Category Archives: Fitness

Six Pack Abs and a Toned Body – You don’t really want it

Do you want to be extremely fit and healthy? Maybe have a toned body with a six-pack instead of a growing belly with flabby arms? Is getting fit and healthy a priority in your life?

Over the last year, while focusing on fitness and nutrition, I dropped nearly 14 Kgs (31 lbs) and 6 inches off my waist. I’ve now reached the point where people automatically stereotype me as “the fitness guy”, or “the bodybuilder”.

Since then, more and more people have reached out to me for fitness, nutrition and weight loss advice. Everyone wants to know exactly what I did, and how easy or difficult it would be for them to replicate.

I usually go out of the way to try and help friends when they ask for advice, since fitness is still a very big part of my life, and I’m always happy to help others on the same path. I freely share information about my diet/nutrition, exercise routines, and how I keep myself motivated.

It’s a pleasure to see the excitement in their eyes when they see how simple it can be to get into great shape; when they realize that their “stretch goal”, is in fact realistically possible in just two or three months.

However I’ve come to a bitter realization over the last year of trying to help people get fit.

Most people don’t really want to get fit and healthy. Most people don’t want to look like the models they see in magazines. In fact, they don’t even want to get half-way to that point to look “not unhealthy”.

All most people really want to do is talk about how much they want it, while continuing to remain in their current unhealthy state, or worse getting even more unfit.

Every time someone takes home one of the workout programs I recommend, I get hopeful that maybe this one person will stick with it and achieve great results. Often they message me after a few days about how amazing it feels and share the initial results they are getting, which gets me optimistic since unlike ninety percent of their peers, they actually started and committed to it.

And then, even though they see the results they have already got in just a few days, even though they know that this program works, without fail, they stop.

They abruptly stop messaging updates, and just as abruptly stop talking about fitness.

When I make the effort to reach out and check up, out come the excuses – no time, too tired, suddenly very busy.

Almost consistently and without fail, each of them usually says that they haven’t quit, they have just stopped for a little while and they plan to start again when they “have the time”. I still don’t know of one person among dozens of friends who started again or managed to find time.

I had someone tell me once, “exercise is a priority for me, however I just don’t get the time“.

My response? “No. It isn’t. Your priority is eating and drinking with your friends, watching movies, or relaxing and watching tv. If exercise was your priority over these things you would first exercise, and then say you didn’t have time to watch movies or hang out with friends. The fact that exercise doesn’t come before these things clearly means, by definition, that fitness isn’t the priority in your life.

So now let me ask again – Do you want to be fit and healthy? Is being healthy a priority in your life?

Answer honestly, and if the answer is no, then learn to accept it. Start admitting to people that you find it easier to be fat and unhealthy and prefer making excuses to getting fit and healthy. That you don’t want to be the best that you can be.

Don’t lie to yourself. At least this way you won’t feel guilty about missing out on exercise or eating unhealthy.

And when you truly decide to make fitness your priority, you can commit fully and achieve results.

One Handed Pushups and HIIT – A faster and more effective workout

Some time ago, I combined the pull up challenge and the push up challenge to create an exhausting full body workout. I got some great results, and was happy to be able to do 22 continuous good form pull ups. The only problem was that after three months, my body had adapted to the exercises and I was no longer seeing progress. Also, the idea of making tennis part of my “work out” meant it became more of a chore than something I enjoyed. I started dragging my feet getting to the gym because I had hit a plateau and the workout had got boring.

Naked WarriorA few days ago I read a book called the The Naked Warrior by Pavel Tsatsouline. The book has the tag line – “Master the Secrets of The Super-Strong Using Body weight Exercises Only”. Pavel has a few ideas in his book that I found extremely interesting.

The first idea was that it is better to do a couple of reps short of failure and just train the body to get used to the new movement. Once the body gets used to the new motion, the ability to do reps increase without needing to reach muscle failure. The reason I agree with this principle is because this was how I learned to do my first pull up, and of course how the push up and pull up challenges work.

The other idea I found interesting was that we only need two body weight exercises to get a complete full body workout – the one-arm push up and the one-leg squat.

I decided that the one-arm push ups sounded like fun and re-started the hundred push up challenge using one handed push ups. The first day I completed the exercise I realized something important. The one arm push up is not just an arm exercise. It tightens every muscle from the arm and shoulder, going diagonally across the back to the opposite leg. It will also engage your core to maintain balance and keep straight.

I discovered how much it engaged my back muscles when I was bed-ridden the next two days. Word of advice – If you plan to do regular push ups, pull ups and then one armed push ups in the same day, it might be a good idea to have a quick back stretch routine between each set of exercises (at least until you get used to it). I learned the hard way that I had been neglecting my lower back in my previous workout. However my back is a lot stronger now.

Apart from one armed push ups, I also restarted both push up and pull up challenges. This time, the push ups are much slower, 4 second, perfect form push ups. The pull ups are also slow, with my arms as far apart as possible. Both are significantly harder, which is why I had to start both of them from week one.

The last modification was to change the cardio segment of the workout to HIIT running. The treadmill at our gym has a setting for interval training, and you can select both the time and the maximum speed. I was amazed at how exhausting a 20 minute run with a high upper interval can be. The first day was brutal. After one week, I was able to do it easily, at which point I increased the max speed by one and it became exhausting all over again.

So this is my new modified workout for Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

1. 100 Push-up challenge: Slow, perfect form, 4 second push ups
2. 20 Pull-up challenge: Slow, perfect form pull-ups with arms as wide apart as possible
3. 100 Push-up challenge with one armed push-ups: Currently on an inclined bar. Will change to doing it on the ground once I complete the challenge on an incline
4. 20 Minute HIIT running: Am pushing the upper limit up by 1 every week which makes it very difficult for my body to adapt.

Now that the tennis is out of my workout routine, I only play tennis when I feel like playing so I can enjoy it. And since the workout is stretching my limits again, it has become fun too.

Putting it all together – creating my ideal workout

Over the last year, I have followed different workouts including cross-fit8 Minute Fitness Workouts, long distance running, the push-up challenge and the pull-up challenge.

I put together some of these routines into a reasonably exhausting 7 day workout that seems to work well for me.

It isn’t a perfect workout, but it is a full body routine that has given me fast and visible results in the past two months. I know this routine can definitely improve over time. I’d love to hear feedback and suggestions from people with more experience.

My Workout Plan

1. Week 6 of 100 Push-up challenge: 45, 55, 35,30, max (at least 55) push-ups
2. Week 6 of 20 Pull-up challenge: 7, 7, 8, 8, 9, 10, 12 pull-ups
3. One hour of Tennis lessons

1. 20 Minutes on Elliptical
2. 2K on Rowing Machine
3. 8 Minute Abs workout (from 8 Minute Fitness)
4. 8 Minute Buns workout (from 8 Minute Fitness)
5. Leg workout on machine

1. Week 6 of 100 Push-up Challenge: 22, 22, 30, 30, 24, 24, 18, 18, max (at least 58) push-ups
2. Week 6 of 20 Pull-up challenge: 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 pull-ups
3. One hour of Tennis lessons

1. 20 Minutes on Elliptical or 3K on treadmill
2. 2K on Rowing Machine
3. 8 Minute Abs workout
4. 8 Minute Buns workout
5. Leg workout on machine

1. Week 6 of 100 Push-up Challenge: 26, 26, 33, 33, 26, 26, 22, 22, max (at least 60) push-ups
2. Week 6 of 20 Pull-up challenge: 15, 13, 12, 10, max pull-ups
3. One hour of Tennis lessons

1. 20 Minutes on Elliptical or 3K on treadmill
2. 2K on Rowing Machine
3. 8 Minute Abs workout
4. 8 Minute Buns workout
5. Leg workout on machine

Sunday – Setting new limits
1. Max Push-ups
2. Max Pull-ups
3. 3K on treadmill – newer/faster speed
4. 2K on Rowing Machine
5. Random new exercise that I read about and want to try

I am still trying to figure out the perfect diet to go with this workout. I am strongly influenced by Tim Ferris’s crazy diet, but find it hard to maintain since I don’t cook myself. Would love suggestions from anyone who has a convenient solution.

And as usual, the standard disclaimer for people who find this routine intimidating. I didn’t start with this workout. A few months ago, I was struggling to do my first pull-up.

The next fitness challenge – Twenty continuous pull-ups

After the hundred push-up challenge and then going from 0 to 5 pull-ups, my next goal is the Twenty pull-ups challenge.

Why pull-ups? They develop the arms, shoulders and back and help create that V shaped body that everyone likes. I prefer workouts that use body weight and exercise multiple muscle groups instead of isolating single areas using weights. Like push-ups, pull-ups are also easy to do with minimum equipment. After my initial success with cross-fit and pull-ups, I knew I had to incorporate pull-ups into my routine.

The twenty pull-ups site follows a similar layout to the hundred push-ups site. It has a customizable, progressive plan that takes you from 1-2 pull-ups to being able to do 20 continuous pull-ups within 6 weeks. For those of you who can barely do one pull-up, the site even includes two additional training weeks that have you trying half pull-ups.

Most people won’t have as much of a challenge getting through the first five pull-ups as I did, but if you do, reading about my initial pull-up journey may help. Personally I found it more useful to do assisted pull-ups with weights when starting out with my first few pull-ups. I could barely do even one pull-up when I started out.

For people who would like to be able to do pull-ups at home, I’d recommend buying a good pull up bar like the Iron Gym Total Upper Body Workout Bar. It is very easy to assemble, attach and remove from a doorway. Having something like this at home means you can do a quick pull-up anytime you want instead of having to plan and schedule a workout at the gym.

I am on week 3 of the pull-up challenge right now, and did 26 pull-ups in five sets yesterday. My workout on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays has now become doing 150+ push-ups for the push-up challenge, about 20+ pull-ups for the pull-up challenge and then finally running on the treadmill for a couple of miles. I still can’t believe I am able do all of this. 6 months ago, I could barely do 1 pull-up, and even the prospect of starting the hundred push-up challenge was scary.

Its amazing how easily stuff seems to happen once you decide to just get started by taking small incremental steps to achieve big goals.

UPDATE: I enjoyed the final week of both the push-ups and pull-ups challenge so much that I incorporated them into my daily workout routine. It is a reasonably hard-core workout that is focussed towards getting fast results while being sustainable and is an ideal way to get toned and in shape without needing too much gym equipment.

UPDATE 2: I successfully completed the twenty pull-up challenge by doing 21 continuous pull-ups today. I will continue to keep Week 6 of the pull-up challenge in my weekly workout

Pullups and Pushups – A simple crossfit workout with amazing results

A lot of my friends have been on the whole Cross Fit band wagon. While I liked the idea, I found a lot of the exercises difficult to do without a gym, weights, and some experience with these exercises. I stayed away from it for a long time though I occasionally went to the site to check out the workout of the day.

One day I discovered an exercise they called “Cindy”; complete as many rounds possible in 20 minutes
i) 5 pull-ups
ii) 10 push-ups
iii) 15 squats

It seemed like a simple workout without any complicated routines that I didn’t understand.
The only problem? I couldn’t do even 1 pull-up.

I decided that this was something I wanted to work on. It took me almost a month before I could do one un-assisted pull up.

For the first week, I used to jump up on the pull-up bar, and slowly come down, so I at-least did the second half of the pull-up. It wasn’t much, but it was better than nothing. I still couldn’t do a full pull-up (without jumping to build momentum, which didn’t really count).

The next week, I tried a different approach. I started doing assisted pull-ups with 6 or 7 plates. I used the assisted pull-ups to do my five reps and complete the Cindy workout. The pull-ups were still brutal, the squats a little easier. The push-ups, especially after the hundred push-ups challenge were the easiest part of the workout.

For almost an entire month, all I did every day was a one mile run and then Cindy. No other workout. Either the hundred push-up challenge, Cindy or running. After a few days, one plate came off, then another.

One month after I began, I was able to do 5 pull-up sets with just one plate. This is when I realized that I didn’t need the plate any more except as a mental crutch. The last plate came off.

Being able to do 5 quick unassisted pull-ups changed everything for me. I could be doing any other exercise, and for a quick break I would do 5 pull-ups and then get back to whatever I was doing. Soon I was doing 20-25 pull-ups every day in sets of 5. Today I can do 10 rounds of Cindy effortlessly.

Since I started this exercise, my upper body, arms and shoulder feel amazing. Include a run and squats, and I get a pretty good workout for all the large muscles in my body.

The visible results have got me a lot of positive comments and feedback from friends and family. Everyone notices that “I must work out” and “I look really lean and trim”.

The best thing about this workout is I need very little equipment, and it finishes so quickly it hardly feels like effort. No more 1 hour of cardio, no more heavy weights and complicated exercises.

And the results speak for themselves.

For people who would like to be able to do pull-ups at home, I’d recommend buying a good pull up bar like the Iron Gym Total Upper Body Workout Bar. It is very easy to assemble, attach and remove from a doorway. Having something like this at home means you can do a quick pull-up anytime you want instead of having to plan and schedule a workout at the gym.

PS: Now that I can do 5 pull-ups without any problem, my next goal is the twenty pull-ups challenge.

PPS: After the pull-up challenge, I integrated pushups, pull-ups and squats into my new daily workout

One Hundred Push ups? – A step by step plan to achieve extraordinary results

I recently discovered the website The site provides a simple, progressive, training program to get any person doing one hundred consecutive push ups within just six weeks.

For people who don’t have too much upper body strength and would like to start working on it, give this routine a shot. The next 6 weeks will change you.

It doesn’t matter whether you are at “I can barely do two push ups…” or “I can already do thirty…”, the program works for everyone.

The program starts off with an initial test to establish where you are right now. Based on your initial level, you then follow a customized workout program that is only three days a week for a total of six weeks.

So people who can’t yet do pushups will have small goals like finishing a single pushup and taking a break. You have no excuse for not trying!!! This workout is for anyone who wants to get stronger arms.

The program slowly but steadily increases the target over the next few weeks, so you hardly ever notice the change. The workout always seems slightly hard but never too hard.

I am currently on Week 3, and did 90 push ups today (in small sets of about 15 push ups each with one minute breaks in between). It wasn’t too hard. Hopefully I will be at 100 continuous push ups by Week 6.

I personally found the information on the website more than enough to get started. However, for those who need it, the site owner has published a book called 7 Weeks to 100 Push-Ups. The book has detailed workout plans and effective warm-up exercises and stretches to safely complete the program.

The reason I love this workout is it that it takes only a few minutes a day to complete, and ramps up in gradual, easily manageable steps, which fits in with the Kaizen Principle for achieving massive change effortlessly

Also, push ups are something I can do anywhere (without needing a gym) and anytime I have a few minutes.

Besides, the idea of being able to do hundred push ups is just plain cool!!

Update: Since I wrote this article, I completed the entire workout. During the final test, I was able to complete 88 continuous push ups. It wasn’t the hundred I would have liked to reach, but it is an accomplishment I can be pretty happy about; Especially considering the fact that I could do around 30 before I attempted the challenge. Maybe someday, once I strengthen my lower back a little more, I can shoot for the full hundred. Since then I have moved on to much more challenging workouts including one handed pushups and the twenty pull-ups challenge. Once you finish the hundred pushup challenge, maybe you can give these a try.