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. See Physique Update #1 for a more recent discussion of my current lifting progress.

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 realize that at least now I’ve got something wicked like this to show for it:

November 2021 to June 2022 transformation

Hit Legs With Me!

Discover my favorite quad and glute focused exercises!

Leg day is, without a doubt, my least favourite muscle group to train. But! There’s nothing better than feeling violently nauseous with your head spinning after a killer leg day, so stick around as we unpack what I’ve discovered to be one of the best leg workouts I have ever had the pleasure of suffering through.

(These focus mostly quads and glutes, and I have a separate workout to target hamstrings)

Exercise #1: Barbell Back Squats (3×10 OR 5×5)

Barbell Back Squat at parallel

A leg day staple! Back squats are a compound exercise, so they not only hit quads and glutes, but also engage your hamstrings and adductors as well. That being said, the prime movers in the motion are still your quads and glutes. You want to preserve lots of energy for this exercise, which is why I find it best to start with.

3 sets of 10 at light to medium-heavy weight really gives you a good burn. 5 sets of 5 reps at heavy weight is also insane, if you want to meet God.

Most important things to note with squats are good form and hitting at least parallel – the position where your femur is parallel to the ground. Without it, you’re just wasting energy. That being said, good squat form is going to look different on everyone based on your anatomy. When increasing weight on this exercise, you definitely want to make sure you’ve got your form down pat or else you’re at huge risk for injury. I highly recommend having a trainer or experienced lifter check your form every now and then to keep you on the right track!

Exercise #2: Hip Thrusts x Kas Glute Bridges x Bridge Hold (3×10/5/15sec)

Top of Hip Thrust motion

I know this looks crazy but let me unravel this a bit. An incredible glute super set.

3 sets of 10 reps of HEAVY hip thrusts, really squeezing at the top of each rep. At the end of each set of 10, perform 5 pulses using only the ROM (range of motion) at top of the movement. These are called Kas Bridges, and are going to recruit your glutes like crazy. After those 5 pulses, hold the very top of the movement (the bridge position) for 15 FULL seconds (no cheating!).

  • 10 thrusts
  • 5 pulses
  • 15-second hold

All with no rest in between. Your glutes will be on fire, but the pump will be insane and you will thank me later.

Exercise #3: Smith Machine Deficit Reverse Lunges SS Sumo Squats (3×8/8)

Deficit Lunges
Sumo Squat

SS = Super Set

This is probably my favourite quad super set of all time. Your legs will quite literally be shaking by the end of it, your head will be pounding, you’ll feel winded and light-headed – it is incredible.

Place any sort of step (can be a platform or a bumper plate) on the ground to create an elevated surface, grab a heavy dumbbell for later, and go to f**king TOWN.

3 sets of 8 reps of reverse lunges, immediately followed by 8 reps of deep sumo squats with that dumbbell we grabbed earlier.

One fantastic part about Reverse Lunges is that while they heavily recruit your quads (and glutes), it simultaneously requires a lot of engagement from your adductors in order to maintain balance. Unilateral exercises are great for this reason, in that they require you to engage your entire core and all your stabilizer muscles so to effectively load only one side of your body. In addition, the deficit allows you to reach a greater range of motion, allowing for full expansion and contraction of the muscle! Following with the sumo squats is great for the glutes and adductors as well.

Exercise #4: Leg Extensions SS Bulgarian Split Squats (3×10/AMRAP)

Leg Extensions
Bulgarian Split Squats

Oh… you thought we were done? How cute.

If you’ve heard anything about Bulgarian Split Squats, you know they suck. If you have ever DONE Bulgarian Split Squats, you know even more that they suck. Fact of the matter is, they suck. They hurt and they’re hard. But they are a fantastic exercise.

Which is why you’re going to do them.

Find yourself a pair of light dumbbells, and a leg extension machine. Hop on the leg extension machine and do the weight from the dumbbells less than the highest weight you can do on leg extensions. I know that’s a mouthful so, for example:

If you normally do leg extensions at 150lbs, and you grabbed a pair of 15lb dumbbells, then do your leg extensions at 120lbs.

150 – (15×2) = 120.

Makes sense?

After 10 reps of leg extensions, prop your back foot up on the padded bar, pick up your dumbbells, and drop immediately into the split squats for AMRAP (as many reps as possible). Personally I find that once I hit 7 reps, I feel like my legs are going to collapse… so go to that point! Then do the other leg, AMRAP, and then rest. It’ll go like this:

  • 10 leg extensions
  • AMRAP split squats (L)
  • AMRAP split squats (R)

All without rest. Then break, and do it another 2 times! Quads and glutes, baby! QUADS AND GLUTES!

Exercise #5: Elevated Calf Raises (3×20)

Seated calf raises

Okay, you can relax. We’re pretty much done. While it’s quads and glutes day, we NEVER skip out on calves. Your knees hold almost all of the weight of your entire body, and your calves support your knees. In addition, having strong calves will help you with exercises like squats, as they will give you the strong foundation needed to support the weight.

Also, you don’t want a huge ass and huge thighs and skinny little stick calves. That would look really f**king weird. So go! Spam those calf raises!

Similar to the deficit reverse lunges, place down a platform or bumper plate and stand atop the edge of that when doing the calf raises to allow your heels to enter a deficit to reach a fuller range of motion. Go as heavy as you’d like on these. Since calves are a fairly small muscle, made up of only the soleus and gastrocnemius, you don’t need to overload them like crazy to build strength and grow, so it’s mostly up to personal preference. Medium-heavy weight at high reps tends to get the job done.

I like to carry dumbbells in each hand, but some will use a loaded barbell or smith machine. Whatever works best for you!

Exercise #6: 10-15 minutes Stretch n’ Roll!

Lying knee-to-chest stretch

The best part of leg day is objectively the post-workout stretch session. It just feels so good. While I wouldn’t consider it one of the ‘exercises,’ it is EXTREMELY important for muscle repair, as it reduces the accumulation of lactic acid in the body, as well as helping to relieve the tension that was just built up in our muscles through the workout. It also helps improve flexibility, which is important for achieving fullest range of motion, and being mobile in everyday life.
Also, just using a foam roller against the quads and glutes feels fantastic, especially after you’ve just finished OBLITERATING your legs.

Here is a list of some of my favourite post-leg day stretches:

  • Forward lunge
  • Pigeon hold
  • Seated hamstring stretch
  • Butterfly stretch
  • Lying knee-to-chest stretch
  • Frog split
  • Lying (or standing) quad stretch
  • Pretzel stretch

Each of these can be held for around 30-45 seconds, while slowly transitioning into the next stretch. Feel free to hold them longer, go through them multiple times, or even include some of your own favourite stretches!

Now I dare you to try and walk up a set of stairs. Just try it. I dare you.

5 bucks you’ll stumble.

NOISE IN YOUR F**KING EARS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Okay okay. I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking…
This is way more of a Jellycat blog than it is a lifting blog. I haven’t seen ONE picture or video of you weightlifting. I thought you said we were going to follow your weightlifting journey? YOU SAID you would stop gatekeeping!?

To which I say,

Lol my bad.

Listen, I’m not trying to be that a**hole in the gym with their phone and little thirty dollar Amazon tripod set up right in front of the mirrors where the rest of the community is simply trying to workout but are forced to deal with This B*tch filming videos of her incredibly mid physique and underwhelming lifts. I also lift at a pretty small gym, and whenever I decide to take videos to check my form, it’s usually from the most god awful angles to avoid catching any strangers in the frame. Maybe one day you’ll get actual footage of a jellyLIFT. But today is not that day.

Instead, I offer you my top 3 albums and top 5 songs to listen to to MOVE THE F**KING WEIGHT!

(heads up, most of it is objectively terrible and practically just noise)


Album #1: 1000 gecs by 100 gecs

1000 gecs album art

If you have heard of or listened to 100 gecs before, you know exactly what to expect. This album sucks. My favourite tracks are ‘money machine‘ ‘xXXi_wud_nvrstøp_ÜXXx‘ and ‘800db cloud‘. I couldn’t give you one good reason why these ones are my favourites aside from the fact that they just are. If you really feel like jumping into it, check out the Injury Reserve remix of ‘745 sticky’, it’s sure to alter your brain chemistry.
100 gecs is a joke of a musical duo, yet they produce easily some of the most catchy, chaotic and stimulating music you can find. Honestly, it’s hardly music. But boy oh boy, minute 1:22 in ‘800db cloud’ definitely gets that weight moving like nothing else.

Album #2: The Money Store by Death Grips

The Money Store album art

I feel like this one can’t even be justified. The friend who first showed me Death Grips told me, “Listen to ‘I’ve Seen Footage‘, it’s probably one of their most digestible songs.” I thought to myself “what is this clown on about” until I gave it – and then the whole album – a listen and went “Oh, that’s what this clown is on about.” Fantastic album. I couldn’t tell you a single word that is sung throughout the entire thing. Makes me feel f**king psychotic. I can’t listen to it while I drive or else you’ll find freak car accidents all across the tri-cities. Top 3 tracks are ‘Hacker’, ‘Hustle Bones‘ and ‘Get Got‘ in that order. Give it a listen!

Album #3: Inside (Deluxe) by Mother Mother

Inside album art

Ok, now THIS. This is an exceptional album. It’s a concept album, and probably my favourite thing Mother Mother has ever produced. A handful of the tracks make use of ambient soundscapes either as the focal point or as a background feature of the song, which makes listening to this album a really immersive experience. Listening to some of these songs while you lift makes you feel like a demon. Top three tracks are ‘Two‘, ‘Sick of the Silence‘ and ‘Hayloft II’. Makes for a good listen outside of the gym too, as some of the songs are slower and a better listening experience in a dark room with headphones on.


Song #1: Totalitarianism by STAYSOLD

Totalitarianism cover art

You can hardly call this a song.

Song #2: BADASS by ZillaKami and Lil Uzi Vert

BADASS cover art

I’ve hit countless PRs to this track. I always bench heavy with this sh*t blasting in my ears, that’s for sure.

Song #3: Side by Side by Bladee and Thaiboy Digital

Side by Side cover art

Me and my baby goin’ side by side, side side by side, side side by siddde

Song #4: MISA MISA! by CORPSE, Scarlxrd, and Kordhell

MISA MISA! cover art

Yes, yes I know it’s CORPSE, but cut me some slack because this goes so hard.

Song #5: poster by oaf1

poster cover art

I have no idea where or how I even found this song, but I’m pretty sure I listened to it every time I did lat-raises for like 2 months straight. It sort of feels like a fever dream.

Honestly, my list of lifting music recommendations is bottomless. I have three playlists I listen to while I lift, and handfuls of albums. Maybe I’ll link my Spotify here one day…

Nope. Just kidding. Never happening. My Spotify is going to be kept inside my gate.

Physique Update #1

A current snapshot of my progress! Be grateful, this may be the first and the last physique update ever posted to jellylift.

Not gonna lie, I’ve had this idea drafted for my blog since I first booted up the site, but have been actively avoiding sharing it as content ever since.
While I made this blog with the intention of documenting and sharing my fitness progress, when it came down to posting content about lifting, I realized I had no desire to actually share any personal information regarding my progress.


Because I LOVE to gatekeep.

Ooooh yeah baby, there is nothing I love more than than a little bit of self-righteousness mixed with manipulation, sprinkled with just a dash of insecurity. Yep, I sure do love to actively and consciously limit access (provide no details) to the public (friends and family) to a category or status (my progress) in an attempt to uphold exclusivity and/or maintain a sense of novelty about said category or status as a means of elevating myself to offer a sense of superiority (I’m tremendously insecure and do not wish to be judged.)

But alas, my gatekeeping era is coming to a bitter-sweet end as I reluctantly swallow my pride and share the following images.

Physique Update #1 – February 9th, 2023

Big shoulders in the rec centre windows

These images were taken on February 9th, 2023, just under a year after I had been consistently working out. For almost five years, I had been very on and off about working out, and only ever did so at home using Youtube videos, apps, and Instagram fitness challenges. In the 11th grade at the peak of COVID-19 online learning, in my Health and Physical Education course we were encouraged to create our own workout program at home and implement it for the rest of the semester. This forced me to learn about fitness beyond the scope of trying a new sport every year and never sticking to one, high school dodgeball, and the Zumba class I would join in with my mother once in a blue moon.
I’ll spare you the dry sob story of how I slowly learned to fall in love with weightlifting. That can of worms can be dumped onto a future jellylift post.

Back to the present!

Right now, I am training for hypertrophy and am in a caloric surplus, more commonly referred to as a “bulk.” I’m consuming around 2600-2800 calories daily, with the intention of dropping into a 300-500 calorie deficit in a few months – the “cut.” To be completely transparent, my bulk isn’t going quite as smoothly as I would like. Let me break it down

  • Days I forget to pack extra food on my 7:30am-5:30pm school days really set me back
  • When I’m at work, I can’t eat for 4-5 hours
  • Days I burn more calories due to more intensive training or lots of movement throughout the day puts me at maintenance with the calories I’m consuming (input = output, rather than, input > output)
  • Food and groceries are expensive
  • Healthy food is not typically high in calories, therefore maintaining a healthy diet and trying to eat a lot of food can be tricky
  • My family does not eat in the same way that I do, and do not often cook with whole foods but rather with what is cheaper and convenient (which I truly can’t blame them for)

If you look closely at this list, you’ll notice a trend between each of them.

They’re all excuses.

Don’t get me wrong. It isn’t easy. I’ll be the first to tell you that the hardest part of being healthy and fit (and big and strong) is diet. By far.

I’ve never been the type to eat poorly. At a young age, I grew out of having a sweet tooth, and quickly discovered how much better I feel when I eat good food. The difficult part now, is simply consistency. Keeping up with consuming 145g of protein and 2800kcals every single day affects you mentally just as much as it does physically. For someone my age, height and size, It’s a LOT of food, no matter how much you’re training. It’s hard, and mentally draining, and challenging.

But I love it. I’m learning to love the process in anticipation of the results, and it’s only a matter of time before I truly get to enjoy the fruits of my labour. I think the best part of this journey is that once I reach my destination, I get to set a new goal, and go through hell all over again.
But, as Daddy Noel says:

If you’re going through hell…

Keep going.

Getting F**king Huge: Deep Chats with A Special Guest (Mini-Assignment #2)

Words of weightlifting wisdom from Guest Star Noel Deyzel!

In this week’s post, we have a very unexpected and exciting guest!

When mapping out jellylift, I never would have expected to guest feature one of the most successful, aesthetic, inspirational and funny content creators in my feed – Noel Deyzel. An icon in the gym community, nicknamed by the fandom as “Daddy Noel,” is known across social media for sharing fitness tips, making silly and entertaining gym-related content, as well as being jacked and an absolute beast of a man. This week, he shares some insightful discussion on chasing those gains and staying motivated. Below is a snippet of an informal interview I had the pleasure of conducting with him, as well as a post which he so kindly offered to write for my blog. 

Noel Deyzel on the mental struggle of hitting training blocks

JL: “You know, something that myself and I think a handful of intermediate level weightlifters struggle with is hitting a plateau.”

DN: “I’m glad you brought this up, because I think hitting a plateau is something that just about everyone needs to go through in order to test their own limits.”

JL: “Really? Hm, I’ve never thought about it that way. See, the plateau, I think, really gets in our heads sometimes. It’s difficult to stay motivated when you aren’t, like, seeing that same sort of, consistent progress as you might have been when you first started or even just from a different period of your training. How are we meant to test our limits when our bodies seem to be holding us back?”

DN: “Often, you’ll find it is, very much, a mental game. Let me explain. We are capable of pushing ourselves further than we may think, and we are often the biggest thing holding us back. Your progress is not going to be linear. Your training is something that will take patience and discipline, and often, we cannot rely on the validating feeling of hitting a new PR every training session to keep us going. Setting your goals, reaching blocks in your training, should be frightening. It should be difficult. If it is too easy, you are not tapping into your full potential.”

JL: “So, let’s say I’ve been stuck squatting the same weight for a couple months and physically, I just can’t increase the weight without risking injury. What would you recommend I do in that case?”

DN: “Something a lot of weightlifters find to be effective is implementing a deload. Decrease the weight to something you are more than comfortable doing, and work your way back up. If that doesn’t seem to be helping, consider making some changes in your program. Also, make sure you are eating like a f**king whale.”

JL: “*taking notes* Eat… like… a f**king… whale. Noted. Thank you, Daddy Noel. Very cool.”

Daddy Noel’s Guide to Getting F**king Huge

Daddy Noel sitting strong and sturdy

If you’re here then that means you wish to get f**king huge. So read on, and I hope to you inspire you in your journey.

Getting to the Gym

I’m tired, I don’t feel like going gym. Sometimes, getting to the gym is the hardest part in itself. I get it. But I also don’t. You made a commitment to yourself, and you are responsible for holding to that commitment. If you are struggling to find motivation to get yourself there, try some of these:

  1. Have a friend

Keeping a gym bro on call is a great way to stay motivated and ensure you get yourself to the gym. They can hold you accountable, and you can do the same for them. But Daddy Noel! I don’t have any friends that go gym! Then make some. Meeting people at the gym can be frightening, but by putting yourself out there and initiating simple conversation, you can start to develop bonds that may grow into lifelong friendships. It can be as simple as asking someone for a spot… just see where it goes!

  1. Pack your bag, and be prepared

Prepare all of your things in a bag the day or morning before. Pack some snacks, gym clothes, a water bottle – all of your gym essentials. This way, everything is ready and prepared for you, and you can get up and go.

  1. Just go

The longer you whine and complain about not wanting to go to the gym, the longer that you are not at the gym. Just get up and go. Tell yourself that you will only go for five minutes, and I can guarantee that by the time you are there, you will get in the zone and forget about not wanting to come at all.

Taking Responsibility

When talking about accountability, a huge part of staying motivated is keeping your head up. It’s easy to slip into bad habits of complaining and slacking off. But as you move forward, it is very important that you begin taking responsibility, and quit complaining and placing the blame on other factors. Complaining only pushes us further into negativity, and limits our learning. This is something which not only applies to moving forward in the gym, but moving forward in life. Life becomes beautiful when you start to see hardships as a tool for growth. 

Staying Motivated

So you’re not seeing growth, you feel like giving up, and you’re tired of what feels like you’re moving backward in your progress. Have you been eating enough? Pushing yourself? Giving it your all? If you’re able to answer yes to each of these questions, then take a moment to look back. Every day there are minute changes taking place… think about where you started. Think how far you have come, and how the troubles which once occupied your mind are now distant thoughts. Think about one month ago. Three months ago. Six months ago. Haven’t you changed? Remember that anything worthwhile in life takes sacrifice, determination, and time.

If you’re going through hell…
Keep going.

Eating and Living Healthy

Your diet is going to play a very important role in your training. Let me explain. Learning to have a healthy and balanced diet is one of the hardest parts about getting stronger. Despite all the gym rats telling you to live off of chicken and rice, it is very important to incorporate lots of different vegetables into your diet. I actually really enjoy eating vegetables now… f**k brussel sprouts though.

If you’re in a rush and looking for some quick and nutritious pre-workout snacks, try pairing beef jerky and fruit, or a protein shake and some nuts. It’s convenient, good for you, and will give you the energy you need.

Daddy Noel! I’m sorry, I cheated on you! So you had a Big Mac meal this week. Big Mac, big deal. Let me explain. Every once in a while, treating yourself to a controlled cheat meal can be a good way to reward yourself, and in the long run, is not going to do you much harm. Just remember, it is a cheat meal, and not a cheat weekend. Your relationship with your diet should be like any relationship, if you feel the need to cheat… maybe you shouldn’t be with that diet anymore (Or maybe you need some time to work on yourself buddy…)

On top of it all, more than eating well, it is important to be living well. Getting an adequate amount of sleep at night is going to be essential in giving your muscles time to recover and grow.

Chasing Gains

When going to the gym, make sure that you target each muscle group 2-3 times per week. Your program should be evenly split between all the muscle groups and while you may gravitate towards your favourite exercises, staying well-rounded is what will make you stronger, and give you the aesthetic and balanced physique that you want. And I don’t want to catch you skipping legs. You can’t spell LEGENDARY without LEG DAY. And if you do, you’re left with: ENR. And that doesn’t make sense. Just like not training legs.

While you’re training, it can be very easy to attempt loading as much weight onto your muscles as possible while sacrificing your form and technique. While you are encouraged to lift heavy and push yourself, you don’t want to be putting yourself at risk for injury. Lessening the weight will give you better muscle activation and better results, and will help you prioritizie technique over numbers.

Your training is not a path that has a final destination. You are going to continue learning each day that you show up and put in the work. Learn to love the process and every day you will learn something new, and all that knowledge is only going to help you and make you stronger.

Remember to work hard in silence, and let success be your noise.
Keep training to make Daddy Noel proud.

The Work I Should Definitely Be Paid For

a little peek at the Beginner weight training program I’ve created for my first “client”.

You’re probably wondering why I’ve put “client” in quotation marks. That is because my “client” is one of my coworkers, who kindly asked me to train her, and I ever so generously offered to do so. When she asked how to pay me, I foolishly said “Oh, you don’t have to pay me. Don’t worry about that.”

Technically, I’m not PT certified, so if I were to actually charge her, it would be pretty unethical to do so, considering I have zero credentials aside from weightlifting being my only personality trait. That being said, getting PT certified is on my to-do list, and recently I’ve been looking into completing the ACE PT program. Despite lacking these credentials, I like to think I know my stuff, which is why I felt confident training my coworker and building her a basic beginner’s program. I ended up putting a lot more work into it than I originally intended, and am spending approximately 6-8 hours a week training with her, on top of my own training, making this whole ‘free training’ process rather time consuming. It is for this reason that you should be ever so grateful that I am sharing the program with you right here and right now:

Beginner training program

When creating this program, I consulted with other members of my gym to inquire about their experiences with being a beginner, and what sorts of routines were most digestible. I settled on a Push-Pull-Legs split – a very organized and effective split when starting out. As my client is starting from ground zero (has never stepped foot in a gym, did not grow up athletic, would only occasionally go for runs) I didn’t want to overwhelm her with a complicated program, and decided to stick to basic exercises with straight-forward yet effective movements.

The best part about this program is that it is incredibly flexible. It can just as easily be used for someone who is familiar with lifting, and adjusted accordingly depending on individual fitness goals. The exercises for each day are arranged so to cover the primary movements controlled by each muscle group, activating each part of the muscle to achieve maximum efficiency during the lift. Some professionals and trainers who I will often look to for inspiration are Jeff Nippard – who puts heavy emphasis on bodybuilding backed by science, and Darryl Williams (Bullyjuice) who builds simple and effective routines that can be implemented both at home and in the gym, while emphasizing the importance of looking after the mind and how your mentality plays an instrumental role in your physical progress. Completing Williams’ 30 Day At Home Workout Challenge is what got me passionate about exercise, and what helped me build a strong enough foundation to feel prepared when entering a gym for the first time.

My client’s main goals at the moment are to feel confident using gym equipment and to get into a healthy routine of moving her body. Which quite honestly, is a spectacular place to start. Due to this, I decided to keep her program fairly well rounded, including a little bit of mobility training, heavy emphasis on weight training, light core training, and cardio on her own terms (as she used to be a runner.) Given that I am not her coach, I am simply showing her the ropes in weightlifting, and have not put her on a meal plan or any sort of incredibly strict routine. Exercising three days a week is digestible and fits in with her life schedule, and allows us time to have fun and enjoy the process opposed to it feeling like a chore.

Two training sessions in, and it has been a blast. My client is beyond excited to finally be getting into a gym and I’m getting a fantastic opportunity to dip my toes in what it would be like to be a personal trainer – on a very informal and low-stress level. The best part is, right now it’s just about getting strong, breaking a good sweat, and more than anything, having fun and learning to love what our bodies are capable of.