Ask The Hitman

Hitman

Bionic Poster
@Hitman. Is this a good guide to dead lift?


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It is certainly good start for beginners to understand the concept of dead lifting and preventing injury. As you get better at it, you will also be aware of your own anatomy and how you need to adjust it to ensure your spinal alignment is proper and you can form a strong muscle mind connection with every muscle as you move the weight up and transfer the energy from the legs through into the upper back.
 
It is certainly good start for beginners to understand the concept of dead lifting and preventing injury. As you get better at it, you will also be aware of your own anatomy and how you need to adjust it to ensure your spinal alignment is proper and you can form a strong muscle mind connection with every muscle as you move the weight up and transfer the energy from the legs through into the upper back.
I'm a giving this a serious go. 2-3 times a week is a no brainer.

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Please explain to me what you mean by - unable to retain the food

Thanks
After having any meal and if I walk for lets say 20 minutes, I feel bloated and have to use restroom immediately. If I use b12 after eating meal it will be fine. It's frustrating that I need to rely on b12 to enjoy a quality of life. Am vegetarian. Any thoughts?
 

Hitman

Bionic Poster
After having any meal and if I walk for lets say 20 minutes, I feel bloated and have to use restroom immediately. If I use b12 after eating meal it will be fine. It's frustrating that I need to rely on b12 to enjoy a quality of life. Am vegetarian. Any thoughts?
OK, I understand.

Lets take a look at a little physiology here. Your body comprises of three types of muscle, cardiac muscle, striated skeletal muscle and smooth muscle, all of which are defined about how the nervous system interacts with them. Your heart cardiac muscle is known as myogenic muscle, meaning that despite being modulated by the central nervous systems's sympathetic system, the initiation of muscle contraction is internal. In other words, you don't need the CNS to make your heart beat - Pace makers basically play the role in patients of modulators when the beat cannot be controlled by CNS. Striated skeletal muscle is controlled by the sympathetic nervous system, however muscle contraction is done in a voluntary way, so if you want to flex your bicep, you can do it when you want. Smooth muscle, like skeletal muscle is also stimulated the same, but there is a difference - smooth muscle contraction is involuntary, you don't control it with your conscious state.

Your intestine is lined with a layer of smooth muscle that helps digestion, by helping the absorption through the microvilli that increase the surface area inside your gut, smooth muscle helps your intestines contract and push food through. One of the key functions of B12 is maintaining a healthy nervous system, it plays an important part in helping the neurons that are connecting to your spinal column to send messages to the smooth muscle around your intestine to contract and help food pass through more efficiently. A lack of B12 will cause the mechanism to weaken and slow down.

Now, this is something that is more common in vegetarians than it is in those that consume animal products, since B12 is found in animal products at a much higher abundance, unfortunately for vegetarians and especially vegans they often lack this key vitamin due to their dietary choices and lifestyle. The only advise I can give is that you should consume foods such as cereals that are fortified with vitamin B12 if you are unable to get a vitamin B12 tablet. Multivitamins are also a very good choice, having them every day.
 
OK, I understand.

Lets take a look at a little physiology here. Your body comprises of three types of muscle, cardiac muscle, striated skeletal muscle and smooth muscle, all of which are defined about how the nervous system interacts with them. Your heart cardiac muscle is known as myogenic muscle, meaning that despite being modulated by the central nervous systems's sympathetic system, the initiation of muscle contraction is internal. In other words, you don't need the CNS to make your heart beat - Pace makers basically play the role in patients of modulators when the beat cannot be controlled by CNS. Striated skeletal muscle is controlled by the sympathetic nervous system, however muscle contraction is done in a voluntary way, so if you want to flex your bicep, you can do it when you want. Smooth muscle, like skeletal muscle is also stimulated the same, but there is a difference - smooth muscle contraction is involuntary, you don't control it with your conscious state.

Your intestine is lined with a layer of smooth muscle that helps digestion, by helping the absorption through the microvilli that increase the surface area inside your gut, smooth muscle helps your intestines contract and push food through. One of the key functions of B12 is maintaining a healthy nervous system, it plays an important part in helping the neurons that are connecting to your spinal column to send messages to the smooth muscle around your intestine to contract and help food pass through more efficiently. A lack of B12 will cause the mechanism to weaken and slow down.

Now, this is something that is more common in vegetarians than it is in those that consume animal products, since B12 is found in animal products at a much higher abundance, unfortunately for vegetarians and especially vegans they often lack this key vitamin due to their dietary choices and lifestyle. The only advise I can give is that you should consume foods such as cereals that are fortified with vitamin B12 if you are unable to get a vitamin B12 tablet. Multivitamins are also a very good choice, having them every day.
Thanks @Hitman. Your explanation makes sense but I have a question:

1. If the job of smooth muscle around intestine is to contract and help food pass through more efficiently and if I lack B12 then food will not pass through more efficiently, correct? However, in my case my frequent visits to restroom after a meal make me think that food is passing through quite easily without giving the intestines a chance to absorb nutrients. I am confused. Is it that since the food is stagnant it is causing bloating which in turn is resulting in restroom visit? I do want to understand how human digestion works and its abnormalities.

2. would there be any side effect if I increase my dosage from 500mcg to 1000mcg. Also, can I take b12 after every meal or only once a day? If I take once a day, it is not working for me. I end up taking it twice a day.
 

Hitman

Bionic Poster
Thanks @Hitman. Your explanation makes sense but I have a question:

1. If the job of smooth muscle around intestine is to contract and help food pass through more efficiently and if I lack B12 then food will not pass through more efficiently, correct? However, in my case my frequent visits to restroom after a meal make me think that food is passing through quite easily without giving the intestines a chance to absorb nutrients. I am confused. Is it that since the food is stagnant it is causing bloating which in turn is resulting in restroom visit? I do want to understand how human digestion works and its abnormalities.

2. would there be any side effect if I increase my dosage from 500mcg to 1000mcg. Also, can I take b12 after every meal or only once a day? If I take once a day, it is not working for me. I end up taking it twice a day.
1 - Try not to confuse the word Efficiently with Easily when it comes to effective digestion and the point I am making. Passing the food through efficiently isn't a time related thing, it is about ensuring maximum absorption is taking place. Smooth muscle will help control the rate at which food passes through, contracting the gut around the food so effective absorption of proteins, fats, sugars and micronutrients can happen. When you cannot control the flow of food, it passes through your intestines quickly, but not efficiently, since efficiency is based on why the food is there in the first place - to be digested and absorbed. I hope that makes sense.

2 - These are micro nutrients, you will not suffer for any significant side effect by doubling your dosage of vitamin B12 consumption. I am probably taking up to six times what you are taking with the amount I eat and my digestive system works completely fine.
 
1 - Try not to confuse the word Efficiently with Easily when it comes to effective digestion and the point I am making. Passing the food through efficiently isn't a time related thing, it is about ensuring maximum absorption is taking place. Smooth muscle will help control the rate at which food passes through, contracting the gut around the food so effective absorption of proteins, fats, sugars and micronutrients can happen. When you cannot control the flow of food, it passes through your intestines quickly, but not efficiently, since efficiency is based on why the food is there in the first place - to be digested and absorbed. I hope that makes sense.

2 - These are micro nutrients, you will not suffer for any significant side effect by doubling your dosage of vitamin B12 consumption. I am probably taking up to six times what you are taking with the amount I eat and my digestive system works completely fine.
Much appreciated! I now understand the difference between easily and efficiently in the context of digestion.
 
@Hitman Another question.
How does one determine how often or when their body is ready to train again?

e.g. Should I wait until I am no longer sore before going to the gym again or just stick to every 3-4 days?
 

Hitman

Bionic Poster
@Hitman Another question.
How does one determine how often or when their body is ready to train again?

e.g. Should I wait until I am no longer sore before going to the gym again or just stick to every 3-4 days?
Really depends on the workout and the volume. For instance, lets say I was training you and I put under the squat rack and made you perform squats using the German Volume Training protocol, something like 10 sets of 10 reps each...your nervous system and your muscles would be that much more exhausted and would need the extra time to fully recover than if you say did 5 sets of 5.

I am sure you have heard of the state known as over trained, well there is also a state known as over reaching. Over reaching is not quite over training, over reaching is when you still have the correct levels of anabolic to catabolic hormone ratio, but your muscle fatigue requires extra time to recuperate. This is where experience and understanding your body comes into play, remember your body doesn't understand numbers, it understands time under tension, and the longer the time and the higher the intensity while under tension, the recovery time will be impacted that much more. Numbers are a guideline, but you shouldn't let them limit or even hinder your progression, they are used as a rule of thumb...

Rule of thumb is after a 72 hour period, on average protein synthesis is complete, but that does not mean glycogen replenishment is complete, or even if the intramuscular fatigue has been removed by the oxidation of lactic acid. So, you need to feel your body also, staying on your nutrition will help ensure you do not deviate too much from your set times to train, but nutrition needs to be accompanied by rest, which is the third and final part of the equation.
 
@Hitman
I hurt my right arm 5yrs ago pulling a bed through a corner, hurt my left arm in november pulling up floor. Was thinking about reverse curls, they seem to hit spots other exercises cant. Forearm/elbow str could be good for tennis.

Its more supplimental, its like the only way i get injured now. My routine is very simple, 12 bench press, 12 squat and 12 sit ups every day for past 15 years (arm hurts now though so cant). I dont do alot of weight, my benchpress is 135, can do like 50 on reverse probably. Bench is in garage so can do whenever i want
 
@Hitman

It's time to transcend the initial bounds of this thread and become not just a fitness and nutrition specialist, but a sage for all times and ages.

You are a big fan of action movies in general with badass heroes.

Hit me up yo. Which films do I need to be seeing from legends of the genre?

All recommendations will be noted.
 

Hitman

Bionic Poster
@Hitman
I hurt my right arm 5yrs ago pulling a bed through a corner, hurt my left arm in november pulling up floor. Was thinking about reverse curls, they seem to hit spots other exercises cant. Forearm/elbow str could be good for tennis.

Its more supplimental, its like the only way i get injured now. My routine is very simple, 12 bench press, 12 squat and 12 sit ups every day for past 15 years (arm hurts now though so cant). I dont do alot of weight, my benchpress is 135, can do like 50 on reverse probably. Bench is in garage so can do whenever i want

Sorry for the delay, lets answer this question for you.

If your arms are in pain from lifting, then this is the routine I want you to do that will hit forearms to build overall strength and size without causing any significant detrimental pain. Lets look at the exercise you are doing for forearm development already, the reverse curls. There two ways to perform this exercise and it all depends on the positioning of your wrists, so what do I mean by that. If you pick up a bar for a reverse curl and bend your wrist forward and keep them in that position while you bring the bar, you are hitting the underarm portion of the forearm. Now if you were to do that same curl, but this time rotate your wrist up, you activate the muscles on the opposite side of the forearm.

A lot of people keep their wrists straight, while this OK, you don't activate the muscle fibres in the same way. The exercise should be performed not only with the wrists straight, but with them depressed or pointed downward and also pointing up and backwards....all within your reasonable range of motion that doesn't cause pain. This technique really helps builds very strong muscular forearms, but it is something you would need to do about three times a week, since the forearm muscles are used to be overloaded with weight, they need to be pushed further.

One final exercise I would recommend are the standing dumbbell alternate hammer curls. Holding the dumbbell as if your arm has formed a hammer, slowly curl up towards your bicep and then take twice as long to lower back down. This exercise helps the insertion points of the biceps into the elbow joint and thickens the origin point of the forearm muscles. Try these and see what happens.

And I noticed you are doing sit ups, I would avoid doing those as they are not really ideal for your strengthening abdominals, focus on more core related movements like planks, hanging leg raises and bicycle crunches than your traditional sit ups which impact your tail bone and activate your hip flexors more than they do your abdominals.
 
My problem is low stomach acid. I don't have acid reflux issues. I don't know how pepcid is going to help me. I am trying to understand the root cause of my issue.
You have to see the doctor for that one. he has medications that he can give you. He will have to do some tests first to figure out which enzymes are deficient. that is the best route to go
 
@Hitman
Perhaps a shallow question, but what muscles should you be targetting most frequently when working out from most important (like chest muscles ?) to least important (biceps??) to look sexy in the upper body, like in a short sleeved T-shirt or polo for example? I'm guessing the size of muscles would have to look proportional to one another instead of having a huge chest but skinny everywhere else.
Like a Muhammad Ali but not that big haha


Also, is simply doing pull-ups and push-ups enough to cover the upper body in terms of working out the "important" muscles?
 
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Hitman

Bionic Poster
Sorry for the delay in answering these questions, the AO has taken up all of time here recently. But now we have reached the semis, I will have time to answer your questions asap. :)
 

K-H

Hall of Fame
@Hitman
What would say is a healthy alternative to margarine/butter as a spread on toast.
I was thinking about almond butter but I don’t know if that’s actually healthy or not.

Also what’s your opinion on flaxseeds. Im thinking of incorporating it into my diet but is there any benefit of it.

Thanks.
 
Update on my results wiith the workout @Hitman gave me a couple months ago. I have stuck to the same workout. Progress has slowed down but I was also traveling for the holidays and had less sleep and time to workout.

Next goal will be to try and get down to about 12 or 13% BF. Not sure how long it will take as I am not super strict on diet. Mostly eat what I like to eat. My diet is fairly healthy, though, IMO.

Using Omron bodyfat scale/handheld electric measuring thing.
Nov 7, 2018:
height: 182.5 cm
weight: 74.4 kg
bodyfat %: 17.3 %

Dec 17, 2018:
weight: 74.3 kg
bodyfat %: 15.7 %

Jan 25, 2019:
weight: 74.6 kg
bodyfat %: 15.3 %

The Omron scale is probably not that accurate, but the gym I go to has one so I used it.

*Notes:
  • I was traveling for close to a month for the holidays. This included a stretch of not exercising or going to the gym for close to two weeks. Overall, I probably ate more than usual and even went to a few buffets during the vacation.
  • Although I have not been doing any cardio outside of the workout from @Hitman , my endurance on a tennis court seems to be okay. Played singles twice and didn't feel that tired during or the day after. On the other hand, I was not running full speed, either, since my knee is still not quite 100% healed. Getting closer every day.
  • I still don't go to complete failure on squats and bench even though I do them in a squat rack with safety bars. I just go until I feel like my form will start to deteriorate. I will start trying to gradually push closer to failure.
 

Hitman

Bionic Poster
@Hitman

It's time to transcend the initial bounds of this thread and become not just a fitness and nutrition specialist, but a sage for all times and ages.

You are a big fan of action movies in general with badass heroes.

Hit me up yo. Which films do I need to be seeing from legends of the genre?

All recommendations will be noted.
LOL - Well, I guess it is called Ask The Hitman. :p

Yes, kind of obvious that I am big fan of action movies with guys that can hold their own.

Some of recommendations are the following from the 80s 90s, in no specific order

Stallone
First Blood, Rambo II, Rambo III, Over The Top, Cobra, Rocky, Rocky II, Rocky, III, Rocky IV, Tango & Cash, Lock Up, Cliffhanger, Demolition Man, Assassins,
Schwarzenegger
Commando, The Terminator, Terminator 2, Predator, Raw Deal, Red Heat, Conan The Barbarian, Conan The Destroyer, True Lies, Total Recall,
Van Damme
Blood Sport, Kick Boxer, A.W.O.L, Universal Solider, Hard Target, Time Cop, Double Impact, Double Team
Seagal
Nico, Hard To Kill, Under Siege, Above The Law, Marked for Death, Out For Justice,
Other Classics
Showdown In Little Tokyo, The Crow, Red Scorpion, Missing In Action, Missing In Action II, The Delta Force, Escape From New York, Best Of The Best, Action Jackson, Police Story, Police Story II, Hard Boiled, Con Air, The Rock, Face/Off, Broken Arrow, Die Hard, Die Hard 2, Die Hard 3
 
LOL - Well, I guess it is called Ask The Hitman. :p

Yes, kind of obvious that I am big fan of action movies with guys that can hold their own.

Some of recommendations are the following from the 80s 90s, in no specific order

Stallone
First Blood, Rambo II, Rambo III, Over The Top, Cobra, Rocky, Rocky II, Rocky, III, Rocky IV, Tango & Cash, Lock Up, Cliffhanger, Demolition Man, Assassins,
Schwarzenegger
Commando, The Terminator, Terminator 2, Predator, Raw Deal, Red Heat, Conan The Barbarian, Conan The Destroyer, True Lies, Total Recall,
Van Damme
Blood Sport, Kick Boxer, A.W.O.L, Universal Solider, Hard Target, Time Cop, Double Impact, Double Team
Seagal
Nico, Hard To Kill, Under Siege, Above The Law, Marked for Death, Out For Justice,
Other Classics
Showdown In Little Tokyo, The Crow, Red Scorpion, Missing In Action, Missing In Action II, The Delta Force, Escape From New York, Best Of The Best, Action Jackson, Police Story, Police Story II, Hard Boiled, Con Air, The Rock, Face/Off, Broken Arrow, Die Hard, Die Hard 2, Die Hard 3
Where's Hercules in New York? ;)

I will check out some of these - plenty I haven't seen.
 
Seagal was so hot for a while, no doubt. Put a good run together.

''I'm going to take you to the bank, senator Trent. To the blood bank.... (add awesome sound effect.)

One of the great one-liners. I saw it rated as one of the lamest one-liners in a few polls. Proof that people know nothing.
 
LOL - Well, I guess it is called Ask The Hitman. :p

Yes, kind of obvious that I am big fan of action movies with guys that can hold their own.

Some of recommendations are the following from the 80s 90s, in no specific order

Stallone
First Blood, Rambo II, Rambo III, Over The Top, Cobra, Rocky, Rocky II, Rocky, III, Rocky IV, Tango & Cash, Lock Up, Cliffhanger, Demolition Man, Assassins,
Schwarzenegger
Commando, The Terminator, Terminator 2, Predator, Raw Deal, Red Heat, Conan The Barbarian, Conan The Destroyer, True Lies, Total Recall,
Van Damme
Blood Sport, Kick Boxer, A.W.O.L, Universal Solider, Hard Target, Time Cop, Double Impact, Double Team
Seagal
Nico, Hard To Kill, Under Siege, Above The Law, Marked for Death, Out For Justice,
Other Classics
Showdown In Little Tokyo, The Crow, Red Scorpion, Missing In Action, Missing In Action II, The Delta Force, Escape From New York, Best Of The Best, Action Jackson, Police Story, Police Story II, Hard Boiled, Con Air, The Rock, Face/Off, Broken Arrow, Die Hard, Die Hard 2, Die Hard 3
 

Hitman

Bionic Poster
Hi, first apologies to everyone for the delay in answering your questions. The AO, along with travelling consumed a lot of my time. So, lets get on with it.

@Hitman what is the relationship between b12 and stomach acid? Is there any relationship between them? Also do you have any natural remedies to improve stomach acid? Looks like I have low stomach acid and that's the root cause of all my digestive issues
OK, gastric stomach acid is produced by what are known as gastric proton pumps that line the stomach wall. Hydrogen protons are basically what gastric acid is made of, and in many people this gastric proton pump is not efficient at moving hydrogen protons through the cellular structure of the cells and out into the gastric cavity. Vitamin B12 is found in many food sources, but to break it away from the food that is consumed, it needs to be in a highly acidic environment, in other words, the lower the pH in the stomach, the higher the concentration of protons, the more effectively vitamin B12 can be broken away.

Once Vitamin B12 is broken away, it binds to something called intrinsic factor protein, which then carries it through into the small intestines, where it is then absorbed through the microvilli of the intestine wall. A lack of gastric acid, this process is not as efficient as it should be.

How do you improve things? There are two ways. The first is to look at how effectively you can help whatever vitamin B12 that does manage to be broken away, can bind to intrinsic factor protein by having calcium supplements. This can lead to a marked increase in the overall efficiency, even with lower stomach acid. In regards to increasing stomach acid, then focus on cleaning up the diet, eating lots of green vegetables and fermented vegetables, acidic fruits also help in this process. You should also cut down on excess sugar, salt, and artificial additives to help better regulate your gastric acid and help the proton pumps in your stomach wall work better.
 

Hitman

Bionic Poster
@Hitman
Perhaps a shallow question, but what muscles should you be targetting most frequently when working out from most important (like chest muscles ?) to least important (biceps??) to look sexy in the upper body, like in a short sleeved T-shirt or polo for example? I'm guessing the size of muscles would have to look proportional to one another instead of having a huge chest but skinny everywhere else.
Like a Muhammad Ali but not that big haha


Also, is simply doing pull-ups and push-ups enough to cover the upper body in terms of working out the "important" muscles?
If you look for that look, then chest, shoulders, back and then arms in that sequence. Never neglect what the impact of what good shoulders can do for you, they frame your body, create that wide strong look and help make your waist look smaller in T-shirts.

In regards to what exercises you should do, that really depends on how your body responds. You may be a mesomorph with great genetics who only needs to throw in a few pull ups and pushups and looks good, or you may be an ectomorph and be a hard gainer, struggling to put on muscle. Keep in mind also, everyone responds differently, and while there is an overall baseline, your chest may develop better than mine doing push ups, but my anterior deltoids might develop better than yours doing the same thing.

Keeping a decent diet is important also, and also knowing that body very quickly adapts. So, for instance, you may need to go from standard push ups for a week, to decline push ups for the next week, just to get that stimulus. Training is always about changing the variables, intensity, and execution of the workout, even if all you want to do is impress people in your T-shirt.
 

Hitman

Bionic Poster
@Hitman
What would say is a healthy alternative to margarine/butter as a spread on toast.
I was thinking about almond butter but I don’t know if that’s actually healthy or not.

Also what’s your opinion on flaxseeds. Im thinking of incorporating it into my diet but is there any benefit of it.

Thanks.
I will say this, avoid margarine at all costs, never ever use it. It is one of the worst things you can ever put into your body, it is so bad, that not even flies will touch it...and it is one molecule away from being classified as a plastic. So to everyone reading, never ever use margarine.

Butter on the hand, and I mean organic grass fed butter is full of MCTs, Medium Chain Triglyericdes, these are fats that actually help promote the burning of body fat, by helping open the receptors on adipose tissue that store fats, and then help the mobilisation of fats by moving them into the liver and muscle cells, so they can be broken down for energy. MCTs also help with what is known as the emulsification of your gut, in other words, they help your intestines absorb fat soluble vitamins such A, D which is needed to help produce testosterone and burn fat as well as help with healthy bone cell maturation, and K with helps with fighting off free radical production and keeps your skin looking youthful, lets not also forget MCTs help fight of the ageing of the brain and help with memory retention....So as you can see there are benefits for having it, just have it in moderation, in relation to your daily caloric consumption.

I eat it twice a week, and instantly feel the benefits.

Now, almond butter...yes it is a very good alternative. I personally don't use it very often, only when I want to add something to celery and peppers salad, due to the fact I eat a lot of almonds anyway, but it is very good alternative.

Flax seeds are good as a supplement, the main objective is to lower the bad cholesterol in your blood, by reducing the production of what are known VLDLs or Very Light Dense Lipoproteins that don't take cholesterol to the liver, but allow it to build up in the arterial walls. So for a healthy heart, they are good, ideal way would be combine them with steal cuts oats, which also work to fight bad cholesterol.
 

Hitman

Bionic Poster
@Hitman when I do push-ups, it causes some discomfort and pain in my right elbow where I've previously had tennis elbow.

Any thoughts on how to avoid that? What's a good alternative to a push up?
I know the feeling, I have been there.

Now there are many ways to do push ups, and one of the one that worked for me, a slightly more advanced level, is to do knuckle push ups with the elbows perpendicular to the body, elbows tucked as closely in towards the trunk, lowering down slowly so you feel the stretch of the muscle fibres and then going back to the start position, but never locking out at the top. This will keep the tension in your triceps, shoulders, and chest, as the blood starts to flow through your body, starting increasing the pace and use the momentum to continue to achieve that pump in your upper body. This has gotten me through periods where my elbows were hurting from repetitive movement, allowing me to still keep my stamina and endurance while doing active recovery. Give it a try and let me know how that feels for you, we can tweak a few things if need be.
 

Hitman

Bionic Poster
Update on my results wiith the workout @Hitman gave me a couple months ago. I have stuck to the same workout. Progress has slowed down but I was also traveling for the holidays and had less sleep and time to workout.

Next goal will be to try and get down to about 12 or 13% BF. Not sure how long it will take as I am not super strict on diet. Mostly eat what I like to eat. My diet is fairly healthy, though, IMO.

Using Omron bodyfat scale/handheld electric measuring thing.
Nov 7, 2018:
height: 182.5 cm
weight: 74.4 kg
bodyfat %: 17.3 %

Dec 17, 2018:
weight: 74.3 kg
bodyfat %: 15.7 %

Jan 25, 2019:
weight: 74.6 kg
bodyfat %: 15.3 %

The Omron scale is probably not that accurate, but the gym I go to has one so I used it.

*Notes:
  • I was traveling for close to a month for the holidays. This included a stretch of not exercising or going to the gym for close to two weeks. Overall, I probably ate more than usual and even went to a few buffets during the vacation.
  • Although I have not been doing any cardio outside of the workout from @Hitman , my endurance on a tennis court seems to be okay. Played singles twice and didn't feel that tired during or the day after. On the other hand, I was not running full speed, either, since my knee is still not quite 100% healed. Getting closer every day.
  • I still don't go to complete failure on squats and bench even though I do them in a squat rack with safety bars. I just go until I feel like my form will start to deteriorate. I will start trying to gradually push closer to failure.
Good to see you are making progress. Keep in mind that the lower you go, the more important the diet becomes. Low body fat is more about what you put on your plate than it is about what you do in the gym, especially when you are trying to push below 12 %. Start putting more emphasis on the diet aspect....remember that is 80% of the puzzle, so it is not something you want to overlook in any way.
 
Good to see you are making progress. Keep in mind that the lower you go, the more important the diet becomes. Low body fat is more about what you put on your plate than it is about what you do in the gym, especially when you are trying to push below 12 %. Start putting more emphasis on the diet aspect....remember that is 80% of the puzzle, so it is not something you want to overlook in any way.
Not sure where I can improve my diet.
I'll try writing down what I eat for the next week to keep track.
 
I know the feeling, I have been there.

Now there are many ways to do push ups, and one of the one that worked for me, a slightly more advanced level, is to do knuckle push ups with the elbows perpendicular to the body, elbows tucked as closely in towards the trunk, lowering down slowly so you feel the stretch of the muscle fibres and then going back to the start position, but never locking out at the top. This will keep the tension in your triceps, shoulders, and chest, as the blood starts to flow through your body, starting increasing the pace and use the momentum to continue to achieve that pump in your upper body. This has gotten me through periods where my elbows were hurting from repetitive movement, allowing me to still keep my stamina and endurance while doing active recovery. Give it a try and let me know how that feels for you, we can tweak a few things if need be.
That sounds good. Could you find a pictures or video to illustrate?
 
If you look for that look, then chest, shoulders, back and then arms in that sequence. Never neglect what the impact of what good shoulders can do for you, they frame your body, create that wide strong look and help make your waist look smaller in T-shirts.

In regards to what exercises you should do, that really depends on how your body responds. You may be a mesomorph with great genetics who only needs to throw in a few pull ups and pushups and looks good, or you may be an ectomorph and be a hard gainer, struggling to put on muscle. Keep in mind also, everyone responds differently, and while there is an overall baseline, your chest may develop better than mine doing push ups, but my anterior deltoids might develop better than yours doing the same thing.

Keeping a decent diet is important also, and also knowing that body very quickly adapts. So, for instance, you may need to go from standard push ups for a week, to decline push ups for the next week, just to get that stimulus. Training is always about changing the variables, intensity, and execution of the workout, even if all you want to do is impress people in your T-shirt.
Thank you again hitman
 
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