New PR, Training, Update

Training Update, Life in Taiwan

Training has been going well, and life in Taiwan has settled into a comfortable rhythm.

A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine set a new Deadlift Pr back home  in Canada, and that inspired me to take a bash at setting one of my own. I’ve been rebuilding my Deadlift lately, having fixed up my form and corrected some serious errors I’d been making.

My lats and upper back suffered from under-development, and I did not engage them during my Deadlift, which always left my lower back overtaxed and feeling burnt out after Deadlifts. Learning to engage my lats had helped greatly in engaging my entire back, and my Deadlifts now feel better than they ever have.

I managed to pull 170 kg/374 lbs at 99 kg/218 lbs bodyweight. That was a huge success for me, being:

  1. the heaviest BW Ratio I have ever pulled, at 1.7x Bodyweight
  2. close to the heaviest I have ever pulled, and at a lighter bodyweight.

In the summer of 2015, I pulled 405 lbs, but that was wearing a belt, and with absolutely atrocious form. This was smoother, and felt like much more of a victory.

 

Life in Taiwan is settling down. Work leaves me plenty of personal time, which is fantastic. I renewed my contract for a second year, which means I won’t be back for a while yet.

I also registered for my first coaching certification, and I’ll be working towards becoming a Kettlebell Coach over the next two months, preparing for the course in November. Very excited for this, and I’m looking at it as the first step on my journey to becoming a strength coach and eventually a gym owner.

That’s all for now, thank you for your continued readership!

Cheers,

The Bear.

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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.

Programming, Training

Programming and Dieting

Since I’ve been too cheap to buy a bathroom scale, I finally found a place where I can get weighed. Apparently, the BMI is taken very seriously here, and many pharmacies offer general weight checkups. I went to check it out and got some surprising results:

  • Weight: 104.2 kg
  • Body Fat: 26.6%
  • Muscle: 31.1%
  • Body Age: 51 y/o
  • BMR: 2141 kcal
  • BMI: 31.3

This was a little disheartening. I had been eating cleaner and exercising harder since June, when I weighed in at 111.4 kg. So the loss was encouraging, but these measurements put me far above where I would like to be.

So I have resumed using My Fitness Pal to track my calories and Macros, and have been working through my new training program. It has been feeling really good, and I’m looking forward to next month’s weigh-in.

My next goal is to be under 215 lbs/ 97 kg and/or 18% body fat. So far I have been able to shed the weight while maintaining or improving my lifts throughout this training cycle. Hopefully I can continue this trend, and work on building up my base musculature while I continue to shed the excess fluff.

That’s all for now, wish me luck!

Cheers,

The Bear.

Programming, Update

Progress Update

Hello everyone, I’m now 2 weeks into my new Program and it’s going very well! I have also cleaned up my diet and started using My Fitness Pal again. I’m down from around 111 kg in June, to 104.2 kg now.

For added fun, I was able to get my body fat and other biometrics measured. Currently sitting at 104 kg/239 lbs and 26.6% body fat. Not the worst I’ve ever been, but still far off where I would like.

My next goal is to be under 220 lbs and 18% body fat. I’ll be posting updates as I work through the first six weeks, and hit milestones along the way. In the mean time, here’s a progress picture of my back, from May 2016 (right) to April 2017 (left).

Programming, Update

New Training Program Ready!

After 3 weeks of testing and tweaking, I have finished the first trial-ready version of my new training program. Starting on Monday, I will be running through a full Six Week cycle, and keeping notes of my progress and the program itself. I will be scrutinizing:

  • Effectiveness – my overall progress through the 6 weeks
  • Efficiency – how well the program utilizes recovery time and upper/lower body rotation
  • Exertion – the perceived difficulty of the program, ideally strenuous without over-taxing recovery

So stay tuned for updates! If you’re interested in testing out the program, even though it’s in its early stages, message me. If you have any questions feel free to comment or message me below.

Be sure to follow my Instagram for progress pictures and videos.

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.