Yes, people! My name is Mohammad Ali (spelled slightly different to the famous boxer we all know of but instead a tad harder), I’m 23 and currently studying my final year of English Language at Sheffield Hallam University.
Like many students at this stage, I am unemployed, but I guess that’s part of being a student, right? Having the privilege to say you don’t work without being frowned upon because of the connotations of stress and heavy workloads, when in turn it’s most likely just an option to have more free time for yourself to procrastinate and chill….and study of course.
The moment I found my love for fitness
However, without making myself sound too lazy, from the age of 10 I truly began to realise how much I enjoyed fitness and physically demanding activities. The two initial sports that resonated with me were Football and Kickboxing, I juggled these hobbies simultaneously for around a year up until I decided to put down the football boots due to my continued success as a martial artist.
Not only this, but football games were carried out on Saturdays as well as kickboxing competitions, meaning I had to decide which one to withdraw from and there was only ever one option. I felt that if I wanted to succeed at a relatively high level then it made sense to direct my focus on what I was best at, scrapping.
My family always supported my desire for this, especially my mum. My mum and I would travel all over the UK and she would watch me compete in smaller competitions as a beginner up until nationals whilst shouting her words of support from the sidelines, most of the time even drowning out the advice from my coach which was always handy for the recordings. Throughout that exciting period of my life, I managed to come away with many gold medals plus two British Championship trophies (WUMA 2012) (BKFA Nationals 2012). As a small kid at the time, this was by far my proudest achievement and still is to date.
Fast forward a few years, I came across my new hobby which I love and continue to till this day and most likely in the foreseeable future. The Gym. Seeing how far the body can go and reaching my peak physical performance has always interested me. As a somewhat skinny lad growing up, I always wanted to gain a good physique along with an increase in strength. Taking influence from my older brother who was in much better shape than me at the time and went to the gym regularly, I began my fitness journey.
How my day typically goes
The time I wake up tends to fluctuate depending on my Uni timetable, but mainly around 10 am. I’ll start my day with a hot shower and freshen up before hitting the road at 11 am where I’ll come across my usual breakfast at Greggs, a tuna crunch baguette meal deal, alternating between ready salted crisps and salt and vinegar depending on how I’m feeling.
Then I’ll detour to Café Nero to collect my regular salted caramel iced latte which I’m convinced can’t be beaten by any other coffee shop in town. You can thank me later. Whilst flushing that down me, I’ll head off to the city campus where my lectures will take place. On a Wednesday, I start at 11:30 so ill use this day as my example. The gender demographic for my subject is majority female populated which is somewhat helpful as I’m easily distracted sometimes, and I guess there’s a time and place for a laugh with the lads.
Once the lectures are over at 3 pm, I’ll pop my earphones in and head off to the gym, which is just a 10-minute walk from campus. I think of it as a home away from home, somewhere I can not only go to train but develop my understanding of becoming a better person, athlete, and family member. These aspects are crucial towards creating a comfortable atmosphere in the gym, keeping a positive attitude towards yourself and other gym goers can boost morale and invoke friendships between the people surrounding you on a day-to-day basis.
Even if it’s the old nod of the head, spotting people when they need or something as simple as holding the door open for someone. These are just a few examples of things I like to do to keep the energy high and put a smile on the face of people, 99% of the time this is reciprocated but there’s always that chance you’ll run into an angry ‘Roidy’, but we won’t go into that because it’s all about good vibes people.
My Wednesday training routine (1hr 15) – I believe this works best for me so feel free to try this plan yourselves!
As most people prefer to train chest on Mondays, I find it easier to switch it up from the norm. This is useful for me as it means I’ll be spending less time waiting around for machines/equipment, resulting in a more fluid session whilst prioritising constant tension on my muscles. To begin, I will start off by stretching my chest in one of three ways:
- Using Resistance bands
- Barbell stretches
Warmups are crucial in all training sessions as it helps prepare the muscle for heavy lifts due to increased temperature and blood flow, whilst also mitigating chances of injury. After a warmup, I’ll move on to the first compound exercise.
Flat/Incline Bench Press – This exercise is always first on the list, it requires the most amount of effort due to the multi-joint movements used to work more than one muscle group at a time. It is also the best traditional way of building strength and monitoring strength progress as the plates go up. I do this for 6 sets (flat) whilst increasing the amount of weight up until failure. This is then repeated for another 6 sets whilst the bench is at an incline, this way I can hit all areas of the chest.
After this I will follow up with 3 Isolated exercises:
- Cable fly’s
- Upwards dumbbell fly’s
Isolated exercises typically come after compound exercises as they use up less energy but allow individual parts of a muscle to be worked. This is useful as it provides more definition to a specific area that may need greater attention. For myself, I always choose to keep challenging my muscle endurance, incorporating ‘Drop Sets’ and “Super Sets’ into my routines makes things much more difficult but rewarding after I’ve left the gym, for example, I will start with 12 dips, followed by 12 reps of cable fly’s, finished off with upwards fly’s till failure. This is repeated for 4 sets followed by another stretch to cool down.
Post obtaining a belter of a pump (4:30 pm), I march my way down to the gaffer’s yard (my nan’s house). Here I’ll find my favourite family member without question and even the others will admit that it’s not biased to believe she’s the number one seed of the family. It’s a frequent place for me to go as there’s a guaranteed laugh, we can plot what day we’re going to hit up bingo, oh and she does all my washing, so I don’t have to do it myself, Thanks nan I owe you one. Once I leave my nans at around 5:30 pm, strapped up with two bags of fresh clothes, I’ll be thinking to refill my stomach for the second time.
I take initiative every day to make sure I reach the amount of protein needed for my body (around 150g minimum). And before you ask, yes it did get tiring trying to keep track of numbers at the start, but after years of continuous calculations, I’m pretty much used to it.
So now we’re at 6 pm and my dinner today comes from the best place in Sheffield IMO, a place called Wingin’ It. As you can guess from the name, it’s a place that does the nicest chicken wings in all the best flavours. Here ill grab a 10-piece with chips on the side which takes the daily protein count to 110g.
To complete my evening, I will spend a couple of hours in the study room working on one of my assignments, proceeded by a couple of hours on the PlayStation. After this at around 10 o’clock, I’ll source my final meal of the day from The Co-Op; this consists of a luxury fish pie and two protein shakes, ending the day on a respectable 180 grams of protein. Post eating my final meal, I’ll again freshen up ready for bed and kick back listening to the Joe Rogan Podcast until I doze off to sleep.