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Diary of a meathead traveller Part III: Completing GPP in Laos

Luang Prabang was hot, really bloody hot. Combined with the humidity this time of year in Northern Laos is a true test for the sweater.  It took a good two hours to cool down after a session but as I mentioned last time I was now full of beans and I wasn’t going to let a minor heat stroke risk deter me from getting through the next three sessions.  The gym I found was in a small shopping annex and was a complete change from what I had experienced in Vietnam. My initial thoughts were one of disappointment for although it had all the essential upper body stuff there didn’t appear to be a squat rack.

The gym itself was very small, no bigger than the lifting platform area of Dave’s, but empty compared to Vietnam. Some of it even spilt out into the annex thoroughfare. In the hallway was the lat pull down, a low row and out of sight around the corner there she was. Heavy framed and in the dark like the fat girl at the school disco she new I was looking. I had three really great sessions there sticking to the same formula of my previous workouts. There was no running in Luang Prabang due to the heat so I opted again for the burpee pyramid and on one occasion some sprints up stairs that lead to a temple.

None of the shops were ever open in this corridor. I did the finisher up and down this very strip.

Amped warm + Mobility
Bench press
D/B floor press
S/A row
Face pulls
3×8 60rest for all exercises

Burpee pyramid of death official time 4mins 38s
Ten sprints up the steps (40 metres) walk back down, rest for as long as it took Paul to do his.

As usual in subsequent sessions I substituted in dips and press ups as well as close grip chins and low rows but always kept the legs the same. Practicing my squats or just squatting is very important to any program I write. You can’t beat them, they’re great and if you’re not doing them then report to Dave immediately so he can lambast you until your ears bleed.  I think at this stage I also started doing the upper body as push/pull supersets which worked great for keeping my heart rate up. I should probably confess that my burpees are pretty week but at least I’m consistent with every rep. I hope to beat that time when I next do them. It shouldn’t be that difficult as that is slow even be geological time scales.

 The stair sprints was an interesting challenge. It was hard and my legs we well and truly jellified but a nice change from longer distance running or burpees.  Having a mate do it with me was very helpful. It added both competition as well as teamwork a mix not frequently available to the lone wolf gym goer. Especially in this non specific stage of training I highly recommend devising finishers that yourself and a friend can do together regardless of whether you do the same main session.

Just half way up these because I’m lazy

Rest days regardless of how or what you train are to be taken seriously.  Remember you are playing the long game and that more training certainly doesn’t always equal more results.  I tried to have every other day off during this time, something that was not always easy to do. With no set travel itinerary long travel days can get in the way of training but as mentioned last time things don’t need to be too regimented in GPP. Rest when you need rest, train when you can was the theory behind my madness and in no uncertain terms I stretched this as far as possible in both Vang Vien and a week later in Don Det. Those of you that have travelled there will no the drill and most of you that know me well know I love a drink and a party.  I’ll spare you the details and just say when in Rome.

Maybe I went over the top or maybe it’s because I knew where my training was heading but these were to be the last two blow outs of my travels. Especially after all the booze in Vang Vien drinking just didn’t have the same appeal. The blog although not started yet I knew was going to happen and this definitely focused me even more.

This guy bearly moved the whole time I was watching. Moon bear Luang Prabang Laos

Vientiane was not the easiest place to find a gym but it does exist. Most locals I asked didn’t know of it and due to it being just before Laos New year they were mainly focused on boozing and not helping the helpless farlang (Laoatian for white dude).

After some guess work and another long walk I finally stumbled upon the gym and I was nothing short of amazed. No topless men, clean, well equipped and crucially $2. Even the music was half decent which is really saying something; one of probably three gripes I have about Asia is that nowhere plays good tunes. The squat rack was once again free and the sessions I did were of the same ilk as the previous in Loas. As usual substitutes were made to ensure variety apart from the legs which romained (sorry) the same.

Amped warm up + mobility
Close grip pull ups
Military press
S/A row
Press ups
Curls s/s triceps push downs

3×8 on everything with 1min rest

Run home 20mins

These were the final sessions of GPP and on reflection I can say I am very happy with what I had achieved since day 1. Given the circumstances I was consistent and well prepared: I was more confident and in a better physical condition then 12 or so sessions before. I was truly looking forward to Westside for skinny bastards and I knew that far from being tired I would only see more progress in weeks to come.

This is a more equipped version of a gym I decided not to train in in Don Det.

Thanks for reading


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