Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Fitness Part 2: How to get the best out of my workout

Before you start thinking that you should start hitting hard at the gym and work out everyday, know that "too much of a good thing" isn't that good after all. The most important thing when planning your workout routine is to make sure that it is sustainable and you get to progress. 

Things will not happen overnight, it does takes efforts but your body also need to rest for it to recover and function properly. Have you heard about supercompensation? This is an explanation on:

(1) why are you making progress but super slow
(2) why are you making negative progress (losing mass) 
(3) why are you hitting a plateau (no progress)

and of course this chart might just explains many other questions in mind regarding your training.

So this is a supercompensation chart. I will explain it graph by graph, top to bottom, but of course you can always do more research to know more about this.

In sports science theory, supercompensation is the post training period during which the trained function/parameter has a higher performance capacity than it did prior to the training period.

In the first graph, you work out 3 times a week, with a day or 2 rest in between. However when you don't hit hard enough to break the muscles tissues and you take too long rest, you only have little gains. Supercompensation positive but it will be very slow. Don't be afraid to increase weights/reps when you need to.

The second graph is what we seek for, a nice Supercompensation positive. For example workout 5 days a week with variations in intensity. Challenge yourself with higher reps/weights. This is where I encourage working out different body parts on different days so they would have sufficient rest. This sufficient rest is where the muscles grow and recover to be stronger (that explains an upward chart).

In Supercompensation negative, you hit too hard and didn't get to recover enough. This happens when you workout the same muscles everyday. Even before the muscles recover and grow, you are adding additional burden. If you get enough nutrients, you might get a slow supercompensation positive (1st graph), else you will break your muscles and kept burning off your muscle mass.

Supercompensation positive acummulated is when you hit an intense routine and let you muscles recover. This usually happens during heavy power lifting. This requires mental and physical strength. This is because you are giving you muscles massive stress and the recovery might be lengthy but you will achieve great strength.

In the last graph, Supercompensation null, you hit plateau. It is almost like the first graph. You train less and have long recovery. This also happens when you keep doing the same routines, same reps, same weight. You muscles has adapt to that similar strength and they are not growing much rapidly. Change up your routines once you find it not challenging anymore.

So it is totally fine if your workout wasn't as intense as plan, or you missed a day or two of your routine. As long as you pick it back up when you have recovered, you will be able to do more and get stronger.

My explaination could be terrible, but you can read these to have a clearer view:

The summary is:
So everytime you train, you will be giving you muscles a stress called stimulus. You need the right reps and weights (training intensity) and your compensation (recovery time) has to be sufficient. This is the only way you could maximize your training to achieve your goal. 

It simply isn't just "lift heavier", "run longer" or "workout everyday".

This video is also very helpful!

Muscle memory

There is a thing called "muscle memory". According to wikipedia, muscle memory has been used synonymously with motor learning, which is a form of procedural memory that involves consolidating a specific motor task into memory through repetition.

Muscle memory has been used to describe the observation that various muscle-related tasks seem to be easier to perform after previous practice, even if the task has not been performed for a while. It is as if the muscles “remember”.

Muscle memory is real. So even if you missed your diet and workout for a month, as long as you get back to you routine, you will be able to gain those muscles back in a shorter time.

Here are 2 great articles I got on "muscle memory":

So please don't have a mindset that you will have kids, get old and it is impossible to get fit. If you start early, it will be easier for your muscles to adapt. However age is just a number so even if you start late, it is still possible!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Fitness Part 1: What's good to know before you start

Not two bodies are exactly identical, and not everyone has similar fitness goals in mind. I wouldn't call it body goal, it relates to body shaming? This is just for people who really wants to make a change, start doing something and be determined towards it. 

Even though I did start off with randomly following Youtube videos and just having the mind set that eat less or eat clean equals slim lean body, that is not always the case.

I realised there are 2 main things to determine before you start in order for it to be effective.

1. Body Types

It is important to know your body type before you set your workout goals and diet type. Some people call this genetics. I was born Ectomorph, having difficulty gaining weight. I always look skinny even though having high body fat %. This is very unhealthy. If you think you are thin/slim and will have no health issues, do find out about "skinny fat". So some of you might be having body issues, and it might not be your fault. Blame genetics? Never feel bad if you have the same amount of food as your friends but you hardly gained or gained too much. Thus it is always important to know where you are, so you wouldn't be following similar diet and workout routines with other body types because they might give very different results.

So the 3 body types are: Ectomorph, Mesomorph and Endomorph

Nope, most of us are not that defined 😂

How to know your body type?
Click on this link to know your body time https://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/becker3.htm

Honestly I really hate doing cardio. There are people who chase marathon medals, but I have never ran in any. And I am lucky this hate-cardio thing suits my body type.

2. Diet/Calories counting

How many of you have heard about dieting? Dieting has always been a misunderstood term. Diet does not mean that you starve yourself. I have heard it way too many time from people who are trying to loose weight. Diet can be eating more than your usual because you are underweight, your daily routines take lots of energy or you are on a recovery. Diet doesn't always mean eating less.

Based on your body types above and based on your goal, there are again 3 common types of diet or calories counting.

Deficit - you eat less than you burn (lost weight)
Maintenance - you eat as much as you burn (maintain weight)
Surplus - you eat more than you burn (gain weight)

If you choose to eat a cleaner diet, it would be a wiser choice to count your macro/nutrients instead of just calories (since calories can be fulfilled even with junks).

Macro consists of 3 main nutrient group which is Carbohydrate, Protein and Fat. These 3 groups should make up a 100% and the percentage can be adjusted based on your own goals. Since I would like to build muscles, I am going for a 45c/35p/20f (despite always exceeding my fat, I am thankful for my Ectomorph body). A common one would be 50c/30p/20f.

One popular and free calculator is the If-it-fits-your-macro IIFYM website:

Else you could also use the Total-daily-energy-expenditure TDEE:
The TDEE calculator is more beneficial more those who wants to loose weight/fat as it includes all the activities in your day like eating and sleeping.
Subtract or add 15-20% of your TDEE calories based on your goal.

If you would like to use an app to track, there are all kinds of mobile apps. I am using the "myfitnesspal". However I am not an avid user. I hate tracking my food to the very last grams. And since I usually eat out it is not easy. I just make sure I know which food are high carb, which are high protein or which are high fat. Then I will just estimate. You can always try, maybe it will be a habit that you will enjoy.

After determining the above two, determine:
Where are you now? Overweight? Underweight? 
And what is your goal? Do you want to lose or gain weight?
Just want to be healthy? What to be stronger?
 Do you want a lean, curvy or muscular body?

I will cover the workout types for different body goals in my next post.
- which should you be doing: cardio? weights? targeted workouts?
-supercompensation theory: importance of recovery

Will explain this chart in my next post

p/s: I managed 3 unassisted pull ups!
It's really an achievement because I couldn't even play the monkey bar before this

I have also tested the saying of "abs are made in the kitchen" and "you can't out exercise a bad diet". While these aren't all true, yes you can achieve low fat percentage but your workout routine could be quite torturous. I would prefer to do both in moderation instead of neglecting your food and workout like a mad man. Usually such doing is not practical in long term (remember that new year resolution which lasted for a month? or just a week?) and you will soon lost you motivation to workout. Do it both in moderation and it will be a more consistent sustainable journey.

My fitness journey

Due to some recent questions regarding fitness, and the trend of people starting to get into fitness, I would like to share on what I did for approximately a year now to achieve my goal. I am not a fitness trainer, nor am I any expert in nutrition or health. These are just based on my personal goals, real experiences.

So I had been thin my whole life (skinny fat without knowing) and I thought I am able to eat but not gain weight, which I eventually did, and kinda plumped up (had difficulty walking) though I was not actually obese.

I been through the eat all you want and kinda starve myself phases, I am quite an experimental person so I wanted to know how my body reacted to different conditions. My fitness journey started when I was feeling really ill during a short hiking trip and had to exit via the emergency route. I have always thought thin/slim equals fit. That was the period when I ate junk food thinking I will never be fat. After that I had difficulty walking. For the first time in my life, my thighs were rubbing against each other, and I had rashes. I had pants I could zip up and I had flaps on my tummy. Also during this time, I have never hit the gym. I probably did cardio, run 3-5km on the treadmill, only once a month.

That was the point when I realised things weren't right. I started working out following aerobics / HIIT videos on Youtube. I started doing just the warmup sets and already felt myself panting. I didn't actually reduce my food, but I was determined to shred that fat through HIIT and cardio. For 3-4 months, I ran 3km thrice and week and did body weights exercises on other days. Miraculously I did lost most of my fats.

After that I found out about BBG (Bikini Body Guide) by Kayla Itsines. It is an intensive body weight/ light weights workouts. I did it for 4 weeks, before I felt that it was too intense (I was always out of breath) and I was getting too thin. When I did BBG, I ate very clean and was on a deficit diet (will talk about this in my next post). I lost my flaps, but I lost the curves, I became so flat. Some people want this type of lean body (check Kayla's). If you want to get abs, it is possible with BBG. Afterall abs is just low body fat.

After getting lean, I felt that I hit a plateau and was feeling weak with my diet. Many have said that BBG nutrition is not probably the best, which I now agree. Now that I know my body is capable to actually burn fat and built abs through these body weights exercises, I wanted to push it further.

My goal quickly changed to getting curvier, more muscles definition. One thing is that muscles need to be fed. I did not want to be lean, so I need to eat more, which is eating calorie surplus (also in next post).I started working out with weights, lifting heavier. I saw my arms and legs grow. As I have mentioned earlier, this might not be your goal as some people find these growths less feminine. During this time, I lost my abs as I surplus my daily calorie counts. The 2kg fat which I lost during cardio is not gained back as 2kg muscles.

I did not start heavy, in fact I still am not doing heavy because I always go to the gym alone, no support/spotter. I am worried that I will injure myself so I start light and slowly bring in more weights. Know your body well. Which parts are prone to injury and which parts felt unwell, workouts variations are not restricted to people. Choose what fits your goal and body best!

It has been quite a journey and I am now looking forward to more muscles definition once I am able to properly count my macro nutrients and having regular workouts. This is not a journey of self torture, but always know that your body is capable of doing beyond the limitations of your mind. 

Tuesday, April 4, 2017


Am running some volume realizations (geologists would know), which is going to take like an hour. My supervisor is too busy to review my work, I rescheduled our meeting for the third time.
So I shall use this time to write a little! I hate doing nothing, if only I can gym right now, bake a cake, clean the house or something 😂

Being an avid traveler, I was frequently asked where will my next destination be? Especially when there are flights promotion or travel fair. I used to have a destination booked and look forward to. However this year I decided to tone down. Reason being, I now own a car and a house, and those a big commitments, especially the house. I thought I would never be that person who would settle, but I guess one fine day I will. That said, I have no travel plan this year, but I am looking forward to Germany/Europe for my little brother's graduation next year.

It feels great somehow that I am settled in, seeing money piling up in my bank rather than calculating my travel expenses and thinking on where to save while traveling 😂. Hey savings matter. Seeing the amount growing is a happiness too! 😃

On a side note, I had been asked whether I am a trainer, or whether I am training for a competition. I am into fitness, which I would probably share in another post. I have experimented a lot for the past 1 year. From cardio to body weights and now lifting. "Mind over matter", no I am not training to compete but I love the explore, just as much as exploring places, I like to know how far can I go, how much my body is capable of doing. 

This is when I realized, everyone's journey is different. Some are born into millionaire families, but might live a short life to enjoy the fortune. Some might be a millionaire after half a century, but lives long enough to enjoy the fortune. 

I found that traveling the world was (and still is?) a trend. Younger generations do not want to settle, they want to be on the go, earn to travel. Have you heard of "If traveling is free you will never see me again"? I used to live up to this quote. I still love traveling, I do, but now when I can afford a more comfortable travel rather than backpacking, why not? 😄

Know that not everyone's life is equal. Everyone is unique, your journeys are unique. Set your own goals and chase after your goals at your own pace. Stop comparing with others, the only person you should compare to is your own past. Be better than who you were, then you are already winning the race. One of the day that you outrun yourself, you would already be better than many others!

Ages since I wrote, and I am getting so random 😂 ignore all the vocabs and grammar errors, I don't bother checking 😂