Posts Tagged ‘fitness’

I am going to answer this question quickly.  Burning Fat is harder.

Burning fat hurts.  There are only 2 ways to burn off fat; either by burning extra calories in your workouts or by cutting your calories.

I prefer to use a combination of both.  It I cut my calories too low I end up burning off too much muscle and If I increase my cardio workouts too long, I start to feel weak in the gym.

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That’s not to say that bulking up is necessarily easy, quite the contrary, it is just not as difficult as burning fat.

One of the major differences is with the dieting.

When you are bulking up you still should be strict with your diet, but you don’t need to go overboard.  I try to stick with a high-protein/lo-carb diet and I never count the calories.

The most difficult part of gaining muscle is lifting heavy weights.

I am a firm believer that you need to lift heavy weights to build muscle and lifting progressively heavier weights is not easy.

This Monday I bench pressed 245 X 8 without a spot, but during my bulk up I will go up to 335 lbs for heavy singles and doubles.

I will also incorporate 500 lb+ deadlifts, 550 lb+ shrugs and 700 lb+ leg presses.

Heavy lifting is the only way to grow and the work outs are extremely difficult.  Heavy weight lifting is very taxing on your body, including your muscles, joints and central nervous system.

But although gaining muscle is tough, burning fat is still harder.

There is nothing harder than hitting the gym, then running 2 miles on the track during an 12-hour intermittent fast.

Dieting hurts.  I go through months of stomach aches and dieting pains before I start to look cut every summer.

That also includes going to work on an empty stomach, dizzy feelings, irritability and many nights of horrible sleep.

But most importantly, almost anyone can bulk up without much effort.  If you go to any average gym in America you will see plenty of men that can bench 275 lb’s, but you rarely see anyone with a 6-pack.

Being in good shape is difficult and lowering your body fat is extremely hard.

But overall, it is all worth it in the end.

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It has been about a month since I reintroduced cardio into my workouts and so far it is has been going great.

Although the weather hasn’t been as cooperative as I would like, I have been getting 3-4 cardio workouts in every week.

So far I have been running 3 miles in around 21:15 on the treadmile.  Generally, I am 10 seconds per mile faster on the treadmile, so I would estimate my 3 mile pace to be around 21:45 outside.

But to be honest, I don’t really care about my 3 mile time this year.  I just want to hit 21 minutes for 3 miles (7:00 per mile) pace and then I want to focus on my SPEED.

One of the best ways to get fast and to cut a ton of weight, is to use interval training.

Interval training is basically when you add short stretches of speed at a faster pace than your jogging pace.

For example: This is the workout I completed on Tuesday.

.25 miles jog at 7:30 pace

.25 mile run 6:15 pace

.25 mile jog at 7:30 pace

.25 mile jog at 6:15 pace

.25 mile jog at 7:30 pace

.25 mile jog at 6:15 pace

.25 mile at 7:30 pace

.25 mile at 6:15 place

Basically, I would sprint and then jog, sprint and then jog, until I reached 2 miles.

This year I want to add a ton of interval training into my routine and when the weather gets nicer out, I want to start sprinting on the outdoor track.

How is everyone else’s training going?

-John

Most bodybuilders focus on the main body parts when they are working out, such as the chest, quads, back and calves.  But there some smaller body parts that are often overlooked and are very important.

Two muscles that come to mind immediately are the triceps and the hamstrings.

If during your bulk up you injure your triceps, your presses will be in trouble.  That goes for the bench press, shoulder press, dumbbell press, military press or any other press that involves using your upper body.

The triceps are not necessarily a small muscle group, they are larger than the biceps, but their importance can sometimes be overlooked.

As I am getting close to hitting my winter goals of 315 for the bench press and 100’s for dumbbell shoulders, I noticed that my triceps are really starting to get sore.

Last week I worked out with 75’s for shoulder dumbbell, which at this point should be an easy weight, and I noticed something odd.   Although the weights were coming off my shoulders without much of an effort, I was starting to stall on the lockouts.  My shoulders have obviously been getting a lot stronger, but unfortunately, my triceps have not been able to keep pace.

When I am lifting heavy,especially when I am power lifting, I usually don’t train my triceps separately.  I know that most bodybuilders give their triceps individual attention but I actually try to rest them as much as possible.  Between heavy bench press and heavy dumbbells for shoulders, my triceps are already getting a lot of work in.

Another overlooked muscle group are the hamstrings.  Most bodybuilders spend a lot of time on their quads and calves, but in reality, it is the hamstrings that provide most of your speed.

I ran 3 years of High School track and one year in College, and whenever I started a new sprinting season, I noticed that my hamstrings would start to get sore.

Similar to the triceps, if you ever strain or injure your hamstrings, forget about running fast.  It is close to impossible.

Right now I have 8 more weeks of heavy lifting before I start to diet down for the summer.  I am not going to lose the body weight right away, but in late February I will start tightening up my diet and reintroduce the cardio workouts.

I believe I should be able to reach my winter lifting goals soon, and before you know it, Spring will be here and time to start getting cut again for the summer.

-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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To be fair, I have lived in Brooklyn for  over 34 years and only 2 years in Staten Island. My only break was for 6 months in Albany, NY during college and In my early 30’s I spent 2 years in the Rockaways, Queens.

stateni-sland

(South Beach, Staten Island)

Although I have lived in 4 different area’s, I am officially “FROM” Brooklyn. Not be confused with the tens of thousands of people who moved to Brooklyn in the last 10 years.  I was born in Brooklyn, went to public school in Brooklyn and I got married in Brooklyn.

I am not a transplant, I am FROM Brooklyn.

brooklyn

Although I’ve never hung out much in Staten Island prior to moving here, I’ve been to the Island hundreds of times growing up, because one side of my family lives on the South shore.  My experience growing up was several weekends a year to visit relatives, many trips to the Staten Island mall and in my mid 20’s I went to graduate school in Staten Island (St John’s)

So let’s get down to the comparison:

People:  Edge Brooklyn.  In my opinion, the people are a lot more humble and approachable in Brooklyn (except the hipsters).  Brooklyn has a much higher density and diverse population, so growing up in Brooklyn you are forced to interact with other people.  Some people in Staten Island are very nice, but overall they seem to be very wary of strangers.  Many people moved to Staten Island to  “get away” from the rest of the city, and it’s no surprise that Staten Island has the highest gun ownership in NYC.

Commute: Staten Island.  The people in Staten Island complain about the commute, but they don’t know how good they have it.  The traffic in Brooklyn is BAD and getting worse.  Driving downtown or anywhere near the Barclays center is a nightmare, Coney Island is getting worse and parking across the borough is becoming nonexistent.  If you work in Staten Island you can park almost anywhere., meanwhile,  Brooklyn is slowly turning into Manhattan.

In Staten Island, the only time it gets bad is if you live out on the South Shore and have to commute to Brooklyn or Manhattan.  But with that being said, the train to the ferry is the best deal in all of NYC.  My wife picks me up and drives me to the ferry for work, so I commute to Manhattan everyday for FREE (Minus gas, insurance and repairs)

Gyms:  Staten Island has a huge gym culture and so does parts of Brooklyn.  I would probably call this a tie.  Staten Island on average has more bodybuilders and power lifters, but Brooklyn has more gyms.  In Bay Ridge, Brooklyn where I grow up, they have 5 or 6 gyms in walking distance from my house, in Staten Island most people have to drive.

Parks: The parks in Staten Island parks are extremely underrated.  Clove lake park, Silver lake park and South Beach are all great areas.  Further out, Great Kills Park and Wolfe’s Pond Park are also great and so are the trails on the green belt and Todt Hill.  Brooklyn has Prospect Park and Coney Island of course, but again, parking can be difficult and they have become super touristy.  To be fair, Prospect Park is my favorite park in NYC, but Staten Island has many more options.  Staten Island Wins.

Bars/Restaurants: Staten island has really good pizza/Italian food, but the borough loses on every other category.  For bars, Staten Island has maybe 10-15 decent places, but they mostly attract a neighborhood crowd.  In Brooklyn you get the neighborhood crowd and also a little bit of a tourist crowd.  Brooklyn has more business turnover, so there are always new places to try.   Brooklyn wins food and bars by a long shot.

Price: Staten Island is generally less expensive, but historically the homes have not appreciated  in value like they have in Brooklyn.  This is a tie. Prices are lower, but if you buy something, it doesn’t go up as much (historically).

Overall winner: It’s hard to say, since they are both very different.  If you are just moving to NYC from out-of-state and you end up in Staten Island, you will probably be disappointed.  Staten Island doesn’t have the culture or diversity as the other boroughs and its generally more of a suburb than an urban city.

But if you are already familiar with NYC and you know the places that you like, Staten Island can work for you.  For myself, my commute to Manhattan is a breeze compared to when I lived in Brooklyn and it’s also a 10-minute bus ride to my parents house in Bay Ridge. I  also found a gym that I like and there are several parks that I use for my cardio.

So overall, if you are between ages 18-28, I would not recommend living in  Staten Island.  Brooklyn has more bars, restaurants, diversity and population.  If you are more established or raising a family, I would consider giving Staten Island a chance.  I’m not leaving.

-John

This year, I am bulking up very quickly.  I went from a low of 149 lbs in July and now I am  already into the mid 170’s.

In the last week, I am finally starting to look a little bit chubby and I plan on slowing down after New Years.

Since I was super skinny only 5 months ago and now I consider myself fat, I can describe some of the obvious body changes between being super ripped and slightly stocky.

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(Getting Stocky but extra calve work is starting to show)

  • I can’t stay awake.  Around 9:30-10pm at night I am just exhausted.  When I was really cut in the summer, I would stay up to midnight without a problem.
  • My strength is tremendous.  My bench press is up 30-40lbs already and I am up almost 20lbs in shoulder dumbbells.  The weights are feeling really light and I have been going up consistently every week.
  • My feet have been killing me.  I am going to have to purchase new sneakers this weekend as my feet as constantly hurting and swollen.
  • I am out of breath.  My breathing is noticeable labored.  That is a big reason why I believe you should continue cardio workouts throughout your entire life.
  • My appetite never ends.  It takes a ton of extra calories to fulfill my appetite.
  • It is easier to concentrate.  At work and in my private life, I feel like I have been able to concentrate a lot clearer.
  • I am in a better mood.  Low-calorie and low-carb diets often put me in a horrible mood.
  • My wife said I look better.  Interesting.  I definitely fill out my shirts a lot better, but my cuts are nonexistent.

Overall, I almost feel like a different person since I gained weight.  Different strength, different emotions, different attitude and different sleep schedule.

Both good and bad, I am an enjoying the differences that my body is going through during this years bulk up and hopefully I reach my strength gains soon.

I know this article is going to cause a decent amount of “hate”, but I DO NOT recommend using squats unless you are one of the following people:

  • Under 30 years old
  • Training for competitive sports, ex Football, track and field, skiing, etc.

For everyone else, you should probably just skip it.

So, why do I recommend that people avoid squatting?

Because 90% of people are using the wrong form.  When you use the wrong form during squatting you are either going to A) Get hurt or B) Not grow

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that squats don’t work.  They are probably one of the top 3 most effective exercises for putting on overall mass, but they are also the most dangerous.

Even squatting with only ONE spotter is dangerous.  I have competed in around 10-15 power lifting competitions in my life and when I start going heavy in squats I prefer to have 3 spotters instead of 1.

But if you aren’t an athlete and  you just want to add some size to your legs, I wouldn’t even waste my time with squats.  Squatting is too technical; from the placement of the bar, the leg width and most importantly, the execution.

Instead of squatting, you should focus on heavy leg presses.

With the leg press you can load the machine as heavy as you want and more importantly, you don’t really need a spotter.

Is the leg press as good as squats? No.  But since you are most likely not squatting correctly anyway, it might be better for you.

The form in the leg press is easy to learn, just go all the way down and all the way up, without bouncing off the bottom.  Surprisingly, I even see a lot of people using the leg press incorrectly and not going down low enough.

For myself personally, I gave up on squatting.  Every time I would start working up to a heavy weight I would either lose some of my training spotters or I would hurt my back and knees.  It’s a great exercise for adding mass and strength, but now that I am not competing, I just stick to the leg press.

My current routine for legs is 5 sets of leg press, 2 sets of leg extensions and 6 set of calves (twice a week).

That’s all I need to add size in my legs.  I’ve been taking my legs really serious this year, especially the calves, and I want to put on some serious size for next summer.

Remember, when you wear shorts the calves are usually the only part of your legs that are visible, so you really need to destroy them.

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-John

I am getting HUGE this year.  Since August I have gained almost 20 lbs and I am finally starting to lift some heavy weights.

20161113_211403

If you have read my prior posts, my goal this winter was to get my bench press over 315 lbs and to reach 100 lb dumbbells for shoulders.  This week I am going to attempt a 305 lb bench press and also 95 lbs dumbbells for shoulders.  It’s not even December yet and I am already getting really close to my strength goals.

So, what have I done differently this year from other years?

Basically, I am cutting out all of the nonsense and only focusing on the weight lifting.  I am doing ZERO cardio and I cut out all of the extra sets that don’t add any benefit to my strength training.

But what is the problem with my current routine? I am definitely putting on some body fat.

If you are going to bulk up, you are going to add some body fat.  It is really difficult to only add on lean muscle and unfortunately there is only a small amount of bodyfat I am willing to tolerate each year.

I use the mirror as my guide.  If I start seeing any type of rolls, I will start to cut down slightly on the calories and possibly add some cardio.  Rolls are never allowed.

There are also some other ways you can check.  One would be the tightness in your clothes and another would be taking a close look at your face.

If I start to go up fast in waist-size, then I know I need to slow down.  One or two extra sizes is ok, but anything past that and I need to slow down.

The other way to check is by looking at my face.  I’ve always noticed that In the summer my face will start to get very lean and chiseled,  but during my bulk up, it is quite the opposite.  Not only will I start to look aged but my face will start to look bloated and fuller.

Overall, bulking up is not necessarily a problem if you don’t go overboard.  It is one of the best ways to add on solid mass and it is also the best time of year to build up size and strength.

This year I plan on peaking at 180 lbs before I go right back down to 150 in the middle of the summer.

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Good luck!

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If is officially 2 months since I’ve done any cardio at all and I’m not going to lie, I feel horribly out of shape.

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I am breathing heavy after simple tasks, my energy level has gone down and I generally feel lazy.

Cardio is IMPORTANT.

I need to add cardio back into my routine soon.  Of course, I am not advocating long-distance running by any measure, but I do believe everyone needs some amount of cardio.

This year I am going to hold out until at least Jan 1st.  I was originally going to try to make it until Valentines Day, but to be honest, I don’t know if it is healthy for me to wait that long.

It’s amazing how much less energy I have since I stopped doing cardio and my breathing is becoming very labored.

The only problem when I start adding cardio workouts is that It makes me slightly weaker in the gym.  For me to bulk up this year, the next several weeks are crucial.  I need to lift as heavy as possible before I get back into the cardio workouts.

It’s also important that I keep my calorie intake high.  If I keep my calorie intake up while doing cardio I can still bulk up, but it does make it slightly more difficult.  The key with the cardio is quality over quantity.  Sprinting, basketball, tennis, etc.  I want to avoid any type of long distance cardio and focus on my speed and quickness.

I did a solid year of cardio without missing more than a week and now only 2 months after taking a break, I can notice the difference.  And it is staggering.

Cardio is very important for overall health, just as long as you don’t over do it.

This is an eye opener for me.  For the next several weeks, I need to really start going heavier in the gym.  My 37th birthday is coming up next month, I have a child on the way and I definitely don’t need an early heart attack.

Clean diet, heavy lifting and then I will slowly add some cardio to my routine around New Years.

-John

At least for my body, the “high rep”, multiple set workouts, do absolutely nothing for me.

I prefer to hit my muscles hard and end it quick.

I know that Schwarzenegger claims to have worked out for multiple hours at a time, but I’m not sure If I really believe it.  Even some of his old trainers have claimed that he didn’t work out that long.

I also don’t believe anything that I read.

I have tried using “high rep” workout routines numerous times and in almost every situation I ended up weaker and often injured.

This Fall I have been trying to get back to the basics and build up my strength.  I am focusing on 4-8 repetitions for most of the major body parts and I am also keeping my set counts as low as possible.

Is it working? Heck yeah.

It feels like only several weeks ago I was 149 lbs and running 4x  a week.  Now it is the middle of November and I am already up to 167 lbs and starting to lift heavy weights.

My lifts so far have been impressive:

  • 90lb shoulder dumbbells
  • 285 lb bench press
  • 500lb leg press

It is only November and I am starting to quickly approach my winter goals.  My bench press should be over 300 lb’s any day now and 100 lb dumbbells for shoulders are also in reach.

At some point I am going to have to slow down and reintroduce my cardio.  At first I was considering adding cardio workouts back into my routine by early December but now I am considering waiting until Valentines Day.

Personally, I don’t like having too much time pass without any cardio and I don’t think it is very healthy, but I feel like I needed more muscle mass this past summer.  I want to make sure that I retain some solid muscle next year, so I am going to try to stick it out a little bit longer.

Overall, if the high rep, multiple set workouts work for you, then by all means go for it.  But if you aren’t seeing gains right away, I recommend that you drop it immediately.

Bodybuilding is about making progress.  Your body has to make changes or you are wasting your time.

-John