Posts Tagged ‘cuts’

Summer is almost officially over.  School is back in session, football has started and the Mr. Olympia is this weekend.

I am doing 1 or 2 fun races in the next several weeks and then I am officially starting my winter bulk up.

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Although I ended up in pretty good shape this summer, there were two problems that effected my winter bulk up.

  1. I didn’t diet strictly.  Don’t get me wrong, I generally eat pretty good all year long, but I let myself eat some bad food during the winter.  I need to cut out the pizza, (which is tough since my wife was pregnant and I moved to Staten Island)
  2. I need to do cardio all year round.  Last year I was so burnt out from running that I took a full 6-7 months off. That is way too long.  I really only need a couple weeks of rest before adding some cardio into my routine.  I don’t need to do wind sprints in the snow like I used to, but a moderate cardio session 3x a week will do the trick.

Bulking up is a sensitive topic and I don’t even like using the word in front of amateurs.  95% of guys in the gym look the same for 20 years in a row.  Winter, summer, spring and Fall, they weigh the same, their bodyfat is the same and they train the same.

If you want to bodybuild, you need to make adjustments.  Gain muscle in the Fall and Winter, and cut down in body weight in the Spring and Summer, while trying to retain the muscle.

When I was in the best shape of my life, I was running 3 miles in 20 minutes and benching 275 for 7 reps.  That is a powerful combination of both strength and cardio and it worked really well for my body.

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So my advice this bulk up season is:

  • Stay strict with your diet and continue your cardio at a moderate pace.   To gain weight, try to eat more “good” food instead of increasing the calories with crap.
  • Always do your cardio AFTER heavy lifting.  Remember, the key is to put on size and gain strength.
  • If you aren’t stronger in the winter, then you are wasting your time.

The bulk up is a long 6-8 months, so make sure you do it right.

-John

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

Lift Heavy/Fun Fast on Amazon.com!

 

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This was a wild year.  Last summer I trained super hard, got my body weight down to 149 lbs and I was insanely ripped.

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This year was different.

I was so insanely burnt out from last year’s training, that I ended up  taking off almost 6-7 months  from any type of cardio.  Although it felt good to rest my body, the only problem is that I put on some body fat.

Usually, I can cut the body fat down after 10-12 weeks of cardio and dieting, but this year was challenging.  My first child was born in April and my spring training was cut down right in the middle of it.

I only really missed 3 or 4 workouts, but overall, mentally I was out of it for 2 months.

Around July 4th, I honestly thought I was in big trouble.  I was still at 160 lbs and I wasn’t running or lifting good.

Fortunately, two good things happened.

A) I finally got a good training partner.  This really helped for going heavy in the gym

B) I got some of my free time back to go hard with the cardio.

Recently, I was able to get down to 150 lbs and was almost able to reach last summers ultra low body weight.  I was planning on going under 150 this coming weekend, but the hurricane in Florida killed my plans.

My wife and I had booked a trip to Hilton Head, South Carolina, but today we had to cancel.  Instead we are going upstate to Lake George and Lake Placid, where it has been reaching 39 degrees at night.

Going to train hard the next couple days, but I think my season is officially over.

Here are some pics..

And some more…

There is a slight chance that I might improve in the next 14 days, but to be honest, I doubt it.  It is going to be too cold for me to tan and I know that I wont be eating good on my vacation.

-John

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

Lift Heavy/Fun Fast on Amazon.com!

 

Sept 1st is finally here!  This summer has went by so fast, that I can’t believe it is almost over.

I have to say, I ended the season pretty strong.  I got a little bit of a late start because of my son being born, but recently my weight has gone down to 150 lbs and my body fat is pretty low.

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My plan going forward is to lose another 2 lbs and go down to a 20-year low of 148.  I am not going to lie; when your body fat and weight gets very low, it becomes really hard to make large improvements.

So now that summer is almost over, how does our training change?

Actually for me, I like to run more.  September and October are my favorite months to run outside and I am already signing up for several runs.

I usually stay pretty cut in the Fall.  I won’t take my diet as strict as I have in the summer, but with all the cardio, I will still stay pretty lean.  Sometimes I will even slightly improve.

Around the middle of October, I will eventually start my winter bulk up.  The winter bulk up will be less cardio, heavy lifting and increased calories.

My goal this year is to hit 180 lbs.  That is also a number I have not reached in several years.

Good luck!

-John

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

Lift Heavy/Fun Fast on Amazon.com!

 

As a natural lifter, I need some type of cardio to get cut.  I don’t know how natural lifters are able to get ripped without any cardio and I don’t believe its healthy to remove it from your workout routine.

In my opinion, everyone needs some form of cardio.

The question is what type of cardio and how long.  Also, what type of cardio will remove the most body fat.

Luckily, I have experimented for over 20 years with all different types of cardio.  My personal favorites?

It’s a combination.  Below, I will list the benefits and negatives of different forms of cardio that I have used.

Running (Long distance): I consider over 5 miles long-distance.  I rarely run longer than 3 miles in my training and I only go up to 5 miles for races.  Whenever I have tried adding long distance running, I ended up skinny fat.  Skinny fat is where you are slender but you still carry a large percentage of body fat.

tempo

Sprinting: Sprinting is a really good fat burner, possibly the best in short doses.  Although there are some problems:

sprinting

A) You can only do it for so long.  You can’t sprint every  single day for a year.  You can only do it several months in a year and its typically seasonal.

B) Most people don’t use enough reps.  You can’t just run 100 meters 3 or 4x a week and expect to get ripped, you really need a hard session.

Overall, there are some negatives with sprinting, but when used correctly, it is still one of the best methods to remove body fat.

Tempo runs: This unfortunately has worked the best for me, but, I have found that it is starting to wear my body down.  Tempo runs would be 2-3 mile runs at a fast pace, 3 or 4x a week minimum.  When I am in good shape, I can run these at around a 6:30 per mile pace.

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Racing

The negatives are that it kills my joints, especially my knee’s, and after a while I will start to get skinny fat if my weight lifting goes down.  If you start getting weak in the gym, you need to cut back.

Sports: This can also potentially be the best.  If your diet and weight lifting is on point, there is nothing wrong with playing tennis, basketball or soccer.  Hitting a ball around is good, but a competitive game is better.  You just have to make sure you play 3 or 4x a week otherwise you have to fill in those gaps in with other forms of cardio.

tennis

Bike riding: Zero.  This actually makes me look worse.  It makes my arms tired from holding my body up and then I can’t lift.

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Swimming: So/So.  I hate to say this, but swimming doesn’t do it for me.  Top level swimmers get lean but you can’t hold on to any solid muscle mass.

swimming

Kickboxing. Pretty good.  I would just make sure that you take a class AFTER weight lifting so it doesn’t kill your heavy lifting.  My wife is taking kickboxing and she lost 35 lbs in 4 months since my son has been born.

kick

Elliptical. Pretty good.  I’ve been using this as a really good “fill in” cardio workout.  If my legs and joints are hurting, I will do a hard 30 minute elliptical session instead of running.  Its easy on the joints, but doesn’t use the muscles are much as some of the other exercises.  I like that you can basically go non-stop without burning down and it also doesn’t affect my weight training.

elliptical

So, what is the overall winner?

If you NEED to burn body fat, no questions asked, you should start using tempo runs 3 to 4x a week and then start throwing in some sprints immediately after.

If its your offseason, or you don’t want to break your body down, I would recommend a mix of sports, running and elliptical.

Recently, I have been completely mixing it up and I was able to go from 180 lbs down to 150 while also lifting pretty heavy.

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Good luck! And don’t forget, you need to lift heavy.  If your first priority isn’t lifting heavy weights, you wont have anything to cut up after burning off the fat.

-John

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

Lift Heavy/Fun Fast on Amazon.com!

 

One of the things I enjoy about natural bodybuilding, is that the sport is very fair.

Although everyone has different genetics and structural bone differences,cutting body fat is almost the same process for everyone.

Basically, you can get really cut if you work hard enough.

The summers when I get myself in really good shape, I am always training and dieting like a freak.  I am also training harder than most of my peers and that’s why my physique starts to stand out.

jabeer

BBQ in long island!

What are some examples of insane training and dieting?

  • 730 am cardio weekend cardio sessions
  • 14-hour work day fasting
  • Hill sprints in 95 degree heat
  • One hour elliptical machine workouts

All of this hard training really starts to add up, especially when it comes to fat loss.  During the winter is when I lift heavier to add the solid muscle, but when the summer starts, its game on for losing weight.

Now that we are in the middle of August, I have about 4 weeks of cutting left before my season is over.  As such, I need to KILL it this week.

My plan is 4 days of weights, 4 nights of cardio and I need to fast like crazy this week.  I want to cut 5 more lbs before I reach my goal of a super lightweight of 147 lbs.

I have to admit, it’s not going to be easy.  When you start cutting down in weight, your progress really starts to slow down when you get lower in body fat.

Wish me luck! And check out my new book on amazon.com!

-John

Lift Heavy/Fun Fast on Amazon.com!

 

Getting cut is not that hard.  The problem that most people have is that they don’t diet hard enough and cut the necessary weight.

I see the same people in the gym year after year and their physiques never changes.  But, if you are working out correctly and losing weight, you should start seeing some abs.

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Summer abs

The hard part for me is to continue getting cut.  Meaning, when I get my body fat low but I want to keep going.  That last 2 or 3% is when you really need to get dedicated and become a workout freak.

Most people will never get to this point.

Just to make an example; this week I did 4 days of half-day fasting, along with 4 days of weights and 3 nights of cardio.  After all of the lifting and fasting, I only lost .5 lb.

When you get really low on body fat it becomes super hard to go any lower.

My goal this year is to cut another 5 lbs within a month and it wont be easy.  I am going to have to continue dieting hard, if not harder, and I am going to have to increase my cardio to 4 or 5 days a week.

If it comes down to it, maybe I will do cardio 14 days in a row.

What ever it takes.

Want to build natural looking abs? Check out my two books on amazon.com for more details!!

Lift Heavy/Fun Fast on Amazon.com!

 

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!

Lift Heavy/Fun Fast on Amazon.com!

 

Everyone’s body is different.  When someone tries to give “one size fits all” advice I can tell immediately that they have no idea what they are talking about.

All I know is my own body and my body needs heavy weights.

Light weights do NOTHING for my body and I think high reps actually make me look worse.

Believe it or not, I also get injured a lot more with light weights.  When I go heavy, I cut down on the bullshit sets and rarely get injured, just sore.

Recently , I have been getting back into the heavy weight lifting and I feel such a difference.  Although I am down to 152 lbs, I am lifting pretty heavy for being so close to my summer peak weight.

With that being said, I am expecting some heavy weights this winter.  I would love to get my bench press back over 325, along with some 400lb squats and 500lb deadlifts.

I am also getting the urge to do another powerlifting competition.

If I am lifting heavy and injury free up until Christmas, I might enter a competition.

I am not saying that everyone needs to be a powerlifter, but at least for me, the light weights don’t do anything.

I actually look worse and I become skinny fat, like a marathon runner.

Lift heavy and run fast, that is my motto.

-John

Lift Heavy/Fun Fast on Amazon.com!

 

I am not going to lie, recently I have been in the “zone”.

What is the “zone”?

For working out, it means that I am lifting injury free, running like a gazelle and my diet has been clean.

The last two weeks I have done 3 double sessions during the work week, including playing basketball on the weekends.  Tonight I weighed in at 152.5 lb’s, only about 4 or 5 lbs away from my summer goal.

Last year I just touched 149 lbs and I looked ripped.

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This year I just want to try 147 lbs to see how it looks.

It’s interesting, but I am running a lot worse with the long-distance than I did last year, but I am playing a lot more sports and I am lifting heavier.

I bench pressed 285 pretty easily on Monday and I weighed in at only 153.  There is an outside chance that I might be able to bench press 305 at only 150 lbs of body weight!

A big factor in my recent success, is that I have been injury free.  I have been going hard and heavy for several weeks now and I am feeling good.

The only thing that I am missing this year, is the hard running outside.  My wife just had a baby a couple months ago and it has been harder to escape for a 2nd gym session.  I am also missing that deep summer tan.

Overall, I have one month left before I peak.  I am peaking a little bit later this year than previous summers and I should have some pictures coming up.

After Oct 1st, its back to the winter bulk up!

Also, I just wrote a new book and it is available on amazon.com!  Take a look!

John

Lift Heavy/Fun Fast on Amazon.com!

 

I firmly believe that if you are a natural lifter, you need to lose weight.  There is just no other way to burn the fat off.

The best part about losing weight is that it is very easy in the beginning.

If you have never been on a bodybuilding diet, the first couple weeks of dieting are a piece of cake.

From just adding some basic cardio routines and changing your diet, you should be able to cut some easy weight.

The real challenge is several weeks later when your body fat percentage is low.

When you start going from slightly ripped to very ripped, it gets really hard to burn off any body fat.

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I am already working out in the gym 4 days a week and running for 4-5.  Even with all of that hard training, I am going to have to start upping my effort if I want to get ripped.

I have gotten my bodyfat percentage to an insanely low-level several times in my life and each time there was a familiar pattern.

I was training like a lunatic.

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This year has been a little bit hard.  I been working two jobs, which isn’t too bad, but then my first son was born in April.

I am still making it to the workouts, but I don’t have the time to put in the crazy insane effort like I used to.

The good news is that he is starting to finally sleep better and I am increasing my efforts.

Today I weighed in at 157 lbs and I am in decent shape, but I still want to cut down to 150.  I think because I got a late start this year, I should peak around mid August.

For July 4th, I want to at least touch the 155’s.  Tomorrow I am going to work out legs at lunch and then I am going to try to kill it with some cardio after work.

A double session tomorrow and I should have a solid chance of getting into the 155lb range.

After July 4th, it is just super hard training up until October.

How is everyone else’s training going?

-John