Strength Training

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Barbell This post is about Strength Training and Why it wins over Body Building in my opinion.

Basics

Strength Training is all about the barbell. The program I am following right now has 5 basic exercises:

  1. Squats – 3 times/week
  2. Bench Presses – twice/week
  3. Deadlifts – once/week
  4. Rows – twice/week
  5. Overhead Presses once/week

and 2 addons (though they are just as important):

  1. Dips twice/week
  2. Pullups/Chinups once/week

Basically, you try to add weights to every workout – 5lbs each. For example, on Monday, I would do Squats at 135 lbs (45 lbs on each side plus the barbell is 45 lbs). On Wednesday, I would try to do 140 lbs.

Of course, you can’t add weight forever! When it starts to slow down, you’ll add weight every week. This week I’m squatting 220 lbs and next week will try to go 225 lbs.

What’s the point? Strength Training of course gives you strength.

  • You will get a lot stronger by lifting more weight.
  • Combine with proper nutrition, you will get a lot more muscle and achieve satisfying body look.

On the other hand, Body Building leans toward dumbbells and all the machines and cables. In my opinion, body building is a product of the industrial revolution and of modern life. Strength Training uses minimal equipments – you literally only need the barbell, some weights and an overhead bar for the pullups/chinups. And a lot of strength training movements resemble daily activities, such as deadlifts – lifting heavy things from the ground. By the way, once you get into strength training, you will NEVER, ever, lift something up from the ground with your back rounded. That’s bad form and it hurts your back!

Body building uses a lot less weight and lots more repetition. That’s why I think it’s boring. For example, I can only do 5 repetitions of Squat at 220 lbs. But with body building, I would do dumbbell curls at 20 lbs for like 20 repetitions.

  • You won’t get a lot stronger because you are not lifting heavy weight
  • Combine with super strict nutrition, you will get a lot of muscle and a fantastic body. Arnold Schwarzenegger is perhaps the most famous body builder of our time.

Why I think Strength Training Is Better

Now you might think Body Builder is better because it gives you better look. True! On the same level of nutrition, body building will more likely give you better result look-wise compared to Strength Training. However, you would have to spent a lot more time in the gym plus follow a very strict diet for optimal result.

Strength Training is better because:

  • It takes less time to train
  • It’s mental challenging! Try to lift 220lbs one more time is way more challenging than adding 5 more repetitions at 20 lbs! You really have to push boundaries to progress and that’s the beauty of it.  You will really feel that you are ‘the man’ after pumping that last repetition of weights on your shoulder. Every workout is a quest that you have to conquer.
  • Real men have strength AND look good

There are a ton of other reasons why Strength Training is better such as better knees, less likely for injuries, increase hormones level. You can read all about Strength Training at stronglifts.com

It’s funny because I started off with body building for a while until I found stronglifts.com. I don’t think I will ever look back. Just simply knowing that I am stronger than I was yesterday gives me this intense desire to hit the gym! A word of warning: it’s addicting. But it’s good addiction!

Happy lifts!

My Stats

Weight: 135lbs

Back squat: 220lbs

Deadlifts: 165lbs

Bench Press: 150lbs

Rows: 105 lbs

Overhead Press: 95lbs (shame!)

The Art of English As A Second Language

There is a problem! UFV International students are transferring to other schools, where the requirements into the degree programs are lower. And I think the root cause is this. Their classes get harder and harder while their English stays the same – the same level as when they got out of ESL. Having gone through the process of learning English and dare I say, with some success, I feel necessary that I pass on the 5 essentials of language learning to help international students in particular and anyone who’s learning a new language.

1. Listeningdictionary
2. Speaking
3. Reading
4. Writing
5. Immersing

Listening

Why is listening the most important? Dale Carnegie said in his book “How to win friends and influence people”, the best speaker is the best listener. The only way that you’re going to learn much from anything, including a new language, is to listen very well and pick up from the speakers the important pieces. I thought that international students don’t listen to English music often enough. We’ve all had those songs that just stick into our heads without us even liking them. That’s the best way to listen! I’ve abandoned Vietnamese music almost entirely, largely because of the low quality, but also because I realized that from pop to rap and rock, my listening and filtering (you know, those rap song words) skills continue to improve. My listening also goes up when I speak well.

Speaking

Listening and speaking go together because nobody can help you if they don’t understand you. International students stay in their group of friends and that’s the killer. On the other hand, I have countless moments when I’m conversing with a Canadian and I just ran out of word. Whatever I wanted to say just isn’t in my English vocabulary yet. My mind had to work really hard to figure out if I have come across the phrase before or I had to ask the guy how to say it. But that’s how I learn to speak. So speak more. Go to events, join a club, volunteer at community celebrations. Because if you can’t master listening and speaking, you are going to damage your reading and writing skills, when the level of study goes above your daily conversations. That’s why you also have to continuously improve your reading.

Reading

Thinking college textbooks are enough? Not even close. I found that most textbooks are technical and boring that the vocabulary don’t carry on. You might get away with a few common textbooks, but when you get into the upper classes, it’ll be much more difficult to digest the mountain of reading materials. The only solution is to build a solid basis of reading now. Get some books on whatever fields that you are interested in. Even 1 per month goes a long way. I also read blogs and newspapers regularly. Books improve my reading academically while blogs and newspapers deal with day to day events and are written more informally. My reading will be well-rounded. And then as a bonus, you will be surprised at how well you write.

 

Writing

Writing basically takes the vocabulary from your reading, and the smoothness of your speaking. But is it enough? Well maybe if you are in business. If you are in English, or Political Science etc, then you need to take your writing to the next level. Become a writer. My English tutor used to make me write diary of at least 1 page everyday. Then she went over and corrected it with me. That helped a lot because I know why I was wrong and how to do it right. Now you don’t need a tutor for that. The writing centre is very good at proof reading. Bug them at least once a week or ask your Canadian friends to help(see why I said you gotta join clubs and volunteer at events?). Can we go even further? Write a blog. There is something about publishing your writing to the whole world of the Internet that makes you very careful with what you write.

 

Immersing

I’ve talked about improving your listening, speaking, reading and writing. That’s the regular 4. Doing these 4 and you’ll be good at English. But if you want to be great, you gotta immerse yourself with it. Think in English. Do everything in English, including talking to your “from-the-same-country” friends. Many people complain that it’s hard, but hey, I live with my uncle and we do all things English. It takes effort and hard work. However, one day, when you feel that you have just gotta do with this English thing, do this last one and you’ll be well on your way.

Thank you very much and don’t leave UFV!

The Art of English As A Second Language

There is a problem! UFV International students are transferring to other schools, where the requirements into the degree programs are lower. And I think the root cause is this. Their classes get harder and harder while their English stays the same – the same level as when they got out of ESL. Having gone through the process of learning English and dare I say, with some success, I feel necessary that I pass on the 5 essentials of language learning to help international students in particular and anyone who’s learning a new language.

1. Listeningdictionary
2. Speaking
3. Reading
4. Writing
5. Immersing

Listening

Why is listening the most important? Dale Carnegie said in his book “How to win friends and influence people”, the best speaker is the best listener. The only way that you’re going to learn much from anything, including a new language, is to listen very well and pick up from the speakers the important pieces. I thought that international students don’t listen to English music often enough. We’ve all had those songs that just stick into our heads without us even liking them. That’s the best way to listen! I’ve abandoned Vietnamese music almost entirely, largely because of the low quality, but also because I realized that from pop to rap and rock, my listening and filtering (you know, those rap song words) skills continue to improve. My listening also goes up when I speak well.

Speaking

Listening and speaking go together because nobody can help you if they don’t understand you. International students stay in their group of friends and that’s the killer. On the other hand, I have countless moments when I’m conversing with a Canadian and I just ran out of word. Whatever I wanted to say just isn’t in my English vocabulary yet. My mind had to work really hard to figure out if I have come across the phrase before or I had to ask the guy how to say it. But that’s how I learn to speak. So speak more. Go to events, join a club, volunteer at community celebrations. Because if you can’t master listening and speaking, you are going to damage your reading and writing skills, when the level of study goes above your daily conversations. That’s why you also have to continuously improve your reading.

Reading

Thinking college textbooks are enough? Not even close. I found that most textbooks are technical and boring that the vocabulary don’t carry on. You might get away with a few common textbooks, but when you get into the upper classes, it’ll be much more difficult to digest the mountain of reading materials. The only solution is to build a solid basis of reading now. Get some books on whatever fields that you are interested in. Even 1 per month goes a long way. I also read blogs and newspapers regularly. Books improve my reading academically while blogs and newspapers deal with day to day events and are written more informally. My reading will be well-rounded. And then as a bonus, you will be surprised at how well you write.

 

Writing

Writing basically takes the vocabulary from your reading, and the smoothness of your speaking. But is it enough? Well maybe if you are in business. If you are in English, or Political Science etc, then you need to take your writing to the next level. Become a writer. My English tutor used to make me write diary of at least 1 page everyday. Then she went over and corrected it with me. That helped a lot because I know why I was wrong and how to do it right. Now you don’t need a tutor for that. The writing centre is very good at proof reading. Bug them at least once a week or ask your Canadian friends to help(see why I said you gotta join clubs and volunteer at events?). Can we go even further? Write a blog. There is something about publishing your writing to the whole world of the Internet that makes you very careful with what you write.

 

Immersing

I’ve talked about improving your listening, speaking, reading and writing. That’s the regular 4. Doing these 4 and you’ll be good at English. But if you want to be great, you gotta immerse yourself with it. Think in English. Do everything in English, including talking to your “from-the-same-country” friends. Many people complain that it’s hard, but hey, I live with my uncle and we do all things English. It takes effort and hard work. However, one day, when you feel that you have just gotta do with this English thing, do this last one and you’ll be well on your way.

Thank you very much and don’t leave UFV!

Myths Debunked: My Name

First off, my name is Nguyen Dinh Nguyen. That’s right. First name and last name the same. Only in English though. In Vietnamese, it’s Nguyễn Đình Nguyên – slightly different, though you probably won’t notice the difference even if I pronounced it to you the most Vietnamese way possible. But that ain’t matter. What matters is how Nguyen is pronounced.

Nguyen is pronounced Win! That is the closest English word that describes how Nguyen is pronounced in Vietnamese. Not Gwen, not /ngunien/.

Why am I saying this?

  • My name is Win Win! Yay, that’s the coolest name ever (quoting from my co-worker Amara!)
  • It’s a shame that some kids named Nguyen told other people that “Nguyen” is pronounced “Gwen” or “ngunien”. I just couldn’t believe it so here I am, explaining to the world how Nguyen is pronounced

What does Nguyen mean?

  • Well, Win in English means victory
  • In Vietnamese, Nguyen means “a whole, in one piece”, “united”, “fully”
  • In my language, total victory

I have an ambitious goal: To make the world aware of the “Nguyen” legend. Here is how I got started.

So now you know!

Google Chrome Makes Sense

I’ve been waiting for the Google version of Outlook/Thunderbird for a long time. A Google E-mail Client, a Google Desktop Calendar that let me save emails and store events. It seems I’ll sill have to wait for those yet here comes the Google browser-Chrome.

Opinions are mixed about Google Chrome. I conceive it’s the right move. It makes sense. Aside from the technical advantages, here are my not-so-technical list of why Chrome makes sense:

1. Integration

Microsoft still rules the office world with its Office Suite: Word, Excel, Access, Outlook. On the other hand, Google is all about the web and the web experience. Not only does Google Chrome loads pages faster, it also handles HTML codes better thus enhancing your surfing sessions.

2. Simplicity

Google Chrome

Remember the Google homepage? This is the next application of Google’s simplicity philosophy. A no-brainer browser for the rest of us. Nobody uses Internet Explorer’s add-ins. Firefox only has 30% of the browser market and half of those don’t use add-ons. Really, the only things that I need every time and all the times from my browser, that I want immediately when I open it up are:

  • The address bar
  • The search box (which is combined into the address bar!)
  • My bookmarks

And that’s all you get right away from Chrome. Brilliant!

3. Data Aggregation

My buddy, Alex McAulay, posted an entry entitled “No one cares about Privacy” a while ago. To some degree I’m eagerly agree with him. Some people are just paranoid about their privacy. They are also the ones who nag about it the most so we think every one is dying protecting their private lives! I think it’s a bunch of crap. 2 points:

  • Joel Mitch has an entry on spam, he concluded that the reason spamming is proliferating is because people are buying stuff from spam emails. Don’t want spam? Don’t buy from spam. Similarly, Google is about data. It’s what it does best. So if you don’t like giving them your data, then don’t use their service(s). Freebies do come with a price-a piece about yourself in this case. It was true and will remain true. Get used to it!
  • The rest of us: we don’t care about our privacy that much, at least in this context. So what, if Google knows a little bit about me? Soon enough the digital life is going to be at least 50% of our lives. Whether you want it or not, you’re going to have an online identity. Plus, advertising is NOT evil. Irrelevant advertisements are. I want to be marketed to, for the stuff that I’m interested in. So take my information and use it to market the right products!

So what’s your take? Is Google Chrome just another hopeless attempt to break into an already-saturated market? Or is it something else, something different than the traditional browser?