Programming, Thoughts, Training

6 Week Program Wrap-Up & Looking Ahead

Way behind on posting! Sorry again, a thousand times.

Finished off my trial run of my 6-Week Program and I really enjoyed it! Anyone interested in trying it out, or looking for some help with programming or training feel free to contact me on FB or IG

The Program felt good, and I’m happy with the results. However, since my last post I’ve moved on to new things.

I’ve been running through Brian Alsruhes Linear Progression Program. It is a beautiful program, which challenges strength and conditioning. I have adopted his Giant Set principle into my primary training, and it has benefited me greatly.  The video is quite informative, and I encourage you to watch it.

My body weight spiked quite a bit when I came to Taiwan, rising up to 115kg, which is close to the heaviest I’ve ever been. That wasn’t doing anything for me. If you follow me on IG, you’ll know that I’m working on dieting down to the u90kg weight class for Strongman. I’ve come down from 115 kg to 100 kg, and I’m feeling fantastic.

Training is going well, and I am aiming to be at my target weight by November, when I plan on taking a Coaching Certification course offered by the best Strongman gym in Taiwan, Formosa Fitness.

Sorry for the long absence, hope this catches everyone up. I’ve got a lot coming up in the future, and I’m going to be more diligent with this blog.

That’s all for now, keep training hard!

Cheers,

The Bear

Programming, Thoughts, Training, Update

One Week To Go! / Looking Ahead

Well I have one week left to go in my 6 Week Program. I have been controlling my diet well and it has been going quite well! I’ll be posting my results next weekend, but I can say, looking at the numbers, that my lifts and rep ranges have gone steadily up across all my primary lifts.

This is hugely encouraging, as I’ve managed to shed about 15 lbs in the process. I’m very happy with how things have come together, and I’m excited about my future progress.

Looking ahead now, I’ve been happy with my progress, but I also feel like I went a little easy on myself. I know, deep down, that my body is capable of much more than I usually push it to achieve.

To that end, I’m going to be reprogramming next weekend. I am continuing a total-body program, aimed at increasing my general strength. I’ve been looking in to Linear Progression programs as explained by Brian Alsruhe. My brother has been using his program and really enjoys it, and I think that it will be what I’m looking for.

Here is the video, if you’re interested. He lays out the basics of the program, and how it benefits his training. It sounds a little daunting, but I’m looking forward to the challenge. I’ll put my program together this week, and let you know how it goes!

Keep checking back for the wrap-up of my first 6 weeks, and train hard!

Feel free to message me any questions, or leave them in the comments below.

Cheers,

The Bear.

Thoughts

Training Focus: Motivation and Discipline

For this entry, I have decided to focus on a key part of Training that I have personally struggled with for a long time: Motivation and Discipline. For the first three years of my weight-training life, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. I slowly learned as I went, and began to research. Slowly, very slowly, I came to a better understanding of what Training looks like, and more importantly, just how long it takes. When my ‘beginner gainz’ stopped showing, and my progress slowed (no training program-doi!) I quickly got disheartened. My Motivation withered, and my training became even less focused, less intense, and I eventually gave up and would fall off the horse for weeks at a time.

This was because I relied entirely on my Motivation, my desire to see quick results, and my belief that I would see those results, if only I would just go in and kill it, today. Obviously, this is not sustainable in the long term.

Motivation and Discipline are the two key driving forces behind any training program. They answer the two most important questions:

  • What do you want?
  • How are you going to get there?

Of the two, Discipline is the more important. Even without a program or routine, a disciplined, regular gym user will still see improvement and development. However, without a goal, a broader vision, Motivation will erode over time, making discipline harder and harder to maintain. If you aren’t working towards a goal, then you are just working. That is the easiest way to start to fee stuck, frustrated, and disheartened.

Motivation is very important, especially since it usually precedes Discipline. If you are not a regular gym-goer, and even if you are, you know the moment when you wake up and say: “I’m going to the gym today!”

Usually, you’ll go, have a good workout, get sweaty, and spend the day eating right. Then, if you are like I was, you’ll hurt like hell the next day, decide to take a ‘rest day,’ and not go back for a week and a half. This is where Discipline becomes important. Motivation can get you started, can inspire you, but Discipline is what keeps you going, moving forward.

Discipline is harder to form. We have all heard the adage “you’ll get hooked, brah,” in regards to developing a gym or training routine. Sadly, going once a week and flinging weights about is not enough to ‘get hooked,’ or see any long-term progress. When your Motivation wears off, and you have no Discipline to fall back on, you will stop.

The best things you can do to help build Discipline are:

  1. Get a gym buddy – they well (hopefully) keep you accountable, and keep you coming back.
  2. Get on a training program – this will give structure to your workouts, and let you see progress over time.
  3. Alternatively, get a coach or trainer – they will fulfill both functions of keeping you accountable, as well as providing you with a structured program, and Motivation.

Motivation is important. It can get you up and moving when you really need to be. But without Discipline, Motivation isn’t enough. Motivation will get you started, Discipline will carry you through the follow-through; the long, hard process.

 

Recovery, Thoughts

Recovery Focus: Sleep

To me, training consists of 3 parts: training, recovery, and nutrition. All are equally important, and one cannot outpace the other two, if you want to progress in your training.

This will be the first post in a series of articles on Recovery. I am going to focus on Sleep.

At the outset of this post, I’d just like to say that I have no background in exercise science, nor any formal coaching experience. As a result, all of my knowledge about the more technical aspects of training and recovery come from research or personal experience. This post will be largely anecdotal, but I hope I can at least provide a frame work to approach your own rest and recovery.

Recovery can take many forms, and there are many ways you can improve your recovery, either physically or mentally. Primarily, recovery takes the form of sleep, and I don’t believe anything will hurt your recovery more than failing to get sufficient sleep.

Personally, if I get less than 7-7.5 hours of sleep the night after a workout, I feel truly wretched the next day.

Ensuring you get enough sleep is the most basic way to help boost your physical and mental recovery.

I am a restless sleeper. I usually wake up 2-3 times during the night, and I have great difficulty falling asleep in the first place. I struggled with sleep for a long time, and when preparing for my first Strongman contest, my sleep suffered, and, as a result, my recovery suffered.

There are a few key practices I had adopted  that have helped improve the quality and ease of my sleep.

  1. Blue Light Filter – firstly, I try to shut down the major electronics and take some time to switch off before bed. Usually 20-30 minutes before bed I’ll shut off the laptop and TV. These are the major sources of blue light, which keeps me very stimulated and using my laptop until bed make sit hard to fall asleep. Secondly, I downloaded a blue light filter for my phone. The one I use is called Twilight, and it programs itself to the daylight hours, and gradually decreases the amount of blue light your phone screen gives off as night falls. This has been a huge help in falling asleep, and has the added bonus of not scorching your eyes if you check your phone in the middle of the night.
  2. Caffeine – I’m a bit of a coffee hound. I used to drink quite a bit, but my sensitivity to caffeine remained fairly high. To help sleep, I avoid any caffeine after 5 pm. This one is purely personal, as my sensitivity to caffeine is fairly high. No afternoon coffee = better sleep.
  3. Stretching Before Bed – Every night, I devote 15-20 minutes to a simple circuit of basic yoga poses and stretches. While daily stretching is a key part of active recovery, this has the added benefit of helping me unwind from the day. When I lay down to sleep after my stretching routine, I spend far less time tossing and turning to get comfortable.

These three, very small things, have helped me improve the quality of my sleep. I feel much better rested in the morning, even if I get fewer hours of shut eye. I hope this can help you, even in some small way, improve your recovery.

Cheers,

The Bear.

Thoughts, Training

Feeling Strong This Week; Training Logs: Feb 16-18

Making solid progress this week. Everything is feeling more solid and dialed in. I’ve been eating better, and I believe it’s going to pay off in the long run. I’m working on my conditioning and my athleticism in an effort to become more competitive in my weight class.

Thursday Feb 16

  • Deadlift (Conventional)
    • 70 kg x 5
    • 100 kg x 5
    • 120 kg x 5
    • 140 kg x 5
    • 150 kg x 3
    • 110 kg x 5
  • Snatch Grip Deadlift
    • 100 kg x 5 (3)
  • Front Squat
    • 70 kg x 3
    • 60 kg x 5 (3)
  • Inverted Rows
    • 15, 12 x 2

Deadlifts felt pretty terrible today. My back started to round, and my form collapsed when I moved the weight up to 150 kg. I’ve added more upper back work to help keep tightness across my back when I deadlift, and prevent my shoulders from dragging me down out of position.

Friday Feb 17

  • Seated Smith Machine Military Press
    • 30 kg x 8
    • 40 kg x 5
    • 50 kg x 3
    • 60 kg x 3
      • I’m not sure if the bar on the machine weighs anything, so the weights listed are just the weight I added.
  • Seated Barbell Military Press
    • 40 kg x 12
    • 50 kg x 8
    • 60 kg x 3
  • Incline Bench Press (Steep)
    • 70 kg x 5
    • 60 kg x 8 (3)
  • Superset: Hammer Curls/ 3-Direction Shoulder Flys

I finished with some accesory work, trying to improve my core strength and add a little variety into my training. Finished with a pair of AMRAP sets of EZ bar curls and EZ bar french press.

Saturday Feb 18

  • Front Squats
    • 50 kg x 5
    • 60 kg x 3
    • 70 kg x 3
    • 80 kg x 3 (3)
  • High Bar Back Squats
    • 85 kg x 8
    • 90 kg x 8
    • 95 kg x 8
  • Barbell Lunge Squats
    • 50 kg x 10
    • 40 kg x 10
  • Superset: Ab Roller Crunches (3 x 5)/Hip Thrusters (3 x 20) – 3 Variations.

Saturdays workout felt the best this week. My deadlifts were a bit disappointing, but they’ve always been a weak point of mine. I’m going to be working them more regularly from now on. But my high bar squats felt solid, more than they have in a long time. I think squatting regularly is paying off.

All in all, it has been a good week. I’ve set some goals, both fitness and personal, and now I feel like I’m working toward something, instead of just working. I hope to be able to compete when I visit home in the summer, but that’s still up to scheduling.I’m feeling stronger every week, and I can’t wait to get back into competition and see how far I’ve come.

In the meantime, I’m trying to keep my focus, and keep my discipline.

Cheers,

The Bear.

Thoughts, Training

Weekly Training Update, December 17-18.

It’s been a good week for training. I had two solid upper body sessions at Contender Boxing Club during the week, and a great lower body and event day at Formosa Fitness on Saturday. Everything is feeling pretty good. And to top it all off, I found a new training partner, which will be a huge help.

I did some deadlifting on Saturday, since Formosa was running another certification class, and I could only use the open area for 3 quick sets of Farmers Walk. I was quite nervous about how my deadlift would be, since I haven’t actually deadlifted in nearly 4 months. But, while far from my all time best, I managed 150kg for a clean, beltless single. I’m quite happy with that, since I used to struggle quite a bit locking out anything heavier than 140 kg, and 150 went up smoothly. This means my lower body training, focusing on my glutes, is paying off. I have always suffered from a weak ass, and I’m really focusing on fixing that.

Here are my workout reports for the week:

Tuesday, December 13th

Bench Press

  • 40 kg x 15
  • 50 kg x 15
  • 60 kg x 15
  • 70 kg x 8
  • 80 kg x 8
  • 90 kg x 5
  • 95 kg x 3 (3)

Seated Z-Press (straddling bench, no back support)

  • 35 kg x 8
  • 40 kg x 8
  • 45 kg x 5
  • 50 kg x 5
  • 55 kg x 2.5 (very nearly a 3-rep PR!)

I finished this workout with a Pump Out, supersetting three variations of bicep curls, lat pulldowns, and chest and shoulder flys.

Thursday, December 15th – Upper Body

Warmup

Incline Bench Press

  • 40 kg x 15
  • 50 kg x 15
  • 60 kg x 8
  • 50 kg x 8 (3)

Dumbbell 1-Arm Rows

  • 15 kg x 15
  • 18 kg x 15 (2)

Standing Military Press (Strict)

  • 30 kg x 15
  • 35 kg x 12
  • 30 kg x 12 (2) – Wide Grip
  • 30 kg x 8(2) – Narrow Grip

Upright Rows

  • 35 kg x 15 (2)

Close-Grip Bench Press

  • 30 kg x 15
  • 40 kg x 12
  • 40 kg x 8

Saturday, December 17

Straight Bar Deadlift

  • 50 kg x 10
  • 60 kg x 10
  • 95 kg x 8
  • 115 kg x 6
  • 132 kg x 3
  • 150 kg x 1
  • 140 kg x 3 (3)

Farmers Walk, 20m, Drop and Turn at Halfway

  • 47.5 kg x 2
  • 57.5 kg x 1
  • 77.5 kg x 1

High Bar Squat

  • 60 kg x 8
  • 80 kg x 5

Paused Front Squat

  • 60 kg x 3 (3)

Zercher Squat

  • 55 kg x 6
  • 75 kg x 3
  • 85 kg x 3

Log Press, Strict (Clean Once)

  • 30 kg log x 10
  • 50 kg x 5
  • 55 kg x 5
  • 60 kg x 3(2)

Log Clean

  • 70 kg x 3
  • 75 kg x 3
  • 80 kg x 2

Flat Log Bench Press

  • 80 kg x 5 (2)

When I tried to squat, my chest was still very tight from all the chest work during the week, and I couldn’t get comfortable under the bar, so I elected to move to Front and Zercher squats. Overall I’m quite happy with this weeks training. Now it’s time for a couple days rest, and I’ll be back at it on Tuesday.

Cheers,

The Bear.

 

Thoughts, Training, Update

Life Changes, Moving Forward

Sorry for the long absence. I had always meant to return to this blog, but life always seemed to get in the way. For those of you who stuck around, thanks!

In the intervening time, I never managed to finish the Starting Strongman 12-Week Program. After 5 weeks, I finally got a new job, and I moved to Taiwan!

So I am currently living abroad, and really enjoying it. Fortunately, thanks to Starting Strongman, I found a gym in my area that has TERRIFIC facilities. Yoke, Log, Farmer’s Walk Handles, the works. Everything  but tires and stones. Only downside is that it’s about an hour and a half travel time from my apartment. But so far I do weekly training sessions, on Saturday and either Sunday or Monday. I plan to continue this for the year that I’m here, with a heavy focus on training events. Since I have access to the event implements, I will be focusing on working with the equipment and developing my technique.

Cheers!