Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Weight on the Bar

Posted: September 28, 2014 by Savvy Saver in Uncategorized

533173_476778065681847_193396067_n

Hope everyone’s doing good. Updates have kinda dried up but I am still writing sporadically. I am still training 4 times a week with heavy weights and an iron will to be strong; the strongest I could be.

This happened recently when I was benching last week which apparently was deload week. The way deload works is, you train heavy for 3 weeks increasing the intensity (weights) and then take a light week. That’s how 5/3/1 works. So here I am benching 65 lbs on my first deload week set. And this big guy asks me, “When are you going to put some weight on the bar?” And that was the conception of this blog post.

Thinking back, I could have had a lot of witty responses for him like, “When are you going to start squatting deep like a real man?” or “When are you going to quit using your whole body kip to do pull ups?” However, without being impolite I told him that I was taking a deload week. He looked at me as if I had just committed a crime.

“So what was last week?” he asks.

“150 lbs” I reply.

“Is that your best?” he asks.

“No my best is 175 lbs” I say.

Here is the video of the 175 lbs bench.

See the guy spotting me? That’s the same guy.

Typically in gyms who would you go for advice? Definitely not the smallest guy right? You’d go to the biggest baddest dude you could set eyes on. And there is where you’d make the worst mistake of your life. Turns out, big isn’t necessarily strong. Granted this guy can put 405 on his back and do some sort of movement which I wouldn’t call a squat. However, if he does it correctly, I’d be willing to bet money that he wouldn’t be able to squat half that weight for more than 2 reps.

So does it really matter how much weight you put on the bar? Well it does matter, but what matters more is what are you doing with that weight. If your form is sub par and you’re just putting the weight on so that you can look cool in the gym, stop right there. Do yourself a favor and leave your ego out before entering the gym. This would benefit you twofold. One, it would make you a lot more humble and two, you wouldn’t ever hurt yourself while lifting. It’s called lifting hard but smart.

Another thing which a lot of people don’t give much importance to is tracking progress. Ask the lifter next to you how much he has achieved over the last year and you’d get blank faces. It is very important to make sure that your programming enables you to keep pushing your limits and making PR’s.

Over the two years that I have been lifting weights, I have noticed that a lot of people progress way faster than others. And that’s just another nuance of the nature of the human body. Everyone is different. I tried keeping up with Stronglifts 5X5 and was getting killed after a year on the program. So I decided to take it a little slow and agreed that I have not achieved a lot in the last year considering the big breaks I had to take from the gym. However, I am definitely stronger which I can gauge in various ways. For instance a year ago I couldn’t deadlift anything more than 225 lbs without reversing my grip. And just last week I did 270 lbs for 7 in which I got the first 4 reps without reversing my grip. I’d say that is a heck of an improvement in my book. My squats are stronger, my bench is stronger. The only place I am lagging behind considerably is my military press. It appears to have stalled out. However, through the intelligent programming of 5/3/1, I am sure I will break through this plateau soon. And to do just that I have decided to give bodyweight template of the 5/3/1 a chance. And we will see how it goes from there.

In other updates my squat has gone to a new PR of 215X6 which I am stoked about.

Signing off now. Will keep updating. Happy lifting!

Advertisements

It has been a long time since I wrote something here. Well in my defense I have been busy and lazy. I got married to the love of my life about 4 months ago so I hope that makes it more understandable. 

I am bigger, stronger and hopefully a better person after all these days. And even if I am not a better person, my better half definitely covers that for the both of us <3. 

Anyway, say hello to the newest ACE (American Council on Exercise) certified Personal Trainer. That is correct, a couple weeks ago I successfully passed the test and am now certified to give training tips advice and more! I recently also tested my 1 RM on the squat which was a solid 235lbs. At that point I did have more in me I just didn’t want to go all out. 

The wife has been feeding me well and that is an understatement. This definitely has resulted in me gaining a ridiculous amount of weight. Yours truly is now a good 175lbs (80kg). I have never been this heavy and I can’t say with certainty that all of that is muscle mass. I am fairly certain that my body fat percent has shot up to about 20% easy. But you can judge that by looking at some of the progress pictures below. I must say I am pretty impressed with how my back is shaping up. No wonder 235lbs on the back didn’t feel like the max I could do. 

Image

I am still on the 5/3/1 Big but Boring training program and it has yielded good results for me in addition to allow me to take it slow and make modifications to the program as I deem fit. Although I never want to stop getting stronger so the quest for that continues and I am sure I would have to switch over to an advanced program a year from now.

Talking about goals; my goal this year is to have a 400lb deadlift at current bodyweight or less. a 275lb squat also sounds delicious and I think is quite achievable. As far as military press goes, I want to venture into the 135lb territory. And I don’t really care for the bench that much anyway. Another important goal is to train with the wife and make her strong(her). I did get a chance to train with her after the wedding and I must say that she is one of the feistiest people I have ever trained with. She just doesn’t give up and that can be good and bad. But I really like the attitude she has in the gym (and outside the gym 🙂 ) 

This brings me to the end of this post, I promise I will be more regular posting here and will post some videos of my lifts soon. Until then take care and lift heavy!

Image

It’s been a while since my last update. I have been on the 5/3/1 boring but big template for about 3 months now. And the good thing is that I am really getting big while getting stronger and leaner at the same time.

To put things in perspective, I have gained about 7-8 lbs in the last 2-3 months. So I am definitely getting bigger. As far as strength goes, I recently squatted 215 lbs for 4 reps which is a PR for both weight and reps. I also shoulder pressed 115 lbs for a single which is a PR again. In a couple weeks I plan to test my max on the deadlift and I hope it exceeds or at least equals my last PR. So I am definitely getting stronger. How do I say I am getting leaner at the same time? I look in the mirror everyday and the mirror doesn’t lie. Also none of my pants have gotten tighter even the slightest bit while I gained those 7-8 lbs so I can safely assume that I am maintaining my body fat percent if not getting leaner.

In the recent past, I wrote a post about fasting and how it helped me get leaner faster. And I am doing nothing different to be honest. My training routine (5/3/1 Boring but Big) has helped me gain size while getting stronger. At the same time Intermittent Fasting has enabled me to keep the fat away while gaining muscle. If there was truly a holy grail for being lean all year round and gain lean muscle and get stronger, you shouldn’t look any further than intermittent fasting.

If you don’t suffer from a sugar disease (diabetes) or a heart condition, and you’re not pregnant or nursing, you can safely follow intermittent fasting. I would recommend you read all the resources I mention at the bottom of this post before you start out. And always remember, there are really no shortcuts to anything. So if you are set out to achieve a certain physique, you will have to toil through a lot and face a lot of highs and lows.

I started training in September 2012. That was around the same time I started intermittent fasting. There have been really awesome days in the gym when I obliterated all previous personal records. And then there have been days where I questioned what I was doing and thought of giving up. But the key is to keep yourself motivated constantly and not look back. When you’re under the iron in the power cage, you get to know yourself better and it instills a new confidence. You develop new strengths and strengthen your character.

Even though intermittent fasting has worked for me, it might not work for you. Everyone is different and nothing comes in one size fits all. But if you think it might work for you, give it a shot and see how you feel. After 17 months of doing intermittent fasting, I feel great today. And when I look in the mirror, a sense of accomplishment hits me.

So yes, you can grow stronger, bigger and leaner at the same time. It just takes brutal determination, unbeatable consistency and a strong solid will.

Resources –

http://www.leangains.com/

http://www.eatstopeat.com/

Recent Developments

Posted: December 7, 2013 by Savvy Saver in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , ,

It’s been a while since I updated the blog. I have been lazy and worked up. However, I do have a lot to update in this post. 

I recently got the opportunity to attend Learn to Train 7 seminar organized by EliteFTS in Columbus, Ohio. I was very excited to attend the seminar and to meet the powerlifters whom I could just watch videos of or read about. Unfortunately there was no lifting on the first day. Matt Wenning was the first speaker. I remember him saying that he didn’t train the overhead barbell press because he benched 600 lbs. But when he did, he pressed 405 lbs overhead. I didn’t pay much attention toward the rest of the speakers. I was just looking at all the folks around and reflecting on how small I was. I think I was the smallest person in the entire seminar barring a few women maybe. 

The second day was training day. We were split into groups and were to squat, bench and deadlift to get our form checked. A few trainers were very helpful and enthusiastic but a few were not very helpful. They had opinions which were set in stone and didn’t want to accept anything else. This happened more on the squat. I usually follow what Rippetoe says for the squat because I think he makes sense. He advises to keep your elbows back instead of down which helps in keeping the hands to help you lift the weight. Keeping elbows back helps stabilize the weight on the back which is the only thing your hands should be doing in a squat. They asked me to do more back workouts to make my back stronger so I could squat like they wanted me to. I do think I have to work a little bit on my torso angle on the squat, but I think progress will come slowly and it is nothing which cannot be worked upon. I have already incorporated Good Mornings in my workouts.

Next was the bench and I think this is the session I got the most benefit from. Before the seminar, I had zero leg drive and I believe this was making my bench stall. They taught me how to use leg drive as an advantage and that totally changed the way I look at the bench. I think I am going to be a lot stronger on the bench post seminar.

The deadlift session was a good one too. This is my favorite lift and I don’t think I need much work on this. My previous max was 315 lbs and I managed to break that to lift 325 lbs. It didn’t really feel like a max because the weight went up pretty quick and easy. I proceeded to try 365 after much encouragement of the coaches and managed to lift it off the ground. However, I didn’t lock it out. I think I could have, but I had a flight to catch in 3 hours and I didn’t want to be miserable on the flight so I let go.

At this moment I am almost done with my first wave of 5/3/1 which I had to repeat because of the 2 weeks lapse in training. I will be starting the second wave soon and I am very excited about it because I am going to be squatting 215 lbs which is going to be the heaviest I have ever done. I will keep updating this page as I get the time.  

Initialization in the ways of the Iron

Posted: October 12, 2013 by tnt007tarun in Uncategorized

I am one of the author’s friends who is also a strength training buff, and I had actually used strength training + diet as a way to lose fat a couple of years ago.

This quote is what galvanized me to take action one fine New Year’s eve. I was overweight, bordering on the edge of obese. Unhealthy, lazy and stuck to the computer all day, I was whiling away my health and life. I’ve always wanted to look and feel good – who doesn’t? But I never took the steps to make it happen since I did not want to put in the work and more importantly was afraid of failing. Failing myself and failing those who would believe in me.

Things had gone too far though, and I was prepared to go through everything to at least start getting myself on the right path. This was December 31st 2009. I scoured the internet for information on how to start losing weight. I tried to lose weight before but never found any success – I tried doing cardio but my diet was not in control. This time I knew that my diet had to be in control first. And so, after reading up and reading the right things – I got my hands on a free e-book that expounded the virtues of compound exercises – the squat, bench press, deadlift, shoulder press. I only knew how to bench and was poor at it too. But I made it a point to learn research and apply. I started going to the gym in early January, and my first couple of months were spent learning how to do the exercises right. I was so unfit I couldn’t even squat parallel without losing balance.

Nevertheless, I kept on. People at my gym wondered why I was trying to learn an exercise (the squat) no one else bothered to do. I kept getting advice like “You can work out with me – chest on Monday, biceps on Wednesday and triceps on Friday”, and the like, but I was having none of it. I was finally able to squat properly with the bar in early March; I was so happy! Now I could start out on a proper training regimen. I bought Starting Strength and followed the program but without the extra calories and definitely without GOMAD (Gallon Of Milk A Day). I kept losing weight in the right areas and slowly started building muscle that totally changed the shape of my body! Everyone started commenting that I was looking great – what was I doing? What was the secret? I didn’t have the heart to tell them I spent two months learning an exercise and then training 3 days a week for the next 6 months.

I was around 230 pounds when I started out, and was able to drop down to 180, with all my compound lifts between the novice and intermediate weights for my weight class. I later had a bout of typhoid but was surprised to see that my strength was still mostly intact! A 50 pound fat loss coupled with increased lifts all round. All this showed me that I made the right decisions. Compound lifts. A program that worked. Bodyweight grams of protein. And a will to succeed – a most potent combination! Strength training builds character and a restlessness to always work hard if you want results.

gen

220 lb to 180 lb, strength training and calorie deficit

One of the biggest things to miss out on life is to explore what you’re own body is capable of. A lot of people will die without exploring their own limits and I feel that is very sad. Why wouldn’t someone want to know their limits? Isn’t it a part of self assessment and exploration? This post however is about the different perspectives of beauty in the world.

blog post

 

I write this to all the women in the world (doesn’t mean men shouldn’t take notice). The media and paparazzi of today has created an image of the perfect woman. This perfect woman is slim and that supposedly makes her sexy. I urge you to look at the photos above and tell me which pair of legs looks sexier? The one on the left which is markedly slim or the one on the right which appears firmer and stronger? To be honest, the lady on the left is clearly not eating enough food.

In my opinion a woman should be strong too. With the advent of modern technology, the need for strength is losing its value among people. It used to be expected of men to be strong physically as they had to protect their family and support it. Now the only support required is financial. This is one of the reasons why we have diabetes, heart disease, obesity and all of this is just because of a lack of awareness. But women need to be strong too. A woman undergoes many stages in her life which requires a lot of strength; childbirth being one. A woman needs to have legs strong enough to carry herself when she has a life inside of her. Do you think the lady on the left has legs strong enough? A woman also needs to be strong enough to pick up her child and walk around with it all day if required. Mind you that is not a measly task and it requires strength.

The media paints a very dazzling picture of how a woman should look and we, like sheep, follow what they say. Here are a few examples of how the media dictates our perception of beauty.

Case of Disappearing Muscles of Celebrities

Photoshop makes Celebs look brighter more appealing

We all know what happened to Beyonce at the Superbowl. She sported her strong muscular legs and this is what they did to mock her.

The media needs to stop the campaign of defining feminine beauty. The campaign is more anti-women than it is pro-women. The women of the world need to wake up and realize what the media has done to them in terms of their food habits and everything else. And the first step has to be taken by us. We as responsible inhabitants of this planet have to tell the media to go to hell and boycott the airbrushing of celebrities.

In the first link above there is a picture of Olympic cyclist Victoria Pendleton. When she saw her exposed back with the muscles, she was proud because she put in a lot of hard work to achieve that. And what did the media do? The retouched her muscles to make her look feminine. Women are also human beings. And all human beings have muscles – around 600-800 in all. It is very natural for women to have them as they are the same species as men. Now they don’t have the hormone testosterone in as much quantity as we men do. That makes their muscles smaller in general than their male counterparts. But it certainly doesn’t mean that a female cannot have muscles. In fact having more muscle mass is beneficial for longevity and health of any individual.

I hope someday people will wake up and help me change this perception of female beauty. Women with legs like the lady on the left in the picture don’t need praise; they need help.

 

muscle - nervous system

I know that the post title sounds funny. Muscle virus is actually a termed coined by Elliot Hulse, strongman and strength training/fitness/health guru. I was watching a short video series yesterday when I realized that I might have a common deformity which might impact my weight lifting.

Since when I was a small kid, I have noticed that my neck is slightly tilted to one side. The tilt is so small that I never noticed it in the mirror, neither did my parents. However, when I used to go to the studio to get my picture clicked, the photographer always asked me to straighten my face. And I never understood why he said that. Over the years I came to realize that it was there and I would have to live with it for the rest of my life. I had never even thought the kind of impact it could have in my life.

I read many fitness articles and watch tons of videos everyday. And I learn something new everyday. In this video series, Elliot talks about the various muscle imbalances that might be preventing the guy from lifting heavy weights without injury or pain. In the video he talks about Atlast adjustment. So I did some research and found this video of his. Here he gives some more details about muscle imbalances and how they might be related to the nervous system. He talks about how a certain set of vertebra in the body (Atlas) floats and can be adjusted. This vertebra directs the function of the rest of the spine and hence the whole central nervous system.

The picture above shows the detailed muscular anatomy of a human (forgive me for using a male as an example, I am not chauvinistic). It just so happens that your left shoulder, lats, traps are linked to your right hip, low back muscles and both of these as a group are linked to your left leg muscles as pointed in the picture. So, if you’re stronger in the right hand side of the body, it is very likely that your left hip is stronger than your right. I didn’t know this and now it makes so much sense to me. This is the reason why I feel as stable as a rock when I kick a football with my right leg; because my left (stronger) hip keeps my body stable while I execute the motion.

Elliot Hulse calls this a muscle virus. In simple terms it is just how the muscular and the nervous system overlap. So what do you do if you find that you have such muscle imbalances or a tilted Atlas? I am going to the chiropractor to see what they can do. Other than that, in today’s lifting session I tried hard to focus all my strength on my weak side. It actually felt good and my right (weaker) hip is sore now. I would also recommend yoga and lots of stretching combined with a lot of foam rolling. Foam rolling has done so many wonders for me that I can’t even count them on my fingers.

Will update about how my session with the chiropractor goes and the wealth of information I get from there. Until then happy lifting!