Iron Plates vs Bumper Plates: Why Does Iron Feel Heavier Even With The Same Weight?

Since you’ve started training, you’ve always used bumper plates. Maybe those were the plates you started using when you first started lifting and you’ve stuck to it out of habit. But one day, all the bumper plates in the gym were used up. No biggie – weight is weight, right? You load the bar for deadlifts with iron plates. As the weight got closer to your working weight, you noticed that it feels harder than usual. You double-check the weight to make sure it’s correctly loaded. Yup, it’s correct. Does it make a difference which plates are being used? Turns out it does and here’s why.

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The Tortoise And The Hare And Its Application To Your Fitness Goal

As a coach, I encounter clients who want to get strong fast, get their physique, body weight and body fat percentage goals ASAP on a regular basis. While there’s nothing wrong with setting an optimistic goal, there are things that I wish I could have explained better to them to give them a better perspective of time and feasibility. Here’s my attempt to do so, using the lessons learned from the familiar childhood bedtime story, The Tortoise and The Hare.

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What I Learned From Constantly Failing My Diet

If you have been following Hygieia’s social media pages for a while, you might remember me documenting my attempts to gain weight and failing. I felt that something was off, but didn’t know what was wrong. It was after consulting with an experienced dietician that knows how to work with people that I realised how having the right professional in your corner can make a difference. Here’s what I learned.

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Cheating Depth And A Lesson From Master Yoda

The population census conducted in hell revealed that the most prevalent “squat-sin” amongst the participants was cheating (depth) when they think that they might fail the next rep. Researcher and Starting Strength Coach, Joannes Marvin, shares his wisdom in preventing this embarrassing issue.

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Getting Back To The Gym – How To Start Training After a Long Break

Right now, strength gyms in Singapore are being forced to close from 8th May until 13th June. No prizes for guessing why. So if you don’t lift barbells for a few weeks, what’s going to happen? Will you lose all your gains? Will you be a weak puddle of mush when you finally get back under the barbell? Here’s how to get back to strength training after a break.

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How To Never Mentally Give Up A Rep – Stop Being a Coward

The timer goes off, it’s time to go for your PR. Palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy. You’re nervous, but on the surface you look calm and ready. The bar is loaded at a weight you’ve never done before. The last warm-up felt unusually heavy. Your mind unknowingly start to doubt yourself, “if the last warm-up already felt that heavy, can I really lift that weight on the bar”? Here are 5 ways to mentally prepare and push through a heavy lift.

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The Patient’s Dilemma

Ever been told by a doctor that you should avoid lifting weights, running, *insert physical activity here* because of your back, neck, shoulder or knee pain? At the same time, that same doctor recommends that you should strengthen the muscles around the structure that’s causing the pain as it’ll help stabilise the joint. So what should you do? You’re not alone in this dilemma – Coach Marvin had the same experience when he was diagnosed with a spine degenerative condition and was told to avoid his favourite sport. Here’s why the advice given by the doctor isn’t always sound.

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How To Warm Up For Barbell Lifts – Improve Your Performance With The Optimal Warm-Up Routine

Most of us have a clear training routine. You know that you’ll walk into the gym, change into lifting clothes, put on lifting gear and head to the rack. You know that you’ll start your training with squats, and you know the exact numbers for your working weight, sets and reps.

But what about your warm-up weights? And how many sets or reps? Actually, how much warm-ups do you even need to do?

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Your Complete Guide To Lifting Belts

If you’ve been lifting for a while, you know that weightlifting shoes are essential. What about weightlifting belts?

We usually hear a range of reactions from lifters, from “Nah, I’ll wait till I’m able to lift X kg before I start using a belt!” to “I see guys who wear a belt for their entire gym session, so do I need one too?”

Belts are important if you’re serious about lifting. Here’s a guide to why you might need one, and what to look out for.

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An Interview With Shaun: The History Of Hygieia

Happy 4th anniversary to Hygieia Strength & Conditioning!

This month marks the 4th year since Hygieia Strength and Conditioning opened its doors. Usually, we’d commemorate every anniversary with a BBQ outside the gym, to thank everyone for their support, to celebrate another year of being in business, and to look forward to the next. While COVID restrictions have prevented our traditional BBQ this year, one of our clients, Patricia, suggested having an article on the history of Hygieia mark the occasion.

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Survival Reaction In the Squat – The Chesty Edition

A heavy bar is loaded on your back. You start descending, bending your knees and hips so that your hip crease dips below the top of your patella. You try to get back up, but darn, it’s heavy! Here comes your natural instinct to survive – raising the chest up, in the hope that the bar will follow. Even worse, you might start looking up! Because you’ve got to look up to go up, right? Well, well. If this is you, please read this article to understand how your survival reaction is detrimental to the lift.

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Latihan Barbel adalah Obat yang Ampuh

“[S]aat ini tidak ada bukti yang pasti bahwa latihan kekuatan – atau program latihan dan diet lain – akan memperpanjang masa hidup secara signifikan. Tapi dengan bukti ilmiah yang banyak, walau memiliki kelemahan, secara kuat menunjukkan bahwa kita bisa mengubah arah penurunan.” [Bahasa Indonesia translation of Barbell Training is Big Medicine]

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How To Set up Safely For The Barbell Lifts

Learning to squat, press, bench, and deadlift; there’s no lack of tutorials showing you how to do each one of those correctly and safely. However, safety is not only dictated by your form or whether or not you are choosing the correct weight on the first day, but also knowing how to set up your equipment correctly. Here are some guidelines for your reference.

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Kekuatan & Barbel – Fondasi Kebugaran

Jika saya mendapatkan satu dolar setiap kali seorang klien atau atlet bertanya mengapa mereka harus melakukan squat dan tidak bisakah mereka melakukan lunge saja, atau pertanyaan-pertanyaan serupa dengan variasi latihan berbeda, saya mungkin mendapatkan cukup uang untuk membuka gym yang telah idamkan. Jika saya menambahkannya sebanyak pertanyaan serupa di forum, saya bahkan mungkin bisa membayar sewanya. [Indonesian translation of Strength & Barbells by fellow Starting Strength Coach, Michael Wolf]

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How Strong is Strong Enough?

You’ve been training for a while, and you noticed how much you’ve progressed. Your numbers have indeed been going up, but are you strong enough? Before worrying about whether or not you’re strong enough, take a moment and think about why you started strength training in the first place.

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How To Rehab Muscle Strains Or Tears – Rehab, Not Rest, Will Speed Up Recovery

If you’ve strained or torn a muscle, most doctors will tell you to take some painkillers and rest the affected area. But extended rest and waiting for the injured muscle to heal on its own means that its recovery will be slowed down and the muscle fibres don’t heal back properly. Find out what you should do to speed up your recovery and lower the chances of injuring the muscle again.

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3 Tips to Speed Up Your Workout – How to Save Time in the Gym While Still Making Gains

It seems like there’s never enough time in our busy lives. Do you rush to the gym, then rush to complete your lifts while your mind is constantly thinking about how little time you have left before you’ve got to go back to work or to pick your kids? Within the time you have, how can you be more efficient while still maximising your strength gains? Here are 3 things that you can do to speed up your workout and still continue to make gains.

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The Five-second Rule

Have you heard of the five-second rule? Have you noticed yourself or seen anyone giving up on their lifts, although it looked relatively easy until they gave up?

If you are guilty of such a crime, don’t worry! You are not alone! The majority of the lifters belongs to Team “Let it go!”

Bro science tells us that there are only two kinds of lifters in this world – lifters that are strong and lifters who let it (the bar) go.

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The Barbell, The Teacher (Part 3) – Committing to Consistency and Excellence

While barbells are the best way to get strong, the improved physical capabilities isn’t the only benefit.

In Part 1 and Part 2, we saw how Patience and Hard Work can positively influence your life, by encouraging you to forgo short term gratification for long term benefit, and training up your ability to stick with doing hard things. 

Now in Part 3, we’ll look at the lesson of Practice and how it helps you get better in just about anything you want to do. 

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The Barbell, The Teacher (Part 2) – Becoming a Better Version of Yourself

The apparently simple process of barbell training will teach you life lessons that are useful both inside and outside the gym.

In Part 1 of this article series, we learned the lesson of Patience — how you should use it to train consistently and get strong slowly, instead of looking for unrealistic shortcuts.

Now in Part 2, we’ll look at the lesson of Hard Work, and how it helps you become a better version of yourself.

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The Barbell, The Teacher (Part 1) – Lessons with the Power to Change your Life

The barbell – it’s simply a piece of machined steel, a useful tool to get you strong when used correctly. But if you immerse yourself and commit to training, you will find that it does more than just get you physically strong.

The barbell and the process of training teaches you many lessons, and develops uncommon character traits that will positively affect your life outside the gym.

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Foolproof Back Tweak Fix

Earlier this month, I had a bad back tweak from squatting. It was terrible. I was limping for almost a week. At one point, it was so painful to wake up from bed; I was shaking for a few minutes standing up. Here’s a detailed story of how it happened, why it happened, and what I did to recover.

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Stop Wasting Your Time In The Gym

If you’ve been training at a commercial gym for a while, pause, take a look around and observe the regulars. You’ll realise that most of them are performing or look exactly the same as they did a few months (or even years) ago.

Now, take a moment and review your own training. Have you been making steady progress or have you been going around in circles?

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Getting My Mom To Train

I love my parents, and I bet you do too. My goal to increase my parent’s quality of life by being physically independent and enjoying whatever they want to do for the rest of their life, however long their life will be.

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Embracing The Discomfort Of Training

Training isn’t meant to be comfortable – it never was, never is and never will be. If you’re serious about your training and want to make progress, you must shed the mindset of ‘working within your comfort zone’ and start getting comfortable with being uncomfortable.

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Gyms: Are They Necessary?

In this article, we’ll dive into the importance of gyms when it comes to training, not exercising, and how your mindset and outlook inevitably impact your view of gym culture…

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Strength and Older Adults

Strength is something that everyone loses as they age – this is an irrefutable fact and occurs whether you like it or not. One does not appreciate the role that strength plays in their life until they find themselves in a situation whereby they lack the strength to perform simple activities of daily living. Getting a weak older adult stronger is like handing the keys to their independence back to them. But how does an older adult with aches/pains/injuries and no training experience get stronger safely using barbell training? Here’s a brief look at it’s done.

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Consistency is Key

Oh boy, what a boring title! The content of this article could potentially be boring, as with the message that I’m trying to send across. What is said here is not a secret…

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Training and Travelling

You’ve finalised your flights, booked your hotel and ready to go on your well-deserved holiday. While researching the location for places to see and things to eat, it…

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How to Start Squatting

If you’re able to squat to proper depth (hip crease below the top of your kneecap) with a barbell on your back, this article isn’t for you. If you’re able to do a bodyweight

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My interest in fitness started when I was around 19 years old. Being overweight for most of my growing up years, I decided to do something about it. After months of not being able to achieve the desired results, I began poring through books and articles about training and nutrition. The more I read, the more interested I became in this field, and got better results when the the newly discovered knowledge was applied. After 1 year of persistence and hard work, I lost 24kg and felt fantastic. The sense of achievement motivated me to pursue a career in working with people to help them achieve their own fitness goals.

After achieving my weight loss goal, I tried a variety of training programs for a few years, looking for a new goal to train towards. After aimlessly moving around from program to program, I chanced upon a book called Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training, written by renowned strength and conditioning expert, Mark Rippetoe. Little did I know that this book was about to change my life and coaching career.

At that point, I had experience training with barbells and was relatively familiar with it but never have I come across any material that gave such explicitly detailed explanations of how to perform the barbell lifts. I devoured the book and modified my lifting technique and program. In just a few months, I was pleasantly surprised by how much stronger he had become. I now had a new goal to work towards – getting strong.

With full confidence in the efficacy of the Starting Strength methodology, I began coaching my clients using this program and got them stronger than they ever thought was possible. The consistent success my clients achieved through the program cemented my confidence in Mark Rippetoe’s teachings. I then decided to pursue the credential of being a Starting Strength Coach and I’m currently the first and only certified coach in Singapore and South-East Asia

In my 9 years of experience, I have given talks and ran programs at numerous companies and worked with a diverse group clientele of all ages with a variety of goals. Today, I specialise in coaching people in their 40s, 50s and beyond because it brings me a great sense of satisfaction to be part of the process of improving this demographics’ health and quality of life by getting them stronger.