Archive for January, 2007

Finally I’m training again. After the death of my sister Rocio, I decided to take a break from jiu jitsu. My only training was at the gym, and that was it. 6 weeks has passed, and it’s time to try  to resume my normal life.

The only good thing about it is that I’m at a solid 160+/- lbs without any deterioration of cardio (as it has always been the case whenever I went over 150lbs.)

The bad part is that I’m greener than before. Shit went over my head, and I was like a fish out of the water. No way in hell I’m going to be wearing my green belt. I went with my white one to class yesterday… and I’ll stay there until I feel comfortable in wearing the green one.

It was good to be back. And to my delight, the school is offering a new MMAclass on Thursdays from 6:30pm to 7:30pm, right before the (gi) BJJ class. I need to call the school and get a price on the MMA gear cuz I’m in.

So far, I’ve been reducing the amount of squats I’ve been doing. Blame it on an old-ass hip, plus my left knee is making these grinding noises… no good. Another important change is that I’ve dropped the amount of meat/poultry, replacing some of it with an additional protein shake. So much meat has been hard on my stomach.

For breakfast, I’m having one EAS Myoplex RTD shake. That’s about 310 cals in total, 70g of it from fat, 43g of protein, 20g of carbs and 6g (12% DV) of fiber. At night, right after training, I take one ABB Extreme Body RTD 50 shake, 50g of protein and a mere 1g of fat.

During the rest of the day, it’s the same diet I had before, except that I’m replacing almost 50% of the meat/poultry with tofu. The rationale is that I can’t take so much meat anymore. It is craptacular… really. Although vegetable protein (in this case, tofu) is less optimal than animal protein, it does not kill my stomach at all.  Combine that with the 93g of protein from shakes alone, that should compensate.

Another change in my diet has been the inclusion of branched-chain amino acids/BCAA(ProLab BCAA) and HMB (MET-Rx HMB), and a switch from glutamine in powder form to a capsule form for convenience. It’s been HMB more than anything that has helped me stay at my current weight. I love it.

Tonight is a day off for me. Tomorrow will be MMA and then BJJ with a gi. BJJ with gi again on Tuesdays and no-gi BJJ whenever I can on mondays.

I’m back again into the road of cramps and pain, and I love it.


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This is just a follow-up in my series of craptacular clips of bodyweight exercises. You can check my previous blog post to read more about them.

I’m my quest to incorporate more bodyweight (BW) exercises into my training, I ran into this exercise called the cross-diagonal toe-touch push up – actually I learned this from Judo champ Rhadi Ferguson‘s new BW instructional DVD.

The exercise is quite simple and it’s intended to hit the abdominals first and the pecs second. It is more efficient if done immediately after a set of v-ups or crunches.


So far, I’ve found it useful to film myself while doing these exercises in order to catch any mistakes in form. For instance, when doing this exercise (or one-hand push ups), I tended to lift my hips higher than my shoulders (thus making the execution easier.) The making of these clips have proven invaluable in correcting mistakes.

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In the last couple of years, little by little, my shoulders have been turning into goo or something, and I’m at a point where I’m only doing flat bench presses every other week. So during all this time I’ve been toying around with bodyweight exercises (some of you have been seeing a few clips I’ve posted from www.bodyweightculture.com).

My search for bodyweight exercises has been motivated by a desire of minimizing injuries that come from free weight training. I love weight training, but I’m finding it harder and harder with age. Since I’m not attempting to reach great mass gains as a bodybuilder would want (and need for his/her sport of choice), bodyweight exercises (in conjunction with plyometrics and HIIT) can provide an efficient alternative for explosive strenght and high anaerobic capacity.

My initial skepticism of bodyweight type of training has almost evaporated. Pistols can blast the crap out of your quads and jumping push ups will hit the pecs deeply and efficiently without grinding your shoulders, and towel pull ups are a deliciously torture to the grip and forearms. I still can’t abandon front squats, though. I have a psycho-love relationship with them, so, no, I’m keeping them.

Anyways, I’ve been experimenting with a few bodyweight exercises to compliment my training, and I believe some of you will find them interesting.

Recently I learned an exercise called “explosive star push up”. It is a variation of the standard jumping/clapping push up, for which I’ve become infatuated with.

To the best of my abilities, and with a stomach full of salmon and stuff (never work out with a full stomach… it’s yucky), this is what an explosive star push up looks like (so far I’m able to do 15 reps before fallling flat on my face like a beached whale):


I’ve found a bit difficult to control the gradual opening and closing of the limbs. Actually, I find it really distracting. So I prefer to do a variation, and since I have not seen it named yet, I decided to call it jumping jack push ups (yeah, I know, I suck at naming things.)


With either variation, if you like to work out barefoot like me, then make sure you are not dumb enough to jam your toes 😛

Going on the subject of bodyweight exercises, the one thing I hate about them is that there is no easy way to hit the biceps unless you are doing some sort of chin up, pull up, or hanging-from-something-thingie. One way to go around that limitation is to mimic a face down incline (or preacher) curl, but from a plank position.

It looks “dee dee dee” retarded, and quite honestly, it’s a bit more trouble than what’s worth, but just give it a try and tell me if it doesn’t blast your biceps.


The trick is in not using anything but your biceps the moment you tilt your body forward and down from the plank. I can only do about 7 reps top. The only thing that hits my biceps better is when I do some sort of isometric holds, and that’s about it.

The only caveat is that it puts tremendous pressure on the wrists and metacarpals. For me, that’s what I’m looking for (sort of), but other people may want to use some caution.

Anyways, it’s amazing what a little bit of spare time can do. If you are into burpees, explosive push ups, and chin ups/pull ups, I think you will find these ones interesting.


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Well, not pain right in the ass, but in the right gluteus maximus. Actually, no, shit, let me clarify. There is pain from the lumbar area, on the hip, down to the gluteus maximus, and then again where the right quadriceps connect to the hip. Time for icy-hot.

My g/f and I went to the gym yesterday, and everything was great. 12 minutes of running, no prob. After that, we headed for the bench press. I used the barbell while she used dumbells for her bench pressing (15lbs max), alternating it with standing dumbell curls.

Moving the load up during bench presses, finally I got to 185lbs… and thatwhere I get my problems, as usual… always, always, always.  Damned shoulders. After the 6th rep, I knew I could not continue with full reps, so I placed the bar back into the rack, take a 5 second break, and continue. That does the trick for that and heavier weights.

After that, we moved to the squat rack for… yeah, squatting. Everything was fine and dandy until I moved to 275lbs. After the 3rd rep, I felt a “pop” on my hip/lower back. Shit, shit, shit I said to myself. I quickly placed the weight back and did some lower back stretches. I decided to remove 50lbs off the bar and resume my squatting for 2 more sets, plus a few deadlifts with a moderate weight.

So far I have that pain in the aforementioned areas, and it’s due to that botched attempt to squat 275lbs. The thing is, that’s a usual “heavy, but manageable” weight for me. 315lbs and above can give me problems, and I need a spotter, but never 275lbs.

It’s not painful or debilitating, but it surely depresses me. I had a similar incident almost 2 months ago when doing front squats – back then it was with 185lbs pound, a usual weight that gave me an upper back pain out of the blue.

I used to squat 350lbs in good form, 15 reps no problem back in 2000. What the heck happened? I know, I know. It’s called age, and the accumulated abuse I’ve been inflicting upon myself. I need to remind myself to be careful.

A pain in the ass man, a pain in the ass.

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Yep, 160lbs and counting. I’ve been at that weight consistently, and I’ve made sure my stomach is empty for several hours to make sure it’s not due to water and/or ingested food. It’s 160lbs.  Let’s see if I can keep it up in the next coming weeks, in which I will be increasing my cardio. I ran 1.5 miles yesterday morning (road, not threadmill), and so far, no problems with my shins. Good.

Shoulders are still a bitch – damned bench presses. However, I’ve noticed that rather than going all the way to failure with proper form, I can just stop at a few reps before failure, and form there, do partial reps until failure.

That is, I’d do only 1/2 of the range of motion (away from the chest.)  Once I hit failure, I put the barbell on the rack, wait a few seconds and resume. This time however, I’d go only the 1/4 topmost range of motion until failure. It makes my sets longer, BUT, I still hit the pecs and triceps nicely without grinding my shoulders to death.

On another note, my girlfriend seemed to have incurred in a groin pull while doing lunges. She is experiencing an acute pain on her left quadricep, a bit to the right facing her right leg, where the left quadriceps meets the hip. We applied icy-hot and an ACE wrap, plus some motrin. That seemed to have helped.

However, this means no lunges for the time being. The pain becomes acute when her left leg is flexed backwards (.i.e as in when you advance with your right leg with the leg positioned behind.) We’ll be going to the gym in a few hours, and we have to observer whether she can perform other exercises safely.


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2 1/2 Weeks

That’s how long I have to get ready to roll again at my BJJ school. And my cardio is sucking ass right now, but it’s getting there.  If my work schedule permits it (and all things get taken care of after my sister’s death), I’ll be back on the second week of February.

In the last four weeks, I’ve been helping my girlfriend get acquainted with the fine details of weight lifting and nutrition. Finally she lost her natural, feminine fear of the weight rooms, where dumbells lay around for all to see. I’ve enjoyed it a lot, but I haven’t done the workouts I usually do.

However, working out with somebody has forced me to stick to the areas I usually avoid – not for fear, but out of boredom. That is, with her, I’ve concentrated in getting strenght in my hamstrings as well as in abdominal work. So, in a way, she has helped me break out of my eternal routine of bench presses and squats… for the time being. In addition, the gym we are going to has a novel squat machine that allows heavy reps in high numbers in a much safer manner than with a barbel alone.

Another good thing of training with someone is that you can do a lot of negative reps and isometric work. At the end of a leg curl, for example, I do one more rep and hold the position. Then I ask my girlfriend to push over the plates, which increases the resistance while in a static contraction hold.

I do the same for her, and believe me, you see an increase in strenght and endurance when you do so.

Nevertheless, I need to make time for cardio. I need more cardio. The best approach would be to make time in the mornings to run for 20 minutes at a minimum (assuming my shins don’t bitch about it.) If I want to do it everyday, however, it will have to be done in a threadmill. My shins can’t take a daily run on pavement… it sucks.

Probably, I will keep Tuesdays for sprinting with Thursdays off from running. This will certainly make me drop weight, which I hate. However, I hate gasp for air like a beached whale during training even more. We’ll see…

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Meh, this is still work in progress. Just check my “About Moi” page to see what I’m planning to do with this wordpress blog thingie. I also created a profile at BodySpace (just recently) here: http://bodyspace.bodybuilding.com/elnyka I hope this serves as a good tool for my training, and that it compliment my random ramblings in this blog.

Regards, and if you like to work out, or train in a sport or martial arts, more kudos to you.

elnyka aka Luis Espinal.

It’s the repetition of affirmations that leads to belief. And once that belief becomes a deep conviction, things begin to happen.

— Muhammad Ali

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