Posts Tagged ‘bench press’

Now that my winter bulk up is over, I am starting to add some cardio back into my routine.

This week I ran 4 times.  I ran Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday.

I was considering running on Sunday, but I decided not to.  When I use my running for cardio, I like to run HARD.  Easy running is for marathon runners and it doesn’t burn off a lot of body fat.

If anything, most marathon runners are skinny fat.  Skinny fat is where you have a low body weight but still a high body fat percentage.

The key to cardio is intensity.  Run hard, run fast and push it.

This year, my goal is to run 3 miles under 21 minutes without running for than 3 or 4x a week.  I also never run more than 3-4 miles in my training, when I run, it is short and fast.

I meet runners all the time that utilize a ton of mileage in their routine, but their running times never go anywhere.

It’s truly a waste of time to go outside or on a treadmill and start plodding along.

The key to cardio is to work on your SPEED.

You don’t really lose a lot of endurance as you get older, but you definitely lose a lot of speed.

Speed is the key to life and vitality, not endurance.

Sprints, tempo runs and even sports are the cardio routines that you can use to get into great shape and remove body fat.

20160715_065110

Last summer I was running outdoors and when I would start to feel burnt out, I would switch to basketball.

But overall, I would never run more than 12-15 miles a week, max.

Today I ran 2 miles in 15:00 minutes (7:30 per mile pace).  I’m only into my second week of running, but I am quickly starting to feel pretty good.

Running is a weird sport, it usually takes me around 15-20 runs before I start to get into the “groove”.

But once my legs and my breathing starts to make the adjustment to the training, I can really start to push it hard.

Remember, start training outside now so when the weather changes, you will be ready.

By the time Spring rolls around you want to be in the middle of a hard training routine, not at the beginning.

-John

Lift Heavy/Fun Fast on Amazon.com!

 

Advertisements

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.

Screenshot_20171010-190334

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.

20170903_085651

Good luck! You are gonna need it…

-John

Check out my books on amazon.com!

Lift Heavy/Fun Fast on Amazon.com!

 

 

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.

20161113_211403

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.

20171124_113303

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

patreon!Lift Heavy/Fun Fast on Amazon.com!

 

 

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.

20160715_065110

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!

 

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

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

There is nothing, and I repeat, nothing more annoying than someone hogging the bench press.  The only thing even close in annoyance, would be someone hogging the squat rack.

Why is it so annoying?

Because you really can’t do any other exercise for chest.  Yes, you can use dumbbells, but it is still not the same.  The absolute best way to build a solid chest, is by lifting heavy weights on the bench press.

It’s also annoying because some gyms, like mine,  only have 2 bench presses.

If I was to open my own gym, I would have a minimum of 4 bench presses.  Anything less and you always have people waiting around to lift.

In most gyms, you can easily remove a ton of useless machines to fit in some extra bench presses.

Personally, I don’t someone spending a lot of time on the bench press, just as long as you ARE WORKING OUT HARD.

The gym I have been going to in Manhattan does not have many serious lifters and it is starting to get frustrating waiting for people to finish using the bench press.

TAKE IT SERIOUS!

Lift heavy, lift fast and get on with your day.  Nobody cares how many sets you do, especially if you are using light weights and it’s not going to help your physique.  You need to make an effort!

Today I showed up at the gym all psyched up to bench press and it took me 25 minutes to finally get on the bench press.  A guy taller than me, but a lot weaker, was doing set after set with really light weights.

That type of training isn’t going to do anything.  You aren’t going to get stronger, you aren’t going to get cut unless you change your diet and if anything, you are probably going to get weaker.

Finally I couldn’t wait any longer and I asked if I could cut in with someone.  After only 20 minutes, I warmed up with 2 sets of 135 lbs, one with 225lb and then a work set of 305.  After that, I was done with bench press.

Not only did this guy complete 6 sets before I asked to cut in, but he kept lifting after I was done!  He must have completed at least 10 sets with weights that he should be curling for biceps and not bench pressing.

So that is my rant for the week.  If you are going to use the free weights, stop wasting everyone’s time and get down to business.  A couple HARD sets and that’s it.

This isn’t endurance training.  If you want to have big muscles, you need to lift heavy.

20161113_211403

(Bulking up)

-John

Check out my workout guide on amazon.com!

26 years old, in my power lifting prime : )  182 lbs….

 

I learned my lesson the hard way.  By living and surviving through major recessions in 2001 and in 2008/2009, I cannot overstate how important it is to have a plan B.

What happens if your job is eliminated and eliminated quickly?

Can you afford your rent, cell phone, car insurance, food, and gym membership for one year?

Most people can’t.

The first time I worked two jobs was right after I graduated from College.  At that point I wasn’t necessarily worried about losing my job since I lived with my parents, but more importantly, I wanted to save some quick money.

And it worked great.

Almost 15 months after graduating from College, I had saved over $20k.

But more importantly, I learned how a second job gave me some flexibility.  If I wanted to leave my first job, or if I got laid off, the second job was there for me.

I have met so many older Americans that have only worked and committed to one place of business and unfortunately had their rug ripped out from under them.

2001 was bad.  2008/2009 was really bad.

I don’t want to get into the importance of having a nest egg since that is obvious, but not enough people have a plan B.

A great example would be the auto workers in Detroit.  For years, the jobs were slowly starting to leave before they almost became non-existent.  If you find yourself in the same situation, you need to start a 2nd job before your position is eliminated.

Healthcare. Education. Retail. Restaurant/Tourism, etc.  There are a lot of fields where people can possibly work part time and have the opportunity to switch to full time if necessary.

Another idea is a side business.

If you can start up a successful side business, you can save a TON of money.

I have been working in sales part time for the last 3 years, and so far, it was been very profitable.  Profitable enough that I don’t think I could have afforded to get married and support my pregnant wife like I am now.

But that best part is that if I lose my 9-5 job, I can jump into my sales job full time on day ONE.  I won’t earn the same that I was, but I have a solid chance to break even with my bills and support my family.

So take my advice, take on a 2nd career.  You will be surprised by how much you can earn.

-John