Posts Tagged ‘chest’

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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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!

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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

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

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I have been training really good recently.  I finally have a new training partner to spot me in bench press (It’s been 2 years) and I am hitting some strong summer numbers.

I lost almost 25 lbs this year since the winter and this “should” be the time of the year that I am weakest.  Surprisingly, I have had a strength surge recently.

The only idea I can think of that led to my recent strength surge, is that I cut down on any long-distance running.  I was feeling burnt out again, so I decided to switch to sprinting and basketball only.

Just to give you an example, I almost benched 295 at 152lbs of bodyweight today.  I am really close to doubling my body weight in bench press.

Since I have been lifting so good, I am actually considering competing in powerlifting again.

Powerlifting is the best type of training.  Even if you aren’t going to compete, the powerlifting lifts are the best way to maintain strength.

Bodybuilding is an obscure sport.  The majority of people going to the gym are never going to be bodybuilders nor will they ever have a 6-pack.  Those people should be training for strength only, along with a little bit of cardio.

Being strong has a practical purpose.  Whether it’s picking up your child, carrying groceries or climbing stairs when you are 60.  Staying strong is very important and the best way to stay strong, is to incorporate power training.

Do you need bodybuilding in your life? Not really.

The dieting and training is healthy, but it’s not a very practical lifestyle.

Marathon running is even worse, it not, the worst.

Try incorporating some power training into your routine.  It is the best way to build any mass and the training is the most practical when it comes to using weights.

Hope everyone is enjoying the end of the summer.  Please check out my new book on amazon.com!

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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

Plateau’s are a major problem in bodybuilding as well in many other sports.  Most people will experience rapid gains when they start a new training activity but eventually those gains will come to an end.

They might not stop completely, but they will at least slow down.

Going from a 95lb bench press to a 200lb bench press is pretty easy and can be accomplished within a year, but going from 350 to 400 can take 10 years.

Running a 7 minute mile is easy after several weeks of training, while running a 5 minute mile takes a whole different level of committment.

This season I started my bulk up season in Mid September and for the last couple weeks I have been increasing my strength rapidly.

My goals this season are a 315 lb bench press and 100 lb dumbbells for shoulders.  As of today, I am up to around 300 lb bench press and 95lb dumbbells for shoulders.

Although I am getting close to my winter goals, the problem is that my gains are starting to slow down.  Any gains from now on are going to be a lot tougher.

So how do I keep gaining in strength?

  1. Increase the calories: I need to gain weight and I need to take in extra protein.  It’s close to impossible to get stronger if you aren’t taking in enough calories.
  2. Less sets/More intensity:  Often I see beginners starting to add extra sets to blast through a plateau, but in reality, they should be doing the opposite. Cut down on the sets and focus on taking your lifts more serious.
  3. Improve your speed: Many people don’t realize the importance of speed.  If you want to press heavy weights, you need to lift it fast.  Trust me, if you think you are going to deadlift 500-600 lbs slowly, you are joking.  Bench presses need to blast off your chest, dumbbells need to blast off your shoulders and barbells need to blast off the floor to deadlift it.

The other problem I am having, is that my body is not used to the heavy weights yet.  My muscles are starting to quickly adapt, but my joints and ligaments are starting to hurt.

It takes months and even years of consistent hard lifting to get really strong and if you think you can do it fast you are kidding yourself.

But if you work out consistent, lift heavy and eat right, anyone can build up a solid physique.

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-John

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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.

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(Bulking up)

-John

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