how about cardi..no.

Cardio.

Perhaps one of the most over rated, over done and over estimated form of physical exercise.

But it is also one of those physical exercises that contributes to the surge of endorphines.. the feel good hormones.

And as gross as this may sound, it feels good to finish a workout off glistening with sweat… it’s like tangible, damp evidence of all efforts.

Buuut on some days, cardio? How about cardiNO. 

As much as cardio is good, it can become tediously boring and can quickly lead to physical plateaus.

 running endlessly to nowhere facing a blank wall again, great.

cycling for hours on end on a stationary bike, woohoo.

Now before you get turned off from cardio exercise, let me stress the importance of cardiovascular training. 

We get so caught up training the muscles we can see, like our guns (biceps brachii), those pecs (pectoralis muscles), and the peach gains (gluteus maximus), 

that we often lose sight of the most important visceral muscle that is out of sight- our heart.

It is a small muscle with a biologically massive workload. Imagine, a small muscle the size of your fist, contracting continuously at 70 beats per minute, with an average stroke volume of 70ml of richly oxygenated blood with every beat.

If we do the math, your heart will pump around 4.9 to 5 litres of blood through your arteries every minute (cardiac output).

And this output can double, triple and even increase by 5 fold during physical exertion… or in our cases, training in the gym, playing a sport, climbing stairs.

Now with this in mind, we apply the basics of muscle strengthening.

To get a stronger muscle we need to adopt:

Training frequency- forcing your to adapt to more workload and increase in strength.

aaand, 

a lower repitition set with higher intensities (or weight)- to facilitate muscle hypertrophy (growth) and power.
If we can religiously hit the gym and train for superficial muscle growth, why not do the same with our heart muscles? 
We certainly don’t need a physically larger heart, but we do need a physically active and agile heart muscle to sustain constant, healthy pressures within our arteries (so we don’t die if you know what I mean).

And this all comes down to training it with no other than cardio exercise, which is defined as any activity that causes an increase in heart rate.

The basic principles of muscle growth- the low rep, high intensity concept can and should also be applied to cardio training.

Unless you were a real beginner (which, if you are I commend you for taking your first step to an active lifestyle, you wont regret I promise), or were convalescent, you wouldn’t hit your biceps with a small, 5 kilo weight and go at it for many many repititions would you? 

It’d be a waste of time, and your muscle fibres won’t be stimulated or physiologically stressed enough for it to grow and strengthen in response! 

So why would you hit the treadmill at a comfortable pace for hours on end, or sit at the stationary bicycle cycling leisurely until the end of your precious hour of exercise?

Its no wonder why cardio machines nowadays come with youtube options or screens to plug your episodes of Brooklyn nine one one in.

This is how cardio becomes boring, and your heart muscles dont get a good workout.

That’s it. Things must change.

Instead of engaging in low intensity, steady state (LISS) cardio all the time, it might be more beneficial to do high intensity interval training (HIIT).

Basically working your ass off with full blast, explosive energies (high intensity) for a short period of time (equivalent to low reps) and then taking a mini rest in between before repeating the cycle again.

You’ll be done in 15 minutes at most, depending on how many cycles or circuits you choose to put in.

What I absolutely love about HIIT is flexibility to custom your circuits with whatever cardio moves you like, so it doesn’t become routine.

And you know our muscles need to be tantalised with variety in training in order for progress to be made.

HIIT also keeps the fat burning mechanisms switched on for ages even after the short cardio session is finished. 

ANYHOO, 

Here’s an example of a 4 move HIIT circuit I’d throw in for 3 times a week (less if you were trying to bulk, more if your goal is to cut)

Cycle 1: 

30 second sprint + 30 second jump squats

Add weight for an extra burn in those quads! 

Cycle 2: 

30 second sprint + 30 second jump lunges

Jump lunges kill me every single time. Ensure your front knee does not go over your toes, and land with ‘soft knees’ and heel first to feel the stretch in those lower gluteus muscles.

Cycle 3: 

30 second sprint + 30 seconds single leg side squats

For example, if you were to squat to the right, you keep your left leg striaght (toe pointing forward still) and just bend at the knee towards your right, keeping that right knee behind the toe.

Feel this one in your side glutes and inner thighs. Add weight for more resistance 

Cycle 4: 30 second sprint + 30 second curtsey back lunges

For e.g a right curtsey lunge consists of your left leg lunging back wards, but instead of lunging directly backwards, you lunge with a 45 degree angle towards your right side.

You should feel this again in your right side glute. 

And there we have it!  A HIIT cardio workout. Make sure you take 20 to 30 seconds of rest between cycles, and repeat the entire 4 cycles for 3 rounds to achieve maximum sweat effects.

And if you do still like to jog, or cycle on the staationary bike (LISS cardio), then go for it! Just remember to switch it up a little with HIIT in between.

Note: please only attempt these if you are in appropriate physical cardiovascular state to do so. Consult your doctor or physician should any heart conditions exist before attempting any sort of workout.

And sorry, laziness does not apply as inappropriate cardiovascular states :)) 
Thank you for staying till the end, 

Wishing you all a safe day ahead and sending happy (and sweaty!) vibes your way.

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being alive.

Thank the Lord Saturday has rolled around.

For most part of the week in a second year radiography course thats working us all unnecessarily hard, the weekend appears as an oasis in a desert.

And also the weekend means work, and I do enjoy some casual interaction with customers (okay maybe I enjoy the pay packet a little more) as a good break from x rays of clogged up lungs and atherosclerosed vessels.

But today, I just wasn’t feelin’ it. It’s been yet another rough week, and not even the sight and smell of sweet, juicy Clingstone peaches could cheer me up.(in case you have’t read previous posts, i’ve recently started working at a green grocer, and i’ve found a new favourite specie of peach.)

I guess the lethargy I so carefully tried to conceal must have eventually seeped out a little onto my face, because a young customer, a cheery girl of probably no older than 17 stood to ask me how I was.

“Yeah.. i’m doin’ alright, how about you?”

“Well, i’m Alive!” 

And her reply was accompanied with a 100,000,000 kilowatt smile that just radiated optimism and energy and exuberance and all that positive vibes.

Heck, her smile was pretty much enough to blind away a spirit of discontentment and tiredness, which was what I probably hauled around with me.

…And it probably was no coincidence that she was decked out in a yellow ‘little miss sunshine’ tee as well.

Just being alive…

This made me pause to reconsider.

Such a simple, yet powerful reason generated her happiness today- 

by just being able to healthily ventilate clean, unpolluted air with her lungs, 

by being ambulant, 

by being able to biologically metabolise glucose, proteins and fats, plus all sorts of complex physiological compounds required for maintaining life- 

by being able to emotionally and intellectually connect with stimuli all around us, to understand and form relationships with other beings of the same species.

By just being alive, is a good reason in itself for not just the young customer, but for ALL of us to smile.

(And for that young girl, being able to purchase about 3 kilos worth of sugar bananas with her mum probably also contributed to part of that happiness. Because banaynays)

You are alive! Healthy and kicking.(which is what I hope for all of you). 

Take a look outside, wherever you are. Perhaps you’re faced with a hot, sunny summer’s day, or a cool, dark night sky flecked with stars. 

Maybe you’re looking at an autumn foliage, coated with moisture falling from the sky, or a front yard caked with inches of pure, white frost.

Aren’t we fortunate to be able to see these things, to hear the voices of our loved ones, to enjoy edible delicacies and the things we love to do.

Regardless of where you are at life right now, be it battling illness, struggling emotionally or feeling overwhelmed, stressed and fatigued- 

take a moment (and a deep breath) to just appreciate the fact that life in itself is a real miracle, and for you to be reading this right about now was no simple accident or feat.

You are a valuable and purposeful human being. We have much to smile about, even at the lowest of the valleys we may find ourselves trapped in.

And most of all, you are alive.

You are capable of so much more

T’was a sweltering hot summer- 

Actually pardon me,  autumn day I should say (global warming has probably angered Melbourne), and university studies was the usual mixture of uninformatively long, convoluted powerpoint slides, blank faces and an unnecessary 5 hour gap in between classes.

And because I like to procrastinate but have an pet peeve of wasting time, I was out of the humid lecture theatre in a flash and on the next bus to the gym (running away from studies on the treadmill really)

Today was leg day, and I can’t describe that sinking feeling when it hit me that i’d left my gloves at home. 

Hello calluses :))

Despite that, it was a good session today, and I had finally FINALLY stepped out of the squat and deadlift plateau and bumped the weight up just that little bit more to hit a new personal best.

Standing on those thick rubber mats printed with your basic “train insane” and “go hard or go home” in the gym reminded me of a sentence that a coursemate of mine commented after witnessing a girl balancing two boxes of pasta on her left arm, a bottle of coke and a smoothie on her right all while simultaneously pulling a door open with her adidas ultraboost foot- 

Human beings are much more capable than they think they are.

And he’s right, especially under stress.

Most may think stress is counterintuitive to productivity, but sometimes, I think otherwise. 

Stress doesn’t feel good, but its like a force that stretch the boundaries, testing tenacity and resilience. 

And if you are nerdy like me or are doing a medical related course, the beneficial effects of stress can already be physiologically seen in the cardiac muscle cells, the more stretching and stress exerted upon the cardiac cells when blood flows in, the stronger the force of contraction.

learn from the cardiac cells.

The body and mind are amazing things that function in harmony together to adapt to this testing, and to thus react with more strength, agility and flexibility.

I certainly didn’t come to this gym expecting to push my weight today, but all I knew was how stressed out I already was mentally, and it felt good to just translate that into physical stress and kinetic energy. 

Physics and biology aside, 

You are so much more capable than you can imagine, be it lifting weights, at your job, at your school. Perhaps its a public speaking presentation, or an operation, an interview or an exam.

Don’t be afraid to test your limits, channel your negative fears into a challenge for yourself. Sure there may be failure, we are after all only a biological blob of cells- however we are a blob of very highly physiologically and physically organised, adaptive and spiritually sound cells. We are made with a God like image, and our bodies are amazing, functional things, capable of achieving great lengths.

…and don’t forget to recoil after you’re done with testing your tenacity. Take a break, reward yourself, or pick yourself up after you fall and try again.

You are capable of doing so.

Only the 2nd week.

Week 2.

Monday.

Am I glad to see the end of today, the incessant burning behind my eyeballs can finally be quenched, and the heavy weight of my cranium can finally be released.

I know now what it means to be physically awake but have vital parts of your brain still fast asleep.  Believe me when I say I managed to catch some snoozes right in the front row of a two hour physics lecture without being caught out. It was slide 1 about a mobile x-ray system one minute, a great big gap of abyss, and then it was slide 49 to which the lecturer demonstrated physical catching of light- yes, I awoke to a very excited old man with his hands cupped up in front of him, claiming the tangibility and mass of light rays beaming down in straight lines from the ceiling of the room. (To all you physicists out there, I do appreciate your eccentricities and quirkiness, I am just tired.)

I also now know how it feels to be somewhat suffocated, and how it feels to lose your nose.

Spirometry practicals are not the greatest, especially when it involves a tight nose clip, and constant breathing purely through an oral cavity into a rigid mouthpiece. 

And of course, the digital spirometer wouldnt calibrate on first try and I think I might have experieced a tiny little episode of alkalosis (low key fainting due to an abnormally basic pH of blood) probably from losing too much carbon dioxide by being told to repeatedly exhale into that insensitive apparatus (never forget to inhale).

But it was also pretty interesting to watch the computer draw peaks and valleys recording live breathing movement, only to realise how insignificant my lung capacity truly is!!

We ended up asking the demonstrator to tell us the answers anyway.

Well, it is still a beautiful day to be alive, and every day renews with second chances. Today didnt cut it? I look forward to tomorrow, for I have a God whose compassions never fail, and are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23)

I just hope for fast passing of the days, hoping that time (filled with so very random, somewhat pointless but tiring university events! Haha) will work its brainwashing magic, taking away with it these thoughts, imaginations, the sting of being ignored, and the ache of a hope that is deferred (or in more reality, a hope that leads nowhere), which makes the heart sick.

Once again, if you’ve stuck around long enough to share a little of my burdens (hehe), thank you so much for reading, and I wish you all a tomorrow thats even better than today! 

Anyway, lights out and over (last I checked, we sadly still arent able to catch and weigh visible light rays.)