Archive for January, 2017

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

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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