Posts Tagged ‘diet’

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!

Lift Heavy/Fun Fast on Amazon.com!

 

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The easy answer is that it depends on the person. But more importantly, you need to find out which routine works the best for your body.

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After years of working out, I can say with 100% certainty that my body responds to low reps.  Not only does my body prefer low reps, but it also prefers heavy weights.

Some people are different.  Arnold Schwarzenegger was famous for doing multiple sets over several hours a day.

Ronnie Coleman was known for lifting super heavy with powerlifting style exercises.

Personally, I prefer the heavy powerlifting style for several reasons:

  • The muscle lasts longer.  When you are lifting heavy weights, the mass stays on for a long time
  • It’s practical. even if you aren’t a bodybuilder, it helps in everyday life to be a stronger person.
  • I always get injured with high reps.

This Fall season, I have been getting back into the old school powerlifting routines.  Heavy weights, low reps and a ton of extra calories.

The same can also pertain to running.   I believe that everyone needs some form of cardio; whether it is running, biking, basketball, etc.

But I definitely do not believe in long distance running.  Training for 1 or 2 marathons in your life isn’t going to kill you, but I don’t recommend it as a long-term training routine.

I actually gain body fat when I run long-distance.   I become “skinny fat”, which is very skinny with a high level of body fat.

When it comes to cardio, I prefer to train the same way as I do with weights.  Quick and fast.  Sprinting, tempo runs, hill repeats and nothing over 5-miles.

By just running 2-4 miles 3x a week, I am able to get my 3 mile time to under 20 minutes.

So overall, do high reps work?

It depends on the person.  Try it out on yourself and track your progress.

Be honest with yourself. If you aren’t making progress then it may not be working for you.

-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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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.

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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 is an easy one.

There is no better feeling than putting 500 lbs on a bar, warming up and lifting it off the floor like it is nothing.

After you are finished lifting, you go out to a steak house and order a porterhouse, mashed potatoes and 4 beers.

Trust me on this, nothing feels better than bulking up and heavy weight lifting.

Not only do I feel strong and powerful, but I sleep better and I rarely get sick.

When I am cutting up, it is just the opposite.

I am tired. I am grouchy.  I can barely sleep and I get sick all the time.

Although being lighter in body weight is healthier than being over weight, when I get down to an extremely low body fat percentage, my body doesn’t feel healthy at all.

Between the cardio and dieting, I almost feel like I am near death every summer.

So far, I am 2 weeks into my bulk up and I am feeling supercharged.

It is amazing how much better you can feel with some extra calories and less cardio.

Good luck!

-John

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

Lift Heavy/Fun Fast on Amazon.com!

 

October is here and tomorrow I start my first official workout for bulk up season.

My goal this year is to go up near 180 lbs, along with hitting certain strength and cardio goals.  This year I would like to hit the following;

325 bench press

315 squat

475 deadlift

95’s shoulder dumbbells

3 miles in 22 minutes outside and treadmile

1 mile under 6 minutes

You would think that my cardio workouts would make me weak, but its actually quite the opposite.  Just as long as I am increasing my calories, the cardio workouts actually help to keep me lean while I gain weight.

I also noticed that the cardio workouts help to stretch out my muscles.  For last 10 years I have had nagging rotator cuff injuries, but I have learned that cardio helps to stretch it out.

I also want to get started quickly.  I feel like I took too long to get into the real heavy lifting last year because I was scared of injuries, but I don’t know if that is necessary.

I have over 20 years of lifting experience now, there is no reason why I cant start attacking right away.

Hopefully, I will have some heavy numbers up by Thanksgiving.

-John

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

Lift Heavy/Fun Fast on Amazon.com!

 

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!

 

Well, it’s official.  Summer is over, I am done cutting up and I am on vacation this week.  I was supposed to be in Hilton Head, SC but due to the Hurricane, I am doing 3 days in Cape May, NJ before heading to upstate NY.

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I have to admit, it does feel good to finally be able to eat.  After 4 months of hard dieting, I have let myself go these last couple days.

Although I went running outside on Saturday and Monday, I probably came close to doubling my average caloric intake.

One thing that I have noticed about working out and especially bodybuilding, is that you can lose your cuts immediately.

Don’t kid yourself, I could probably put on 5 lbs of body weight over a bad weekend.

And where do you think that body weight is going to hide? Most likely your stomach.

Now, if you have been working out and dieting consistently for weeks, you can get right back on track in 3 or 4 days, but a bad weekend can really hurt you.

DON’T TAKE OFF.

My rule of thumb is that I will allow myself to eat crap for a wedding or birthday party, but besides that, I try to stay on point forever.

I still have an entire week of vacation left and its going to be tough, but I am going to try to slow down.  I don’t need to pig out for 9 days straight.  Although I am probably going to be eating at restaurants, I am going to start ordering more fish and cut the desert to a minimum.

Most importantly, I going to include some workouts on my vacation.  I’m not going to go as crazy as I do during my regular week, but I will at least run or lift light weights in the hotel gym every other day.

So in conclusion, bodybuilding is a lifetime sport.  If you think you can skip the gym or cheat on your diet for over several days, your physique will suffer.

You can lie to yourself, but your body knows the truth and will look accordingly.

-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!

 

I hate to say this; but the answer is either no or at the best, very minimally.

How do I know this? I tried it on myself.

This summer I have been trying to get down to 148 lbs and although I am very close to reaching my goal, I am still not there yet.

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In the last 2 weeks, I have decided to throw in some extra walking to speed up the body fat loss and unfortunately it did not work.

It even got the point where I walked 8 miles on a random Tuesday and I still ended up gaining weight.

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So, what is the problem with walking?

I think it’s very healthy, it just doesn’t burn enough calories.  Unless it’s over 90 degrees out and humid, I wont even break a sweat.  When you are in decent shape, you can probably walk from the time you wake up, straight until dinner without breaking a sweat.

But on the contrary, by picking up the intensity, I can burn up to 2 lbs in one hard workout.

A hard run will burn more calories than almost any other type of cardio.

What’s the absolute best cardio workout for removing body fat? If you read my blog you would know that I am not a fan of long-distance running.

A) 2-3 mile hard tempo runs.  By hard, I mean you are ready to die by the time you are done.  And also volume sprinting.  By volume sprinting, I mean that you need to do enough repetitions so that it adds up to a decent amount of distance.

If you don’t want to run, then you need to use sports.  Tennis, rugby, basketball and soccer, all are outstanding fat burners and should be used as much as possible.

So overall, walking is healthy and I enjoy it, but don’t except to burn off any  bodyfat or get ripped just by going for a walk.

-John

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

Lift Heavy/Fun Fast on Amazon.com!

 

Bodybuilding is a funny sport.  Everyone claims that they are working out for looks, but they end up looking the same every single year.

I have been going to the gym for over 20 years now and probably 5% of people working out look any different.

The problem that most people have, is that they don’t take their diet serious.  If you weigh the same in the summer as you did in the winter, you aren’t going to burn any fat off.

This year I went from 180 lbs and now I am down to 150.

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But what if you don’t want to bodybuild? And is bodybuilding even healthy?

To some extent it is.

But how should you work out if you don’t care what you look like?

I would narrow it down to 2 categories:

A) Moderate to heavy weights:  Heavy weight lifting has a practical purpose.  Whether it’s for everyday activities or just keeping your aging in check, moderate to heavy weight lifting is important and should be done by everyone

B) Moderate cardio 2 to 3x a week:  Many bodybuilders don’t believe in cardio, but I tend to disagree.  Moderate cardio is extremely important and as of today, heart disease is the number one killer for men in the United States.

I wouldn’t necessarily get into running, but possibly play some sports or even some hiking.  You can get in pretty good cardiovascular shape from just 30 minutes of cardio 2 to 3x a week.

Overall, even if you aren’t going to bodybuild, you should always exercise with weights and cardio throughout your entire life.

For your diet, i would “allow” yourself to gain a little bit of extra weight in the winter but then cut 10-15 lb’s every summer.  I would also moderate my alcohol intake and try to focus on eating healthier options.

-John

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

Lift Heavy/Fun Fast on Amazon.com!