a few weeks back and he commented that my precious home gym will be lying in my living room collecting dust sooner or later.

If he would have said that a few years back I would have given him a snide remark as a reply and we will no longer be friends.

But I just looked at him square in the eyes and told him I have been training consistently for about 5 years now.  Having shared that little detail with him, does he think that my barbell would collect dust?

He changed the subject after that.  Rightfully so.  I have enough ammo to put bullets the size of a bowling ball through his body if he so choose to continue with the conversation.

You see, people who do not train consistently do not have the right to make any kind of statements about my training lifestyle.

People whose idea of training revolves around a few sets of benchpress and bicep curls do not have the right to make any kind of statements about my training lifestyle.

People who have the audacity to say they don't need to train legs because it could grow big too easily (seriously... you gotta be shitting me!) do not have the right to make any kind of statements about my training lifestyle.

You do not deserve to make any kind of condescending statements about my training when you:

Do not bust your ass each day trying to achieve some kind of PR (be it reps or weight).

Do not have the discipline and self control to not go overboard when you have your nights out.

Do not have the discipline and self control to stick to a schedule.

Do not spend a bit of time and/or cash to gain some knowledge about training and nutrition.

So until you walk the talk, you can shut your stinking trap and leave me be.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

I'm baaaacccckkkkk

Phew!  Looks like I have been away for a month at least.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I have been feeling pretty crappy, stressed out and downright bitchy.  I have continued with my training but somehow I didn't look forward to it.  I still go through the sessions out of habit and I know even though I feel shitty now, I always feel better after sweating it out.

Last night was leg day and boy.... was it one of the better leg days that I've had in quite some time!  I did:

1)  Glute bridges (still not strong enough... yesterday was 2 sets of 40kg for 20 reps.  I'm trying to build up to a bigger weight and then transition into barbell hip thrusts which are much harder).  Burnt like crazy though.

2) Lumberjack squats.  I was supposed to hit some back squats but to be honest I didn't feel like it.  So I substituted with a few sets of high rep lumberjack squats which was better on my knees and gave my glutes a real nice pump.

3) Landmine reverse lunges.  Again this was a substitution. I'm supposed to do barbell reverse lunges.  But I know my form would suck so I stuck to a 'safer' variation that gives similar effects.

4) Farmer's Walks.  I didn't realize how much I missed this particular exercise.  Carried 15kg  for a duration of 30 seconds for each arm.

I felt really, really good after that session and ate like a king afterwards.  Good times.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Some setbacks

I lost weight.  Sigh.

Work stress is getting to me.  When I'm stressed I tend to not have any appetite.  So even though my training has been still fairly consistent, the fact that I've not been eating well has taken its toll.

And I'm tired throughout this month.  Hoping to recover this weekend.

So no late night outs for me.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

A quick weekend escape

Sometimes you just need to get away from structured training and just do what you damn well please.  For me that means frolicking by the beach, practice my swimming skills in the salty sea and get a nice big dose of vitamin D while I'm at it.

Having a peri-workout meal.  Got out of the water for just enough time to get some calories in.  Then its back into the water.

Pretending to be on a photo shoot and started making silly poses.

I hate rides actually.  But these three enjoyed it.  But you can't tell from the screams of terror.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Zercher Squats

One of the main reasons why I developed a creaky knee is because I used to back squat almost exclusively, which puts a lot more stress on the knees. Plus, when I squat heavy my form tends to deteriorate and that also brings undue stress to the knees.

Front squats actually solve the problem of bad form as it forces to keep my body upright.  I hate front squats though.  The main reason being I can't quite get the hang of racking the barbell so near to my throat.  I always feel like I'm choking.

Recently I've gravitated more towards the goblet squat and the lumberjack squat which are cousins to the front squat.

Then I re-discovered the Zercher squat.  I've known about the Zercher squat for quite some time but for some reason I never bothered to try it myself.  Maybe it's because it looks pretty alien.  You don't rest you barbell on your traps, nor do you risk choking yourself with the barbell like how the front squat position makes me feel.

With the Zercher squat, you rest the barbell on the crook of your elbows.  Don't get me wrong, it's gonna get uncomfortable once you're able to lift heavy.  That's why I tend to cushion the barbell with something soft just to try to reduce the discomfort.

But that's the only minus point of the Zercher.  This variation will be a mainstay in my training programmes because:

  1. It forces me to stay upright, therefore my form is automatically correct
  2. No spinal loading
  3. I can load more weights than I can compared to goblet squats and lumberjack squats
  4. You can still hit the Zercher squat even if you don't have a squat rack
For a demo of how the Zercher squat is done, check out the vid below.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Bodyweight Buttsercise

Okay, so right now I am following a training programme that uses the Pull/Push/Legs concept.  I've been enjoying some nice gains for my upper body, but I feel like I'm not hitting my glutes as much.  And you know how we girls love to focus on our booty.

So I asked Jay Ferruggia about how I can add on some additional glute exercises without risking overtraining.  And he gave me this simple glute exercise template that I can actually do everyday. No equipment necessary.  Which means I can do this anywhere.

So here's the the list of exercise

Bird Dogs 3 x 10
Glute Bridge 3 x 20
Clam Shells 3 x 20
Lying Side Abduction 3 x 20

I reckon you should do this as a circuit. And below are the videos for the exercises.

Bird Dog

Glute Bridge

Clam Shells

Lying Side Abduction

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Juicing overdrive

Fact:  training alone doesn't improve your overall health.

Diet plays an important role too.  You should try to avoid consuming too much acid-forming food in order for your body to easily maintain its slightly alkaline state.  Which is crucial if you want to stay healthy.

As I have written before, I have been embarking on a juicing journey late last year when I discovered that my immune system has been deteriorating.  About 5 months down the line and I am happy to report that my health has improved.  I don't catch the flu and colds easily.  And when I do, I recover faster than I did before.  There are still some problems with eczema, but the severity has definitely lessened.

Knowing that I now have taken juicing seriously and have juiced almost every single day I have decided to take it a step further and invested in a decent juicer.  Specifically a silent juicer, which presses the fruits/vegetables to obtain the juice which unlike blending, preserves their nutrients and enzyme.

Plus, it's faster and easier.  Makes life a whole lot simpler.

This is what I juice on a typical day:  cucumbers, some kind of leafy vegetable, and celery.  Carrots I include on occasion due to its higher sugar content.  And I no longer juice tomatoes as I have recently discovered that it belongs to the nightshade category and as a person with eczema, this is definitely a no go.

I apologize for the shoddy quality of my pictures.  I was never good at taking pictures.  But posing in pictures... now that's a different matter.  But I digress.  So this is my slow juicer.  Pricey, but I got it at a discount through a group but and it has been one of my better investments.  Just look at the amount of juice I yielded.  It's definitely much more than if I blended the vegetables.

Thursday, March 7, 2013


Right.  I haven't updated in quite a while haven't I?  There isn't much to tell quite frankly:

  1. I'm starting a brand new training programme which uses the Pull/Push/Legs concept.  It's the first week so I'm starting light.
  2. Work's been crazy so I haven't been eating enough.  
  3. My weight has been steady at 49kg.  Which is good because that means I haven't lost weight.  But bad because it means I haven't gained either.
  4. Strength level has improved, but nowhere near where I want it to be
Yeah that's it for now.  

Sunday, February 24, 2013

New deadlift PR

New sumo deadlift 5RM: 75kg

Feeling pretty elated. And utterly exhausted.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

New toy: olympic barbell

Okay, remember that that home gym wishlist I posted some time last year?  Well, I've already managed to acquire 2 out of the five things I've been drooling over.  The first one was a medicine ball.  Pretty easy to get.    The next one I got was the olympic barbell weight set. And I bought it at a price cheaper that what was initially quoted for.  Bless the Chinese New Year discount.

So overall I now have 140kg worth of weights to play around with.  Woohoo!!

And here are some eye candy for you:

My shiny new olympic barbell.  Love the fact that I have collars now.
Much quicker to load weights after this.

Tri-grip weight plates.  Now I can just do farmer's walks with the plates. 

Homemade, dairy-free post workout smoothie

So you're allergic to dairy (not that dairy is good for you in the first place) and that hinders you from consuming the usual, overrated expensive post workout shakes that are ever so popular among gym goers.

Interesting colour, eh?  That's what you get if you blend red dragon fruits.
If only white dragon fruits are available, you can make the smoothie look more
delicious by adding in strawberries into the mix.  Tastes good too.

Me, I just put together a simple post workout smoothie that does the trick just fine.

Frozen bananas
Dragon fruit
Strawberries (if you're feeling like you have the cash of Donald Trump, or else you can still do without)
Almond milk (adds to the volume of the smoothie)

Making a smoothie out of frozen bananas also ensures there are no wastage, especially if you make it a point to consume over-ripe bananas as pre and post workout fuel.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Squats revisited and the return of the butt

I've mentioned in several of my blog posts that I have laid off barbell squats due to my tweaked rght knee.  My knee feels better now. It's definitely not like new but it wasn't as bad as before.  So I have started squatting again over the past few weeks.

My numbers are nowhere near my record. And the worst part is my record isn't even that impressive to begin with.  But I prefer to start slow, not to rush into things. There really is no hurry.

Interestingly though, I have people complimenting how much better my butt is looking of late. Wow, my butt sure responds well to squatting. To be honest I'm not sure if it was the back squats that was the catalyst to my glute growth since I have been doing a lot of squat variants this past month in particular:

1. Landmine single leg squat
2. Goblet squat
3. Lumberjack squat
4. Back squat

I am starting to love squats again and not dread it so much anymore.  Hopefully things will continue to improve.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Lumberjack Squats! How did I miss this???

To be honest, I just learned about this exercise last Sunday in a Girls Gone Strong blog post.  And I wondered how on earth did I miss out on such a great exercise for the quads and glutes.

Off the top of my head, I reckon this will be a good substitute for the belt squat (which is a great exercise if only you have the proper equipment and platform for it) as well as for the goblet squat.  It can also serve as a decent exercise for days you don't feel like front squatting but still wanna make your quads burn.

The great thing about the lumberjack squat is that you can use its variations to make the exercise more economical (i.e. hits various muscle groups with just one exercise).  Enough of my ramblings, check out the vids below:

The vid above demonstrates the traditional lumberjack squat.  Which is already an excellent exercise to begin with.

Add on another move and not only your quads and glutes will suffer, but your calves will feel the burn too.

The lumberjack squat as a full body exercise.  Who would've thought.  Ain't it brilliant?

Monday, January 21, 2013

A year for more learning

I am not a believer of new year resolutions. Been there, done that and I think it's crap. Resolutions are meant to be broken.  I prefer setting challenging, yet achievable targets... Much like how you have new KPIs (key performance index) at work every year.

This year, my target is to complete at least one single, measly mini-course that I registered for at Coursera.  I found out about this treasure trove of knowledge through my fitness buddy Jason Lee when he posted it on his Facebook page.

For those who are interested in fitness and nutrition but don't necessarily want to go for a certification, this is a good alternative.  In fact, it doesn't have things only fitness and nutrition related.  It has a slew of courses across various fields of study.

I actually signed up for courses on nutrition, statistics and modelling (no, not the Victoria Secret kind... But the mathematical kind).  To make things more manageable, I chose courses that are well spread apart throughout the year so as to increase my chances of completing them.

Check out the site and see if you could find something that strikes your fancy.

P/S My one other target for this year is to learn to how to play the drums.  But that's another story for another day.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Deadlift... some observations

I have noticed something interesting when I do deadlifts (my favourite exercise of all time).  When I first started deadlifting I did a few things wrong,  namely:
  1. Not making sure the bar sticks to the shin 
  2. Using too much lower back and not enough leg drive (coaching cue: pressing your legs into the earth as you lift) - which left my lower back very sore the next few days post training
  3. Not using straps
Nowadays when I train deads I realize that:
  1. After making sure I use more leg drive, I no longer feel any low back pain post-training sessions which translates into faster recovery time.
  2. I activate the lats much more... this makes my lifting more solid.  I don't know how I came to activate the lats more, it just happened.  Previously I had trouble feeling my lats.
  3. Using straps ensure that I don't burn out my CNS and it enables me to lift a whole lot more without feeling exhausted.  Some purists would balk at my using straps.  But straps have their benefits.  If your grip is the only thing that is keeping you from lifting big then why should you deny your body from getting bigger and stronger by refusing to aid your grip by using straps?

Sunday, January 13, 2013

A transformation contest? Seriously???

I don't know why the hell I did it.  But I did it.  There's a first time for everything, right?

So just now I submitted my before pics to the Renegade Inner Circle for its 2013 transformation contest.  There are two categories:  Muscle Gain and Fat Loss.  I submitted under the former obviously.

First prize winner wins a trip to California to meet team Jason.  You get to train and eat Renegade style with the Renegade Head Honcho himself and pretty much experience the whole California lifestyle.  Runner ups win cash.

To be honest I don't expect to win anything.  I made really good progress in 2012 and this contest is simply a way for me to hold myself accountable and make sure I make more gains in 2013.

To make matters worse for me, I shall post my pics here as well... at the beginning of the year and then assess my progress some time mid year.

Front view.  Went all the way to a friend's place and made her take my pics. Hahaha...
Back view.  I actually like this pic.  Though I don't quite know why.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Bodyweight travel workout, Renegade style

I actually become a bit agitated when I am travelling and can't find time and/or a decent gym to sweat it out.  One of the members in the Renegade Inner Circle posed a question on how to tweak a current programme we are all doing to make it more time saving while using minimal equipment when we're travelling.

So Jay came out with a modified template that would tide us over when we're travelling.  I think it is definitely good enough to share and hopefully entice you in joining the RIC.  The place is just brimming with knowledge and great people.

Okay, so here's how the workout template goes...

If you have got more time in your hands than do this one:

Day 1
1)  Frog stand - 4 x 10 seconds
2)  Handstand hold against wall - 4 x 10s
3)  Steep incline pushup with feet in TRX (or whatever suspension system u have) - 3 x 8 - 10
4)  Inverted TRX row - 4 x 8 - 10
5a) TRX Curl - 3 x 8 - 10
5b) TRX Triceps extension - 3 x 12 - 15

Day 2
1) TRX leg curl - 3 x 12 - 15
2) Split squat with back foot in TRX - 3 x 12-15
3a) Band good morning - 3 x 20
3b) Reverse crunch - 3 x 12-15
4a) Rear neck bridge in iso hold - 3 x 40 - 60 seconds
4b) Forward neck bridge in iso hold - 3 x 40 - 60 seconds

If you don't have much time to spare, then use this template:

Day 1
1)  Frog stand - 4 x 10 seconds
2)  Steep incline pushup with feet in TRX - 2 x 8 - 10
3)  Inverted TRX Row - 3 x 8 - 10
5a) TRX curl - 1 x 8 - 10
5b) TRX triceps extension - 1 x 12 - 15

Day 2
1) TRX leg curl - 2 - 3 x 12 - 15
2) Split squat with back foot in TRX - 2 - 3 x 12 - 15
3) Reverse crunch - 3 x 12 - 15

Friday, January 4, 2013

New Year Updates

Let me just start things off by wishing everyone a happy 2013.

Ok,  Let's move on.  Now for some updates:

  1. Been going for my Krav Maga class consistently for about a month now.  Practiced knife fighting the other day and totally decimated my sparring partner.  Feels good.
  2. When I first started Krav Maga I got winded easily when we do sprints.  Yesterday, I discovered I didn't gasp for air that much anymore and my breathing has become more stable.  Nice! 
  3. Lately I have been experimenting with drinking my vege juice rather than eat carbs before training.  Energy is not affected.  I feel fine.  I shall continue with this.
  4. I have reduced my calorie intake lately.  It's not on purpose, I've been a bit busy and I tend to forget to eat when I'm busy.  I've leaned out more but maintained my muscle mass.  I'm looking pretty good.  
  5. New year, new training programme.  Mr. Ferruggia is incorporating a Pull/Push/Leg system rather than the more traditional Upper Body/Lower Body system.  So far it's looking pretty bad ass.  Gonna go all out.
Yep, so that's pretty much sums up my updates for this new year.  Will keep you posted.