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Diary of a meathead traveller Part V: Koh Lanta, Kuala Lumpur, Melbourne & Bondi

Koh Lanta was the perfect place for me to begin my new life as one of those sober people.  Thai New year is done and dusted by mid April and the west coast begins its green season (low season in layman’s terms) becoming ghostly quiet.  There are times of the day when you wouldn’t be surprised to see tumbleweeds, desperately racing each other to wave down the few remaining tuk tuks that still run fares.  One upside of this quietness, distraction is hard to come by. Days are spent relaxing on the beach with intermittent breaks for food or maybe a zip around on the scooter.

In essence it’s a schedule built for a gym monkey, eat, train, eat, beach, eat, sleep, repeat.  With 10 days to kill until our trip down under only an idiot wouldn’t make the most of this gift from the training gods.

As I confessed last week the layout of this blog will become somewhat repetitive over the coming editions.  Even the most avid fan, of which I’m sure there are vast numbers, is at risk of getting slightly bored of seeing the same workout repeatedly written down, therefore, I hold no grudge if you begin to pay less attention to that section. However, the key word there is ‘less’.

The comments at the end of each workout do provide a concise summary, including the improvements and general feelings about the session. Obviously if you are reading purely because of my ability as a raconteur, the hilarity of my anecdotes and couldn’t care less whether my bench improves, or indeed whether my calves a growing (they aren’t), then the statement above doesn’t apply to you. You may carry on.

Training diary.

BOR-bent over row
RDL-romanian deadlift
ROM-range of movement
DOMS-delayed onset muscle stiffness


MEUB Koh Lanta
Amped warm up + mobility 10mins

Bench – 92.5kg 5rep max
D/B Bench –  20kg 2sets max reps
BOR – 62.5kg s/s Rev fly 5kg 4×12 (90s rest)
D/B Shrugs – 35kg 30kg  4×15 (90s rest)
Curls – 12.5kg  4×12 (90s rest)

Comments: most chuffed with the improvement in bench both in reps and weight. This mainly due to better technique, confidence and effective warm up sets. Form lost on 3rd & 4th set of BOR but ego got the better of me.  Still suck at curls.

DELB Koh Lanta
Amped warm up + mobility 10mins

Broad jumps – 8×3 (1min rest)
Bulgarian split squat front leg raised w/ D/B – 12.5kg 3x 10 (90s rest)
RDL – 100kg 3×12 (90s rest)
Hanging knee raises body weight – 4×15 (90s rest)

Comments: landed the jumps much better today. Increased weight on the Bulgarians as felt more confident with the movement. Lacked mental toughness on the abs. Must be at least willing to push harder. Grip still terrible.

Rest day:
Motorbike cruise around Koh Lanta.  Walking on the beach.

UBR Koh Lanta
Amped warm up + mobility 10mins

Barbell bench – 60% 55kg 3xmax reps (2min rest) (18/20/12)
Wide chins s/s face pulls – 4x 8-12 (90s rest)
D/B military press – 20/17.5kg 4×8-12 (90s rest)
B/B – 70kg s/s D/B triceps extension – 25kg 3×10 (60s rest)
Plate pinch grip – 10s hold 10s rest 3×3 15 kg

Comments: bench going well. The reps a little different from last week but still I feel an improvement in technique. Chins were horrible, they are the bane of my life. Amazing how much easier I find barbell shrugs to dumbbells of equivalent weight.  Grip was worse today. May have to do with the heavier Romanians from the other session.

LBME Kuala Lumpur Sports TOTO fitness centre
Amped warm up + mobility 10mins

Squats – 5rep max work up 60-70-75-80-90-100-105kg >3mins rest
D/B Walking lunges – 3×12 20kg
RDL – 3×10 100kg
Abs circuit: sprinter sit ups, v sits, toe touches, reverse crunches 10reps each 1min x3.

Comments: Happy to have increased both squats and lunges. Squats were very slow on the last set. Grip still an issue for the Romanians, using a split grip for two sets.  Forced myself to do 3 abs circuits, hellish.

walking and shopping in Kuala Lumpur

fly to Melbourne

Measurements After Week2
Neck – 16″
Chest – 43″
Left bicep – 15.5″
Right bicep – 15″
Left forearm – 13″
Right forearm – 12.5″
Waist – 36″
Hips (including ass) – 43″
Right quad upper/mid – 26/21″
Left quad upper/mid – 26/21″
Right calf – 16″
Left calf – 15.5″

If you didn’t already know, Australia does things to your wallet and bank balance that only the purest bread of football wag can achieve.  On a daily basis you spend much of your time saying things like “what the f#!k” and “HOW MUCH for this basic commodity, which you have no right to charge over two dollars for?” I can’t say that I wasn’t prepared, fellow travellers had already put the fear of God into me about the expense, but that still doesn’t help one when Fitness First are charging £17 for a day pass.

The solution to this problem presented itself whilst in Kuala Lumpar.  TOTO gym and their exceptionally smiley reception girls where only too happy to give me a taster session for free, thus an epiphany occurred and fortunately it didn’t hurt this time. I was simply to fake interest in joining every gym I would use in Australia and I’d have more free sessions than I could shake a stick at.  The first freebie in Melbourne was a sinch, my online pass worked a treat.

The next day I downloaded another with a different email address but the law of Sod made it so the same bloody guy on the desk. I tried my best to be aloof and nonchalant but, cracked spectacularly fast under the politest and shortest of interrogations. A quick change of tact to doe eyes with puppy dog face and the second freebie was secure, sucker. For session three I created a full blown alias. I signed up online as a Mr Conrad Black and immersed myself in character before arriving. I passed through the sales pitch with flying colours, gave them a terrible signature and I was away again.  The gym used in Bondi was an independent establishment and as a result offered a reasonable day rate, I had no qualms parting with my $10 to support these guys, well it was that and the fact I couldn’t find a Fitness First near by.

Not what you need after a heavy legs day, I lost count after seeing a guy go into what I expect was cardiac arrest

predominantly a boxing gym the weights were in a small out house outback. The Thai class made me feel close to home.

Normally I wouldn’t miss a chance to bash Fitness First but, in fairness in Oz their gyms are fantastic. The layouts are great and all the equipment is well maintained. All the ones I visited had full sets of kettle bells, slam balls, battle ropes, hammers etc and this provided the inspiration for a change to my training. I felt that after two weeks I could now handle a little extra work but I didn’t have the time to dedicate a whole session to conditioning.  Doing a 5-10 min finisher after each main workout was a happy medium but, unlike the finishers in Asia I could now use cool equipment as well as body weight exercises. Please do not get confused between a finisher and true conditioning.

Conditioning is something done specifically in order to improve a certain attribute required for a particular sport,  finishers are predominantly non specific.  Personally I use them as a tool to improve mental toughness.  The finishers in my program are randomly thought up, depend heavily on equipment availability and have one criteria, to make me think about quitting halfway through. It is by no means a perfect science and I do not always get it right but, there is fun in the randomness, something I believe is important when you follow a regimented program for the majority of your time in the gym. In the near future due to my most audacious goal, play pro rugby, I will have to do some actual conditioning, when that time comes the finishers will be greatly cut back or may even disappear completely.


MEUB-Melbourne Fitness First Richmond
Amped warm up + mobility 10mins

Bench – 95kg 4rep max
D/B bench – 22.5kg/20kg 2sets max reps (12/15)
BOR – 60kg s/s Rev fly 7.5kg 4×12 (90s rest)
Barbell – 80/70kg  4×15 (90s rest)
Curls – 15/12.5/10kg  4×12 (90s rest)

Finisher: 5 circuits of double battle ropes x15 + 3 Turkish get ups each arm 12kg

Comments: felt very tired today due to flying over night to Melbourne. Weights didn’t go up and were even reduced in some cases. Found recovery between sets difficult. Was happy with the finisher but got a terrible stitch.

DELB-Melbourne Fitness First Richmond
Amped warm up + mobility 10mins

Broad jumps – 8×3 (1min rest)
Bulgarian split squat front leg raised w/ D/B – 15kg 3x 10 (90s rest)
RDL – 100kg 3×12 (90s rest)
Russian twists with barbell – 4×15 (90s rest)

Finisher: 5 circuits of 10 burpees with lateral jump over step + 10x6kg med ball slams 30s rest

Comments:  very happy with broad jump landings. Bulgarians were hard with 15kg.  Movement was slow but controlled.  May lighten the Romanians to increase the sketch as I never get DOMS. Happy with the finisher.

UBR-Melbourne Fitness First Central
Amped warm up + mobility 10mins

Barbell bench – 60kg 3xmax reps (2min rest) (17/13/12)
Wide chins s/s face pulls – 4×12 (90s rest)
D/B military press – 20/15kg 4×8-12 (90s rest)
D/B shrugs – 35kg s/s D/B triceps extension – 30 3×10 (60s rest)
Plate pinch grip – 10s hold 10s rest 3×3 (2 10kg pinched together)

Finisher: 5x20s Sprint 20s rest on the rower.

Comments: no surprise that the bench numbers remain similar week to week. The weight going up still though seems small consolation to not doing a million reps. Felt good to man-up on the triceps. Finisher was rushed due to lack of time. Anaerobic work done nonetheless.

LBME Sydney- Bondi kick boxing gym
Amped warm up + mobility 10mins

Squats – 5rep max work up 60-70-80-85-95-100-105kg (>3mins rest)
B/B Walking lunges – 3×12 50kg
RDL – 3×10 105kg
Abs circuit: sprinter sit ups, v sits, toe touches, reverse crunches 10reps each 1min x3.

Finisher:  5 x 20 kettlebell swings 20kg + 1 Turkish get up each side

Comments: squats felt good despite not improving on the max. Changed to barbell lunges due to lack of space. Felt like glutes were pulling off the bone. Abs still piss poor. Finisher was better done than last time.

Rest day:
walked from Bondi to Cugee beach, roughly 10km. Also walking round Sydney monuments.

Rest day:
more walking around Sydney taking in the sights

After Week3
Neck – 16″
Chest – 44.5″
Left bicep – 15.5″
Right bicep – 15″
Left forearm – 13.25″
Right forearm – 12.875″
Waist – 35″
Hips (including ass) – 43″
Right quad upper/mid – 26.25″ / 22″
Left quad upper/mid – 26″ / 20.5″
Right calf – 16″
Left calf – 15.5″

That’s enough for today I think, thanks for reading.

– Matt
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