Saturday, January 30, 2010

Eat Less and Exercise More

Okay guys, this time we take a break from the subject of movement and move on to your favourite topic: fat loss.

How to lose fat is actually very simple, in five words: eat less and exercise more.

Saying these words is easy. Doing it is the tough part.

Let me give you some tips:

To eat less, just eat proper food. If you eat properly, your body knows when it is full. And if you eat enough of these, you would not crave for the so called "junk" food. Very simply, these food have more bulk (volume and/or fibre) for the same amount of calories as junk food, so it takes more digestive powers to process these foods. So you would feel full longer. And they are nutrient rich, i.e. rich in vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants.

Junk food on the other hand have more calories for the same bulk as proper food. So you may be eating more calories than you should without knowing it. They are also deficient in nutrients, so the body still craves the stuff that it needs even after eating a lot of these. I don't even consider junk food as food.

Examples of proper food are:
-Unrefined complex carbohydrates (there is controversy regarding this but that's another story)
-Proteins e.g. red meat, chicken, fish, egg etc.

These are good food that the media has been telling you to avoid but actually good for you, mainly with regards to cholesterol, fat and saturated fat.
-Coconut, coconut oil, coconut milk
-Red meat
-Animal fat, animal skin
But fat, saturated fat and cholesterol are not harmful to the body. Definitely not as harmful as the ingredients listed below.

The way the food is prepared is also important. You would not want to eat food prepared like these often:
-High heat processing, e.g. deep fried, barbecued, roasted, hydrogenated, partially-hydrogenated, pasteurized (and homogenised) etc.

These are food ingredients and food that contain a lot of them that you should avoid:
-Refined sugar, e.g. cakes, sweets, ice cream, desserts, soft drinks, jellies, chocolate, jam
-Refined carbohydrates, e.g. flour, noodles, white bread
-Transfat, e.g. margarine, vegetable shortening, cakes, pastries, fast food, deep fried food etc.
-Excessive salt (sodium), e.g. salted, canned and preserved food
-Unfermented soy, e.g. soy milk, tofu

If you see ingredients that you can't pronounce or don't know its identity, don't eat, like:
-Sodium caseinate and other names of MSG
-Artificial flavouring, sweetener, colouring

And lastly, beware of labels claiming to be "health" food, like:
-Zero, reduced or low fat. They usually have a lot of sugar.
-Zero, reduced or low sugar. They usually have artifical sweetener.
-Zero, reduced or low cholesterol. Cholesterol is not harmful. Redundant info.
-The food pyramid label. They usually promote the above three.

This is just a basic guide on how i eat. There are a lot more detailed ones out there. I hope you have benefitted from this article. Any questions, please feel free to ask me.

The Skills of a Master

Let me ask you, in sports, how do you identify a more experienced person from a less experienced one? For me it is by how easy the person makes difficult skills seem like.

Skills that seem to defy the laws of physics yet done over and over again by the person, without breaking a sweat. That is the mark of mastery to me.

It is not making a skill look harder than it should, looking as if you exert a lot of effort and doing it over and over.

The better your skills are, the more efficient you would be, the less energy you use, the less effort you exert.

Two persons may be doing the same skills but one has a better quality than the other.

Have you mastered your basic movements? I am talking about Activities of Daily Living (ADLs): running, jumping, squatting, lifting, pushing, pulling etc. This is not sport, this is not martial art, this is life. Movement is life. Once you cease to move you are dying.

When you study the structure of our bodies, it is very obvious that we are made for movement. Are you moving?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Do You Need Kettlebell Lifting / Training?

Since i took up kettlebell lifting, i have been known as "the kettlebell guy". Nothing wrong with that. So everytime i talk about exercise or physical training, people always think of "kettlebells".

Now i want to tell you that:
-kettlebell is not everything
-kettlebell cannot do everything
-kettlebell is not the ultimate in physical training
-kettlebell lifitng may not be for you.

Physical training is not about kettlebells. If you haven't known, and i will say this again, and i won't get bored saying it: it is not about kettlebell, it is about movement.

A lot of people come to me thinking that they need kettlebell lifting to help them to:
-improve core strength
-get rid of some injuries
-fat loss etc.

Yes, kettlebells can do these. But what i want to tell you is that, you need to get your movement quality right first, then your results in kettlebell lifting would be better.

Let's take the example of a squat first.


A lot of people especially in urbanised society cannot squat fully like i demonstrated in the video. And a lot of people are really stiff like a corpse. Yet they come to me for kettlebell training (they asked for training, but i will give them technique). If you are one of these people, you are looking for injury. I kid you not.

For those of you who have come to my kettlebell lessons, do you remember how big of a jump it is from the swing to the clean, in terms of technique? That is because you were not able to exert, absorb and redirect forces properly yet. You need a few sessions to get it right.

But wouldn't it be more rational for you to learn to control your bodyweight first then learning to control an external weight? If you have done so, i bet that your kettlebell technique would improve much faster.

I won't say much further on the whys. Now come to the hows.

I recommend these programs in this order when you come to me, regardless of classes or personal training:
1) Intu-Flow
2) Foam Rolling
3) Squat
4) Flowfit session 1-8

Start booking for your lessons now.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

How Did i Get Started in Clubbell Swinging

This is one question i have not been frequently asked. Anyway, those of you who know about Clubbell swinging are bound to ask me this sooner or later.

Remember that i mentioned i had a shoulder injury. At that time my efforts of doing shoulder internal and external rotations were not producing results. I searched the net for effective physical training methods and one of the stuff i found was Clubbell swinging.

There was no Clubbell instructor in Singapore (i did not know about the 3 rings of Circular Strength Training (CST) at that time and importing the Clubbells was (and still is) expensive. So i made do with sledgehammers.

I started with a measly 6lb, then progressed to 8lb and 12lb. Hammer swinging is great stuff. It strengthens your whole body. It teaches you to integrate the whole body as a unit to manipulate the unwieldy club.

This was before i got started in kb lifting.

After i found the then only certified kb instructor Jonathan Boey, i went on to in depth study on kb lifting. Hammer swinging was relegated to the backburner.

Until it was in 2008 that a client and friend suggested that i do Yoga. I only knew that the conventional, commercial pop yoga may not be good to learn. So i discovered Prasara Yoga. And hey, Prasara Yoga was created by the guys at CST, so i immediately became interested in it.

Providentially a CST Instructor Certification (CST IC) was going to be held in Singapore just a few months away from then. I got in touch with James Lee, another Instructor candidate and got to learn Clubbell swinging first hand. I went for the IC and that was how i got serious into Clubbell swinging.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

How Did i Get Started in KB Lifting

Well, i have been asked many times how i got started in kb lifting. So here is the answer.

My background before kb lifting was artistic gymnastics, capoeira, taekwondo and wushu. I did weight training a little bit to complement my largely bodyweight training.

Being young, having high goals and wanting to reach them fast, i trained too fast too soon. At that time i was training the planche and front lever progression, inspired by the article Building an Olympic Body Through Bodyweight Conditioning. I made fast progress but ignored the aches and pains that my shoulder was giving me. I did not do any specific prehab or rehab for this training.

The pain built up until my progress stopped and even deteriorated.

Looking back, i think i was so stupid. I also made other stupid mistakes like this in the past. Reminder: please do your prehab and rehab diligently.

In an effort to get back my pain free movement. I went for conventional physiotherapy. Hey, i was a physiotherapy student, so i have to test the system on myself before testing it on other people. As expected i was prescribed exercises like external rotation and internal rotation.

Of course, these are not reasonable exercises to perform as they do not teach you to integrate the body as a unit. And they do not decrease the pain.

One movement i had problem with at this time which i did not before was the handstand push ups. The positive portion of the movement was painful.

I had wanted to try kb lifting earlier but delayed because i wanted to conquer the planche and front lever first. Now i could not do either, and i could not do handstand push up. What to do? Kettlebells came as a perfect answer at that time because you do not push the kettlebell up overhead, like the press (though you can do it if you want), but jerked and snatched, therefore bypassing the painful range of motion.



So that is how i started. And it worked. I started not being able to press the 16kg. But after a few months, i was pressing the 24kg pain free. :D

But let me tell all of you who have injuries and looking to treat your injuries through kettlebell lifting. Yes it is a good tool. But it is not the first line of defense against injuries. There are more specific prehab and rehab exercises that is to be done befor you even consider strength & conditioning (or "strengthening") be it with kettlebells or any other tool.

So if you have injuries or are in pain and don't know what to do, contact me now and i can put you in a rehab program to get you back on the way to pain free movement.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Are You Free to Move?

Have you ever asked yourself, how important is movement to your life?

From the moment you wake up in the morning to the time you lay down at night, you are moving all the time. 
So do you think you need to move properly?

But how many people actually move properly?

Just because you are moving all the time doesn't mean you move properly. You may be moving wrongly all this while without realising it.

How do i know that there are people who don't move properly? From their posture, from the way they walk, run, lift heavy objects etc.

But why are they not moving properly? One of the reason could be previous injuries. You know, when and injury happens, it creates residual tension in the injured tissues and body parts surrounding it. This is to protect the injury and prevent further damage to the already injured part.

The problem is when the injury heals and the tension is not gotten rid of. It affects your movement all your life thereafter. Have you heard of people talking about their "old injuries" flare up or hindering their performance? That is what is am talking about.

So the first step to getting your movement right is to decrease the tension in your tissues. Without boring you with the technical details, i just want to tell you that getting pain free movement is as simple as ABC. The Intu-FlowⓇ longevity system is this program that you need. So do it DAILY.

Give the program at least two months to see results. Though you should feel improvement in your movement quality straightaway.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Soft style = cursive, hard style = typewritten


Yesterday i had a client who has been trained in the hard style of kettlebell lifting for six years. She did not know that it is hard style, neither did she know that there is a more soft style of lifting the kbs. Never been told all this nonsense.

After some explanations on the theory of efficiency and performance of elite kb lifters, she still was not convinced. So i just let her go.

The premise of what is proper technique is fundamentally different so you can't even argue in the same language.

Let me just say that i am neither for nor against hard style, though my style is soft style. As has been discussed, explained, debated by various coaches like Scott Sonnon, Steve Cotter, Catherine Imes et al, there is a place for either style in an athlete's journey with kbs.

In Circular Strength Training (CST), there is this very important concept of sophistication. It means starting from the simple and evolving to the complex. This is contra the keep it simple stupid mentality. You can stay at the simple level all your life if you want, but you would get stuck in simplistic stupidity.

I don't care so much if my clients are doing hard style or soft style. As has been mentioned many times, if there are ten people competing in kb lifting, you would see ten different techniques. Though the techniques are different, the basics of sound biomechanics are the same. Kb lifting techniques are skills.

All skills have to be learnt from the same basics. Just like how you learned to write (or insert another skill demanding activity). You need to learn how to hold the pen properly, how to sit properly, form your letters after a standard design etc. But over time you develop your own style of calligraphy. Some write cursive, some write in print etc.

The basic design of the alphabets are the same, an A looks like an A, a B looks like a B etc, yet they have may have different proportions here and there.

Same is kb lifting technique. To put it in short, soft style is a higher sophistication skill than hard style. Soft style is cursive, while hard style is typewritten.

Anybody who is strong enough can brute force his way in kb lifting. Do you notice that the top performers in hard style lifting are the huge strong guys?

But for skinny people like me, i have to rely on finesse to get that steel ball over my head. And even if you have loads of brute force, wouldn't you want to save energy so that you can lift heavier and longer?

My background

I started with soft style, before i went to the Russian Kettlebell Challenge cert (Pavel's RKC book did not mention hard style or soft style). I only know what is efficient and what is inefficient. I only know that i must use as little strength as possible to lift the bells. I only know that i had an injured shoulder so i must use my arms as little as possible. I only know that i cannot use brute force because being skinny that is what i lack.

I switched to hard style after being educated in the RKC.

However, still i lacked brute force. So to improve my numbers, i switched back to soft style.

So this is me, and why i do soft style.

The situation with my clients

For clients who come to me with some prior kb lifting background, usually i do not convert their swing to the soft style even if they are hard style. However the main problem with these athletes is that when they start to clean, it becomes awful. Often the clean looks like a cheat curl and does not land in the proper spot on the wrist.

Let me emphasize that this is biomechanically unsound. Supporting the kb on any part of the hand other than the hip of the hand is asking for injury. You are relying on the strength of your forearm to support the weight instead of using your skeletal structure to do that. Do this long enough your wrists would scream in pain.

I find that the hard style clean is not easy to perform. With compensatory acceleration technique, your hand would be pulling on the handle through the whole movement of the clean.

Soft style on the other hand, has the bell stationary at the top of the clean. If you applied the pulling force properly on the bell, i.e. in the middle of the feet, short and sharp pull, the bell should feel weightless on the way up (projectile motion).

Now we know that to thrust the hand into the bell, the bell needs to be weightless. It is so much harder to thrust the hand in when you are pulling on the handle at the same time (F = µN, friction is proportional to normal reaction force). So the soft style is much much better for the clean.

Clients' progression

Usually clients who start with the hard style swing would have problems cleaning due to the reasons stated above. And i have to switch them to soft style so that they can thrust their hand deep into the handle.

However, if i meet clients who do hard style and clean/snatch to the hip of the hand properly, i won't change their style. I haven't met any though.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

FAQs: Knee Pain

I commonly see this questions on online forums (not exact word for word, but the gist is there):
I have just started jogging recently. I experience knee pain during the run. But the pain disappears after the activity stops. Any suggestions?
And of course there are many things suggested by a lot of people, eg: warm up properly, wear proper shoes, increase your distance gradually etc.

Now the problem with a lot of these cases, and a lot of other people who start physical training is that, their bodies are not prepared for their training. They have not done proper prehab to prevent injury. Some people think that stretching is a good enough warm up. Not necessarily so.

There are many ways to prevent injury, but what i want to highlight here is joint mobility. As people in urbanized society, majority do not have full mobility of all their joints.

The problem does not have to manifest itself through pain. When you do not exert yourself, you won't feel the pain. But once you start to ramp up your activity level, be it in activities of daily living or in physical training, the weaknesses start to become apparent.

How do i know this? Just do a physical assessment on anybody and find out how many people can't squat properly, can't jump properly etc. If you want to be more specific, try asking them to do pelvic tilts.

Or thoracic surge and sway

If you can do these, chances are that you are have better mobility than those who can't do them. Master all the movements in Intu-FlowⓇ joint mobility system and i guarantee you less pain.

Friday, January 22, 2010


I borrowed a Trifield Meter from a friend to measure radiation in three types: magnetic, electric and radio/microwave.

So i went home and tested a lot of electrical devices in my home and see what the reading was. Most have quite low readings, in the dotted lines range, ie safe. These include handphones when off, TV, laptop, electrical sockets etc.

What shocked me was my radio control transmitter, which emitted the MOST radiation of all the electrical devices in my home. ALL the readings in all three types of radiation is FULL. :P

This photo shows the electric field of the transmitter.

So i have been unconsciously microwaving my hand away when playing RC. It that the reason why my left arm has a lot more problems than the right? Could be. I don't know. But now that i know it, i'd better play less RC.

Till next time.


Hi, so i have decided to start a blog. Used to blog on Singapore Kettlebell Club, but i think having a blog of my own separate from my business is better. Herein i would post any kinds of topics, from human movement, to health & fitness, to anything unrelated.

So enjoy your stay here. And please do not hesitate to leave comments or contact me.