I am proud to announce that my winter bulk up is officially over and now it is time to start cutting up!

Although I still might be able to put some extra size and strength, I have started to add cardio back into my routine and I am about to cut down on my calorie intake.

This year I took a full 5-6 month break from any type of cardio.  I was feeling a little burnt out from all the running in the last several years, so I decided to give my body a solid rest.

When I started running again last week, I was in SHOCK by how much slower and out of shape I had become.

Running DOES NOT have any type of muscle or endurance memory.  If you stop running, you lose it, case closed.

Strength training on the other hand, seems to stick with you for a long time.  Even grown men that I know haven’t lifted heavy in years, still look pretty strong in their older years.

In other words, you can tell when someone used to be a powerlifter, but you can’t tell that someone used to be a runner.

I also realized that it’s really not healthy to skip any type of training.  Since I still consider myself young (37), I don’t mind missing a couple of weeks of cardio or gaining weight in the winter.  But when I get into my mid-40’s, I think I need to stick with a least a minimal amount of cardio year-round.

I can’t tell you how many times that I have heard a story about a former marathon runner that died from an early heart attack.  Of course the first thing everyone says is “he was in such good shape”.

But in reality, you don’t know if he or she was still in good shape.  Running and cardio does not have any muscle memory.  For all you know, this person might have taken the last several months off.

If you stop working out, you might die.

Keep training, keep up your cardio, keep up with your diet.

If you are really sick or really busy, it’s fine to take a day or two off. But overall, you need to force yourself to get out there for your entire life.

-John Andre

P.S. I’ve been extremely busy recently but I should have a new workout book out this Spring including some new videos.

Today officially ended my bulk up for the season.  I went from a summer low of 149 lbs in the winter to up to 178 lbs in early February.

Recently, I have been eating like crazy so I am actually surprised that I didn’t get up to the mid 180’s.  Either way, I am satisfied with a 28 lb weight gain this winter.

With the end of my bulk up season, I have slowly cut down on the calories and started to reintroduce my cardio workouts.

Today I went for a hard one-mile run to see how fast I am after missing 5 months in a row.

Results: I ran a mile in 7 minutes flat and felt like I was going to die.

Let’s put that into perspective for one minute.

Several months ago I could run 5 miles at a 6:50 per mile pace and only 5 and half months later, I almost died running a 7 minute mile.

Now, of course you can say that I gained some weight.  But even with the weight gain, that is still a ridiculous decrease in cardiovascular endurance.

Running DOES NOT PRODUCE MUSCLE MEMORY.

If you can bench press 315 lbs for 4 reps and then you take off 5 months of weight lifting,  you will still probably be pretty strong.  You could also probably get strong again pretty fast.

Not so for running.  Weight training memory carries on way longer than any type of cardio.  Some heavy weight lifting muscle may even carry on for the rest of your life, such is the case with many retired football players.

Cardio workouts are only beneficial when you use them and for that moment only.

Even taking off 10 days in a row can kill your cardiovascular conditioning.  In July I bruised my head and ended up in the hospital, missing 2 full weeks of workouts.

When I started training again, I couldn’t believe how slow I got.

Overall, there are 3 lessons to be learned by this.

A) You need to always lift weights and weight lifting is the primary way to stay in shape

B) You need to continue some form of cardio, even if light cardio, for the rest of your life.

C) What you did in the past regarding your cardiovascular workouts has no baring on your condition today.

My goal for the end of winter and beginning of Spring is to slowly start losing some body weight, continue lifting heavy weights and begin to add my cardio back in.

Good luck!

-John

Heart disease runs in my family.  If we survive our first big heart attack we have a good chance of living to our 90’s.  My father recently survived his first heart attack at age 69 and is now back to playing tennis and skiing.

My grandfather on my father’s side died from a heart attack in his sleep.  Went to bed one night and never woke up, probably the best way to go out.

I tested positive for high blood pressure once and surprisingly, it was over 10 years.  Back in my heavy powerlifting days, I was up over 185 lbs and the Doctor said I was slightly high.

Ever since then I have been just at the regular level, although I may be high now since I am in my last 3 weeks of bulking up.

But besides my blood pressure going up because I gained 35 lbs since the summer, there is also the stress level.

Recently my stress level has been through the roof, considering the following:

  • My wife is 7-months pregnant
  • They have laid some people off at work
  • My wife isn’t working
  • I just moved into a new apartment and raised my rent 50%
  • I haven’t signed up any new clients to my business yet for 2017 (Although getting close)
  • Studying for a major licensing exam at work

Recently, my life has just been insane.

There was a couple of nights that I had some nightmares and when I woke up, I couldn’t believe how hard my heart was beating.

If I was an older man, I have no doubt that I might have suffered a brutal heart attack.

Stress can kill you and so can a bad nightmare.

So what can we do?  We all need to work.

I figure I can still get away with killing myself at this age (37) but at some point I am going to need to slow down or relax more.

Slowing down is probably not an option, so I need to relax more.

I have several goals that I am trying to accomplish before May 1st, after that, I am taking some serious time off to relax, train and spend time with my new child.

-John

This year I am down to the last several weeks of my bulk up and I am generally lifting the heaviest weights that I will all year.

Although I will still be pretty strong when I add the cardio back into my routine next month, I usually set my records for the year in January and February.

One of the problems with bulking up, is that I gained a ton of weight really fast this year.  In only 4-5 months I added over 30 lbs of bodyweight and that is a lot for my small 5’8 frame.

When you add that amount of bodyweight, it takes a while for your muscles and joints to get used to the heavier poundages, including stretch marks.

Recently, I have been feeling really strong but I noticed that my triceps are sore.  Usually, you can get away with having a sore muscle or two, but for some reason, when your triceps are hurting it can kill your workouts.

The triceps are so important, that I don’t even work them out separately.  Between heavy bench press and shoulders workouts, my triceps have been taking a beating every week.

Yesterday I worked up to 80 lb dumbbells for shoulders and something didn’t feel right.  Even when I was warming up with lighter weights I would lift the weights off my shoulders easily, but my arms were locking out super slow.  I realized that my shoulders were feeling really strong, but my triceps were in really bad shape.

The triceps are often neglected, but they can affect most of your major upper body workouts.  Bench press, shoulder press, incline press, push presses, etc, all incorporate the triceps.

So be careful.  If you are going heavy in your compound lifts, you might not need a lot of extra tricep work.  Be especially careful if you notice that you aren’t locking out your lifts.

A lot of times it might not necessarily be a weakness in your back, chest or shoulders that is slowing you down, but just weakness in your triceps.

Good luck!

-John

I have been running now for over 20 years and the question I get asked the most is “when are you going to run the marathon?”

And the answer is probably never.

I don’t even really want to go past 3 miles anymore.

Long-distance running is not good for you.

Of course people like to send me survey’s that compare the overall health of runners compared to non-runners, but I don’t think its a fair comparison.

A long distance runner should be healthier than someone who is sedentary, but let’s be honest, are they healthier than a basketball player?

Or tennis players?

Or swimmers?

And they absolutely do not have a low body fat percentage.  Most marathon runners are “skinny fat”.  “Skinny fat” is when you have a very light body weight but you still carry a high body fat percentage.

I haven’t done any cardio since September, but I am about to start it again in several weeks.

My goal for this year is SPEED.

I don’t care about distance at all.  I want to become fast again.

Sprints, hill repeats, suicides, etc.

When you get older you don’t really lose any endurance and stamina, but you do lose speed.

My goal is to run a sprinting race for the first time since I was 18-years old (I’m 37).  I am curious to see what type of shape I am in after a 19-year lay over.

Good luck….

-John

I have been lifting weights for 21 years straight and I don’t plan on ever stopping.   After all of these years of training, I can officially tell what works for my body and what doesn’t.

I have competed in over 10 powerlifting competitions and my top lifts were a 345lb bench press, 585 lb dead lift and a 245lb military press.

A couple of years ago I tried to experiment with my routine and I switched to higher rep sets with more cardio.  The end result was that I looked a look worse.

There is a certain look that a powerlifter has that regular people in the gym will never achieve and the only way to replicate that look is by using heavy weights.

The heavier the weights, the better.

People like to claim that Arnold Schwarzenegger didn’t use heavy weights, but the truth is that he still went pretty heavy.

His bench press was over 400lbs and both him and Franco Columbu had deadlifted over 700.

Although you won’t win a powerlifting competition with those lifts, that is still pretty damn strong.

This winter I am trying to get back to the basics and start lifting heavy weights again.  As usual I have a bunch of nagging injuries, but so far, I have been lifting pretty heavy.

So far this winter, my bench press is over 305, I have reached 95’s for dumbbells shoulders and I have leg pressed over 600.

This year I want to focus on building up a solid physique that will really look good when I start to cut up for the summer..

Recently I was looking at some pictures of my physique and in every single one of my best years, I was lifting heavy weights.

Heavy weights work.  There is no short cut or alternative to heavy weights, so if you want to have a solid physique, you better start lifting heavy.

-John

I had a bad day in the gym today.  I’ve had a sinus infection for the last several days that has been knocking me out and although I was able to do 90’s for several reps in shoulder dumbbells, it still wasn’t a great workout.

But more importantly, I failed the mirror test.

I haven’t taken my shirt off in the gym since the summer, but today I decided to take a look. When I took my shirt off, I was in SHOCK by how overweight and out of shape I looked.

Bulking up is NOT healthy for you.  I have gained almost 30 lbs since August and I feel horrible.

I am out of breath.

I have no energy.

I am getting pimples like a teenager.

But the good news is that I am strong as a bull.  My bench press is creeping up towards 315 and today I tried 100 lbs dumbbells for shoulders (unsuccessfully)

Although I do like being strong and I like the feeling of filling out my clothes, I really don’t feel healthy and I cant wait to start cutting up again.

Getting fat is a necessary evil.  I gained almost 10 lbs more than last year and I am taking a chance on adding this much weight.  This is my 6-week schedule until the end of the bulk up year.

Week of Jan 8th:  225 bench 75lb shoulder dumbbells

Week of Jan 15th: 245 bench 80 shoulder dumbbells

Week of Jan 22nd: 265 bench 85 dumbbells

Week of Jan 29: 285 bench 90 dumbbells

Week of Feb 5: 305 bench 95 dumbbells

Week of Feb 12: 325 bench 100 dumbbells

SEASON OVER

Although I may get stronger after my official bulk up is over, my cardio workouts will be added and I will slowly start to cut back on the calories.

Happy training!

I was watching an interview last night with Mike Love, one of the founders/singers of the Beach Boys.  Mike is in his mid 70’s and said he did over 170 shows in 2016.

And he looks like he is in decent shape.

Growing up in Brooklyn, the town that I grew up had a large number of civil service employees, including many of my good friends and most of my family.

Working for the civil service, one of the most common themes you hear people talking about is “retirement.”

  • How many more years you have?
  • I can’t wait to retire.
  • 5 more years and I am done

But I am here to tell you that retirement is very overrated.

If you want to live a long and meaningful life, you need to stay active.

Now, I am not saying you need to teach until you are 85-years old.  But what you should focus on is finding  an activity that you enjoy and something that keeps you motivated.

Humans need a reason to live.  I have relatives that retired in their early 50’s and without a lack of activity, they all have aged very prematurely.

70 years old is not considered old anymore.  I lose to 70-year old men in races all the time and there is no excuse to be walking about like a bag of bones.

Find something meaningful in life to keep you busy.  Whether it is a second job, sales career, marathon running, bodybuilding, religion or volunteerism.  You need something to keep you motivated and alive, otherwise you will experience a premature demise.

Never stop grinding….

-John

What a crappy day today in NYC.  It was around 38 degrees and raining out when I woke up and in the afternoon it was just clowdy out and cold.

Also, the bad part of winter hasn’t really started yet.  I better not get used to these 38 degree days because its going to get a lot colder out in the next several weeks.

Most New York’ers like to complain about the winter and everyone says they are looking to move down South, but I actually try to embrace the winter.

Winter is good for you.

Most importantly, the winter gives you something to look forward to.  I appreciate having different seasons in NYC and experiencing different seasons makes nice weather just that much more enjoyable.

I remember several years ago traveling to California to visit a friend in March and it was 75 degrees out and sunny in Santa Monica.  Although it felt great compared to the freezing cold weather I had just left in Brooklyn, I noticed something weird.

The people were not excited.

When you are used to beautiful weather all year-round, your mood doesn’t change much.

When the first 70 degree days of the year appear in May and June in NYC, almost everyone goes outside.  The streets are packed and the mood is extremely upbeat.  It almost makes this crappy weather tolerable.

If I lived in Aruba year-round, I wouldn’t appreciate having a nice day.

Cold weather is also good for bodybuilding.  Since I know that I dont have to take my shirt off for several months, it is the perfect time to lift heavy and eat extra calories.

As the weather improves I will start to cut down, but now that it is 39 degrees out and raining, I am going to bench press heavy weights and eat steaks all day long.

Crappy weather is good.

It is a good time to lift heavy

It is a good time to study for exams

It is a good time to work on a side business

Sometimes you need some bad to appreciate the good and I am ready to embrace the horrible weather that is coming.

-John

Most bodybuilders focus on the main body parts when they are working out, such as the chest, quads, back and calves.  But there some smaller body parts that are often overlooked and are very important.

Two muscles that come to mind immediately are the triceps and the hamstrings.

If during your bulk up you injure your triceps, your presses will be in trouble.  That goes for the bench press, shoulder press, dumbbell press, military press or any other press that involves using your upper body.

The triceps are not necessarily a small muscle group, they are larger than the biceps, but their importance can sometimes be overlooked.

As I am getting close to hitting my winter goals of 315 for the bench press and 100’s for dumbbell shoulders, I noticed that my triceps are really starting to get sore.

Last week I worked out with 75’s for shoulder dumbbell, which at this point should be an easy weight, and I noticed something odd.   Although the weights were coming off my shoulders without much of an effort, I was starting to stall on the lockouts.  My shoulders have obviously been getting a lot stronger, but unfortunately, my triceps have not been able to keep pace.

When I am lifting heavy,especially when I am power lifting, I usually don’t train my triceps separately.  I know that most bodybuilders give their triceps individual attention but I actually try to rest them as much as possible.  Between heavy bench press and heavy dumbbells for shoulders, my triceps are already getting a lot of work in.

Another overlooked muscle group are the hamstrings.  Most bodybuilders spend a lot of time on their quads and calves, but in reality, it is the hamstrings that provide most of your speed.

I ran 3 years of High School track and one year in College, and whenever I started a new sprinting season, I noticed that my hamstrings would start to get sore.

Similar to the triceps, if you ever strain or injure your hamstrings, forget about running fast.  It is close to impossible.

Right now I have 8 more weeks of heavy lifting before I start to diet down for the summer.  I am not going to lose the body weight right away, but in late February I will start tightening up my diet and reintroduce the cardio workouts.

I believe I should be able to reach my winter lifting goals soon, and before you know it, Spring will be here and time to start getting cut again for the summer.

-John