Ryan Shen
How I Went from Weight Training to Calisthenics to Achieve Muscles Mass, Strength and Coordination


We talked with Ryan Shen in November, 2019. Follow Ryan on Instagram
Country:
Malaysia
Age:
29 years
Weight:
61 kg
(134 lbs)
Height:
175 cm
(5'8)


Instagram, @mr_ryanshen

Hi! Tell us about yourself and your training

My name is Ryan Shen and I’m 29 years old. I grew up in Kluang, south of Malaysia and currently living at Kuala Lumpur. My full time job is an analysis. I just got married this year.

I used to play a lot of sports growing up. I used to play basketball, swimming, badminton, and taekwondo so having physical activity is part of my life. I will be bored and felt sluggish if I haven’t been doing any physical activity for days.

During university time, I have lost contact to those sports I played but I found weight lifting and I was quite hook by it. I go to the gym at my university sports centre almost four to five times per week and manage to gain some muscles.

When I can’t go to the gym, I will workout with a resistance band in my room. That‘s when I started my fitness journey. I was 22 that time so it has been seven years of journey now.

After I graduate, I move to city at year 2013 to work. But I don’t have access to a gym anymore like I used to because the membership is quite expensive for me at that time.

Then, on the next year I found calisthenics and it’s so much fun plus I can see better improvement in terms of muscles mass, strength and coordination compare to weight training.

I started to learn some of advance calisthenics move such as dragon flag, back lever, front lever, and human flag. I learned all the moves by myself. I workout in my room and sometimes I will go to a park.

This year, I am learning yoga as well to improve my flexibility for six months or so.

What I love about fitness is that it gives me confidence because I can achieve something all by myself. It also inspire people around me to workout and push harder.


Instagram, @mr_ryanshen

Describe a typical day of training


My philosophy in training is to have strength and flexible at the same time.

My philosophy in training is to have strength and flexible at the same time. My workout splits are one day calisthenics or weight training and yoga the following day.

On my calisthenics or weight training days, I usually start with five minutes of warm up then 45 minutes to 1 hour of training. I focus on full body workout, here’s the sample of my typical strength training:

  • Weight pull up (Pull exercise)
  • Elevated one arm push up (Push exercise)
  • Dragon flag (Core exercise)
  • Single leg squat (Leg exercise)
  • Bicep curl and body weight triceps extension (Arm exercise)

I usually focus on building strength, which I keep the reps at four to five. Once in a while, I would change the focus to hypertrophy training or muscle building.

On my yoga training, I will start with warm up and focus on handstand training then moved to 20 to 30 of yoga. I will focus on my breathing and correct form to get the most out from each yoga session. Currently, I’m learning front splits.


Instagram, @mr_ryanshen

How do you keep going and push harder?


To improve and be better, I would focus on fixing my weaknesses.

Having physical activity if part of my life, hence that’s the reason why I manage to continue this journey until today. Just like a guitarist would play guitar very often because is part of their life.

However, I do have days where I don’t feel like going to the gym or practice yoga. During those days, I would do the simplest thing I can do. Instead of doing dragon flag, I would do leg raises, which is lower intensity exercise.

I always think that 50% of something is better than 100% of nothing, so I will do something rather than doing nothing at all.

To improve and be better, I would focus on fixing my weaknesses. At the moment, I’m learning one arm pull up and my scapular pulling is not strong enough so I will focus on improving it. I will push myself to close the gap between where I’m currently at and where I wanted to go.

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

I’m learning one arm pull up, handstand and front splits. These are my goals at the moment and I will change it to different goals as the time goes.

I’m able to inspire some of the people to start working out or push harder after I started sharing my progress.

Hopefully, in the upcoming years I can inspire more people and help people to push themselves harder to learn advance movement in calisthenics and in yoga.

Some of my friends are asking me to start a YouTube channel so that might be my upcoming plan to inspire more people.

As I just got married this year, me and my wife are planning to have children after one to two years.

How do you recover, rest and handle injuries?

I will go hard on calisthenics/weight training day and during my yoga day, I treat it sort of like a rest day as I stretch out the muscles. Sleep also important for recovery hence I usually will get seven to eight hours of sleep every day. Taking Optimum Nutrition creatine is also my recovery plan.

Sometimes injuries happen no matter how much warm up I did. I would use ice to speed up the recovery and form roll/massage it. I do not just focus on the particular injured muscles, I would form roll/massage muscles around the injured area as well. Because surrounding muscles could impact the injured muscles since muscles are connected.

How is your diet and what supplements do you use?

I keep my diet very simple. I eat as much of vegetables and fruits that I can and make sure I avoid sugary food, highly processed food and less fried food. Each meal I will make sure I have my carbs, greens and good meat protein source.

Since I’m living in Malaysia, sometimes it can be tough to eat clean during friends gathering or any social event. But, I’m ok to be off the track once in a while as I preferred to have a great time rather than be too strict on diet during these times.

I don’t take pre-workout, I rely on caffeine from coffee for energy boost but I would limit myself two cups per day. I don’t drink that much, once in a blue moon I would have a bottle of beer.

What has inspired and motivated you?

I am inspired by people who never give up to learning more about fitness. Looking at them tell me that continues learning is the best way to improve. People with vast amount of knowledge take time to learn and understand it.

Plus, with social media, information about fitness can be invalid and taking the time to validate the information takes dedication and patients. Some famous name that inspire me are Gabo Saturno, School of Calisthenics and GMB fitness.


Instagram, @mr_ryanshen

Advice for other people who want to improve themselves?


Do something rather than nothing at all.

First, keep learning. To me knowledge is what makes me improving because if I don’t know what I’m doing, I won’t improve. I have seen people who don’t spend time to learn but hit the gym and lift heaviest weight but execute in half rep style. Knowledge is also keeping us safe and avoids injury.

Second is the ideology I stated previously, which is do something rather than nothing at all. Because is not how much effort we put in during each session but the effort to keep it going. If I cant hit hard during a session, I know is totally fine since I did something rather than nothing.

Are you taking on clients right now?

Is tough for me to spend time for client work currently due to full time work because is tough for me to allocate time. But, maybe I would in the future since I love to see others finding joy from calisthenics.

Where can we learn more about you?

My Instagram account is @mr_ryanshen


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I’m Mads Phikamphon, founder of Bulk Hackers.

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