When we were young, we tend to be impatient. We wanted quick results. Some are able to espouse the “train hard or go home attitude”. Take advantage of this to establish a good foundation in health and fitness.

After training hard for a few years or so, we naturally would want some rest. Which is fine. Our circumstances in life may have changed and we have to adjust our priorities. Our health and fitness may be great and we would not worry about it.


Then complacency sits in. Days turn to weeks, then months. Bulging muscles slowly deflate. Belly begins to inflate. And it is so insidious that even if we notice it, we tell ourselves we can easily take care of it. Then we let another week or more pass by. We gradually became used to a comfortable life. Then we find it hard to get back into shape.

This is the strength of our “weak”enemy. It is so slow that we rarely take notice. By the time it gets our attention, it is already so far ahead of us.

So we decide to fight back. But as we age, our ability to recover is not as good when we were young. Yes, we can easily run as fast, or lift as heavy in a short period of time. But since we are not able to recover quick enough, we may get injured. Another trap by our enemy!

We should be smarter. Let us refocus. What is our goal? Do we need to rush? Are we ale to put in enough time for it? If not, can we have shorter training sessions but more frequent ones instead? Can we do a combination of low intensity-longer sessions on some days and high intensity-short sessions? What have we learned from our younger days?


A wise warrior is the one who knows when to attack hard and when to retreat. They last longer in battle. They learn from mistakes and adjust strategies to defeat a cunning enemy. Men usually have to fight against ego. Our ego is hurt when we have to lift lighter than before. But sometimes, we have to take a step back in order to move forward. It is not “Train hard” mentality that makes you survive. It is training smarter. Train Better! Live Better!

Working in the gym can be quite interesting. I probably do not see as much drama as other Fitness Professionals but I still have observed quite a few incidents…fb5b66564a7852a7ddb53e4c2c04e64a

gym maskAthletes want to improve performance, people want to be stronger. The Strength Coach would assess, design a training plan, and then implement it. But from what I observed and experienced, a lot of people want something fancy. They want fancy exercise names, fancy equipment, they want coaches on their left side, right side, front and back to tell them how good they are. Let them do squats and they say the upper back is painful, or it is not sport specific enough. Let them do the squat in front of a camera and they would be squatting before you can even say “S” of the squat. Have them undergo a circuit and they say it’s tiring. Then, one day this kid saw an advertisement of a “hypoxic” mask which is quite expensive. It is no different from the cheap industrial masks worn to protect against some fumes. But the advertisement must have been really convincing. The athlete thinks he is so cool when he wears those contraptions since he sounds like Darth Vader. He does the circuit plus other circus exercises because he thinks he is so awesome and special and he feels like he is training hard.gay leggings I was about to ask him to quit it when another guy comes in wearing skin tight tights that it divides his testicles left and right. He probably thinks he is a ballerina but it is what makes him come and train. I was out of words when another guy comes in, hair in disarray with “jewels” unplucked from his eyes. Ok, it’s either he is in his morning look but he looks more like a zombie in the gym.zombie in the gym

Then there are those who have rock star fantasy. They wear those big, electric blue shades in the gym with matching hair. I have to turn off some of the lights, it must have been too bright.

Sometimes a guy comes in, loads the olympic bar with 2.5kg on each side, then does something which a cross between a dance move and a convulsion. It’s as if he was bitten by a zombie and is turning into one. Or them and their outstanding coaches who load the bench press with 40 kg total, and attach some weights with elastic bands… So out of this world training. They have not even developed maximum strength and they are doing those training tweaks to squeeze out max strength- which is not even there. They must have watched too many youtube videos.

There is also this guy who comes in using a Loftstrand crutch. He then goes to the side, prepares the plyo boxes, then does box jumps! Amaaazing…

And then this is one of the worst… As I was about to babysit, (I mean train), some kids, their sports coach comes and chats with me. Some parents were complaining that when I started teaching the kids how to lift, they were sore the next day. That probably I should take it easy. A paleo zombie must have eaten my walnut sized brain! I cannot understand what is going on. I was told to squeeze in 30 minutes to “train” some kids. I made clear to the management that I am coaching a senior team at that time who are supposed to be having the attention of the coaches, but I was told to squeeze in the kids. I told them the kids are a lot better off practicing their sport, or just let them enjoy and play. But the management has decided to agree with a big potato’s idea of adding some more training session for the kids in the form of weight training. Nothing wrong with weight training for kids, but in this city where I work, they bombard their kids with a very high volume of school work, and too many after school activities. Bedtime for them is 11:00 or 12 midnight. I was supposed to do my job. Yet when I do it, I was supposed to agree with something which is out of line. And when I actually teach the kids what they are supposed to be learning and experiencing in the gym, they should not be sore… WTF??? it stands for Where’s The Fart?

Now I am starting to think this is a costume party of some sort. Then what should I be? Oh, I forgot. I must play my part as the babysitter – cheerleader – grim reaper… Just great.. I need more coffee..


Time is precious and wouldn’t it be great if we can have just one exercise the whole body? It will save us a lot of time. Is there such a thing? Yes, there is not just one but many individual exercises that alone would work your whole body. One of them is called the Turkish get up or it can be shortened to TGU. The TGU is quite challenging because it is a complex exercise and it requires a lot of effort and concentration. It’s name suggest that was popularized or originated in Turkey and may have been used by the ancient Ottoman army and also their wrestlers.

During the 80’s there was a dance move named the Chinese get up copied from martial arts. It was called such because probably the martial artists who do it are of asian origin and are most probably Chinese. Anyway, the Chinese get up and the Turkish get up exercises are called get ups because that is what you do, you get up from the ground. Their difference is that the Chinese get up is explosive in nature. Kind of an acrobatic move. While the Turkish get up is more deliberate. It has slower movement because you are supposed to get up from the ground with a heavy weight being held overhead by one arm and go back down to the ground with the heavy weight still held over head. Similar exercises, different nature.

The TGU is not exclusive for the kettlebell. In fact, barbells, dumbells, even people, are being used in this exercise. Another good point about the TGU is you learn how to go down to the ground safely. Getting up from the ground and getting down to the ground is one rep. Of course you can stop once you are able to stand up straight but better practice going down to the ground with the weight too.

It would be best to keep practicing an exercise but also add some variety once in a while. Bodyweight exercises are very good and helps in body awareness. Here is a good reference for bodyweight training.

The video shows two views. It is just one of the many variations. Some would not have the T-shaped side plank position, or the one arm push press after the standing position. As you can see, it really is an exercise for the whole body. All the major joints- the ankles, knees, hips, shoulders, elbows, and wrists, are being used.

How to do Kettlebell TGU:

Watch the video and memorize the movements by practicing first without any weight. After you memorized the movements, start with a light weight that you can easily control with just one arm. Start with your non-dominant side first- that is if you are left handed, start with the left arm holding the kettlebell. After one complete rep, practice it with the dominant side. Once you are quite confident of the whole movement, you can gradually use heavier loads. There are some parts where in you have to hold your breath for one or two seconds especially if the load is heavy. But you do not need to hold your breath for a long time. It happens when you need to stabilize your body or the load.


In order to have more control of the load you are holding, focus on it. That means if you are holding the kettlebell, look at the bottom part or somewhere near your wrist. This helps you catch the kettlebell with your free hand just in case you lose control.

Keep the elbow of your lifting arm locked straight. The wrist should almost be straight too if you are holding a kettlebell since it allows it. But if you are holding a dumbell, hold it like you would a dumbell. The lifting shoulder naturally moves to keep the lifting arm perpendicular to the ground at all times.

Since one arm is overhead all the time, and the neck extended because you are looking at the load, your torso is in a good position- that is not slouching. Maintain this. Your torso musculature- that is the muscles of your abdomen and back, should naturally contract as needed. But some guys may have to consciously do it, or just need to tense it more. So as a precaution, always keep your abdominal muscles tight.

Practice to get better

Now, the best way to get better at something is to do it. Watch the video as many times as you need. Then try it without load. Then watch the video again. And repeat. Keep practicing and you will get better.

After some time, you would be able to handle heavier loads. Your strength would have also increased by then. That is one exercise for the whole body.

For other exercises, you can also try the Animal Flow Workout. It is a great compliment to any type of training.

For fighters and martial artists, Animal Flow for Fighters would be a great complement to training too!

Your comments and suggestions are very much appreciated. Leave them below! Thanks!

One of the great advantages of kettlebell work out is that it is a very efficient way to improve your fitness level. You get to develop strength, endurance, mobility, some degree of flexibility (if you are not flexible enough to begin with), cardiorespiratory endurance, and even some amount of power. But instead of thinking of it as a work out, think of it as training.

Other qualities which can be influenced by kettlebell training

Think of it as training. Why? Because you also learn new skills, develop better habits, develop persistence, patience, and confidence. Unlike the fitness components mentioned earlier, these qualities are hard to measure. But these traits are what is necessary to improve in any skill. Kettlebell training is not just a work out. If done consistently, it molds you into a better you. The end result that many people aim for is improvement of fitness levels, feeling better, better health, looking great, and having more confidence.

Small, deliberate, and consistent actions is the secret

It takes small, regular, deliberate steps to get there. And training with kettlebells is one way. It requires not just a single training session, but multiple sessions to learn the lifting techniques. When your technique has improved, your fitness level surely would have improved too! So do not think of it as just a work out. Think of it also as training, since it builds upon the previous training sessions.

Hitting many birds with one stone!

In training, you are working on not just one, but at least 3 to 4 or even more areas at the same time. You need to focus on your breathing, proper body mechanics, timing, stance, joint alignment, fixation, and so on.  Each of these areas would improve at a different rate after a training session. It takes quite a few sessions before an observable positive change can be observed. 

The accompanying video is a sample of a quick session which is a culmination of a lot of training sessions in order to be put together. Once you have the necessary skills to do the lifts, it can be a training session on its own. It is a combination of many lifts performed one after the other with the exercises are arranged in a series of flow. It starts when the kettlebell leaves the ground and finishes once the kettlebell rests on the ground. 

It is for those who have already trained for a few times already and can do cleans and overhead presses safely. Shoulder strength, control and stability should be good. If you have shoulder instability, remove the windmill exercise.

These are the exercises and their volume for this particular training session:
  1. Arm to arm swing x 10 reps
  2. One arm swing x 10/10 (10 left & 10 right)
  3. Clean x 10/10
  4. Clean and press x 5/5 (although I had a miscount so my actual reps is ⅘  :D)
  5. Alternating clean and lunge x 8
  6. Alternating clean and one arm split press x 8
  7. Alternating clean to windmill x 6
  8. Front squat x 10

Some movements are short and quick while some are longer and more complex. Notice that the breathing is rhythmic and it goes with the movement. The weight of the kettlebell should be appropriate for your strength and skill level. Do not use a very heavy weight if you are still learning some of the moves. Take note that the windmill requires a lot of concentration and shoulder stability! Ladies may use 6 to 8 kg. Sexier ladies (stronger ones) definitely can use heavier bells. Gentlemen, due to the anatomic advantage of higher muscle mass on the chest and shoulder area, generally can start somewhere between 10 to 14kg. Of course, there are those who can definitely handle a lot more weight safely.

The training time is around 6 minutes for this particular combination. The time is just one factor which you may control aside from the weight of the kettlebell. Other factors are the repetitions of each exercise, the number of exercises, the complexity of  the exercises… so many things! The bottom line is that approach training as an investment. Each kettlebell workout should be a training session. It is like a platform that will develop something- be it strength, or skill, or any of the many components of fitness.

The kettlebell is just one tool. It is great to compliment it with other types of training like bodyweight training like the Animal Flow!

If you like this video, make a comment! Share to your friends and see who can do it better among your group!

Competition Grade Kettlebells


Are you looking for ways to be fit? Do you want to trim off that extra bulge from your tummy? Do you want to improve your cardiovascular health? Become stronger and move better? Feel younger? The great news is there is a way for you to reach these goals. In fact, there are many ways. But let’s focus on one way at a time and this topic focuses on kettlebell training for beginners.

Engaging in a regular physical activity has a lot of benefits like those mentioned above. The advantage of training with kettlebells is that it improves almost all of your fitness components. It makes your heart, muscles, joints, and even your mind stronger. Some activities specialize in making your heart stronger but won’t necessarily make your muscles stronger. Kettlebell training can do both and more! It gives you the benefit of more than one type of physical activity.

You can also include Animal Flow into your training!

Since there is a first time for everything, this topic is called kettlebell training for beginners. Let’s go to some common questions for someone who is new to kettlebell training:

What is a kettlebell?

Cast Iron Kettlebells

It is a type of free weight – a type of equipment used in training for fitness. There are basically two types of kettlebells – the classic cast iron type and the competition grade. Both types are great for beginners. But if you plan to try kettlebell sport someday, the competition grade is better. And yes, there is actually a Kettlebell Sport!

How heavy should I be lifting?

In Strength training, we follow the principle of progressive overload. This means that you start with a light to moderate load (weight) with low to moderate volume (how many sets and repetitions). Then you increase volume as you get better in your technique. You increase the load as your strength improves.

Another design of cast iron kettlebell

For most ladies, 6 to 8 kg is fine to begin with. 12 to 14 kg would be ok for men. 16 kg would be good for bigger and stronger guys.

What exercise can I do with kettlebells?

There are literally thousands of exercises that you can do with the kettlebell. You do not need to know all of them but here are four exercises which you can do as a beginner. But note that even seasoned kettlebell lifters do these exercises! They are quite important and are very useful in training your gluteals (the big muscles which make up your butt), hamstrings, quadriceps, deltoids, almost all if not all your “core” muscles (layers of muscles around your torso), shoulder girdle, forearms, and arms. Here are four great exercises to begin with:

1. Arm to arm swing– start with the kettlebell around a foot in front of you. Feet around hip or shoulder width apart. Keep your back in a strong erect position. Grab the handle and pull the bell towards you letting it pass between your legs. As the kettlebell reaches the farthest point in its backswing and is about to change direction of swing, push the forearm of your holding hand with your hip as you exhale forcefully. This will propel the kettlebell straight out in front of you. Let your free arm swing forward and as the kettlebell reaches the highest point (it should be around chest level), switch grip with the other hand. The kettlebell will swing back again and you just repeat the cycle.


2.Two arm swing– very similar to the arm to arm swing except that you grab the handle with both hands. There is obviously no switching between arms.


3. One arm press– rack the kettlebell on one arm. Keep your abdominal tight as you press (push) the kettlebell straight up. Your elbows should be straight and your biceps close to your ear. Hold your arms in a steady position before you lower it to the rack position under control. Breath in the rack position and start another repetition.



4.One arm clean and push press/ 1 arm long cycle– start with a swing using 1 arm but pull the kettlebell toba rack position. From there proceed to pressing the kettlebell overhead. Lower it again to the rack position before letting it drop to a one arm swing. Repeat the cycle with the same arm.

You may need more time to work on this. It can be challenging, but hey!, its not fun if it is too easy. There would be no stimulus for growth without challenge!


Important tips when executing the movements in each exercise:

  • Avoid slouching: do not hunch your back. Keep your chest “open” or “hold it high”.
  • Keep your abdominal muscles tensed. It helps in keeping your back in a good position.
  • Breath. Do not hold your breath but exhale forcefully as you swing or push or pull the kettlebell.


Can I learn the exercises in one training session?

It takes more than one session to learn and each person has a different rate of learning. Some can quickly learn the more efficient techniques in a few sessions. Some longer. Working with a qualified and experienced kettlebell teacher or coach greatly accelerates the learning process. Remember that there are variations in techniques but it is the most efficient one for your body type that is best for you. It takes lots and lots of training sessions to improve. And that is the beauty of training with kettlebells. It challenges you to become better.

How will I train?

Here is a suggested routine. Try it for 2 weeks. At first you may be sore. That is a normal reaction. To minimize this, do a good warm-up and cool down. Do some stretches and drink a lot of water. It is also very important to have enough sleep.

kb training for beginners1

Remember that to be able to feel and see fitness improvements, you have to train regularly consistently. The results will come as long as you put enough effort. If you train properly 3 times a week, you may feel some improvement in as short as two weeks.

Share to your friends now! Your comments, questions and feedback are highly appreciated. Please leave them on the comments section below!

Karate evolved from it’s ancient history of being a peasant’s secret weapon into an organized sport. In it’s development, it has sprouted into different styles or different “schools”. But now as a sport, these different styles compete under one set of rules and the world governing body is the WKF. But even with all these complexities, one thing has not changed from it’s earliest deadly form to its present form as a sport: That to be effective, a karate technique has to be delivered with speed, power, technique, and timing. Training in karate alone definitely improves strength, power, and speed to a certain extent. The best and most successful karate athletes have these qualities developed at exceptional levels. They trained hard in karate and they also are very athletic.  But now that the level of competition is very high and there are more and more competitive karatekas, only the best and strongest will reach the top. There has to be strength and conditioning training for karate-do athletes to enable them to train hard in karate, perform to their highest level, and reduce the chances of getting injured. In other words, strength and conditioning training for karate-do athletes highly increases their success rate. Strength and conditioning training for Karate-do is now very important if we want to rise to world class level.



Fond memories

brandSome years ago, karate athletes can compete in both the kata and kumite events and still be successful. I was working with the Philippine Karate-do team for their preparation for the Busan 2002 Asian Games. For this competition, they had a lean team of 3 gentlemen and 2 ladies. One of the ladies would compete in both events. My task as their Strength and Conditioning coach was to make them as physically fit as possible for this competition. Their strength and conditioning training has been emphasized. I would augment as a Physical Therapist too since I am also one. We had a few months of strength training before this particular preparation in our training facility in Manila. Then around 4 months before their competition, we headed off to a training camp in our satellite training facility in Baguio City. The training facility has a running track and sleeping quarters for athletes and coaches and a mess hall. There is also a small weights room with a few pieces of equipment. At least there were a few sets of barbells and dumbbells. The greatest advantage that we were able to get from this training camp is that we were able to increase the team’s training volume and intensity well above what they can do in Manila. That was achieved because the climate in Baguio is cool. The environment is very conducive to training since we are in a barracks and there is no distraction. The altitude is around 1,500 meters above sea level. It is not that high to elicit big physiological advantage but we noticed there was still a positive effect. And the cool and tranquil environment enabled the athletes to tolerate conditioning work a lot better than when we did it in the hot environment in Manila.

Their strength and conditioning training started at 6 am. We would go out of the compound and run up around the hills for around 30 to 45 minutes and back to the running track. We then did reaction drills, and footworks. It was also a time for the one who was making weight to do extra running and calisthenics. By 7:30, the morning session was done and we head off to the mess hall. Breakfast was great, and we had a lot of fresh vegetables since Baguio and nearby places produce vegetables which are sold in the lowlands. After breakfast, everybody goes back to the barracks to wash up. I would be waiting for those who need physical therapy treatment in the physical therapist’s cottage. Or they would go to the masseur if they feel tight and stiff. Some would have a nap. This is all done by 10:30 am. By 11:30 am we would have strength training sessions at the mini gym beside the running track. The training plan is posted on the wall of the gym and as we progress I would update it. By 12:30 we would have finished stretching and cooling down and ready for a good lunch. Meal times serve as our debriefing sessions and meetings. The head coach and I would discuss a bit more later if needed. Afternoon is recovery time. They are instructed to nap. Well, at first they would say they wanted to go sightseeing around the city since Baguio is the summer capital of the Philippines and it is a tourist spot. Then as the training intensity increased, they need not be reminded since they would nap voluntarily. The head coach and I also needed it! The third session, which is skills training, starts 5:00 pm and ends at 6:30 pm.


photo credited to http://www.cityofpines.com

Periodizing their training

After 4 weeks, we shifted the training schedule. Skills training is now more emphasized since their conditioning level has improved a lot. They do 2 sessions of skills training now. The first is at midday before lunch and the second is late in the afternoon before dinner.  Strength and conditioning is still at 6 to 7:30 am. As our training camp progressed, so did their abilities. But mental stress is also there. The pressure on them to perform, the separation from their families, and the feeling  of fatigue is affecting them. To minimize this, we lowered intensity for a few sessions and went “sightseeing” one weekend. We went hiking, which is a lower level of conditioning. The athletes were smiling and said I just tricked them into training. Well, I was just making efficient use of our time. The head coach also allowed them to go home on the next weekend to have a break. I also got to go home. My home is in Baguio city but I stayed with them all the time in the camp. So I was so glad to visit home too!

Training side effects

By the end of the training camp, we were ready. I never noticed but one of the ladies came to me and said before we started the training camp, she was a regular girl. When we were about to break camp, she had a very trim waist, had great abs, and sharp triceps and deltoids to show! She proudly wore sleeveless shirts upon going back to the Manila where it is hot. Those were just side effects of strength and conditioning training but what we were after was to have the athletes attain their peak physical fitness for their sport in time for their competition. Mentally, they improved a lot as well since their confidence improved. Skills wise, they improved very well since they were able to practice harder, more, and with more focus.

The reward of hard work

The team left for the Asian games and I was left behind since I also train other teams and the budget is just for the athletes and the head coach. I was proud that I had done my job to the best that I can. They came back with two bronze medals, one in the women’s kata, and one in the women’s -60 kg kumite.

busan ag 2002

Source: Wikipedia

Karate-do continues to evolve as a sport and is trying its best to be in the Olympics. The level of competition has increased and so is the extent of preparation. Hopefully by 2020 Karate-do will finally be in the Olympics. Strength and conditioning training for karate-do is now even more important. I remember the words our late Shihan Arsenio Bawingan Jr. I was a young lad in the Baguio City YMCA then where he taught Karate. He told us that if we want to be good, we should train really hard. Not just in the dojo. He told us to run, do calisthenics, even lift rocks (Strength and conditioning was not known then). His words turned out to be prophetic.  Train Better! Play Better!

Goal: Explosive Power


Wk 1: 4 sessions 
Day 1 light to moderate weight
Quarter squats x 3 sets x 8 reps
Bench press x 3 sets x 8 reps
Walking dumbell lunges x 3 sets x 16 reps
Chin ups x 3 sets x 5 reps
Dips x 3 sets x 8 reps

Day 2 light to moderate wt
Romanian deadlifts x 3 sets x 8 reps
Shoulder press x 3 sets x 8 reps
Calf raise x 3 sets x 15 reps
Kettlebell 2 arm swings x 3 sets x 10 reps
Rest 1 day then repeat day 1 & 2 may increase load 

Wk 2: 4 sessions moderate load
Day 1
Parallel squat x 4 sets x 6 reps
Bench press x 4 sets x 6 reps
Alternating dumbell lunges x 3 sets x 16 reps 
Chin ups x 4 sets x 5 reps
Suitcase carry x 3 sets x 45 seconds per side

Day 2
Romanian deadlift x 4 sets x 6 reps
Shoulder press x 4 sets x 6 reps
Dips x 4 sets x 10 reps
Calf raise x 3 sets x 15 reps
Rest 1 day then repeat day 1 & 2
Kettlebell 2 arm swing x 4 sets x 10 reps

Wk 3: 4 sessions
Day 1
Parallel squat x 4 sets x 5 reps
Bench press x 4 sets x 5 reps
Alternating lunges x 3 sets x 16reps
Suitcase carry x 3 sets x 45 seconds per side
Kettlebell 2 arm swing x 4 sets x 15 reps

Day 2
Romanian deadlift x 4 sets x 5 reps
Shoulder press x 4 sets x 5 reps
Calf raise x 4 sets x 15 reps
Chin ups x 4 sets x 5 reps
Dips x 4 sets x 10 reps
Rest 1 day then repeat day 1 & 2

Wk 4: 4 sessions
Day 1
Parallel squat x 4 sets x 5 reps
Alternating dumbell chest press x 4 sets x 10 reps
Alternating barbell lunges x 4 sets x 5 reps
Chin ups x 4 sets x 5 reps
Kettlebell 2 arm swing x 3 sets x 20 reps

Day 2
Deadlift x 4 sets x 5 reps
Push press x 4 sets x 5 reps
Dips x 4 sets x 10 reps
Diagonal lift x 3 sets x 20 reps (10 reps/side)
Rest 1 day then repeat 1 & 2

Wk 5: repeat wk 4

Wk 1: 3 sessions
Day 1
Parallel squat super set with bodyweight squat jumps x 4 sets x 5 reps/ exercise
Alternating dumbell chest press x 3 sets x 10 reps
Side to side medicine ball plyometric push up x 3 sets x 12 reps

Day 2
Deadlift x 4 sets x 3 reps
Jumpt to knee height box x 4 sets x 5 reps
Medicine ball slams x 5 sets x 8 reps

Day 3
Chin ups x 3 sets x 5
Medicine ball wall throw x 4 sets x 5 reps/ side

Wk 2: 3 sessions
Day 1
Day 2
Day 3

Wk 3: 4 sessions 
Day 1
Day 2
Day 3

Wk 4: Last 2 sessions
Day 1
Day 2

Strength training for PJ

Posted: February 2, 2016 in Your Training Plan

It is great to know that you are going for a competition at the National Level PJ. It is going to be a great and memorable experience. There are only 2 1/2 weeks left and it is a short time to gain 5 kg body weight. The best way to use this time is to train wisely. Avoid getting injured and keep practicing 2-3 techniques that you are good at in actual sparring in the dojo. For Strength and Conditioning, we better think long term. It is not something that provides immediate results- it has to be done systematically and progressively over a period of time. But the benefits are enormous. It does not only make you a better athlete, it also makes you more confident and healthier.


So to help you start here is a twice a week strength training program designed to improve over all strength and athleticism for you. It is very important that you lift with good technique and reasonable weight so that you can improve and at the same time avoid unnecessary injuries. Remember that it takes patience and perseverance for any training to produce positive results. I may design the training plan but you should train with your dad since you need expert supervision. Your dad is actually one of my best mentors. He taught me the very important foundations for my lifting skills which I use until now. So you are very lucky he is there to teach you.

You have 2 1/2 weeks to train or roughly 5 training sessions for the competition this February. After that, you should continue with your strength training and conditioning 2 weeks after your February competition – after you have rested. Here is the general plan:


Week 1, Day 1

Warm up: Jumping jacks x 50 reps; Skip rope x 3mins; stretch x 10mins

Strength training: (Set system)

  1. Deadlift    Warm up set: Light load x 8 reps; Set 1 Moderate load x 5 reps, Set 2-3 Moderate to heavy load x 5 reps
  2. Parallel Squat    Warm up set: Light load x 8 reps; Set 1 Moderate load x 5 reps, Set 2-3 Moderate to heavy load x 5 reps
  3. Standing Barbell Shoulder Press    Warm up set: Light load x 8 reps; Set 1 Moderate load x 5 reps, Set 2-3 Moderate to heavy load x 5 reps
  4. Bent Over Barbell Row  Warm up set: Light load x 8 reps; Set 1 Moderate load x 5 reps, Set 2-3 Moderate to heavy load x 5 reps
  5. Good Mornings  Light load x 3 sets x 15 reps
  6. Sit ups    Put 5-10 lbs on your chest as load x 3 sets x 20 reps

Cool Down:

Stretch Neck, shoulders, arms, torso, hip, thighs, calves, ankles, and wrist. Drink water and have a good snack like sandwich or even a meal.


Week 1, Day 2 (Have at least one day between day 1 and day 2)

Warm up: Squat Thrusts x 20 reps; Skip rope x 3mins; stretch x 10mins

Strength training: (Set System)

  1. Bench Press    Warm up set: Light load x 8 reps; Set 1 Moderate load x 5 reps, Set 2-3 Moderate to heavy load x 5 reps
  2. Alternating Lunges    Warm up set: Light load x 10 reps; Set 1 Moderate load x 20 reps, Set 2-3 Moderate to heavy load x 12 reps
  3. Standing Dumbell Shoulder Press    Warm up set: Light load x 8 reps; Set 1 Moderate load x 5 reps, Set 2-3 Moderate to heavy load x 5 reps
  4. Dumbell Row  Warm up set: Light load x 8 reps/side; Set 1 Moderate load x 5 reps/side, Set 2-3 Moderate to heavy load x 5 reps/side
  5. Leg Raises  Light load x 3 sets x 15 reps
  6. Plank x 3 sets at 1 minute per set

Cool Down:

Stretch Neck, shoulders, arms, torso, hip, thighs, calves, ankles, and wrist. Drink water and have a good snack like sandwich or even a meal.



Week 2, Day 1

Warm up: Jumping jacks x 50 reps; Skip rope x 3mins; stretch x 10mins

Strength training:

  1. Deadlift    Warm up set: Light load x 8 reps; Set 1 Moderate load x 5 reps, Set 2-5 Moderate to heavy load x 3 reps
  2. Parallel Squat    Warm up set: Light load x 8 reps; Set 1 Moderate load x 5 reps, Set 2-3 Moderate to heavy load x 3 reps
  3. Standing Barbell Shoulder Press    Warm up set: Light load x 8 reps; Set 1 Moderate load x 5 reps, Set 2-5 Moderate to heavy load x 3 reps
  4. Good Mornings  Light load x 3 sets x 15 reps
  5. Sit ups    Put 5-10 lbs on your chest as load x 3 sets x 20 reps

Cool Down:

Stretch Neck, shoulders, arms, torso, hip, thighs, calves, ankles, and wrist. Drink water and have a good snack like sandwich or even a meal.

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Week 2, Day 2 (Have at least one day between day 1 and day 2)

Warm up: Squat Thrusts x 20 reps; Skip rope x 3mins; stretch x 10mins

Strength training:

  1. Bench Press    Warm up set: Light load x 8 reps; Set 1 Moderate load x 5 reps, Set 2-5 Moderate to heavy load x 3 reps then declined push-ups x 8reps
  2. Standing Dumbell Shoulder Press    Warm up set: Light load x 8 reps; Set 1 Moderate load x 5 reps, Set 2-4 Moderate to heavy load x 5 reps
  3. Pull ups  Warm up set: x 2 reps; Set 1-3 x 3-5 reps; Set 4 x maximum reps
  4. Leg Raises  Light load x 3 sets x 15 reps
  5. Plank x 3 sets at 1.5 minutes per set

Cool Down:

Stretch Neck, shoulders, arms, torso, hip, thighs, calves, ankles, and wrist. Drink water and have a good snack like sandwich or even a meal.


Remember, train well, eat good, sleep very well. Good luck and hope to see you on the 28th!

It is unavoidable that physical activities are packaged with injuries. When participating in physical activities, the possibility of injuries can never be removed but can definitely be reduced. And when an injury occurs, we can always make something positive out of it. Physical activities and sports enable a participant to enjoy & express themselves. There is a big return of investment when it comes to fitness, mental health, social interaction, and emotional well being. Physical activities makes us faster, stronger, and better as long as done in a consistent and progressive way. But they have inherent risks which may be perceived as a threat or a challenge. The process of overcoming the challenges offered by the physical activities makes them tools for self-improvement. We feel a sense of accomplishment when we finish a marathon, sail across the oceans, and climb mountains. But sometimes, when we cannot finish the race due to an injury, do we just sit back and feel sorry for ourselves? Or do we get back up? This is not only for guys and gals who are injured and are recovering, but for anyone interested in improving themselves thru training. It refers to works by psychologists and scholars and shares some personal stories, observations and experiences.


Physical activities require some degree of skills, physical fitness, and mental resilience. If the cumulative demands of all our activities exceed our capabilities, a breaking point will be reached.

Related:Setting initial training expectations by understanding a natural process called GAS

In the exhaustion phase of the General Adaptation Syndrome, the body is not able to cope with the stress and its function starts to decline. Injuries can be a manifestation of this phase. Understanding how we react to stress enables us to have a sense of control over our injury and not the other way around. Scientists suggest many models, like the GAS, that helps us understand the processes that we undergo. Kubler-Ross (1969), identified a five stage grief reaction response: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance or reorganization. It was again discussed by Pederson and Gordon (1986) as how athletes may respond to injury.

Basing on the 5 stage reaction response model, being angry is a part of the process but it does not stop there. The process starts like a dark tunnel wherein negative emotions like anger and depression are expected after injury, but as we learn how to deal with it, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. We begin to accept the situation and then reorganize. If you have been recently injured and you are reading this part of the blog, probably you are past denial stage, maybe getting over bargaining & depression and likely beginning to accept & most likely reorganizing and looking for ways how to recover fast. Those who did not get past the first paragraph and quit reading may still be angry or in denial of their condition.

In a study conducted by Tracey, they interviewed recently injured athletes who also had previous injuries. They discovered that thoughts of the future were influenced by thoughts of past injuries and their successful recovery from the injury. “Knowing what to expect” was reported to give further peace of mind and had a “calming” effect that allowed them to stay positive and focused on recovering.

We can also learn from the experience of others. When I was 15 years old, I broke my collarbone just before the summer holiday started. Before the accident, I was really looking forward to going back to the local YMCA to continue my Karate training. I cried because of the pain, of the thought of missing the chance to train, and most of all because I was uncertain if I will ever be able to do things I like to do again. Being young, I did not know what was going to happen. But I was lucky that a kind Medical Intern talked to me. He said he broke around 23 bones before he reached the age of 20. But he is there standing strong and healthy. His words worked a lot better than the medicines. It made me stop crying when I realized that, like him, I can recover and still be strong. I must have gotten past the “Angry” stage at that point thanks to his story! I was also very lucky to have a bodybuilder for a brother-in-law and who was my first mentor in lifting weights. He had bodybuilding & fitness magazines. Since it was already summer holiday and I had nothing else to do, I read his magazines & came across articles by champion bodybuilders (of that era) like Kevin Levrone. He wrote about his injury that required surgery. Bodybuilders are judged according to their muscular development. He had great chest & upper body development but his calves needed improvement and while he was waiting for his wound to heal, he trained his calves. When he fully recovered, he ended having a more proportioned built because he was able to use the time to work on his weakness while allowing his chest to recover from the surgery. Another bodybuilder wrote about his long road to recovery after falling down from a powerline to a train track and breaking most of his ribs, his legs, and dislocating his ankles. He might have died if he was not physically fit. And he was lucky to have a loving wife who encouraged him to go through the slow and painful process of learning how to walk again. Because of his wife’s support, he eventually regained his health, trained again, and became one of the great bodybuilders of his time.


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An athlete with a fractured leg is still being trained. The purpose of training is to minimize leg atrophy and also to give him something to focus on instead of just feeling sorry for himself. He recovered and became one of the best badminton players in Hong Kong. To make him feel better, I told him my experiences recovering from my fractures.

After I read those stories, I began to see hope. I also read a bit about fractures and even if I understood then that there is a slight deformation of the bone due to a misalignment, it did not matter much. What mattered was that I can be as physically active as I would alow myself to be and less than a year later, I was able to top the physical fitness test of our class. It was a big achievement for me after the injury. After a few years, I again had an accident while rappelling. I was already a Physical Therapy student at that time having my semestral break. I broke my left fibula, chipped the tibia, broke 3 metatarsals, and snapped a tendon on one of my fingers (which I discovered after about 12 years later). I was actually happy after the accident. Not because I was injured but because I did not break my spine nor injured my brain from the impact of falling. I became my first patient and trained myself in my brother-in-law’s gym, that is after he mentored me on how to lift weights. Four months later I was jogging, although with a slight limp, and 1 ½ months on I went on an expedition to the second highest mountain of my country. It was a goal I set prior to the accident and decided to stick to it to motivate myself.


Looking back at my experience as well as those of others, it reinforces the Integrated Model of Emotional Response to Injury as developed by Wiese-Bjornstal (2). It suggests that events prior to injury would have an effect to the response to injury. The work of Tracey(1) further supports this. They interviewed injured athletes. Quoting a part of her work, it says:


⌈The influence on their emotional experience was described by the participants as a“learning experience.” They learned that they must take care of themselves and “not to take anything for granted.” The experience of sustaining and recovering from a moderate to severe injury was marked by a variety of emotional responses by the participants. Most participants referred to the idea that “injuries just happen,” with a few mentioning that “things happen for a reason” and they had to “listen and learn to take care of themselves.”⌋

Thoughts and affect changed over time to view the injury as a challenge which participants approached with a positive attitude. The experience of the participants was acknowledged as a process in which they learned about themselves and the many emotions involved with being injured.2


And here is a quote from the internet. It says it is from Bruce Lee:



but again, the problem with quotes from the internet is that we do not know if they are genuine. So here is my own quote:



This is for a friend who is recovering from an injury who is on another part of the globe. We have been through some of the toughest challenges that we faced and we came out smiling.



  1. The Emotional Response to the Injury and Rehabilitation Process, Journal of Applied Sport Psychology Volume 15Issue 4, 2003; Tracey  http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/citedby/10.1080/714044197#tabModule
  2. An Integrated Model of Response to Sport Injury: Psychological and Sociological Dynamics. WIESE-BJORNSTAL et al. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10413209808406377#.VIloBdKUfTo

Small things that we do actually add up to make us better or worst. These manifests as strange phenomenons in gyms. I am a Strength and Conditioning coach, not a sports scientist so my observations in the gym where I work all day  would not survive the rigid scrutiny of the people who come from the planet of the lab, or from the guys whose last names are hard to pronounce. I can’t spell it either but it’s something MS in PhD or something.


  1. You see, a lot of guys, not necessarily men, are attracted by the gravitational pull of the bench press. They exert a lot of effort in this exercise. Observe a subject male specimen perform what seems like maximum effort. Then watch as an attractive female walks by. The male subject would add more plates to his bench press. The size and weight of the plates are directly proportional to the curvaceousness of the girl’s hips multiplied by the the revealing factor of the tightness of the female’s yoga pants. Then the male subject would perform the bench press but the range of motion is reduced by a big factor. This factor can be determined by subtracting the male subject’s actual ability to his ego. The bigger the ego, the more plates but the shallower the movement. In short, don’t train like a fool. Train don’t just exercise. And train so you get better at something useful.bench press fail
  2. Adonis is alive. Due to the undulations of the Earth’s rotation caused by increasing rate of the unnecessary bashing of the 25 lb dumbell on gym floors, a wormhole has opened in our world and a vortex opens up once in awhile. Guess where it opens: right in front of the full length wall mirror in the gym just in front of the dumbell rack. You can usually observe Adonis doing dumbell biceps curls or ez-bar biceps curls. Once in awhile, he is mistakenly teleported to another planet- that of the Squat Cage. Chaos ensures when the tribe of the Squat see Adonis biceps curling their sacred Olympic bar in front of the Squat Cage.adonis
  3. Have you ever heard of eccentric contraction on the last rep? No? well, it is because it is now an endangered specie. Lifting a load requires your muscle fibers to shorten as myosin pulls the actin filaments closer. Lifting is not complete since what comes up must come down. So the myosin releases the actin filaments, supposedly still under control. This type of contraction, called eccentric contraction, can actually resist a higher load than concentric contraction. Yet, it has become a fad in gyms, for people to simply drop the barbell, dumbell, or whatever they are lifting, to the floor after the last concentric contraction. Their reason behind is mostly ego related- to make a loud smashing sound so as to attract attention. But as per my unscientific observation, the last, and probably the most important bit of the set, has been wasted. It could have been a chance to be still under control even when you are tmale_crossfit_athlete_dropping_barbell_on_headhe most tired in that set. Keep repeating- being in control of yourself even when you are at your worst, and it manifests in your life. You would learn how to persist when things are at their hardest until you achieve your goal. Do the opposite- letting go of your discipline and self control when you feel a slight discomfort- and it also manifests in your life: you will lack any discipline to push yourself when you are out of your comfort zone.
  4. empty-can-4017644A noisy can is an empty can. It is also true in the gym. Some trainers seem to know it all and would comments on clients of other trainers or athletes being trained by other Strength coaches. Yet they themselves do not know how to lift. Their clients, or athletes for Strength coaches, also do not know how to lift properly and have not made substantial improvement but they keep on talking and talking as if they know everything. What is interesting is that they can fool a lot of people. That is because people tend to believe somebody who is talkative and assertive while knowledgeable individuals tend to hesitate to mouth around quickly since they analyze and put things to perspective first before giving comments. The lesson here is, if you are going to choose your Strength coach or trainer, observe him or her first, and observe his or her athletes or clients. Be careful when asking for comments since those making comments may have been fooled too. And talk less, do more.


People go to the gym to train and/or to make up for some insecurities. The gym is a place where a person can make his or her mind and body better. But it can also be a place where the body may start to look better but the mind degenerates into self-centeredness. So instead of training primarily to feed the ego, train to discipline your mind and your body. Simple good manners and gestures count a lot. Train Better! Live Better!