Posts Tagged ‘strength’

I am now about half way into my winter bulk up and my progress is going great.  Last week I bench pressed 295, and on Friday, I hit my winter dead lift goal of 495.

Although there are only 12 weeks left in my season, I feel pretty confident that I should reach and possibly surpass my goals for the year.

20171124_113303

One thing that I am trying this year, in comparison to other years, is that I am increasing the weights quickly. For example, on Friday I was scheduled to deadlift 455 lbs for 4 or 5 reps, and then the following week, I would attempt my winter goal of 495.

During the warm ups I started to feel really good.  The weights were coming off the floor really fast, so I decided to go off schedule and straight to 495.  Working out is not an exact science, if you are feeling good,, go for the heavy weights.

Whether is is a 400 lb bench press, 315 lb squat for 10 reps or a 500 lb deadlift.  If its in the range of a weights that you should be able to handle, go for it.

Usually, lifting heavy weights is all mental.  When I started powerlifting in my teens and early 20’s, I used to obsess over heavy weights, and oftentimes it would cause me to screw up my attempt.

Now, after years of training, I have conditioned my mind to attempt each weight exactly the same.

Don’t get me wrong, having 500 lbs on my back and trying to go for a deep squat will still scare the crap out of me, but when it comes to a heavy bench or deadlift, I will go for it without hesitation.

Although I wasn’t scheduled to deadlift 495 this week, in my mind, I knew I can do it.

Next week, I might jump all the way to 550 lbs.

Why not?

Even if I don’t get it, your body and especially your mind will get a lot stronger just by attempting it.

Remember, heavy weights=big muscle.

Here is a picture of my from my powerlifting days.

20161113_211403

-John

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

Lift Heavy/Fun Fast on Amazon.com!

 

(more…)

Advertisements

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!

 

“Old man”strength exists.  I have been working out now for over 20 years and there is a certain level of strength that I have in my 30’s, that I didn’t have in my teens.

As a young man, I had tons of energy and speed. But, now that I am into my 30’s I’ve noticed that although I have lost some speed, I have gained strength and endurance.

I remember when I first started working 40 hours a week.  I thought I was going to die.  Now, after years of working, I can do repeat 60 hour work-weeks without batting an eye.

I can also go to work with barely any sleep and I only get sick just once a year if even that.

Unfortunately, I also have some nagging injuries.

My left rotator cuff has been hurting on and off for a decade now.  Sometimes it hurts just a little and other times it hurts so bad that I can barely lift.

Recently, I am trying a new method.

IGNORING IT.

Rest doesn’t help and if I go to a doctor he is going to tell me to get surgery.  So basically I am adding 30 minutes of stretching a day and just ignoring it.

Life is about pain. Whether it is working 90 hours a week, training for a marathon, or going to work with no sleep because my son was sick; I need to ignore the pain.

You can’t always live a life of comfort and I have decided that if I plan on lifting forever, I just need to just suck it up and accept the pain.

Today I did some squats at lunch on 4 hours of sleep.  Between an infant, a job and working out, it’s not easy; but no time for excuses.

-John

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

Lift Heavy/Fun Fast on Amazon.com!

 

Now that the week is over, I am ready to officially start my winter bulk up routine on Monday.

20161113_211403

In the last 3-4 weeks I stopped my bodybuilding diet and I am also curious to see how much weight I gained.  I am estimating that it was at least 6 to 7 lbs.

Staying super lean is difficult.  I can only stay super cut for 2 to 3 months and then I need to eat.  I am usually really cut from mid July to Early September and then I start to slowly bulk up.

So now that summer is over, it is time to lift heavy!

Although I went heavy in the gym this past winter, I feel like I was missing some of the heavy powerlifting routines that I had used in my 20’s.

Powerlifting is probably the best way to add any muscle and also it has a practical use; you stay strong.

In the last several years I have noticed that I have been skimping out on two of three powerlifting exercises; deadlift and squats.

How can I consider myself bulking up if I am skipping 2 of the 3 powerlifts?

This year, I have decided to reintroduce them.  My squat is already back over 225 lbs and today I deadlifted 315 for several reps.

I used to be a great deadlifter.  My best deadlift was over 575 lbs and 425 for 10 reps.

 I would love to get back over 500 this winter.

I’ve also noticed that my muscles feel different, especially my abs.  I have a soreness that feels different from the other lifting I was doing.

Overall, in only 2 weeks of powerlifting, I can feel a major difference from now and last winter.

Squats, deadlifts and bench press, when done correctly, will reach almost every muscle in your body.

With the increase in calories and the heavy lifting, I feel confident that I should be able to add some solid mass this year.

Updates coming soon!

-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.

20170903_085651

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.

JASUMMERPICTURE-MIX

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!

 

I have been training really good recently.  I finally have a new training partner to spot me in bench press (It’s been 2 years) and I am hitting some strong summer numbers.

I lost almost 25 lbs this year since the winter and this “should” be the time of the year that I am weakest.  Surprisingly, I have had a strength surge recently.

The only idea I can think of that led to my recent strength surge, is that I cut down on any long-distance running.  I was feeling burnt out again, so I decided to switch to sprinting and basketball only.

Just to give you an example, I almost benched 295 at 152lbs of bodyweight today.  I am really close to doubling my body weight in bench press.

Since I have been lifting so good, I am actually considering competing in powerlifting again.

Powerlifting is the best type of training.  Even if you aren’t going to compete, the powerlifting lifts are the best way to maintain strength.

Bodybuilding is an obscure sport.  The majority of people going to the gym are never going to be bodybuilders nor will they ever have a 6-pack.  Those people should be training for strength only, along with a little bit of cardio.

Being strong has a practical purpose.  Whether it’s picking up your child, carrying groceries or climbing stairs when you are 60.  Staying strong is very important and the best way to stay strong, is to incorporate power training.

Do you need bodybuilding in your life? Not really.

The dieting and training is healthy, but it’s not a very practical lifestyle.

Marathon running is even worse, it not, the worst.

Try incorporating some power training into your routine.  It is the best way to build any mass and the training is the most practical when it comes to using weights.

Hope everyone is enjoying the end of the summer.  Please check out my new book on amazon.com!

Lift Heavy/Fun Fast on Amazon.com!

 

This has been a tough running year for me.  Actually, the entire last 9 months has been tough.

About 2 years ago I was in really good running shape and I was getting close to reaching my College times. But recently I have regressed.

One of the problems is that I have been running on the treadmill more.

My son was born in April and since then, I have been doing only treadmill during the week.  On the weekends, I have been trying to get outside but sometimes the weather in the Spring is just horrible.

I’ve noticed that my treadmill time is usually about 10-20 seconds faster per mile than when I run outside.

For example, if you can run 3 miles in 21:00 minutes on a treadmill, then you should run around 21:30-22:00 minutes outside.

But although the treadmill helps for running outside, the muscles used are completely different.

Today I did a Father’s Day race in NYC just to see what type of shape I am in and I ran horrible.  Probably my worst time in 5 years.

The first mile felt okay, but then after that I died out.

Using the treadmill just doesn’t use the muscles as much.  If I want to get back into outdoor running shape, I am going to need to run outside more.

But, there is a weird flip side to this argument.

I think the treadmill might be better for bodybuilding.

A) The treadmill is less impact, by a lot.  I can run hard on the treadmill all the time without getting super sore.

B) If might be better for bodybuilding.  This year I have been sprinting and jumping pretty good (basketball) and I think it might be because I’m not running outside so much.

So who knows? Is the treadmill the cardio of the future?  I still like going outside to run.  It’s better for a tan, sprinting and also it’s nice to be outside.

I think from this point forward I am going to force myself to get outside more.  There are several good races in the Fall that I would love to run.

How is everyone else doing?

-John

Check out my new book on amazon.com!

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.

20161113_211403

-John

Check out my new book! Only $2.99 or borrow if for free on amazon.com!

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.

20160715_065110

Good luck!

Check out my new book on amazon.com!

26 years old, in my power lifting prime : )  182 lbs….