I am at the gym and I don’t know what to do…

Category: Gym / Weighlifting Workouts

I get this type of question a lot. Usually from kids who have come from gymnastics with mostly bodyweight training who are transitioning to the gym and need some guidance. I have a couple of links to lots of information on the sidebar THIS IS GOOD and for diet SO IS THIS. Well, it’s pretty easy as a process so let’s have a look.

Set a goal. What is it you want to do? I will assume that you know endless cardio is damaging to your system and so please spend no more than 20 minutes at a time on the cardio machines otherwise you will flood your system with stress hormones and kill your hard work. That said, a 10 minute warmup is ideal before weights then a 20 minutes higher intensity stairmaster or stepmill session is best.

Split your workout into 3 or 4 days so you can start to become regular with your work. I recommend at least 4 days a week in the gym so you don’t spend all your time sore from resting too much. Every split should have one day as leg day and then usually a push day for chest and triceps a pull day for back and biceps and an extra day for shoulders and core. You don’t have to know how to do a thousand exercises to make this work, start basic and then transition as you go.

No matter if you are a 15 year old girl or a 25 year old guy there are certain exercises that you should do no matter what. Among these are squat, bench, overhead press, curls, dips and deadlift. Don’t get freaked out by the deadlift, it is just picking stuff up and putting it down.

So lets take a quick look at the work to be done as a beginner just starting out. This will last you about a month until you start wanting to do more varied exercises by which time you will have picked up some tips from watching others and will be able to add things to your routines.

Every set will be done to 12 reps with the last 2 reps being difficult to finish. Once they aren’t difficult, increase the weight. Don’t worry about getting bulky, that takes a major commitment on the eating side of things to happen and if it really was that easy, everyone would be a bodybuilder.

Day 1: Chest and triceps

Flat Bench 3×12
Incline Bench 3×12
Tricep cable push downs 3×12 (replace this with dips once you get strong enough)
Dips (if possible, this should be your goal)
If you can get to a point where you can do 10 dips in a row then that is enough for triceps (3×10)

Day 2: Back and biceps

Lat machine pulldowns 3×12 (replace these with inward facing grip chinups when you can)
Seated rows 3×12
Deadlifts 3×12 (you can use dumbbells or a preweighted barbell, no need to use a free barbell if you don’t want to)
Barbell curls 3×12

Day 3: Shoulders and Core

Overhead press 3×12 (Barbell or dumbbells)
Side raises 3×12
Barbell upright rows (also called high pulls, bar to chin)  3×12
Hanging leg raises 3×12
Incline situps 3×12
Vsnaps 3×12

Day 4: Legs

Barbell squats 3×12 (get in the squat rack for these)
Dumbell lunge walk 3×12 steps
Seated leg extension 3×12
Seated hamstring curl 3×12
Standing calf raises 3×12 (start without weight on a step, increase by holding a weight in the same hand as the leg being worked)

This should be enough to get you started and comfortable in the gym. Remember that your gym time is an investment in your health not in your relationships so focus on your work and save the chatter and socializing for afterwards.

This post is dedicated to Nikol 🙂


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Starting Out On Keto

Category: Nutrition

Some of the best support and information there is comes from Reddit, as well as being full of freaks and weirdos there are many many very well educated caring people who are willing to share their knowledge. That in mind here is the beginner summary from /r/keto…

(Specially for K8, Nugget, Grak, Ab and Beamhole)

Beginner’s tips

  • Focus on getting used to no/low carb first.
  • Eat if you’re hungry.
    • To complicate this a bit, keep an eye on your calories.
    • A loss of appetite is normal; usually it comes back – although not with the intensity you’re familiar with from carbs.
    • Some folks seem to lose a significant portion of their appetite and try to subsist on a fraction of necessary calories – for example, 300 to 400 calories per day.
    • I don’t care how much weight you need to lose, your body still needs protein to function.
    • Keep keto-approved snacks on hand when you get hungry

Start drinking water. A lot of water. Keep your electrolytes up – you’ll need more sodium, potassium, and magnesium than you think.

A quick word on macros:

  1. Protein is a goal, hit it as often as you can. You can go under, or over, and it isn’t the end of the world, or ketosis.
  2. Carbs are a hard limit (20 ~ 25 grams of net carbs). Your carb limit determines whether you are, or aren’t, in ketosis.
  3. Fat is a soft limit – eat until you’re full, but stay under the macro. If you finish the day, not hungry and under your fat macro, you’re doing good.
  • In the macro calculator, in the fat section, you will see a little “plus” sign. This will tell you your minimum fat intake per day.
  • This is a non-issue for most people, particularly if you selected “mostly sedentary” under your activity level.
  • If you picked a higher activity level, you may need to be more aware of your minimum fat intake.
  • You may also want to check out /r/ketogains for athletes on keto.
  1. You need to be mindful of your calories – you still need to eat under your calorie allotment if you’re trying to lose weight.


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Half a Century

Category: Olympic Lifts, Planning

There is a running joke going through my mind.

I thought getting old would take longer.

There is more truth to that than I would like to admit. I am not ready for getting old and although I don’t necessarily feel old my cardiologist and physician beg to differ. I am, from the outside, quite a specimen for my age. I have many things to be thankful for among them the ability to function normally and to excel at the things I enjoy at the gym. But I can’t move like I used to. My notion of being able to get back into bodyweight work to do handstands and cartwheels seems like nothing more than a pipe dream at this point. If I am honest, putting on my shoes in the morning is becoming “a thing” and I have usually been awake for a couple of  hours before I can even think about being active in any meaningful way. But I suppose I should expect this. There is nothing wrong with aging, if you do it gracefully. It takes some time to get used to the slowing of the body and mind however slowing doesn’t mean quitting. With my health challenges of late I have been more cautious in the gym however adding some cardio to my workouts and lowering my weights sometimes doesn’t seem so bad. But at other times it is torture. I have a bad habit of comparing my self to others in the gym and I shouldn’t especially when the people I pick are half my age or less. But I am learning to accept what I have and what I am and be as happy as I can because in the end your happiness is what you accept as truth in your life and I think by this point I deserve some happiness. I have spent the last couple of years being angry about things I can’t change and I think along with some others around me I am finally getting to the point where I am going to let things go and accept that I am just a person trying to live my best life. My doctors all keep telling me that I need to reduce the stress in my life and so it is with great delight and medical supervision that I am going to stop worrying about the things I can’t control.

As for the gym, I am going to continue on with my cardio and my lighter weights but I am also going to start beck into my compound lifting again because it makes me feel generally more competent with my health. Lifting at the gym is great but I do tend to get into a rut and in the past the way out has always been some HIIT type crossfit work to break the monotony. My kids are back to doing torturous HIIT workouts so why shouldn’t I? After all, you are only as old as you feel right?👍

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Matters of the Heart

Category: Injuries, Nutrition, Rest

I got my ultrasound results and just the same as the last 3 tests it has resulted in booking yet another appointment, this time with a cardiologist. I was told by my doctor that I have thickening of the left ventricle, something that I have since found out could be hereditary since my father and uncle have had the same diagnosis. Of course the fact that my dad has had a quadruple bypass doesn’t sit well with me since that’s not a road I really want to travel. Over the course of the tests I have noticed that my blood pressure was high, something that was noted by each tech but put down to situational stress. Being logical I thought that maybe if I went to give blood then that might help, and also be my good deed for the holidays.

You should be in the hospital, she said. I haven’t seen blood pressure that high in forever.

As if I wasn’t stressed enough. I was turned away from the blood clinic with a recommendation that I call my doctor or go to emergency. In case you are wondering what the numbers were, be prepared to be amazed at my surviving…

Of course Google didn’t help me much…

Your blood pressure is 231 over 97?

What your blood pressure values mean
Your blood pressure is: Too high – Hypertension Stage 1
But regarding your systolic (upper) value your blood pressure is rather:
Way too high – Hypertension Stage 3 / Hypertensive crisis

That was an awesome way to start my holiday, and of course what’s worse for super high blood pressure than the stress of having super high blood pressure?
I booked an appointment with the doctor and was in the office that afternoon.
Her AVERAGE reading was 188/97 which although much better still had my veins bulging out of my forehead like ship ropes since it’s still considered Hypertensive crisis. She told me if it was still this high in 3 days to go to emergency and tell them to fix me because too many days of these readings have me squarely in heart attack / stroke territory. She gave me a diuretic which I have to admit made zero sense to me and told me to avoid coffee and salt for a few days. Being an obedient patient I did just that and of course being off work would also help to no end.
The next day we had the big end of year party for gymnastics which was an amazing night, seeing so many old friends and all the kids having fun was just what I needed and although for the next 4 days my BP remained very high on Boxing day my reading finally dropped into the 170s and then the 160s. So I am finally down into Hypertension stage 2 which wouldn’t normally be a cause to celebrate but in this case I think coming back from what I could conservatively call the brink of a cardiac event is a good thing.
But I am angry. So very angry. The rational part of my brain is crying out like that 11 year old boy I once was that this isn’t fair. I tell my girls every day that life isn’t fair, but that doesn’t take the sting away. You have to work to make it fair, I tell them. But what is supposedly better for your health than a literal lifetime of fitness and careful attention to diet? Sure, I have strayed in the past, there was a time in that picture top right that I was 300+ but it was only for a handful of years. It’s been 10 years since that, no sugar, no grains, strict adherence to diet, no drinking for 25 years, no smoking for at least 10 more so in the end I am left with the question “why me”.
There is no reasoning with disease. There is no bargaining with illness and when I consider those around me who are struggling with what are considered far more serious health issues I can’t help but feel selfish. But standing at death’s door, no matter if it is only a selfish perception makes you feel very, very lonely. I have one athlete who I am constantly telling “Stop worrying about things that haven’t happened yet” and it was that thought that really made me pull back and put things into perspective. I was doing what I could. I knew that in the past more cardio at the gym had helped in how I felt so I was facing up to that task too. I had all my tactics in place and so I was faced with the knowledge that with everything I was doing, I had to fix my attitude.
“Don’t worry…”
“Why not?”
“Because it doesn’t help”
– Dr Who.
So I am not worried. I am doing what I have been told and I am monitoring my situation. I am going to work today and I will have a professional take my BP again to see if my home readings are close to reality. In the end though I have to understand what caused this to happen and although it’s been a pretty hectic couple of months with the gym I would point my finger directly at my work situation. Complaining won’t help, so I won’t. Decisions have to be made and plans need to be laid if I am to prevent cutting years off my life for the sake of times gone by.
Why me? It doesn’t matter. I am dealing with facts and not allowing my emotional side to become involved because if I do, things will go downhill in a hurry. Disease doesn’t care so neither do I. I will fight this with the detachment of disease itself. I will kill it with the same impunity with which it takes lives. Although I have spent some time being truly terrified of the future I have decided that I will survive. I am not done yet.


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Off My Chest

Category: Gymnastics / Bootcamp

We live in a world where controversial news stories are force fed to us 24/7 and the more debauched the story the greater the thrust. The current climate has us inundated with sexual misconduct allegations from every field from teaching to coaching to Hollywood producing and it’s making my life and the life of all the other responsible authority figures so much more difficult. It’s important to note that it’s not just men, that there are many stories of female teachers in particular being accused of sexual crimes against children and frankly it’s making me sick. Are we really living in times when these crimes are rampant or is it a case as with the Catholic Church that these things in the past have remained buried with the victims remaining silent through fear of retribution? Whatever the case may be it’s having an effect on how I feel I am viewed while doing the one job that is my true passion, that of gymnastics coach.

I have been coaching for almost 15 years now and I have been lucky to have met some truly wonderful athletes some of whom I am happy to call my friends and whom I have had the absolute pleasure in seeing grow from tiny humans into confident, intelligent and purposeful women. It breaks my heart to think that someone would take advantage of their position in order to manipulate or coerce a child into doing something that they know is wrong. Sadly these things have come to light in our sport and as a male coach in a female dominated sport I can’t help but feel scrutinized for every action I take. It’s cast a sad shadow over the sport and the people I love but I will not allow it to poison the passion I have for gymnastics coaching.

Since the very start, I have committed myself to trying to educate and coach my girls not only in the sport of gymnastics but also in life skills, to give them the tools to handle the stress and competition they will face out in the real world. I think it is critical that we prepare them as they go on, using the drive, commitment and dedication that gymnastics requires to face the rest of their lives with the kind of determination that can make them successful in anything they choose to do. The girls I have coached have touched my heart in so many ways, and although I know I can’t protect them from the inevitable heartbreak that life will bring in all it’s forms I hope that I have given them the strength to get back up and carry on.

I can’t stop being who I am as a coach. I can’t stop caring about these kids just because other degenerates have chosen to abuse their power and position and I refuse to allow sensationalized news stories to steal what should be the greatest experience of these kids young lives. What I can do as a gym owner now, not just a coach is to ensure that we do everything we can to provide a safe environment in which these kids can flourish. There is nothing that fills my heart with pride more than watching my girls go out and tackle life with the passion and aggression that they show in the gym and I will be damned if I let anyone take that away from me.

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On Being An Adult

Category: Planning, Rest

I posted this on Facebook this morning but I can’t resist putting it here too. The last 2 in the list are my own personal addition.

You never really feel like an adult inside. I am still fumbling through life and making the best of it like I was at 15.

No matter how well you are prepared you never seem to have enough money, time, patience, sleep or emotional strength. You’ll fall short and that’s ok because you’re human.

There is no such thing as happily ever after. There is always something to overcome.

High school never ends for some people; there will always be cliques and groups.

There are adult bullies and they are everywhere.

You will get ridiculously excited for a house cleaning product like a new kitchen sponge. I tell everyone when I get a new sponge.

It is hard to make new friends. High school and college friends move away. Neighbours aren’t often as neighbourly as in the past.

Everyone says how can I help? But hardly anyone actually helps.

You will have your heart broken over and over by lovers, your kids, your friends whom you trusted, your employer, but it still keep on ticking.

Learn to live within your means. Just because your paycheck says you can afford something doesn’t mean you can actually afford it.

Time does not have to pass you by. We don’t have to get through the day just to pay the bills. Our lives are ours and we may spend our time as we choose.

Just because you can eat whatever you want whenever you want, ice cream still doesn’t make a good breakfast.

Your body and brain eventually fall out of alignment. Brain: what a fabulous idea! Body: I don’t think so buddy.

You need to take time to enjoy the little things. Sometimes they are all you get and they go by quickly.

Life is not like a TV sitcom or a big screen movie. Once the fun parts are over you have to cook, clean and go to work.

Your brain doesn’t age past 18-25 even though the rest of you does.  You still think like a young adult when you are in your 60s.

When you get to adulthood you will come across people with different opinions than you and however stupid they are they will honestly believe they are correct.

Don’t expect life to just sort itself out.  There isn’t’ a perfect point where everything is solved, you will be struggling with life to the very end.

There are people out there who want you to fail. These people may be the closest ones to you or possibly a co-worker but they will gladly do anything to see you fail.

There is no summer vacation in adult life.

Nothing can prepare you for the daily urge not to get out of bed.

You won’t have all the answers and sometimes as an adult you will be scared, if not terrified of life.

Find a job that makes you happy not a job that makes you rich.

There is nothing that can prepare you for the first time your baby poops in the tub.

Eventually you reach your peak and you have to watch the next generation come along and shine.

Some people will always act like relationships are disposable.

Not all people in decision making roles should be there. Learn to judge the quality of other people’s decisions.

The people who are supposed to love you can be the same ones who let you down.

Most times there is nobody there to take care of you when you are sick.

You will never ever want to drive as much as when you are 16. Once you become an adult it becomes a chore and being a passenger is bliss.

Nobody gives a damn about your degree or AP grades when it’s time to pay the rent or the car bill

Learn to fix things that break, spending $200 for a plumber to replace a washer is a waste of money.

It’s OK to ask for advice even when you’re 40.

Just because you are a good person doesn’t mean good things will happen to you.

If you always wait for the right time you will waste your life away.

Life isn’t fair. Expecting it to be is naïve and dangerous. You can make it fair but play by the rules.

It doesn’t matter if nobody will find out, your behaviour defines you and how much you respect yourself. Never do anything that goes against your own code of ethics.

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December Update

Category: Gymnastics / Bootcamp, Nutrition

It has been a very hectic month or so for us, with the gym up and running, coaches meetings, theme weeks, Elves on shelves and finally managing to get the security system to cover everything we need. We have had boys going to qualifiers and doing very well and the rec program is running almost at capacity with another full winter session coming up. With the change in my hours I have been able to get to the gym on a regular basis making maintaining my weight and conditioning a bit easier. After the summer run I was down to 236 at around 17% BF which is down a little from during the year. I spent a lot of time around 18-19 so dropping just 1% was quite an achievement. That was before the carbs came back of course. Have I mentioned that I hate the carb reload that I do every year? It’s my chance to relax with my food a little and try to put on a bit of strength that I typically lose on Keto. However, this year it’s had some really weird effects that I am not happy with, mostly it has made me strangely emotional. It is supposed to be until Christmas, but to be honest I really don’t like what I am feeling so I think enough is enough and I am done with the reload. It is hard to explain the difference it makes to me but I will try.

Every day I eat the same food. It’s irrelevant to me. I don’t think about it, I don’t look forward to it, I don’t even consider it a treat or an event, it just is… However, bring some carbs back into my life and suddenly I can’t wait until 11am to eat. I can’t seem to control how much I eat and I am constantly hungry, a feeling that I just don’t have any other time of the year. I am up every couple of hours during the night to go to the bathroom and therefore I am short on sleep which makes things so much worse. The worst part of this is that I am targeting carbs which means that I am only eating them at certain times and I am keeping them under 100g and it is still messing with me. I want to say also that the carbs I am on are only yam, oats and blueberries so it’s not like I am eating sugar or grains but still the effects are very noticeable and like I said for some reason this time I find myself irrationally angry and sad at the strangest things.

So I think I am done, I still want to go for sushi before I stop but after that it’s over and back to keto and my emotionally stable life. And sleep I hope.

As for my gym performance I was able to bench 400lbs again last week which is a really good sign that my shoulder that was bothering me for a few weeks is finally getting better. I still feel a bit of a sting when I overhead press but I suppose with any shoulder injury that will take time to go away. At least now I am able to get back to weighted dips and flat bench which is a relief. I have also been working on the hack squat in an attempt to change the shape of my lower thigh area, something I think I lack. I know after my back surgery that my right leg won’t ever recover but it would be nice to have a little more size around my knee which I think may be working. It’s actually really embarrassing doing a new exercise because my weights are very light but to be honest a little humility in the gym is good for me.

I had my last heart ultrasound this week and I am still waiting on the results. The tech wouldn’t tell me the results because I suppose they aren’t supposed to and probably aren’t actually qualified to make a diagnosis. Once I get the results I will put them here but so far from the holter test, the stress test and the first echo they haven’t found anything wrong but they keep going back to the same question about if I ever had a heart attack which I find disturbing. Hopefully this last ultrasound will tell them exactly what it is they think they see in there.

As usual my conclusion is that I should probably be doing more cardio. And by more I mean any. Probably 10 minutes on the stairmaster would be a good start and it’s not that hard but it’s about the most boring thing I can imagine and time seems to slow down to a snails pace. I hate cardio. Hate.

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Owning The Future

Category: Gym / Weighlifting Workouts, Gymnastics / Bootcamp

It’s been a long time since I wrote anything here, and for good reason. The last couple of months have been extremely busy with us completing the purchase of the gymnastics club where I worked. The process has been slow and difficult but we are almost across the line. Since this blog was never really about my personal life but more about my fitness journey I did’t think it was particularly interesting to talk about the gym. However, now I am happy to say I have a massive facility that I can work out in any time I need to I can finally tie in the whole event. In fact, as I am getting older it may be time to transition from my lifetime addiction to weights and being as big as possible to a system that will take me past 50 and beyond. I know I talk about this all the time but never manage to follow through and over the last few months I have been taking a more volume approach to my training with less focus on weight and more on movements. I can’t say it’s as fulfilling as throwing massive weights around but I am still under 240 and around 18.5% fat so my body seems reasonably happy.

The other big story about my health is my heart. I started having palpitations and while they seem to have subsided for now I did go through a lot of testing and they found that I do have some damage to my heart. They don’t know what it is or when it is from but it seems like something happened. I still have to go for an ultrasound but the stress test was clean and so far I have been given a clean bill of health. I should probably figure out a way to get more cardio in to my life but I really really, reallllly hate cardio.

I am going to try to post more, to try to get back into the habit and stay up to date with anything I am doing at gymnastics and at LA Fitness. I am still doing keto, have been since the start of the summer, I didn’t opt to go for the targeted keto this time around and the net effect has been the same as when I did. Seems that carbs at the right time are OK for me but I just don’t like the fact that when I take that approach that I do still suffer from cravings.

For now my diet is extremely simple. 4 egg cheese omelette for breakfast around 10, 350g of chicken and cheese for dinner and snacks of various things like nuts and pork rinds with Costco dip. Lots of heavy cream in there too but I am trying to reduce the amount of coffee I am drinking so not as much as before.

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August Update – Slow Keto

Category: Nutrition

My first couple of updates were not earth shattering. I had planned a big 30 day test and expected to see some major changes but didn’t. For me, everything is better done slowly, maybe because of my age or my sedentary lifestyle these 30 day tests are often more telling as 90 day marathons. That said, I was not surprised to see that I gained during my forced overfeed and in the same tone I am not surprised that eating right at my TDEE of 2500 I am losing bodyfat.

Here are the numbers:

Before Oz 238 22%
After Oz 233 21% (1 week later)
After overfeed 239 22% (30 days later)
Currently after TDEE keto for about 2 months 234 19%

As you can see, I have dropped what I would consider a significant amount of fat. I am sure I have lost muscle in the process but my lifts are the same and my energy is fine. I measure myself daily with a Tanita impedance scale so my results on the daily are sometimes off but overall I have been reporting under 20% fat for 3 days now.

I will try to find some photos of all 4 times and post them together so you can see how things have moved along.

What do I think are the results here?

For a start, nothing is as black and white as CICO or KETO. I found that it’s possible to eat over my TDEE and not gain weight, but only to a point. At some point your body just can’t process everything and has to store the extra. I do find that it’s possible to overeat slightly and not have any ill effects on weight gain with Keto, something I have not found with any other eating system. It certainly appears to me that a keto lifestyle is a lot more forgiving when it comes to CICO. I have also reported in my previous posts very significant mental differences on keto and I do find my energy levels are stable but not high.

Here are the links to my Keto entries from before Australia until now.

Coming back to Keto
Chocolate covered macadamia nuts
Keto on vacation
Keto vacation update
Back home
My Keto experiment, starting the 30 days
Strict Keto. What I found out.

As promised here are the picture updates. Enjoy!

Starting out 238 22%

3 weeks of keto down 5lbs

Back up to 239 at 22 and soft

Current Aug 1 17 234 19% after 90 days keto


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Too Much Protein on Keto – Don’t Fret, It’s Not A Problem.

Category: Gymnastics / Bootcamp

Amazing article outlining the false fear-mongering surrounding eating too much protein on the Keto diet. Fear not, it’s all good.

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