Friday, January 29, 2010

This blog summarized in 2 words.

I'm so lazy, but yet I find the will to post (aka, procrastinate reading for my classes). If I have to summarize this blog in 2 words, they would be:

Lift smart

Yes, that's it.

If you come by here, you know I stress efficiency, quality, proper warm-ups, etc.

Although, it brings up a new question. Why the blog?

The answer to that and other exciting adventures are in the weeks ahead, stay tuned!

Have a good weekend everyone...

...and thanks for stopping by.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Lessons from Ninja Warrior

Fact: Ninjas are cool.

I like the show Ninja Warrior (including the women's version). Not familiar with either? Here's a clip from each of the series. Each clip shows all the obstacles the contestants have to go through.

He's a fisherman.

Ignore the annoying
English announcer.

It doesn't look easy, but seems like plenty of fun. I'd prefer doing events like these for charity instead of those 5k walks/runs.

But, that's another topic altogether. If you checked out the clips, you can actually learn bit and pieces of what attributes are needed to succeed. Will they make you an instant


No, probably not, but they're definitely important aspects of physical strength and athleticism. With a little assistance from our good
ol' friend weight training, we're good to go.

Lists are easy on the eyes, so let's roll with that.
Grip strength reigns supreme:

- Stages had various forms of hardcore hand clinging. While it was more emphasized for the men than women, it's equally important to both sexes. If you can't hold on to it, forget trying anything else.

- If you're going heavy on overhand deadlifts & pulls, enough said. Other tricks of the trade are plate pinching, farmer's walks, and thick handles (done by wrapping a hand towel around a handle).

It's all relative pull-ups:

- There's a lot of hanging for the men. Pulls - horizontal & vertical - are great for the body, not to mention people don't do enough of them.

- A combination of pull/chin-ups, lat-pull downs, and/or rows are a simple start.


- Getting through 1 obstacle doesn't call for celebration. Going through a series of them is physically exhausting.

- Conditioning workouts are key here. A session can be anywhere from 4 to 20 minutes. If you're going for an hour, chances are the intensity isn't enough.

Need to know how to use the body:

- There's a lot of switching between unilateral & bilateral work, meaning the hands/legs are working independently & together at various points of time. An example of unilateral coordination is seen in the very first video's initial obstacle, side-to-side jumping, and bilateral in the second where the woman does the hop rocket (both legs working in conjunction to explode into the air).

- Bilaterals are typically done with any barbells, while unilateral can be done in a number of ways such as dumbbells, kettlebells, ropes, pistol squats, 1-handed push-ups, so and so forth.

- Compound lifts are an excellent way to use the body as one whole working system.

Power/rate of force development:

- It's how fast you generate strength in a given time. Faster you do it, the better and more strength you can bust out. It's most evident in the massive broad jumps and hops that are performed. No point in having strength if you can't be quick with it.

- Plyometrics, sprints, medicine ball slams/tosses/throws, & Olympic lifts all improve power/ROFD.

Working in more than 1 plane of motion:

- Contestants have to move their feet around more than just going forward. They go all over the place! This is also seen in sports such as football and tennis. The players are constantly changing directions.

- Variations of regular lifts like lateral lunges, lateral step-ups, rotational movements, side-to-side pull-ups, and as well as sport-specific drills are performed in different planes.

Balance, coordination, speed, & agility:

- As you can see, the contestants are not fumbling all over the course. Rather, they're moving along it with excellent precision and grace.

- Unilateral work again. Balance can also be improved by simply balancing on 1 hand or foot and going through motions with the other. An example such as a 1-handed push-up position while moving a light weight plate around on the floor.

- Speed goes back to power/ROFD.


- Just seeing how their ankles are positioned at certain instances shows they've got great mobility.

- This is too expansive to cover in this post, but use what's listed in the dynamic warm-up here as a basic starting guide. Youtube channels such as these - 1, 2, 3, 4 - also list more movements to use. Check them out.
There you have it.

Hopefully I covered everything and you can apply some of this information to your own training to help with progress.

Cause above all things, the take home point of this post was...

...ninjas are cool.

Except this one.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

A conclusion

What it means to be strong.

Why did I do this series?

For one, I thought it would be informative to share what I learned in my psychology class and how it combines with what I've known about most women's beliefs on exercise.

Helpful, but it's the least important aspect.

Survival of the fittest is an interesting statement. Physical abilities aren't humans' most vital need in present times.

But, if it came to it, women aren't equipped with strength. It's a problem, a big one.

As we age, we get weaker. It's a fact. And recall, I mentioned at the end of part 1 that the purpose of the muscular system is for movement.

If a woman is weak at her peak age - around mid 20's - then how will she fare later in life?

It's even worse of a problem since society has become increasingly sedentary.

Strength builds confidence and self-esteem.

It's necessary.

Pictured above is professional boxer Natalia Ragozina. A month or so ago, I read an article on CNN about her. She faced off against an opponent 60 lbs. heavier.

Do your weight +60 and imagine fighting someone that much heavier. It seems impossible to win.

But it's not.

Neither is getting the body you want.

Natalia Ragozina: plenty strong & no bulk.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

When Anna Meets Jane, part 4: A Start to the Right Path

Step 1, give those good-for-nothing
weightless dumbbells to someone else.

Not too much fluff in this post, just the information you need to get started. But, a quick recap is in order.
Part 1: There are reasons why women don't like their body.
Part 2: Other minor external reasons exist as well, which are quite significant.
Part 3: Problems are encountered when armed with less-than-optimal information.
Part 4: Better information for you to use.
Let's start with nutrition.


First, here are solid guidelines that anyone can follow. Specifically, the 7 rules of good nutrition.

"1. Eat every 2-3 hours, no matter what. You should eat between 5-8 meals per day.

2. Eat complete (containing all the essential amino acids), lean protein with each meal.

3. Eat fruits and/or vegetables with each food meal.

4. Ensure that your carbohydrate intake comes from fruits and vegetables. Exception: workout and post-workout drinks and meals.

5. Ensure that 25-35% of your energy intake comes from fat, with your fat intake split equally between saturates (e.g. animal fat), monounsaturates (e.g., olive oil), and polyunsaturates (e.g. flax oil, salmon oil).

6. Drink only non-calorie containing beverages, the best choices being water and green tea.

7. Eat mostly whole foods (except workout and post-workout drinks)."
Now don't be silly and try all 7 at once. That's asking for failure. Try one at a time. After you've mastered one, incorporate a second rule into the mix. In other words, can't make a baby sprint if the baby doesn't know how to crawl (let alone stand).

Are the rules set in stone? No, of course not, but they work well for those who have no idea how to eat for fat loss. Also, take note that it's important to eat when you're hungry rather than every 2-3 hours. But, if you consume a regular-sized meal, expect hunger to strike roughly every 2-4 hours at least and if you haven't eaten enough, you'll become hungry sooner than normal.

And what if you don't want to eat vegetables for breakfast? No worries, double up at another meal, like lunch or dinner.

The rules are for guidance.

Now, that alone isn't enough. People have questions.

I look at a lot of blogs and websites to learn more. Some are good, some aren't. The most I come across that are good are exercise-based, while dietary ones are more about listing recipes.

Eh, that's alright, but it could be better. That's why I'm plugging Georgie's site into this post, I was going to list Precision Nutrition, but well, you need to pay for that.

Georgie is a Registered Dietitian, the Sports Dietitian for Rutgers' - my university - athletics, lists recipes, but above all that, my favorite part? She discusses how nutrition and exercise interact - a perfect example is here. The two help one another out.

The bonus? You can submit a question which she'll answer in detail.

This should be more than enough to get you started to slim those thunder thighs. But, what about exercise?


I wrote a simple beginner's strength training program, which if you're interested in, you can download for free by clicking here (it's a MS Word document). If someone follows it, let me know and I'll write a new one for the next 3 weeks.

All the information you need is in the document, but I'm going to list the dynamic warm-up movements and the program's exercises here with demonstration links. You can watch them to see how they're performed. Click the superscript number to view a video/picture.

Dynamic warm-up
  • Standing hip flexor/quad stretch 1 I
  • Side-lying leg raise 2 [let your toes point straight ahead]
  • Glute bridge 3
  • Wall slides 4 II
  • Pec stretch 5 III
  • Split squat w/ overhead reach 6 IV
I: For each repetition, hold the leg for a full 1 second count then release.
II: Keep the back of the hands on the wall and actively rotate/press them into the wall. Good explanation here.
III: For each repetition, hold the stretch for a full count of 1 second.
IV: Minus the bar and stay in place rather than moving back & forth.

The program
  • Pull-through 7
  • Conventional deadlift 8
  • Underhand seated cable row 9
  • DB bench press 10
  • Plank [standard version] 11 V
  • DB goblet squat 12
  • Overhand lat-pulldown 13
  • Standing DB press 14
  • Single-side DB farmers walk 15 VI
V: First shown is the standard version. Perform against an incline or spreading your feet apart if the floor version is too difficult. An incline bench works great.
VI: One dumbbell at a time on each side. Hold on your left side for certain amount of distance, then the right side, that's 1 set. Squeeze hard, walk tall & straight with good posture. Set's done when your form deteriorates or you can't hold on any longer.

That's all there is to it. If there are any questions, ask away on this post or shoot me an email at and I'll be more than happy to help out.

While this concludes the series, I'll write a formal conclusion for the entire series, and express my own thoughts on it all. Expect it Thursday.

Now, for those who do follow this program and advice, that's great! Best of luck! I hope you all enjoyed this. That's all I got.

Maybe you'll look like this by 2011.
One thing's certain, this lady has no jiggle.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

When Anna Meets Jane, part 3: The Results from a Bad Foundation

It is fun, but not whatever the hell she's doing.

Parts 1 & 2 covered the factors affecting women and fitness. The former examined the major problems, while the latter discussed slightly less direct details that are beyond one's own control.

Today, we'll take a closer look at what women do when they decide "Enough of this muffin top and these jiggly thighs, I need to take action!" and then unfortunately, simply make bad choices. First up will be exercise methods followed by nutritional approaches.


Let's begin with a real kick in the crotch.

No way in hell do women who lift want to look like this:

"Hulk smash!"
And to answer your question,
yes, I did vomit all over my
keyboard after seeing this.

And luckily, they can't unless they inject themselves full of steroids.

BUT, despite not wanting to look like that, they follow a bodybuilder routine, meaning a body part split. You know, either one muscle a day or chest/back on one day, biceps/triceps another, legs this day, so on and so forth. These methods are employed by bodybuilders to really emphasize their muscles and get distinct muscular definition.

Perplexing eh? Often, women - as do men - choose to follow a regimen like this because it's what's most popular. It's not a program for those who want to avoid the "bulk."

It's a given people don't like to venture out of their comfort zones, so these same people do what's familiar and simple. They resort to exercises everyone else does in the gym and/or hop on a machine.

If not that, too much time is spent using weights that aren't heavy enough to elicit adaptation, meaning no progress, and train too often in the vertical plane (weight moves up & down in relation to the body, i.e., squat, curl, shoulder press, etc.). The lack of horizontal work - specifically pulls - leads to imbalances. Not to mention, your boobs may look saggier than they should because of weak back muscles (magnifies hunched posture).

And because I couldn't resist...

She look familiar to you? We've all seen
a lady like this. Just don't become her.

Also, keep in mind why lifting light weights isn't effective. If they're light, they won't require as much energy to move them. How will you burn fat? Low intensity exercise doesn't call on your body to use its stored energy - specifically, the fat you want to get rid of.

And if you didn't quite catch that,
light weights = low intensity = less fat loss
Women typically focus on trying to slim their arms, which requires less overall work. That's a small part of a total package. If a woman wants to look good to go out on the town, she won't paint her nails and be done. She'll do her make-up, her hair, find an outfit, choose accessories, and anything else us guys don't understand.

Likewise, the body needs to be treated as a whole. The bulk of the body is the torso and thighs. Effort should be concentrated there.

And oh those thighs, they are tricky. There's a lot to it, thus, better if I make a list.
  • Weak posterior chain (muscles on the back of the body) creates an imbalance
  • Women's quadriceps, front thigh muscles, are strong and become stronger with age, intensifying the imbalance
  • Worsens since lower-body exercise focus is on leg presses, leg extensions, lunges, and squats, which predominantly train the quadriceps
  • Using a treadmill shuts off the hamstrings, making the quadriceps do all the work
Pretty sucky if I do say so myself.
It's boring, but you don't
have to lie about it.

Endurance exercise itself is overused and the popular form of it is to run. Running is a sport in itself and can't be taken up thinking it leads to automatic fat loss. I'll be doing a future post on running, therefore I won't expound any further on it here.

All this usually ends up with a woman exhausted, stressed, not satisfied, wasting time & effort, but above all things, not having the body they want.


This is equally as important as the exercise section. What good is it to upgrade the parts of a computer (your body) if you're not going to install the proper software for it to function (food)?

I always wonder what the girl who says "Carbs are bad" and "Fats are bad" eats.

Although, it's probably not surprising she eats nothing but salads. I'm not knocking salads, but they definitely shouldn't be viewed as the solution to weight loss along with portion control.

Can't promise a carb free salad since
vegetables contain the carbohydrate cellulose.

Portion control works and is useful if a person is already eating unprocessed foods, but a problem comes about for those who continue to consume junk food. If you're scaling back the amount of junk you eat until your goal weight is achieved, it will return
once you begin consuming the amount of food you were before practicing restraint.

And you become unsatisfied again. Big shocker.

But as always, it's not that simple. Yo-yo dieting is pretty common. Instead of fat being burned in a caloric deficit, muscle is broken down because the body isn't given adequate nourishment of the necessary nutrients.

To simply even further:
Less muscle = less body weight at first
Which is the primary goal, BUT because more energy is used to maintain muscle than fat and there's less muscle now...
Less muscle = slower metabolism, leading to easier fat gain
In the long run, you'll get what you got rid of plus some extra. That's not just failure, that's worse. (Epic failure sounds appropriate)

Additionally, let's not forget the time spent miserably controlling foods to eat and how much to eat. I'm also willing to bet during the decreased food intake, someone wasn't feeling all sunshine and rainbows either. Probably more along the lines of "Get the hell away from me before I beat you for that cookie!"

Honestly, I'd expect a person to be in a more depressed mood after an unsuccessful attempt and there's no telling whether they may binge or not, especially if their fitness-related actions are perceived as hopeless. After not meeting their goals, they may think "What's the point of watching what I eat if I'm not getting any results?" and proceed to chow down on anything and everything.

A smart approach needs to be taken to achieve the desired body. My dad always says think first or there's no meaning in working hard. It's good advice.

But it isn't all gloom and doom for women.

I wouldn't leave you hanging without any solutions.

Hardly. I would never do such a thing.

But of course, I need to leave something for part 4.

And on that note, I hope you all enjoyed this 3rd installment and advise you to stay glued for the finale! In it, I'll share with you an exercise program or two and resources to start making progress.

Salad anyone?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

When Anna Meets Jane, part 2: The Contribution Men & the Media Make to Create Weak Women

"I thought you were kidding! I thought it was a
joke, I even wrote it down in my diary."

Bold title of me to choose? Possibly.

In the first installment, we took a look at how women are not satisfied with their body due to changes that come about in life, as well as some interpersonal influences, that push women to exercise, but certainly not efficiently.

Today in part 2, we'll discuss subtle less known societal factors, which believe it or not, are significant themselves.

One day, my ears caught the following:
"Yeah she plays sports and is athletic, but I don't really like girls like that."
I thought it was absurd, but I didn't know the guy, so I just kept walking.

It wouldn't be a big deal, but it's not the first time I've heard such a statement. Some guys aren't attracted to a girl who takes up weight training. They either don't like muscles on a girl, think it's not part of the "proper" feminine role (whatever that is), feels it threatens their alpha male status, or some other outlandish idea.

And of course, women want to impress the opposite sex, but not in an unattractive manner (i.e., lifting weights). As a result, they either go hit the lovely cardio machines or that small area of the gym with dumbbells no higher than 35 lbs. If it's the latter, they still don't lift a weight that's heavier than a gallon of milk.

What if they venture into - gasp! - the guys' area and do real lifting? All the guys, unfortunately, stare. I'm sure that's what they were trying to accomplish. The only women their lifting like they should, and all eyes are on her. I bet that makes her feel so much more comfortable - yeah right.

All that combined with those women who believe it will bulk them up, well you could understand why they would never venture near a barbell.

What about the media? What do they do in all this?

Plenty. Models anyone? Tall, thin, and most importantly, unrealistic.

There's a large gap between what they present and what is typical of most women. If the average body weight of women has been increasing, due to improved health and nutrition, how are they suppose to look like a model? The average American women is 5'4" tall and 140 lbs., but the average American model is 5'11" and 115 lbs. These women aren't representative of the norm, but are presented as the ideal figure.

Let's not forget magazines and the images they publish. The rise of computers has allowed us to do incredible things. Photoshop however, is now used to edit photos before they are published. A great demonstration of how drastic the changes are can be seen in the following video.

Women see those magazines and want to look like that, but it's not even possible!

Television shows have the main characters as slim women. How often is the leading actress not attractive? or large? Usually, not a lot, except maybe Ugly Betty.

Ugly Betty left, and on the right, you can
see America Ferrara is hardly ugly.

Addition to that, these women in movies and TV are depicted as successful and powerful.

Advertisements try to make women feel unattractive because they're trying to push what they're selling, hoping they'll provoke women enough to buy it.

Now, we have more factors added to the previous ones mentioned last time. Exercise and health is tougher for women than it should be.

Weight training is important for women - more so than it is for men - because it offers a host of benefits, such as (taken from Science and Practice of Strength Training)
  • Increased bone density, reducing risk of osteoporosis
  • Stronger connective tissues to increase joint stability and help prevent injury
  • Increased strength for daily activity
  • Increased lean body mass and decreased body fat
  • Higher metabolic rate because of increased muscle mass
  • Improved self-esteem and confidence
The bottom line?

There are a lot more factors affecting women in relation to exercise than there are that affect men. Don't let them come between you and the body you want.

So just lift. Suzanna Sanchez does, and boy, does she go heavy.

Next week, part 3 will cover the common mistakes and problems that women encounter in training and diet. Stay tuned!
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