custom-pc

The Ark: Building my first PC – Introduction

Over the last year; I’ve been researching a PC build. Usually the story goes that I start to put money aside and then I book a holiday (Hello Mexico, Dec 2014!) so that becomes an economic priority; then something else comes along (Hello, Orlando, June 2015).. so before something ELSE comes along – like the big move – I’m making the replacement of my ageing laptop my new obsession.

So this series of blogs is going to take you through my research. Everything from CPU choice to the balance between waiting and getting it now. I’m not the richest wanker in Manchester, so it’ll take a good few months getting the parts a bit at at time. over the past year I’ve been looking at different stuff and the internet is full of information that’s frankly overwhelming, so I’m going to try and keep this simple for those who are also thinking about their first PC build and who also don’t now what a RAID configuration is. (I didn’t get it until this morning – and these are things to consider)

There are things that I need to consider:
1. Budget
2. Use
3. Lifespan

I don’t want to spend any more than about £1200-£1300 on the initial build. This doesn’t include the GPU (Graphics card) as I am waiting for the new Nvidia GTX’s to come out – and the card I’ve got my eye on at the moment should drop in price. (Currently it’s the GTX 780 Ti and it retails for about £500)

2. Gaming. I want to be able to play current games on high-ultra settings with a good frame rate (FPS) 4K screens are coming down in price and I want my build to be able handle this (this is very much a GPU issue and I’ll talk later about GPU SLI configurations, how it works putting more than 1 graphics card in a build.

3. Lifespan – 5 years. This is a significant investment, and I want it to last. it’s easy to replace the odd component as required – however the guts of the build (Motherboard/CPU/Primary SSD) need to give me 5 years without need of replacement.

Anyway, that’s enough for now. I’ll keep returned back to this (probably weekly) looking at different aspects of the build and hopefully this’ll be of some help to those who need it.

Responding to the iPhone 6 Critics.

I’m in serious danger of being labelled an “Apple fanboy” with this post – so I’m going to open with a simple truth. My current phone is the HTC One (M7), I have had the phone since the day it came out (March 2013). My previous was an iPhone 4S.

My phone has a higher resolution than the iPhone 6 sporting a full 1080p display on a 4.7 inch screen. I’ve got 2gb RAM and 32gb storage. My phone has NFC and a pretty decent camera.

So, why am I going back to Apple?
Simple really – because each and every bell and whistle that comes with the HTC and other Android devices needs a third party app. I’ve had conflicting software that had led to crashing on the system and I’ve even had a bloody virus. Not that Android isn’t great. It’s got far more flexibility than iOS, you can do a lot more with it – if you can take the time to find out how; and frankly I can’t be bothered. I went to Android because I wanted a bigger screen. I was bored with iOS and wanted to be able to customise my phones look and feel, though looking at sites on how to do this game me a massive headache and when I saw a lot of the customisations, I didn’t like them.
With iOS, everything is in one place. With ApplePay, NFC technology might actually become usable. UK Businesses didn’t give a shit about NFC – In fact Transport for London is implementing an NFC phone enabled solution TOMORROW! (16.09.14) (http://www.nfcworld.com/2014/07/25/330604/london-underground-accept-nfc-payments/)- So whats was the point in having NFC if it just sits there as yet another battery drainer?
Another reason why I’m going back to Apple is that basically, everything I need is in one place. I download Google Hangouts and suddenly I’m getting text messages to both hangouts and the HTC messages app. It’s the simplicity of iOS that makes it appealing to people – and that’s just part of the reason. Frankly as I’ve written this blog I’ve actually got bored. Sorry.

IMAG0965

The Last Excuse

So, the truth is that a few weeks before I went to America, I stopped training after a back injury. Then I was in the States and I returned nearly 6 weeks ago and I’ve still just gained weight. In fact, I’m now in that horrible position when I’m scared of getting on the scales. I haven’t exercised and I’ve discontinued my gym membership (thank got for no-contract deals)

And I fucking hate myself for it. As the weeks have gone on, my clothes hardly fit me at all, I’m down to a few tatty items that make me look like a tramp. I could squeeze into some other bits, but then I’d just look like a fat whore with no idea.

I even caught sight of myself on Saturday and I didn’t like what I saw. How can a man who’d spend months working hard, eating well and exercising, manage to undo all the good work, so spectacularly? It’s deeply depressing.

So, here goes. Again. If you’ve read any of my blogs before, you’re going to get a serious case of Deja Vous – and this is not going to be pretty.

I’ve got some cup soups (only 66 calories) and some of those be good to yourself meals to get my going. I’ve spent the last couple of months eating large portions of food loaded with fat, carbs and not much else. So the first step is training my body not to crave.

So I’m going to start on the 5-2 for a few weeks to give myself a little boost – on my non-fasting days I’ll eat things like soups and… fucking hell? I can’t even think of what I can eat. What’s wrong with me.

So I’m still to scared of finding out what the scales say. Might wait and do the weigh in tomorrow morning. Yeah. I’ll do that.

Ladies; This. is. going. to. hurt.

A long overdue Update

I don’t really know how to start this update – because so much has happened – well sort of.

I had some nasty man-flu last week and as soon as I got over it, it was my birthday, so partied HARD -and then as soon as that was over, I was back to being congested and feeling like complete bollocks. – Always good to start with the excuse, but the truth is I’ve not been to the gym in nearly 10 days – which is really shit of me, because right up until that point I have been doing so well. — It’s not to say that I’m at a standstill, I’ve not got to get back into the habit, so it becomes part of my routine again. I’ve 30 days away from flying to San Fran, so really need to kick it up a gear.

So, rather than talk about where it’s all gone to shit, I’ll turn the clock back to just before I got poorly.

The training plan that I’d uploaded on my previous blog has been working a treat – I think, It’s always hard to really see any real changes in your body when you’re training because, I’ve found them to be so slight. I keep telling myself that I need to learn to be patient and to be disciplined.. if you’ve been reading this blog, you’ll know that I’ll irritate myself with all that crap.

One thing that I’ve come to appreciate is that training is hard. If you see a muscle guy in his 30s and he’s not taking any anabolic steroids – then you need to respect that cunt, because believe me – it takes fucking ages and you need to be so disciplined when it comes to lifestyle outside of the gym – getting that balance between bulking and cutting right is a ballache – not drinking alcohol – calorie counting – making sure that you’re eating “the right foods”, it’s just a nightmare. Anyway – so now that I’ve got that moan out the way – before I’d had my little break from training (slap wrist), I’d made a decision, as it’s coming to the final laps before I hit the states, I really need to up the fat burn – so rather than replace some strength training, I’ve decided to add extra cardio to my plan. So this is what the latest training plan looks like:

Day AM PM
Monday Chest/Back Spinning
Tuesday Legs/Core REST
Wednesday Shoulders/Traps Spinning
Thursday Spinning Running
Friday REST REST
Saturday Arms/Core REST
Sunday REST REST

I’ve been thinking about taking up things like Yoga, or some sort of Boxercise – still it’s just an idea. Need some way to channel my stress.

 

Time to Target

It has been a good while since I’ve updated this blog, and between being extremely busy with work, and playing a lot of South Park: The Stick of Truth on my Xbox (It’s fucking amazing by the way) I’ve simply not had a moment.

Anyway, Since I last wrote this blog, I can (and yes, this is even a surprise to me) report that I’ve been keeping up with my training, and have progressed. Tomorrow morning however, I will be changing my training plan, to continue to maximise my gains. (and fat losses) – but more on that later.

So, the plan that I have been working to started out as this

Exercise Starting Current
Weight Reps Sets Weight Reps Sets
Romanian Deadlift 50kg 12 2 50kg 12 3
Sumo Dumbbell Squat 24kg 10 2 26kg 10 3
Dumbbell Lunges 14kg 18 (9 on each leg) 3 16kg 20 (10 on each leg) 3
Barbell Bench Press 30kg 8 4 30kg 8 4
Barbell Standing Military Press 20kg 12 4 25kg 12 4
Barbell Reverse Grip Bent over Row 25kg 12 4 40kg 10 3
Triceps pulldown 17.5kg 12 4 20kg 12 4
Alternating Dumbell Bicep Curls 12kg 10 each arm 4

As you can see, I’ve managed to make some progress with this and I’ve also added some alternating biceps curls, however I’ve been finding that doing this same routine every other day a bit cumbersome, and now that my body weight has come down – it was 15st 5lbs last Saturday, before G and I celebrated with Burgers and three different types of chips.. yeah yeah, I know…

Anyway, so now I’m thinking I want to really start targeting areas and building up my arms and chest and what I have been doing, whereas I’ve seen some gains, and a change in my body, I really want to start pushing myself a little further. So, I’ve got a new plan (which you can download and take a look through here.

Unlike when I stated training, I have no problem with confidence here. The only exercise I am slightly worried about is the Barbell Squat, but I’ve been looking online and have watched several videos of how to do one properly.

(for those of you who don’t know…)

As dieting goes, I don’t find myself being careful – eating healthy balanced food now just seems like second nature. I do eat a lot of protein, oats, salad, vegetables – I try to stay away from white bread (especially for lent) and also fizzy drinks. – I have treated myself to the odd glass of Prosecco though :)

On the Supplements side of things, I have read so much online and it’s quite astonishing the amount of bullshit there is online, so here’s what I’m taking at the moment

Pre-workout (6.15am): 5g BCAAs, 200mg Caffeine – the caffeine really is to wake me up, Mega Green Tea Extract 

Since taking the Green Tea Extract I have found that I sweat a lot more when I train, and sometimes I get chills, particularly in my legs towards the end of a workout, I do push through, but I’m not sure if this is a side effect, or what?! If you’re reading this and can give me a explanation, I’d appreciate it!

Post-workout (7.45am): 60g Total Protein (choc smooth is sooo lovely, my new favourite flavour), 5g BCAAs

Around Noon – 60 Total Protein (again)

30 mins before going to sleep (around 9.15pm) 60g of Bedtime Extreme - Now, I’ve only been taking this for a week, but it’s supposed to aid recovery and help muscles grow, as it contains a form of protein that is released slowly throughout the night. The reviews are good, and to be honest, I can’t complain.

So this was taken on the 22nd March, I have a very very long way to go, but I’m really pleased that I can see some difference in my body. I’ve come a long way from starving myself on the Cambridge Diet 6 months ago.

GymSelfie

 

 

Progress Update

I haven’t written much in a while, and It’s getting to a point that that when I think about the stuff I want to write in this blog to bring everyone up to speed, I think, “Well that’ll take ages” and I shy away.

Anyway – here goes

So I’ve been really good at getting my fat arse down the gym for the last few weeks. I was away on a business trip which also was scheduled next to my partner’s birthday celebration so I did miss a few days – but this is essentially what I’ve been doing:

Mon, Wed, Fri – Strength Training

Tues, Thurs, Sat – Cardio

Sun – Rest.

And it’s not been that hard, now that it’s getting lighter in the morning, it is far easier to get up and go. Some  mornings I still have to really push myself, but I have been in the gym before 7am. I am trying to make it earlier – at first I was on the gym floor at 6.45am, but that’s slipping. I really need to pull my finger out.

And what’s the secret to these early mornings? Going to bed early! Who knew it would be that simple?!

So, when last I wrote this I’d begun the training plan that was put together by the trainer in the gym. Rather than spend each day targeting certain body part, the plan was designed to do a bit of an overall workout, concentrating on compound exercises – because, and his logic is sound here, targeting exercises are best when you’re where you want to be as an overall package.

So I’ve been plodding away at his plan, and tweeking it a bit, so it now looks like this:

Exercise Weight Reps Sets
Romanian Deadlift 50kg 12 2
Sumo Dumbbell Squat 24kg 10 2
Dumbbell Lunges 14kg 18 (9 on each leg) 3
Barbell Bench Press 30kg 8 4
Barbell Standing Military Press 20kg 12 4
Barbell Reverse Grip Bent over Row 25kg 12 4
Triceps pulldown 17.5kg 12 4

It’s going well – after the first week, I added the triceps pulldown as I was struggling with my bench presses, so I thought it would help put some strength in my arms. I also found that doing between 16 and 18 reps was stupid. I know I not a trainer or anything, but I’ve not read anywhere that those amount of reps is good for anyone, I should aim for 8-10 and if that’s easy, increase the weight. So I did. I went to 30kg and kept the reps ‘mid range’.

The barbell Standing military press was a nightmare to get to the 16 too, the first set was fine, but after that it was just downhill all the way so rather than decrease the weight so I could meet the number of reps, I decided to decrease the reps (again to mid range) and I’m able to meet them, I hope in a few weeks I’ll be able to increase the weight.

So this is what I’ll be doing for at least the month of march.

As I mentioned earlier I’ve been also doing cardio to supplement the resistance training and to help burn fat – I only have about 40-50mins in the gym in the morning, so I’ve been doing 5km on the rowing machine and his is taking about 22-23mins and then after getting my breath back, I jump onto the treadmill and do intervals. 1m15s at 8.3kph followed by 1m15s at 14.2 – this takes 15 mins, though this week, I will up this to the next level. I also supplement this with an extra spinning class (either on a Monday or Wednesday evening) and of course, I’m still cycling everywhere – so basically – I’m working my fucking tits off and with any luck I’ll start seeing some real differences in my body over the coming months. Watch this space.

Oh, and quickly before I go – I’ve been using that silly machine in the gym that takes weight, body fat  %.. and I’ll use this every fortnight -

So as of 28.02.2014: Weight 15st 10lbs (100.2kg), Body fat – 22.9% – I’m not massively bothered about the weight, but I really would like to get my body fat down. That’s my primary goal – I don’t want to loose lean muscle though.

So, lets continue… until next time…

The Training Plan (Part 3)

I couldn’t quite work out where I should call this latest blog the “New” training plan, because on Saturday, when I went to the gym to have a ‘fitness test’, I’d learned they didn’t have the right equipment to perform the correct tests – though they were going to do me a training plan – I was a like, “umm.. okay, well, I do have a training plan that I am working to, so it’ll be great if someone can go through it with me and give me some advice”..

So, the trainer literally gave my plan a 2 second glance and started to give me some advice that was massively contradictory to the advice that Michael Matthews puts in his book Bigger Leaner Stronger.

But I’ll get to that later.

The first thing he asked me was my goals, which had me thinking about whether or not my goals are realistic, based on my genetics, determination and lifestyle. What do I really want out of this? A 6-pack? big arms? A defined chest?

I’ve always been a dreamer – ideas above my station, but truth be told; and what experience has taught me, is that you can have an idea as to the ultimate goal, but to reach it is to set smaller interim milestones. So for me, I want to bring my body fat percentage down, and I want to have a defined body – simply put: you can’t have one without the other.

body_3

So I need to train the whole body, rather than target certain areas, and according to the trainer, targeting areas (i.e Day 1 chest, Day 2 Arms etc..) is really a regime for those who have reached the defined goal, and brought their body fat down. This does make sense. 

So, I’m still running on a calorie deficit at the moment, and this is key when “cutting”, I am training in a fasted state at 6.30 in the morning, so my insulin levels are baseline. To avoid muscle loss, which I’m working out (and building some of these areas), I am taking BCAA’s which are an Amino Acid that help to stop my body from using muscle tissue for energy (so it encourages the body to use fat stores, similar to ketosis) I also take a caffeine tablet (200mg) which helps to boost metabolism.

So, Chris (the trainer) took me though the following routine. Now, due to time constraints (I get onto the gym floor around 6.40-6.45am and I have to be in the shower by 7.40/5am) I have split the routine into 2 parts – On alternate days I will do a full resistance workout and on the other days I will do cardio and the abdominal exercises. This will be Monday – Friday and if I can be arsed, maybe something on Saturday.

Here’s the workout, in the order in which it should be done:

Exercise Weight Reps Sets
Romanian Deadlift 45kg 12 2
Sumo Dumbbell Squat 24kg 8 2
Dumbbell Lunges 12kg 18 3
Barbell Bench Press 25kg 16-18 4
Barbell Standing Military Press 20kg 16-18 4
Barbell Reverse Grip Bent over Row 20kg 12 4

Now there were some Abdominal exercises, which I’ll add tomorrow when I talk a bit more about cardio.

Now, as I mentioned earlier, this plan, is contradictory to some advice that I was given – One of the reasons that I found that I preferred the other plan, was because even if the weight is very heavy, which is should be, I only needed to get to 4 reps, however with this, it can be a struggle making it to to 18 – so the weight is a little less, and even though the weight has been “set”, I’m still really finding my own strength levels.

The trainer also told me that to define takes lighter weights and more reps – okay, I actually don’t believe that for a second. I really don’t. Whenever I’ve looked for something to support this, all I get is dozens of sites telling me it’s bullshit. I’m no personal trainer, but still. I’m not going to waste my time.

Now this is a whole body workout, which is made up of compound exercises (for those in the cheap seats at the back, a compound exercise will work several muscle groups simultaneously) However, the problem is that it’s a routine that simply cannot be done every day – because, as I’m mentioned before, it’s the rest period where growth occurs.

Now, I was told that this routine will change my body. I should expect to start seeing some difference in a few weeks, and in four weeks i’ll stand bollock naked in front of a mirror and if I still look like a fat cunt, then I’ll change my stance, but the logic is there, my first goal is to bring my body fat percentage down, without sacrificing too much muscle, so I will do this routine Mon, Weds, Fri and on Tuesday and Thursday I will do cardio, followed by the Abdominal exercises.

Finding the Baseline

This morning I went though the the routine for the first time, and it started off well, but as I was saying about sets with a high number of reps, I struggled to make it past 10 on the second set of Barbell Bench Press lifts, so I dropped the weight by 5kg, which still didn’t help, I also struggled to make a clean 4 sets on the Standing miliary press. Now all I kept thinking was that it was the first morning, my body is still changing and the strength will come. I just need to keep working, because this routine really should be the minimum.

Tomorrow I am really going to struggle, I’m not even expecting it to be easy because my core is So weakIt also doesn’t help that I’ve got a this fucking spare tire which keeps getting in the way. For tomorrow I’ll go through some sites with arguments for and against Ab exercises when it’s quite impossible to see any gains here while they’re smothered in a years worth of McDonald’s and dirty kebabs.

Food

80% of how we train is down to how we eat.

As I mentioned before I am running a calorie deficit as I want to loose body fat, so the foods I’m eating is Porridge for breakfast, Bananas, Tuna, Chicken, Brown pasta, Brown Rice, Salad, Vegetable soup (home made) and foods that are rich in nutrients. I have literally cut out all the crap. No burgers, pizza, ready meals -I want to try and get some more nuts and seeds into my diet. I’ve also increased my intake of Green & Peppermint tea. I find that Pasta and Rice is very high in calories, which is rather annoying so I have to weigh it to make sure I don’t go over board.

This is supplemented with a Protein shake

And before you think “Like Ant can keep that up!”, At the weekend I do treat myself. It’s my time with my partner and he and I will go out for dinner or cook for one another we do like to keep an eye on what we’re eating, but I don’t calorie count. That’s a stress.

So, incase you’re wondering about today (Monday):

Post Workout (7.45am) – Protein Shake

Breakfast (10.00am) – Porridge and herbal tea

Lunch (2pm) – Yoghurt. (Can’t be arsed to go to tesco)

Evening meal – Vegetable soup with boiled chicken breast (cooked and shredded into the bowl)

I know it doesn’t seem like a lot (but I’m sort of intermittent fasting at the moment, so today was never going to be calorific)

Anyway, I’m sure I’ve bored half of my rather smaller readership to tears, so I will leave you here.  Don’t forget to like, comment and if you have any questions or advice – I’m happy to (try and ) help.

 

 

LGBT Campaigner, Cinema Fanatic & Failed Dieter

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