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Neglect Joint Mobility At Your Own Peril

Everyone knows that stretching reduces tension; however stretching is and will always be the unglamorous aspect of fitness. Stretching is like cleaning the toilets, not many people want to do it. It is completely normal to perceive stretching as a chore, especially if you do not know the benefits of it or if you sweat bucket loads from holding a particular stretch (which probably means you need to do it more).

Prevention will always be better than cure. Most people won’t know it until they get injured and they’ve got no other choice but to perform various rehab exercises if they want to get back to any physical endeavour. Heck, even I used to perceive stretching as a chore, mainly because I was as inflexible and immobile as a metal rod, which makes it even more uncomfortable. I eventually had to do it, whether I like it or not or I knew I would get injured, sooner or later.

Just keep on moving, no excuses. Not too sure about the smoking part though.

So what is the difference between flexibility and mobility?

Mobility refers to your ability of joint range of motion (ROM) while flexibility refers to your muscle length. A proper way of warming up before any form of physical exertion would be to perform a series of joint mobility drills from ankle to neck (or vice versa, doesn’t really matter). Just choose a few movements that isolate the joints and prepares for whatever you are going to do.

Think of it as lubrication for your joints, just like how a well-oiled bicycle/motorcycle chain will last longer compared to one without due care and maintenance. For me personally, I do a full body joint mobility routine as a general part of my warm-up (beats the heck out of jogging on a treadmill). The joints are as follows: Ankles, Knees, and Hips*, Lumbar (Lower Back), Thoracic (Upper Back), Shoulders*, Elbows, Wrists and lastly Neck. Don’t be intimidated by the number of joints, it will only take 10-15 minutes at most.

“Strength without Mobility is expressionless, Mobility without Strength is powerless. Possess both attributes, and there will be no limit to your athlethicism.” – Scott Sonnon

Our Hips and Shoulders are ball and socket joints which makes it even more complicated compared to the other joints in our body. In my experience, they usually require more attention due to their ability to move 360 degrees. Hips are a notoriously stubborn musculature for most people due to lack of usage (e.g. sedentary lifestyles). It is one of my glaring weaknesses too, that’s why I have to dedicate about 20 minutes before I am actually able to perform a Deep Squat comfortably.

Move every joint in every direction possible. Up and Down, Left and Right, Clockwise, Anti-Clockwise.  There are tons of videos on joint mobility warm-up routines; there is no right and wrong way of doing it. In my observations, most just go through the motions or rush through it, without consciously aiming for tangible improvements.

The human body is like a chain(pardon for the second use of a chain analogy), our joints and muscles are like the links that compromise the entire chain. If one link starts to lose its structural integrity due to wear and tear, the rest will have to work extra harder and overcompensate. We are only as strong as our weakest link. Always strive to find out and improve our weakest link and in the process we will learn to appreciate our bodies much more.

Like as if two chain analogies weren’t enough.

In conclusion, in order to fully grasp why spending a few minutes every day on joint mobility will pay dividends in the long run , I want to impress on you just one thing. Just think of how long we spend each day creating tension and how long we spend each day reducing tension. Sitting down creates tension in the hips and hamstrings, thus shortening it, slowly but surely. How many of us actually spend time reducing tension? Many of us want to be bigger, stronger and faster but not many of us want to accept this simple notion, thus hindering their goals, sooner or later.

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How Should Women (And Men For That Matter) Train?

This is a follow-up article regarding females and how they should train because apparently a lot of them still believe that an hour of Pilates or Spin Class a day is enough to reach their goal, mainly being fat-loss. (I have nothing against those types of classes, it can be fun but there are limitations.) The human body adapts to a stimulus very quickly, therefore if you repeatedly expose yourself to the same stimulus, the effect of your exercise regimen will slowly start to wane and ultimately plateau, especially if your goal is to lose fat as fast as possible.

I completely understand that women have phobia with weights, mainly because the men who use them make unnecessary grunts while lifting weights just to make it seem harder than it actually looks. These same people also tend to drop their ‘heavy’ dumbbells/barbells onto the floor, trying to make a statement which vaguely states ‘I am hardcore’. No, that is not hardcore; hardcore is making heavy poundage seem like a feather.

Training can be a very good way to release almost all of life’s stresses. For me personally, I tend to have the best workouts when something or someone is obstructing my pursuit of happiness. I vent all of my frustration on the iron.

 My training philosophies are very simple. It can and should be applied to everyone that values time spent in the gym.

Learn your body’s limitations and diligently remove it.

Flexibility refers to your muscles while Mobility refers to your joints. Most people have tight hips, mainly because of the amount of time spent sitting. When you sit, you are practically doing a half-squat. This is one of the main reasons why most people (including myself) cannot squat to depth. We’re too sedentary for our own good, thus affecting our basic movements such as the squat. Ever wondered why babies have perfect squatting form? Then all of a sudden we are lead to believe that squatting any lower than parallel is bad for our knees, lower back, and pinkie finger. You know where I’m going with this. We tend to make excuses to comfort our pride, training is no exception.

To undo our screwed up movement patterns, we need to be consistent with joint mobility work and stretching. (30 seconds of static stretching does not cut it, mind you). Static stretching has been made to look like a ‘pariah’ in the fitness world mainly because there were studies that showed it reduced peak power output during workouts. Most people need static stretching on the chest, hip musculature and calves. I will be the first to say that everyone should do stretching (static or dynamic) as frequently as possible because the more you do it, the better you will feel. However you don’t want to stretch a muscle that isn’t tight in the first place. Find what muscles or joints are limiting your movements and just keep on working it until you can see actual improvements on your movements. (Side note: Sick rhyming skills displayed there, if I can say so myself.)

It’s better to be good at a few exercises rather than being mediocre at a lot of exercises.

The basic exercises everyone should learn to do are bodyweight ones. It’s human nature to avoid anything uncomfortable or challenging.  What’s the point if one cannot stabilize on all fours (Planks) but wants to stabilize on twos (Squats)? I’ve personally seen people who are able to bench-press yet cannot execute a proper push-up.

This is how a proper push-up looks like. Mid-section braced, elbows close to ribs,shoulders over palms,knees off the floor.

I am the least mobile and flexible person I know. I need about 20 minutes of warm-up to actually get into a bodyweight squat comfortably. In my experience, a lot of people have forgotten how to engage their core, including myself. I am re-learning all these exercises I thought I knew.

It’s all about progression and regression. Females tend not to have huge egos, therefore they are willing to embrace regressions and from there their progress will be much more profound. There will be times where you must take a step back in order to move forwards.

Master the fundamental movements first, and then move on to fancier stuff in the weight room. This leads me to my next philosophy.

You have one ass; therefore you cannot sit on two horses.

I don’t know who came up with this but I know it makes perfect sense to me and once you’re done with this, should make perfect sense to you too. Females train because they want to look good naked or they are obligated to a sport. The problem is most of them are following conventional wisdom. If 10 reps of crunches somehow magically remove fat, 20 reps surely will remove fat faster. More is not always better. The 1 hour you spend in the gym is not the key to your goals; it’s what you do with the 23 hours that dictates your progress towards your goal. Diet and Sleep (Collectively known as recovery) are the most important keys when it comes to meeting your goals; let’s presume its fat-loss. My advice is to eat anything your great-grandmother would recognize as food.

I notice a lot of women tend to be the first to hop on fitness trends, the current one being Zumba. I have no qualms with that but you have to understand that if fat-loss is your goal, you have to actually exert physical effort, the most brutal form being High Intensity Interval Training(HIIT), and no, doing it on every machine within sight is not considered HIIT. Choose a training method that suits your lifestyle the best and stick to it. Too many people do too many things at the same time, therefore when they somehow succeed; they have a hard time attributing it to a single factor. Sit on one horse you like the most, ride it as far as you can.

See what I mean?

There you have it, these are just a few of my principles regarding training and how I perceive fitness. For me it is and never will be just about gaining muscle or losing fat. It is simply about sustaining long-term health. Plus I love doing things I previously thought I couldn’t do. It is empowering, knowing that you can do anything you want to do. It’s just a matter of how bad you want it.

 

 

 

Why do most women fear effort?

Women tend to want to look like other famous women. Unfortunately, most famous women are celebrities and some of them don’t portray healthy physiques. The pictures you see in magazines do not reveal the full extent of the ‘beautifying’ process that is involved towards the ‘perfect’ look that many women would die for. They will also subconsciously hop on the ‘latest diet bandwagon’; especially if they know a celebrity is on the same bandwagon.

Let me give you my definition of the word, diet. It is not cutting down on food, neither is it a fixed way of eating. It is simply the food I eat.

Most women don’t understand that a lot of dedication and consistency is required just to look good naked. In my experience, women cannot differentiate between emotional hunger and real hunger. They are further confused by the media and social circles, influencing them on nutritional habits. They listen to everyone else, at the expense of the single most important person they should be listening to, themselves! No one knows your body like you do.

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The single most effective parameter of measuring fat-loss or muscle gain (notice I don’t use the word lean or tone) is the mirror. The second best one being your clothes. Most people tend to judge their weight on weighing scales. It makes complete sense right? WRONG! Don’t be too obsessed with numbers because your bodyweight will fluctuate but the mirror will never lie.

Most people fear what they don’t know. Females are not the first thing that comes to mind when one mentions the word ‘Gym’. This is because most of them have a pre-conceived notion that when they do strength training, they will automatically bulk up to monstrous proportion (which is entirely untrue by the way).  It is as good as saying they don’t want to try sprinting because they don’t want to look like Marion Jones.

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Females have far lesser testosterone than males; therefore it takes a longer time to grow muscles compared to males. However, females think the moment they lift ‘heavy’ dumbbells or barbells, they are going to look like female bodybuilders. Care to venture what changed the thought process of most females? The mainstream media are the sole perpetrators of this phenomenon.

Most females also think spot-reducing still works. Let me tell you it has never worked. Your body is smarter than you think. A few sets of triceps pushdowns coupled with crunches will never eliminate fats from those respective areas. Fat-loss does not work that way. Everyone has abdominals; it is just covered with layers of fats. Abdominals are made in the kitchen, not in the gym.

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“The myth that women should not lift heavy is advanced only by women who fear effort and men who fear women.” Eric Midkiff, Olympic Weightlifter

Everyone should learn to train like athletes. The most prominent example would be the Olympics. The common denominator from the female athletes is that they have very low body fat percentages and enough muscle required for their particular sport. I’m not saying everyone should train twice a day and follow a strict diet. I’m saying we should adopt the mindset required to achieve what many think may seem impossible.

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So what’s stopping you from achieving your goals?

Fasting And Why It Is Vital For Self-Discipline

I will be the first to admit that I am not the most religious person. Last year was the first time in my life that I have fasted for the entire duration of Ramadhan, the holy month for Muslims all over the world. Food and Water were always my Kryptonite. Plus I have a few bad habits. Basically I lacked discipline through out my life.

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In  approximately 24 hours, the first day of Ramadhan will begin which will mark 30 days of Intermittent Fasting (IF).

IF has been gaining a lot of momentum recently in the fitness industry and the main reason is because it simply works. The thing about losing fat (along with many other things in life) is that there are many paths to reach the same destination. IF happens to be one of the fastest BUT it is not for everyone, especially for people who have yet to learn to separate emotional hunger from real hunger.

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If you eat like shit, chances are you look like shit too.

For me, there are two reasons why I fast.

1) Faith

2) Conviction

Fasting will be a rude awakening for people on how they view food and water. It serves to remind  them that there are so many people out there in the world who would literally kill to be in their fortunate predicament. For the rest of the year, people take basic necessities such as food and water for granted, because you never know what you’ve got until it’s gone.

However, for the lay muslim, fasting is just one of those things they are obliged to do just because they were born muslim. They simply fast without asking why. Hence, compliance will be an issue for most people because they do not have enough conviction to stick to the full duration of the month of IF.

Let me give you 3 tips on how YOU can use this month to reach your fitness goals which is only to lose fat because gaining muscle is nearly impossible, unless you already have muscle memory.

1) Eat real food.

There are bound to be traditional malay snacks that are laden in sugar and other unhealthy concoctions. It is okay to eat those foods, heck even I have a sweet tooth. Just remember not to go overboard. Eat a proper meal (compromising of meat,eggs,vegetables,fruits,nuts and noodles/rice if you aren’t fat) and drink at least 2 liters of plain water, spaced out of course.

2) Move.

Yes, it’s that simple. Life still goes on even while you are fasting! Do whatever you would do normally, although you might have to accommodate the limitations of fasting. For example, I usually exercise about mid-afternoon but now I will only exercise after breaking my fast.

3) Sleep earlier.

Yes, sleep plays a huge part in reducing fat because sleep is highly anabolic. Let me put it this way, if you don’t sleep enough, you won’t lose fat fast enough. Go to sleep earlier to facilitate waking up earlier, to prepare your meals and agenda for the day.

At the end of the month, if you follow these three simple steps diligently, you will definitely lose fat, not water which is usually the side effect of IF. People think that they automatically lose fat when fasting but that is not the case. Sorry to disappoint, it is just temporary. Diligence begets success.

P.S. My personal goal,

P.P.S. Oops, sorry wrong picture.

Ahhhh, more like it.

Supplements And Why They Don’t Usually ‘Work’

Supplements, the holy grail of every scrawny 16-year-old who aspires to be the next Arnold Schwarzenegger or Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. The definition of a supplement is something that adds value to something else. In this context, a supplement is a want for all, a need for some.

This would be like a Candy shop for most 16 year old Kids.

I have never held supplements in higher regard than food because I somehow knew that I would not be able to reach my fitness goals based on it alone.

One can never out-train a bad diet. Even if it is combined with supplements.

Self-Explanatory

There are various types of supplements that can be delivered to your doorstep, thus making it more convenient for impressionable adolescents who are looking for the best ‘Mass Gainer’ or the best ‘Fat-Loss Pill’.  There is no shortcuts to success. The elevator will always be down, one will have to climb up step by step to reach the top.

It’s all about Persistence.

I have tried my fair share of supplements to honestly say that in order for a supplement to ‘work’, one must ensure that one does everything necessary to provide the environment for its potential to be fulfilled. Let me put it in this way, A supplement is like a seed. One plants the seed in Soil (Body), One will then ensure that the seed receives Water (Food) and Air (Sleep). If there is no diligence in watering the seed or placing it in an optimal environment, the seed will never blossom to a plant.

Now, I do take supplements on a daily basis too. I take Fish Oil and Protein Powders. The reason why Fish Oil should be in everyone’s cupboard is because it improves brain function & memory (DHA) and it is also an anti-inflammatory (EPA). Not all Fish Oil are the same though.

You pay peanuts, you get monkeys.

One of the best ways to test whether your fish oil is of poor quality is to slice open the soft gel and place it in the freezer for 6 hours. If it is poor quality or has gone bad, the fish oil would be frozen. It should not freeze.

My current bottle of Fish Oil.

I have had a few friends who were scrawny who wanted to put on ‘Mass’ and they asked me what is the best ‘Weight Gainer’ to consume. My answer?

Hands-down the best ‘Weight Gainer’ in the world.

Weight Gainers are typically low quality Protein mixed with high quantities of Sugar. If that is your idea of a ‘Weight Gainer’, then go ahead. Scrawny people have the best excuses in the world. They have an abnormally high metabolic rate, no matter how much they eat, they can never put on weight and the best excuse of all time is ‘It’s genetic’. HAH!

Excuses are for losers.

It is human nature to look for a shortcut or blame it on everything else except themselves. I can safely say that one can reach one’s fitness goals on the tried and tested food, alone. However compliance and convenience might be an issue, thus the need for supplements. One should always do research on supplements before buying them, therefore understanding the full potential of it. However, one should work towards providing a suitable environment for the supplement to thrive in.

The Latest Cutting Edge In Fat-Loss, Secrets During The ‘Cavemen’ Era Finally Uncovered!

This article is dedicated to you or your friends who has ‘the best excuse in the world not to exercise and eat properly’.

Since I already got your attention with that cheesy title only the ‘Pizza Hut Cheesy Crust’ could top, you already know what I’m going to write about, the number one perpetrator of ED (Erectile Dysfunction) and the cause of lack of SE (Self-Esteem, just thought it would be cool to call it SE)

Fat.

I thought a Bra covered the nipples.

Everyone can relate to this article because we’ve all been “fat” at least once in our lives. Oh I forgot, let me define what “fat” means to me. Being Fat means you cannot see your abdominals when you wake up, first thing in the morning. (Or in the afternoon, depending on what happened the night before.) If you’re a female and reading this, thinking it is impossible, let me show you something to prove otherwise.

In the words of Stevie Wonder, Isn’t she lovely?

Now, there are two types of people in the world.

1) Those who complain they are fat 24/7 and don’t do anything about it

2) Those who know they are fat, are hellbent on losing it forever.

I am only addressing this to the second type of people, who are most probably ‘working out’ and ‘eating 5-6 meals a day to fuel the metabolism’ and believe the mainstream fitness industry that was..

I have been reading a lot over the last 5 years to know what works and what doesn’t with regards to fat-loss. Knowledge is power but applied knowledge is as powerful as umm, a Power Ranger?

Undoubtedly the most Powerful Power Ranger.

Let me clarify one thing with you guys out there. Bodybuilding. It is a SPORT! It is a totally different sport compared to something like Powerlifting. Don’t listen to anyone who tells you what to eat or when to eat or how much to eat because everyone is different, no two thumbprints match. Well you can, but ultimately the food goes into your mouth, not theirs.

The fitness industry in the USA is cockful, oops I meant chockfull of information regarding everything fitness, from Vitamin D affecting fat-loss to how a Bicep-curl can be performed in 369 ways. (the latter is just a rough estimate though). I have great respect for a few standout individuals in the industry though even though I have yet to meet them in person. These guy’s blogs can be found under the ‘Resources’ to your right.

I have a problem. Yes I really do. I’ve got a problem with people who major in the minor stuff. What I mean by this is that you have people on the complete opposites of a spectrum. On the one side, you have people who believe in ‘moderation’ and just exercise because they want to exercise at the same time this chick with breast implants is doing chest exercises. On the other, you have people who ‘eat organic or die’. I am all for healthy living but let’s not kid ourselves. Eating ‘healthy’ is expensive, right? WRONG.

It’s Sugar, but it’s Organic Sugar so it’s ‘Healthy’ Sugar. Bitch Please! Put makeup on a pig, It’s still a pig!!

Unfortunately, Asian food culture is very different from Western Culture. Our main dish is always a form of carbohydrate. (Rice or Noodles). Too much of a good thing is a bad thing. There is no use blaming fast food chains or our food culture because at the end of the day, you are what you eat. Wherever you go, there is always a menu. You are supposed to choose what food you want to eat.

Okay finally, my advise on losing fat as efficiently as possible.

Eat less, Move more.

Whaaaaat!?

It’s that simple. Well it’s not easy though. I’ve always struggled with consistency because I keep on giving myself excuses and you know what, excuses are for losers! I would be in ‘All’ mode for a few months, make progress and then shit happened in my life and I’d be in ‘Nothing’ mode for a few months aka the Yo-yo diet. Well, I kinda sorta wanted to lose fat last time. Now? I will let my body speak for itself.

It’s that simple!

Everyone Should Watch Dead Poet’s Society. It’s An Old Movie But It’s Gold.