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friday 13th update. more circus buffness!

it’s been a while since my last update and i have been a busy bee w my qualifications (complete!) and getting to an even higher level of buffness before the shoulder surgery (more about this in the next post).
we organised another photoshoot recently and i think the results are fairly good and show an increase in lean mass and strength. i am very proud of my walking planche!
enjoy!

as usual pics are copyrighted (thanks to the super skilled photographer Phil Spencer at www.philspencer.org. do not use without permission and for the love of buffness do not remove the watermark!

 

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Generation Iron

new film coming out!

i am very curious to see this film.
i don’t dig body builder’s bodies. i find it’s too much personally. so no, i do not wanna look like them thanks!

but one thing i will give this guys, it’s the amazing dedication and hard work that goes into achieving their goals.
day in, day out, these guys go to the gym. they spend their lives working out, regulating their diets, cleverly arranging their workouts for maximum effect. sometimes they even take steroids.
but one thing they all do: they thrive for perfection. their work ethics are second to none.

body builders are a big inspiration for me. Arnold Schwarzenegger in particular. he was the first to take the sport into the focus of the general public, the one who made it the sports we now know. his work inspires great respect.
he might be a moron irl i have no idea and i couldn’t care less. what he means to me is that w the right drive, you can achieve goals and thrive.

anyone that knew me when i was a kid would prob not believe how far i have gone w this body physically. and how far i am intending to go still. i have big plans for the future.
because this is a daily commitment. it’s not just a “i wanna lose 2kg and that’s it am done” effort. no. it’s about perfection. it’s about bettering yourself. it’s about rising above mediocrity. your own mediocrity.
it’s about ditching all these pitiful excuses and just fucking getting off your arse and going for it.
i will repeat this til am dead, money will not buy you fitness, money will not buy you drive, money will not buy you motivation.
source it deep inside you. how much do you want it? make a difference. now. not in 10 mins. not after that tv program. NOW. go out. workout. play. run.


Flag at last

so after about 2 years coveting that one move i can finally manage. sure it’s not perfect and i don’t always get it right.
but it just goes to show that sometimes w persistence and a some inspired moments, you can reach that elusive perfect instant.

flag2

so how did i do that?

i tried various techniques. w varying success.

initially i was trying to swing higher up and tilt my pelvis up as i went. this was recommended by an ex of mine who did chinese pole. to my knowledge she can’t do a normal flag but perhaps a straddled one? turns out this wasn’t that good a plan. first of all, proper form for a flag is w your body straight, none of that pelvis turned upwards shit that we all too often see. second, it’s very hard to hold back from falling down when you have to compensate for the swing.

next i tried the “Dominic Lacasse” approach which consists in placing your upper body and arms in correct position, closer to the floor, w one leg in flag position but perhaps bent to lighten things up and the other leg completely bent under, and you try to lift up. very boring approach if i may say so. and also far from successful i think. my main prob w this approach is that it requires a lot of upper body strength to even feel like you’re able to lift by 1mm, and involves a certain body type (light microscopic legs and huge upper). also, i suspect our friend Dominic was always able to do flags. if he reads this, i am happy for him to correct me, but i reckon am right (tho perhaps not to world record standards w the nice walking into it bit). it’s like me trying to help ppl w chin ups. i don’t know their struggles because i was able to do them out of the box 🙂 but i sympathize!
anyhow, all this to say, that didn’t help me at all. Arnoldcat sacrificed herself and went to a workshop and was able to show me the way to the flag according to Lacasse, am v grateful i didn’t have to pay for this 🙂

so what did it? well i just did as i thought was best. light kip up, and try to hold. and lo and behold, just like planches, i started to hold the half tuck version w lower leg bent, and eventually, one glorious day, i was able to straighten my lower leg out and stay there!
not for long. but it’s a start 😀
on the side i went to the gym religiously everyday and bumped my food intake. i focused on the obliques which were lagging. i also focused on lats as best as i could despite what felt like an injury to my cuff, brought on by overuse i suspect.

so how am i after holidays? i just took 2 weeks off when i was supposed to train but only managed to do so a handful of times on rings. well the flag is still there. i have dropped the weight i use for chin ups from 16kg to 14kg and find i have less stamina. but give me one or 2 weeks and we shall see. also keeping in mind i haven’t done chin ups for over a month due to previously mentioned rotator cuff prob.

and tomorrow my right shoulder is getting an mri, w arthrogram. happy days!

and back to the flag, hard work ppl. practice practice practice. be intelligent about it. adapt things to your own need. and never give up.


dish hold

one of my fave exercises is the dish hold.
it uses no fancy equipment and is dead effective. provided you can keep good form, namely “dish” properly. it requires good core stability.
the key thing is that your lower back absolutely must be in constant contact w the floor, or you will compromise form and increase the potential for injuries.
i do rounds of 60 seconds moving my legs up and down, and if i feel very energetic i spell the alphabet w my feet. if you have a partner make him/her push your feet back down as you reach the top of the leg up motion to give a variation to the load on yr abs.
to make it a bit easier, you can cross arms on yr chest or hold them above your stomach, and you dont have to move your legs, you can just hold them there.
be sure to be able to hold proper form before you start increasing difficulty. the more of your back is in contact w the floor, the better it impacts the abs.
have fun!

 

 


dragon flag

after attemping proper flags tonight and pulling a lat a little too much i looked for something easier to do. and remembered another type of flag, the dragon flag!
it is a completely different move obv!

after trying many different ways of doing it and bruising my right clavicule on the pole, i decided to use a sling and a couple of pillows to pad my head. it isn’t as hard as one might think for core, but it’s a lot more arm intensive than i anticipated.
proper form is what i was after here. and am not too far off.
i get annoyed at all these kids doing dragon flags on youtube, and as much as i respect the dude, Frank Medrano’s video isnt that great in term of form. he goes all banana shape and just doesn’t point his toes!

so kids, when doing a dragon flag, it’s important to dish. keep the core braced at all times and your body must remain as straight as possible. otherwise it’s a banana flag. not a dragon flag!
check out Al Kavadlo who has some cool vids of himself doing it on sturdy benches. (and lo and behold he actually points his toes!)


increase numbers of pulls

while waiting for my right shoulder to be less tender so i can resume buffness training, i came across a “BarStarzz” article about increasing the number of pull ups one can do.
i must say, i am now interested in trying this regime. not so much because i am desperate to increase my number of pull ups. i do an average of 4 x 10 every workout i have. but more because i would like to see what happens.

so basically this is how they structured it, it’s based on the armstrong program, used by the marines (find out more here http://manlypat.wordpress.com/2009/02/24/armstrong-pull-up-program/):

    1. day 1: max reps sets

– as you wake, 3 sets max rep push ups w 5-10 mins rest in between.
– 3-4 hours later rest you can then do pulls. 5 max rep sets w 90 secs rest, STRICT FORM ONLY.

    2. day 2: pyramid sets

– as you wake, 3 sets max rep push ups w 5-10 mins rest in between.
– 1st set 1 rep, rest 10 secs
– add one rep every time til you hit the max you can do. pause 10 secs and redo the max reps set again.

    3. day 3: training sets

– as you wake, 3 sets max rep push ups w 5-10 mins rest in between.
pick a number of reps that will allow you to do 9 sets, no more no less. adjust according to your findings.

consists of 3 sets of shoulder width pulls, 3 x narrow chins and 3 x wide grip. 60 secs rest between sets.

    4. day 4: training sets and beyond

– as you wake, 3 sets max rep push ups w 5-10 mins rest in between.
try to go over the 9 sets according to what you did on day 3. you then know you need to readjust for the following week.

    5. day 5: repeat the day you found hardest

– as you wake, 3 sets max rep push ups w 5-10 mins rest in between.
– repeat whichever day

check out the barstarzz video:

so who knows, perhaps when my shoulder is back on track i will do this for 6 weeks and report back! 🙂


buffness evolution

after a year of buffness training i think my body is taking shape nicely. so while am recovering from my current triceps injury i thought i would show off 😀

thanks to Phil Spencer for taking these amazing shots. ALL PHOTOS ARE COPYRIGHTED TO PHIL SPENCER. DO NOT USE WITHOUT PERMISSION.

visit his website www.philspencer.org

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new injury! ffs!

yes again.
so this time, torn right triceps. to what extend we just dont know. “not too bad” is what the physio says but obv it needs absolute rest…
to top it up i have a nasty impingement on the right which keeps on getting worse w training (just like my now operated and fixed left shoulder). so my right shoulder is buggered at present.
physio says “NO TRAINING FOR 2 WEEKS AND THEN WE REASSESS”.

i say we shall see about that!

it’s not about being stupid however.
i havent trained the right shoulder since friday. the actual shoulder itself is impinged, no doubt about that, so it doesnt feel much different from last week. but the triceps does feel slightly better i think. so rest seems to be the way. so what will i train you ask?
well how about my left hand side?

here’s the current plan:

training for one arm pulls on left on bar w either negatives or actual 1.5 arm pulls (assisted on bar w other arm, it’s ok not much stress placed there). i will also try australian one arm pulls but working from straps i think.
one arm push up? my left side is really weak so this will be a challenge. am gonna try it semi assisted w a raised right grip on a kettle bell or the like.

AND CORE.

so dish holds, v sits or the like
erector spinae exercises (w weight if i can get hold of the incline bench style machine at the gym, not sure how this will work out at home w free weights but i will try later tonight)
oblique work, i was thinking of doing the usual oblique crunches w weight straps on my ankles. at the gym perhaps some cable crunches will work out. depending on how the shoulder takes it.

oh but apparently i can work my lower arms. errm. i guess i will do some of that too!

as a side note i have been wearing a compression sleeve from 2xu for the past week most of the day. it compresses my triceps and actually seems to have worked really nicely. keep in mind i have to cycle to work too, so my triceps is recruited for daily crap which is the dangerous stuff that you dont watch out for.

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in any case, for any pulled/torn muscle injuries, i can recommend these sleeves. provided you get one your size, and not arnold cat size. or you might experience a major loss of blood in your limb. for triceps, the ideal position is slightly higher than the way you would normally wear a compression sleeve, it goes over the delts basically.


strength balance in opposing muscle groups

i was asked a very good question by ArnoldCat:
“why are my pushing muscles so weak compared to my pulling ones”.

so as much as i thought the answer could simply be “well you are an aerialist, you mostly have pulling power”, it raises a new question.
can the pushing muscles in question ever match the strength of the pulling ones?

take the triceps as an example. it’s larger than the biceps. yet the bicep is the one who develops fast and hard, and atm my biceps are pumping twice the weight the triceps can. moreover, the triceps are dog slow to respond to traditional training methods.

so since the muscle is larger, why isn’t it matching the biceps more easily? and will it ever match the strength of the biceps?

there isn’t much acurate research on the web. but i did find a couple of good pointers:

“Muscle balance ratios differ between muscle groups and are affected by the force-velocity of these different muscle groups at specific joints” (Bell, 2007, p.1)[2]. In an ideal situation, isokinetic dynamometers would best facilitate for measurements, but from a practical perspective most trainers will employ a 1-RM testing for each individual muscle group (Bell, 2007)[2].

As cited by Bell (2007)[2],the current standard for muscle balance ratios, recommended for the agonist-antagonist muscle groups are:

Muscle Groups
Muscle Balance
Ratio Weight(example)

Ankle Inverters & Everters
1:1
25::25

Ankle Plantar Flexors & Dorsiflexors
3:1
75::25

Elbow Flexors & Extensors
1:1
25::25

Hip Flexors & Extensors
1:1
25::25

Knee Flexors & Extensors
2:3
50::75

Shoulder Internal & External Rotators
3:2
75::50

Shoulder Flexors & Extensors
2:3
50::75

Trunk Flexors & Extensors
1:1
25::25″

Balance checks

For each of the following exercise the right and left limb 1RM scores should not differ by more than 10%.

Hamstrings (leg extension)
Quadriceps (leg curl)
Arm Curl
One arm military press
Single leg press

The following table (Dintiman 1998)[1] is reported values for joint agonist-antagonist muscle ratios at slow isokinetic speeds.
Joint Movement Ratio
Ankle Plantar flexion/dorsi flexion 3:1
Ankle Inversion/eversion 1:1
Leg Extension/flexion 3:2
Hip Extension/flexion 1:1
Shoulder Flexion/extension 2:3
Elbow Flexion/extension 1:1
Lumbar Flexion/extension 1:1

Where there is an imbalance then you need to devote more training attention to the muscle group of the weaker limb.

and again here, a more simplified version from men’s health (please use w caution, these ppl have no idea what they are talking about most of the time!):

Use the general guidelines below to check your muscle balance. The strength ratio for each set of muscle groups represents the amount of weight that the first muscle group should be able to lift compared with the second muscle group. If one group is proportionally weaker than it should be, you have to hit it first in your workouts until it catches up.

Muscle group: Quadriceps (front of thighs)
Opposing muscle group: Hamstrings (back of thighs)
Ideal strength ratio: 3:2
Sample exercises: Leg extension, leg curl
Sample weights (lb): 90:60

Muscle group: Biceps
Opposing muscle group: Triceps
Ideal strength ratio: 1:1
Sample exercises: Arm curl, triceps extension
Sample weights (lb): 45:45

Muscle group: Front shoulders
Opposing muscle group: Rear shoulders
Ideal strength ratio: 2:3
Sample exercises: Cable front raise, cable bent-over rear-shoulder raise
Sample weights (lb): 20:30

Muscle group: Internal shoulder rotators
Opposing muscle group: External shoulder rotators
Ideal strength ratio: 3:2
Sample exercises: Cable internal rotation, cable external rotation
Sample weights (lb): 30:20

Read more: http://www.menshealth.com/mhlists/get_more_muscle/You_Play_to_Your_Strengths.php#ixzz2I2hIqHJj

what ppl have to realise, is that yet again, this will not work for everyone. these are merely rough GUIDELINES as far as i am concerned. we are all physiologically different, so a single program will not work for everybody.

i guess the muscles and their relative strength compared to their antagonist will vary depending on many factors, such as mechanical advantage, origins/insertions, geometry of the muscle etc. so perhaps even if a muscle is larger, it might not actually lift as much as its antagonist purely because it’s at a disadvantage in terms of movement and mechanical action? there are no hard rules here i don’t think. just individual cases.

my tip to remain balanced would be to work muscles in opposing pairs. so biceps/triceps etc. making sure that if you’re targeting your 1RM you do so for both muscles and give it all your might.
then you have to take into account whatever strength is gained from functional training outside the gym. for an aerialist whose strength resides in pulling and w tight pecs, i would adjust the workout to target back muscles at 2:1 (for number of reps, not weight) in an attempt to rebalance and improve posture.

oh and stretch these pecs man!


Gym routine

I’ve recently started going to the gym every lunch break. It makes working full time a lot more bearable. So I got Zaki to put together a short gym routine for me. My goal was (and still is) to work on my upper body strength as that is what I need most for my straps training. Zaki gave me five exercises working mostly my delts, lats and pecs. At this stage I’m only using the machines for the following exercises:
Shoulder press
Lateral raises
Chest press
Pull down (wide grip)
Seated row

To that I’ve added the arm extension, which works the triceps. Just for fun. As I’m working for strength I’m only doing 5 reps for 3 sets but I’m trying to go really heavy. My starting weights were:

Shoulder press 35
Lateral raises 17.5
Chest press 40
Pull down 50
Seated row 55
Arm extension 25

After a month on this routine, doing it most days apart from Christmas and New Years and not on weekends, I’ve made quite decent progress. Generally, it’s not recommended to train the same exercises every day but I ignored that. I did some other training namely handstands and straps training as well, sometimes on the same days and sometimes at the weekends. Today is the end of the first month and my weights were as follows:

Shoulder press 45
Lateral raises 27.5
Chest press 40
Pull down 80
Seated row 85
Arm extension 50

I find it most useful to look at the percentage increase from the starting weights to determine my progress. These are as follows:

Shoulder press 28%
Lateral raises 57%
Chest press 25%
Pull down 60%
Seated row 54%
Arm extension 100%

I’m really happy with most of those but the shoulder press and the chest press is lagging behind. The exercise might need tweaking a little to improve those areas.