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Monday, December 12, 2011

Report: Day 5 [11-12-2011]

Today i make my long awaited return to the gym. I know it sound dramatic considering Day 1 was my first gym outing, but drastic changes require drastic action.

My muscles have been broken down and are rebuilding itself (painfully, I might add) for the past few days. Precisely on-schedule, the aches in my body have receded tremendously on Day 4. Initially I planned to quickly drop-by on Day 4 (Saturday) for a 30 minute run (cardio) but I decided against it. Primarily because I intended to go dancing on Saturday night. Not only that, Sam called for a Rueda Jam at 8pm. The tight schedule due to the Rueda Jam @ 8pm, dinner with Munning @ 10pm and salsa at Modesto's Capsquare @ about 12am made my Saturday a little too tight. So I saved it for Sunday (Day 5) instead.

Day 5 was pretty good. I met Emily and Raj in the afternoon and I brought Raj in as a 'friend'. Raj wore the biggest t-shirt he had and tried to look as inconspicuous as possible. He endured about 20 minutes of the required introduction for newcomers to the gym and he got a 7-day pass I think. Then the work began.

He ran through the free-weights with myself and Emily. It was totally great. He worked on technique and form (which was much more tiring that the actual weights itself, if you ask me) and you know you're doing it (kinda) right when you feel the actual burn!


1. Leg Press

Started out with 45 pounds for Set 1 and 55 pounds for Set 2. I was struggling towards the end of Set 2 and apparently, its a good thing.

Note: Start out with you knees as close to your chest as possible. When releasing the weights, ensure that the stack of weights are not more than 1 cm apart before your next rep. Remember the 2 - 4 Second Rule!

2. Bench Press with the Olympic Bar - Chest

Now we were moving on to free weights. I pressed an empty bar (no additional weights). The Olympic Bar itself weighs about 44 pounds / 20kg. I completed the required 2 sets of 15 reps.

Note: Some balancing act required here (if you don't often bench press). When lowering the Bar to your chest, lowest point should be about 4 inches / 1 clenched-fist from your chest. Don't forget the 2-4 Second Rule.

3. Lateral Pull-Down - Back

I was told that when pumping free weights, its different from the regular machines outside. I realise now how different it is. For the Lateral Pull-Downs, I started with 19 pounds for Set 1 and got my posture and form correct. For Set 2 I went for 33 pounds.

Note: When pulling down, ensure your elbows are pointed downwards. Use the arms, NOT the shoulders. Lean back slightly, tuck in your chin, shoulders pulled back, and chest popped out, tighten your abs. It's OK if your arms are outstretched with releasing. Go for a nice stretch. 2-4 Second Rule applies (of course).

4. Dumbbell Shoulder Press - Shoulders

The form for this one was rather tricky, and in my humble opinion, was more painful than the weights itself. I started out with 6kgs on each arm, but I couldn't complete it. I later reduced to 4kgs/arm to finish the 2 sets. The illustration shows the subject sitting down. I was taught to do it standing up. The benefit of standing? You also work your legs as well as balance for a total body workout!

Note: Split your legs slightly (orthodox boxing stance - left foot in front of your right). Bend your knees (important), tighten abs (important), pop chest, back straight at all times (important - some tend to lean backwards as they tire out) extend arms near-full when pumping, elbows should be about 90 degrees when releasing. Another crucial detail is to ensure your arms pump and release slightly in front of your head, NOT aligned with your head as many think.

5. Dumbbell Bicep Curls

This is one of the most common, popular dumbbell workouts. Nevertheless, many don't do it properly. I completed the required 2 sets of 15 reps with 4kg/arm.

Notes: Stand straight, feet slightly apart. Knees bent slightly (important). Keep your upper arms riveted to your side (like it was stuck there). Only the lower arm should be moving. The usual form - shoulders pulled back, chest popped, tighten abs (all important). As you pump it, keep both lower arms aligned and pointing in the same direction (as in the above picture). Do I still have to remind you about the 2-4 Second Rule?

6. Tricep Pushdown w/rope

This is another exercise where the form will probably hurt you more than the exercise itself. I started out with 12 pounds. I couldn't finish the first set. The completed the remaining 1.5 sets with 5 pounds. The difference with the machines and free weights was totally obvious. With the machines I was pumping 20 pounds. With this, I couldn't even do 12 pounds.

Note: The usual - back straight, shoulders pulled back, chest popped, abs tightened (all important). Once again, rivet your upper arms to your side. As Raj puts it, not even a mosquito should fly between your armpits. Pump downwards and splits your lower arms (as illustrated above). When releasing, arms should be slightly more than 90 degrees. Legs close together with knees bent (always!).

7. Abdominal Crunches

I went back to the same machine as before. This time with Raj's supervision. I completed the required 2 sets of 15 reps with a slight difference.

Note: Avoid cheating with your hands and arms. As you crunch, focus on using your stomach muscles. This requires some concentration as you work it. Crunch and clench your stomach tight. As you release, release only as far as to straighten your back, no more. This is the only exercise which allows you to hunch your back as you're doing it. Repeat until faint.

8. Cardio Run (Treadmill)

I was short on time for this one, as the gym was closing due to their annual dinner. So I adjusted acordingly:

2 minutes - Fast walk @ 5.0 kmph
3 minutes - Medium jog @ 6.0 kmph

2 minutes - Fast jog @ 7.0 kmph
2 minutes - Medium Sprint @ 9.0 kmph
2 minutes - Fast jog @ 7.0 kmph
2 minutes - Uphill Run @ 4.0 incline and 6.0 kmph
2 minutes - Fast jog @ 7.0 kmph

2 minutes - Fast jog @ 7.0 kmph
1 minute - Medium Sprint @ 9.0 kmph
1 minute - Fast jog @ 7.0 kmph
1 minute - Brisk to slow walk to stop


Today's work-out had an additional segment: Core Strengthening and Warm-Down.

Raj showed me the proper way to 'plank' or 'bridge'. Besides the required legs, back, neck and head aligned straight, we also have to keep our lower arms close together and parallel. That actually makes a huge difference! Try it for 60 seconds. According to Raj that is STAGE 1 of some fitness test. Crazy shit. This exercise strengthens core muscles around your waist. Vital for sportspeople.

The last segment was actual stretching. I'll need pictures for more accurate representation of the proper stretches for each of the core muscle groups but in summary, 3 for the legs, 1 for the chest, 1 for the back, 1 for the biceps, 1 for the triceps. I hope its all there.

Until the next report.

Thanks for viewing!

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