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.