The road to fitness is paved with unracked plates

So, recently, I’ve been into fitness. And by that, I mean I’ve been hitting the gym religiously for almost a year. It has become one of my priorities at this point in my life. I started consistently attending from November 2013 until now. To be honest, I didn’t expect to be this attracted to working out because I am naturally a lazy person. But seeing results motivated me to sticking to it and now I can’t stop. This post is going to be about how I inadvertently found my passion in the gym.


Part One: High School

I’d like to let you guys know firsthand that I am not a complete beginner in the gym. My first time to enter a weightlifting gym was during my second year of high school. Initially, it was my mother who went there, but she invited me to come along. I wasn’t consistent, but for about two months every year, I went to the gym throughout high school. This was the typical beginner phase. I did all the upper body exercises and none of the lower body exercises. It was just a couple of my friends and me, climbing up and down the stairs 50 times during summer and then doing some dumbbell exercises and most of all, Ab exercises. One of my main reasons for going to the gym was just to get some visible abs (vanity, I know). After that, we’d go home and eat or sleep the day away. So, naturally, there wasn’t much results.  At the end of High School, my stats were:

  • Squat: Didn’t do this at all (Trainer tried to teach me, but I was too uncomfortable even with just the bar. Bitched out.)
  • Deadlift: Didn’t do this at all (scoffed at my cousin who did this because he was just doing 3 reps per set. Little did I know…)
  • Bench Press: 50lbs x 10 reps (Probably the exercise I did the most along with dumbbell presses and flyes)
  • Overhead Press: Didn’t do this at all (My shoulder exercises consisted of lateral dumbbell raises and front dumbbell raises)
  • Barbell Curls, Dumbbell Curls, Concentration Curls: LOTS AND LOTS BRUH BECAUSE BICEPS
  • Ab Exercises: Maximum Crunches Maximum Reps, Minimum Results

Part Deux: College

The next time I set foot inside the gym was when I took Physical Fitness for Men as my PE. This was during my 2nd year in college. Again, I wasn’t taking things too seriously. I did all that was required of me, mostly jogging and pull-ups. Just like in high school, I didn’t do much lower body exercises because I thought all that running was enough to compensate. After passing the PE with a high grade, I stopped going to the gym for two years. In my final year of college, I looked at my flabby tummy and thought that maybe it was time to do some iron worship again. I called two of my close friends to come with me and work out. And so we did. For about a year, we regularly exercised about thrice a week. A few gains were added because I got an approved program from one of my friends who was already into lifting. However, after Christmas, we got lazy again and stopped until we graduated. My college stats were:

  • Squat: Still not doing it, man. (Never really thought about doing it. No one really recommended it.)
  • Deadlift: 100lbs x 10 reps (Finally did it upon recommendation from my friend. My form was horrendous though and stopped after a few months of doing this to go back to curls and presses)
  • Bench Press: 100lbs x 10 reps
  • Overhead Press: Still not doing it. (Dumbbell lateral and front raise masterrace)
  • Leg Press: 290lbs x 12 reps (The only leg exercise I did because it was part of the final examination)
  • Ab Exercises: Did the 300 Ab Workout religiously. Still not getting much ab visibility though.

Part Tres: Das Working Life

I got fat after college. So when I was finally employed and my co-worker invited me to go to the gym near the office, I said yes. I tried to remember my program in college and did it for a few months, but finally, I decided to take things to another level. I wasn’t as healthy as I was in college and I could feel the effects. So I told myself to stop quitting, because starting over is way harder. This was the time when I told myself that fitness is gonna be a big part of my life. It was a bruise to my ego going from being able to do 15 pull ups to zero. It wasn’t easy to start from the bottom again, but I was determined not to stay there. My first legit program was StrongLifts5x5. I found it on the internet with lots of great reviews. Plus subscribing to the newsletter was hilarious because Mehdi writes great emails (lol). Eventually, I looked for another program that has a 4-a-week setting and landed on PHUL. After a few months, I missed doing deadlifts and squats too much and made a 4-day program that revolved around these workouts, combining parts of the previous two programs. As of this writing, my stats are:

  • Squat: 195lbs x 6 reps (I finally did it! As penance to my years of zero leg days, I squatted a lot. And while it was difficult at first, it is now one of my favorite exercises to do)
  • Deadlift: 260lbs x 3 reps (My favorite exercise to do, although my grip disappoints me. How could an exercise called a deadlift make me feel so alive?)
  • Bench Press: 150lbs x 5 reps
  • Overhead Press: 95lbs x 5 reps (This is my hardest exercise to progress on. Difficult but still so primal. Finally got past my favorite lateral raises)
  • Ab Exercises: I’m now doing circuits of dumbbell side bends, weighted decline crunches, cable crunches, and leg raises. Squats and deadlifts usually take care of my core enough, though.
  • Diet: I’m eating healthier food. I get my protein mostly from eggs, chicken breasts and whey protein powder. I have high uric acid levels so I have to be careful on my protein consumption. But changing my diet was probably the biggest factor that led to gains.

So there you have it. Currently I’m almost a year into this fitness thing, give or take a few weeks. I am still a beginner; an egg in the land of chickens, but I’m always on the lookout for new things to learn in fitness. If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading. I would also like to invite you to try exercising, if you aren’t already. Maybe you want to slim down, or to “tone” your body. Maybe you want to set a new single-hand deadlift world record. Or you just want to sweat a few times a week. Whatever your goal is, I’m sure a little exercise will do you good. Maybe some day I can finally get to do a human flag, which is a good icebreaker in parties. And with that, I leave you with a quote from master philosopher Socrates:

“No man has the right to be an amateur in the matter of physical training. It is a shame for a man to grow old without seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable.”

-jgzn

p.s. me squatting

Yours truly squatting
Nothing but a peanut
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