Tuesday, December 14, 2010

OK I'm back

I have much more access to the internet these days, so i'll be updating this blog more often now

Thursday, September 23, 2010

I've reached my goal

Hello all,

My PTTP journey started on the 28/06/2008 with a starting deadlift of 270#. I got this program with the purpose of building strength without gaining much mass, as was advertised, more specifically lower body strength to help increase my VJ. I set a goal of a 600# deadlift to ensure that I had a good strength base to work with.

Yesterday, everything game together as I pulled up the 600# loaded bar off the ground.

I would like to thank Pavel, for writing PTTP. I'll still say it's one of the best strength training books ever written. To the DragonDoor forum, for giving me encouragement, pointers and tips along the way and most of all, I'll like to thank God for helping me to reach my goal without any major injuries. I hope from this post that people can get some sort of encouragement and realize that gaining strength is for anybody and everybody. If I can get stronger, anybody can.

As for what I'll do next, I'll still use the PTTP format, but do squats at least 2x a week and deadlift 2x a week with the barbell military press 4x a week. I'll also start the PM from ETK with my 16k and work up to doing the ROP. I know when I'm doing the ROP I'll have to back off on the PTTP format.

I really apologize for not having a video, but I hope to have a video of a 600# lift soon.

I'm still working on those military presses, though :D.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Trinidad doesn't know what they are missing out on

OK, you might want to know what I'm talking about. Click on the link below

Brian Chin Leung - Kettlebell training

I may sound biased. OK, I admit, I am biased, but it's because I love kettlebells, and I believe that if Trinidad and Tobago gets exposed to them, spin instructors may go out of business. Seriously, they are that good.

I hope, that over time, this would change. And I plan to be at the forefront to make this change a reality. People here spend too much money on fancy gyms and personal trainers with very little results other than loss of weight.....of their wallets.

If you are from Trinidad, and would like more information about kettlebells and their benefits, the main website I recommend for a start is DragonDoor.com and you can take a read of some success stories and kettlebell articles. Hopefully, this would get you thinking.

Monday, August 30, 2010

PR on my military press

Last week Thursday, I was able to do 1 rep of 90# on my standing barbell military press. On the same day, I was able to do 5 reps total of 80# on the same exercise. On my last cycle, I wasn't able to do 1 rep with 80#. I'm really glad for the progress. May not be much, but I had to start somewhere :D

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Training progress

Today, I tried for a 1RM pull in the deadlift. 570#, the most I've ever deadlifted. After the max pull, this was my workout:

440# x 5 reps
400# x 5 reps

Military Press:-
70# x 4 reps
70# x 1 rep
60# x 5 reps

KB swings for 12 mins:- 320 swings

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Deadlift is NOT a back exercise!!

From an earlier post, I said that the misconception out there of people thinking that the deadlift is a back exercise and thus has lead to poor form in the deadlift. In this video below, there will be people who will be doing the deadlift with their back and those who will be doing the lift with their legs. See if you can recognize the difference:

Now if you guessed that the lifters with the rounded (lower) backs were lifting with their backs, you are correct. Lifting with rounded backs means that the glutes and hamstrings are not being used to lift the weights off the floor, but the back. However, if the (lower) backs are straight, this means that the legs were used to lift the weight off the floor.

Now you might ask what's the point of this? Lifting with your back means that you are robbing yourself of your full potential. You can never lift more with your back more than you can lift with your legs. Also, this puts your back in a very risky position, as the lower back flexion puts the spine at the greatest risk for disk slippage and straining of ligaments. Never happened to me, but what I heard of it, it's not a nice thing to experience. Any serious injury equals lost training time, and a lot of times, having to restart to build back up your strength. I don't want this to happen to you, hence the reason for this post.

My progress

I just finished a Power to the People deadlift cycle with a 10# improvement. I was able to do 520# for 2 reps off a 4" deficit. So I'll take the rest of the week off and start back on Monday on the deadlift.

As for the press (military), I'm doing 60# x 5 reps and 50# x 5 reps so I'll be doing that for one more day and then increase the press by 10#. Hopefully I can do the 70# for 5 reps without putting the bar down.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

My two cents on diet

As a gym trainer, this is a very common start of a conversation between a new gym member and myself if they come to me for help:

Client: "I want to lose weight and get toned."

Trinigirevik: "Just to let you know, yes, exercise will help you to lose weight. However, you can have the best exercise program, if your diet is not up to scratch, you will not lose the weight."

Client: "So what do you recommend?"

Trinigirevik (now I'm talking to you viewers on the interwebs):

"Now before I continue, just to let you know I'm not a diet professional and if you want someone to structure a diet for you, contact a dietician. However, that is going to cost you, but if it's necessary, do it.

For most people, I think one simple change in their diet is going to have a major change in their body composition. Most people in this world like sweet things. Now there's nothing wrong with liking sweet things. I like sweet things too. However, there are sweet things that will get you fat, and there are sweet things that will help you lose fat.

According to this link, one person consumes appoximately 24lbs of sugar per person per year. In other words, the global consumption of sugar is approximately 144 billion lbs. No wonder 1 billion adults are overweight and 3 million are considered obese.

Too much of this...

Can lead to this

I have a simple suggestion. Instead of eating 3 cheesecake slices, eat as much apples to your heart's content. Instead of drinking 6 sodas a day, drink 6 glasses of water a day (and more). In other words, satisfy your sweet tooth with fruits: apples, pears, mangoes, soursop, guavas, grapes etc. There are many others that you can have at your disposal. They are more satisfying, as in they make you feel full faster and longer. So your hunger urges are reduced and you just cannot put in the same amount of calories in one setting as say 3 slices of cheesecake and 2 Coke drinks.

Consuming more of this...

Can lead to this

Diet is an extremely broad and deep topic, and there are many angles where this can be tackled. However, I think this advice here is advice you may have heard before. There is a reason for that; because it works! BUT IF YOU ARE DIABETIC, CHECK WITH YOUR DOCTOR AND DIETICIAN!!!! This is one of the instances where you have to spend the money on a dietician. But for most people, doing this simple switch can go a long way in helping one to lose weight. And if you do this in conjunction with strength training, you may be turning heads at the beach one day."

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Deadlift.... back exercise....or is it?

The deadlift. Pick up a weight off the floor and stand up straight with the weight. That's it. As simple as you can get. Or is it? If it is so simple, then why are people afraid of the deadlift? Maybe because you have seen a video of a powerlifter doing deadlifts and it didn't look like much fun

But the major topic that I'm going to tackle right now is the conception that the deadlift is a back exercise. Now, the deadlift is good for the back (gasp!) and the back is used in the exercise, but the (mis)conception that a lot of people have is the fact the back is the primary force driving the deadlift. Wrong! Because of this,a lot of poor form has been encountered in the deadlift.

To make a long story short, the legs (mainly glutes and hamstrings) are the main muscles used to start the deadlift. They are the most powerful muscles in the body. Using the back to lift weight off the floor is like asking a 3 year old boy to pull a truck. The lower back muscles are the smallest muscles in the entire posterior chain. No wonder why people pull back muscles when doing improper deads

In a later post, I will show how the legs are to be positioned so that the legs are used to pull weight, and not the back.

Until next time, happy training

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Calling all women to pick up heavy weights!!!

*Cricket sound...........................................................*

Yes, you heard me. Ladies, if you want to look like this,

you might want to take a look at the kind of training she does. Here is an article from Barry Ross, a coach who strength trained Ms. Felix before she turned pro.

The Holy Grail in Speed Training

The intro may seem a little bit long winded for people who are not into strength and conditioning but the take home point of this article is that if you want to look a certain way, do the training that will help you get there. And the training does not have to be tedious, but it must be intense. As seen in the article, Allyson and her training partners at the time, were doing deadlifts in the 250-300 # range. Now take a look in the picture above and tell me if she looks like Arnold's evil twin sister.

I get this from ladies all the time in the gym, "I don't want to lift heavy, I don't want to get big and cumbersome, I don't want to look like a man etc. etc." Look at the picture above again, and do a check on your fears.

For further confirmation, here is a video of Yoana Snidemann doing a Turkish Get-Up with a 53 lb kettlebell:

And another video of her doing other exercises, and as she says, lifting heavy is a good way to get lean:

But this doesn't mean that you are going to start lifting 100lbs from the get-go. No, you have to start light, just like everybody else. But don't stick with Ken & Barbie weights all you life. They are not going to help you get lean.

As a final argument, this is a good article for reading:

Train Like a Man - Especially if You’re a Woman

I hope this post and the extra reading material can put to rest some of the fears of women doing strength training

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

OK?!! What next are they going to come up with?

Looking at the fitness industry, I've seen really groundbreaking products to the downright ridiculous. This one goes beyond ridiculous. It's called the Shake Weight. Have a look:

I think Kenny says it best about what I think of this :D

For those of you thinking of buying this FOR FITNESS PURPOSES (for other uses, the ball is in your court), my advice is 'Don't waste your $$$$$$$!'. At least I wouldn't. They are a joke, and they are downright lying to you. You might be better off with your pilates class.

My opinion is this, if you want to get ripped, defined or build muscle, lift heavy weights, eat lots of protein and fruits and do sprints (this is my twitter opinion, although I don't have twitter):

A time tested tool for building muscle

Monday, July 26, 2010

My training progress

As I stated in an earlier post, I've been using Power to the People for over two years now, to date the most I've ever deadlifted is 570# and the most I've ever side pressed is 100# on both left & right side. A progress update...

I lost some weight (and strength) during a fast I did earlier in the year. So I'm in the process of rebuilding that strength. On Friday, I tested my 1RM for the deadlift, and I was able to pull up 550#. So my strength is coming along. Today's workout

410# x 5 reps from a 4" deficit deadlift
370# x 5 reps from a 4" deficit deadlift

70# x 3 reps barbell military press
70# x 2 reps barbell military press
65# x 4 reps " " "
65# x 1 rep " " "

Shame on me for not having a stronger military press. To be honest, it's a very hard lift, but I will continue to work on it.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Glute activation screens/ exercises

A gym member asked me to work on her legs and glutes yesterday. Now, I did not totally screen her to check to see if she had proper movement patterns, but I didn't have to because I made her do the box squat as my 'screen' at a previous session and she had problems pushing her hips back. Now, if you have problems with that, I'm not letting you do anything else...box squats until you can get your hips back and down.

So I started off with box squats with her. Now, she continued having problems, but then I realized it was a mental problem. She was afraid of losing balance and falling back. So I just let her put her hands out and hold on to a weight as a counterbalance. After this, box squats was no problem, as a matter of fact, she was able to squat down to the floor with no problems. One problem solved.

Next, what I did, under the guise of glute exercises, was screen her using some of the the screens in the DVD, Secrets of Core Training: the Backside

Let's just say she has some serious glute amnesia problems. However, I'm thinking of using the screens as corrective exercises so that when I put her to do deadlifts, she would be firing the glutes as she should be. I've got some questions to ask.

Monday, July 12, 2010

My exploits....as a gym trainer and box squats

As I stated earlier, I got a job as a gym trainer. As a gym trainer, I have to make sure that users return their weights to their original place, spot members when they are doing their 'squats', continuously tell people that if their diet is not up to snuff, they would not get the results that they are looking for.....oh yeah, and I train a few people.

I expounded on the advantages of the face-the-wall squat. I may have to back-track a little bit. Now, the advantages of the face the wall squat are still there, just one minor disadvantage. It's difficult for some people. I've did a few sessions over the past three weeks with a couple of people, and I've come to the realization, thatsome people have such poor movement patterns that pushing their hips back is more difficult than it should be. Given that dilemma, I had to dust out part of my brain and teach an even simpler exercise called the box squat.

Now, the box squat is an exercise which teaches the movement pattern of pushing your hips back. This pattern is VERY IMPORTANT, especially if you want to do compound exercises like squatting and deadlifting. If you have this movement pattern down, the muscles which are supposed to be taking the bulk of the load (namely glutes and posterior chain) will do what it is supposed to do. I've found this video to be very helpful in teaching the box squat:

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Controversy, controversy

Well, well well. Have we really gone from the human element to the ridiculous element? If you have been living under a rock, you probably don't know what the videos above me are about. It has to be a pretty large rock because these 'goals' have been in the airwaves from since Sunday afternoon. Now, these are clear gaffes by the match officals and it brings the beautiful game of football into disrepute. Thus, I am all in favour of the use of technology so that the correct calls can be made.

However, the executives of FIFA want to go caveman on us by saying that 'we don't want to lose the human element of the game.' This makes no sense. This means that games are continually going to be spoilt by dodgy calls and a team's hard work and fair play will all go to nought by someone else's 'brain fart'. The technology is there, let's use it and let the game be fair and beautiful once again

Monday, June 28, 2010

What I've been up to lately - Face the wall squat

Ok, quite a bit has happened since my last blog entry. Good news, I got a job, part-time job as a gym instructor at the gym that I usually train in. Doesn't pay much but a job is a job, once I'm getting $$.

I've been at the job for just about a week and already I've noticed some things of interest. 80-90% of the people who do exercises in the gym do them on machines, and when using free weights or bodyweight exercises, do them with poor form or cannot do them at all.

This brings me to the topic I want to touch on in this post. Many people cannot do exercises with proper form because of poor mobility. Mobility is something that we were BORN with, however, because most of us did not practise moving, we lost that mobility ability. To emphasize my point, this is how any child 1-3 years old would squat:

There may be quite a few of us older heads who cannot get into this position properly and some of us are loading external weight onto this movement dysfunction. No wonder why people say squats hurt their knees and damage their backs:

Head jutting forward, chest not spread, causing back to round. Not good form

However, by practise, we can get ourselves back to the level of mobility that we once had, or close to it. In terms of the squat, there is an easy exercise that you can do at home, work, gym, wherever you are that has a wall, to find out that is wrong with your squat form and correct it easily. It's called the face-the-wall squat:

Here is a video that shows you the face the wall squat by Yoana Snideman:

I've taught this exercise to one person in the gym, and she immediately got perfect form in the squat.

Do this every day, throughout the day, and your mobility in the squat would improve. Until next time.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

A little Aha moment

On Thursday, I was doing a cycle of deadlifts a la Power to the People. I was trying to do 5 reps of 480 # and 5 reps of 435# from a 4" deficit. I was only able to barely squeeze up 2 reps. 2 reps????!!!! This was a weight that I was able to pick up with ease even on my worst days. Worse yet, I was able to finish with 2 reps of 510# for 2 reps last cycle. Was I getting weaker? True I lost some weight but only ~ 10 #. Out of frustration, I abandoned my work out that day.

I went over in my mind that night what was I possibly doing wrong, going over the movement in my mind. Then it occured to me: I was supposed to 'get tight' before I began the lift, as in tense my abs, my glutes, grip the bar as hard as I can and tense my........lats?!!! That was it. I wasn't tensing my lats before I began the lift. So I went back and attacked the 480# loaded bar with pre-tensed lats and sure enough, I was able to pull all 5 reps with much more ease.

Tense these to increase your strength

So, long and short, if you are missing deadlifts, it doesn't hurt to check if you are tensing all the right areas to get maximum strength out of your body.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Life can be full of surprises sometimes

Surprise!!! At least for football (read: soccer) fans following the FIFA World Cup over the past 12 hours or so. For those that witnessed it, here is a picture that would bring dreams of ecstasy or nightmares of anguish depending on whichever side of the coin you stand on:

On the CCN TV6 "Waka waka" show, Joel Villafana said that the Spanish Revolution has become the Spanish inquisition: What happened? It think Terry Fenwick hit the nail on the head where he said that the X factor in this game was the centre-forward position. Spain was dominating the possession in the midfield, making all the right plays, but there was nobody there to go after the ball when the ball was being played in the box to ensure that the ball goes in. However, for Switzerland, Derdiyok was the man who was willing to take the attack to the Spanish defense and that was the difference between the two sides. Well played Switzerland. Hopefully Spain can improve on their performance in their next game.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Oh, hi there

Hello, let me introduce myself. My name is Howard Spencer and I am an avid strength training fan and a basketball fan. As a matter of fact, it was my love for basketball that got me to like strength training. Let me explain:

I like playing basketball. However, I found that I used to have a lot of problems playing in the post. I couldn't jump very high and I used to hate the constant pounding involved in playing in the post. This used to result in my shot getting blocked a lot, and my opponents getting their shots over me with ease because they could jump higher than me and were stronger than me. So I did some research about increasing my vertical jump. After some trial and error and some more research, I came across a great product called Vertical Jump Development Bible by Kelly Baggett.

In this book, the author laid out the principles of vertical jump training in a simple, blunt way. He emphasized the importance of being strong to increase vertical jump. This was an area which I found myself lacking in, therefore I followed one of the strength training routines from the book, which involved squatting and deadlifting. However, wrong squatting caused me to have tendonitis in my left knee. After 5 months, I started training again, using bodyweight exercises this time, for fear of using weights and reinjuring myself. In my search for using bodyweight exercises, I came upon the Dragondoor website. This website had a lot of articles on hard, effective bodyweight exercises such as the planche and pistol. It wasn't long before I came across a publication on the site which said that I can become really strong without adding weight using just a barbell. This opened my eyes because:

  1. I thought this was impossible
  2. Vertical Jump Bible stated that I needed to have a good strength to bodyweight ratio in order to have a superior vertical jump, which made this supposed type of training ideal for this purpose.
Oh, what was the name of the publication? Power to the People by Pavel Tsatsouline

I took the plunge, bought the e-book and the rest is history. I've been using the program for close to 2 years and I've never been stronger. My progress up to this point can be seen on this blog.

Lately, things have been pretty rough. I got laid off at the end of last month. I REALLY HOPE that doesn't affect my training. I'm so close to a 600# deadlift right now, to have to put it on hold because of lack of funds would really suck. So these days, I'm out looking for a job and trying to improve my credentials at the same time. I really don't want to stop training as I enjoy it so much. I like to be able to do things like these:

So I wish myself luck.