Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The IDFA Western Canada Classic

It seems like lately a string of friends, male and female, have entered the world of competitive weightlifting or bodybuilding as the next step in their fitness journey. Photos are popping up all over Facebook (yes, I admit to creeping a little bit) and it's hard not to be impressed and inspired by the hard work that goes into prepping for these events. It really is an all-consuming pursuit, and if the competitors in this weekend's competition are any indication, it usually takes a whole team of professionals as well as the support of friends and family. I find it so fascinating to see how hard work can really transform someone's body, not only into a healthier version of itself, but truly a sculpted prime specimen. The kind you could learn anatomy off of. So when the opportunity presented itself to attend the IDFA (International Drug Free Athletics) Western Canada Classic Bodybuilding, Fitness and Figure competition, I jumped at the chance. 

I suppose it's easy to misunderstand competitive bodybuilding. For every person who can watch a video of Ronnie Coleman, or Arnold in his prime, or any Mr. Universe competition and respect them for pushing the limits of the human body, there are those who would write them off as posing fake'n'bake roid monkeys (like the poor woman in the video below - one can only assume she didn't survive her encounter with the Governator).




Sure, sometimes the tans are a few shades closer to turkey than they are to Tahiti, and the oil and the posing can seem a bit comical, but they all serve a purpose. Everything acts to amplify the body beneath the oil and the tan. And what a body too. It's one thing, and not an easy one, to lean out and aim for the dangerously thin swimsuit model physique. But hitting the body fat targets, muscle definition, symmetry and size that bodybuilders are judged on is another ordeal entirely. These guys often had to hit a pose, essentially flexing as hard as they can, and hold it for what seemed like over a minute before rotating and hitting another. We tried it ourselves, just sitting in the crowd, flexing alongside the competitors and tired ourselves out pretty quickly. The competition took over four hours to run through all the contestants and poses, so you can imagine, that is a lot of flexing.

I took photos during the competition (not bad for an iPhone, but I still wish I had brought a better camera), so you can see for yourself how impressive they were. 



These competitors were from the Transformation Challenge. Some of them had lost over 100 lbs!





The middle height ladies fitness class. Some serious abs and back going on in this division.




 Top 5 in the mens lightweight bodybuilding division.




Third Place, Lightweight division.


Fourth Place, Lightweight division. We all thought he was top 3 for sure. I even thought he would win it all. Our guess is that he simply didn't look like he was trying hard enough in his poses. Largely because...

This guy won first place in the lightweight division. In all of his poses, he was flexing so hard, he was shaking. 


Top three, Mens heavyweight division. The winner? The Breaking Bad look-a-like in the centre. He also hit his poses hard, usually turning red from lack of oxygen. And badassness.


At the end of the day, as silly as it sounds, Arnold was right. It looks better with the oil. 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Fruit/Veggie Shakes


It's Alex here.

It's been a while since I've posted anything here, not that anyone actually reads this but before I go into what I've been up to here's a nice recipe for a smoothie that I have every morning to kick start my day.  I've always loved fruit smoothies in the morning with strawberries, yogurt, etc, but after listening to Joe Rogan rave about kale shakes, I decided to mix it up a bit.  Here's the recipe I got from Joe's twitter:

Kale Shakes

4 large kale leaves
4 stalks of celery
1 cucumber
1 pager size hunk of ginger
4 cloves of garlic
pineapple for taste

Ok I'm not going to lie, that sounds really gross and Joe himself says it's disgusting but he does it for the benefits.  While I don't doubt that, I'd rather have some of those veggies separate from my shake and actually have something that tastes relatively good.  So here's the concoction I put together in the morning:

A hand full of strawberries
1 orange
1 banana
yogurt
milk
1 scoop of vanilla protein
1 teaspoon of powdered glutamine
1 large kale leaf
small handful of spinach
1/4 cup of water (because the vanilla can be a little overpowering)
Variety of frozen fruits (to make the shake thick and cold)

I've been doing this for the past few weeks every morning and I love it!  It gives me energy all morning especially since I have it after my breakfast and drink it throughout the morning so it just keeps me going, and I get all my day's fruit servings in one shot.  Another reason why I haven't tried Joe Rogan's kale shake recipe is because I don't think my blender would blend the vegetables enough such that I don't choke on chunkies.  He uses a $500 blender called the vitamix, (seems like an amazing product but is it worth it? I'm still considering it and if I do get it, I'll do a review on it).  

 That's it.  I'll try to post more in the next little while.  Happy training everyone

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Road to Twenty: Week One


First, a little introduction and a note about motivation:

Though this is my first post, I've been dabbling with weight training for somewhere around 6 years. I say dabbling mostly because I've never followed a strict plan, had a trainer or even been able to settle on less than 5 or 6 fitness goals. The result? Middling results and at the present moment, a pretty solid plateau. To fix this, I've been trying to make a conscious effort to focus myself. This means settling down and setting concrete goals, both long term, like qualifying for the Boston Marathon before I'm 30, and short, like conquering female kryptonite: the pull up. 

The inspiration for the latter came to me while  messing around at the same playground Lex and I visited over a year ago in this post. Let me tell you, nothing motivates you more than watching video immortalizing your feeble attempts at a muscle up. One year later, and I still couldn't do a muscle up. In fact, strength wise, I was largely in the same place I was back then. As a girl, I've always been proud to be able to do solid sets of pull ups (my one set PR is 10, though I usually only hit 5-7 consistently), but since nailing a muscle up wasn't happening, working on my pull ups seemed the next best thing. Enter the Twenty Pull-Up Challenge, a six week program I came across on bodybuilding.com intended to get you to a 20 pull-up set in six weeks. 

Physiologically speaking, pull ups, and their close cousins, chin ups, are widely considered particularly hard for women to do. But not impossible. Crystal West is a great example of this, and if we're really talking role models, so is Sarah Connor. If you're a 90's child like me, the movie Terminator 2: Judgement Day probably holds a special place in your heart. Who could forget those iconic shots of Sarah Connor knocking out chin ups in her cell or loading a shot gun with one arm. These days it's pretty common for female stars to get into amazing shape for a movie (i.e Jessica Biel), but Linda Hamilton was the original, and she wasn't messing with one pound weights or toning either. Even though she had an ex-Israeli Military trainer on her side, it was all her in those scenes. So there you have it ladies, proof that not only can you do one pull up, you can do twenty. (For the record, the most ever done by a female is 36 in a minute, set by Ms. West herself).



Embedding was disabled by the owner of this video, but you can still check out Sarah Connor in all her glory here.

The Initial Test

The 20 Pull-up program, like most other plans, is based off your initial stats. For me, this came out to be 5 full pull ups, from a dead hang with little to no kip or swinging. 

This places me in the lowest category, and to be honest, I am a little skeptical, judging from the low reps set for the first few days (5 sets at 2-1-1-2-3 and 2-2-1-2-3). At this point I've had little trouble completing with far less than the 90 seconds of rest allowed by the program. But I guess this isn't surprising since I am on the higher end of the lowest category and these programs tend to really build momentum in later weeks. 

And maybe that's the best part about committing to programs like this: whatever my doubts or motivation levels, at the very least, I have to see it through.






Monday, November 28, 2011

1000 lb Club!


Not too long ago I put up a post where I talked about my goals.  If you have no idea what I'm talking about, here are the key points again:

1. Bulk up via strength training to about 150 lbs (~10-15% body fat is fine)
2. Join the 1000lb club (Deadlift, bench, and squat must add up to at least 1000lb)

3. Bring my conditioning up (Cut back on strength training and focus on circuit training ~5-8% body fat)

As of today, I have officially accomplished the first two goals.  :)  I've been sitting around 150 lbs for a few weeks now, and just today I hit the 1000 lb mark.  I deadlifted 405# (5x) a few days ago, and I squated 345# (5x) today, and benched 250# (3x) last week.  I'm still working on the bench, but I hurt my shoulder so I need to give it some time to heal.  I finally completed the Madcow program, which was an overwhelming success.  I truly doubted it would work at the beginning, but I'm really happy I stuck with it.  

Bulking up was a success
 Now for my final goal.  I just hope that I don't lose all my weight and strength once start doing cardio.  

But the way things are going, anything's possible.  Life is good :)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

... And Again...


Congratulations to me! I managed to make it exactly one month and 2 days before I got sick again! 
No.
This isn't right, what is going on?  I was in Calgary for a conference, I didn't work out, I didn't train, or anything, just took it easy.  But on my flight home, I started to feel it coming.  Uh oh, I thought.  By the time I was home I was already getting feverish. 

Makes me wonder if I should just live in a bubble.

Anyways, I'm better now, and I'm so close to the end I can taste it.  Not having to be forced to go to the gym every second day or else I'll fall behind on my Madcow program, not having to eat 6 meals a day with each one feeling like a losing battle, not having to work so hard lifting weights but have no gas in the ring.  I'm on the last week of Madcow, and I technically should be done by now, but I've had a few hiccups, a couple that I mentioned already and I've also had troubles with a few of the lifts.  I know it's my last week, but I want to finish it strong and earn every bit of it.  So if it takes me another 2 weeks to finish, so be it.  I went to the gym today and I couldn't finish the sets but this happens everytime after I get sick, so I'll just rest up and get back to it in a couple days.  I've been sitting steadily at 150 lbs so no complaints there.  It's not the 155 lbs I had initially wanted but I'm happy with it.

My other goal was to become part of the 1000lb club.  I think I talked about it before, but it's when your combined deadlift, bench press, and squat is over 1000lb.  Right now I've lifted 980lbs.  soooo close!  I can't give up yet, I just got push through a little bit longer....

"I ask not for a lighter load, I ask for broader shoulders"


Monday, October 17, 2011

Sick... Again?!


How has this happened?  I'm not even close to being overtrained! It's a week back into my routine, definitely not working that hard at all, and bam I'm sick again.  That's twice this year, about 4 times last year... whaaaaaat is going on?  This is so frustrating, how often do people usually catch a cold/fever, once a year? It screws up my routine always sets me back.

So what is the key to staying healthy while training?  Especially in a sport where bodily contact and fluid transfer (sweat) is unavoidable like MMA?  I guess I don't know, because I eat healthy and I get 7-8 hours of sleep each night.  If anyone has any tips, leave them in the comments section below! I will try them out because I'm tired of being sidelined all the time.  Certain foods that boost immune system? I'm all ears.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Still here

Ok so I haven't been keeping up with my weekly does of awesomeness, I feel bad.  Between work, training, and eating I barely have any time to relax.  I've also been back and forth to Calgary for work/holidays a lot lately so things have been a bit hectic. 

To be honest, I actually don't have anything to blog about.  Bulking up is really not that interesting; eat, sleep, boring workout.  I'm past halfway done my Madcow program and I can't wait to be done.  I'll talk more on that later, but basically my conditioning is really suffering at the MMA gym.  I can barely make it through a round of sparing without my arms filling up with so much lactic acid I can't hold them up to cover my face.  So I just block with my face :).  I haven't done any cardio, no gymnastics, none of the fun stuff essentially.  So I can't wait until 5 weeks later when I'm done with this. 

But until I start doing interesting things again, here's a clip you may find enjoyable.  Lou's the man. If you don't know who he is, you need to watch pumping iron, with Arnie.  That, or the hulk.