Posts Tagged ‘diet’

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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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!

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

 

Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not comparing my entire physique to the king, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

I am just saying that my abs are better.

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Even without steroids, supplements or a strong tan, I still beat Arnold on abs.  Take a look at the belly buttons, it’s not even close.

Everyone has certain body parts that are genetically better than others.  Some people have biceps that peak into mountains, while others like myself, have long biceps that grow out.

Genetics plays a large role in how your body develops, and luckily for me, when I am in good shape I develop really good-looking abs.

Since I have always been natural, I also have to be ultra strict with my diet, cardio and I need to be consistent in the gym.

You can’t fake good-looking abs.  Even if you take steroids, if you aren’t training hard or dieting correctly, your abs aren’t going to look right.  Most of the top athletes that you will see competing in the Mr. Olympia won’t have good abs and in my opinion, it’s hurting the sport.

So Arnold might beat me in calves, arms, chest and back.  But, I take him out in the abdominal department.

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For this picture above, I cut down from 180 lbs in the winter to 150 lbs by the middle of August.  My routine was 4 days a week with weights and another 3 days of outside cardio.

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

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!