Posts Tagged ‘legs’

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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I am going to warn you right now; do not get TOO FAT!

Although I believe the winter bulk up is very important and I personally have gained almost 35 lbs this year, body fat can be very stubborn and difficult to burn off.

If you are gaining weight, please make sure you are lifting heavier and gaining some muscle.  If you are lifting light weights even though you gained weight, then you are wasting your time.

You should be putting on a combination of both muscle and some fat.

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One important part of bodybuilding that isn’t talked about a lot is timing.  When do we END our winter bulk up?

I like to plan out a predetermined weight gain and then I also choose several strength goals.  Once I get near or surpass my strength and weight goals, I know it’s time to shut it down and start getting ripped.

Although:

A) DO NOT stop going heavy until you are sure you will not break a record.  For example, I still need to max out on my bench press.  If I go up every week for the next 3 weeks, I will not stop.  I will keep maxing out until I cannot go any heavier.

B) If I reach my goals too early, then I will increase them.  If you reach your strength gains by halloween, you probably didn’t push yourself enough.

It appears that I only have 2 weeks left of my winter bulk up.  I am going for a bench press max on Monday, a squat max on Tuesday and I doubled my deadlift goal of 500 for 2 reps on last Friday.

If I don’t go up in these lifts, I will shut my bulk up season down in the next 2 weeks.  If I keep setting records, then I will continue to lift heavy until I cannot go up anymore.

Overall, its been a great winter bulk up and I am looking forward to getting ripped again.  I had to buy new work pants today because my waist grew to 32 inches, but that is a good sign.

Good luck to everyone except my friends Kook, Fred and Joe that I plan on beating in our annual “friends summer bodybuilding” competition.

-John

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Ok, I admit it.  This title is slightly click bait, but I will explain.

This year I am backtracking on one of my old theories called “weak point training”.  From now on, I am focusing even MORE on my good body parts and even less on my weak points.

Why?

There really is no point in focusing on your weak points.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s still important to have a balanced physique.  But if you want to stand out, you might need to spend more time on what works for you.

What are my strong points? Chest and Abs.

As you see in the picture above, when I am in good shape my abs are better than Arnold Schwarzenegger’s.

And my chest? It has always been on of my strong points.  I just touch the bench press and my chest explodes.

With that being said, I am going to continue to focus most of my attention on my chest and abs.  Those are the money makers.

So, what does this have to do with Kim Kardashian?

Well, she is known for one famous bodypart.  Would it make sense for her to lose a ton of weight and focus more on her weaker bodyparts?

Of course not.  Like I said before, she has one VERY famous bodypart.  Nobody talks about Kim Kardashian’s calves, forearms or back.

It wouldn’t make any sense for her to change her physique.

My body is not balanced.

Although I have been able to improve my calves into making them one of my better bodyparts, my upper back will never look great.

I have tried heavy rows, weighted dips, 500lbs deadlifts, etc.  I just don’t have the genetics to build a championship looking back.

With the summer coming up in 6 months, I am going to focus on my strengths.

Being balanced is not always ideal.

-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

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Merry Christmas everyone! I have about 7-8 weeks left in my Winter bulk up and I now am officially fat.

Don’t get me wrong.  I have been lifting heavy weights and have been going to the gym 4x a week consistently all year, but I have also gained at least 30 lbs since the Summer.  Some of that weight is muscle but a lot of it is also fat.

I cannot tell a lie, it feels good to be big and strong.  My shirts fit really tight and last week I benched 315 lbs like it was nothing, but there are also some major negatives.

First of all, I noticed that I can’t breathe as well.  Easy tasks such as walking to the bus station for work or lifting furniture, starts to feel so much harder since my breathing is labored.  Obviously, this can’t be too healthy.

The other negative I noticed about being heavy, is that I am starting to snore.  There has to be some connection between being overweight and snoring.  I never snore until I hit my 3rd month of my winter bulk up.  Once again, this also can’t be too healthy.

Overall, my bulk up is going great this year.  I don’t want to fool people into thinking that I am just becoming an overweight lifter, but there are some obvious side affects of gaining weight.

I turned 38 years old today and I also have to think about high blood pressure and the heart attack risk.

As I get older, I will obviously have to bulk up a lot cleaner and maybe not bulk up as much.  But as long as I am in my late 30’s and early 40’s, I feel safe bulking up in the winter, just as long as I come down in the Summer.

I am off from work this week and only plan on going to the gym twice, but starting next week, it is game on until the end of my winter bulk up.  I am going to try a traditional powerlifting routine for the last several weeks.  So far, I have reached my deadlift and bench press goals, the only one’s left are squats and shoulders.

I will keep everyone updated.

-John

 

I am now officially a month and a half into my winter bulk up and so far it is going great.

My only disappointment so far has been with my bench press.  I definitely have some type of permanent shoulder and elbow damage that is affecting my ability to go super heavy.

I have been experimenting with different types of grips and techniques for my bench press and although I have been able to eliminate a lot of the pain, it still sets me back several weeks on making progress.

I am starting to realize that if I ever want to reach my record of 355 lbs, I am going to have to change the way that I train.  For decades I have driven most of my power from my chest and shoulders, but going foward, it looks like I need to focus on my triceps.

I will always have a strong bench press, I just cant guarantee that I will break my old records. Of course, I will never stop trying.

My shoulder press has been going surprisingly well.  Even with all my shoulder and elbow problems, I was able to get up to 85’s in shoulder press almost immediately.  Last winter I peaked at 95 lbs dumbbells, so I am only 10 lbs away and I have 4 and half months left.

For the squat and deadlift, I have been killing it.  I have already deadlifted 475 lbs and today I squatted 255 lbs pretty easily.  My back and knees are feeling pretty good, so I should be able to hit some decent numbers.

Overall, I can’t complain.  I am gaining body weight and my lifts are within striking distance of my winter goals.

I need to eventually decide when to cut back.  The last several years I have starting cutting up on St. Patrick’s Day.  I will have to decide if I want to start cutting up earlier or allow myself to go longer into the Spring.

-John

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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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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.

Check out my latest book on amazon.com!

-John

Happy Hump Day!

I read an interesting interview the other day by the famous bodybuilder Lee Priest.  Basically, Lee stated that if your genetics don’t allow you to grow almost immediately, then you should probably give up on ever becoming a professional bodybuilder.

I agree.

If you don’t have the perfect set of genetics, you will never become a champion bodybuilder.  And that doesn’t go for just bodybuilding; that also pertains to basketball, track and field, swimming,tennis and many other sports.  Let’s face it, if you are only 5’2 with short arms, you probably will never be able to out swim Michael Phelps.

But even if you don’t have superstar genetics, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t compete or quit working out, you just need be honest with yourself.  If you weren’t born with the right genetics, any amount of training won’t make a difference.  You will never become Arnold Schwarzenegger just by training exactly the same way he did.

So forget about being Arnold and focus on becoming the best that you can be.

Anyone can gain muscle, remove body fat and build a nice, cut, 6-pack.  All it takes is hard work, dedication and consistency.

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The key is to find the right combination of training that works for YOU.

Arnold was famous for using tons of sets in his training, that routine doesn’t work me.

My body needs heavy weights, small sets and a moderate amount of cardio.  I have been training for over 20 years now and I can tell with almost certainty the routines that work for my body and the ones that don’t.

Something has to change. You need to look different week after week.

And if you are not seeing any results, change your routine up IMMEDIATELY.  Don’t stick with a program that isn’t working.

Change your diet

Change your cardio

Change your rep and weight scheme

As I stated above, only a small percentage of the population can professional bodybuilders. But if you find the routine that works the best for you, I can almost guarantee that you can make impressive gains.

You used to bench press 225, now you can bench press 275: GAINS

You used to run the mile in 8 minutes, now you can run it in 6:36:  GAINS

You used to weigh 225, now you are stronger at 190: GAINS

-John

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