Sam and Andrew get insanely jacked

November 18, 2021 — by Sam Bai and Andrew Lin
Two boys on a gnarly journey to get swole.

Two skinny kids, one shared dream of becoming less skinny. Will their willpower push them to achieve their goals? Or will they lose motivation and fail spectacularly? 

Tired of being weak (and in need of something to do), we answered The Falcon’s sports editors’ call for two brave and foolish reporters to compete with each other on a two-week workout challenge. Trying to top the athletic feats of one another gave us motivation to always train harder. Throughout this grueling fortnight, consistency was key, and thanks to the power of friendship and Arnold Schwarzenegger pictures, we persevered. 

Andrew sets the bar higher 

Two months ago, I was new to the concept of exercise. Other than an embarrassing stint on the 6th grade cross country team, I had never participated in a sport in my life. 

However, that changed when I noticed that my friends had grown taller and stronger during quarantine; I became aware of how small I was. 

On Sept. 3, I began doing compound lifts. That day, I set ambitious goals for myself: increasing my bench press from 70 to 120 pounds, deadlift from 150 to 200 pounds, squat from 90 to 200 pounds and increasing my body weight from 120 to 130 pounds.

On the first few days of the workout challenge, I was aimless. Although I had no trouble employing isolation exercises such as rows, curls and lateral raises to work my arms, I struggled to feel my chest exert effort while bench pressing. 

During leg days, I did sumo deadlifts at the 150 pound range. Here, I identified another problem: In order to keep the spine in a neutral position, the back muscles must be activated during deadlifts. Thus, a deadlift is a back exercise as much as it is a leg exercise. However, even after many reps, I could not feel my upper back work either. 

As a result, I realized my goal for this challenge was to fix my form. I reduced my bench press weight from 100 pounds to 90 and also cut squats out of my routine to focus on deadlifts. 

Once two 45-pound plates my dad ordered arrived, things got easier. The increased radius of the 45-pound plates made my starting position higher, improving my technique. On Oct. 26, I pulled a 200 pound sumo deadlift for five reps. Two days later, I managed to complete one rep of 120 pounds. 

As of Oct. 28, I had met two of the four goals I set for myself on Sept. 3. I started to do squats again, with my rep max around 160 pounds. 40 pounds to go.

My final, hardest goal was increasing my body weight to 130 pounds. I’ve always been a picky eater. On weekends, I still often skip breakfast. I exceeded 130 pounds for two days, but then slacked off during Halloween weekend and dropped back to 127 pounds. 

What did I learn? To gain muscle mass, committed exercise is not enough. Diet and recovery are just as important. I’m still learning how to track calories, eat a calorie surplus and keep my sleep schedule consistent to complement my workout routine.


Sam stops being lazy

I have not had motivation to work out since freshman P.E.I always tell myself the same excuse: I don’t have enough time; I need to work on my homework first. I embarked on this challenge to regain the motivation to exercise. 

At home, my exercise equipment consists of a pull-up bar, some dumbbells and a treadmill. Because of this, I couldn’t do heavy compound lifts and resorted to calisthenic exercises.

For the first few days of this challenge, I did not know what exercises to do. I settled on push-ups, sit-ups and pull-ups, which were initially painful.

With push-ups, my arms would work fine one second, but then wobble and give out. I couldn’t do more than a single pull-up at a time and would have to wait 10 minutes before doing another. I mindlessly did sit-ups to the point of pain and was sore for days later.

To obtain a more effective workout routine, I used a video that Class of 2021 alumnus Rohan Kumar used, a Fraser Wilson 20 minute full body workout

By using the full body workout video to guide my workouts, which consisted of full body exercises like extended plank-ups and Russian twists, I could now measure my progress and start seeing results. I also added exercises such as lateral raises to exercise my shoulders.

I had trouble following the full-body workout video at first and had to add in rests between exercises. So, my first sub-goal that I set for myself was to be able to follow the video without breaking much of a sweat. 

After only a week, I was able to reach the goal and follow the video with ease. To further push myself, I set another goal: to start using weights, which allowed me to get more muscle exertion in the same number of reps. I ended up wearing my backpack which could be filled with textbooks for weight, increasing the amount of books every time I felt that I wasn’t pushing myself enough.

In the final days of the challenge, I was able to follow the exercises with the weighted backpack with no difficulty. Rather than feeling drained after a workout, I now felt refreshed. Working out slowly evolved from a chore to something that I looked forward to doing. Though the challenge ended, I still plan on continuing my workouts, hopefully making it part of my daily routine. 


Final consensus

On the last day of the challenge, we tallied up our results and tried to find a true winner. However, we both agreed that our triumphs were equal in magnitude because we accomplished our individual goals. In the end, we both got more fit — perhaps not to the degree of the almighty Arnold Schwarzenegger — but we can confidently say that our motivation for working out has greatly improved after participating in this workout challenge.

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