10 Tips For Restarting (Or Starting) A Gym Routine

Photo by Victor Freitas from Pexels

Have you been away from the gym for a while and now want to go back to weight training? Were you perhaps subject to a government mandated lockdown that closed down all gyms in your area and forced you to become a recluse, shunning all forms of human contact? And has that lockdown now been lifted, but it’s been so long you’ve forgotten how to wear pants and shoes let alone what you should be doing at the gym? 

Or maybe you’ve never been to a gym before and want to start a new weight training regimen.

Then read on, my intrepid soon to be gym goer. Here are 10 tips to kickstart your gym routine.

1. Have a plan. Plan out that day’s workout. Know what muscle groups you’re working and what exercises to do. This includes having alternate exercises in mind in case the machine or equipment you need is unavailable. Wandering aimlessly around the gym doesn’t count as a workout.

More broadly, have an overall workout plan that spans at least 2 months and maps out your workout split. A typical split would be: lower body day – legs and glutes, upper body pull day – back and biceps and upper body push day – chest, shoulders and triceps. Sprinkle in some abdominal work and cardio a few times a week as well. 

2. Warm up and stretch. You’ve heard it before but it bears repeating: warming up and stretching before your workout are key to avoiding injury, activating the day’s working muscle groups and improving mobility. You don’t have to be a Cirque du Soleil level contortionist but do give some love to the muscles you’re targeting before you beat them up for an hour. They’ll treat you kindly in return and won’t force you to collapse in a broken whimpering pile as you try to make your way down the stairs and to your car post workout.

3. Know your limits. Maybe you were able to squat twice your body weight pre-lockdown but you haven’t been able to do weighted squats since then. A challenging weight, rep and set range is important but more so is not injuring yourself. Start off with lighter weight and go from there. 

4. Take breaks and hydrate. Your body is already freaking out enough. No need to further punish it with fatigue and dehydration. This is also a good way to kill time while you wait for the machine or equipment you need. 

5. Track your workouts: weight, reps and sets on a spreadsheet on your phone. Not only will this help you plan your day’s workout but will also show the progress you’ve made.

6. Actively assess what your body is doing at all times. Establish a mind muscle connection while performing exercises. Be mindful of your form and technique to avoid injury and to maximize the benefits of that particular exercise. Recruit the right muscles by bringing your focus and awareness to the specific muscle group the exercise is targeting.

Another aspect of this is paying close attention to pain cues. Know when the pain is from usual muscle soreness due to appropriate load and reps and stop before it gets to, “Oh, I have mistakenly detached parts of my body due to poor form and/or too much weight, and now I am lying in a heap of agony on the floor drenched in my own tears.”

7. Mind your own workout cause everyone else is minding theirs. In general, ain’t nobody looking at you so there’s no need to feel self-conscious. Everyone is in there to train. They should be anyway. If anyone is creeping on you, report that person to gym staff right away. On the other hand, if you’re the creeper, stop that. Stop that this instant. 

8. Be prepared for your workout to be tougher than you remember. Your body likely isn’t as strong and/or flexible as it was before. Don’t let this frustrate or discourage you; instead use it as motivation to improve. Give your ego some Benadryl and put it to sleep. Focus on the day’s workout and don’t get so bogged down with where you are in relation to where you were. Strength and endurance can be built back up with time and effort. 

9. Be patient and have fun. Enjoy being able to do a normal routine thing again.

10. Feed yourself something healthy, delicious and protein packed post workout. Your muscles just did all this work for you. Reward them with nutrients. Don’t undo all your hard work by depriving your body of much needed sustenance.

When in doubt, always seek the help of a professional. All gyms have at least one trainer on staff available to answer any questions you have or help you create a workout plan.

So get back in the gym and get those gains!

 

 

 

10 Tips For Restarting (Or Starting) A Gym Routine

Photo by Victor Freitas from Pexels

Have you been away from the gym for a while and now want to go back to weight training? Were you perhaps subject to a government mandated lockdown that closed down all gyms in your area and forced you to become a recluse, shunning all forms of human contact? And has that lockdown now been lifted, but it’s been so long you’ve forgotten how to wear pants and shoes let alone what you should be doing at the gym? 

Or maybe you’ve never been to a gym before and want to start a new weight training regimen.

Then read on, my intrepid soon to be gym goer. Here are 10 tips to kickstart your gym routine.

1. Have a plan. Plan out that day’s workout. Know what muscle groups you’re working and what exercises to do. This includes having alternate exercises in mind in case the machine or equipment you need is unavailable. Wandering aimlessly around the gym doesn’t count as a workout.

More broadly, have an overall workout plan that spans at least 2 months and maps out your workout split. A typical split would be: lower body day – legs and glutes, upper body pull day – back and biceps and upper body push day – chest, shoulders and triceps. Sprinkle in some abdominal work and cardio a few times a week as well. 

2. Warm up and stretch. You’ve heard it before but it bears repeating: warming up and stretching before your workout are key to avoiding injury, activating the day’s working muscle groups and improving mobility. You don’t have to be a Cirque du Soleil level contortionist but do give some love to the muscles you’re targeting before you beat them up for an hour. They’ll treat you kindly in return and won’t force you to collapse in a broken whimpering pile as you try to make your way down the stairs and to your car post workout.

3. Know your limits. Maybe you were able to squat twice your body weight pre-lockdown but you haven’t been able to do weighted squats since then. A challenging weight, rep and set range is important but more so is not injuring yourself. Start off with lighter weight and go from there. 

4. Take breaks and hydrate. Your body is already freaking out enough. No need to further punish it with fatigue and dehydration. This is also a good way to kill time while you wait for the machine or equipment you need. 

5. Track your workouts: weight, reps and sets on a spreadsheet on your phone. Not only will this help you plan your day’s workout but will also show the progress you’ve made.

6. Actively assess what your body is doing at all times. Establish a mind muscle connection while performing exercises. Be mindful of your form and technique to avoid injury and to maximize the benefits of that particular exercise. Recruit the right muscles by bringing your focus and awareness to the specific muscle group the exercise is targeting.

Another aspect of this is paying close attention to pain cues. Know when the pain is from usual muscle soreness due to appropriate load and reps and stop before it gets to, “Oh, I have mistakenly detached parts of my body due to poor form and/or too much weight, and now I am lying in a heap of agony on the floor drenched in my own tears.”

7. Mind your own workout cause everyone else is minding theirs. In general, ain’t nobody looking at you so there’s no need to feel self-conscious. Everyone is in there to train. They should be anyway. If anyone is creeping on you, report that person to gym staff right away. On the other hand, if you’re the creeper, stop that. Stop that this instant. 

8. Be prepared for your workout to be tougher than you remember. Your body likely isn’t as strong and/or flexible as it was before. Don’t let this frustrate or discourage you; instead use it as motivation to improve. Give your ego some Benadryl and put it to sleep. Focus on the day’s workout and don’t get so bogged down with where you are in relation to where you were. Strength and endurance can be built back up with time and effort. 

9. Be patient and have fun. Enjoy being able to do a normal routine thing again.

10. Feed yourself something healthy, delicious and protein packed post workout. Your muscles just did all this work for you. Reward them with nutrients. Don’t undo all your hard work by depriving your body of much needed sustenance.

When in doubt, always seek the help of a professional. All gyms have at least one trainer on staff available to answer any questions you have or help you create a workout plan.

So get back in the gym and get those gains!

 

 

 

Best and Worst of Mortal Kombat 2021

*SPOILERS ABOUND*

You’ve been warned.

This is not a good movie. (That’s not the spoiler.) Don’t be fooled by the slick trailer or well-meaning but woefully misguided acquaintances. This movie is not worth an hour and 50 minutes of your time. It is worth precisely 11 minutes of your time. I know this because I timed it.

THE BEST

The aforementioned first 11 minutes.

We open on the Hanzo Hasashi Compound in Japan, 1617. Tokugawa period setting means one thing: some epicness is about to go down. A society so emotionally repressed that a husband has to surreptitiously lean into his wife to whisper, “I like you. Do you like me? Check yes or no.” for fear someone in his household staff should overhear him acting like he even knows the woman? Yes, please. (What he actually says is quite lovely and I would be so blessed should someone ever express such a sentiment about me.) After he hies off to fetch more buckets of water, we get a close up on Chekhov’s kunai: lightweight and versatile, it is the discerning old timey Japanese farmer’s and ninja’s implement of choice. Hanzo’s wife is using it to plant some … plants and Hanzo will later fashion his “Scorpion tail” weapon out of it and some rope and then lay total and bloody waste to Bi-Han’s henchmen.

Bi who?

Bi-Han, later Sub-Zero, (who I resorted to calling Bi-Itch as the movie wore on because I am 12 years old, evidently) clearly has some kind of age old grudge to settle with Hasashi and his entire bloodline. As far as we non game playing viewers go, he’s some kind of amalgamated Kung Fu master with a nasty attitude and supernatural powers who relishes menacing women and children with his icicle hands.

There’s so much pathos and genuine emotion when Hanzo finds his wife and son slaughtered and encased in ice; that moment of tenderness he and his wife shared earlier now eclipsed by their murder. Hiroyuki Sanada does a lot of silent heavy lifting here and earns even more of his paycheck when his face hardens, and he turns into ninja terminator on a dime. Straight stabbing dudes through the crown of the head! You could give me three hours of this and I wouldn’t tire of it. The grace and precision with which Hanzo slices and dices his foes set against the idyllic setting of his home now defiled deserves a chef’s kiss; the geysers of blood more artful than gory also earns a hat tip.

I cackled at Bi-Han giving his speech, gloating about exterminating Hanzo’s bloodline and Hanzo’s like, “Yeah, no idea what you’re saying ‘cause I don’t understand Chinese, but I’m gonna lay down a whooping on you all the same.” Did Bi-Han tell his Japanese language tutor, “Yo, I need just enough Japanese to terrorize Hasashi’s wife and kid, but I don’t wanna have to memorize my whole triumphant screed about how I’m finally gonna succeed at eradicating his bloodline. He can probably figure that out from context anyway.” Did he learn to say two things: Where is the bathroom and where is Hanzo? Tourists, man. Hanzo was probably like, “Are you still mad I didn’t invite you out to karaoke that one time? It was totally last minute and they were my college buddies who you don’t know anyway. Slaughtering my family is kind of a disproportionate response, don’t you think?”

The fight choreography in this opening sequence was stellar with both Hanzo and Bi-Han near flawless in their fighting styles. Had they kept the rest of the movie as the story between these two foes, it would have been a far better viewing experience. Unfortunately for Hanzo and all of us because it meant the birth of the rest of this, for lack of a better word, “story,” Bi-Han does succeed in delivering the killing blow thereby depriving us of the best character in this whole movie. You’re the worst, Bi-Itch. The worst.

THE WORST (Besides Bi-Han)

The rest of this movie.

The first eleven minutes is what suckered me into watching the whole thing as I vainly hoped that rad opening wasn’t just a fluke. It was just a fluke. It’s like two different movies Frankensteined together. And like Frankenstein’s monster, it leads to disaster. Everything after Raiden makes his attention whoring entrance with a cheesy lighting display and engages in some light babynapping is a boring generic mess that nobody, not even the characters themselves, cares about. You can see the will to live ebbing from their expressions with each passing scene. Kung Lao, who gets his soul sucked away by Shang Tsung, was probably wishing it could have happened several scenes earlier just to free himself from this steaming pile of fetid nonsense that’s been fermenting in the hot sun so long that not even the raccoons will give it a glance.

No, giving this an R rating doesn’t make it a less sucky movie. It just makes it a terrible movie with f bombs and blood spattered around. So like when you carpet bomb the bathroom with some floral scented room spray after annihilating the commode with the remains of your Taco Bell extravaganza. You only made the doo doo smell worse by hot gluing dead rotten flowers to your turd grenades and now the stench is clinging to your clothes and hair making you radioactive for the next week.

To be fair, there’s probably enough for fans of the game to enjoy here. There are a ton of fights, all of them bloody, all of them fatal, though no actual tournament. All game characters deliver their signature finishing moves so there’s plenty for past players to feel nostalgic about and present players to feel smug about since they can point out all the Easter eggs to their non playing friends who, trust me, do NOT care.

The character of Cole Young, predictably a MMA fighter past his prime and instantly forgettable, (played by Lewis Tan who auditioned for Marvel’s Shang-Chi but lost out to Simu Liu because they wanted a lead with comedic chops, if that and the casting of Awkwafina gives you an indication of the tone of that movie) isn’t an in-game character and was created specifically for this film. Which makes me ask why the character had to be a dude at all? Why couldn’t we have an ass kicking female descendant of Hanzo’s defending Earthrealm from Outworld’s incursions? Did they think viewers would be confused since Hanzo’s daughter was the sole survivor, and we’d think the present day character, hundreds of years later, is his actual daughter? Or did they think that one Earthrealm lady fighter in the form of Sonya Blade was more than enough? I shouldn’t have to point out how stupid that is. If you can have five (four and then three depending on where you are in the movie) dudes as Earthrealm’s champions, you can have two ladies at minimum. That was a missed opportunity.

The most annoying part of this movie is not that the majority of it was so terrible, it makes you lose all faith in humanity. It’s that there was a much better story lurking around the edges of this devil’s spawn gift that keeps on giving. Hanzo Hasashi was on screen for a fraction of the entire movie’s run time and yet he was a much more compelling character than all of Earthrealm’s champions put together. I would have much preferred to watch his backstory leading up to Bi-Han’s attack on his home and/or his journey to hell and how he conquered its fires. Stop teasing me with these poseur badasses when you had the real deal engaging in awesomeness off camera. It’s like the John Wick movies without John Wick, just a bunch of rando assassins.

They’re planning four more movies, hoping to capture some MCU style magic and box office success, but that’s easily six movies too many. Just give me one movie focused solely on Hanzo Hasashi and I might forgive you the atrocity that was this first one.

 

 

Best and Worst of Mortal Kombat 2021

*SPOILERS ABOUND*

You’ve been warned.

This is not a good movie. (That’s not the spoiler.) Don’t be fooled by the slick trailer or well-meaning but woefully misguided acquaintances. This movie is not worth an hour and 50 minutes of your time. It is worth precisely 11 minutes of your time. I know this because I timed it.

THE BEST

The aforementioned first 11 minutes.

We open on the Hanzo Hasashi Compound in Japan, 1617. Tokugawa period setting means one thing: some epicness is about to go down. A society so emotionally repressed that a husband has to surreptitiously lean into his wife to whisper, “I like you. Do you like me? Check yes or no.” for fear someone in his household staff should overhear him acting like he even knows the woman? Yes, please. (What he actually says is quite lovely and I would be so blessed should someone ever express such a sentiment about me.) After he hies off to fetch more buckets of water, we get a close up on Chekhov’s kunai: lightweight and versatile, it is the discerning old timey Japanese farmer’s and ninja’s implement of choice. Hanzo’s wife is using it to plant some … plants and Hanzo will later fashion his “Scorpion tail” weapon out of it and some rope and then lay total and bloody waste to Bi-Han’s henchmen.

Bi who?

Bi-Han, later Sub-Zero, (who I resorted to calling Bi-Itch as the movie wore on because I am 12 years old, evidently) clearly has some kind of age old grudge to settle with Hasashi and his entire bloodline. As far as we non game playing viewers go, he’s some kind of amalgamated Kung Fu master with a nasty attitude and supernatural powers who relishes menacing women and children with his icicle hands.

There’s so much pathos and genuine emotion when Hanzo finds his wife and son slaughtered and encased in ice; that moment of tenderness he and his wife shared earlier now eclipsed by their murder. Hiroyuki Sanada does a lot of silent heavy lifting here and earns even more of his paycheck when his face hardens, and he turns into ninja terminator on a dime. Straight stabbing dudes through the crown of the head! You could give me three hours of this and I wouldn’t tire of it. The grace and precision with which Hanzo slices and dices his foes set against the idyllic setting of his home now defiled deserves a chef’s kiss; the geysers of blood more artful than gory also earns a hat tip.

I cackled at Bi-Han giving his speech, gloating about exterminating Hanzo’s bloodline and Hanzo’s like, “Yeah, no idea what you’re saying ‘cause I don’t understand Chinese, but I’m gonna lay down a whooping on you all the same.” Did Bi-Han tell his Japanese language tutor, “Yo, I need just enough Japanese to terrorize Hasashi’s wife and kid, but I don’t wanna have to memorize my whole triumphant screed about how I’m finally gonna succeed at eradicating his bloodline. He can probably figure that out from context anyway.” Did he learn to say two things: Where is the bathroom and where is Hanzo? Tourists, man. Hanzo was probably like, “Are you still mad I didn’t invite you out to karaoke that one time? It was totally last minute and they were my college buddies who you don’t know anyway. Slaughtering my family is kind of a disproportionate response, don’t you think?”

The fight choreography in this opening sequence was stellar with both Hanzo and Bi-Han near flawless in their fighting styles. Had they kept the rest of the movie as the story between these two foes, it would have been a far better viewing experience. Unfortunately for Hanzo and all of us because it meant the birth of the rest of this, for lack of a better word, “story,” Bi-Han does succeed in delivering the killing blow thereby depriving us of the best character in this whole movie. You’re the worst, Bi-Itch. The worst.

THE WORST (Besides Bi-Han)

The rest of this movie.

The first eleven minutes is what suckered me into watching the whole thing as I vainly hoped that rad opening wasn’t just a fluke. It was just a fluke. It’s like two different movies Frankensteined together. And like Frankenstein’s monster, it leads to disaster. Everything after Raiden makes his attention whoring entrance with a cheesy lighting display and engages in some light babynapping is a boring generic mess that nobody, not even the characters themselves, cares about. You can see the will to live ebbing from their expressions with each passing scene. Kung Lao, who gets his soul sucked away by Shang Tsung, was probably wishing it could have happened several scenes earlier just to free himself from this steaming pile of fetid nonsense that’s been fermenting in the hot sun so long that not even the raccoons will give it a glance.

No, giving this an R rating doesn’t make it a less sucky movie. It just makes it a terrible movie with f bombs and blood spattered around. So like when you carpet bomb the bathroom with some floral scented room spray after annihilating the commode with the remains of your Taco Bell extravaganza. You only made the doo doo smell worse by hot gluing dead rotten flowers to your turd grenades and now the stench is clinging to your clothes and hair making you radioactive for the next week.

To be fair, there’s probably enough for fans of the game to enjoy here. There are a ton of fights, all of them bloody, all of them fatal, though no actual tournament. All game characters deliver their signature finishing moves so there’s plenty for past players to feel nostalgic about and present players to feel smug about since they can point out all the Easter eggs to their non playing friends who, trust me, do NOT care.

The character of Cole Young, predictably a MMA fighter past his prime and instantly forgettable, (played by Lewis Tan who auditioned for Marvel’s Shang-Chi but lost out to Simu Liu because they wanted a lead with comedic chops, if that and the casting of Awkwafina gives you an indication of the tone of that movie) isn’t an in-game character and was created specifically for this film. Which makes me ask why the character had to be a dude at all? Why couldn’t we have an ass kicking female descendant of Hanzo’s defending Earthrealm from Outworld’s incursions? Did they think viewers would be confused since Hanzo’s daughter was the sole survivor, and we’d think the present day character, hundreds of years later, is his actual daughter? Or did they think that one Earthrealm lady fighter in the form of Sonya Blade was more than enough? I shouldn’t have to point out how stupid that is. If you can have five (four and then three depending on where you are in the movie) dudes as Earthrealm’s champions, you can have two ladies at minimum. That was a missed opportunity.

The most annoying part of this movie is not that the majority of it was so terrible, it makes you lose all faith in humanity. It’s that there was a much better story lurking around the edges of this devil’s spawn gift that keeps on giving. Hanzo Hasashi was on screen for a fraction of the entire movie’s run time and yet he was a much more compelling character than all of Earthrealm’s champions put together. I would have much preferred to watch his backstory leading up to Bi-Han’s attack on his home and/or his journey to hell and how he conquered its fires. Stop teasing me with these poseur badasses when you had the real deal engaging in awesomeness off camera. It’s like the John Wick movies without John Wick, just a bunch of rando assassins.

They’re planning four more movies, hoping to capture some MCU style magic and box office success, but that’s easily six movies too many. Just give me one movie focused solely on Hanzo Hasashi and I might forgive you the atrocity that was this first one.