Fitness “Chain Letters.”

I might be dating myself with this, but do you remember those emails claiming you’d die at the hands of the ghost of a murdered little girl if you didn’t forward it to 10 friends?? I’m so glad those are done with (for the most part.. My aunt still sends them on and t’s pretty hilarious). I’m also glad that they’ve evolved with the times, becoming fitness chain letters/challenges!

I got an instagram notification on my phone while I was working out last night and the tag read something along the lines of, “Stop what you’re doing and set your camera up. Drop and give me 15 push ups! Tag 3 of your friends after you’re done!” You can find my post in the left sidebar. Cut me some slack for the form.. I was in the middle of my barbell rows and had just finished my bench sets– I failed the 5th one. ):

Lucky for me I was in the g ym so it wasn’t weird for me to spontaenously start doing push ups. I’ve done similar things at work, though, and gotten caught in the act by my coworkers walking pass my cubicle. It’s a good conversation starter around the office! I think it’s a fun idea and doing little things throughout your day can help you be a little healthier. They’re always good for a laugh if nothing else!

Week 1 Recap.

I finished week one of Stronglifts 5×5, and let me be completely honest with you: IT SUCKED. I deloaded at the program’s recommendation and was completely bored all week. I also found myself hating the counter in the phone app that tells you how long you need to rest between sets.

But you know what? I’m still excited to start week 2 today.

It’s frustrating, and probably because this program is designed as a beginner’s program and thus starts slowly to encourage good form. I plotted out the progression, though, and I should be making significant gains even if I’m only increasing by 5lbs (2.5lbs each side) per workout. That is what’s keeping me going.

The rest days though. Those are killer. I used to take rest days whenever I needed them, translation: when my body was on strike and refused to move. Now, I workout Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and rest Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday. It’s a hard thing to adjust to and I definitely spent $330 shopping on Saturday to stay out of the gym.. Girl problems.

I’m going to stick to this though! I know when I’m looking at my gains in a few months, it’ll all be worth it!

Stronglifts 5×5.

The original plan was to go into hardcore shred in April for Vegas Pool Season. I’ve decided to nix that, say #fuckabsbehappy, and start Stronglifts 5×5.

Before I get into why and what I hope to accomplish, here’s the program:

Click for the Medhi's webpage explaining all things Stronglifts 5x5

Click for Mehdi’s official webpage explaining all things Stronglifts 5×5

I’ve let my stall go on for long enough. This year and all the years ahead are about getting stronger. Chasing aesthetics — those flat abs and fat ass — isn’t cutting it any more. I’ve been losing steam at the gym and only been going three times a week. Why not make those three times actually count and build myself up from the fundamental exercises of all body building and power lifting?

New programs get me really excited, can’t you tell?? I can’t wait to get started!

There are even apps to track it for you so you know what exercises you’re supposed to be doing on what days! iPhone, Android

Update, 04.01.2014

I know I said I’d focus more on my arms this past month, but I pulled something and haven’t been able to work my back/shoulders that much. I’m not even sure what I did, which sucks. The pain is sharp, but only when I move my arm/back a certain way. It feels like it’s under my scapula on the right side, but I don’t know exactly which muscle it is. My DPT candidate friend told me to let it rest so I’ve been taking it pretty easy, so pardon me for a lack of real progress this past month. He actually told me I shouldn’t be smashing it and let it heal up before I try to break up the scar tissue.. But I’m a sucker for foam rolling and I’m in love with my Beasties..

(Left) Last month’s starter selfie. (Center) Taken last week. (Right) Taken a few hours ago in the bathroom at work.


You’d think with a gymnastics background I would appreciate the importance of stretching before and after a workout..but I was lazy. That laziness came back and bit me as  bad form and excessive soreness from working out. I made it one of my New Year’s Resolutions to work on my mobility, and here’s how I’ve been doing it and the benefits I’ve received.

No brand loyalty.

Foam rolling I now take time to foam roll and stretch before and after every workout. I carry my TriggerPoint The Grid with me to the gym in my bag, as well as my RumbleRoller Beastie Balls (one original, one X-firm). I can you tell from first hand experience that this helps recovery immensely. I’m lifting heavier weights with a wider range of motion (ROM) and doing it with less down/recovery/Iwanttodie time in the days to follow. I legitimately used to be sore for days after a leg or back day. I also used to struggle to hit parallel with high bar back squats. Now it’s all about ATG. I will swear by stretching and foam rolling.

As with anything, it’s important to learn about foam rolling before you start. There are ways to do it incorrectly and hurt yourself. Breaking Muscle has a great article about the benefits and proper technique for foam rolling.

For more intense foam rolling, RumbleRoller makes a medieval torture device they call a foam roller.

I like to annoy my dog.Yoga I turned my rest days into stretch days. I go to Yoga Hour at a local studio once or twice a week. Not only is it relaxing, but it forces me to bring awareness to how my body is feeling and where the muscles are tighter than they should be. It’s basically calesthnic work once you get over the fear of falling on your face, too. I love inversions and I practice head stands, forearm stands, and hand stands to workout my shoulders and build upper body strength. It’s pretty fun when I have guys asking me how long it took me “to get that” because “it looks pretty rad.”

How do you correct someone’s form at the gym?

Help me out, fitfam of the interwebs! I saw a couple of girls at the gym the other night trying to do back squats, but their form was looking more like lowbar squats. I was stretching out from my workout and didn’t know how to approach them.

More details: They were leaning too far forward in the squat and the bar wasn’t over the midline of their feet anymore. Their balance was very inconsistent and I could tell they were on the verge of having to step out or toppling over. They didn’t have weights and were actually using the practice bars in the Group X room. I’d say the bars are at most 5 lbs? They weren’t going to hurt themselves that night, but it was obvious that they could potentially hurt themselves in the future if they didn’t correct their form.

I will shamefully admit that I didn’t say anything to them. I can make an excuse that it’s because I knew their boyfriends were in the weight room and I’m sure the guys would correct them before the girls moved on to free weights, but it was also because I didn’t know how to approach them without seeming like a dbag.

I personally don’t mind when people correct my form. I love it, actually, because I learn everything from watching other people (and google) and I know there are some intricacies that I miss. A lot of people I know hate when someone tries to point out their form, though. Also, I don’t look like a personal trainer and I feel like no one would take me seriously.. ):

How do you approach someone about their form? Or do you just avoid it all together?

Building muscles, health, and confidence.

IMG_20140315_131806I went hiking last week. That’s not a big deal, I know. I’ve hiked before, but the biggest things for me were these:

  1. I went alone to a new trail I knew nothing about. I didn’t even know where to park my car..
  2. I stripped. (Just down to a sports bra, mom and dad!)

Just a few months ago, I never would have gone on a brand new hike. By myself. And finished it. It was all mental. There were literally two markers on trail (one at the trail head, one before the last .88 miles of death) and even though I found myself thinking, “I have to be at least half way there right? Oh god, how much further??” I kept going. I wasn’t going to stop until I got to the top. I zoomed (okay, huffed and puffed) past a few groups of people on my way up because I was on my own. I thought without a hiking partner it would turn into a stroll, but no– I was booking it. I competed with myself and I only had myself to beat.

I also would never have walked out in public in a sports bra. Never ever ever. I don’t have my ideal physique just yet, but I am now comfortable enough with myself to admit when it’s too stinkin’ hot to be wearing my jacket or my shirt. Ironic since I stashed my shirt at the sight of snow near the summit.

Basically, my fitness journey is teaching me to not care about others and that I am my only competition. I am my only progress marker and I can be confident that I am better today than I was yesterday.

For anyone in the Central Valley, CA area: I hiked Tehachapi Mountain. The trail is about 2.55 miles and has a summit elevation of 6,039 feet, I believe. That’s only the top of the trail though. The very very top, the true summit, is on private property. I heard rumors the owners have shotguns, so I didn’t venture that far..

Tempo training.

Story time: I’ve recently become obsessed wtih the line path of my deadlifts. I recorded myself and noticed  an inward “scoop” (super technical term) at the top of my lift. I sent the video to a friend and he came back with a recommendation I start tempo training (and that my path was actually fine). Actually, what he said was, “Do tempo deadlifts @42×1.”

I literally thought he meant to get the weight to 42. Pounds? That doesn’t make sense.. Maybe kg? I obviously had no clue what he was talking about. He explained it to me and that’s when I learned about tempo training.

Tempo Training

The tempo of an exercise will read with four numbers, maybe three numbers and an X. So you’ll see #### or ##X# where:

  1. First number is the time to lower the weight (eccentric movement)
  2. Second number is the pause, if any, at the midpoint
  3. Third number is the time to lift the weight (concentric movement)
  4. Fourth number is the pause, if any, at the top

An X for the third number donates there’s no time for this. Just get it up. I have read some say this means to “explode,” though, so.. Thoughts?

Example: Bench press 3010 (Push)
Start with the bar above you, arms extended. 3 seconds to lower the bar, no pause, 1 second to return to the top, no pause. That’s one rep. Do it again.

Example: Deadlift 42×1 (Pull)
Start with the bar on the ground. The first movement is concentric, so start from the third number. Take however long to pull the bar up, 1 second pause at the top, 4 seconds to lower the bar back to the ground, 2 second pause before your next rep.

This is me attempting to count tempo. I’d like to blame the extended pauses on the hex plates.. But I’m sure that sounds like a cop out. I lowered weight to focus on form, but I was so focused on tempo that I feel my line path suffered.. Gotta work on it!

Exercise-induced vomitting.

I’ve heard this mostly from crossfitters. (Who I greatly admire because they’re absolutely ridiculously dedicated.) I always thought it was an idiotic idea though. And I don’t know if anyone actually strives to work out until they puke, but if someone does: You’re insane.

It almost happened to me two workouts in a row though. Oops. I didn’t vomit, but I definitely felt sick enough that I had to lay down (kind of humiliating to do in a public gym.. and very unsanitary). I accidently worked out for 3 hours the first day and went in for a 1 hour workout the next day, but ended up staying 3 hours again. Yay for drive, boo for respecting limits.

Anyway, What causes exercise-induced vomitting/sickness?

Diet It’s important to scale and time your meals in accordance to your regime for the day. I’ve been eating more carbs than usual (I make a bomb at-home Chipotle chicken and fajita burrito bowl) and that definitely had an effect on me. My body is still getting used to that heavy volume of food, and then I go and workout twice as long an hour later? Yeah, that’s just a recipe for trouble.

The fix is a smaller meal and/or more time before exercise.

Rest time I’m notorious for being impatient with everything I do. I work quickly and efficiently because I’m impatient. Not such a great thing when working out. I workout alone so I’m not forced to have a long rest period as if I were waiting on a partner’s set. It’s recommended that the rest time be equal to the time of exertion, but I tend to rest for 5-10 seconds, if even. Oops.

The fix is just to take more rest time. Rest time between sets are just as beneficial for your body and your progress as rest days (which I used to hate and have since learned to embrace).

Go 10 minutes without your phone, and a child gets a day of clean water.


10 Minutes = 1 Day of Water

The UNICEF Tap Project invites you to go without your phone to help children in need of clean water. Are you up for the challenge?

For every ten minutes you don’t touch your phone, UNICEF Tap Project donors and sponsors can fund one day of clean water for a child in need. It’s that simple.

Click here for more information
Click here (from a mobile device) to join UNICEF