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.

1o9 053

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.


VALstrengthtraining weak to peak2

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!


Train like a lady

Posted: December 17, 2015 in From my vantage point

A lot of ladies are able to radiate their beauty because they train, either in the weights room or with the activity that they love. Beautiful here means they have inner beauty that manifests in how they carry themselves. Ladies who train to improve their physical strength and abilities have a certain aura of confidence which sets them apart and makes them outstanding. There may be a lot of pretty faces out there and a lot are so unattractive due to their vain or other unlady like characteristics. Here are eight things that a lady should do when training be it in the weights room, boxing gym, or anywhere else:


  1. Practice good hygiene habits. Putting on makeup, having colorful nails and the latest hairdo are useless if you stink. Lipstick won’t hide teeth stains and plaque. Beauty cannot shine out if it is covered by lousy grooming. Good grooming is beautiful.


  1. Shave armpit hair especially if you wear sleeveless shirts. This is obviously a part of hygiene but has to be emphasized since it really stands out. Visualize a lady with make up wearing sleeveless body hugging shirt doing pink dumbell presses while seated on that red stability ball. Zoom in on her armpits as she raises her arms. You see thick forests hidden under each armpit. Instead of emitting fresh oxygen, those dark forests emit fumes rich in sulfur and nitrogen. Now zoom out you vision and look at her face. What do you see? Definitely not a gorilla. That’s an orangutan.armpi


  1. Dress modestly when you train. It takes two to tango and girls who wear clothes that reveal their internal organs are inviting a lot of attention. It is good to show off your assets but do it in the right place and don’t overdo it.



  1. Lift weights first before you do your cardio. Most ladies say they do not want to be muscular and want to trim off that bulge. They also want round, firm butts. The way to do that is to train big muscle groups with enough intensity so that they would increase your metabolism. The squat exercise trains the gluteus maximus,  gluteus medius, gluteus minimus, adductor magnus and longus, quadriceps femoris, rectus femoris, erector spinae, and around a dozen more muscles with latin sounding names. I intentionally used those anatomical nomenclature since people want things to sound sophisticated so they would buy into it and feel it makes them so complicated too. Then after your strength training, you can do those cardio exercises while snapping selfies with pouty lips. That burns 2.738% more calories. Selfies with teasing cleavage burns 3.28% more.how a lady trains


  1. Use less make-up and ornaments. The gym is not a place to show off jewelries. They would only be damaged, be lost, or cause unnecessary injuries.




  1. Long hair should be tied in a pony tail. Long and untied hair can get into your eyes or anybodies eyes. They can get entangled in cables. And they distract you every time you execute the exercise.


  1. A lady, or anyone else, should not starve herself just before training. Yes, most ladies are obsessed with decreasing their body weight and most starve themselves to do that. If you have not eaten for the past 6 hours or so, have a sandwich and drink a glass of water or fruit juice 30 minutes to 1 hour before you train. Good food is good fuel. You need to fuel your neuromuscular system to be able to focus on what you are doing. Ok, you are looking for those words: You need to have enough GLUCOSE so that you can ENGAGE your CORE, FIRE UP your GLUTES, ACTIVATE your POSTERIOR CHAIN and STABILIZE your glenohumeral joint. There…

See related topic:“Why Lose Weight?”

  1. A lady is not afraid to become physically strong. Strong but not necessarily big and muscular. Sometimes ladies may hold themselves back due to perceived “norms” that ladies cannot lift heavy. Ladies can definitely lift heavy without becoming too muscular. It just comes down to a well guided strength training plan. Whatever your fitness goal is, increasing muscular strength helps you reach that goal- be it to lose body fat, to be able to cope with taking care of children, or to be among the best athletes in the world in your sport.


    Credit to Grace. Among the best Karate (Kata) in the world.


The lady athletes who train need not be told about these a lot of times or they find out the hard way. It may be a bit different in commercial gyms but if you plan to train in any gym, remember that good grooming is a must. I remember one time my wife and I were in a group Muay Thai Class. One time, there was a lady in the group who had a terrible body odor. It was already an embarrassing situation so everybody was trying not to make a fuss about it. But when the instructor told us to pair up, the tough looking guy closest to her was so quick in grabbing a partner at the opposite end of the gym. No one is that tough against a terrible body odor. 

Ladies who truly want to be stronger and better at what they do are some of the best trainees to work with. They acknowledge their weakness and listen to feedback. They are truly beautiful since they know how to take care of themselves- with good grooming and a healthy lifestyle. These ladies Train Better! Live Better!

Related post: How a Real Man Trains

kettlebell valstrengthtraining

These kettlebells were abandoned in a storage room. They were probably used in the 1980’s to early 90’s.

From a training point of view, there is a wide application for Kettlebell training. When used properly, it can improve the whole spectrum from endurance to explosive power. Kettlebells increase strength well enough to improve performance in a wide variety of sports.

The following are documented physiologic adaptations in athletes attributed to kettlebell training:

Effects on Aerobic Capacity

NCAA Division 1 athletes were used as test subjects on a study examining the effects of kettlebell training on aerobic capacity. The subjects initially underwent a graded exercise test to measure their maximal oxygen consumption prior to a 4 week training program. They were then divided into two groups- either a circuit weight training group or a kettlebell training group. Both groups trained 3 days a week for 4 weeks in addition to their off season conditioning program. The circuit weight training group did a combination of free weight and body-weight exercises in a circuit fashion for 20 minutes. The kettlebell group performed 15 seconds kb snatch followed by 15 seconds of rest done consecutively, also for 20 minutes. The researchers were able to measure a 6% improvement in the maximal oxygen consumption in the kettlebell group while there was no significant change in the circuit weight training group. This points to the direction that kettlebell training can be used as an alternative to maintain or even improve cardiovascular fitness.

Strength and Power improvement

KB valstrengthtraining

In 2013, the results of study about kettlebell training was released. The study aimed at examining whether kettlebell training transfers strength and power to weightlifting and powerlifting exercises. There were 37 subjects divided into an experimental and a control group. Their abilities in the barbell clean and jerk, barbell bench press,Oly bar valstrengthtraining vertical jump, and back extension to volitional fatigue were assessed prior to and after a twice a week kettlebell training program with a 10 week duration. Although the there were no significant findings for the result of the vertical jump test, the researchers were able to determine that there is transfer of power and strength in response to 10 weeks of kettlebell training.  This findings were similar to an earlier study published in 2012 which compared the effects of 6 weeks of weightlifting and traditional heavy resistance training versus that of kettlebell training. The researchers compared the effects on strength, power, and anthropometric measurements. The subjects were tested on 1RM for barbell back squat and power clean as well as on vertical jump. They were divided into either weightlifting or kettlebell group. Training was twice a week for 6 weeks. Results showed no difference was between the two groups for vertical jump and anthropometric measurements. There is improvement in both power and strength for both groups but greater strength was observed in the weightlifting group. So kettlebell training may be as good as weightlifting and traditional heavy resistance training in improving explosive power. It also does improve strength but barbell training may be better for that aspect.

There are a lot of cases wherein athletes benefited a lot from kettlebell training. Some of the teams that I work with do use kettlebells in some areas of their training. A mentor also shared a story of a successful pre-season training for a professional baseball athlete. He trained the athlete using mostly the fundamental kettlebell lifts. The athlete went back to playing baseball with significant improvement in performance.

The bursts of power, torso and joint stability, coordination, as well as mental focus that is developed in kettlebell training makes it a very good training tool for a variety of goals. Although, sometimes the coach has to decide if this type of training is appropriate for certain athletes and training situations. Athletes who are determined and are patient are the ones who benefit a lot from this type of training.

1 Arm KB Jerk used during preparation for the Asian Karate-do Championship 2015

1 Arm KB Jerk used by Grace during her preparation for the Asian Karate-do Championship 2015.

(Photo above shows a sequence of shots. The highlighted heel and hair shows an explosive movement which is finished with a very good fixation- also practicing very stable shoulder position.) 

Is kettlebell training the best method? Are kettlebells the best training equipment?

If you are into kettlebell sport, then that is how you should train. But if not, it is a part of a “toolbox” that can be used instdepending on your situation. They can be used with other training tools and other training methods as long as they are planned well. Kettlebell training, when done properly, provides stimulus to improve power, strength, local muscular endurance, and cardiorespiratory endurance. Maximal strength development may not be as good when compared to barbell training however, that is because of the inherent characteristic of the kettlebell that limits its weight. And maximum strength is usually measured using a barbell. A significant amount of weight can be added to the bar and it does not affect the bar thickness whereas the size of the competition grade kettlebell limits its maximum weight.

Take note that the outcome of a training program is dependent on a multitude of factors- some controllable, and some not. Intensity, volume, rest periods, training methods, as well as feedback and instructions are just some variables affecting any training program. There is no “best equipment” or best training method. It is having the passion to do what needs to be done and making the best of what is available in the given situation all the time that makes you achieve your goals. The kettlebell is one great tool but it needs to be used well and consistently to elicit positive adaptations. With this we can Train Better, Live Better!

Val Ramos Jr.


  1. Effects of Kettlebell Training on Aerobic Capacity – Falatic, J. Asher, et al. 2015
  2. Kettlebell Swing Training Improves Maximal and Explosive Strength – Lake, Jason P.; Lauder, Mike A., 2012
  3. Transference of Kettlebell Training to Strength, Power, and Endurance – Castro, Jessica, et al. 2013
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These old fixed barbells come in different weights for a reason. The user is taught a particular exercise using a lighter barbell. He then progresses to using heavier ones as he/she develops strength and proficiency.

A few weeks ago, you made a decision to improve your life. Not in a very dramatic way. It is more in a subtle but positive way. You are now maintaining a healthy exercise habit and you feel it is easier already. You like it, and now you want to become better in what you do. Its time to progress to training. You are looking for a chart that you can follow. There are many complicated charts used by weightlifters who have trained most of their life in their sport. If you are a new lifter or will still start to train with weights, you do not need those complicated tables. They were designed to be used by seasoned lifters whose abilities are well beyond that of Mr. Newbie. They are not applicable to you since your ability to tolerate the volume and intensity is not yet developed, but with patience and persistence, you will be able to improve. The good thing is that during the first year, your progress would be relatively very fast. The best way is to take advantage of this is not to try to train like the world champions, but train appropriately and intelligently. What we should do is to understand the basic overload principle then gradually expound as you progress towards your goal. Understand and apply the basic principles so that you can later adapt it to your situation. Here is an example which may be applicable to most individuals and is flexible enough to be adjusted for your own goals:

Example: General goal is to improve health by improving cardiovascular fitness. You started with jogging, now you want to progress and be able to run faster. You can do this by improving leg strength. Mode is weight training using the squat as primary exercise.

Squat: Week 1 Set 1 Set 2 Set 3 Set 4 Set 5
Tuesday BW x 10 reps 10-15kg x 8 reps 15-20kg x 8 reps 15-20kg x 8 reps 15-20kg x 8 reps
Thursday BW x 10 reps 10-15kg x 8 reps 17.5-22.5kg x 8 reps 17.5-22.5kg x 8 reps 17.5-22.5kg x 8 reps

BW means body weight. You are not using any equipment except your body. The first two sets are warm-up sets. Set 3 to 5 are the actual working sets. You may adjust the weight to that which you can safely handle. The idea is to lift a load that you can control yet it challenges you. Rest period is 1 to 2 minutes in between sets.

Week 2 Set 1 Set 2 Set 3 Set 4 Set 5
Tuesday 10-15kg x 8 reps 15-20kg x 8 reps 17.5-22.5kg x 8 reps 17.5-22.5kg x 8 reps 17.5-22.5kg x 8 reps
Thursday 10-15kg x 8 reps 17.5-22.5kg x 8 reps 22.5kg-25kg x 8 reps 22.5kg-25kg x 8 reps 22.5kg-25kg x 8 reps
Week 3
Tuesday Light x 8 reps Moderate x 8 reps Heavy x 8 reps Heavy x 8 reps Heavy x 8 reps
Thursday Light x 8 reps Moderate x 8 reps Heavy x 8 reps Heavy x 8 reps Heavy x 8 reps
Week 4 If everything is going well, you can add 3-5 kg on set 3 to 5 for week 4 as compared to week 3.
Tuesday Light x 8 reps Moderate x 8 reps Heavy x 8 reps Heavy x 8 reps Heavy x 8 reps
Thursday Light x 8 reps Moderate x 8 reps Heavy x 8 reps Heavy x 8 reps Heavy x 8 reps
Week 5 If everything is going well, you can add 3-5 kg on set 3 to 5 for week 5 as compared to week 4 but do lighter load on Thursday.
Tuesday Light x 8 reps Moderate x 8 reps Heavy x 8 reps Heavy x 8 reps Heavy x 8 reps
Thursday Light x 8 reps Moderate x 8 reps Moderate x 8 reps Moderate x 8 reps Moderate x 8 reps
Week 6 Do lighter load on Tuesday.  Do heavier load x 5 reps this Thursday. It should be the heaviest load for the entire 6 weeks
Tuesday Light x 8 reps Moderate x 8 reps Moderate x 8 reps Moderate x 8 reps Moderate x 8 reps
Thursday Light x 8 reps Moderate x 8 reps Quite heavy x 5 reps Quite heavy x 5 reps Quite heavy x 5 reps

You may be asking, “Why only squat?” The above is only a sample template. You can add other exercises as well but better start with something short but would be implemented. If you can do it for a few weeks then by all means you should progress. (see future posts). The squat is the example used since it involves a lot of joints, and it has a lot of carry over to function. A heavy squat also stimulates the release of more testosterone which in turn would help in overall muscular development. The biceps curl involves only one joint and has a lot less muscle involvement compared to the squat. Training should be done with good and useful goals in mind. Train with function in mind and not only aesthetics. Aesthetics will surely follow after you train for function. That is training intelligently.

This program can also be added with the general conditioning (Click here for previous post) depending on one’s goal and ability to recover. They serve as examples on how the progressive overload principle is used. It should be gradual, done consistently, and done long enough to be able to elicit change. Train Better!, Live Better!

Val Ramos Jr.

A man has to be strong. Strong in body, stronger in mind, strives to be undefeatable in spirit. A man does not need to be very massive to be one. But he needs to be strong for people who depend on him. Here are 6 things that a real man would do about training in the weights room:

  1.  Acknowledge your weakness.


Everyone has his weakness. Even Superman has a weakess. Training is a form of acknowleging a weakness and working to lessen that weakness. In the bodybuilding weights room, the guy who has enormous arms, mountainous shoulders and hulking chest but with twig like thighs is an example of someone who has not acknowledged his weak areas. Men shoud accept negative comments and learn from them. If you have no weakness, there is no need to train. And that’s boring.

2.  Train as a gentleman.

A real man puts the weight plates, dumbells, and other toys back where they should be. I am assigned perpetually on the late shift in the gym where I work. I took it as a man and tried not to moan about it… I said tried. Other guys might be too scared to see the beings that appear on the gym walls at night anyway. There was a time when the cleaners were told to clean up the gym in the evening. When I got back to the gym after my dinner break, there was this old lady cleaner trying to tidy up the floor. She was attempting to put the 45 & 35 lb plates back to the plate rack. They were strewn across the floor by the supposedly big and strong guys who used the bench press and on the smith machine an hour earlier. They left a big mess. The lady could be my mother. Since I can’t speak her language, I just motioned to her not to bother with the plates and dumbells. It is not her responsibility in the first place. It took some time of re-educating those university guys about gym ethics. Sad to say, the mess still happens, but not as much. Real men train hard to make this world a better place, not to make a mess. We desperately need good examples. So be one!

3.  Train like you mean it.

bp spotMake pretend training does not make you stronger or better. If you do this, do not get your strength coach involved either. He can also play make pretend and pretend he is spotting you on the bench press when he is actually pushing the bar down to your neck. And he can mean it.

4.  Use that strength or you lose it.

farmer's walk valstrengthtraining

Exercise aficionados call this exercise the Farmer’s Walk. In here it is called “Don’t wait for the facilities department to refill the water dispenser, just do it yourself walk.” exercise.

Training for aesthetics is great. But better back up all those bulging muscles with useful work. If you don’t use what you have, it will be just for display, then it will fade away. So take the stairs, refill that water dispenser, and be more useful. If you were on a farm, you can train all day. Do some farmer’s walk with those grocery bags.

5. Train to prepare but prepare to train.

“Be prepared!” I love the Scouting movement and this is what I learned from it. It taught us, as young boys then, a lot of skills and we had great adventures. Training in the gym is preparing for life’s challenges. But then how can you train when you forgot to bring your training clothes? There was a time when one of the kids I was training forgot his pair of shorts for training. He was asking me if I have a spare one. I told him to go home and get his. I wanted him to learn his lesson and to take accountability. But then this colleague of mine lent him his shorts! He probably would lend his toothbrush too. The supposedly golden opportunity for the athlete to learn suddenly disappeared. Anyway, the lesson will always present itself until learnt. Going back, forget about your smartphone, or gloves. You can train better without them. But this what you should do. The night before your training session, put in your bag a clean training shirt, a pair of training shorts or pants, socks, training shoes, a towel, a water bottle with water, your gym access card if there is and if you are required upon entry. Optional would be some snacks. Your phone better stay in your bag. If you have those apps for training, it is your choice if you would use them. On your training day, you just grab your bag and you are ready. Serious lifters bring their own lifting belt, wraps, and straps. But they do not need this reminder. This is more for those who still did not develop the habit or lifestyle of incorporating training in their schedule.

6. Train for others first, for yourself second.

valstrengthtraining coastguardTraining for yourself is easy. But remember, others depend on you. Train to keep your body strong so it can withstand the challenges that life brings, be it physical or otherwise. Majority of the fittest people in the world may not be professional athletes, but fitness is a big requirement in their calling. They are enduring challenging conditions. They are doing what they do in order for other people to live comfortably. They are the farmers, construction workers, manual labourers, coastguards, soldiers, firemen, security guards, policemen, EMT’s, miners, fishermen, and many others. Many cannot afford to train in gyms but they get fit because of what they do on a daily basis. Some have to have extra training since failing in their task means other people’s lives are affected. So dedicate your training to those around you. Remember, when you train for others, you train with honor, you Train Better, Live Better!

Val Ramos Jr.

The circumstances in life is different for everybody. Some are born with genetic predisposition to be obese, some with bulging calves, and other perceived “imperfections”. The further away our predisposition is from our “model”, the harder it would be to attain what we want. People are naturally drawn to what is beautiful.
The media can influence our minds into what to think as “beautiful”. But what is beautiful? It can be anything. So we should strive to bring out what is beautiful in us rather than trying to attain a certain standard of “beauty”. It is refreshing to see the fashion and modeling industry come up with “plus size” models and outfits. It is time that we realize that beauty comes in different forms.

plus size beauty

Photo courtesy of google.

Since people come in all sizes and shapes, training programs come in an infinite variety too. We just need to choose what works best for us in achieving what we want. We take into consideration our circumstances and be pragmatic rather idealist.lady athletes body types


Keep in mind that we are in a consumer oriented society. Facts can be twisted by businesses to sell. If you ask “experts”, you may get conflicting advice. Google has too many experts for you to choose from. Try facebook! Almost everyone there is an expert. Most probably you would listen to the one who will tell you what you want to hear. But most likely, that may be different from what you need to hear. That is why coaches who know how to train an individual to reach his/her maximum potential may not have much clients. Being honest sometimes is not appreciated. Probably clients want their Personal Trainers to bend to their whims.  If they refuse to “dance to the music”, clients would leave and go to the trainer who knows how to talk and to please the clients, but not necessarily train. The clients may
have stated their goals but their expectations are different. Or the coach may not have listened well and is imposing what he wants that the client does not need.

To get straight to the point, ask yourself what is your goal. Better write it down. Then ask yourself WHY many times over. Most, if not all, would lead to the most basic answer “because I want to be happy…”. To be healthy makes you happy, to be sexy, to be attractive… What makes you into such? You have many options. You can take some pills, go under the knife, or have an expensive wardrobe. Some would do the old fashioned way- they train, and avoid eating too much oily and creamy stuff or too much of any food. They rest well. It takes discipline and perseverance. It is not easy for some.

So what does this have to do with fitness? If you think being healthier open & honestand fit makes
you happy, that’s great! If you think a personal trainer or coach can help you, that’s correct. But choose very well. Some are good in talking and entertaining their clients. If you are happy just to chat with someone while you pretend to train, that’s entirely up to you. Some are coaches and they would train you, and probably chit chat is not what is in their minds. They may not be very good in entertaining. But that is how they produce tangible results. If actual results are what you are after, you would be better off with this type. You know that each session may not be easy but that is how you can improve. The final say is up to you. You walk your own path. There are many out there who can show you how to get to your intended destination.
Ask how they intend to train you, who they trained, and other stuff. A mentor commented that teaching and coaching is about relationships. That’s true. There are many technically good coaches but may not work well with particular personalities. If the trainee and the coach or fitness professional respect and listen to each other, the training program is easier to design and implement. So have a clear goal and be honest to yourself and to your coach. That way you would be happy to Train Better! Live Better!

Val Ramos Jr.