Archive for the ‘From my vantage point’ Category

People want to improve themselves. We always should strive to be better. A very common goal flat-stomach-pictures[1] is to lose weight (See related post). To be more specific, people want to trim off excess body fat. And majority would want to shed off the excess fat on the abdominal area. Removing the excess fat weight improves one’s quality of life. You feel lighter, move easier, and the best part for most is that they will look sexier and more beautiful. Which is fine.

 

What is the easiest way to shed off excess abdominal fat then? You do not have to buy the answer, read it here for free.It is not a secret. The answer is very simple:

 

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Photo courtesy of Ms. K. Taguiling

Do a physical activity that you love. Do it more often and with gradually increasing intensity to a certain point. Do this without increasing food intake. Do it regularly and consistently long enough until you notice positive changes. Persist at it until it becomes a part of your lifestyle. Involve your husband or wife or partner. This would make it easier for the both of you. Or try to do it with a group. It is fun this way. After a few weeks try reducing your consumption of sugary drinks. Instead of drinking soda every day, try drinking it twice a week or less or not at all. Replace it with water. Start being aware of oily foods too and try not to include them in your food list or if you do, eat only a small serving of it. Make this a habit when eating.

 

Is it that simple and easy? Yes, it is that simple. Is it effective? As long as done in a regular and consistent basis with enough intensity to cause positive adaptation (See related post). Will its effect be noticed immediately… Well… Probably NO for most people. Since it can be done easily, the intensity may not be that high to cause fast and significant change. And once there is a small change, you would need to put in more effort to cause further change.

 

Others are given a hard road to travel. Some individuals are genetically predisposed to be endomorphic- that is their default body would have higher fat percentage and higher tendency to lean towards the obese side. They need to exert a lot more effort to keep off the excess weight. But it helps a lot to for them to aim for health goals rather than aiming to be thin like what most fashion models portray. It would be better to aim to have a healthier body fat percentage for them. This is more pragmatic and attainable. For ectomorphic individuals, they may not have excess fat to worry about but they should still have regular physical activities to be healthy.

 

icebergFor individuals who were once “thin” but are now “fat”, be patient. How long did it take you to put on that extra unwanted weight? It probably took a few years. It was a slow change that you almost did not notice until one day you had a hard time bending over to tie your shoe lace. It takes some lifestyle change to cause some changes in our body. It takes patience and perseverance. Some can tolerate hard work and can persevere. They would be able to train at higher intensities regularly and even reduce caloric consumption. The result is a fast change. They can trim off bulging belly fat fast. But the question is: is it easy? Definitely NO! It is punishing. It is difficult. This is what a lot of people do not realize. They see the rewards but not the big effort behind. This is not to discourage people to trim off their excess bulge, rather, it is to inform so that there expectations will be appropriate for the effort given.

 

The bottom line is, if we want an easy way to trim off that belly bulge, expect the process to be long. And if people do not see positive results immediately, they easily give up. If we want fast results, put in a lot more effort and expect the process to be hard. That is why start with a physical activity that you love. Better if you do it with your significant other to motivate you to do it regularly. The faster you want the result, the more effort is required. Drastic change require drastic measures. This means stepping out of our comfort zone. Caloric restriction or diet modification will make the process a lot faster but also more uncomfortable. If you can keep up with that, then start now! Do not expect easy and fast. It is just like any product, do not expect high quality services to be cheap nor fast.

 

Something for us to think about. Train Better, Live Better!

No, not returning the dumbells, barbells, kettlebells, or any equipment back to their proper place after using them is not necessary and is not a good habit. It shows poor breeding on the part of the user. Strength Coaches would instruct users about proper gym behavior but they are not their to clean after the trainees. It is actually a part of training to put back equipment to their proper place. When it comes to dropping dumbells on the floor, it is also not necessary. Decades ago, when I had the privilege of helping out as an attendant in the gym of an esteemed bodybuilder, I noticed that rerack-weightspeople would treat the equipment in his gym with care. As I looked deeper, I realized that those who treat the gym with respect, respect themselves. They want to improve, and they are there not to show off. It shows on how they train. They do their training more efficiently and after their set, they put the dumbells and barbells back to their rack. It is usually the teenaged newbies who are noisy and busy looking at themselves in the mirror. There were no smartphones at that time so no selfies then. The big and strong guys are usually resting after squeezing out every rep of their last set, preparing for another set. And even if they are exhausted, they would still put things back to where they found them. When I was studying in university, I trained in a few other gyms. I observed that each particular gym had its own aura and the people in it displayed a common attitude, but of course there are always those who stand out both in the bad and good sense. But what I noticed is that those who are rowdy, those who annoy, and those who do not put things back from where they got them, have some insecurities. Those who treat the equipment and facilities with respect are more at peace with themselves. They do not seem to be bothered too much with trivial matters.   Fast forward to a around four to five years ago. I saw a video on Youtube of a world famous athlete doing his weight lance-liftstraining. He was well known for his track record of winning several titles in cycling. Now he is well known for admitting to cheating by doping but with Performance Enhancing Substances or not, he must have trained harder than most athletes in his sport. In the video, he was training hard in the weights room. It looks like a garage gym. The video describes his weight training routine and naturally, a lot of people would copy how a great athlete trains. It is a good video especially if you know what to look for to emulate and what not to. There was a small part wherein he intentionally dropped the dumbell to shift to his other side. And after the exercise he threw the dumbell to the area where it seems to be kept. Considering that the gym is probably his, it is in a ground floor, no harm was done in that small bit. And then it happened- a few days after I saw the videos, I noticed some of the athletes training in the gym, where I work, drop the dumbell after their set. After a few warnings, it happens again. And again. They seem to think it is cool. Hey, if a world class superstar athlete trains like that, it might just work for them right?? Well, first, you have to train with such focus and intensity blocking out distractions. The intensity is that high that only the elite guys are willing and are able to tolerate the punishing routine. It is not in dropping the dumbells that made him superhuman. It is in the uncomfortable, painful, harsh but systematic and efficient training. What the nobs think is that it is cool to thrash things around, make noise and be heard, be seen training really hard with those, uh… 10lb dumbells, oh… sorry, 20lbs… They seek attention. But since it is painfully difficult to train with discipline so as to excel in competitions, they would rather gain instant attention by making loud noise by intentionally dropping dumbells after each set. As if to say the louder the heavier they lifted, hang medals on their neck and giant trophies on each hand. That would make them feel so smug. But is it the right thing to do? Would it make them better athletes? Would it make them better, respectable persons? Chen-Xiexia-WeightliftingThere is an area in gym where dropping weights is allowed and that is the lifting platform. And again, dropping weights here is being misused. The lifting platform is there to minimize damage to the plates, the bar, and the floor when the bar is dropped. Are you supposed to drop the bar? When practicing the cleans, snatches, and their variants, it is important for the lifter to know how and when to release the bar and let it drop. When a lift is missed, then the lifter should escape from being crushed by the falling bar. This is done by releasing the grip and letting the loaded bar drop to the platform. Of course, the platform should be clear from plates, collars, phones, other other lifters so that the plates won’t bounce at an angle and turn into a heavy projectile. So make it a good habit to keep the lifting area neat. It minimizes injuries due to carelessness.   Another way to look at it is think that the gym is yours and you worked really hard to be able to buy all the equipment, you would maximize the lifespan of the equipment as well as their use.   Some lifters drop the loaded bar after every rep. Even if they are doing sets of 5 reps or more. This is not needed. A five rep set means that the lifter still has a lot of strength to hold on to the bar, well at least after the first rep. Personally, I would prefer to try to not to drop the bar not unless I am about to miss a lift or is unable to safely control its descent. And its better to train to have successful lifts, not missed lifts. This develops better grip as well as mental strength. crossfit-horrible-form-246x300 For explosive lifts like barbell cleans, barbell snatches, and also heavy overhead lifts, good technique is emphasized rather than load. This is for safety reasons. It the lifter is attempting a new personal best, better do it on a platform clear of any clutter so that if needed, the barbell can be released safely. Forcing these lifts to the point of failure increases risks. It is not very productive to try to do more than 8 reps of a very heavy load but dropping the bar to avoid the eccentric part of a clean or jerk or snatch just to delay fatigue and squeeze out a few more reps. It would be better to train with very heavy load, do with the best technique that you can, and when your technique is not as good as it should be before you reach your target rep, better lower the bar and rest. Very heavy load means you can do probably from 1 to 5 reps. Broken-liftA lot would probably not agree with me about my opinion. They have their own opinion and I have mine. What matters is that is it based on something useful, positive, creative, and helpful? Or is it just to feed an ego that is out of place? Training the body has to have the right mindset. Training the body with proper outlook and discipline also strengthens the mind and character. When doing something, always ask yourself why. Continue doing it if it helps you to Train Better, Live Better!

I look up to people because of what they say but mostly because of what they do consistently. They display all of the nine characteristics below. Writing them down is my way of honoring them, of sharing the lessons, and if ever I become old, of remembering. All of them are:

1. Passionate

they do what they do because they love doing it and they would love to share it. The late Mr. Sammy Ayochok let me train in his gym and actually treated me like a client even if I was just an errand boy in the snack bar in his gym.

2. Humble

they do not need to brag about their accomplishments. Sometimes you have been friends with them for sometime and you would be surprised to find out that they have done something quite remarkable and they do not make noise about it. Some of them are quite famous around the world yet would still have time to invite for a cup of coffee, and they are down to earth.

3. Unique

they stand out from other people in the same field of expertise because they have done something no one has done before, or something no one cared to do.They trusted in their abilities and were able to do what most would not dare to.

4. Able to share their weakness

they are not afraid to admit their mistakes and weaknesses which actually shows that they are strong enough to face criticisms.

5. Honest

they tell you what you need to know, not what you want to hear. This shows their concern. They want to be able to share what they know and sometimes time is short so they would tell it in all honesty. I asked for advice and what I heard was not really nice but deep in my heart I know my mentor was telling the truth. I respect them for being honest.

6. Hardworking

they never would have been champions or achievers due to sheer luck and genetics alone. They worked very hard to be the best at what they do. And they always want to improve, always learning.

7. Persistent

they never give up. I have seen them try and try again even if they failed. But They keep on trying and they succeeded. They have the guts and endurance to go through all the hard work and failures, never giving up. I wonder how they are able to do it, how they get back up again and again. My brother in law is one guy who showed me he keeps on trying until he eventually succeeded.

8. They listen to others

the late Jaime Sebastian once told me a story when he tore his shoulder in a major competition. He felt the bar turn sideways during his first attempt in the snatch but he was able to fight it but something was not right with his shoulder. On the following attempt, the bar rotated again and but as he tried to stop it, his shoulder gave way and was disclocated, complete with torn shoulder girdle musculature. He did not give up on his career. He listened to the advice of his doctor and patiently went through with his Physical Therapy. He eventually recovered because he listened to other’s opinion.

9. They are very patient and believe that it is never too late

This is not about Strength and Conditioning, or Fitness but without them, I would not be alive. My mother and father wanted to have a small farm. They tried when our family was young but circumstances did not allow them. They patiently worked to provide for us and when they were able to send us through school, they retired started all over again. They were able to start a small farm again. They went through a great deal of hardship when my mother got sick and needed round the clock care. Since I was away, my father and sisters took care of her until finally she rested in peace. Then instead of feeling helpless and lonely, my father channeled all his energy into his farm, always learning about the farming method that he practices, always working on his “project”. He is rewarded by a productive mini farm and regular visits from local and international organization. Even if he started farming at retirement age, he was able to contribute to other farmers by being active in their organization. His efforts were recognized by both government and non-government organizations through awards.

I look up to them as my mentors in my chosen field and also in different aspects of my life. They are not perfect but they are very good role models and they helped me a lot. By writing about their good qualities, I hope to share to others what my mentors shared to me.

I have been fortunate enough to have known a few of the outstanding individuals in the Fitness Industry in this part of the world. I learned some valuable insights from their words and most importantly their actions. Writing them down is a good way of remembering and acknowledging them, and also a way of sharing these “secrets” so others can benefit from also. Their achievements in their sport and in life is proof that they do not just talk but they make things happen. Here are some of the lessons I learned from people I look up to as my mentors:

1. “Walang naka – ukit sa bato.” (Nothing is written in stone)

When referring to training. It is a very short sentence but takes some time of observation and actual experience to fully understand. It means that there is not one way of training for a particular goal; that references are guidelines but the Strength Coach should modify them to make a training program produce the best results for a particular athlete for a particular situation. (From R.E. T. – one of the very first and most experienced Strength and Conditioning Coaches in the Philippines and in Hong Kong).

2. Barbells and kettlebells are a good investment

Barbells require minimum maintenance. Kettlebells are almost damage proof. Just don’t leave them outdoors since the handles would rust. But a quick sandpapering would instantly solve the problem. (From my J.T.- a former Champion Bodybuilder, Boxing Coach, a very good brother and role model)

3. As long as you are true in what you do, you will succeed

As long as you are sincere in training yourself, or in training other people, you would make progress. Being honest to oneself removes false expectations. (From S.C.- a world famous KB teacher and Strength and Conditioning Coach).

4. Be very good in one technique, but improve your other techniques as well

Be it in sports or in lifting weights, we would have a favorite move. When it comes to being a Strength and Conditioning Coach, it is best to be very proficient in one particular method but still be open minded to accept other training concepts. That way, you can have a method that you can always rely on but also have some options just in case the situation calls for a different approach. (From D.C. – a champion judoka athlete during his time and a well respected National Coach).

5. The athlete has to want it more than the coach, if the coach wants it more than the athlete, then you have a problem

Working with athletes by training them to be stronger brings personal satisfaction to me since it shows that I can contribute and that I am useful. But not all athletes, or clients in other cases, are self motivated. The Strength Coach is not the athlete. It is the athlete or client who should train. If the athletes are self motivated, they will make great progress. But no amount of coaching can help someone who does not want to improve because change starts from within. (From P.C-C. – one of the few Registered Strength and Conditioning Coach Emeritus, a highly respected Strength and Conditioning Coach and teacher).

I find these 5 tips very applicable to my line of work. Sometimes it may take years for one to realize their meaning. It is better to share them rather than keeping them a secret. They help make better coaches, trainees, and athletes. If we understand these 5 simple advice, we can Train better, Live Better!

When I meet friends, old and new, they usually ask me how to recover from an injury or how to improve their fitness. This is one reason why I put up this site. It is where people can learn concepts and some exercises that they may try if they think it would safely and effectively work for them. It is not a site for online coaching. All physical activities have injury risks and those who have no lifting skill require actual coaching and supervision to safely learn how to lift that is why there are Fitness Professionals and Strength and Conditioning Coaches.

Questions about health or fitness are not answered in one discussion. It is a continuous process and as we go through the process, more questions come up. If you want to get more out of life, do things which would benefit you in the long term. Acquire the services of professionals who specialize on the particular area of your need and get the most out of it. Here are a few steps on how to start:

1. Identify your fitness goal.Goals

What you want may not be what you need. It may not necessarily be good either. If you want to lose 2 kg of your body weight in one week, what good does it do for you? The easiest way to do it is to be dehydrated. But once you are fully hydrated you would weigh the same. It is better to improve your body composition which means lowering your body’s fat mass while maintaining or increasing your lean mass. Fat mass is your stored energy. Energy is used when you do work- when you move. The more work you do, the more energy expended which means fat is used. Lean mass is composed of your bones, organs, and mostly muscles. You move using your muscles. Muscles require energy to move. Strength training demands great amount of energy during the training itself plus the energy used during the body’s recovery process. This is probably the misunderstood role of strength training in making ladies more sexy. Admit it, most ladies say they want to lose weight but what they really want is to look sexy and beautiful. Losing weight may be just a byproduct of the process of becoming sexy. Except for the obese population, becoming sexy may even mean gaining some weight– or lean mass. Most of the thinner lady athletes that I trained through the years started mostly with straight lines- very few curves. After a few years, they are far stronger than when they first started, with curvaceous bodies, and better postures. What is more important for them is that they perform better at their sport. Being more attractive was just a by product of the years of work dedicated to the training program.

2. Talk to the right personlistening5_full

Strength Coaches are there to coach a person how to lift to improve strength. Teams as well as individuals come to us for their strength training. After all the discussion and assessment, we implement the training program. Then some athletes would say something like “My physio said I should do this certain exercise to balance this problem… blah blah blah…” No offense to Physiotherapists, I am one myself (though we are called Physical Therapists in our country). But if they identified a problem and prescribed an exercise, then they should implement it themselves especially since it is for rehabilitation. That is what I do if I am working as a Physical Therapist. If I think the patient/ athlete is ready to return to training then I would go talk to the Strength and Conditioning Coach along with a written document describing the condition of the patient along with some precautions if there are any. If there are some things that the athlete/patient has to work on with the Physiotherapist/ Physical Therapist, then by all means they should continue. And it really helps a lot if there are written forms of communication between the Physio and the Strength Coach.

3. Shop around and choose the right service provider

It is the consumer’s right to look around and choose which one to buy. If you want a medical clearance go to a medical doctor. If you want to learn how to lift go to a strength coach. Sometimes I meet people who say their training is prescribed by their doctor. Yeah right! Would you want your plumber to prescribe your medication, and your gardener to do your haircut?barber

There are many Fitness Professionals, they offer many different types of services for many different types of clients. Go to the one who you think can help you. Ask around. Talk to them to see if they can offer what you are looking for. No one is an expert in everything, and good Fitness Professionals would not take in any potential client. Good Fitness Professionals render their service to clients who they know they can help. If the client wants services which are beyond the skill set of the Fitness Professional, they should be referred to the right person. Personalities can clash too and it would not be good to work with somebody who you would not get along well. Talk to a prospective Fitness Professional, and if you think you would get along well, see if they can deliver what you want. It would be good to ask for their credentials and work experiences. This also justifies the fees. Experienced and specialized Fitness Professionals may charge more than the average but not all those who charge high fees have the experience and internationally recognized qualifications and standards.

4. Listen to their advice which you asked for and give feedbackwww.valstrengthtraining

After identifying your goal and talking to the right person, then hear what they have to say. If you have tried something similar already and it seems it did not work, tell it immediately to the specialist. Maybe it was not done how it was supposed to be done, maybe it was not done in the right intensity or duration, or something else was not right. And the right advice is sometimes NOT what we want to hear. But, to be fair to consumers, there are always professionals who would make a mountain out of a molehill just to “scare” a client/patient and extract more profit. They are doing a disservice to their profession and sooner or later people will discover. What goes around comes around.

5. Put into action that which has been learnedwww.valstrengthtraining12

The Fitness Professionals who works hands on with clients can actually see the clients doing what they planned to do in the gym to realize their fitness goals. The things the client does outside the gym can only be controlled by the client, not the Fitness Professional. The desire to change should come from the client. No matter how good the Fitness Professional is if the client does not assume responsibility for his or her health, progress will be very slow if there will be any. Through interaction, the client would learn from the fitness professional what other things can be done outside the gym to support the process of achieving their fitness goals. These things work if the client would put them into action.

These would help individuals get the most out of the services of Fitness Professionals. They do make a big difference in your training but the ultimate responsibility of improving an individual’s health and fitness rests on that individual. Change has to start from that individual. Good Fitness Professionals guide that individual on the steps leading to their fitness goals but the one making the journey is the individual. Look for a Strength Coach, or a Nutritionist, or for that particular Fitness Professional who can help you to make better decisions and who can make suggestions and options to help you to Train Better, Live Better!

Sometimes new trainees are apprehensive of starting a strength training program. Some of their fears come from remarks commonly heard from other people whose mouth is too fast for their own good. They usually say that “If you start weight training, you will become tight.” For some athletes, flexibility is very important. So it is normal that they will hesitate to do something which will affect their flexibility in a negative way. Flexibility is one fitness component that affects performance in sports or leisure and activities of daily living (ADL). And so is strength. Both should complement each other.

 

So does strength training make you less flexible? A quick answer is a big NO! To back up this answer, here are some facts about the relationship of Strength Training and Flexibility based on normal physiologic reactions, research, and observations from actual experiences:


1. Tightness associated with Strength Training is normal and temporary

When people first start training, they will always undergo the General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS). This is true even for athletes who have stopped training for a few weeks. And also for some of those who are training but are going to start a different type of training. The body’s initial reaction is called DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness). The muscles are sore after 24 hours or more after starting with the new training routine. When you move a sore part of your body, you would feel the soreness or pain. Of course you would not want to move so much so as to avoid pain. And if you are reaching for something, like in stretching, this pain may increase. Pain inhibits movement and causes the muscles to tighten up a bit so as to protect the painful area. This is felt as tightness. So, initially, Strength Training can make you tight and this is normal and more importantly- TEMPORARY. Depending on the severity of discomfort, the training intensity and/or volume can be reduced or would just proceed as usual so as to ease through this process. The important thing is to continue training. This helps to resolve the soreness faster than not training at all. After a few days, the normal Range of Motion (ROM) will return as the soreness and stiffness abates.

2. Strength Training actually improves Range of Motion

Here is a summary of two studies involving Strength training conducted for 10 to 11 weeks. Sometime ago in 1987, there was a research to determine the effects of weight training on the Range of Motion (ROM) of the ankles, trunk, and shoulder joints. The subjects, male college students, underwent an 11 week weight training program which made them train three times a week. Range of Motion was measured was measured before they started training and after the 11 week program. Data showed that there was significant increase in the Range of Motion of the joints measured which leads to the conclusion that a weight training program aimed to develop muscular strength would not impair flexibility but might increase it. In a similar study conducted in 2008, sedentary middle aged women underwent a 10 week strength training program. Measurements of the ROM of major joints were done before and after the 10 week strength training program. Results showed that the ROM of their joints improved (flexibility improved).

From the above examples, one can infer that the effect of Strength Training on Flexibility is positive for both men and women as long as training is done consistently long enough (10-11 weeks).

3.  Compound movements, when done in sufficient ROM, improves flexibility of relatively tight individualsN.¼¤¿POª    1992 O¤YM¦IAKOI A¡¿NEª.BAPKE¤¿NH 92.¦YPPOª ¢HMAª.

Compound movements are movements that involve the major joints of the body- the shoulder girdle, the torso, the hip, knees, and ankles. Examples are the deadlift, squat,  and bench press. There are a lot more examples of compound lifts but these three are good to start with for someone who has not trained much. Athletes who are new to Strength Training may or may not have a good fitness foundation. Some are more skilled than fit, while some, depending on the nature of their sport, are already fit. But when they execute some of the compound lifts mentioned above, some exhibit deficiencies in their ROM. It can be due to tightness, lack of synchronization, or weakness. With properly guided progressive Strength Training, their ROM gradually improves. The same is true for non-athletes. They exhibit the same patterns, the difference is just in the degree of deficiency. Athletes and non-athletes  also respond similarly since they basically have similar anatomical and physiological features. The difference is in the degree of development.3090040526_cfef57f1c3

That is why Strength and Conditioning Coaches prefer to use compound lifts compared to isolated joint exercises or exercises involving only one joint, an example of which is the biceps curl. (Sorry gentlemen, big arms does not always impress, it is the ability to perform that matters, and by that I mean to perform in your respective sports or occupation). Compound lifts address a lot of training needs in one go therefore it saves time in a training session. But you have to invest some time practicing how to execute it in the most efficient way possible and the fastest way to do this is with an experienced Strength and Conditioning Coach who you can work well with.

 

So there you have it,  flexibility is actually enhanced by Strength Training, most specially in individuals with poor flexibility. For individuals who are already very flexible prior to starting, Strength Training may not improve their flexibility anymore  since it is highly developed already. Since the response (effects of training) depends on many factors, it would not and will not be exactly the same for each individual but it can be similar. Also, the type of training largely determines how fast is the improvement in flexibility and strength as well as which one of these fitness components, as well as the other components.

Click here to view some exercises for improving hip mobility.

A lot of people want to lose weight because it is what is programmed into our minds by most of what we watch and read. hype curveAnd even feel. Measurement for clothes now is intentionally made for thin individuals. I buy clothes for practical reasons and not for fashion and I do not buy often. My clothes shopping experience 4 to 5 years ago are now memorable to me because the sizes are what they were supposed to be.

Nowadays, people’s perception of normal size changed. Last year, I went to buy hiking trousers in a shop. I chose the one showing my waistline. But when I fitted it, the waist is perfect but the thighs are tight. It was supposed to be for outdoors so it should be loose on the thighs allowing for unhindered movement, but then it was tailored for what the advertisers want the buyers to perceive – that their thighs are so big that it won’t fit into the trousers. My body weight and body composition has not changed much since 5 years ago, but the fitting of clothes then felt more natural. Now, clothes feel tighter on the arms- to make men’s arms appear bigger as if to say they are stronger, but for ladies they would feel insecure and say their arms are too big. Look around and what is shown in advertisements are clothes worn by malnourished models, photoshopped magazines, topless male models with muscular chest and rippling abs but their legs and calves are always covered. Video commercials show pretty ladies eating some fancy gourmet dishes with all their ecstatic and even sensual facial gestures. Even video games show female characters with watermelon like engorged mammary glands. This is not what we want our kids to dream to be. This is not what our future leaders of the world should be.  

It would be better if people wanted to train to have stronger bodies. Stronger does not necessarily mean bigger, it means the stronger person is able to lift something which, prior to training for a certain period of time, was not able to lift. This allows her or him to do more, and perform better. Training to be strong is not easy, it even feels harder for some. And you have to constantly do it if you want to maintain a certain level for strength and fitness. It is not easy but it instills a certain sense of discipline, and confidence. It can be a slow and uncomfortable process, but that is how it is, especially at first. But better do something real, than just fool yourself as if you did something great by buying a lot of quick fix products. Be honest to yourself. A lot of people have discipline, and confidence. What we need more of now is honesty. Plain old honesty, not hype. I still remember the motto our Parish Priest instilled amongst us when I was in Elementary School. Be Honest. Be Clean. Be Kind. Be Self-disciplined. Be Hard-working. I believe training should be honest- not hyped.  

Our environment shapes our perceptions if we do not educate ourselves well. The internet bombards us with information. We must discern which ones are useful and which ones are crap. Crap information is sweet. It tells of quick and easy fixes. Useful ones tell the truth and the truth oftentimes hurts. Do not take everything you read as the truth. Truth is very elusive. What is true for you may not be true for me. But there are a lot of similarities. We can infer through wise observations. We need to ask ourselves why. There are so many things that we cannot understand. And we must be careful since there is so much information. Including this post. What benefit will I get if someone reads this? The most is probably a comment- good or bad. So why do I write? Because I observed that things are becoming too hyped, that products are now made not to fill a need, but to create a “perceived” void that makes people want to buy another useless product. And that does not make sense to me. It does not make my job any easier too. So hopefully, if someone stumbled upon this post, that they would open their eyes. It would help me and the industry if there are less fad following trainees. Sometimes I am mistaken to be a magician. That people come to see me, say they cannot train for now, chit-chat, and they expect to leave the gym stronger, faster, and above all, with a pretty face. I just hope people would wake up. Be careful also of those who call themselves experts since the truth is, the more you know, the more you know what you do not know. So better educate yourself, always ask why? why not? Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to look for my magic wand, it weighs 20 kg and it has rotating sleeves. You would understand it if you spent enough time training in a gym, not on your “smart” phone.  Start to Train Better, Live Better!

Nung estudyante ako

Posted: February 10, 2015 in From my vantage point
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Lumaki ako sa siyudad ng Baguio at sa kapanahunan ko noon, uso sa mga lalake na mag aaral ng kolehiyo ang mag-enroll sa Engineering habang kadalasan naman na kinukuha ng mga babae ay Nursing. Engineering nga ang pinasok ko. Marami sa aking mga kaklase sa high school ay nakasama ko din sa Saint Louis University kung saan ako pumasok. May ROTC pa nuon o Reserved Officers’ Training Corps. Tinatapos ito sa unang 2 taon ng kolehiyo. Kung lalake ka at wala namang kapansanan ay dapat na tapusin mo ito kung gusto mong makatapos ng kolehiyo. Sa High School pa lang ay inihahanda na din para dito pero sa high school namin, mas uso ang Scouting Movement at Drafting. May konting Military drills din kami pero di gaya sa ibang paaralan. Kaya nung unang araw ng ROTC namin ay lagi akong nahuhuli sa mga commands. “Harap sa kanaaaaan…. Rap!” naka harap na lahat sa kanan, ako ay paikot pa lang. “Harap sa kaliwaaaaaa….  Rap!” Huli pa din ako at di rin ako marunong umikot, mejo patumba -tumba pa. Pero nung pansinin ko sa kabilang platoon, may mga nahuhuli din. Teka, parang kakilala ko yun a… Sabi ko na nga ba e, kaklase ko nung High School! Di ako nag iisa. Tawanan na lang kami nung magkita ulit kami. Pero kung mahina man kami nung una sa ROTC, humabol din kaagad. At dahil nasanay na kami sa Drafting nung High School, kaming nasa Engineering ay naka relax lang sa Drafting habang nangangamote naman ang iba. Huli man kami sa “Harap sa kanan, harap sa kaliwa”, kabisado naman namin ang “Front View, Side View, Orthographic View”.

 

Sa PE naman, Gymnastics ang first  at second Sem. Individual and Team Sports sa 2nd year 1st sem. Nag second year din ako sa Engineering kahit hirap sa Algebra. Naalala ko na Dance ang PE namin sa 2nd sem. Kami sa College of Engineering ay halos lalake lahat, baka may mga nagpapanggap din pero di ba masyado uso ang bading noon, ewan ko ba anong nangyare, nanganak ata sila at parang dumami. Peace! Marami din akong mga kaibigan na bading. Mas respetado ko yung di nagtatago kaysa sa kunyari lang. Balik tayo sa kwento…. Kulang ang partner na mga babae noon  kapag panay Engineering sections lang kaya ipinartner ang PE class namin sa College of Nursing na karamihan ay mga babae. Sabi ng instructor namin; “Hawakan nyo sa baywang ang mga kapartner nyong babae!”. Ako naman, hanap ng baywang. Nagkataon na parang drawing ng Engineer yung kapartner ko- deretsong deretso ang katawan. Wala akong makitang baywang. E di tanong ako sa instructor ng malakas, maingay kasi e, “Ma’am saan po ang baywang ng aking partner?”. Ang maputi kong kapartner, biglang naging mala rosas ang kulay. Duon din ako nakakita ng mga matang mala apoy. She’s Hot! ika nga. Kaso sa di ninanais na hotness. Ay naku, paano ba ito? Mukhang na-co tangent ako nito. Biglang umabot sa boiling point ang ina-analyze kong sample, este, classmate. Buti na lang at pinag drawing nya ako ng project nila bago ang araw na yun. Kung hindi ay baka magsasasayaw akong mag isa, parehas pang kaliwang paa.

 

Sa kalaunan, ang bayaw ko naman ay nakapagpatayu din ng gym- ang Flex Gym. Sa La Trinidad Valley ito, karatig bayan ng Baguio City kung saan ako lumaki. Nakapag ipon naman ako ng pambili ng mountain bike at gamit ko ito para pumunta sa Flex Gym. Pag wala akong pasok, tumatambay ako sa gym- para mag ensayo at para tumulong din. First to second year na ako sa College of Engineering sa Saint Louis University ng mga panahong iyon. Di ako masipag sa pagpraktis sa mga mathematical equations, pero pag nagbasa ako ng mga magazines at reference books ng aking bayaw tungkol sa Anatomy, madali ko itong naiintindihan, mapa anterior view, posterior view, o transverse plane at sagittal plane pa man. Parang iba ata ang hilig ko a. Nag-isip din ako ng malalim ilang buwan kung ano ba talaga ang gusto kong gawin. Sinulat ko ang pro’s and con’s. Ano ba ang gusto ko? Ang hilig ko?

Lipat Kurso

Hanggang sa nagpaalam ako sa aking nanay na gusto kong palitan ang aking kurso. Ginusto kong maging Physical Therapist. Lumipat ako sa University of Baguio. Buti na lang at tinangggap ako bilang second year student at di ako bumalik sa pagiging freshman. Nanibago ako dahil sa engineering ay karamihan lalake kami, mga tatlo hanggang lima lang ang kaklase naming mga babae. Baliktad naman ito sa College of Physical Therapy. Pinapaligiran ako ng mga nag gagandahang dalaga! Pero mahiyain ako. Working student din ako nuon. Tiga linis ako sa mga laboratories. Hardinero din sa maliit na green house. Hanggang sa naging laboratory assistant ako sa Zoology 101. Subject ko din iyon pero para walang masabi ang aking mga professors ay doble aral ako. Minememorize ko na agad ang mga muscles at buto ng palaka. At kumita pa ako ng konte dahil sa La Trinidad ay maraming “karag” o kaya’y bullfrog. Kaya sinadya kong nagpagabi sa Flex gym, at nung madilim na ay pumunta ako sa mga taniman ng gulay at numulot ako ng mga palaka at nilagay ko sa sako. Namulot ako, di na kailangang hulihin dahil di naman sila mabilis o malayo tumalon. Ibinenta ko ng P50 kada palaka.

Si Ming, ang dakila kong pusa06Jan2015 024

Lumipas ang isang sem ay naging assistant din ako sa Zoology 102. Tapos na ang mga palaka. Pating, pusa, at pagong naman ngayon. Dito di ko makakalimutan ang aking pusa. Ming ang pangalan nya. At sinakripisyo ko sya para lang may mapag aralan ako. Siguro kung kailangan kong gawin ulit ngayon ay di ko na kaya. Ganyan talaga, gusto mong matuto? Gawin mo ang kaya mong gawin. Di mo kaya, di ka para dito. Pero galing na ako sa engineering. Di na ako lilipat ng kurso, wala nang atrasan ito. Maiintindihan naman ng aking pusa kung bakit ko sya “ipapagraduate” agad. Di lang ang aking pusa ang aking pinatay. Di ko mabilang kung ilang pusa ang winakasan ko ng buhay. Di ako galit sa pusa, gustong gusto ko ang mga hayop. Pero kailangang gawin ito para sa mas mataas na dahilan. Para matuto para makatulong sa mga magiging pasyente. Bilang student assistant sa Zoo 2, Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy, ay ako ang berdugo. Berdugo ng mga Pusa. Nasa loob ako ng Laboratory. Papasok ka pa lang dito ay amoy mo na ang malakas na amoy ng formalin. 8:30 -10:30 ang unang Klase. Pasimula na ang topic na musculoskeletal anatomy- yung pusa. Bitbit na ng mga estudyante ang kanilang mga muning. Ako naman ay handa na. May bote ng isang kemikal, at di ko sasabihin kung ano ito, at may hawak akong bulak. Lalagyan ko ng kemikal yung bulak at itatapal ko ito sa ilong at bunganga ng mga muning. Mabilis lang. Ayaw ko silang mahirapan. Di nakakatuwa ang pumatay ng hayop. Pagkatapos ng 8:30-10:30 ay 10:30 – 12:30 class at parehong subject. Berdugo pa din ako. Kung di siguro ako malakas lakas ay sinamahan ko na din yung mga pusa sa kanilang paglalakbay patungo sa gate ni San Pedro. Nasa loob ako ng laboratoryo na puno ng formalin vapors at naamoy ko din yung ginagamit kong pamatay sa mga pusa. Siguro ay mahigit pa sa siyam ang buhay ko. Kung isang singhot ng pusa ay ubos ang siyam na buhay, di ko alam kung naka ilang singhot ako sa araw na yun. Akala ko matutumba na ako pero trabaho e, walang lalamya lamya. Amoy formalin ako kaya kahit na nag gagandahan ang mga estyudante ay trabaho lang ako. Di ako marunong magpa cute at di ko din makuhang magpa cute. Total mahiyain ako. At saka ‘di ko man lang sila masabayan canteen, di uso sa akin ang magmeryenda kasi. Total, nandun ako para mag-aral. Kaya din ako nag pa assign na maging assistant at janitor sa Zoology Lab, at pati na din sa Cadaver Lab, ay para makapag aral. Habang naglelecture ang mga professor ay nakikinig ako. Kung tapos na ang klase ay pinag aaralan ko ang mga patay. Ang mga patay na nanigas sa formalin ang mga kasamahan ko sa laboratoryo. Wala namang nakakatakot. Wala ka nang maramdaman na kaluluwa, o baka manhid lang ako.

3rd year to 5th year

Ang unang 2 taon sa kolehiyo noon ay basic subjects pa lang. Sa third year pa talagang magkaka-alaman. Naging third year na din ako. Sa wakas, makakapag suot na din ako ng puting uniporme! Mas mahal na ang tuition fee, at bawal na din daw na ipag patuloy ka ang pagiging “Student Assistant” ang tawag sa aming mga working student sa unibersidad namin. Inisip ko na lang na mahihirapan na ako pag pinagsabay ko ang trabaho at pag aaral. Kakilala ko na din halos lahat ng kaklase ko. Sila din yung mga estudyante ng professor sa Zoo 101 at Zoo 102. Kilala na din nila ako. Dumaan kami sa iba’t ibang klaseng guro. May magaling magturo, may nambobola, may nagtitrip. Madali namang makita ang pagkatao nila. At kahit saan, iba’t iba talaga ang mga ugali. Tiis na lang kung di mo type ang teacher. Pakonte ng pakonte ang bilang namin hanggang sa 5th year. May mga naabutan kaming mga senior namin dati at may mga kasamahan kaming nahuli. Ganyan talaga. Internship ang 5th year at dito mo masusubukan kung may naintindihan ka nga sa classroom. Sampung buwan ang internship at swertehan din kung saan ka i-assign ng mga internship coordinators. Swertehan din kung sino magiging kasamahan mo na galing sa school mo at yung galing ng ibang school. Na-assign ako sa Baguio mismo, sa Olongapo ng 2 buwan, sa Bataan, sa Rizal, sa Bulacan, sa Manila, sa Makati, sa Baguio ulit, at sa La Union. Iba’t ibang ugali, iba’t ibang lugar. Masasayang ala ala din. Mahal ang tuition fee at magastos din ang Internship kaya nagtitipid ako lagi. Hayaan mo nang matawag na “Others”. Di ako masyadong umuuwi pag di naman kailangan. Sayang din pamasahe. Total isang buwan lang naman at makakauwi din, tapos babyahe na naman. Pagkatapos ng 10 buwang internship ay halos patapos na kami. Graduation na!

 

Sa wakas ay nakapagtapos din ako ng pag aaral. Salamat sa aking mga magulang, sa sakripisyo nila. Salamat sa aking mga lola at lolo, sa mga kapatid, sa buong angkan. Di ko matatapos kung wala sila. Pagkatapos ay review na para sa board exams. Sa school ako nag review. Lagi kong sinasabi sa aking sarili bago ako matulog na kakayanin ko at papasa ako. Inuulit ko ito pagkagising. Nasanay ako na natutulog ng maaga at gumigising ng alas sais ng umaga. Nung review ay kailangang magpuyat. Sinubukan kong uminum ng 2 bote ng Red Bull- yung 250ml cans. Masarap sya. Inantok pa din ako. Mga isa’t kalahating buwan ata bago ng Board exam namin nang lumuwas kami ng iba kong kaklase sa Maynila. Siempre yung murang dorm ang kaya namin. Sa may Lerma Dorm sa Morayta sa may Espana kami napadpad. Kung dederetsohin mo yung Espana, yung lumang lumang gusali sa dulo nya yung dorm namin. Mas mura dito. Isang hard boiled egg, isang hotdog at kanin ang pang umagahan. One to sawa ang tubig. May sabaw ata yung pananghalian. Ang hapunan ay madalas pritong isda. Galing ng iba’t ibang eskwelahan ang mga tumitira sa dorm na yun. Lahat seryoso. Siempre nagkwekwentuhan din paminsan minsan sa mga taga ibang paaralan. Ilang araw bago ang exam, tinasa ko ang mga lapis na gagamitin ko. Cutter ang ginamit ko. Natutunan ko nung engineering student ako kung pano ang tamang tasa ng lapis para maayos ang pagsulat ag pagdrawing. Nakita ng ibang grupo na cutter ang gamit ko sa pagtasa. Nagtaka ako dahil pinagtawanan ako. Bakit daw di ako gumamit ng pencil sharpener? Bakit daw makaluma ata ang gamit ko? Mukhang sila ata ang di marunong a. Di ako pala away kaya di na ako nagsalita.

 

Dumating na ang araw ng Board Exam. Di na kami nagpuyat ng mga kaklase ko sa pag aaral. Namalantsa na lang kami ng puting uniporme. Iba’t ibang venue yung exam namin. Nung makarating ako sa venue ng exam, lahat kinakabahan. Magkakaapelyido pa kami sa hanay ng upuan ko. At naalala ko na sumusuka pa yung babae na nasa likuran ko dahil sa nerbiyos. Pagkatapos ng 2 araw, natapos din ang exam! Halo halong mukha ang makikita mo. Pero karamihan ay abot tenga ang ngiti. Makakahinga kami ng maluwag, kahit panandalian lang. Aantayin pa namin ang resulta at dahil sa di pa computerized masyado nuon ay Augusto pa magkaka alaman. Kinabukasan ay di pa ako umuwi. Naghanap muna ako ng trabaho. Sa isip ko, swerte kung may mahahanap ako, pero practis lang ito sa job hunting.

 

Umuwi na ako ng Baguio. Dumating na ang araw na ilalabas ang resulta. Nagbihis ako at pumunta sa plaza. Bumili ako ng Manila Bulletin sa harap ng Old Tiong San Bazaar. Di ko muna ito binuklat. Naghanap muna ako ng mauupuan at sa Maharlika Livelihood Center ako napadpad. Nagdasal muna ako na matatanggap ko kung anuman ang resulta. Hinanap ko na ang aking pangalan. Ang daming apelyido pala ang nagsisimula sa R. Ramos… Ang daming Ramos… pero wala pa ako…. Boom! sa mejo baba pala pangalan ko! Masayang masaya ako. Di ko na maalala anong ginawa ko pero dumeretso na ata ako sa Hangar Market sa tindahan ng nanay ko. Masaya ako at di ko sinayang ang sakripisyo ng aking mga magulang. Masayang masaya ako dahil alam kong masayang masaya din ang aking mga magulang.

(Ang tinungo kong landas pagkatapos kong maging Physical Therapist. Ingles na po ito.)

Freedom is not Free

Posted: February 3, 2015 in From my vantage point

valstrengthtraniningfotanIt never was and will never be. Everything has a price. Freedom will not be enjoyed without struggles. Its concept seems to change over time too.

Freedom may not be free but our choice to be free is unstoppable. It is only we who can set ourselves free by choosing freedom. Being aware of freedom, or the lack thereof, is the first step. Not unless we are aware that we are in the dark, then we will never look for the light.

Choosing to be free is the next step. We must choose, not unless we are apathetic with life, snug and comfortable in the slowly tightening grip of disease. We must decide to be better, then we can opt to struggle with our choice, or cease struggling after we taste some disappointments, which a dead body does. A lot would choose to be better, to be free from disease, to be free from weakness. But when the struggling part lets us taste the bitterness of defeat, it is when a lot would then choose to stay within their comfort zones. A lot would not go past the alarm phase to the resistance phase. They would rather fantasize than live their dreams.

Freedom in all its forms is attained by struggle. Freedom from disease is a never ending battle between forces that try to disrupt the balance of life. Some are born to fight an uphill battle, some are born to tread a harder path. We are born to walk our own path but we can follow the steps of those who were successful. We can listen to the advise of those who have experienced more, who understand the “map” more.

The third step is to actually make those steps. To go against gravity. Those who broke free from the trap of sloth are able to enjoy freedom. Those who acted instead of ruthobgynmdjust talked are now enjoying the ecstasy of experiencing running over mountains (some do it literally). Those who moved are able to improve day by day until one day, they are lifting more than their body weight. They are forgetting how it is to struggle to walk up the stairs. They now enjoy their life. They are now living their life. Some of them have experienced the darn feeling of helplessness, depending on others for even the most basic of needs like to feed one’s self, that they swore to rise up and be better.

Life is like swimming upstream, you get carried back down if you stop giving effort. Maintaining your effort and enthusiasm is the fourth step. Do not be fooled into thinking that once achieved, it is permanent. Nothing in this world is permanent. Our hard earned health and fitness is bound to deteriorate. We must strive to keep it at its best, and while we are at it, we should enjoy the process. The path to freedom is never easy, it should be. Otherwise, who would tread it?

After all those challenges, we have learned, we have changed, we can now move on. Finally, when the basic components that make up our body go back to nature as separate elements without any struggle, then we are free. No more struggles, just freedom.

Val R. Jr., PTRP, CSCS, RSCC*D

Fantasy World

Posted: January 27, 2015 in From my vantage point
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It is my personal observation that people live in a fantasy world. This was made even clearer as I listened to the advice of my friend who went through being an athlete to a gym owner, a pioneer in the industry, and a coach. He shared to me his observations since I can’t understand why people buy very expensive, but less efficient “exercise regimen & equipment” while they ignore the “more effective hardcore training.” There is a discrepancy between what people want versus what they are willing to work hard for. I blame the twisted facts being advertised for distorting how we view this world. They made people want instant results with minimum effort.

As I work with more and more variety of athletes and their Sports coaches, I noticed that we may have the best intentions for them but the way it is presented may not be what they expected. Other Strength Coaches also have this observation. Then I remembered what one senior Strength Coach said to me: “The athletes come to you to have quality training. They need to be in the best possible condition for their sports training and ultimately for competition. But they may not completely understand the science behind. It is your job to design an effective training program that they are happy to follow.” OK, that is not exactly how he told me but that is what he means. It is also so much easier said than done. I feel Strength Coaches are fighting an uphill battle. We have to state the facts which are not viewed in the same way by some athletes and some Sports coaches. You can’t really blame them since there are always some fitness “experts” who advertise a “revolutionary exercise equipment” & “exercise routine” that burns off fat and keeps you in shape with minimal physical effort, “sports specific” exercises, “core exercises” that improve performance, blah blah blah…And on the other side are Strength Coaches who emphasize that a particular training system and equipment is far superior than the brightly colored “fitness equipment”,  which is true of course…

Athletes should have good work ethics in the gym if they want to be better at what they do. But I now realize that this is also sometimes a fantasy. One day, a kettlebell must have fallen on my head. I suddenly had this moment of enlightenment. All the while I was judging people who do not want to train hard but want to get good results quickly. And who am I to judge when I myself am having a fantasy of my own? I had been dreaming expecting that anybody who comes to the gym trains really hard without questions. But the reality is that people generally shy away from hard work and prefer to do things where they are already good at. It can be a challenge for a Strength and Conditioning Coach to make athletes accept a Strength and Conditioning training program that may not be so glamorous. But we have to present the facts that to cause positive change, the stimulus (training) should be at a sufficient intensity (see GAS). It is a challenge to make people change what they are comfortable doing. But it is a fact that for one to change and improve his or her level, one has to change the usual routine which is not usually comfortable especially in the beginning.

valstrengthtrainingcbIt is also a fact that there is no superior training equipment and regiment that will improve all components of fitness and sports performance. I realized that I should get out of the fantasy world, that it is but natural for people to resist change. I must accept reality and the reality is that most people live in a fantasy world. So for now, I have to go and teach a new member of the Justice league how to squat. Then I can fly back to Krypton.