Tuesday, February 10, 2015


July 2014 -- injury, followed by a long period of not training very seriously
Two years ago I went to Vietnam. As is the trend, I had some clothes made. One bespoke suit and six business shirts made to measure, plus a pair of shoes. There were a couple of fittings where the tailors fussed over me and made sure everything was brought in and let out in all the right places to make them snug.

One year ago I joined the gym and started training.

Last week my shirt didn't fit. They'd always been tight, made as they were to my exact measurements and, I think, not pre-shrunk. But last Monday it was obvious. Uncomfortable. And not in the immediately confidence-building "hey, my pecs are too big for my shirt" way. And not in the immediately soul-destroying "my gut is busting my buttons" way either. That middle third, the solar plexus, where you normally start showing ripples of a developing six-pack. That's where I bulge.

My new bulge, courtesy of Wikipedia

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Update: Injury tally

Starting parkour training has somewhat hindered my strength training. Current injury tally:

  • bruised knees and shins: 3
  • strained wrist: 1, left (cat pass practise)
  • incapacitated arm: 1, right (landed very hard on my elbow when I drastically mistimed a dismount from horizontal bars)
Still having fun though. Should be back on the weights next week, or this weekend if you count helping someone move house.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

All kinds of sore

Image courtesy of and (c) AfroGeeks
In the past 5 days I have:

  • done weights training twice
  • been for a run (~4km) twice
  • attended two parkour classes (my first two)
It doesn't seem like much when I list it like that. Nonetheless. I am sore.

But I feel fantastic. I feel strong, reasonably fit, and like I have taken a solid couple of steps down this road to Midoriyama. Last night at parkour I achieved something I thought would take me a few months to work up to. Basically two horizontal bars about 2m apart, and I wanted to swing from one to the other. Similar setup to the Jumping Bars:
Image courtesy of and (c) Sasukepedia

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Sickie schedule

I've been sick the past week. My body has amazing timing. I challenged myself to get up at 5am throughout May, which worked a treat because I mostly had the weights to myself at that time of the morning. And then on 2 June I got hit hard with a cold. My first sick leave in two years, right at the beginning of June. And it was right after I hit a pretty big milestone -- 105kg squats, 110kg deadlifts.

Back to the gym yesterday, easing into it. Dropped back to 80kg for squats, to make sure I'm getting all the way down to a right-angle. (I wasn't before, but didn't want to push it in case I missed my incremental increase.) Then a short run this morning. And now my legs (and glutes) are saying "hey what happened to sofa time?"

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

2 legs good, 2 arms bad

Quick update. Just after my last post I took a good shot at meeting my 5km in 22 minute goal... and smashed it out of the water. 5km in 19:57. That's on a treadmill with no incline, but still I'm very pleased with myself.

For the past 2 weeks I've been following Mark Rippetoe's Starting Strength Program. Well, as much of it as I could gather from the internet, which is unsurprisingly scattered but sufficient. I think. It's a linear progression program, which means each workout you increase the weight, using "the novice effect" to build strength relatively quickly. (Again, thanks to Oti for suggesting I move into a linear progression weight training program.)

Monday, May 5, 2014

Catching up, setting sights

I got called out for not updating the blog -- thanks Oti. :) Am I still training? Yes!

Sunrise, as I was LEAVING the gym this morning.
I had a couple of weeks off training due to a week away for my birthday and a week of not getting to the gym for logistical reasons (combined with weak willpower).

Progress in the past 6 weeks.
1. I decided that weekdays in May I will get up at 5am and go to the gym. So far so good. This means I don't have an excuse to NOT get to the gym, and means I don't spend willpower during the day telling myself to get up from my desk and go.

2. At the climbing gym, I'm still on yellow bouldering routes, but smashed out a full overhang climb (about 25% angle all the way up) which I'm very proud of. I still have about 4 or 5 difficult yellow routes to conquer. I'm also practising on the campus board -- going up two rungs at a time (only 1 step, so far) and going up two hands at a time (again, only 1 step so far). Still, that's progress.

3. I did a 5km treadmill run in about 26 minutes (about 5m12s per km, or 8m22s per mile). I thought that was pretty good. Then I looked at the goal I'd set myself at the beginning of the year: 22 minutes. Wow, that's fast. To be honest, pretty unlikely. I thought I'd try to slowly improve, but next time I was on the treadmill I pushed myself and came in at 22m21s. So I guess I can push myself to hit that goal this month.

4. I've been doing my usual "first of the month" mini test to help measure progress. No surprise that the thing you don't work on doesn't improve -- burpees are my downfall! Well, I think willpower is my downfall -- hence the dip in max pushups in April. My goal is 100 in one set, which will all come down to willpower.


This month I'm aiming to increase strength. I've been at the gym for 4 full months this week, so my body is used to exercise. So it's time to start pushing. Given my lack of willpower for doing long sets, I actually expect to do quite well with heavier weights / fewer reps.

Next step is to record my current strength for weighted exercises and track that progress.

Monday, March 3, 2014

March fitness update

Did my monthly self-test today -- a few days late, because I 'hurt' my shoulder last Wednesday at my PT session. I'm saying 'hurt' because if I say 'injured' that gives me an excuse to stop. I hurt it, but still went for a run and played soccer in the meantime.

Today was hard, but mostly a slight improvement on February.

Max pull-ups: 10 -- up from 9 in Feb. Actually, today is the first time I've ever done 10 in a set. And I felt like I could've maybe done half of another one.
Max push-ups: 40 -- up from 34 in Feb, which I called "pathetic" at the time.
Burpees in 2 minutes: 24 -- down from 26 in Feb. Actually, it looks like last time I did burpees before push-ups. That might explain the improvement then failure. But also I haven't really done any burpees in my routines in the past month, so there's also that.
Plank: 2:10 -- up from 2 minutes flat in Feb. But in Feb I remember the first minute was ok, then I started shaking. Today I had a false start when I started shaking at 45 seconds. I took a short rest then went again. And started shaking at 45 seconds, but this time held it. Having a target to beat sure helped!

Also, most people have probably seen this by now, but worth posting again for good vibes:

"My friend Tyler is trying to lose weight and he asked my other friend Orlando to train him. Tyler was embarrassed to go to the gym though so Orlando is taking care of that by dressing up as characters when they go to the gym so that the focus isn’t on Tyler but on himself. So far Tyler has been trained by a Jedi and steampunk Batman. This is one of the nicest things I have ever seen done for someone else." -- A Collection of the Wonderful