Thursday, April 23, 2015

WODs log April 4.2

E*numbers in bold means reps completed
*read here to (first) understand my WOD logging and its genesis better

April 19 - Sunday
8.30am for 5 sets TABATA* of
KB swing 12kg 58
Thrusters 20kg 28
Russian twist 3kg 145
Hanging Knees-to-elbow 27
Deadlift 40kg 30
*AMRAP 8 rounds of 20s (10s rest)

10:00 EMOM Backsquat 35kg x5 50
10:00 EMOM Bench 27.5kg x5 (failed to complete at final minute) 47
n/b: inner right knee felt off when walking with speed when bending and straightening

April 20 - Monday 
[Recovery and shoulders]
8kg Turkish get-up x3 on each side (learning for technique)
Chest-to-wall 10" handstand (CTW-HS) hold 60s x4
Strict Press 20kg 8x4
Barbell High Pull 20kg 8x4

April 21 - Tuesday
AM for Clean 20kg 8x3 25kg 8x3 30kg x3 (to fail)
Deadlift 50kg x8 60kg x8 70kg 5x3 75kg x3 (to fail)
Hang from bar 15secs x3 for lower back stretch (or fancy name being"spine decompression") post-deadlift
n/b: grip strength is my main challenge for deadlift - should i spoil my hands with a lifting strap?
PM Backsquat 30kg x5 (warm up) 40kg x8 45kg x8 50kg x5 55kg 3RM (PB)

April 22 - Wednesday
AM 5.5km run
PM monkeying in the park with dip bars, monkey bars and chin up bars

April 23 - Thursday
90mins yoga

April 25 - Saturday (Post-deadline Frenzy!)
Inversions and shoulders: CTW-HS 10" 60s x3; Wall pike to wall plank 5x3
Abs: 6kg Russian Twist 2x50; Toe touches 3x25; Sit-ups 15x3
KB swing 81
Thrusters 20kg 30
Jab and cross (w boxing gloves, sandbag) ~24/round
Roundhouse kick ~12/round
WOD2 of 10:00 EMOM 30kg Frontsquat
3 hours of badminton (60% doubles 40% singles)

April 26 - Sunday
Top rope climbing at RPC
10 routes of 12m grade 4 to 5 and two routes of grade 6a 90% completion (PB)
Note: I feel like after doing weightlifting and compound/functional workouts that my climbs are more coherent and balanced for both upper and lower body which made me feel good, confident and allowed me to climb more.

April 27 - Monday
CXWorx 30mins

April 28 Tuesday
Spinning 45mins
Dead hang 10s x3
Strict press 20kg 8x3
Clean 25kg 30kg x8
Clean and jerk 30kg x8
Deadlift 50 60 70kg x8

April 29 Wednesday
10:00 EMOM Bench 25kg 5x10
10:00 EMOM Asst 19kg Dip 5x10
Snatch 20kg x8 25kg x8
Overhead squat 20kg 10x3
Dead hang 20s x3

April 30 Thursday 
90m yoga
1h badminton

Better sore than sorry.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Personal Trainer - to be or not to be.

Fitness is a recession-resilient industry that doesn’t seem to be affected by the current economic climate. With an increase awareness of eating 'clean' (non-processed food) and getting fit and fab, this booming industry is certainly here to stay for a very long time. This will also be an ideal career path for a lot of young people when everyone is evaluating the worth of being burdened by daunting university tuition fees and not being able to find the degree-worthy jobs the moment their mortarboards kiss the ground.

Last year when the oil prices dropped, I was paranoid and had a faint idea that I need something to fall back on if my job security fails on me. At the same time, it has to be something I enjoy doing. So far, I've always enjoyed and am keen on;
1. reading about the human body since young which nursed my ambition to be a doctor for a good decade of my life!
2. learning about fitness and workouts that I am doing to further understand in detail of why I am doing what I am doing.
3. helping friends with their workouts, getting to know their goals and what they should do to get there and giving biochemistry, physiology, body morphology and musculoskeletal-focus advice (or babbles!).

These thought processes made me contemplate on doing a personal trainer diploma as part time, with hopes to specialize in somewhere along the line of wellbeing, nutrition fitness, strength and conditioning and functional training. If time was on my side, ideally it would be nice to work on the proper fundamentals of coaching, and be certified as a weightlifting coach level 1 (£350) and also in crossfit level 1 along the way. The latter is because I need to fight my lesser preference for metcon and HIIT workouts as compared to strength, at the same time stress more the importance of injury-free forms into crossfit! I am still not sure which one I should start first, but I do know I would love to learn!

But in the meantime, I have a long way to go within the realms of functional fitness and workouts. So I will take a year or two to garner more experience in practicing more and more and more before doing this. That would mean, in specificity, to advance my weightlifting, yoga, pilates and calisthenics, build a balanced overall physically fit physique, while at the same time learning from others and myself. I will be open to be exposed to as many different sports/workout as I can to understand its pros and cons, its provenance and monitor current trend - les mills, crossfit, muay thai/kickboxing etc. Now that will have to be true discipline and diligence on my part.

Today I spoke to Hannah, who is new to the gym I frequent, is a newly qualified personal trainer. She has the same physique as me (but leaner and stronger of course!) and was at the squat rack - so I couldn't resist asking her more about squats. We talked about fitness in general for a while, and is glad to have found someone as passionate in learning as me! Then she recommended me to consider doing the course part-time when I am into the writing stage of my PhD or after I finish them.

In January I inquired City of Bristol College for the course but the fact that I have an international status on my forehead means I have to pay nearly three times more than locals did put me off a lot. Money is still quite tight for me so that is the major setback at the moment. It would be great to save some from my internship for this little project of mine! *notes down*

I am not sure about other cities/countries - but I do know for the fact that within 1 mile of where I live, these are the costs it takes for doing it here;
(I remember checking this a while back and it is slightly cheaper in Singapore and the US)

Fitness Instructing (CYQ Level 2 Intermediate)
City of Bristol College @College Green £360 for 10 weeks (Part time 3 days/week)
but ~£1000 for me (damn that international status!)
Lifetime Training @Clifton Heights £800

Personal Training (CYQ Level 3 Advanced)
City of Bristol College £1420 for 12 weeks
Lifetime Training £2400 for 10 week

Advanced Diploma in Personal Training £3000
Lifetime PTA Global Maxima 3-in-1 (PT Level 3, Advanced and Bridging) £3000

That's all from me for the day.

- D

I am what I learnt

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Metabolism, weight lost and fasting workouts.

    Hamburgers are nice [Five Guys, London]
Expensive workout/fitness programs and fancy diets have led people to believe that they are the best in increasing your metabolic rate, and thus, lose weight. This subsequently convince people to blame any weight gain simply on their 'slow' metabolic rate. So are these all true?

First, let's talk about definitions.

Metabolism is a a simple but important biochemical processes that require energy to keep your organs functioning and your body alive. The minimum amount of energy (aka calories) it requires to carry out these processes is called Resting Metabolic Rate or Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR).

Calories, are simply energy required to maintain the temperature of our body of about ~37°C relative to our surrounding environment. Our body requires that exact temperature to function normally, if the environment the body is exposed to is hotter than itself it will try its best to (equilibrate, and) release heat (via sweat) and vice versa for colder temperatures. And contrary to the popular belief, your metabolism will increase in both colder and warmer weathers to maintain that equilibrium. (I'd go on about the myth of gaining weight during the winter and the exaggerated benefits of "hot yoga" but I will leave that to another post)

So what determines you BMR?
  1. Age: The older you get, the more muscles you lose and the more fat you gain.
  2. Gender: Men generally has higher muscle to fat ratio than women (no matter how hard we try!). Men also has higher bone density which accounts for their greater need of daily calorie intake. Muscles require more energy to sustain itself as compared to fats.
  3. Weight: The heavier you are, the higher your BMR needed to sustain your living body system! Which is the contrary of what people tend to believe that heavier people have slower metabolism. NOT TRUE.
  4. Body types: Leaner bodies have higher BMR than the less leaner ones. Muscular bodies have higher BMR to maintain the muscle masses (and the increased bone density that is needed to carry the weight!), as compared to the less leaner ones. Hence, the need to emphasize on strength training, but I will get to that later.
  5. Certain medical conditions: Cushing's sydrome and hypothyroidism.
  6. Genes: The blame game never gets old when it comes to hereditary traits. It's a minor factor, but still a factor. This area is unfortunately not well studied so we will move on!

It is always easy to blame metabolism on weight gain, but metabolism is our body's natural process and it relies on many mechanisms that regulate it to meet your individual's needs.

The mathematics for metabolism is simple, do not consume more than what your body needs, but at the same time do not under-consume as well. And how do we get an idea of this?

For starters, using the Harris-Benedict equation BMR calculator, I have a BMR of ~1350kcal/day ± 30 (as my weight fluctuates to minus and plus 1 kg). That means if I just sleep all day, I am already burning that much kcalories. Take note that this does not mean I must only eat 1350kcal a day! Take account that our BMR is about 40-70% of my body's daily energy requirements for it to function optimally. The large range of ± 30% depends again on our age and lifestyle. To get a rough gauge, I will multiply accordingly to my current activity levels per week to get my total daily calorie needs. So for my case, 1.70 (very active; 5-7 exercises/sports per week), my total daily calorie (TDC) needs are 2300kcal/day!

For weeks which I totally neglect being active, usually due to travels or deadlines, that computer-screen-staring lifestyle will bring my TDC needs to 1600kcal/day! But of course sitting all day in front of computers does mean I have a higher tendency to snack and stir the inner carnivore in me leading to more likelihood of spoiling myself with it's-so-bad-it's-so-good food (think hamburgers, lamb chops, steaks, kebab! omnomnomnom) =P

a Triple Big King XXL burger I had [Norway]

If you have been sedentary for the week, simply multiply it by 1.2! It's just simple math. Now I know it (while I research and write) and now you know it too!

Lastly, you might think that 'Okay I ate so much yesterday, so today I will hit the gym and skip food altogether to even out the calories I've taken.'! WRONG. Never ever force your body to go on a deficit fuel, especially before exercising. If you want to make up for your cheat days, simple downscale your food intake the next day just the slightest but do it over the next couple of days. But never skip a good breakfast to kickstart your day. You do know that your brain only uses glucose (sugar/simple carbs) to function, right?

You may not want carbs, but your brain NEEDS it, like this delish 'wan ton' noodles! 

Anyway. I digress... Fasting exercises is not for most people, and why is that?

1. Bringing your body down to glycogen-depletion will make it to burn glycogen (carbs) slower, at the same time your body is forced to not just burn fats for fuel - which is your initial intention, but it will also torch your muscle-building blocks, aka protein.

2. Fasting will decrease your BMR , so your calories are being burnt slower as a response of your body's defensive (or I'd call, retaliation) mechanism against not being given fuel. This is not ideal to the people whose intention to fast is to lose weight, right?

3. Fasting will also make your workout tougher to power through. This is not fun. Why suffer through exercises when we really should be fueled and happy to do them. When you're happy exercising you're not just burning more calories but are happy to do more. Think of endorphins vs cortisol hormones!

So how does one lose weight? Reduce carbs and fat simultaneously but only 10-15% off your daily calorie maintenance. Do not cut more than 500 calories off per day as you will force your body into starvation mode means it will lower your metabolism rate ("survival mode").

Last point to note; Be careful of losing weight with fancy diets as what you will also lose is muscle! When you lose weight, you lose not just fats, but also muscles which is meant to keep your BMR high (and also the strength you need on a daily functional basis!).

Hover over linked phrases on this article and click them away

Eat Pasta, Run Fasta!

Friday, April 17, 2015

WODs v0.1

[Oppose climbing]
7 Reverse crunch
7 Bench 27.5kg
7 Overhead squat 20kg
7 Flutter kicks
7 Hanging knees to chest
7 Dips
Reverse Tabletop Plank 30s
3/4 rounds

Next WOD in mind;
Thoracic expansion and wrist mobility focus? Front squat?

Shoulder mobility focus - forward rolls, pike walk to inverted stand, wall plank, CTW-HS 10"
5" 5x30secs -ve pullups, diamond pushups, supine row, asst dip, bulgarian split squat, susp pushup, pike pushup, Locust to bow pose to end.

CFT for strength? Total kg for squat, press, deadlift.
Standards: Untrained 74kg Novice 128kg Intermediate 151kg

For abs;
25 V-ups
50 Rotated Bicycles
25 Sit-ups
50 Flutter kicks
25 Toe Touches
50 Mountain Climber
4 rounds for time

WODs as proposed by my bestie V:
7 Pendlay rows
7 Cleans
7 Front squats
7 Push press
7 Thrusters
7 Rounds for time
*gave her the stare as she texted me this!*

WODs poposed by my bestie V:

Power clean 44kg
Box jumps
Push jerks 44kg

2 Handstand Push-ups (HSPU)
4 Pull-ups
6 Dips
8 Ring Rows
10 rounds for time

2 KB Snatch 16kg
4 KB Clean & Jerk (C&J) 16
6 Pistols 12kg
8 Sumo Deadlift High Pull (SDHP)
5 Rounds for time

Friday, April 10, 2015

WODs log April 4.1

*numbers in bold indicate reps completed 
*read here to understand my WOD logging better

Apr 1
[Weightlifting, Metcon]
Learned to Clean. 

WOD of 
Clean 20kg
Supine Row bodyweight
Decline Sit-ups
10 rounds of 10-to-1;
each round followed by 10 BW squats (total 100) for time.
Apr 3
[Weightlifting, Strength]
Learned Thrusters by warming up front squat and push press.
WOD of
Front squat 20kg 5x3
Push press 20kg 10x3
Thrusters 20kg 5x3
Backsquat 30kg 10x3
+ some "shoulders Day" w dumbbells

Apr 4
Badminton 2h. Two games of doubles (one forced into rubber set). Four games of singles.

Apr 9

[Strength, Calisthenics and Stretch]
Yoga 1h30m
WOD for shoulders mobility day;
Chest-to-wall handstand 10" 60s x3
High Pulls 2x8; Press 20kg 2x8
Toes-(almost)-to-bar 3 sets to failure
10" inclined push-ups 2 sets to failure.

Apr 10

[Metcon, Strength]
WOD of
20 ring rows + Plank (the time taken to do 20 ring rows)
20 burpees + KB swing 16kg (the time taken to do 20 burpees)
Row 300m + Forward hold 8kg (the time taken to sprint/row)
2 rounds for time 20:15
10:00 EMOM of backsquat 30kg 5 reps

April 11

April 12
Learned basics to Snatch and Turkish get-up (and avoiding these mistakes!) 30mins; Yoga 1h. 

April 13
[Strength, Metcon]
1km run (warm-up)
Overhead squat 20kg 8x3 (to build up stability)
Snatch 20kg 5x3 (stopped due to left shoulder immobility).
Clean 20kg 8x3 (warm up)
Clean and jerk 20kg x8 25kg x8 30kg x5 (PB)
WOD of;
4 Knees-to-elbow
6 Box jumps
8 Air wall ball 5kg
10 Burpees
5 rounds for time 15:56

April 14
AM: Cycle 35mins
PM: Run 6km

April 15
Badminton 2hours and 4km run.

April 16
Badminton 1 hour and 1h30m yoga

Beast mode on

My mind is my gym

If I am at the gym, I like to spice things up a little. I avoid isolation workout machines and treadmills almost entirely (unless to warm up or during winter). I mostly try to incorporate compound movements or complex stability exercises - or functional fitness as one would call it. Time is short and my body parts needs to learn how to make use of each other with a bit more agility and explosivity!

I love spontaneity and quite dislike strict programs. I find designing my workouts on-the-go quite exciting because it keeps me on my toes of wanting to conquer the crap out it. I make sure I listen to my body on the day to decide what I want to focus.

Some days when I am tired from work and it's late at night, I focus on certain muscle groups (legs, core stability, shoulders, back). If I feel like I am well fed I will do some rowing to warm up and then learn/polish a weightlifting move. Sometimes I throw in some calisthenics now and again (hang from a bar, wall planks etc). And there are days when I've had a good badminton or tennis game - I'd usually just do my own yoga to stretch those aches, OR just be a hermit in the steam room!

If I am feeling hyper, I'd come up with WODs combining all the core muscle groups! The set of modalities will be done via;
Countdown 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 (my favourite because I don't compromise form from fatigue!)
10:00 EMOM [each minute on the minute]
10:00 AMRAP [as many reps as possible]
4:00 TABATA -my least favourite!

p/s: i still cannot do a pull-up, toes-to-bar and a boat pose! #justranting

Singularity of purpose, 
everything else is immaterial...

Thursday, April 9, 2015

My body morphology

Two months ago - I spent some evenings to understand my body's musculoskeletal system better - learning to be my own "physiotherapist" without breaking the bank. So I came up with these notes for my own perusal.

Weight 54.5kg to 56.0kg ~120lbs to 123.5lbs
Height 162cm 5"3.5
Body fat ~25% 
Wingspan reach 165cm (+3) Ape Index 1.025 [Female ave +1 Male ave +5]
Good for swimming, rowing, badminton, yoga and muay thai
Not so good for olympic lifts and bench press
Protein intake - Need average 65g a day (Recreational athlete)
Chicken breast (20g) Fish (20g) Milk (8g) One scoop 25g 

My Posture
1) Sitting: Slouching on chair - weak core muscle
Bad news: Lower back strain, Hunched back

2) Standing: Slightly rounded shoulders - tight chest and weak upper back (upper cross syndrome)
Flat back and belly stoop forward - tightness in core and hamstring, weakness in quads, lower back and glutes
Bad news: Causes neck and upper back strain.
Advice: Strengthen core, glutes, neck, rear shoulder muscles and back extension

Elbow Structure
Upper extremity with significant valgus angle.
Forearm hangs distinctly away from body - Leads to prevalence of rotator cuff dislocation from racket sports.
Must break excessively at the wrist when performing a curl with a straight bar (which is painful). Use E-Z bar?
Badminton helped break right wrist abandoning the mobility of left wrist (affecting my front squat and inversion poses)

Torso : Limb ratio 1:1 (short limbed)
  • Good for squats - Torso only tilts a little so limit stress on lower back and hamstring, movement more secure and focus completely on quads
  • Bad for deadlift - Forced to flex legs so femurs lower to horizontal, this parallel position of femur means initiating deadlift movement requires enormous amount of energy from the thighs

Anterior Hip Flexors
Sartorius and Rectus Femoris quite limited. Tested by the Thomas method. Due to frequency of sitting and tendency to sit with buddha pose.

Ankle Flexibility High
Good for squats - Allow forward tilt of tibia hence anterior movement of knees, and allow flexion of the legs.

Types of knee
Slight degree of both conditions, more common in women:
1. Genu Valgum (knock knees) - greater risk of pathology with training
Advice: Be aware of knees falling inwards and activate quads at all times
2. Genu Recurvatum (hyperextended knees) - acute risk of meniscal pinching.
Advice: Never completely lock knees at the end of extension during squats and leg press

Bench Press Morphology
Small rib cage, long'ish forearm - excursion of bar increased.  humerus go lower than bench, pectoralis major overstretched and strength development limited.
Advice: Narrow grip to reduce injury to pecs BUT work on biceps is more intense
Elbows apart - more work on pecs ; Elbows closer - more work on deltoids (shoulders)

Avoid Vertebral Flexion
Never round the back.
As soon as heavy weights are involved - create a block
1. Expand chest and hold deep breath fill the lungs (to support rib cage and prevents chest from collapsing forward)
2. Contract abs to support core and increase intra-ab pressure (prevents torso from collapsing forward)
3. Arch lower back by contracting lumbar muscles (positions spinal column in extension)
After heavy weights - hang from chin bar and focus on relaxing body to rebalance pressures inside the intervertebral discs

Strength Training Anatomy

The best project you'll ever work on is YOU

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

2015/2016 Half Marathons of interest

Spent the last hour researching on how to fit more half marathons into my already tight calendar. I am hoping to do at least one more this year and three next year! So here are the lists of good/popular half marathon of interests.

R&R Chicago Half (19th July)

R&R Virginia Beach (6th Sept)

Chicago Half (27th Sept)

R&R San Jose Half, CA (27th Sept)

Cardiff Half (4th Oct)

Oxford Half (11th Oct)

Grand Pier Half, Weston Super Mare (1st Nov)

Brighton Half (Feb)

Paris Half Marathon (6th March)

North London Half (March)

Prague Half, Czech Republic (March)

Warsaw Half, Poland (end March)

Riga Half, Latvia (May)

Helsinki Half, Finland (May)

Göteborgsvarvet Half, Sweden (May) - Largest in the world. Registration opens July 2015

Bucharest Half, Romania (May)

Morrisons Great North Run - Second largest in the world. Ballot opens January 2016 (Sept)

Bristol Half, UK - If I miss out on the Great North Run and Royal Parks! (Sept)

Budapest Half - Time limit 2h30m! (Sept)

Royal Parks Foundation - One of the largest in the world. Ballot opens January 2016 (October)

Friday, April 3, 2015

Workout Of the Day logging, explained...

I will start writing my WODs (Workout Of the Day) down rather than just doing it and allowing my goldfish memory to engulf them entirely. This habit will also allow me to not just monitor that I am not overdoing one part and neglecting the parts I don't like, but better design them based on questions like what I have done, what I have yet to do, what "are my maxes again?", "have I stretched today?" questions! My WODs are catered to noobies (beginners!) as I just started learning weightlifting March this year and properly doing yoga February this year. 

So a bit of background of my "athleticism" - I play mostly racket sports and will play or pick up any sport I want to. I am restless that way. 

My strongest sport is/was in order of okay'ness: badminton, basketball, netball, table tennis, shotput, table tennis.
(yes you got that right, I am that smallest Asian girl who can throw a metal ball up to division level!)

I have also played district-level hockey, tennis and javelin back in high school.

My relatively stronger part of my musculoskeletal is my back, and my relatively weakest is my core. My relatively greatest flexibility part of my joints is my hip and my least flexible is my hamstring (surprise!)

So that aside, here is my boring solo sport logged because becoming an adult means finding it hard to set a time with other adults to play team sports with!
Square brackets [ ] will indicate what type of workouts I have generally punished my body with!

Mar 25 
[Weightlifting, Strength, Stretch]
Deadlift 60 65 70kg x5
Bench 20kg 3x10; Bent-over Row 20kg 3x10
Rowing 1km 5mins
Backsquat 20 30 40kg x8
Military Press 8kg 3x8
Bicep curl 6+6kg 2x8; Yoga 1h
Mar 31

[Weightlifting, Strength, Stretch, Cardio]
Deadlift 60 70 75kg x5

Bench 20kgx10 25kgx8 27.5kgx6
High Pulls 20kg 3x10
Front Squat 30 40kg 3x8
Backsquat 40kg 3x5; Yoga 10m, Run 2.4km/15m