Category Archives: Weights

Gym Survival Tips

I think I’ve found the cure to my anemic weight training sessions: stay warm and listen to good music.

I used to thoroughly enjoy gym sessions. With a gym filled with interesting members of the opposite sex, determined athletes from a variety of sports and knowledgeable mentors, who wouldn’t? I could stay for hours at length at the good ole Marco Lorenzo Weights Room without a whimper.

But now that I train alone (and at a regular fitness gym at that), weight training has become problematic. Instead of intense training sessions, my gym routine has been but a shadow of its old self. Even if I’m intrinsically motivated (a phrase I have long since over-used!), the fact remains that the Celeb Gym and its environs isn’t conducive for athletics training. Hence, a steady sense of subtle resentment has brewed underneath. Nowadays, I almost always feel something short of dread at the thought of another weight training session.

This shouldn’t be the case. Resistance training is an integral part of every athlete’s regimen and shouldn’t be taken for granted. Taking note of the following pointers might help:


From experience, the best way to fight gym dullness is to listen to a wide variety of music. My personal choices gravitate around old school rock, modern hits and time-tested love songs. But mind you, one cannot possibly listen to a music player all throughout. It is best to alternate between watching a badass sports show, music and periods of silence.


The warm-up is integral. For the past months, I’ve been doing my warm-ups on a stationary bike wearing a slim-fitting tank top. In the air-conditioned gym, this combination is time-consuming and relatively ineffective. In my effort to rush through my training, I’ve neglected this important phase. Note to self: wear a jacket or a windbreaker!


One cannot do the same routine day in and day out. Being self-coached, it’s a struggle to come up with innovative workouts with my limited knowledge. Time constraints also hamper the need for variety. Thus, I keep things simple, opting to follow clear-cut themes (dumb bell days, barbell days, body weight days, etc.) to fight monotony. Time-saving routines like super sets, compound sets and circuits are my favorites.

Beautiful Strangers

There’s no better training booster than an attractive female. Such sights are rarities at my gym. Every time a beautiful stranger graces the weights room, I get an instant jolt of strength. My intrinsically motivated self is propped up by extrinsic factors!

With these pointers in mind, I’m hoping to make the most out of my time as I set my sights on being the best hurdler I can be. The proverbially rough road ahead will be worth the effort when the opportune time comes. Things could have been much worse, so I’m learning to count and appreciate my blessings and make the most out of the circumstances.


Circuitous (29-30 July 2011)

I started the week with a bang, but lost steam in the middle. A typhoon and a simmering bout with colds necessitated bed rest. A crucial football game, believe it or not, made me skip last Thursday’s training.

The two-day hiatus did wonders to my body and mind. By the time I got back on Friday, I was eager to train again. Gone was the feeling of subtle staleness that had haunted the workouts of the past days. My left leg, which I mildly strained the week before, was back in tip-top shape.

Since it was loading week, I made the workouts extra harder. I had three training sessions in a span of two days – which was a relatively heavy load in light of my full-time day job and weekend morning classes. I did speed endurance work on Friday night.

After class in Makati the morning after, I headed out to good ole Rizal Memorial for a badass session of hurdle drills and some light speed work. I had a high quality hurdles session. I was focused entirely on the task at hand, trying to correct the deficiencies in my form. I practically had the entire Rizal Memorial Stadium to myself, until my friend Ninoy came in. Two hours later, I rode the train, the jeep and drove all the way to Celebrity Club in Quezon City for a gym workout to top the tiring day!

Despite shuttling between a classroom and two different training venues from opposite ends of the vast concrete jungle of Metro Manila, I had great fun!

Balancing Act (23 February 2011)

I left the office at precisely 5:00 PM yesterday. I caught the rush hour MRT surprisingly early. I arrived at the Trinoma station by 6:15 PM. The drive to Ateneo took just 30 minutes, due to the relatively light traffic. I was amazed at how the uncontrolled forces of Manila traffic cooperated in what was supposed to be a hectic night of training. I missed out on two consecutive days of training due to lack of sleep.

Yesterday, I wanted to try something new (for my work night routine) by combining a track workout with a quick gym session – all in one night. This might not be much for full-time athletes or student-athletes even, but for a passionate sprint hurdler with a friggin’ day job, this is a major innovation!

Since I lift weights at a friggin’ fitness gym, wide open spaces for sprints and plyo’s are impossible to find in the venue. And because I’m too stingy to cough out additional cash for a gym membership in my old collegiate training base in Ateneo, I have to make do with the fitness gym. But then again, the Celebrity Club and Ateneo are just a few minutes’ drive from each other – if traffic cooperates!

I did running drills and sprints for around 40 minutes at the Moro indoor track. I loved the feeling of actually sprinting on a running track (instead of making do with the roads near my home). I was at the gym by 8:00 PM, after a surprisingly hassle free 12-minute drive. Not wanting to stay up too late, I cut short the gym workout by 9:15 PM.

It was somewhat proud of my juggling act at the end of it all. Since I got home a little past 10:00 PM, it took quite some time for body to fully digest the recovery meal, and to shed off the effects of a potent endorphin high. Hence, I slept at around 1:00 AM and woke up around 5 hours later, two hours less than the bare minimum!

This is a work in progress. I’d have to take care of my recovery if I’m to find some measure of success in this balancing act.

Circuits (19 and 21 January 2011)

Ever since college, base training meant circuit weights. Among other variations of resistance exercises, I consider circuits the most difficult. Unlike, say, competition phase Olympic lifts where a track athlete has ample time of recovery time in between the high intensity sets, circuits involve much shorter rest time. It’s a double whammy of sorts, where both endurance and resistance compound the difficulty of the workout!

Back in my college track & field days, I drew additional strength and inspiration from my hardcore teammates (as well as the pretty athletes from other sports!). Being motivated enough to finish a grueling circuits routine by Coach Aris Manalo wasn’t a problem at all. Now that I train solo, the urge to slack off becomes ever so strong. And since I’m no longer around determined collegiate athletes, I am hard-pressed to say that my workout environment is conducive for high performance

Nevertheless, I had fun in the last two weight training sessions. Coming from off-season, the endurance routine did much to slap some sense into my lazy body. It helped that the gym was relatively less packed than usual. Listening to my favorite pump-up songs pushed me to do better.

Until I finish my long-delayed 2011 Macrocycle (woohoo! I sound so scientific) in around 2 weeks, I’ll be crafting variations of circuit routines to build a strong fitness base for the upcoming athletics season.

Circuit 1 (19 Jan 2011) – 15 reps x 2 sets

Front squat


Leg lifts

DB row

Leg curl on SB


Calf raises

Circuit 2 (21 Jan 2011) – 15 reps x 2 sets


Deep squats

DB chest press

Jack knife

Upright row


Leg lifts

Alt. bicep curl

Triceps push back



Rolling With The Punches (14 – 16 January 2011)

My weight training session last Friday was geared towards preparing my body for last Saturday’s ABL game. Since I have yet to craft out the bad-ass track training program I’ve been harping about, I settled for a light gym/plyo workout. I didn’t want to over-exert myself, opting instead for a straightforward 20-minute slow jog, 15-minutes at the stationary bike and a 30-minute core session. Afterward, I did a short and straightforward weights routine, just to tone the muscles for the hoops battle ahead.

And it worked. I felt rejuvenated after sleeping for around 8 hours the night before the game. My performance at the game itself was a lot better than my ABL season debut, in terms of physical fitness that is. But when it came to tangible basketball performance, I couldn’t seem to translate my conditioning into actual statistics. But then again, basketball is a team sport. The game goes beyond personal statistics (more on this in later posts).

I was used sparingly throughout the game, in light of my mediocre performance. Nevertheless, I did a much better job in keeping up with the fast pace of an ABL game. Instead of feeling drained as I did the first game, I had so much more juice left in me as the final whistle blew.

After Saturday night’s hoops debacle, where our basketball squad lost by around 15 points, I’ve had enough of basketball. The expectations I put on myself was just way too much for my mediocre skills. I needed a dose of reality, to go back the sport I’m good at – athletics.

I had a good long run last Sunday afternoon. Nothing beats running at the good old Ateneo campus. I know every nook and cranny of the place, having spent a good chunk of my teenage years and young adulthood at the Hill. Moreover, the chilly afternoon air was refreshing. I didn’t tire out much, thanks to the relatively-less humid air. I ran for a good 18 minutes and did light running drills and plyometrics afterward.

Despite the 15-point ABL shutout (and other much bigger personal hurdles), this weekend’s training sessions turned out well. Although the fate of my 2011 athletics season – and my much-delayed comeback – lies uncertain due to the aforesaid barriers, I’ll be keeping my options open and just roll with the punches.

Core Strength (5 January 2011)

I’m gradually shifting from vacation mode to training mode. I went back to the gym last Wednesday, opting for a straightforward, core-intensive workout. Since I absolutely hate running on treadmills (especially when there’s no mirror in front and no gorgeous ladies beside me!), I settled for the good ole stationary bike. It takes twice as long to warm-up on these contraptions, but the change in setting is refreshing.

I must admit that I had neglected my core last season. I breezed through my core routines (bridges, Swiss ball exercises, lumberjacks, etc.), opting to cut corners in my workout. After all, one of the best facets of my body is my above average core strength – back in college, 3 years ago! Since I almost always train alone, it took quite some time before some well-meaning fellow track athletes pointed out an unwanted deficiency in my sprinting form. Instead of keeping a stable center of gravity, shoulders and hips throughout the sprint, I tended to wobble from side-to-side.

A few years back, such a glaring error in form was unthinkable, in light of the time I spent doing running drills and core strength exercises.

Hence, I fought off the urge for a quick fix. Instead of doing merely 2 sets, I did three sets of bridges (with 20kg and 10kg plates) for 45 seconds to a minute. Afterward, I did simulated lumberjack exercises using a 25-lb dumbbell. It was tiring but definitely worth it. At the end of my core routine, I felt like walking around topless amidst the crowded Boracay beach (or maybe not)!

Core workout:




Lateral hops

Modified box jumps

Gym workout:

Push-ups with clap + DB Chest Fly

Deep squats

Reverse barbell row + Single-leg shoulder press


Some Off-Season Updates (26 December 2010)

Aside from an intense pick-up game last Saturday, I’ve been sedentary for the last 10 days. It’s refreshing not to chase after times or rush from work to training.Despite the relatively light workout load, one can’t help but feel stale after 10 months.

Since I slept at around 10:00 PM last night, I woke up at 5:30 AM. It felt great not having to rush to work! I took my time getting dressed for the gym.

I decided to do some core drills at the gym, just to wake up my dormant body. I didn’t do anything intensive. I just went over a few of the drills I remembered from Simon Hunt’s informative pre-season workout routine. In the coming weeks, I’ll be putting much emphasis on core strength – the main deficiency of my post-comeback sprinting form. I’ll be doing my utmost best to design a bad-ass training program for the upcoming track & field season.

In fact, I shelved the customary warm-up run for the stationary bike, just to keep things from being monotonous.

I intend to sprint more like Carl Lewis than Christophe Lemaitre!

I topped off the easy morning workout with light upper body weights and some ab exercises.

Rising up (28 and 29 November 2010)

I had loads of fun the past two training days. Despite feeling a bit sore from the unforgiving 360 Fitness Club Boot Camp, I forced myself to go to Moro last Sunday afternoon. I wasn’t keen on doing anything too strenuous.

I ran around the Ateneo campus just to loosen up my legs. I look forward to these rare campus runs. Since I’m almost always nocturnal when it comes to training, basking under the sun’s warmth is a rare opportunity.

Read “Long Runs at the Hill”

Unfortunately, the overcast skies weren’t apt for me to wear my prescription shades! I did some light starts work afterward, just to polish some technical matters ahead of my first and last 100m dash race on the 11th of December.

I woke up this morning after a good 7 hours worth of sleep. The soreness of the weekend debacle was all gone. I was pumped-up to head out to the gym. I didn’t have to wake up early since it was a holiday. I really do miss early morning training sessions! It reminded me of the days when I listened to Oasis’ “Morning Glory” (got this from Goal, the movie) before heading out to Rizal or Ultra back in my college days.

As always, the gym was devoid of attractive single ladies. It was more crowded than the night shift. It got even more packed when the young guns from the Ateneo High School Track Team arrived! I didn’t complain, though. I just love lifting with fellow track & field athletes (even if I hardly know the new faces of the AHS track squad!). It’s a refreshing change from the usual gym habitues I’m accustomed too.

All-in-all, the past two days were quite productive. It’s good to know that I’m still pretty much in shape, despite some real life hurdles. I’m all set for my 2010 season debut – and finale!

Video credit:


Track workout (28 Nov 2010)

1km run

Running drills

3x50m starts

Gym/plyo workout (29 Nov 2010)

Core on swiss ball


Shoulder press

Bicep curls/tricep kickback


Deep squats

Plyometric step-ups

Back (24 November 2010)

I went back to training last night, after a 6 days of forced rest. I felt in shape and, of course, well-rested. When I got to the gym, I realized that I left my iPod Shuffle at home. Without my musical companion, I was hard-pressed to get into the zone, in light of my family’s off-track woes. The complete absence of music at the newly-renovated gym exacerbated the struggle.

The silence was, as the cliche goes, deafening.

Nevertheless, the workout was of the highest quality. I had just about the right level of aggression in me, as shown by how fiercely I went through the cleans. As I went about doing the Olympic lift, I was deeply grunting throughout – aiming to execute the explosive movement as efficiently as possible. And it felt great doing those familiar exercises again.

I also did a few sets of plyometrics, just to wake my dormant legs. Since I had more than my fair of rest the past few week, my legs felt truly fresh.

Moreover, I’m back up to 150 lbs – Antonio Margarito’s fighting weight – from around 146 lbs a week earlier.

It was a short yet intense workout. It’s good to know that I’m still in shape.

Just in time (15 and 16 November 2010)

I must admit that my week-long layoff put me in a bind. My bout with illness, alcohol and my dad’s untimely affliction stunted an already feeble pre-competition confidence level. Since I work full-time for local investment house by day, I train mostly at night. In terms of volume, my training load nowadays is around 60 to 65% compared to my college days. As an athlete who relies on technique and hard work, rather than pure talent, such a deficit naturally elicits signs of alarm.

But then again, I must make do with what I have. I’m still thankful for being given a second shot at the sport I love!

The training sessions since my recovery had unexpectedly gone well, despite the layoff. Last Monday’s track session was intense. The first few reps of the hurdles workout was quite rusty. Gradually, I reached the proverbial “zone.” The hundreds (or thousands?) of hours I spent honing my hurdling had programmed the movements of hurdling quite well. I’m proud to say that I’ve mastered the junior hurdles! In the next hurdling session this Saturday (or Tuesday), I’ll be trying out the senior hurdles.

If things go according to plan, I might just make it in time for 4 Dec 2010 for my hurdling debut. I must make the most out of the small window of opportunity.

Track workout (15 November 2010)

2×1 hurdles (junior)

4×4 hurdles (junior)

3x100m dash (flying starts, 100%)

Gym workout (16 November 2010)

Bridges on Swiss ball

Full Bubkas


Pull-ups + Push-ups with sidewards clap on MB

Scissor jumps


Various ab exercises

A Spanking New Gym (12 November 2010)

Since I do not have coaches and trainers, I have to design my own training routines by combining my old workouts with whatever innovations I had picked up from reputable sources.

Monotony is a potent enemy for the self-trained, solitary athlete that I am.

In the past months, I’ve battled constantly with boredom in my weight training routines. Mind you, the staleness do not emanate from the exercises that I do. Rather, the environment is the main culprit.  Despite avowals of minding one’s own business, one’s gym mates are bound to make an impact one way or another.

Looking back, my exuberant teammates (as well as the multitude of athletically pleasing athletes from the opposite sex!) did much in creating an gym atmosphere conducive to performance enhancement. Nowadays I work out in a regular fitness gym; hence, rarely do I encounter elite athletes.

The renovation of the Celebrity Club gym somehow assuaged the monotony. I worked out at the spruced up fitness center last Friday. I felt like a kid on Christmas Day trying out the new equipment. Joaquin Ferrer, a rising young turk from the vaunted Ateneo High School track team was also there, helping much in setting an athletics mood.

Despite the cramped confines (which made it harder to do indoor plyo’s), the Life Fitness and Ziva equipment were state-of-the-art – a far cry from the old gym. In my biased  opinion, no gym in the Philippines can ever measure up to the Marco Lorenzo Weights Room (in Moro), but I’m very much happy at this major development!

My favorite addition is, without a doubt, the pull up bar. For far too long, I’ve made do with an improvised bar. Thanks to the spanking new pull-up bar, I was able to do full Bubkas (my favorite core workout!) again for the first time in years!

Gym workout:


Full Bubkas


Split squats + pull-ups

Alt. DB press + standing LJ

Bicep/Tricep curl + modified box jumps

Refreshed! (25 October 2010)

I had a great weights session yesterday. I just love it when Mondays are declared holidays. It rids the first day of the week of that negative mystique it so strongly exudes. After having my car checked (my Lancer needs new shocks!), I went to the gym to lift weights and do some plyo’s.

Since it was a holiday, the gym was more crowded than usual. I was still somewhat dazed at the lack of mirrors in Celeb. I’ve gotten used to looking at my form (or simply looking at myself) during workouts. It helped that there was this shy-looking Filipino-Chinese girl working out. I just love it when an attractive female is nearby – I get a solid performance boost!

I started off with the customary plyo’s. Since I had all day train, the workout wasn’t a frenzy of quick, straight-to-the-point exercises. This was refreshing. The quality of the plyo’s were encouraging. It’s a pity that the gym doesn’t have room for hurdles or space for bounding.

Afterward, I did cleans. In light of my weeks-long break from doing Olympic lifts (due to a sprained pinkie!), I lifted lighter than my usual load.

All-in-all, it was a fine training session. Thanks to three days of full sleep, I’ve recovered from the sluggish feeling brought about by sleep-deprivation.


Standing long jump


Modified box jumps

Gym workout:



Squats + alternative DB chest press

Leg curls + calf raises

Various ab exercises

Severely Sprained Pinkie (11 October 2010)

I lifted weights last Monday. Since the guys over at Celeb are in the process of transferring the old gym to a new spot, the premises were devoid of vanity mirrors. I must admit that it was a little bit disorienting. Mirrors seem to create the illusion of space, making the workout quite easier.

I had my left pinkie checked that afternoon. Thank heavens nothing was broken or dislocated! It was just a really bad sprain. I tried doing my favorite Olympic lift, thinking that since I had my right pinkie buddy strapped to the next finger I’d have a much easier time doing the lift. It turned out that the limited flexibility of the left pinkie makes it harder to endure the pressure brought about by the recovery phase of the cleans.

For the 2nd straight week, I settled pushing exercises, single-jointed lower body exercises and plyometrics. My body is yearning for the good ole Olympic lifts!

Gym/Plyometric workout:

Bench press + standing long jump

Squats + lateral raise

Leg curls

Various ab exercises

Fresh Air (22-23 September 2010)

Headed out to the Celeb Gym last Wednesday to do some explosive lifts and plyometric exercises. As usual, I kept it short and straightforward, not wanting to spend too much time at the gym in light of my limited hours.

When I got to the gym, I saw “Out of Order” signs on two of the 6 remaining treadmills. The gym used to have a full complement of around 12 treadmills for the past 4 to 5 years. Wear and tear had caused the number of available machines to steadily decline – quite inconvenient for warm-up purposes. With the amount of money one churns in for club membership, I often wonder why the gym equipment remain relatively substandard.

In the past months, I’ve rekindled a love for plyometrics. The exercises that require momentary flight is uniquely challenging. It relieves the boredom of my training venue and, at times, my training routine.  I was supposed to do a depth jump + box jump combo, but the lack of plyometric boxes made it impossible to do so. In fact, I had to improvise (putting a low wooden box over plastic aerobic steps) just to have a platform high enough for my workout goals.

I’m seriously considering donating equipment to gym.

I kept the weight training part short, since I was running out of time (I long to return to those hours-long sessions of the past!). I had difficulty doing cleans, a consequence of past interruptions of my training. There were some details in my form that I wanted to iron out, like the way I step back each time I catch the barbell on the way down. I guess I just have to lighten up the load just to fix these deficiencies.

As you’ve read from my past training logs, I’ve been getting quite stale lately. I decided to play some basketball last night with the other traders and brokers, just to breath some fresh air into my increasingly monotonous regimen. Although I still sucked at the hoops game, I was quite pleased at my explosiveness. I’m starting to reap the benefits of plyos and Olympic lifts.


Box jumps

Scissor jumps

Gym workout


Single-leg shoulder press

Hamstring curl

Various ab exercises

Power cleans (10 August 2010)

Just came from a good gym workout. Since I started a bit late, I scrapped the plyometrics from my program and headed straight to the Olympic lifts, after the customary warm-up and core exercises.

I did 3 sets of 8-9 reps of power cleans.

I lifted a humble 60kg, quite far off from my body weight of 68kg. I’m not satisfied with my form yet, especially with the pulling phase. My footwork is also erratic, as I tend to shuffle my feet backwards after a lift. But then again, I have all the time in the world to improve my strength and form. My quads are hurting now because of the impact of the barbell!

I was fortunate that my brother decided to tag along; hence, I had someone to take videos of my lifts.

Overall, it was a time-efficient workout, where I utilized compound sets and super sets to the maximum. I limited my gym time to a little over an hour.

Gym workout:

Power cleans (3×8-9)

Bench press + Abs (3×8)

Deep squat + pull-ups + lateral hops (3×10)

Various ab exercises

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