Posts Tagged ‘cuts’

Although California may have better weather, NYC is still a good place to bodybuild.

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Seasons are not a problem.  In the Winter we can bulk up and lift heavy, cut down slightly in the Spring and then get ripped in the Summer.

The 4 distinct seasons work great for me.

I couldn’t imagine living somewhere where I need to take my shirt off all year round.  You need some time to gain weight otherwise you will keep cutting down to a bag of bones.

If you live in a cold region, the Spring is very important.

If you jerk around in the Spring, you will never get cut for the summer.

Losing body fat is hard.  If you think you can wait until June and then start getting ripped, you are in trouble.

You won’t even be in good enough shape to burn the fat off.

There are two ways that I try to stay motivated in the Spring.  The first is to choose a race.

2-years ago I choose a 5k race to train for in New Jersey.  It wasn’t anything crazy, just a small community race in park that I wanted to run.

I used that race for my motivation, I trained hard, lost weight and I actually ended up winning the race.

That was the first time I ever won a 5k.

The second best way to stay motivated, is to plan a vacation.

SPRING BREAK.

spring break

I went on a Spring Break trip almost every year until I turned 30.  There was just no way that I would allow myself to fly someplace warm and show up overweight.

For my spring break trips I would still carry a small amount of bulk, but I would cut down enough so I didn’t look fat.

Motivation is important.

Whether it is training for a race, training for a vacation or trying to get back at your ex-boyfriend/girlfriend; you need some motivation.

Something has to light a fire under your ass.

Find it grasshopper.

-John

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Weight training and running are very different.  When I get cut for the summer, I use a combination of running, weight training and a proper diet.

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This year, I skipped running almost completely for about 4 months so that I can bulk up.  Occasionally,  I will run the entire year. But this year, I wanted to make sure that I put on enough size.

Around February 14th I decided that I would stop bulking up and start to slowly cut down for the summer. Although I am not dieting super hard yet, I am slowly cutting down on my calories and I also started running 3x a week.

One thing that I have noticed right away, is that the training used for running is very different for than it is for weight training.

With weight training, you definitely need extra rest.

When I deadlift or squat, I need an entire week of rest and for chest, I can do it twice per week at most.

You also need more calories when you weight train.  If you do not consume enough calories or rest enough between heavy workouts, you will never grow any muscle.

Running is a different story.  I can get in pretty good shape by just running hard 3 or 4x a week, but If you really want to get fast, rest is your enemy.

When I am running fast, it means I am training all the time.

You also lose your running stamina quickly.

I can skip 3 months of weight training and still be pretty strong.  With running, if I skip 3 month of training, I will lose it completely.  It’s almost like I never ran before.

In the Spring is when it gets weird.

I am going to have to lift heavy weights, which requires rest, while running several times a month that requires no rest.

I also need more calories for building muscle, but less calories for getting cut.

So, how do I lift heavy weights for muscle and run for cuts at the same time?

It’s not easy.

That is why you need to start off with some solid muscle before you starting cutting up, because you will lose some of it.

The key is to try to hold on to as much muscle as possible, while still removing all of my body fat.

It is tricky.

I compare it to a chef.  If you take 100 chef’s and ask them to bake the same cake, there will always be several cakes that stand out.

Why?

Everyone has the same recipe, the same ingrediants.  So why doesn’t every cake taste the same?

It’s tricky.

-John

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If you are a reader of my blog, you would know that I have just finished my winter bulk up.

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One of my goals this year was to start squatting heavy again.

Squatting is one of the 3 power lifting lifts, along with the bench press and deadlift.

I have been squatting on and off for the last 15 years and unfortunately it is my weakest lift in the gym.

In my power lifting peak, I was deadlifting close to 600 lbs but only squatting in the mid 400’s.

Squatting heavy takes a lot of practice, a lot of work on technique and it also helps to have a “squatters body”.  If you take one look at my physique you can tell that I have a dead lifters body.  I have long arms, long legs and a short upper torso.  I have always had a difficult time with the squat, but I do recognize its importance.

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One thing I have noticed is that although I am weak in the squat, it is still the best exercise for leg development.  It’s not even a comparison.

I focused on leg press the last 2 years and although I got up to 600+ lb’s for reps, it doesn’t really do much.

Machines in general don’t really do anything for me.  There is something about squatting that really builds the deep muscle in the legs, including the calves.

One of my goals for the Spring is to continue to squat all year-long.   Squats are one of the best mass building exercises and I truly feel that they are too important to ignore.

They also work your abs.

The summers where I have had my best looking abs, have always been the years when I have been consistently squatting all year-long.

In the winter my abs might start to look bloated and bulky, but when the summer comes along, my abs start to look ripped when I lose weight.  Heavy squatting will build your abs better than any type of crunches, situps or side bends.

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My advice? Don’t neglect the squat.

Although it can be a pain in the ass and dangerous to lift heavy without a spotter, it is still the best leg exercise and an overall mass builder.

-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.

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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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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

Check out my books on amazon.com!

Lift Heavy/Fun Fast on Amazon.com!

 

 

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

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.

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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

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

 

 

You need to eat to get strong.  If you are trying to lift heavy and your calories are not increasing, your strength gains are going to come to a stand still.

I made that mistake in College.

It took me FOREVER to bench press 315 lbs, although I was benching 305 almost every week.  Half of the problem was probably mental, but the other half, was that I was not gaining enough weight.

If you don’t gain any weight, why would your muscles look any larger? Where will the mass magically appear from?

One mistake I see in the gym all the time, is big guys not lifting heavy enough.  But, another problem is skinny guys not taking in enough calories.

If you are brand new to the sport, you will see some easy gains in the beginning, but that is going to stop eventually if you don’t eat.

A 20-inch bicep is going to weigh more than a 15-inch bicep, and if you don’t feed your muscles, all of the workouts are going to be a waste.

I am down to my last 10 weeks of my bulk up and I have gained at least 25 lbs.  It’s weird, but I only start to get super strong after I weigh 170 lbs.

At over 180 I am even stronger and when I am at 190-200, I am an ox.

You need to eat.

Can you put on weight slowly?  You can try, but this doesn’t work for me.  I need to lift heavy weights in the winter otherwise I am wasting my time.

Around Valentines Day I will start to cut down in calories and I am also going to get back into my cardio workouts.  The advantage I will have over the other guys, is that I will still be lifting heavy weights at a light body weight.

If I can bench press 355 in the winter and then still bench 275-295 in the summer, I will look a lot more solid than the so called “lean guys”.

I’m having a good bulk up season this year, my competition has been warned.

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-John Andre

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How long does it take to get big and strong? If you do it correctly, it should only take 8-12 weeks.

With an 8-12 week heavy “powerlifting style” training routine, along with extra calories, you should see immediate progress.

This year I started by winter bulk up in Late September and I am already starting to look pretty thick.

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I m going to weigh in on December 1st, but I am sure that I have gained at least 15 lbs since Labor Day. Of course some of it is fat, but is also a lot of it is solid muscle. So far I have hit the following lifts:

  • 295 bench
  • 70 lb dumbbell curls
  • 85 lb dumbbell shoulders
  • 475 lb deadlift
  • 255 lb squats

Although these numbers aren’t great, I still have at least 12-16 weeks left in my winter training and I plan on getting a lot stronger.

So how to we guarantee that you are going to get big and strong? It depends on two key elements:

  1. You need to lift heavy weights.  None of that high rep nonsense, low, heavy-ass weights with a lot of rest
  2. You need to gain weight.  Try not to look in a mirror as much but focus instead on gaining weight week after week until you  have enough mass.

If you are lifting heavy weights and eating extra calories, it is impossible to not gain solid muscle.

Once the end of winter rolls around I will start to cut down in calories and increase my cardio workouts to get ripped for summer.

The name of the game is to keep as much mass on as possible while burning off all the body fat.

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-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!

Lift Heavy/Fun Fast on Amazon.com!

 

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There are only two options in life; either you are religious and believe in some type spiritual power or you believe that when you die, you die.

If you go the religious route, then you will focus solely on your spiritual side and make it your number one focus in life.

If you find yourself in the latter category, then you will live like there is no tomorrow.  Not that you want to die, but you don’t need to “hold back” on anything in life.

I personally feel that 98% of the population fits within the middle of each.

Nobody is 100% dedicated to anything, but the few people that can come close, can be extremely successful.

The Pope was most likely very dedicated.  The same can be said for Arnold Schwarzenegger or Bill Gates.

When it comes to the gym; unfortunately most people are also in the 98% middle ground.  In other words, they don’t really make any progress.

For this winter bulk up, I have come to the conclusion that life is too short to mess around.

I am either lifting weights, or I am not.  I am either getting strong or I am not.

You are either running faster or you are not.

You are either burning off body fat or you are not.

When you start viewing life in absolutes, you can remove the emotional bullshit and stigma’s attached and accelerate to your goals.

So far this year I am already close to a 500lb deadlift and a 300lb bench press.  Since I have decided to stop messing around, I am almost at my St Patrick’s day goals months ahead of schedule.

Next year, I also plan on adding the same focus on other area’s of life.  Whether it is getting stronger, saving $20K, starting a new business or finding a new job.

Stop bullshitting and get it done.

There is no time to mess around.

-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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