Sports and life in general are competitive.  I can never understand people who are not competitive at every age.

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Don’t get me wrong; there are bloggers that I follow that live in R.V.’s or travel the world for a living and sometimes that sounds like a great idea.

But I am too competitive.

And I get bored very easily.

I worked from home at one of my prior occupations and surprisingly I didn’t really enjoy it.

Unless I was working from home in the summer, there was usually nobody around from Monday to Friday.  Basically, instead of being locked in the office, I would be stuck at home.

I like to be competitive.  It keeps you young.

Today I was at the gym and I started to size up some of my competition.

Usually there is only one or two decent bodybuilders in a gym and rest are just there for maintenance.

The best way to tell if someone is training correctly, is that you should be able to see major changes in their body.

If they look the same across the whole year, basically, they are just maintaining.  Maintaining is fine, but you will never really improve, nor will you ever get ripped.

At my gym, there are several guys that look decent.

So for this coming summer, I need to design a workout plan to defeat my competition.

  • What are my weaknesses and what are my strengths?

My weaknesses are definitely my upper back and legs.

My strengths would be my mass, chest and abs.

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Since I am slowly starting to lose weight, my goal this year is to continue to train heavy.  I have a strong advantage in strength and mass, so I think that is where I should focus.

Like I’ve stated in other posts; I believe it is important to show off your best body parts.  So for myself, I need to continue to train chest and shoulders heavy, while I get my body fat percentage low enough so that my abs are ripped.

Another week or two and I will reveal my Spring training guide, but right now, it is looking something like this:

Monday: Chest

Tuesday: Legs/cardio

Wednesday: Cardio

Thursday: Shoulders

Friday: Back

Saturday: Cardio

Sunday: Rest

I want to slowly get back into my cardio workouts for several weeks, before I start to really get cut for the summer in May and June.

So far, I am one week into my cutting phase and I already lost 3.5 lbs.  I usually cut 10 lbs pretty quickly, then it starts to slow down after that.

Good luck everyone!

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I am proud to announce that today was my official last day of Winter bulk up 2017-2018.

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Overall, I give this season an “A”.  Before the start of the season I set several concrete goals:

  1. Bench 315: Got it! Almost benched 325 as well.
  2. 500lb dead lift: Did 500 for 2 reps and 525 for 1
  3. Shoulder dumbbells 100’s: Big failure.  Got up to 85’s, shoulder injury is not healing.
  4. Squat 315: I don’t have a spotter for this exercise but 315 is in my range. Probably closer to 345-365.
  5. Gain 30 lbs: I gained 35!

Besides not reaching my shoulder dumbbell goal, this year was a total success!  This was the heaviest I have lifted in several years.

I also kept up a small cardio routine, but nothing significant.

Now, I need to make the transaction from bulking into my cutting phase.

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So, how do we accomplish this?

The goal is to keep as much muscle mass as possible, while also removing all of my body fat.  I know that I won’t be able to lift as heavy in June as I did in January, but I still should be lifting heavy.

What are some mistakes I have made in the past?

A) Cutting calories too fast.  I need to lose 20 lbs, but I should do it slowly.  If I start starving myself I will get “skinny fat”, like marathon runners.   That is where you are skinny with a high body fat percentage

B) I start slacking with the heavy weights.  Although I will lose the leverage provided from being fat, I NEED to keep pushing myself in the gym.  Heavy compound exercises; squats, deadlifts, bench, etc.

It is also time to add some cardio.  I am going to start going hard with the cardio tomorrow.  3x a week until the weather improves, and then I might increase to 4x depending on how my body is holding up.

Spring goals?

I am still working on this, but I want to focus on a few key area’s.

A) Keep squatting.  This year I started squatting after taking several years off and I feel a big difference.  Not only is my body a lot thicker, but my abs are going to look good when I lose weight.

B) Heavy bicep and calve workouts: These are really secondary exercises, but when you wear a tee-shirt, what muscles are visible? Answer: calves and biceps.

For my cardio goals, I still haven’t locked any plan down yet.  I always try to hit 3 miles in 21 minutes and also add in some sprinting.

I would love to compete in a sprinting competition.  It was been 20 years since I have last competed in track and field, and I am getting a little bored of the 3 and 5 mile races.

This morning I weighed in at 185 lbs.  It is going to take me a couple weeks to get the boiler heated, but once I do, this engine is going to be revved up and ready to kick ass.

JASUMMERPICTURE-MIX

-John

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Most people in the gym train by themselves.  Sometimes you will see two people who go together consistently and it is the same for running.

You don’t need a partner to train, which is good.  I can do almost all of my exercises except max bench press, without a partner.

But, it does help to have one.

Unfortunately, in the last several years I have been going through training partners like underwear.

When I was younger everyone wanted to lift with me, now, not so much.

When I have a good training partner, I try to lift as heavy as possible.  I need to take advantage of a good spot on my exercises while I can.

More importantly, it helps with motivation.

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Yesterday, I went to the gym aiming to break my winter bulk up deadlift max of 525 lbs.

Once again, I was there by myself warming up, when I ran into a guy that I know.  Turns out that he is a powerlifter.

I told him I was going for my max today and he immediately replied “oh, I need to see this”.

For some reason, that was all the motivation I needed.  He started cheering me on as I worked up to my final set and by the time I put 525 lbs on the bar, I had 3 or 4 guys watching me.

Motivation helps.  It’s hard to voluntarily go to the gym at lunch and lift 525 lbs off the floor.  But when I have people yelling and encouraging me, it went right up.

It’s the same for running.  Nobody wants to go outside and jog 5-miles on a 23 degree morning, but when you running partner shows up, you are going outside.

You also push yourself.  Some days you don’t feel like running fast and your partner does and vice versa.

I also used to make up imaginary friends.  Sometimes when I am training alone, I start to think about my competitors being there.

I start trash talking to myself.

I think about my old coaches.

I think about old enemies.

I recite my favorite scenes from Rocky.

Whatever it takes to become a champion.

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-John

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So, what am I talking about?

Body fat.

Don’t get me wrong; I believe that diet and cardio along with consistent weight training are the only ways to burn off body fat.

Unfortunately, many people are only doing 1 or 2 of the 3.  And all 3 are mandatory.

If you are only running, you are going to continue to burn off muscle until you look like a waif.

If you are only dieting, you can lose weight, but you won’t have any muscle tone.

Body fat is everything. A light person can have a high body fat percentage and a heavy person can have a low body fat percentage.

You can also become “skinny fat”.  A ton of marathon runners are skinny fat.  Slender, skinny legs, low on body weight, but they don’t have any ab definition or cuts.

jabeer

Ripped abs

You need muscle to have cuts.  Just being light isn’t enough.

I am JUST about to finish my winter bulk up.  I missed my max bench press attempt today, so I will try it one more time next Monday and that is it.

Another week and a half of being over weight and I will start to get cut again.

We had a warm streak in NYC the last several days and I am already daydreaming about getting outside and running some cardio.

This year, while I am still strong, I want to hit some heavy rep sets.  I know that once I start losing weight I won’t be able to beat my one-rep max, but I still should be able to complete some heavy sets for reps.

Those heavy sets will help when I get super cut for the summer.

Remember, it’s a combination of weight lifting, cardio and diet.  And when you get it right and stop babying yourself, it should look like this:

JASUMMERPICTURE-MIX

-John

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I am going to warn you right now; do not get TOO FAT!

Although I believe the winter bulk up is very important and I personally have gained almost 35 lbs this year, body fat can be very stubborn and difficult to burn off.

If you are gaining weight, please make sure you are lifting heavier and gaining some muscle.  If you are lifting light weights even though you gained weight, then you are wasting your time.

You should be putting on a combination of both muscle and some fat.

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One important part of bodybuilding that isn’t talked about a lot is timing.  When do we END our winter bulk up?

I like to plan out a predetermined weight gain and then I also choose several strength goals.  Once I get near or surpass my strength and weight goals, I know it’s time to shut it down and start getting ripped.

Although:

A) DO NOT stop going heavy until you are sure you will not break a record.  For example, I still need to max out on my bench press.  If I go up every week for the next 3 weeks, I will not stop.  I will keep maxing out until I cannot go any heavier.

B) If I reach my goals too early, then I will increase them.  If you reach your strength gains by halloween, you probably didn’t push yourself enough.

It appears that I only have 2 weeks left of my winter bulk up.  I am going for a bench press max on Monday, a squat max on Tuesday and I doubled my deadlift goal of 500 for 2 reps on last Friday.

If I don’t go up in these lifts, I will shut my bulk up season down in the next 2 weeks.  If I keep setting records, then I will continue to lift heavy until I cannot go up anymore.

Overall, its been a great winter bulk up and I am looking forward to getting ripped again.  I had to buy new work pants today because my waist grew to 32 inches, but that is a good sign.

Good luck to everyone except my friends Kook, Fred and Joe that I plan on beating in our annual “friends summer bodybuilding” competition.

-John

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It’s really not that hard to get ripped, yet most people in the gym look the same day in and day out.

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It’s not that they are training wrong per se, but more that they are either not training hard enough or not dieting correctly.

The first step in getting ripped is to be consistent.  If you aren’t going to show up for your workouts, then you are wasting your time.

I never miss a day.  I think I missed only 2 days in all of 2017.You need to commit to make any progress.

The second part is the weight training. You NEED to gain strength if you expect your muscles to grow.

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This is where almost everyone gets stuck.  It gets harder and harder to continue getting stronger and most people give up and go into maintenance mode.

If you are going to lift weights, take it serious and increase the intensity.  Focus on gaining strength and your physique will change.  If you are lifting the same amount of weights, your body will look the same.

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And finally, you need to be strict with your diet and cardio.  Some professional bodybuilders get extremely ripped without using any cardio at all, they just use a proper diet and steroids.

Although this might seem like a ton of work, if you are already working out consistently, then you are probably closer than you think.  Sometimes it is that extra 10 to 15% extra effort that helps you beat your competition.

It is the same theory with working a 9 to 5 job.  For example; I take a ferry to Manhattan for work every day and the ferry that I take runs every 15 minutes in the morning.

I set my alarm for 5:45 am, and I usually try to make the 7:30-7:45 ferry instead of the 8 or 8:30.  But more importantly, I’ve noticed that there is a big  difference between the people going to work at 8am and the people crawling in for a 9 to 5.

The 7:30am boat is always a lot quieter, with people mostly reading newspapers or checking information on their phones, while the 8 and 8:30am boats are a madhouse.  Most of the people are loud, they are socializing or playing music and the lack of motivation is noticeable.

Just by waking up 30 minutes earlier can be the difference between becoming a millionaire and being stuck as a regular Joe.

It is the small efforts that add up.

Don’t be the person walking into work late and take your workouts serious in the gym if you want to improve.

P.S. 3 more weeks of my winter bulk up left and then I need to get ripped.

-John

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This past Friday I went to the gym with a clear objective, to deadlift 365lb’s for 10 reps.

I still have 4 weeks left in my winter bulk up, so I was planning on working my way up to the mid 500’s by the last week of the season.

I purposely went to the gym later than usually to avoid the crowds, but there was still 2 other guys using the deadlift platform.

One guy I have seen before; he usually does a bunch of sets in the 300’s and never goes up.

He is not a real competition for me, he is too scared to push it.

The 2nd guy I have seen before and he is pretty strong.  He is the only other guy in the gym that I have seen deadlift over 500 lbs.

I started warming up with the two guys and I immediately noticed that I felt strong and more importantly, I felt very fast.

For my last warm up, I went up to 315 lb’s and it felt like a paper weight.  At the moment I decided to call an audible and I increased the weight from 365 to 405.

Why should I lift lighter if I feel good?

Don’t overthink lifting weights.

Forget about writing down your sets with a pen and a pad or planning all of your training out meticulously, if you feel good, lift that damn weight.

People tend to forget, but, “IT IS JUST WEIGHT LIFTING”.

Turn your brain off, get angry and lift those weights.  The heavier the better.

Long story short, I figured I could get 405 for an easy 4 or 5, but I ended up getting 9 reps.

There was just no way that I could take it easy with these two chumps watching me.

A little motivation goes a long way, especially with an exercise like dead lifting.

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Right now I have 3 or 4 weeks left and my season is over!  This has been the best bulk up season for me in about 10 years.

But overall, I am starting to feel really overweight and unhealthy and I am looking forward to cutting down again.

Let’s see if I can improve on last season.

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Good luck! You are gonna need it…

-John

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Ok, I admit it.  This title is slightly click bait, but I will explain.

This year I am backtracking on one of my old theories called “weak point training”.  From now on, I am focusing even MORE on my good body parts and even less on my weak points.

Why?

There really is no point in focusing on your weak points.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s still important to have a balanced physique.  But if you want to stand out, you might need to spend more time on what works for you.

What are my strong points? Chest and Abs.

As you see in the picture above, when I am in good shape my abs are better than Arnold Schwarzenegger’s.

And my chest? It has always been on of my strong points.  I just touch the bench press and my chest explodes.

With that being said, I am going to continue to focus most of my attention on my chest and abs.  Those are the money makers.

So, what does this have to do with Kim Kardashian?

Well, she is known for one famous bodypart.  Would it make sense for her to lose a ton of weight and focus more on her weaker bodyparts?

Of course not.  Like I said before, she has one VERY famous bodypart.  Nobody talks about Kim Kardashian’s calves, forearms or back.

It wouldn’t make any sense for her to change her physique.

My body is not balanced.

Although I have been able to improve my calves into making them one of my better bodyparts, my upper back will never look great.

I have tried heavy rows, weighted dips, 500lbs deadlifts, etc.  I just don’t have the genetics to build a championship looking back.

With the summer coming up in 6 months, I am going to focus on my strengths.

Being balanced is not always ideal.

-John

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Bodybuilding is a funny sport.

You can read all of the articles written in Flex magazine by the “so-called” experts or you can follow workout routines you find in the online forums, but unfortunately, most of it is bullshit.

I am not saying that some of it isn’t solid advice, but you have no idea how your body is going to react.

For myself, nothing ever goes to plan. Never.

For example, I have always been a great deadlifter.  In College I got up to 500lbs really fast and was almost lifting in the mid-500’s as a teenager.

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Eventually my progress started to slow down and I made a fatal mistake.  I started to add extra sets.

Not only did I get weaker, but I ended up pulling my back out and It took over a year to heal.

I see people making the same mistake with the bench press all the time.  They start to add sets on the bench press, then they go over to the incline and then they move on to the decline.

End result? They never progress.

I just turned 38 years old and I might be able to break my bench press record this year.  In 4 or 5 weeks I am going to try to get 365lb’s at around 181lb’s of bodyweight.

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Don’t get me wrong, that’s not any type of record breaking lifting, but it’s pretty strong for a regular gym lifter.

When I try to get stronger, it usually comes down to 3 things:

  • Speed.  I do my reps really fast, including my warm up.
  • Less Sets.  Sometimes I will only do one set after warming up
  • Eat more.  If you don’t eat, where is the magical muscle going to come from?

Also, you might find an exercise that works great for you.  If you do, don’t change anything up!!!

This year, I was doing bench press on Monday’s and I was doing shoulders on Friday’s.  I wanted to focus more on bench press, so eventually I substituted shoulder Friday’s for dumbbell chest.

From adding a second chest day, I started going up like crazy.  I shot my bench press up over 315 lb’s almost immediately.

Last week I decided to go back to shoulders and I started to add shoulder Friday’s back.

Result?  I started to feel some injuries come back and my bench press started regressing.

If something is working, DON’T STOP.  Even if it doesn’t make sense.

If pretty girls always compliment your favorite blue shirt, then wear that shirt!

Don’t try to overthink things.

Right now I have about 6 weeks of my bulk up left before I get into Spring Training.  Although I enjoy being strong, I have to admit, I am starting to feel overweight.

Good luck!

John

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Happy New Years everyone!  I wish I could say I was out late partying, but my son went to bed at 9 am and woke me up at 3am.  So, it was not a great night of sleep.

Today, I officially weighted in at 183.  This is the heaviest I have been in a long time, although, I feel confident that I can cut back down in the low 150’s for the summer.

If you have been following my blog, you would know that I had 4 goals this year:

  • 315 bench Completed
  • 500 Deadlift Completed
  • 100 lb shoulder dumbbells (I don’t think I will make it, shoulder is hurting again)
  • 315 Squat Should be easy, but I have not attempted it yet.  Going to focus on this more than deadlift in the last 7 weeks and hopefully bury it soon.

I am missing the cardio, but fortunately it’s been super cold out in NYC and as soon as I go outside I forget about running.

Winter training is tough.  But it is the best time to put on some solid muscle.

13 degrees outside? Forget running around the treadmile like a hamster, eat a streak, drink some eggnog and lift some heavy weights.

I should look pretty good this summer.  I have added on some solid mass, the only thing left is the diet and cardio.

If you didn’t add any muscle mass, how are you going to get cut?  There is plenty of time left to bulk up this winter.  Between today and St. Patrick’s day, you can easily put on 10-15 lbs of bodyweight and make some serious strength goals.

A couple more weeks and we will be into Spring, happy training!

-John

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