Tuesday, December 29, 2009

5x5 Strength Program

"Do It for Yourself. What people think of you doesn’t matter. You have nothing to prove to others. This is your life. Do what you need to do to be who you want to be."

So my goals are simple for 2010: GET STRONG, GET LEAN, STAY ACTIVE, EAT RIGHT, STAY HEALTY. Will be using the 5x5 concept the next few months.

My #1 goal is to really improve on my strength starting the year. So this new program I'm doing suggests to increase the weight plates by 5 lbs on each side of the barbell EACH session as the programs suggests.

And that meant starting with the Olympic Bar at 45 lbs last Saturday a day after Christmas (yes, I've started the program Dec 26th, by the time New Year comes around the program the load should be more challenging). The weights do progressively get heavier mind you. Alot of people I understand burn out from this routine because they start with too much weight and they're ego gets in the way.

I've learned to throw the ego out the door and started with just the BAR. It was strange thinking I was starting with the Bar in this 5x5 routine. But after doing 2 sessions already - I'm understanding the whole reasons behind the training philosophy and it's not a bad idea really.

Again, each session will require you to increase the weights by 5lb increments on each side. I'm noticing after doing a full months worth of BW exercises, even with just a bar I definintely can feel my body getting acclimated back to proper form on these lifts again.

The program also has push ups, pull ups and core work in each session so develop accessory muscles too. The program alternates from Workout A and Workout B, with 48 hours of rest between each workout so a total of 3 full body workouts a week.

Aim is not to want to look strong or show off at a gym but I certainly want to feel strong which is why I'm doing this.

This is something I haven't really focused on much. Maybe it was the injury my friend had about a year and a half ago. It's a mental thing if you've ever seen an injury like this happen with your very eyes. As I work up to heavier weights on the bench, at least now - I can really develop confidence as the weights go up by 5 lbs on each side each week...

If I can improve on my strength on some strong lifts - I think this benefits me in the long run with other programs.

So here are my "average fitness man" goals more specifically:

- To improve my strength in the barbell bench press, overhead press, squat and deadlift.

- To try to avoid the overtrain bug as best I can.

- Keep my knees healthy.

- Goal is to be able to lift 1.2 x my own BW - or better. So that means to be able to get up the weights to 215 lbs hopefully by the end of 12 weeks. 5x5 approach will be used. Goal is to achieve this by 12 weeks (March 31st). If not - I'll keep at it til I do or hop onto a new routine if the interest isn't there anymore. Maybe sooner, may be later...that will all depend.

- Continue adding 5 lb plates on that bar each time. The weight/load progression on this program I'm on gets heavier and heavier.

- To continue to lose that unwanted bodyfat weight. I did gain a little over the holidays.

- To be able to mix in conditioning routines simultaneously with strength work. Again, I've gained some holiday weight here and my BF has gone up to 17.5%. Will continue to do high intensity intervals, but my main focus is strength and will not let intervals hamper my energy reserves for the next 5x5 lift workout.

Will be doing warm ups as usual and maybe some soft tissue work up as well on off days. Foam rolls will be a constant as well as stretching.

That's it, folks...let the 5x5 begin.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Improving My Squat Technique!

Come the New Year...one thing I really want to focus on is using proper form on exercises like the squat, deadlift and bench press. One move I want to improve on is the squat. How many people thought they actually were doing it the right way and probably wasn't? I'm one of them!!!!

I don't think my form is all that great or all that bad - but this video by Mark Rippetoe and his student is an awesome video of him trying to teach his student proper technique. There's nothing like actual one on one mentoring/personal training...but I really like this video that I'm posting it here. You'll learn alot from what Mark has to critique on his form.

I know alot of people who have been doing squats have stronger, stable knees. Do it wrong...there go the knees. But the squat (along with the deadlift) is probably one of the unique exercise that trains for strength like no other.

Olympic style, Parallel squats, whatever ---> Lead with your butt!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

Happy Holidays to everyone and a Happy New Year! Can't believe 2009 is almost over...been playing around with a new training approach this past week for a test run...taking a full week off from weights and it's on to 2010 with some fun workouts.

Have some family guests coming over so we've been busy getting things ready around the house. Will be watching the Chargers/Titans tonight on TV...which should have all the tidings of a great Christmas Day match up of 2 teams playing for something tonight....

Go Chargers!


Saturday, December 19, 2009

Some Changes Coming Up in 2010!

As the year's almost ending - I'm quickly getting ready for some new change ups in my training approaches starting 2010. New decade - a fresh start of workouts.

Can't wait to get this started.

HIIT over slow cardio, eating right instead of surgical means and other artificial means...natural nutrients over supplements...the "I WANT TO" mindset instead of the "I NEED TO" mindset. The methodology is simple...but to take action isn't as simple.

Mindset is everything..."infinite intensity" is crucial. No slacking off here come 2k10... =)

Let's not re-invent the wheels but keep the wheels rollin into 2010.

Time to take that "monkey" off my back entering 2010 and keep that focus going. Shoot..it's time to shake that monkey and bounce that ass, baby....hahahaha! (Sorry, it's a song.)

MikeZ aka Smoke is right. There's just way too much hype of programs out there that all they want is your hard earned dollars of essentially the same stuff that the "informed" fitness junkie knows already. Don't get sucked in the hype. There's genuinely great ones (a few are listed on my blog) and Im sure there are plenty more out there...but I have a few I have my 100% trust in and I believe at a personal are the approaches that I should base my training on. Don't get sucked in the gimmickry. No one training philosophy is the right way to train anyway.

It's what you believe in and what you put in that gives you the results.

The next few months should be interesting. Can't wait!!!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Guest Blog By Ross Enamait

Here's why I follow this guy's blog - he understands. He's not single, he doesn't do trips all over the world to do workshops, he doesn't party all night it seems (unless he's training. His videos are incredible) - he just does it. How does he find the time to? His knowledge is well documented in his books and the best part of it all - he has a young family of his own. I've always wondered - how does he find the time?

He makes the time.

Here's a nice blogpost he did earlier in the year. He has a Very nice read. Especially if your a father, mother, husband or wife. But even if you don't have children - this is very motivating.

HERE IS HIS POST. Click here for the link.

I regularly receive questions from new parents who are wondering how they can continue exercising while caring for their child (or children). I won’t claim to be the authority on the subject, but I do have two young children. My son will be 3 in May, and my daughter is just shy of 8 months.

I honestly cannot remember the last time I had a full 8 hours of sleep. It’s been years. Dealing with limited sleep is something that I’m quite familiar with. For several months after the birth of each child, we went through our share of sleepless nights. It’s amazing that there were times when my wife and I were excited to get 4 hours of sleep. As a man, I have no business complaining however, as I’m not the one who was up every few hours nursing the baby!

Currently, my daughter is beginning to sleep much better, although teething may have her up once or twice during the night. I average somewhere in the neighborhood of 5 or 6 hours of sleep per night, which usually comes in three hour blocks. When my daughter wakes up, I wake up, which usually means that I’m up for a while before falling back to sleep.

Functioning with 5 or 6 hours of sleep is all that I know. I don’t know what I’d do with 8 hours of sleep. My wife and I chuckle when a friend or family member (without kids) will gripe about feeling tired after not getting their full 8 hours of sleep. Inside my head, I’m usually thinking to myself,” You have NO idea what tired is!”

There have been days when I’ve worked late, am up with one of the kids in the middle of the night, and then up early the next morning, which means a total of just a few hours of sleep. No, it isn’t fun, but it comes with the territory as a new parent. My children come first. Taking care of them is at the top of the priority list. If that means feeling a little tired the next day, so be it.

On the flip side, having a child doesn’t mean that your life ends. Yes, your life will change, but it is supposed to be for the better! There is no reason to fall apart physically and mentally. Considering that my daughter is getting close to sleeping through the night, I figured I should share a few thoughts while the subject is still fresh in my mind. Below are a few tips that have worked for me.

Morning Workouts

Personally, I find that morning workouts are best. I’ll wake up before the kids, which makes for an ideal training time. The way I look at it, if I’m going to be tired, I may as well get a workout in early on, as I’m going to feel tired regardless. Oddly enough, I find that morning workouts tend to wake me up. It may take a few minutes to get the blood flowing, but once I hit the zone, I forget about feeling tired and my adrenaline takes over. I then feel much better throughout the day. I rarely notice myself feeling tired afterward.

If I skip a morning workout, it throws a wrench in my plans. I always find myself busy with work during the day (and often into the evening), which makes it more and more difficult to find time for my own training. By training early in the morning, there is absolutely nothing (later in the day) that can disrupt my workout.

Morning workouts may take some getting used to, but eventually become just another part of the daily routine. I consider the morning workout similar to how I did my roadwork back in my days as an active fighter. Whenever I’d begin training for a new fight, it would take a few days to get used to the early morning runs. Within a week, it was just another part of the day. I didn’t think twice about it. I could wake up without the alarm clock. As poet John Dryden once said,

“We first make our habits, and then our habits make us.”

Make Time

Morning workouts work for me. That doesn’t mean they will work for you. You need to find something that jives with your own schedule. Be prepared to actively MAKE time to train however. Don’t expect extra time to fall out of the sky. As a father, husband, and business owner, I always have a full plate. I try to make the most out of each minute. For me, it means waking up earlier than I would otherwise. For you, perhaps it means going to bed later. Ultimately, the time is there. You just need to look for it.

Life’s Tough, Deal With It

Life’s tough, so let’s not pretend otherwise. Dealing with less than optimal sleep conditions isn’t always going to be fun. There will be days when you are tired and cranky. That’s life. I don’t feel bad for you. I’ve been there myself.

The fitness community as a whole needs to stop making bullsh*t promises. Nothing worth having comes easy. A ten minute workout is better than nothing, but let’s not pretend that it will create the next Spartan warrior. Training is like most things in life. You get what you put into it. There is no easy way. Hard and consistent work is the only legitimate training secret. Unfortunately, most people don’t want anything to do with it.

So no, I can’t promise that you’ll wake up feeling chipper after you’ve been up half the night. There is a good chance that you’ll wake up feeling miserable. Take comfort in knowing that you aren’t the only one. I’ve been in that same boat many mornings. I don’t cry myself back to sleep however. I wake up, play some loud, obnoxious music on the headphones, and begin training.


When I’m tired, I find that I perform better when targeting strength. I can always put out some quality strength work. I rarely find myself as eager to perform lengthy conditioning workouts. From a conditioning standpoint, I’ll do better with abbreviated methods (ex. a short finisher after my main workout).

Bodyweight Exercise

Bodyweight exercise comes in handy if you train at home. Yes it’s effective, but perhaps more importantly it is quiet! You can work very hard with your child sleeping in the next room. An added bonus is that the gym is never closed. You can train at any time. This isn’t to say that you should abandon free weights, but rather a reminder that there are other options available if necessary. Personally, I often mix free weights with bodyweight exercise. If for some reason I have no equipment available however, I can always find a way to complete a quality full body workout.

Better Than Nothing

Get over the fact that you may not have a full hour or two blocked off for uninterrupted training. There will be times when parent duty kicks in and training is interrupted. It’s not the end of the world. A few sets of anything throughout the day is better than nothing. I can always manage to find time for a mini-workout at some point during the day. A few favorites of mine include the ab wheel, handstand pushups, pull-ups, a variety of isometrics, etc.

I certainly prefer an uninterrupted workout, but if for some reason it doesn’t happen, I can always find a way to accumulate a decent workload throughout the course of the day. For example, just recently I decided to do 50 bodyweight squats each time that I let my dogs out. I racked up 250 squats in what amounted to just a few minutes spread throughout the course of the day. Clearly, this isn’t the most significant accomplishment in the world, but it is better than nothing.


I find it particularly useful to have goals in mind. If I’m tired, I’m not in the mood to improvise. I need to have an idea of what I’m trying to accomplish. I’m not looking to solve any complex algorithms first thing in the morning. I need to be focused on something specific.

Keep It Fun

I work almost every day of the year. When I’m up early in the morning, I don’t want to view my training with a job-like mentality. Yes, I work hard, but the work needs to be something that I enjoy. Training needs to be fun, particularly when it is something that I’m doing without a full night’s sleep. Enjoying the work allows me to look forward to training. It’s one of my favorite parts of the day. If I dreaded the training, I doubt I would do it.


I strongly believe that clean eating contributes to my ability to recover from less than optimal sleep conditions. I don’t believe in micro-managing the eating process, but I do believe in clean eating. My nutritional strategy is very simple. I eat real food (ex. fruits, veggies, fish, meat, etc.) when I’m hungry, and I don’t eat any artificial and/or processed junk. That’s it. I have better things to do with my time than counting how much of this or that nutrient has been consumed in this or that meal. My ancestors did pretty well without calculating zones and nutrient ratios on the abacus, so I see no reason to change. I never get sick, recover quickly from training, and feel good throughout the day. If it isn’t broken, I see no reason to fix it. Find what works for you. That’s the best nutritional advice I ever heard, so now I’m giving it to you.

Don’t Believe Everything That You Hear

I’ve had many people tell me that it is absolutely essential to receive 8 or 9 hours of sleep each night. I respond by sharing my story, and it’s as if they do not believe it could be true. How could I be doing something that is not reflected in the peer reviewed study that they read in a recent journal! It can’t be!

Well guess what, it is. I’m all for science, but at times I prefer falling back on the most basic definition. Merriam-Webster defines science as the state of knowing. I know what my body needs to function. When I read a study that suggests otherwise, my first thought is that they sure as hell didn’t study me. I continue to make gains, so I know that I’m doing something right.

And please don’t take this the wrong way. I’m not suggesting that my way is the only way. I’ve found what works for me. You need to find what works for you. You also need to realize that the body is much more capable than many believe. I’ve hit PR’s in the gym on mornings that followed sleepless nights. I’m not suggesting that you stay up all night before attempting your next PR, but at the same time, don’t be so quick to doubt your abilities.

I’m not perfect and I have bad days just like anyone. I always wake up and try however. And when I compare this approach to other options, it’s always an easy decision for me to make.

A Small Sacrifice

Parenthood is the absolute best thing that has ever happened to me. I don’t have words for how amazing it is to be a father to my children. Losing a few hours of sleep is nothing to me. I’d give up on sleep entirely if I had to for my kids.

To those who struggle with less than optimal sleep conditions, keep in mind that it does get better. My son has been sleeping through the night for almost 2 years now. My daughter isn’t far off from doing the same. Yes, the early months can be tough when dealing with limited sleep, but remember that it will get better. Also, keep in mind that it really isn’t that bad. There are far worse circumstances in the world. Take a look through the news and it won’t be difficult to find far worse scenarios. You’ll realize that losing a few hours of sleep really isn’t a big deal.

If losing a few hours of sleep is your biggest problem, you really don’t have a problem. Get up and get busy and you’ll feel much better afterward (not to mention feeling better about yourself).


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

What is this Insanity Workout?

Tabata Intervals today with some KB swings using a 70 lb KB. Intense.

Anyway, last night I was watching the Chargers/Cowboys game on DVR (10-3 baby!)...as I finished re-watching the game, I started flipping through some channels and came across this Beachbody Infomercial that advertises Tony Horton's "P90X" and Shaun T's 60 day "Insanity Workout".

It's ironic as I am doing a Bodyweight routine this month as it is...so I wanted to see comparisons.

It looks awfully tough...

I'm not a big fan of P90X but I was pretty intrigued with this Insanity Workout Program involving only bodyweight only routines.

I'm currently doing a pretty good BW Program currently by Craig Ballantyne but this program really intrigued me so I thought of sharing this video with all and wanting to know what some people's ideas are about it. Feel free to chime in by posting some comments below.

Looking at some of these *results* on this video I'm linking to this post of mine (Some say it may be the program that works. I say it's the one using the program and believing in the system. I use an asterisk because I'm sure any program can offer varied results based on the users who use a program)- I was very impressed with it.

Here's the video:

What are your thoughts? Looks pretty gimmicky with the nice looking covers and all that but I do believe it has some credibility in this program. I've used all sorts of programs and this one looks pretty intriguingly fun in alot of ways...

Monday, December 14, 2009

BW circuits...OMG!

So it's been 4 days without workouts. Felt a little guilt there for a bit as we had a few Christmas Parties to go to. So I let a few days slide to give the body sometime to chill and rest.

So I like I said, I started a brand new BW routine last week. The routine I did today was supposed to be an end of the week routine last week but deciced on doing it on a Monday to make up for lost time I haven't exercised. So I managed to finish the 4 rounds of a BW circuit in under 42 minutes. The 4th circuit round was optional (you only really had to do 3) but I said screw it - I'm going to do this. Very tough...

Lots of leg work here...which is good. But being very careful not to screw up my knees.

Knees feeling better as I've been doing foam rolling almost everyday and less pounding on it over the past few days helped alot. The better for me.

Stay strong...


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

BodyWeight Training...yipeee!

Ok...will try body weight training again these next 3 weeks. Should be fun these next 3 weeks with little to no equipment needed. May modify a few here and there but essentially bodyweight stuff til the end of the year.

Last year at around this time, I was doing 3 weeks of Turbulence Training BW stuff before entering the TT Transformation Contest (#4) - and really got some good results - and got even better results as that contest ended...did some rosstraining stuff also back in 08 and got wonderful results there too.

Now it's 2k9 - and it's time to get nasty with it. Bodyweight training - don't ever underestimate it!

Was hoping to finish off a full months of Cosgrove's stuff - but I need to give complexes a break. Altough there still is lower body exercises with the bodyweight stuff - at least it won't be as bad as trying to squat heavy with loads on my shoulders - and less stress for my knees too! Will wear my 20 lb vest though when desired!

Will do KB routines, ab circuits for conditioning in conjunction with this. Mostly swings and cleans though....

So here goes!!!

Monday, December 7, 2009

How to fix knee pain

Wow...cold and wet out here today.

Knees are starting to act up again. Need to get back into more corrective stretching. I don't know why, but the knees are definitely hurting once again. Age. Wear and tear. Who knows. But I do know foam rolling does help...have to do them more often than how I've been doing them the past few weeks. Plus yoga helped me tremendously in the past. Need to get back into that as well here.

It's probably from all that needless running I've been trying to do lately especially in the cold mornings downtown over here. For those who haven't done them before - I highly suggest you start doing them soon.

All that wear and tear can really wear you down! My knees have never been 100%.

But here's a great video that I've kept on my youtube account that might want you to give foam rolling a try.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Early Bird Thursdays

Got up early this morning. Well I always do for the most part but morning workouts rule!

Did a nice cool jog downtown with my gym backpack on. Nothing fairly heavy on it - just my scrubs, a water bottle and some snacks to munch on throughout the day. Nike Frees on - it was on like the break of dawn, Baby. Did a couple rounds around the downtown area which was good. Haven't done that in ages!

Good warm up. But that could get boring really fast.

Wasn't intending to do any weights today but I felt like doing something a bit more dynamic and more fun than running. Plus it definitely would help some sore muscles I'm having right now. So after a nice BW warm up, here it is...

a) One arm DB OH Snatches
b) 2 handed DB Swings
c) Speed rope
d) Hanging Leg raises fast tempo

More Core work
Stab ball rollout
Plank hands on ball
Side Planks
Spiderman Climbs
Saxxon side bends

Nice and efficient. More of a cardio/core workout than anything here. I'm such a nutbag. Not trying to hit any specific muscle group except for my core and a power move with the one handed dumbell snatches...wasn't that bad of a deal. Not running myself out either.

Weighed myself again today. 5 lb weight lost in just a month or so of cleaner eating and exercise. BF down by 2% as well.

Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

My Own Fat Loss Tips based on Experience...

Dark, cloudy day today. Definitely the Fall is among us! Got up early today and really did a good workout (well from my standards at least), so tomorrow is definitely an off day - so no weight training. May hit the gym or hit the streets of downtown San Diego for a nice little morning run in the brisk, cool weather before work which I haven't been doing much of, and then maybe some core strengthening work at the work gym and some nice foam rolling at home tomorrow night.

Somethings always better than nothing. I think!

December...lots of parties, lots of treats, lots of temptations. Phew! But I think we can all resist the temptations that awaits as long as we can keep things in perspective.

How much can I eat and when? I guess the "justifying" norm is that as long as we exercise - nothing can stop us in our way of achieving our fitness goals. WRONG! And it's only a matter of time that if we continue thinking like this - there goes 1, 3, 4 or maybe even 6 months of hard work for mindless eating.

And then here come the New Years Resolutioners in January...

I think that's where alot of us folks falter - at the table. And that's just it. In fat loss - that's 90% of the solution. Eat right - things look and feel right. That's just the way our body works. It's very scientific - but if you understand what the body does in response to intake (food) and stressors we put on it (exercise, work) - then it will respond in mind boggling ways you won't believe until it happens.

A coworker asked me, "What is your secret, Andy? For 3 years, you've continued on the path of fat loss and while many others have lost weight either through surgery, fad diets - only to get it back in a few months - and you still look great. I know you have a secret! Tell me what it is!". The answer is simple yet to take action is probably the hardest thing to do.

Making an honest effort to make it a lifestyle change as best you can is what matters most!

For 3 years, I have never tipped over 220 lbs. For 2 years I've never tipped over 180 lbs...I've been pretty much on cruise control for quite sometime and the challenge I've faced has always been: "How can I keep myself motivated?".

I find it through others and then find it in myself to take action.

Nothing's perfect...yes, there will be days, weeks, months of bad eating (hey, I'm one of them. PUT ME IN THAT MIX!! Hell yeah. I am no trainer, or expert here. I just had a Corona last night) - but I learned over time - it all starts with mindset and genuine motivation to succeed.

Another co-worker who asked me about a workout program I was using. He was very much interested in looking into it but his first response to me was: "Andy I know you're body is a temple but getting the program isn't the problem but I don't think I can even finish 4 weeks after seeing what you've been doing. I mean, I like the results you're getting but I don't know if I can do it. It looks hard."

It is hard.

To do nothing is easy...to do something takes effort.

Mindset --- that's where it should start first. Get the mindset, everything works pretty much in unison from balancing family, work and workouts. One of my mottos in life is to never impose anything on anyone. If they're not interested, "screw it." It may sound selfish here - but there's only one reason why I'm doing all of this - for my own good health. So I gave him a bit of advice and I told him to work on some goals and work on a plan of action. So we shall see!

Nothing's impossible to achieve unless you put your mind into it. Slip, fall...but always get back up.


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Combination/Hybrid Lift Video

Here's a video I did just a few minutes ago (after a workout early this morning)...just wanted to demonstrate a great workout that uses minimal space and just a barbell if you're crunched for time. Lots of people can benefit from this as it can really save alot of time in busy gyms. It's also a great fat burning routine you can do at home if you have a home gym.

Exercises involved:
Front Squat
Overhead press

Look and watch how the bar stays at certain plane and does not veer away from the start point. Too much rocking, too much unnecessary movement - form suffers as well as quality of the routine. So start conservatively and work your way up when you can apply good form. This is with a 95 lb load here (Bar + 2 25 lb plates).

Much like complexes and circuit training, hybrid/combination lifting is a very metabolic and highly effective approach to fat loss. Got introduced and learned this from Chris Lopez from fitandbusydads and have enjoyed this approach to lifting from time to time ever since. I actually used the camera I won from his website last year. Many thanks again, Chris....

Anyway, sorry if the lighting sucks - as it was in the confines of home...but check it out. I actually did a few takes before this one so yes, you can say my form is a bit beat up here.

Anyway, happy viewing...til next time.