Thursday, January 31, 2008

Workout Progress – Jan ‘08

January saw me starting the year with a new PT as my previous PT had decided to explore other job opportunities. At the point, we had already finished our 1st block of 24 PT sessions and we were talking about adding on more sessions to focus on muscle mass development. With him gone, I had to go through the process of selecting a new PT that fit best with my personality and workout goals. Thanks to his recommendations, I was able to quickly decide on my new PT and we set down to plan out a program that spans 24 sessions for me to learn the skills I need to start on the new phase of my gymming experience.

After focusing more on body conditioning and strength building in the last PT block, both of us agreed that it was time for me to get into a program that would help me achieve my goals of developing muscle tone and definition. This meant that I would be hitting the free weight section of the gym more often than before. While it may be blasé for some, it was a major move for me as I had to overcome my feelings of intimidation and self doubt when it comes to working out in that area. What I soon found out was that with the exception of a few, most who are there were actually quite supportive of free weight newbies as long as they don’t interfere in their own workouts i.e. hogging the weights and not returning them back to their proper place after use.

I have to admit that I still get intimidated around the people there but at least I am not actively avoiding working out there because of it.

Diet plan in Jan

Breakfast (8 am)
- 1 sachet of Quaker Oats Flavored instant oatmeal
- 1 serving of low fat yogurt
- 1 serving of protein shake

Brunch (10 am)
- 1/2 serving of plan fried rice with tempeh goreng or greens
- 1 hardboiled egg (alternate working days – 2 whole eggs total per week)
- 1 serving of fruits

Lunch (12 pm)
- 1 Spirulina cereal 3 in 1 mix.

Snacks (4 pm)
- 1 Nature Valley Granola bar (Apple Crisps, Almond and Pecan have lowest calories)
- Japanese Green Tea

Dinner (7 pm) – non workout days (Tues/Sat)
- 1 serving of protein shake
- buy something roughly less than 300kcal

Workout Days (M/W/Thurs/F: 8:30 – 11:30 pm, Sun: 4 – 8pm)
Pre workout
- 1 serving of protein shake
- buy something roughly less than 300kcal

Post workout - 1 serving of protein shake

Supplements : Protein Shake – 3 servings per day
21st Century’s HerbalLipo Tea – 1 serving per week day
GNC MegaMen Dietary Supplement – 1 tablet per day

I’ve given up bread as a component of my daily diet since I am already getting my carbohydrates from the other food stuff that I was consuming. I’ve replace it instead with a service of flavored instant oats which has the added advantage of cholesterol control. It’s cheap and convenient enough to have around the house and I usually can get them easily from the supermarket before I go to my gym. While most of the other components of my diet stayed basically the same, I have added 3 servings daily of protein shakes a day. Given that I need the protein for my current PT plan, this was potentially an expensive affair given that the usual protein shake that I used cost about RM300 for an 18 serving box. I was lucky this month to get a special deal on protein shake mix that was close to their expiry date (Aug 2008) and was selling for about RM135 per tub. It may not be my usual mix with it’s 56gm of protein per serving but it would do in a pinch given my tight budget.

A word on the dieting.

While it does seem that my diet plan seems a little of the harsh side, it does not mean that I don’t indulge myself occasionally. I love food and I love eating it more than cooking it so most of the time I would not really say no to an invitation eat out when it comes my way. I actually found myself eating out with friends more often in January than in previous months of the past year. The trick is to realize that you can still go out and eat healthy if you make the right choices for yourself. Moderation, as in all things, is also the key in eating out in a healthy manner. Food, both as sustenance and a social lubricant, was meant to be savored and not wolfed down in large quantities. Keep those points in mind when you eat out and you shouldn’t stray too far from a healthy diet. Of course indulgence mean that you do it occasionally. To do it on a daily basis (or more) would slide you into the hedonist category.

Looking ahead in February, I will be embarking on the next phase of my current PT training program where I would be adding on an extra set for each of the exercises that I am currently doing. No doubt that I am a bit apprehensive about the prospect but I have surprised myself before with what I thought I could not do at the gym so I’m looking forward for the challenge. While I have been talking about it for months, I have yet to try out any of the GX classes that they offer at my gym. I have actually short listed that classes that looked interesting for me down to either BodyPump or Spinning but I have yet to find the opportuinity to attend their introductory class. I’m putting a goal here that I would try to attend both classes at least once in the month of February to find out what they were about and if I would like to continue attending them. Most of these classes are held at the same time as when I do my PT sessions so I need to check if they are any that I can attend on Sunday instead. I would definitely be writing an entry for my first time in a GX class in my blog should I accomplish it this month.

As usual, my fitness adventure continue on with me now in more control of what I want to achieve. I’ve definitely started to reap the dividends from gymming as people start to notice the physical difference in my appearance. While that is definitely an ego booster, it should not be the only reason to go gymming because looks may fade with time but your health stays with you for much longer.

Workout Journal – 2008 Personal Training Program Day 9

Program Day 9 (muscle group: Back and Triceps – duration 1.5 hrs)

Warm up – Stretching (10 minutes)

Assisted Chin Up (reps - 15/15/15, weight – 25% of body weight)
Lat Pulldown (reps - 12/10/10, weight – 65/80/95 lbs)
Low Row (reps - 12/10/10, weight – 25/30/35 lbs)
Upper Back (reps - 12/12/12, weight – 30/30/30 lbs)
Single Arm Upper Back (reps – 5/5/5 per arm, weight – 30/30/30 lbs)
Iso-Lateral DY Row (reps - 15/15/15, weight – 25 lbs)
Single Arm Iso-Lateral DY Row (reps – 5/5/5 per arm, weight – 25 lbs)

Triceps Pushdown (reps – 12/10/10, weight – 30/32.5/32.5 lbs)
Barbell Close Grip (reps - 15/15/15, weight - 20 lbs)
Seated Dips - Bench (reps – 15/15/15, weight – body weight)

Cool down
Cardio on stationary bike (10 minutes, 60 kcal target burn)


I have completed the first 3 cycles of the program and will be starting on a new cycle variation next week. It would be basically the same type of exercises but instead of doing 3 sets of each, my PT will be adding an extra set to push me further in our program. I’m looking forward to the routine change but have to admit that I’m a bit intimidated by the prospect. Still I will not let my fears get the better of me (for fear is the mind-killer – Dune) and instead take it as another challenge to overcome next week.

Still having some problems with my form when doing pushups for both chest and triceps exercises so I don’t think that I’m getting all that I could out of that exercise. Talked to my PT about it and though he agreed that I could work on improving my form, he was not about to let me off the hook as far as pushups are concerned. They will stay in the program until I can develop the correct form for it. Well .. a guy got to do what a guy got to do then.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

InBody Check Progress - Jan '08

I actually did my monthly InBody check a few weeks back before starting on my current PT program but didn’t get a chance to really look at it till today. This month’s results would be used to compare how much I have progressed from the same time period last year and to set the new baseline for this year as I go through my program.

Looking at the numbers, I still have room for improvement but I will not let them detract from the accomplishment that I have been able to achieve in the past 12 months.

Thanks to a combination of dieting, exercise at home and gymming, I was able to shed a few more kilograms of weight. While it was not as much as my previous record of shedding close to 10 kg a year achieved in 2006, I’m not too disappointed by it as total weight is a relatively subjective measure for overall fitness/wellness. Moving ahead, I will be focusing more on the body fat and muscle mass percentages which bears a more relevant measurement that I need. For 2008, I’m setting a weight goal to hover around 72kgs which I don’t mind exceeding as long as the body fat% continue to decrease.

Both body fat and muscle mass percentages are on track given that I was mostly doing light exercises before I started going to the gym in September last year. I hope to see better numbers in the following months as I go through my current PT plan. I looking forward to see an increase in muscle mass at least given that my current program has some emphasis on muscle/definition building.

My fitness journey is still continuing and I’ll be putting up my InBody check results on site as soon as I get them.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Workout Journal – 2008 Personal Training Program Day 8

Program Day 8 (muscle group: Lower body, Shoulders, Abs – duration 1.5 hrs)

Warm up – Stretching (10 minutes)

Lower body
Linear Leg Press (reps – 12/10/10, weight – 180/270/270 lbs)
Walking Lunges (reps – distance, weight – 2 x 10 lbs plates)
Static Lunges (reps – 15/15/15, weight – 10/10/10 lbs)
Seated Leg Curl (reps 12/12/12, weight – 80/80/80 lbs)
Ball Squat (reps 15/15/15, weight – body weight)
Walking Calf Raise (reps – distance, weight – body weight + 10lbs)
Reverse Calf/Soleus Pull (reps – 15/15/15, weight – 5/10/12.5 lbs)

EZ Barbell Front Raise (reps – 15/15/15, weight – 30 lbs)
Combined Dumbbell Front & Side Raise (reps – 30/30/30, weight – 15/15/15 lbs)

Abs Crunch – Hammer Strength (reps – 15/15/15, weight – 22/55/55 lbs)

Cool down – Cardio on stationary bike (20 minutes, 120 kcal target burn)

Monday, January 28, 2008

An Uncertain Journey

I pride myself as having an alternative plan to almost everything that I go through in life. The thought of not being able to switch plans should the first plan fall through does scare me a bit as that would disrupt my orderly existence. As such, it usually takes me a while to take action as I would need time to consider the best opportunities and then get another set to be my backup plan if the first set don’t work out. Some backup plans were made for the small details of my day while others I have set down for my long term planning of what I want to do with my life.

Events that happened in the past 2 weeks saw me jettisoned a major backup plan pertaining to how I would live my life. This was a backup plan that I have put in place for almost as long as I remember. It was something that I thought that I would eventually settle for should nothing better comes along. Something that I had set in motion to be there should I fail to overcome my fear of reaching out and grasping the happiness that I want for myself in life. Something that, before recently, I thought would be my lot in life in the very near future.

I realized that my backup plan was in effect a crutch that I continued to use to avoid facing certain truths in my life. For as long as it was there, I did not have to risk anything detrimental to matters of my heart since I can always cut my losses and run away to my backup plan. What I didn’t fully realized till quite recently was that I was not the only one depending of this backup plan. There was one other person in this scenario that was being dragged along in this plan whether they like it or not. For as long as I continued to hold on to my backup plan, I effectively had this person’s life on hold waiting for me to fall back to the plan.

So I decided to take the risk and totally abandon that particular backup plan.

Of course, being me, I went through a minor freaking-out episode when the realization of what I had done finally sink in. Obviously I got through that episode with all my facilities intact .. more or less.

So here I am with nary a backup plan relating to how I would find happiness in my life from this point on. I have to be honest and admit that the prospect of not having that crutch scares me but there still is a sense of excitement at the thought that from this point on I would operate on unknown territories. Letting go of that plan has also given me a sense of freedom to explore new possibilities without feeling the guilt of knowing that I am allowing an innocent person to remain in a limbo that I somewhat place that person in without their actual consent.

For once in a long time, I am navigating my life using star charts that yet to be written and not those fixed in stone. Rough seas ahead would have to be expected but the adventure would definitely be worth an uncertain journey.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Workout Journal – 2008 Personal Training Program Day 7

Program Day 7 (muscle group: Chest, Biceps, Lower Back, Abs – duration 1 hrs)

Warm up – Stretching

Flat Barbell Bench Press (reps - 12/12/12, weight – 50/50/50 lbs)
Flat Dumbbell Bench Press (reps – 15/15/15, weight – 20/20/20 lbs)
Push Up (reps – 15/15/15, weight – body weight)
Incline Dumbbell Press (reps – 15/15/15, weight 20/20/20 lbs)
Cable Pec Fly (reps – 12/12/12, weight 10/10/10 lbs)

Standing E-Z Bar Bicep Curl
- Full extension from low to chin (reps – 12/10/10, weight – 30/40/40 lbs)
Dumbbell Hammer Curl (reps – 12/12/12, weight – 15/15/15 lbs)

Lower Back
Back Extensions (reps – 12/10/10, weight – 57/64/66.5 lbs)

Abs Raised Knee Crunches – (reps 15/15/15, weight – body weight)
Alternate Leg Up Plank – (reps 1/1/1 minute, weight – body weight)

Cool down – None

Workout Journal – 2008 Personal Training Program Day 6

Program Day 6 (muscle group: Back, Triceps and Abs – duration 1.5 hrs)

Warm up – None

Assisted Chin Up (reps - 15/15/15, weight – 25% of body weight)
Lat Pulldown (reps - 12/10/10, weight – 57.5/60/62.5 lbs)
Low Row (reps - 12/10/10, weight – 32.5/45/47.5 lbs)
Upper Back (reps - 12/12/12, weight - 27.5/30/30.5 lbs)
Iso-Lateral DY Row (reps - 15/15/15, weight – 25 lbs)

Triceps Pushdown (reps – 15/15/15, weight – 30/30/30 lbs)
Triceps Pushup (reps 15/15/15, weight – body weight)
Barbell Close Grip (reps - 15/15/15, weight - 20 lbs)
Seated Dips (reps - 12/10/10, weight – 60/70/80 lbs)

Abs Leg Raise (reps – 20/20/20, weight – body weight)
Abs Crunches – Hammer Strength (reps - 15/15/15, weight – 33/44/55 lbs)

Cool down – None

Workout Journal – 2008 Personal Training Program Day 5

Program Day 5 (muscle group: Lower body, Shoulders, Core – duration 1.5 hrs)

Warm up – Cardio on stationary bike (20 minutes, 120 kcal target burn)

Lower body
Linear Leg Press (reps – 12/10/10, weight – 90/160/230 lbs)
Walking Lunges (reps – distance, weight – 2 x 10 lbs plates)
Static Lunges (reps – 15/15/15, weight – 10/10/10 lbs)
Leg Extensions (reps 12/10/10, weight – 35/40/45 lbs)
Prone Leg Curl (reps 12/10/10, weight – 30/36/40.5 lbs)
Walking Calf Raise (reps – distance, weight – body weight)
Reverse Calf/Soleus Pull (reps – 15/15/15, weight – 5 lbs)

Shoulder Press (reps – 12/12/12, weight – 20/20/20 lbs)
Combined Dumbbell Front & Side Raise (reps – 30/30/30, weight – 15/15/15 lbs)

Core muscles (abs and back)
Leg Up Raise (reps – 1/1/1 minute, weight – body weight)
Horizontal Plank (reps – 1/1/1 minute, weight – body weight)

Cool down – None

Workout Journal – 2008 Personal Training Program Day 4

Program Day 4 (muscle group: Chest, Biceps, Lower Back, Abs – duration 2 hrs)

Warm up – Stretching

Flat Barbell Bench Press (reps - 12/10/10, weight – 45/50/55 lbs)
Flat Dumbbell Bench Press (reps – 12/12/12, weight – 20/20/20 lbs)
Push Up (reps – 15/15/15, weight – body weight)
Incline Press (reps – 12/12/12, weight 20/20/20 lbs)
Pec Fly (reps – 12/10/10, weight – 16/22.5/27 lbs)
Cable Pullover (reps – 12/10/10, weight – 30/40/50 lbs)
Vertical Chest Press (reps – 12/10/10, weight – 23/27/30 lbs)

Standing E-Z Bar Bicep Curl (3 position – continuous without rest between position change)
- Low to Elbow level (reps – 9/9/9, weight – 20/30/30 lbs)
- Elbow to Chin level (reps – 9/9/9, weight – 20/30/30 lbs)
- Full extension from low to chin (reps – 9/9/9/, weight – 20/30/30 lbs)
Seated Bicep Curl (reps 12/10/10, weight – 16/18/20 lbs)
Cable Bicep Curl (rep 12/10/10, weight – 40/50/60 lbs)

Lower Back
Back Extensions (reps – 12/10/10, weight – 54.5/57/61.5 lbs)

Abs Crunches Hammer Strength (reps – 15/15/15, weight – 33/33/33 lbs)

Cool down – None

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Hiking at Bukit Gasing, PJ

I finally did it!

No .. it’s not that! Or the other thing. Or that thing I was thinking to do .. hmm there are still a lot of things that I have not done yet.

I finally tried hiking!

Thanks to the friend who has been gracious with his repeated invitation, I decided to take up the opportuinity to try a little bit of hiking for myself this past weekend. Honestly I was a bit worried that this particular friend of mine had swore off trying to invite me to join his hiking group given that I have declined his invitation twice before. That’s why I was very grateful that he did which gave me the opportunity to check that activity out in line with the goals that I have set up for myself this year.

First obstacle to overcome was waking up very early in the morning. I am by nature not a morning person. It takes me at least 15 minutes and 3 hits on the snooze button to get me out of bed especially when it’s 5 am in the morning. Good thing that I have packed all that I needed to bring along the night before or else I would definitely have left some things behind that morning. After a quick shower and breakfast, I took a bus to the Asia Jaya LRT station where I was suppose to meet him at 7 am. Fortunately I did not have to wait long for the bus and actually reached the meeting point at 6:45 am.

My friend picked me up not long after and we were on our way to the Bukit Gasing Educational Park which is located in the heart of Petaling Jaya. I have heard of the place before but always thought that it was located outside of KL. I never imagined that such a place existed in the middle of a long established residential area. That just goes to show how much small things like this can be a pleasant surprise for me since I have been living close by the area almost all my life. It took someone from another country to show me that it was there!

We waited for a little bit before the rest of the group arrived at the base of the trekking route. It was just 5 of us that Sunday which consisted of 3 group regulars and 2 newbies, myself and 1 other person, who would be joining them for the first time. I was a bit apprehensive in the beginning since I was not sure what to expect. The last time I went hiking was in Janda Baik Forest Reserve back when I just finished my college prep school and I was definitely in much better shape then than I am now. I was also unsure if the regulars meant that they would be running all the way through the trek route ala the Hash House Harriers which would definitely scare me off.

Thankfully, running was not in the books that day, unless of course one wanted to (not me … no thank you). In deference to the newbies, the group decided to choose the “milder” course that they feel that we could managed on our first time out. Of course, “milder” was quite subjective when it came to this group of people gauging by their fitness levels so I wasn’t that convinced but I was determined to go through it. I would not know my own capabilities if I don’t push myself and this was a golden opportuinity to try it in the safety of a group that I was sure would be looking out for me.

The course started fairly easily at first then became a series of increasingly challenging climbs using both man made steps set in the ground as well as natural steps created by conveniently located rocks and roots. I initially found myself struggling to keep pace with the lead (yeah you … geez you were really moving that morning) but I soon realized plus was told that I didn’t have to. I should go on my own pace and there will be someone bringing up the back so the group didn’t get separated too far. Once I started to get the hang of tromping around in the secondary forest at Bukit Gasing, I found my own pace that I could handle and occasionally push to raise to the next level.

The trek itself was fairly varied. We went up and down through clearly marked paths that was surprisingly was not as slippery that I had thought given the rains that came down the night before. Some of the slopes were fairly easy to go up while there were a few which presented much more of a challenge. The one that I was most excited during the hike about was the one that had an almost 70 degree incline that was the most difficult to go up. I definitely felt the burn in my calves, hamstrings and glutes trying to climb up that steep incline which was much more intense than any workout I had in the gym for the same muscle group.

Needless to say, I was huffing and puffing so loudly that I’m sure that I would scare off any animals within a 2 mile radius of the area with the sounds of my labored breath. I was soaking with sweat from top to toe but I was really enjoying the experience. I was outdoor enjoying the fresh air that I rarely get to and I was in the company of supportive people to always checked back to make sure that you were doing ok. The trek was also filled with the sound of people wishing others “Good Morning” as they pass each other which added to the surreal feeling of it all. We had people of all ages, young and old, all there to enjoy their surroundings and work out a good sweat while doing it. This provided me with a feeling of camaraderie that was unique to the experience which added another layer to be cherished.

When I reached the end of the trek, I found myself feeling both elated that I’ve accomplished something new that morning and hopeful of doing it again sometime soon when I get the chance. I’ve proved to myself that I was again able to do something that I thought I could not and I gained something new from the experience. I would definitely set new goals for myself in terms of pace the next time I go on this hike but I know not to rush it. Maybe do that when I get in better condition and more familiar with the trek. I also met a set of new people that I could add to my list of acquaintances which is always good to do in my book.

After the hike, we walked back to where the cars were parked but not before stopping to watch a whole troop of wild monkeys coming out in search of food by the roadside. We proceeded after that to a nearby mamak place to have breakfast which gave me another opportuinity to bond with the group. Leaving after breakfast that Sunday morning, I was fully convinced that hopefully I would be able to do it again with the great company I had that morning. The whole experience was not only something that I could cross off my list of things to do this year but also an eye opening experience of finding out something that I could enjoy doing on a free weekend.

Unfortunately the Bukit Gasing Educational Park is currently being threaten by developers who planned to clear part of the land for property development. The path that I hike through on that Sunday may not be there for long and everyone should take the opportuinity to enjoy it while it’s still there. Better yet, one could get involved with efforts to conserve the area against developer encroachment which I unfortunately did not get details of how to. I saw some notices at the entrance to the park so I believe that the details on how we can help should be listed there.

My first Sunday hike through Bukit Gasing Educational Park would definitely rank in one of the more memorable things I did in 2008. It’s still early though but I can say that it is still one of the most memorable things I did this month at least. I would definitely recommend it to other who like me initially thought that they would never be able to survive it. You’ll be surprised at what a little bit of determination and support from a great set of people can do for you.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Workout Journal – 2008 Personal Training Program Day 3

Just to clarify, I don’t go through the program on consecutive days although I do use “day” to refer to each session. I would be killing myself if I did that. Like all types of exercises, one should put in at least one day in between sessions to allow for full recovery. The muscles that you stress during the session also need that time to rebuild and hopefully add bulk to which is one of the goals of the program. Given my 5 days on - 2 days off gym schedule, this means that I would have 2 days that I do only cardio and abs exercises at the gym. Usually for me that would be on Thursdays and Sundays. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays are dedicated to the PT program.

Program Day 3 (muscle group: Back, Triceps and Abs – duration 1 hr + 20 minutes cardio)

Warm up – Brisk walking on treadmill (20 minutes, 100 kcal target burn)

Assisted Chin Up (reps - 15/15/15, weight – 25% of body weight)
Lat Pulldown (reps - 12/10/10, weight - 55/57.2/60 lbs)
Low Row (reps - 12/10/10, weight - 30/32.5/35 lbs)
Upper Back (reps - 12/12/12, weight - 27.5/27.5/27.5 lbs)
Iso-Lateral DY Row (reps - 12/10/10, weight - 25/30/35 lbs)

Triceps Pulldown (reps - 12/10/10, weight - 15/17.5/20 lbs)
Barbell Close Grip (reps - 15/15/15, weight - 20 lbs)
Seated Dips (reps - 15/15/15, weight – body weight)

Abs Leg Raise (reps – 20/20/20, weight – body weight)
Abs Crunches (reps - 15/15/15, weight – 10/15/20 lbs)

Cool down – Stretching

Day 4 program later tonight should repeat Day 1 exercises but starting at the weight levels from the second rep of Day 1. It should make for an interesting day at the gym later.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

It Comes and Goes ... Really

Artist: Shayne Ward
Album: Breathless
Year: 2007
Title: Breathless

If our love was a fairy tale
I would charge in and rescue you
On a yacht baby we would sail
To an island where we’d say I do

And if we had babies they would look like you
It’d be so beautiful if that came true
You don’t even know how very special you are

You leave me breathless
You’re everything good in my life
You leave me breathless
I still can’t believe that you’re mine
You just walked out of one of my dreams
So beautiful you’re leaving me

And if our love was a story book
We would meet on the very first page
The last chapter would be about
How I’m thankful for the life we’ve made

And if we had babies they would have your eyes
I would fall deeper watching you give life
You don’t even know how very special you are


You must have been sent from heaven to earth to change me
You’re like an angel
The thing that I feel is stronger than love believe me
You’re something special
I only hope that I’ll one day deserve what you’ve given me
But all I can do is try
Every day of my life

Chorus x2

Monday, January 14, 2008

Workout Journal – 2008 Personal Training Program Day 2

I’m falling behind on updating my PT program (what else is new).

As noted in the previous entry, this programs are customized for my needs and my goals which may not be the same for everybody. I have also gone through a block of 24 PT sessions that consisted of less weight training exercises that my PT has me on now so I consider my current program as more of an intermediate level program.

Program Day 2 (muscle group: Lower body, Shoulders, Core – duration 1 hr + 20 minutes cardio)

Warm up – Cardio on stationary bike (20 minutes, 120 kcal target burn)

Lower body
Linear Leg Press (reps – 12/10/10, weight – 50/90/140 lbs)
Walking Lunges (reps – distance, weight – 2 x 10 lbs plates)
Static Lunges (reps – 15/15/15, weight – 10/10/10 lbs)
Leg Extensions (reps 12/10/10, weight – 30/35/40 lbs)
Prone Leg Curl (reps 12/10/10, weight – 25/30/36 lbs)
Walking Calf Raise (reps – distance, weight – body weight)

Shoulder Press (reps – 15/15/15, weight – 25/25/25 lbs)
E-Z Bar Front Raise (reps – 15/15/15, weight – 20/20/20 lbs)
Cable Side Raise (reps – 15/15/15, weight – 5/5/5 lbs)

Core muscles (abs and back)
Leg Up (reps – 1/1/1 minute, weight – body weight)
Horizontal Plank (reps – 1/1/1 minute, weight – body weight)

Cool down – Stretching (too exhausted to do anything else)

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Workout Journal – 2008 Personal Training Program Day 1

I’ve been noticing that my blog has been getting hits from people looking for gym workouts on the internet. The sudden increase this early in the year doesn’t really surprise me as I think that many people would start hitting the gym as part of their new years resolutions to live a healthier life. Knowing that not many people might have the opportuinity to engage a personal trainer, I feel that I might be able to help out those looking for gym workouts by sharing mine.

Of course there are some things that need to be clarified before use.

This is actually my second training program having completed an earlier training program than focused on learning how to use the gym equipment correctly as well as developing core muscle strength. The previous program was heavy on the circuit training so that I would be building stamina, reduce recovery time and learning to recognize my pain threshold. I would highly recommend this type of program to newbies first to avoid any injuries that might occur. If possible talk to the PTs at the gym and ask for the complimentary fitness assessment that they usually will give out free when you sign up for your gym membership. Take time to walk though the machines to learn how to use them and ask for one or two sessions for core muscle training.

If you had training before and/or are comfortable with moving to an intermediate level, the program that I’m sharing in my blog would be an example of what you might design for yourself. The operative word here is “design for yourself” since gym training programs are highly customized for the individual’s goals and needs. My current program fits my profile of being a 35 year old male with no gym experience other than the past 4 months at my current gym and living a fairly sedated lifestyle . My goals for the program is to get a leaner body tone with some muscle definition and to lower my blood pressure readings. If your needs and goals are different than mine, the program here might not be as good as a fit for you to follow but you can take it as a guide of what type of exercise is available for you.

I will be putting up these entries as often as I can on the days that I have my PT sessions. You might see a lot of repetitions in terms of the types of exercises that I go through but I guess that repetitions are the basis of strength training and muscle building. Against better judgment, I will also include the level of weights that I used for the exercises. I say “against better judgment” because I’m sure that some people would see it as bragging about the weights I’m lifting but seriously folks other people can lift much more than me so I’m just risking embarrassment by listing them here. Nevertheless, being the completist person I am, I will be listing them here as part of documenting my progress as I go through the program.

So with that said, listed below are the exercises that I had to do for my first day of the program. Note that rest times between sets are kept to a minimum just enough to feel the ache pass. I also welcome comments and recommendations on the program which you can leave in the comments section.

Program Day 1 (muscle group: Chest, Biceps, Lower Back, Abs – duration 1 hr + 40 minutes cardio)

Warm up – Cardio on stationary bike (20 minutes, 150 kcal target burn)

Flat Barbell Bench Press (reps - 12/10/10, weight – 40/50/55 lbs)
Flat Dumbbell Bench Press (reps – 12/10/10, weight – 15/20/25 lbs)
Decline Push Up (reps – 15/15/15, weight – body weight)
Incline Chest Press (reps – 12/10/10, weight – 20.5/25.3/25.3 lbs)
Pec Fly (reps – 12/10/10, weight – 11.8/22.5/27 lbs)

Standing E-Z Bar Bicep Curl (3 position – continuous without rest between position change)
- Low to Elbow level (reps – 7/7/7, weight – 20 lbs)
- Elbow to Chin level (reps – 7/7/7, weight – 20 lbs)
- Full extension from low to chin (reps – 7/7/7/, weight – 20 lbs)
Preacher curl (reps 12/10/10, weight – 11.5/13.5/18 lbs)

Lower Back
Back Extensions (reps – 12/10/10, weight – 50/54.5/59.3 lbs)

Decline Abs Crunches (reps – 12/10/10, weight – body weight)

Cool down – Cardio on stationary bike (20 minutes, 120 kcal target burn)

Update (11:50pm): Got ahold of my training book and noticed that I remembered the number of reps and weights all wrong. I have since corrected it.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Workout Journal – On Personal Training

I’ve just recently lucked on a great offer for my PT session renewal. Instead of the RM110 per sessions that I am paying now, I just need to pay RM 80 for 20 sessions for my renewal. I also manage to negotiate to get 4 sessions free added to the total which should last me for the next 3 months. I am almost certain that this might be the cheapest rates for PT that you can get in town unfortunately it was only for the duration of the new years period so the offer is no longer valid for people who are interested to signup for it now. I only got to know of the offer from the gym on the second last day of the offer since I was away during the end of the year. I was already planning to add more sessions to my PT so the offer came in the right time for me.

Unfortunately, I will no longer be working out with my usual PT as I start this new block of PT sessions. My PT has decided to leave the gym for a freelance job offer in Terengganu beginning in a few weeks. I was kind of bummed when I got the news as I have really built a rapport with him and now faced the task of finding a new PT to replace him. While it’s true that the gym is suppose to assign me with a replacement PT when something like this happens but I spoke to the PT manager and asked that I be allowed to choose the replacement myself. I don’t know if that was a common practice to select your own PT but I asked him just in case and got his approval.

First thing that I did was to talk to my current PT for his recommendations. Unless the PT has just transferred to gym, they should know the rest of the PTs who is available there. More importantly, my current PT would know the way that I work out and therefore would be able to recommend someone who would be able to guide me along in the manner that I am already used to. My current PT would also be able to provide an honest assessment of the recommended PT’s skills since sometimes you don’t really get a full account of that if you asked directly from the PT.

Once my current PT identified his recommended replacement, I decided to get some face to face time with him to suss his level of experience and training goals. This part is quite an important factor for me when deciding which PT to pick. Having someone who have experience working with people who start off as your normal out of shape office drone is very helpful as they are aware of the schedule and physical limitations that I have to go through. My current PT actually specialized in special cases i.e. older people, people with medical conditions and physical disabilities which made him aware of specific considerations that needs to be in place for different people.

Having a clear training goal is also something that I look out for. Not everyone who comes to the gym wants to be able to lift hundreds of kgs above their heads by the end of their PT sessions. Some of us are just happy to be able to lose inches from our waist to fit into better fitting clothes. As such, being able to design a program to fit a particular training goal is quite essential. Nothing worse than having a PT who is training you to do something that you don’t feel motivated to do. With that in mind, I was able to sit down with the recommended PT and got him to layout his training program for 3 month given my goal of losing weight and building definition. Suffice to say that by the end of the discussion, I feel more confident about the recommendation.

The other thing that I look for in a PT personally is how they motivate people to reach out for that next level. This I can only find out by observing how that PT works with another client. Personally I can’t stand PTs who are all gung ho about the number of reps and loads without really looking at the client’s capabilities. I absolutely abhor PTs who tend to shout their encouragements like a bad impression of a drill sergeant when there is no good reason why he has to. It’s bad enough that he’s counting your reps for the whole gym to hear but to announce to the whole world that you’re struggling with the weights is nothing less than distracting. It was funny actually for my PT to be told that one of my requirements that I have to have for my PT is for someone who would not shout at me. Sarcastic jabs and harmless jokes at my expense for not being able to reach the next level are ok with me since I can use that as motivation. Having to deal with people shouting in your face is never fun unless you’re get off on some weird power trip thing.

The other thing that one needs to look out for when selecting a PT is to look at his current load of clients. Having a popular PT with many clients might sound appealing since it would be reflective of this skills as a PT but then you might run into inflexible scheduling conflicts especially if your time slot is part of a back to back PT day for him. What I found best if to find someone who doesn’t have more than 4 1-hr appointments per morning or per evening depending on your workout session. If the PT seems to be cramming more than 8 appointments in a day then that to me is something to be wary about. While most PT sessions will last about an hour, there will be somedays that you’ll be running over and it would be a good thing to make sure that your session does not eat too much into the next client’s session.

Selecting a PT is something that I put some extra effort in since in the end this would be the person who you would be working with for the next 3 months to achieve your fitness goals. While I do reserve the right to ask for a change of PT during the session if I find that the PT is not working, I would rather select the right one from the offset and not having to deal with the hassle of changing PTs later down the line. Based on my own personal criteria, I was able to make an informed selection as for my replacement PT who I would be starting with later in the day today. I’ve done my best to select one that I feel can guide me to the next level in my fitness adventure/experiment and I am actually looking forward for it.

Hopefully I would make as much or not more gains working with my new PT as I did with my previous PT whom I would always be indebted for showing me that I could actually do it once I put my mind to it.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Things To Do in 2008

I stopped making up a list of new year resolutions quite some time back as I never seem to be able to stick to them before. So instead of resolutions, I have goals that I want to achieve instead. I guess if I wanted to be technical, they can mean the same thing but somehow goals implies that there is an end to look forward to instead of just wanting to achieve that end as implied by making resolutions. Goals are more concrete for me to strive for so that has been what I’ve done these past years. I guess that I jinxed myself anytime I use resolutions instead.

So here’s my list of goals that I want to accomplish in 2008 which by the way is in no particular order. One of the things that I’ve learned in goal setting is that goals have to be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time related). Hopefully my goals for 2008 will be as such.

Travel to at least 2 different destinations

I want to repeat the excitement that I felt when I travel to another place that I have never been before. For this year, I’m targeting to travel to at least 1 overseas locale and 1 local destination. After enjoying myself immensely at Fort Santiago, Manila last year, I definitely am looking forward to go to somewhere with a lot of history and character. Indonesia looks like a likely candidate for me this year since it’s close, probably affordable for me and I wouldn’t really run into too much of a problem when it comes to finding something halal to eat. Bali, Lombok, Padang, Yogyakarta and Riau are on my list of possible destinations to go to.

After the successful trip to Perhentian Island, I would definitely want to go back and experience island life. It might not be to the Perhentians again though as there are other islands that I have not been to yet. Tioman and Pangkor would probably be in my consideration but I have to say that on top of my list to go to currently would be to Sipadan in Sabah. The thought of backpacking and roughing it for a while there does have some appeal for me since it’s not something that I would be used to being a city boy born and bred. Since I don’t swim (without a life vest) or dive, I wonder if there would be something else to do there?

Update my wardrobe

I am somewhat of a minor clothes horse with a fatally lack of any sort of fashion sense. That combination added to the amount of weight that I have lost the past 2 years has resulted in a whole boatload of clothes that do not fit me anymore and/or clothes that were not meant to be seen by human eyes in broad daylight. I would definitely have to sort out my closet for things that still usable and give the rest up for charity regardless how sentimentally attached I am to them. At least that would help me reduce the amount of closet space that I need.

Once I have the space, I would definitely be out for a new wardrobe. I’m looking forward to trade my store bought work clothes for ones that I get tailored by my usual tailor. I always loved wearing tailored clothes but have not done it for some time due to weight fluctuations. That would change this year as well as all the baggy T-shirts that I have been buying these past years. Not that I have bulging muscles to show off not but at least I want to get better fitting T-Shirts that I can be comfortable in instead of wearing those that look like sails on a yacht on a breezy day.

Be more physically active

On top of the gymming that I’m currently doing, I would also like to try other types of physical activities to see if I would like them. I’ve turned down an friend’s invitation to go hiking with a group of friends twice last year because I was not sure if I could do it. That and the fact that I had to wake up very freaking early in the morning to do it which for someone like me is something that I have to factor in. I’ve promised myself that the next time he invites me, I would actually go through it. How would I know if I would not like it if I did not at least try it once? The worse that can happen is that I get a good sweat while huffing and puffing half to death in the secondary growth jungle swearing at myself for doing it at an ungodly early hour.

I just hope that the person who invited me before (yes you … *waves*) has not swore off inviting me again by now.

I’m also planning to pick up a sport on top of my gym time. I am absolutely rubbish at any sport involving balls so it would be something that is outside my comfort zone. In line with my continued goal of breaking away from my comfort zone and try new things, I am thinking of picking up futsal this year. My ex-secondary school friends already have a monthly futsal thing happening so I might check that out since they play quite close to where I live. They are always asking for more players from our batch for the yearly inter batch competition so I guess even someone who is “kaki bangku” (roughly translated – sucks royally at football) like me would be welcomed.

Enhance my gym experience

To date I have been more focusing on doing solitary exercises while I’m at the gym. Other than the sessions with my PT, I would normally be going through my routines alone for both my cardio and weight stack training. Since a lot of the class that I see organized at my gym are already included in the monthly fees that I am currently paying, I’ve decided to try to attend at least one this year. After talking to the gym staff and my PT, I considering between attending the spinning classes or the bodypump classes. While the spinning classes seemed to be an easier transition for me considering I’m already doing all of my cardio on a stationary bike, I have to admit that the bodypump class looked more interesting for me.

I’m also looking forward to start working with more free weights in 2008. I’ve always shied away from them since I get easily intimidated by folks how usually congregate in the free weights area at my gym. Towards the end of my last PT sessions, my PT has be slowly moving me away from the weight stack machines to routines that I have to use free weights. I’ve discovered quickly then that most of the people there are either focused on their own workout or just there to pose around and look intimidating. As long as I don’t get into their way, I’m would be just fine doing my own thing. I’ve also made some friends at the gym how would be able to help spot me which I didn't have before and was another reason why I don’t use the free weight area as much as I should have. I hope that by doing more free weights this year, I would be able to achieve the fitness goals that I have set for myself.

Get my drivers license

It’s about freaking time that I did! I’ve already paid the lessons in full ages ago and they did guarantee that I will be able to get a license by the end of their program no matter how many times I have to repeat it. I wonder if I would be one of the stories that they would use when they talk about the number of time someone had to take their lessons before he passed his driving license.

Why is it taking ages for me to get one? Simply put I worse than an old half blind old person when put behind the wheel of a car. I get panic attacks when I see a car coming up too close to my learner car and I start forgetting all that the instructors tell me. I hate being in a situation when I don’t have full control and having to trust the other person on the road to take care of themselves by driving carefully.

Nevertheless this is something that I need to get done with this year.