Tuesday, September 28, 2010

My Current At Home Workout Routine

I used to go to a public gym but for the past year or so I've just been working out at home. You can still get a decent workout at home; you just need a couple pieces of very basic, relatively cheap equipment and some creativity. To get a solid workout from home, you should at least own a pair of moderately heavy dumbbells and a pull up bar you can use on a door frame -- in my case, the Iron Gym. I used to follow a split training routine where I trained about 5-6 times a week and train one body part per day of the week but training at home has made a full body workout routine done 2-3 times a week more practical and realistic. Here is my current full body workout routine I do at home about 2 times a week.

I start at the top of body and work my way down. So, first comes the traps. I do 3-4 sets of DB shrugs using my moderately heavy dumbbells for about 15-20 reps.

Next come the shoulders. I start with the front delts. I usually do DB presses for 3-4 sets, 12-15 reps.

Now the side delts. I do DB lateral raises, 3-4 sets, 12-15 reps.

The rear delts. DB rear delt raises, 3-4 sets, 12-15 reps.

Now before I do my chest or back I do arms. I start with biceps, usually do alternating DB curls mixed with hammer curls, 3-4 sets, 10-12 reps.

Triceps I do one arm DB overhead extensions mixed with partial dips (on the kitchen counter top for example where the two edges come together and form a right angle where I can slip in between and do dips), 3-4 sets, 10-12 reps.

Now chest. I do dips and/or push ups. 3-4 sets to near failure -- dips that's usually about 20-25 reps and push ups that's usually about 30-40 reps.

Back. I do pull ups on a door frame with the Iron Gym. I do 3 sets to failure, usually about 10-12 reps per set.

I'll be honest; I rarely train legs nowadays but when I do every now and then I do bodyweight squats holding the dumbbells and stiff legged deadlifts with the dumbbells. For calves I do bodyweight calve raises holding the dumbbells and sometimes high rep jumping jacks.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Quote of the Day

"Seek freedom and become captive of your desires. Seek discipline and find your liberty."
- Frank Herbert

When you first read this quote you may be a bit confused; it may sound contradictory. How can a person, when seeking freedom, become a captive, and how can a person, when seeking discipline, find liberty? But make no mistake, it's exactly true. Consider the following example. Say an obese woman wants to lose weight. What would she have to do? Obviously eat clean and exercise. The absolute wrong approach to achieving her dream slim body would be what she has always done: eating whatever she wants and whatever in sight (especially sugary and fatty foods) and never getting any real exercise. In order to reach her goal, this person who loves food and has attached so much physical and emotional pleasure to the act of eating must deny herself the instant gratification she has always sought.

So say she decides to go on a strict diet and exercise regimen. She vows to start eating healthy and to exercise intensely at least 4 times a week. Ice cream and potato chips will be replaced with lean fish and vegetables, and lying around all day watching TV and surfing the internet will be replaced with running on the treadmill and weight training for at least an hour a day. She hypes herself up and gets really excited and actually sticks to her diet and exercise regimen, but only for a couple days before she starts losing motivation and determination and starts reverting back to her old ways. And once she "fails" and ends up binging and being inactive all day again she does this for a few days and then finds new motivation and determination to start over again. This time, she promises she will start over for good and never cheat again. But she always finds herself, sooner or later, losing juice and giving in to her old lifestyle.

She honestly wants a great body and wants to be healthy, but she also loves eating a lot and the taste of junk food so much that she believes she just cannot let it go. The more she tries to "seek freedom" -- in other words, seek junk food and hedonism, the more she becomes a "captive" to her desires, a captive to her greed and attachment. On the flip side, the more she tries to "seek discipline" -- in other words, seek a genuine desire and effort to eat healthy and exercise regularly, the more she will find "liberty" -- the more she will be freed from the chains of junk food and indolence that have held her prisoner for so long.
I wear ear plugs when I go to sleep. I now wear ear plugs even during the day. I can't stand the sound of people or cars, even my family. Ear plugs gives me a lot more peace during the day.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Quote of the Day

"Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races after another."

- Walter Elliott

What does this quote mean, exactly? Here's an example. Consider bodybuilding. Say a skinny guy wants to bulk up and add lots of muscle mass to his body. What would he have to do? Obviously weight train regularly, eat properly, and get enough rest. But, of course, his transformation would not be an overnight event. It would take months -- even years -- of consistent intense weight training, proper nutrition, and sufficient rest to achieve his goal body. He couldn't do one really long exercise session in the gym and one long day of perfect eating and rest and expect to add 20 lbs of muscle to his body by tomorrow. He would have to do that every single day, day in and day out, for months and years to see a real change in the mirror. Perseverance is not one long race; it is many short races after another. Perseverance is about constantly getting up each time you fall down; it's about never giving up no matter how difficult the process is or how hopeless you may feel. Each new day is the next short race that should be treated sacredly and spent productively. Over time, all the perfectly spent days -- all the "short races" -- will add up to the completion of one "long race", and you will have reached your goals and improved yourself drastically.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

It's easy to get lost in the routine of everyday life. For me, the past year has whizzed by like nothing. The entire year seemed like just a passing month. Months felt like weeks. Weeks felt like days. Days felt like just a few hours. And it continues to be that way. A new day has started for me and it's still in the morning where I live, but I know in the next blink of an eye it will be time for me to sleep again and start it all over. I don't know why everything feels like it's going so fast. I go to sleep early and wake up early. The day is long and I have it all to myself to do whatever I want, but it still goes by so fast -- too fast. I feel like I have no control over myself anymore. My life is being rushed for me, while I continue to stagnate and even go backwards. Something's gotta change.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Fact of the Day

Every time you sneeze some of your brain cells die.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Chess is like Life

You can't control the outcome but you can change the possibilities. Each new move you make on the board is like a new day in everyday life. Every action you perform in life either takes you a step forward towards your goals or a step backwards -- like how the right move in chess can take you a step closer to checkmating your opponent and winning or the wrong move in chess can get you a step closer to losing.

One day you're unbeatable and winning in chess and the next day your opponent is schooling you and teaching you a lesson. Just as in life, one day you're the lion and the next day you're the fleeing zebra. One day you're the car windshield and the next day you're the smashed mosquito.

The number of possible moves and combinations in chess are nearly limitless, as is the possibilities and sheer randomness of life. You can't win em all, and just as easily as you reached the top, just as carelessly you can trip and fall and lose everything you worked for.

Chess and life mirror one another, and to win at life requires the same principles to winning a game of chess: careful planning, methodical action, lack of complacence even when doing well, and a calm, objective mindset even when losing.

As in life as in chess, you should never give up even if you're losing terribly and feeling hopeless. Play it out till the end no matter what. Don't let your opponent win so easily by resigning. Don't let life bring you down so easily when things don't go your way. Wait it out and be patient. Your opponent could make a mistake and allow you to regain ground. The mistake you made previously could have been a blessing in disguise, opening up a new combination that checkmates your opponent had you not seen otherwise.

Everything happens for a reason in life. We may make foolish mistakes, but if we can overcome the regret and learn from them, we can only become better and stronger.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

My Favorite Chess Openings

I like to play chess. In fact, I love to play chess. I'm addicted. Yes, I know, I'm a nerd. But hey, playing chess makes you smarter, right? Anyway, here are my favorite chess openings when playing white and black.

When I play white 95% of the time I will start with the king or queen's pawn -- e4 or d4. It depends on what black plays to really determine the opening but if they play accordingly my favorite openings for white are the King's Gambit and the Italian Game. The King's Gambit because it allows white to develop its pieces quickly and set up a solid attack and the Italian Game for the same reason (although I don't think it's as effective as the King's Gambit).

When I play black what I play is determined by what white plays. Most times white plays e4 or d4. So my favorite openings for black are the Scandinavian Defense and the Alekhine Defense. The Scandinavian Defense because it's straight to the point and a brave counterattack against white's e4 and the Alekhine Defense because it's an interesting defense against white's e4 that can throw off the other opponent, not to mention completely destroy their pawn structure if they get too aggressive. 

Other openings I play for white but don't necessarily consider my "favorites" are the Reti Opening, the Queen's Gambit, and the English Opening. Other openings I play for black but don't necessarily consider my "favorites" are the Sicilian Defense, the French Defense, the Caro Kann Defense, and the King's Indian Defense.