I Started Over at 1 Rep — Here are the Results

My weight has fluctuated over the past 10 years. Some of it was intentional but other times it was a result of poor habits. From as low as 110 pounds as a Freshman in High School to as high as 190 in college, my weight fluctuated between 135 to 170. Now, my weight has normalized to an athletic weight of 158. 

From Hardgainer to Hardloser

When I was a teenager, I idolized bodybuilders because I wanted the admiration and respect they got. However, it was hard for me to gain any weight because I didn't have the know-how and discipline to train and consume the calories required. So over 10 years, my body drastically changed due to binge-eating the wrong things, exercising incorrectly, and shifting goals. I would develop a large amount of musculature but also have high amounts of fat and an unsymmetrical physique. Then I would shift my focus from powerlifting and bodybuilding to Mixed Martial Arts and would go from a big 190lbs to a svelte 135. There would be large swings in between but the biggest problem I faced was muscle quality and recovery discipline. 

The Popeye Syndrome

I had body dysmorphia for a long time and I have been conscious of this since I started this journey. I knew that my left side was more dominant than my right and I tried my best to consciously work towards symmetry but it never seemed to get any better. This didn't change no matter what I tried from gaining weight to losing it, especially in MMA because my lead hand was my left and I trailed my front leg forwards. For a very long time, there was an imbalance in muscle recruitment from my left versus the right side. I seemed to recruit different muscle groups on both sides of my body, and for some reason to other people, my right side was more muscular than my left side; But my left seemed to feel and look stronger. 

Stopped Going to the Gym

Instead, I focused on going to the other gym for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. The goal changed from feeling and performing clunkily as a result of excess muscle with the extra fatigue to focusing my time and energy on BJJ. Slowly I added push-ups after training and my body became an athletic 145lbs. I didn't look athletic or strong, but I was. However, this didn't cure the muscle imbalance. 

Stretching the Glutes πŸ‘

Not really, but I started stretching my body overall. I was always conscious of my gait and how I felt when I was walking or the difference between how my left arm felt versus the right doing everyday tasks like groceries. I started stretching constantly to improve dexterity on both sides of my body and slowly I noticed a difference. I started to even out my body and I became increasingly symmetrical with how I trained at the BJJ gym or with my push-up form. Although for a long time, my right side still felt weaker than my left, it was steadily evening out.

I Bought a Calisthenics Station

Gradually as I got more technical at BJJ, I slightly shifted my goals. I decided I wanted to increase my endurance with a secondary focus on strength but I didn't want to do it at a conventional gym. I wanted to increase my functional strength slowly over time and do calisthenics directly after doing BJJ training. That way, I would not only have the push and pull anaerobic strength training of doing BJJ, but I would also add my load progressively with conventional calisthenics training at home. I purchased a Calisthenics station from Amazon and set it up.

(p.s. get my MicroGains calisthenics setup here)

The Power of One

Because my focus was on endurance, the game plan was simple. I would focus on BJJ training first, and directly after I get home, I would focus on doing quality reps to consciously focus on muscle symmetry and endurance over time. I started with the pull-up bar. 

Directly after training, I would come home and do pull-ups. I started with one quality rep at a time because I wanted to focus my efforts on BJJ and I didn't want to fatigue myself so much that I couldn't train the following day. So I would focus on my arm and hand placement first, and then I would test-stretch my muscles with the hand-arm placements staying fixed so that I would pull my body as symmetrically as possible. It started with one quality rep, post-BJJ training, to two quality reps, and it would slowly increase. 

By doing it this way, I maximized the symmetry of my muscle groups on both sides of my body and increased my muscle endurance; As a bonus, it enhanced my physique and strength which created overall wellness. My body not only felt amazing, but it also improved my posture and prevented injuries. Previously, due to poor muscle symmetry, my neck would look off-center and I would have neck pain every 6 months. Now, I hardly have those issues at all. The benefits would extend to other regions of my body such as my knees, pelvis, scapula, and shoulders. I labeled my workout plan the 7x7x7 protocol (free if you subscribe to the newsletter).

Compounding Your Gains (Better)

By focusing on quality repetitions over time, with a bias towards 100% high-quality form, and doing it consistently, long-term gains will be astronomical. A good diet will become a secondary byproduct as a result of incorporating a steady-state fitness routine.  

Here are the numbers at play:

Imagine if one kept snowballing this growth over 1 year? 

Obviously, the growth won't be this linear. With a bias towards 100% perfect form, some days will be better than others and one will need rest days. However; focusing on quality reps over quantity will generate slow growth at first, but over time it will astronomically increase and the physique will definitely show for it.

Take a sneak peek at my tracker (subscribe to my newsletter for my Google Sheets). I recently created the tracker a few days ago, but I have consistently been putting in work using my training methods since November of 2023; Eventually migrating to other exercises starting with 1 quality rep. 

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Alex Sung

At an early age Alex knew he was different from most kids. He had D's and F's in early education and even had undiagnosed selective mutism alongside other mental health hurdles.

Despite these challenging experiences, he persevered and was able to "Tigerhack" his way to success. He created the Tiger Dojo to help everyone uncover these secrets.


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