Tag Archives: lifting

The Great Debate

To switch gyms or not to switch gyms? That is the question.

My fitness journey appears to be taking an incredibly drastic turn.

In April of this year, my one year gym membership expired. I had been going to a community rec centre gym over this past year, and as the expiration date crept up on me, I began to wonder whether it was time to move on. My old membership was the youth fee, at $17 a month. The student fee will now be $24 a month, which has me wondering if I should switch it up to a bigger, more real gym, or whether to renew my current one and stay put.

This was a significantly more difficult decision than I anticipated.

To those of you who lift, you understand that a sense of community is established within a gym. You get to know the staff, the regulars, the best times to go and not to go. It takes time, but as you move forward in your gym journey, you make friends and become familiar with the space to the point where you’re not just excited for the workout, but for the experience. This may seem overly poetic and a little dramatic but if you know, you know.

With that being said, there were still aspects of my gym that weren’t always the most pleasant, driving me to the decision to start window shopping for other gyms. I tried out a couple, most of which I didn’t like, until I settled on a Fitness World right down the street from the rec centre. It’s the only one I have genuinely started considering, and have taken on a 7-day trial to see whether or not it’s worth sticking around.

After a total of 4 workouts so far, I’ve compiled a Pros and Cons list of Fitness World as well as the Rec Centre.

Fitness World Pros:

  • WAYYY bigger
  • 19+ (so no groups of like 4 teenagers at a time hogging the bench press)
  • Crazy perks (NormaTec recovery, hydro-massage, deals on personal training sessions)
  • Tons of machines and more equipment
  • A variety of workout spaces
  • Wicked lighting throughout (neon green and downlighting)
  • More serious lifting environment

Fitness World Cons:

  • Packed full of egotistical gymbros who grunt loudly and slam weights
  • Significantly more expensive
  • Shirtless men posing in the mirrors…
  • Disorganized (no weight trees, clamps are scattered everywhere, bit of a weird layout)
  • No friends (yet?)
  • A nauseating amount of kids from my high school

Now if you compare these pros to these cons, you’d think that the pros outweigh the cons. The main thing turning me away is the energy. While it is very inspiring and motivating to workout in the same space as jacked dudes who can deadlift 5 plates and muscle mommies in matching Gymshark sets benching my bodyweight with ease, it’s also really f**king annoying. There’s so much weight slamming, and people are always filming and taking pictures of themselves. Tripods and mirror selfies and the whole lot. Don’t get me wrong, I also like taking pictures and filming myself to check my form and such, but not the extent of what I’m seeing. The whole thing feels very performative. Guys are walking around basically shirtless and girls show up in matching sets with their makeup and hair done. And power to them! I’m no hater! It just goes to show the sort of vibe that is created at this gym.

That being said, the vibes of going to this gym anytime before 2pm are totally different. Lots of professional athletes and older people, and everyone is keeping to themselves while still emitting a friendly aura. I went this morning around 8am, and it was great!

Rec Centre Pros:

  • Small, tight-knit community
  • Huge windows, lots of natural lighting and very open-feeling
  • Friendly but focused aura, everyone minding their business
  • Friends <333
  • Convenience (I work at the coffee shop in the Rec Centre)
  • Reasonably priced
  • I love her I’ve been there for a year

Rec Centre Cons:

  • Very small, but still busy (anytime after 3pm and you’re not getting any equipment)
  • Only one of each machine
  • All ages (so many high schoolers… *shudder*)
  • Limited equipment
  • The vibes are very light and whimsical, unlike the hardcore serious energy at Fitness World

In conclusion, I’m torn. Recently I’ve been breaking the news to all my friends at the Rec Centre that I am considering switching and they’re all giving me heck for it. No one wants me to leave! I’m just so popular!

Anyways. Them not wanting me to leave isn’t really the big deal here. The question is

Do I even want to leave…?

Back Day, Best Day

I could barely open my car door after this one.

I have been STRUGGLING to find a good back/pull day routine that leaves me weak. I always found that working biceps to complete exhaustion is tough, since its such a small muscle I find it fatigues really quickly. But not because you’ve worked it to failure, but just because its been moving weight. It’s a weird concept to try and explain, but I guess a simple way of putting it is that the mind-muscle connection just isn’t there. Similarly with my back, I don’t know if this is a common experience but it took me a long time before I started feeling real good muscle activation in my back.

The workout I provide you DOES NOT guarantee a shredded back and girthy biceps, I hate to admit. A massive part of how you perform these lifts is super dependent on form and moving with intention, because that’s how you really engage those muscles. I can give you the exercises, but I can’t make you do them right. I offer form cues and tips, but practice makes progress.
So dive in! It’s a long one.

Back Exercises

Exercise #1: Eccentric Pull-ups (AMRAP)

Pull-ups aren’t always the most doable exercise, it took me a long time before I was able to do just one. Even now, I struggle to get through a full set of pull-ups. But eccentrics are definitely doable, and just as effective. I’ve never felt better back activation in an exercise, and rocking the wide-grip really engages your lats. I find the best form cue is to hold your weight on the descent as if you’re trying to lat spread – thinking about this will help with that muscle engagement.

Exercise #2: Bent Over Barbell Rows (3×8-10)

Not much to say here, this is a pretty standard back exercise. I try not to grip the bar too hard so not to tire out my forearms. THUMB OVER THE BAR!! ALWAYS!! Ignore the image above. The muscles engaged that run from your hands, to forearms, to upper arm into your back is directly affected by your thumb placement, and having thumb under the bar will recruit your biceps. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, your arms are likely going to tire out before your back, which may not be your goal. The thumb under grip isn’t incorrect, but you’ll get better lat engagement from thumb over.

Exercise #3: Wide Grip Lat Pulldowns (3×10)

THUMB OVER THE BAR! This is a general rule of thumb for back exercises… hardy har… rule of thumb… quite literally…


It took me a hot minute to start feeling muscle activation in my back in lat pulldowns. My best form tip would be to avoid shrugging your shoulders, and hold the weight at the top of the rep rather than letting it go. Keep your lats engaged throughout the entire movement. You can even try thinking about driving your elbows down, rather than pulling the bar down.

Exercise #4: Face Pulls (3×10)

FACEPULLS!!! <333333333
By far one of my absolute favourite exercises of all time. EXCELLENT for your posture, and really targets the upper back while mostly engaging your rear delts. Once again avoid shrugging your shoulders. When pulling, the ropes should reach eyebrow level, not mouth level. This keeps the focus in your upper back.

Exercise #5: Rear Delt-Flyes + Extension Hold (3×10)

You could argue that this is a shoulder exercise as well, and I recommend implementing it into your shoulder days as well since you’re likely not hitting this muscle group as much as you need to be. There’s a million ways to do this exercise, as it can be performed with a machine, cables or dumbells (like most exercises), and each have their own benefits. For each of these, the biggest tip is to avoid throwing the weight. This is kind of common sense with all your exercises, as you should always control the movement, but especially with this one. It’s better to go light weight, with really slow and controlled reps. Time under tension is key. I even like to hold for a second or so at the end of the extension.

On the final rep of each set, hold the extension position for as long as you can until failure.

Bicep Exercises

Exercise #6: Cable Hammer Curls (3×10)

Using cables for bicep exercises can arguably be better than free weights, as the tension remains constant throughout the motion. I won’t get into the physics of it, but cables can be extremely beneficial for many exercises, especially biceps.

Make sure with these that you’re getting a fullest range of motion, and your elbows stay locked/pinned in place. Try taking a step back or placing a platform beneath you so the weights don’t slam.

Exercise #7: Heavy curls SS Incline curls (3×8-10/10)

This superset is monstrous! BUT it will give you a gnarly pump and some arms that feel like noodles. For the incline curls, drop about half the weight you were doing with heavy curls. Make sure when you’re doing the incline curls, you actually use the incline. Let your arms fully extend at the bottom of each rep. Don’t use momentum to move the weight, but that should be a given. Don’t be like the ego-lifting old men at the gym who are gonna throw their back out because they have no idea how muscles work.

Exercise #8: Cross Body Curls (4×10)

Bicep curls on a diagonal! Slow and steady! Exercising the muscle from different angles will help to target each head of the bicep, leading to greater muscle hypertrophy and killer aesthetics.

Exercise #8.5: Devour a protein shake or protein-rich meal (or both)


A Little Bit of Lifting Lore

A rare sight! The jellylift admin in a vulnerable state!

Almost one year ago, I started lifting consistently. April 20th will mark the one year anniversary of the purchase of my very first gym membership <3

I don’t film my lifts at the gym nearly as much as I used to, so I don’t have much footage but I have plenty of progress pictures… but hold your horses! I’m getting there.

I used to be real tiny. For my height and age, I was pretty underweight. At the ripe age of 16, I was 5’7″ and barely 110lbs. See here:

September 2018 progress photo

Good lord I actually never realized how small I was. Look at my legs! Sticks for legs! Twigs for legs! Look at my calves!!! SHAWTY GOT NO CALVES!!??!?!?


I was always super weak, and in high school I absolutely despised PE class because people were always commenting on my wee little arms and legs. Which is, yknow, f**ked up. But high school sucks and that’s something which is universally understood so I’m over it.

But anyways!

september 2018

When the weightlifting unit came around in PE 10 and I couldn’t even bench the bar, I took every opportunity possible to be “sick” or have some reason as to why I couldn’t participate in the unit. I couldn’t do a single pushup and wouldn’t DARE go anywhere near the squat rack. As an ex-gymnast, I expected to be pretty strong due to what being proficient in gymnastics demands from your body. But alas, all I had was core strength, and my arms and legs were sticks ‘n’ noodles. I managed to scrape by in PE 10, and along comes PE 11!

february 2020

Since I took the course during COVID, one of our assignments was to create an at-home workout program. I decided I was tired of being weak and implemented a ton of resistance training into my program, rather than the strictly abs and cardio that I had been doing at home since I quit gymnastics.

I hated it.

I loved the feeling of moving my body, but wasn’t seeing ANY progress. This is largely due to the fact that I had no clue what I was doing.

PE 11 comes to a close and I managed a decent grade, and continued with my weird, senseless routine for the rest of the summer as I really didn’t have anything better. All of Fall 2020, I almost completely fell off of exercising.

Then comes along Darryl Williams <3

january 2021

At the beginning of 2021, my friends introduced me to Bullyjuice’s (Daryl Williams) 30-Day At-Home Workout challenge, and that was a F**KING GAME CHANGER. We did it as a group of about 5 of us, which was a great way to stay committed and to hold each other accountable. Over the course of those 30 days I was actually starting to see progress, and felt my upper body growing stronger, and the consistent expenditure of energy was forcing me to eat more. I totally fell in love with the feeling of being able to hold up my own weight in a pushup, and reaching a point where I could do 5 standard push-ups felt like a million bucks. In fact, here’s a little anecdote from the day I was officially able to do a standard push-up:

January 16th, 2021:

Screenshot of workout challenge group chat

After the 30 days were up, I continued doing some random workouts off of Bullyjuice’s Youtube 2-3 days a week.

summer 2021

The summer rolled around, and my routine wasn’t nearly as steady as when I was in school, so I struggled to fit in consistent workouts. A friend of mine introduced me to Sydney Cummings, who had great functional training workouts and full-body movements, compared to Bullyjuice’s more isolated training. That taught me to move my body in a completely different way, and left me sore in places I didn’t know could be sore.

Between Spring of 2020 and Summer of 2021 I had probably put on a good 10-15 pounds. With eating more and my wacky workout schedule, there was a little bit of progress scattered throughout.

fall 2021

Then I started university. My first year was ATROCIOUS. All of my classes were still online, and I was stuck in the house 5 days a week by myself, just wasting away at my desk in my bedroom. I’d never been at a lower low and what better way to fix it all than hiding those feelings in your muscles? I decided I needed to get back into exercising, and figured I should start working out again. I was way too scared to join the gym on campus, solely because I didn’t think I was strong enough to be in a real gym. I remembered the wonders of Bullyjuice’s 30-Day challenge and decided to redo it, and BOY what an incredible choice that was. I powered through it and remembered how much I loved resistance training, and once again felt myself slowly getting stronger. I realized how f**king hot and sexy it was to have muscles and I WANTED MORRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRE!!!

I started implementing light weights into my workouts, and then asked for a weight set for Christmas, and it has only been uphill from there. This is from November 2021 when I was doing strictly at-home workouts with light weights:

November 2021 progress photo

And this is January 2022 when I started working out with heavier weights:

January 2021 progress photo

Nothing crazy, but there was a little bit more definition around my shoulders and I trimmed a little bit around my waist as well. Which I realized wasn’t what I wanted. I WANTED to be BIG. I had been small and dainty and frail my whole life. I was sick of it.

february 2022

I started going to the gym with my dad. After I had done so much research over the past few months, I discovered how my dad actually had no clue what he was doing in the gym. Despite being weaker physically, my lifting knowledge was far vaster than his. I knew it couldn’t go on like this. So I developed my own split, which did me wonders.

Day 1: Chest and Shoulders

Day 2: Legs

Day 3: Back and Arms

Basically a Push x Pull x Legs split, with minor adjustments.

My first week in the gym, I was just ITCHING to try out the bench press (flashback to Grade 10 when I couldn’t lift the bar). I knew I was stronger now than I was then, and when I laid down to bench for the first time in 3 years, the bar moved like butter and I don’t think I had ever felt anything better.

I began lifting at 3 days a week, up to 4, up to 5, up to a consistent 6 days a week.
Which, admittedly, 8 months later left me feeling VERY burnt out, and I decided to drop it back down to 5. I wouldn’t recommend 6 days a week to ANY beginner.

april 2022

I bought my first membership <3
I had been going consistently for 2 months and figured it was time. There have since been ups and downs, but I rarely fell off.

summer 2022

I did 75HARD.
Here were my outlines:

For 75 days:

  1. Follow any nutrition plan designed for your goals, with no alcohol and no cheat meals
    –> eat clean: no fast food e.g mcdonald’s, a$w, burger king etc. eat slow, fresh foods/home cooked meals, 135g protein daily, no alcohol, little to no eating out, no candy in the house, no junk food, no food after dinner (6:30/7:00)
  1. Complete at least one >45 minute workouts 5-6 days a week, rest days are a 15 minute walk outside
  1. Drink 3L of water every day.
  1. Read 10 pages of an educational or self-improvement book every day.
  2. Take a progress picture every week.

It was tough for sure, and I would say I stuck to it 87% of the time. The idea is you do it for 75 days, and if you fall off, you have to restart the 75 days, and in turn it all becomes habit rather than a challenge.

I think that it was a little ambitious considering I was only a few months into my fitness journey, but it was a great challenge nonetheless.

from then to now

It has been a hell of a journey, with tons of ups and downs and twist arounds. I get myself down pretty often, since day to day I’m not seeing a ton of changes. Sometimes I feel like I look the same as I did when I started, or that I haven’t really built that much muscle and it’s more just storage fat, or that I’m not as strong or as big as I should be after having been lifting for a year. But then I slow down, look at how far I actually have come, and I’ve got something wicked like this to show for it:

November 2021 to June 2022 transformation