You need to eat to get strong.  If you are trying to lift heavy and your calories are not increasing, your strength gains are going to come to a stand still.

I made that mistake in College.

It took me FOREVER to bench press 315 lbs, although I was benching 305 almost every week.  Half of the problem was probably mental, but the other half, was that I was not gaining enough weight.

If you don’t gain any weight, why would your muscles look any larger? Where will the mass magically appear from?

One mistake I see in the gym all the time, is big guys not lifting heavy enough.  But, another problem is skinny guys not taking in enough calories.

If you are brand new to the sport, you will see some easy gains in the beginning, but that is going to stop eventually if you don’t eat.

A 20-inch bicep is going to weigh more than a 15-inch bicep, and if you don’t feed your muscles, all of the workouts are going to be a waste.

I am down to my last 10 weeks of my bulk up and I have gained at least 25 lbs.  It’s weird, but I only start to get super strong after I weigh 170 lbs.

At over 180 I am even stronger and when I am at 190-200, I am an ox.

You need to eat.

Can you put on weight slowly?  You can try, but this doesn’t work for me.  I need to lift heavy weights in the winter otherwise I am wasting my time.

Around Valentines Day I will start to cut down in calories and I am also going to get back into my cardio workouts.  The advantage I will have over the other guys, is that I will still be lifting heavy weights at a light body weight.

If I can bench press 355 in the winter and then still bench 275-295 in the summer, I will look a lot more solid than the so called “lean guys”.

I’m having a good bulk up season this year, my competition has been warned.

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-John Andre

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I officially weighed in on December 1st and I am in shock by how much weight I gained.

I weigh 175 lbs!  That is a 25 lb weight gain since Labor Day.

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My goal at the beginning of this bulk up season was to peak at 180 lbs.  Unfortunately, If I keep this pace up, I will reach 190 lbs in several weeks.

Going forward, I am going to continue to eat the same until New Years Eve.  At that point, I plan on gaining fat slower.

So, what do I mean by gaining fat slower?

It’s unfortunate, but when you bulk up, you will gain some muscle and also some fat.  It is almost impossible to only put on lean muscle.

But what you can do, is slow down the pace.

After New Years I am going to slow my body weight increase 50% by taking in fewer calories and by also increasing the cardio.

By Valentines Day, I will completely slow down and then I will transition into my spring training routine.

It’s crazy how fast the winter goes.   Only 12-15 week of heavy lifting left and then I need to focus on getting ripped.

Good luck!

-John

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I am now about half way into my winter bulk up and my progress is going great.  Last week I bench pressed 295, and on Friday, I hit my winter dead lift goal of 495.

Although there are only 12 weeks left in my season, I feel pretty confident that I should reach and possibly surpass my goals for the year.

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One thing that I am trying this year, in comparison to other years, is that I am increasing the weights quickly. For example, on Friday I was scheduled to deadlift 455 lbs for 4 or 5 reps, and then the following week, I would attempt my winter goal of 495.

During the warm ups I started to feel really good.  The weights were coming off the floor really fast, so I decided to go off schedule and straight to 495.  Working out is not an exact science, if you are feeling good,, go for the heavy weights.

Whether is is a 400 lb bench press, 315 lb squat for 10 reps or a 500 lb deadlift.  If its in the range of a weights that you should be able to handle, go for it.

Usually, lifting heavy weights is all mental.  When I started powerlifting in my teens and early 20’s, I used to obsess over heavy weights, and oftentimes it would cause me to screw up my attempt.

Now, after years of training, I have conditioned my mind to attempt each weight exactly the same.

Don’t get me wrong, having 500 lbs on my back and trying to go for a deep squat will still scare the crap out of me, but when it comes to a heavy bench or deadlift, I will go for it without hesitation.

Although I wasn’t scheduled to deadlift 495 this week, in my mind, I knew I can do it.

Next week, I might jump all the way to 550 lbs.

Why not?

Even if I don’t get it, your body and especially your mind will get a lot stronger just by attempting it.

Remember, heavy weights=big muscle.

Here is a picture of my from my powerlifting days.

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-John

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How long does it take to get big and strong? If you do it correctly, it should only take 8-12 weeks.

With an 8-12 week heavy “powerlifting style” training routine, along with extra calories, you should see immediate progress.

This year I started by winter bulk up in Late September and I am already starting to look pretty thick.

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I m going to weigh in on December 1st, but I am sure that I have gained at least 15 lbs since Labor Day. Of course some of it is fat, but is also a lot of it is solid muscle. So far I have hit the following lifts:

  • 295 bench
  • 70 lb dumbbell curls
  • 85 lb dumbbell shoulders
  • 475 lb deadlift
  • 255 lb squats

Although these numbers aren’t great, I still have at least 12-16 weeks left in my winter training and I plan on getting a lot stronger.

So how to we guarantee that you are going to get big and strong? It depends on two key elements:

  1. You need to lift heavy weights.  None of that high rep nonsense, low, heavy-ass weights with a lot of rest
  2. You need to gain weight.  Try not to look in a mirror as much but focus instead on gaining weight week after week until you  have enough mass.

If you are lifting heavy weights and eating extra calories, it is impossible to not gain solid muscle.

Once the end of winter rolls around I will start to cut down in calories and increase my cardio workouts to get ripped for summer.

The name of the game is to keep as much mass on as possible while burning off all the body fat.

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-John

P.S. I should have a new website coming out in early 2018!

Check out my 2 books on amazon.com or support me on patreon!

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Muscle confusion is a common term used today by many bodybuilders and it does have some merit when done correctly.

The basic premise behind muscle confusion, is that your body will start to get used to the same exercises and you will need to change your routine to stimulate any further growth.

Do I use muscle confusion? Sort of.

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But to be honest with you, the best exercises are the heavy powerlifting basics; bench press, squats and deadlifts.

Arnold Schwarzenegger was deadlifting over 700lbs in his prime and Ronnie Coleman was deadlifting over 800.  If you can’t deadlift over 400lbs then I have news for you, you need to get stronger.

The same goes for bench press and squats.  If you can’t bench press over 300lbs, your chest will never grow large enough.

So in reality, I find that most bodybuilders need more muscle consistently, rather than muscle confusion.

But, I do use muscle confusion with my secondary exercises.  For example, after bench press I will usually add a secondary exercise.  Typically, it will be either dumbbell inclines, fly’s or sometimes pause reps.

This winter I am also starting to rotate my shoulder routine.  Last week I was able to work up to 85’s for 3 reps.  This week instead of going for a 90lb single, I decided to switch to dumbbells for chest on a flat bench. Although it’s not directly shoulder related, I decided to switch to a similar exercise for several weeks, until I switch back to shoulders.

The best part about starting a new exercise, is that you should go up every week for the first several weeks.  So in effect, you are guaranteeing strength gains.

For running, again I believe in consistency over confusion, but I will try to vary the speed.  By adding sprints, tempo runs and hill repeats, you can burn off a ton of extra fat.

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So overall, do I believe in muscle confusion? Yes and No.  Just as long as you recognize that there is no substitute for the heavy compound exercises like bench press, deadlift, squats, shoulder, incline and barbell press.

-John

P.S. I should have a new website coming out in early 2018!

Check out my 2 books on amazon.com or support me on patreon!

Lift Heavy/Fun Fast on Amazon.com!

 

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I am now officially a month and a half into my winter bulk up and so far it is going great.

My only disappointment so far has been with my bench press.  I definitely have some type of permanent shoulder and elbow damage that is affecting my ability to go super heavy.

I have been experimenting with different types of grips and techniques for my bench press and although I have been able to eliminate a lot of the pain, it still sets me back several weeks on making progress.

I am starting to realize that if I ever want to reach my record of 355 lbs, I am going to have to change the way that I train.  For decades I have driven most of my power from my chest and shoulders, but going foward, it looks like I need to focus on my triceps.

I will always have a strong bench press, I just cant guarantee that I will break my old records. Of course, I will never stop trying.

My shoulder press has been going surprisingly well.  Even with all my shoulder and elbow problems, I was able to get up to 85’s in shoulder press almost immediately.  Last winter I peaked at 95 lbs dumbbells, so I am only 10 lbs away and I have 4 and half months left.

For the squat and deadlift, I have been killing it.  I have already deadlifted 475 lbs and today I squatted 255 lbs pretty easily.  My back and knees are feeling pretty good, so I should be able to hit some decent numbers.

Overall, I can’t complain.  I am gaining body weight and my lifts are within striking distance of my winter goals.

I need to eventually decide when to cut back.  The last several years I have starting cutting up on St. Patrick’s Day.  I will have to decide if I want to start cutting up earlier or allow myself to go longer into the Spring.

-John

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There are only two options in life; either you are religious and believe in some type spiritual power or you believe that when you die, you die.

If you go the religious route, then you will focus solely on your spiritual side and make it your number one focus in life.

If you find yourself in the latter category, then you will live like there is no tomorrow.  Not that you want to die, but you don’t need to “hold back” on anything in life.

I personally feel that 98% of the population fits within the middle of each.

Nobody is 100% dedicated to anything, but the few people that can come close, can be extremely successful.

The Pope was most likely very dedicated.  The same can be said for Arnold Schwarzenegger or Bill Gates.

When it comes to the gym; unfortunately most people are also in the 98% middle ground.  In other words, they don’t really make any progress.

For this winter bulk up, I have come to the conclusion that life is too short to mess around.

I am either lifting weights, or I am not.  I am either getting strong or I am not.

You are either running faster or you are not.

You are either burning off body fat or you are not.

When you start viewing life in absolutes, you can remove the emotional bullshit and stigma’s attached and accelerate to your goals.

So far this year I am already close to a 500lb deadlift and a 300lb bench press.  Since I have decided to stop messing around, I am almost at my St Patrick’s day goals months ahead of schedule.

Next year, I also plan on adding the same focus on other area’s of life.  Whether it is getting stronger, saving $20K, starting a new business or finding a new job.

Stop bullshitting and get it done.

There is no time to mess around.

-John

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The easy answer is that it depends on the person. But more importantly, you need to find out which routine works the best for your body.

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After years of working out, I can say with 100% certainty that my body responds to low reps.  Not only does my body prefer low reps, but it also prefers heavy weights.

Some people are different.  Arnold Schwarzenegger was famous for doing multiple sets over several hours a day.

Ronnie Coleman was known for lifting super heavy with powerlifting style exercises.

Personally, I prefer the heavy powerlifting style for several reasons:

  • The muscle lasts longer.  When you are lifting heavy weights, the mass stays on for a long time
  • It’s practical. even if you aren’t a bodybuilder, it helps in everyday life to be a stronger person.
  • I always get injured with high reps.

This Fall season, I have been getting back into the old school powerlifting routines.  Heavy weights, low reps and a ton of extra calories.

The same can also pertain to running.   I believe that everyone needs some form of cardio; whether it is running, biking, basketball, etc.

But I definitely do not believe in long distance running.  Training for 1 or 2 marathons in your life isn’t going to kill you, but I don’t recommend it as a long-term training routine.

I actually gain body fat when I run long-distance.   I become “skinny fat”, which is very skinny with a high level of body fat.

When it comes to cardio, I prefer to train the same way as I do with weights.  Quick and fast.  Sprinting, tempo runs, hill repeats and nothing over 5-miles.

By just running 2-4 miles 3x a week, I am able to get my 3 mile time to under 20 minutes.

So overall, do high reps work?

It depends on the person.  Try it out on yourself and track your progress.

Be honest with yourself. If you aren’t making progress then it may not be working for you.

-John

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I’ve said it before and I will say it again; powerlifting is the best way to add-on any mass.  Not only will you add solid muscle, but if you want to use a high rep routine in the future, it will help you to lift heavier weights.

This year I am 2 weeks into my bulk up routine and I am quickly starting to get into heavy weights.

My deadlift goal for the winter was 500 lbs and this Friday I lifted 435 pretty easily.  I would love to hit 500lbs before New Years.

Most people don’t realize it, but you can get really strong by only training 3x a week and even twice a week.  When I was in my heavy powerlifting days, I was only training 3x a week and I was getting super strong.

If you want to stay lean, then I would recommend that you workout 4-6 days a week, but when it comes to building mass, 3 or even 2 workouts a week are just fine.

The key is to make sure that you use the heavy compound lifts.  One of my basic routines was as following:

Monday: Bench/Bicep

Tuesday: Squat/Shoulder

Friday: Deadlift/Back

The reason that I would do squats on Tuesday, is that I want to give myself a several day rest until deadlifts.  If you are deadlifting and squatting over 400 lbs’s in the same week, it really starts to wear down on your body.

From only 3x a week, I was able to get super strong.  At my best, I was deadlifting 585 lbs and I was benching almost 350.

Recently, I have been lifting pretty good and I am starting to get the powerlifting bug back.  If I can deadlift 500lbs and bench over 275 by Christmas, I might train for a Spring competition.

I am not going to set any records, but it gives me the motivation to get into good shape.

-John

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Out of all the exercise routines known to mankind; crossfit, running, pilates, bodybuilding, yoga, etc.  The most practical exercise is actually a very basic routine; powerlifting.

This nothing more practical than lifting heavy weights.  When you build up your core strength, it affects almost every part of your every day life.  Whether it is picking up groceries, painting a room, loading firewood or taking an air conditioner out of a window; it helps to be stronger.

Even if you don’t care how you look, you should at a minimum add some moderate powerlifing and light cardio to your daily routine.  The combination of powerlifting and light cardio, along with a clean diet, is really hard to beat.

Just recently, I have gotten back in to the heavy powerlifting and I reminded everyday by how important it is to lift heavy.

Besides feeling very energized (in comparison to running which makes me tired) Deadlifting 500 lbs solves a lot of problems:

  • It puts on size (mass)
  • It builds your calves, back, arms and thighs
  • It builds confidence
  • It helps in the other lifts, shoulders, squats, etc.
  • It helps in everyday activities.

Sometimes when you are stuck in a rut with your routine, there is an easy answer to accelerate your progress, start going heavy.

This week I am getting back into the mid 200’s for squats and I am hoping to be in the mid 400’s in my deadlift on Friday.

This will be my 3rd week into my winter bulkup and I need to add as much mass as possible.  Heavy bench press, heavy squats, heavy shoulders and heavy deadlifts.

Going heavy is practical and it is the best way to build mass if you want to start bodybuilding.

You want to build a solid 6-pack? Start squatting and deadlifting.  Once you start dieting and adding cardio, that solid stomach muscle will be the only thing left over.

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This year, I plan on going up to 180 lbs before I cut back down again to 150 for the summer.  Heavy lifting and light cardio all the way up until Mid-March

Good luck!

-John

Check out my 2 books on amazon.com or support me on patreon!

Lift Heavy/Fun Fast on Amazon.com!