Over the weekend, I searched the whole area of downtown Saigon (District 1) around the workers sports club looking for a set of bar clamps to use at the gym. The plates there all seemed to be too large for the bars, and so they tend to slip whenever you put the bar down on the floor. As I had earlier discovered, the clamps I bought earlier proved to be too small for the bars. Unfortunately, not a single shop seemed to sell the clamps I needed.
I resigned myself to this and thought, oh, maybe I can use some folded paper to wedge the plates onto the bar. So armed with a small pile of used office paper, I went to the gym ready to try it out.
The very first exercise was 3 sets of 5 reps of barbell clean pulls. I got a bar, put on some weights on it, and then proceeded to wedge some pieces of paper on either end between the outermost plate and the bar. Unfortunately, it seems whatever I did, the plates always angled one way or the other, as the big plates (20 and 25kg) had olympic-bar-sized holes, while the bar was much thinner. After struggling for a few minutes, one of the more serious lifters at they gym noticed my frustration, and motioned for me to go to the other end of the gym. There lay one, rather rusty (and by the looks of it, hardly used) olympic bar! There still weren’t any bar clamps for it, but at least if I used the big plates on it, they wouldn’t slip much. The only remaining problem was that the only olympic bar sized weights were the 20 and 25kg ones. There was only one pair of 20kg plates, and 3 sets of25kg plates, so that doesn’t give me too much variation in weight. For my warmup set, I used the pair of 25-kg plates for a total of 70kg (the olympic bar is 20kg). And then I added the pair of 20kg plates for the work sets. It turned out to be a bit heavy, so shrugging the bar after deadlifting it was hard. However, I feel that I could work up to it.
The next part of the workout were 5X5 front squat to overhead barbell push press alternating with reverse lunges. Here I was forced to start with the (regular) bar on the floor as the one and only squat rack was constantly in use the busy gym. This time I used a bit more weight for the front-squat/overhead compared to last, but I still have to get used to the transition. I think I have to work more on my wrist flexibility so that I can keep my hands relatively close to my shoulders instead of gradually slipping them wider as the set progresses. The reverse lunges, on the other hand, were better. I had to (power) clean and then jerk the bar to get it into position on my back, and then jerk it back up once I completed the reverse lunges. The clean and jerk movements added a nice challenge to the exercise and so I’ll try to use that in the future instead of starting with the bar on the rack.
The rest of the workout was 5X5 cable rows (supposed to be wide rows but there were no wide handles) alternating with flat dumbbell presses, and then cable reverse woodchops alternating with side planks with no rest in between. By that time I was already rushing as I wanted to catch the last bus from the city to the suburban district where I am staying. Unfortunately, I still just missed the bus, and so was for to take a taxi back to the hotel after waiting almost 30 minutes thinking that the last bus hasn’t passed by the stop yet.
Eat right, train hard, try to be resourceful, and expect success!