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Daily Exercise #23: Break Down

posted on August 13th, 2007 ·

Since I have lowered the weight and increased the repetitions to focus on muscular endurance training for my triathlon race, I want to push my lactic threshold as high as I can. Therefore, I have adapted the “Break Down” strength training protocol, lowering the weight after a set immediately and proceeding to extra repetitions until failure. Here’s the general outline of my workout.

  • Bench Press: 2 x 15, 115 lbs. After each set, I immediately lowered 20 lbs. and did 5 more reps.
  • Leg Press: 2 x 15, 90 lbs.
  • Shoulder Press: 2 x 10, 95 lbs. Dropped 20 lbs. for the break down set
  • Lunges: 2 x 15, 20 lbs. dumbbells
  • Bend-over Row: 2 x 10, 75 lbs. Dropped 10 lbs. for the break down set
  • 3-way Calves: 2 sets
  • Pull-ups & Chin-ups: 2 x 10
  • Abs

Doing the “Break Down” muscular training for the first time, I found developing patience to be the most challenging; Every set and repetition were to be done with a slower and more controlled speed than the usual strength training where each rep takes about 1 to 2 seconds only. Therefore, finishing each exercise seemed to take longer time. I spent 40 minutes to finish the above exercise routine yesterday. Even with less weight, I still felt pretty burnt-out at the end.

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Missing In Action

posted on August 9th, 2007 ·

Over the last week, I helped my friends set up their office at Mid-town west (36th st. b/t 5th and 6th ave.) in New York City. (Another reason why I haven’t updated my fitness blog.) I significantly cut down the hours spent in the gym because I had worked for at least six to seven hours a day putting down new floorings, moldings, and carrying furniture. Even though I could barely go to the gym, I still managed to break a sweat (more like drenched in sweat because of the humidity) and burnt some calories. Below are some pictures that we took from the beginning until the end of the office renovation. I hope you’d enjoy them.

This is what the office looked like before we have done any renovations to it.

Renovating the office space by putting down the first row of the floorings.

and a week of brutal sawing, trimming, and hammering continues…

No matter how busy I was, still had to check the score of my beloved New York Yankees.

A rare break from working was the only thing I looked forward to in one of those ruthless late night office construction. Oh, by the way, I am proud of myself for not touching even one of the Heinekens.

Floorings are done, now it’s time for some wiring.

Now the fun part started after finishing the interior of the office - moving furniture.

Everything was brought to the new office, but we still had to assemble all the furniture. But at least we could smile and flex to the camera and say, “we have moved in!”

This is the night after an all-nighter from moving and assembling furniture.

So, here I am, finally get the chance to share what I have been doing lately. I did a lot of functional workouts, such as lifting furniture, hammering, sawing, etc. I hope to get back to my triathlon training by tomorrow, Friday the 10th. While I was gone, I hope you all had kept up with your workout routines and had healthy diet. I will be giving out physical test all week long just to check on your progress. Just kidding, enjoy my pictures and have a great night.

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Time Off

posted on August 1st, 2007 ·

Currently studying for my personal training exam on Saturday. I apologize for the lack of update. Wish me luck. See you soon.


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Poached Tilapia with Quinoa

posted on July 25th, 2007 ·


Since I am training for a triathlon race, I need to have enough amount of carbohydrates to help me replenish and sustain energy. I have bumped up my carbohydrate intake since I have started my training two weeks ago. Carbohydrates should make up about 65% of our diet. I admit that I have adopted a lower carbohydrate diet in the past (but not to the low level prescribed in Atkin’s Diet) by not eating bread or grains for dinner. Now, I’d have a slice of whole grain bread, or a type of exotic whole grain, such as quinoa that I have used in this dish. Quinoa is very nutritious by providing 318 calories, 5 grams of fibers, 11 grams of protein, and approximately 4 grams of healthy fats, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats in a serving, 1/2 cup.

For the dish shown above, I simply sauteed some chopped onions and red bell peppers in a saucepan for 3 minutes, then added a serving of quinoa to be boiled and simmered with a box of non-fat, low-sodium chicken broth for 20 minutes until quinoa was clear and began to puff up. On top of the finished quinoa, I garnished the dish with chopped parsley and black olives. Finally, I finished this light and healthy entree with  a slice of poached tilapia. There’s nothing more satisfying than eating a light but flavorful dinner following a long day of work and workout!

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Guinea Pig’s Complete First Week Triathlon Training

posted on July 23rd, 2007 ·

I have just finished my first week of triathlon training and I’d like to share my training log for both cardiovascular endurance and weight training.

Day 1:

  • Cardiovascular Training: 22 minutes of running (treadmill)
    Calories Expenditure: 250
    Distance: 2.2 miles

Day 2:

  • Cardiovascular Training: 12 minutes of swimming & 24 minutes of biking
    Calories Expenditure: 383
    Biking Distance: 7.2 miles

Day 3:

  • Cardiovascular Training: 12 minutes of running (treadmill)
    Calories Expenditure: 163
    Distance: 1.3 miles
  • Weight Training: Please refer to the Guinea Pig’s Daily Exercise #22

Day 4:

  • Cardiovascular Training: 16 minutes of swimming & 32 minutes of biking
    Calories Expenditure: 475
    Biking Distance: 8.9 miles

Day 5:

  • Cardiovascular Training: 16 minutes of running (treadmill)
    Calories Expenditure: 217
    Distance:  1.7 miles
  • Weight Training
    1. Pull-ups: 2 x 10
    2. Dumbbell Bench Press: 35 lbs, 2 x 15
    3. Leg Press: 70 lbs, 2 x 15
    4. Dumbbell Shoulder Press:  20 lbs, 2 x  15
    5. Dumbbell Lunges:  20 lbs, 2 x 10 (each leg)
    6. Lat Pulldown: 50 lbs, 2 x 15
    7. Calf Raise (machine): 50 lbs, 2 x 15
    8. Push-ups: Wide - Normal - Diamond, 1 x 10 for each variation
    9. Abs

Note: Each repetition in weight training is done with a very slow pace, about 3 seconds down and 3 seconds up

Day 6:

  • Cardiovascular Training: 20 minutes of swimming & 44 minutes of biking
    Calories Expenditure:  600
    Biking Distance: 12.18 miles

Day 7:  DAY OFF!

  • Driving range with my friend, Andy. Playing golf is a great way to strengthen core muscles while giving your body a break from training vigorously. Also, going back to the old principle: Don’t Be a Couch Potato! Do something you enjoy on the off-day.

I felt pretty energetic overall after the first week of triathlon training. I have also spent about 30 minutes everyday stretching after my training session. Stretching is especially important because great flexibility prevents musculoskeletal  injuries. Common injuries such as shin splints, swimmer’s shoulder, or pulled hamstrings can be prevented by holding the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds for each muscle group. I am still a novice in multi-sports training. While I will be providing new information that I have learned, I’d be glad to hear from you if you have any useful tips. Good luck and enjoy your workouts!

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Shockingly in Shape

posted on July 19th, 2007 ·

From reading my personal trainer review booklet, I have refreshed my memory about a piece of modern technology tool, Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis Machine, that measures an individual’s body composition. This tool sounds more sophisticated than its simple design. Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis Machine measures one’s body fat percentage by electrical current that passes through his or her body. The machine considers fat-free tissue as a good conductor of electricity; therefore, anybody with low body fat percentage would have a greater current passing through the body comparing to a deconditioned or unfit individual. ( Of course, fat tissue would be considered as a poor conductor of electricity.) A fitness fanatic like myself just can’t wait to get my hands on that toy someday. If you happen to be lucky enough and have the access to the machine, do me a favor, don’t cheat yourself and drink two gallons of water before going into the testing. Here’s the pre-test protocol to ensure accurate measurement:

  • Abstain from eating or drinking within 4 hours of the assessment
  • Avoid moderate or vigorous physical activity within 12 hours of the assessment
  • Void completely before the assessment
  • Abstain from alcohol consumption for 48 hours before the assessment
  • Avoid diuretic agent, including caffeine (going to be tough for me), prior to the assessment unless prescribed by a physician

Note: above pre-test protocol is given by ACE’s Personal Trainer Exam Review Workshop verbatim

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Daily Exercise #22: Triathlon Weight Training (1)

posted on July 18th, 2007 ·

I have taken on a total different approach from my previous weight training program to train for my triathlon race in November. Previously, every rep of weight bearing exercise was done with normal and consistent speed of 1 to 2 seconds in each up-and-down phase. However, training for triathlon, I reduced the speed of each rep of all exercises dramatically, about 3 seconds for the up-and-down phase( e.g. 3 seconds down and 3 seconds up in bench press).  Not only repetitions were decreased, the amount of weight that I lifted was also reduced dramatically, which hurt my ego greatly the first time that I tried the new workout. Below is the workout that I designed yesterday but was not able to meet my expectations for completing the sets and repetitions. I will give you my “real workout” after describing my initial routine.

  • Bench press: 2 x 20
  • Squat: 2 x 20
  • Shoulder press: 2 x 20
  • Deadlift: 2 x 20
  • Bend-over row: 2 x 20
  • 3 way calves: 2 sets
  • Push-ups (variations: wide, normal, diamond): 1 x 10 for each variation
  • abs

And this is what I end up doing. I overestimated my own ability the first time…totally.

  • Bench press:  2 x 20; 1st set went from 95 lbs. (10 reps) to 85 lbs., 2nd set, rested for 5 seconds between 2 sets of 10 with 85 lbs.
  • Squat: 2 x 10, 95 lbs; the only exercise I could finish with two perfect sets of 20 without any rest in each 20 repetitions
  • Shoulder press: 2 x 20; 1st set started from 85 lbs. (10 reps) and went down to 65 lbs., and 2nd set went from 50 lbs. (10 reps) to 45 lbs.
  • Deadlift: 2 x 20; used dumbbells; 1st set started from 45lbs. (10 reps) and got down to 40 lbs., and in 2nd set, I worked with 30 lbs. and could finally finish another set without any rest within the set
  • Bend-over rows: 2 x 20; 1st set went from 95 lbs. (10 reps) to 85 lbs., and 2nd set went from 65 lbs. (10 reps) to 55 lbs.
  • 3way calves: thank god no weight was involved
  • Push-ups (with variations): wide and normal arm split push-ups were done without any rest, but struggled with the diamond variation, 2 breaks within 10 repetitions…kind of embarrassing
  • Abs

I was glad to be done with the workout in 40 minutes. I was sweating profusely and felt the burn underneath of my major muscles. I slowed down my repetitions of each exercise in order to develop greater muscle endurance for my whole body and stronger core muscles to help me cross the finish line.

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Finding a Purpose

posted on July 17th, 2007 ·

As a fitness enthusiast, even I get tired of training and being on a strict diet just to keep in shape all year round. For the last four years, I am proud to say that I have not missed a day of training unless I went on a vacation or the gym was closed. I am not kidding you; I once drove to the gym at 7 AM when it was snowing heavily outside. However, my muscles and joints have started to wear down from overtraining and lacking rest (getting eight hours of sleep is nearly impossible these days for anybody). During those frustration times, I have sat down and contemplated the reasons why I have put myself into the routines. Of course, my immediate answer to my question is that I wanted to look good. However, I have also found a spark of enthusiasm in outdoor activities, such as rock climbing, backpacking, long distance biking, etc. Therefore, I have taken the initiative to restructure my workout for enhancing outdoor activity performance and rekindle with my hunger for great fitness level.

I have restructured my workout, both cardiovascular and weight lifting, to prepare for my triathlon competition in November. I have never competed in a triathlon and I have just recently signed up for the USA Triathlon membership. I have been consistent with my training and diet for a long time, but I have never put myself in a position where I’d become extremely exhausted. Not that I am looking to pass out or faint in a competition, but I really want to test my fitness level. I am glad that I have found a new purpose for working out, improving fitness level to compete against the elites. I hope my short anecdote will inspire you to find a new purpose, besides to impress others, for dragging yourself to the gym consistently. Trust me, once you reach your goal for better appearance, unless you stop working out altogether and start drinking heavily, you will not lose your impressive toned and lean muscles easily. You can move on and establish a new goal to help you reach a new fitness level.

In the mean time, enjoy your workout and I hope to hear great results!


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Mango Avocado Turkey Sandwich

posted on July 12th, 2007 ·


Just a simple recipe for your review on a busy day.


  • 1/4 lbs. low sodium turkey breast
  • 2 slices of whole wheat bread
  • 3 slices of avocado
  • 2 slices of mango
  • a palmful of alfalfa sprouts
  • several slices of jalapeño pepper, depending on your heat tolerance
  • several dashes of hot sauce, again depending on your heat tolerance

I find mango, avocado, and jalapeño pepper to be very useful in making any dishes, especially if you want something sweet and tangy at the same time. Just be careful when you cut the jalapeño pepper; my hands are still burning from cutting it after ten hours. Leave me a message if you’d like to know what else to make by using those three secret ingredients.

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CPR Certified

posted on July 10th, 2007 ·

I am proud to say that I have completed 1% of the requirement for getting my personal training license; I am officially CPR certified and I can put my mouth on yours if I ever find you lying unconsciously. But let’s hope that will never happen.

Several things mentioned by the CPR instructor surprised me today. Before you go on with this entry, think about the goal for performing CPR. Why does the CPR performer compress the victim’s chest? I bet most of you would say the compression is executed to resuscitate the victim’s heart beat like the jumper cables that jump start a car with a dead battery. Wrong! Whenever you or any other individual performs CPR on someone, the CPR performer is to keep the victim dead. You heard me…CPR is performed to keep the unconscious person dead. Here’s the twist, there are two definitions for “death”. The condition that we keep the victim in is called “clinical death”; his or her blood would still be circulating in his or her body with minimal damages to the brain cells while remaining pause-less and/or breathless. Therefore, the victim is not “brain dead”, which on the other hand…is really dead. While keeping the victim only clinically dead, the CPR performer waits for the EMT’s arrival with an automated external defibrillator to excite the heart beat.

We also touched on some first aid topics such as Heimlich maneuver. I was surprised to learn that even if a victim is saved from choking, he would still need to go through the emergency service because his airway could be bruised from Heimlich maneuver; the swelling caused by the bruised airway could obstruct the oxygen flow into the victim’s body and cause death. Therefore, if you ever happen to be at the scene where someone is choked on food, remember to call 911 even after the victim is saved.

I hope that you’d feel safer now to hire me as your personal trainer once I get licensed!

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