Posts Tagged ‘summer’

Although California may have better weather, NYC is still a good place to bodybuild.

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Seasons are not a problem.  In the Winter we can bulk up and lift heavy, cut down slightly in the Spring and then get ripped in the Summer.

The 4 distinct seasons work great for me.

I couldn’t imagine living somewhere where I need to take my shirt off all year round.  You need some time to gain weight otherwise you will keep cutting down to a bag of bones.

If you live in a cold region, the Spring is very important.

If you jerk around in the Spring, you will never get cut for the summer.

Losing body fat is hard.  If you think you can wait until June and then start getting ripped, you are in trouble.

You won’t even be in good enough shape to burn the fat off.

There are two ways that I try to stay motivated in the Spring.  The first is to choose a race.

2-years ago I choose a 5k race to train for in New Jersey.  It wasn’t anything crazy, just a small community race in park that I wanted to run.

I used that race for my motivation, I trained hard, lost weight and I actually ended up winning the race.

That was the first time I ever won a 5k.

The second best way to stay motivated, is to plan a vacation.

SPRING BREAK.

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I went on a Spring Break trip almost every year until I turned 30.  There was just no way that I would allow myself to fly someplace warm and show up overweight.

For my spring break trips I would still carry a small amount of bulk, but I would cut down enough so I didn’t look fat.

Motivation is important.

Whether it is training for a race, training for a vacation or trying to get back at your ex-boyfriend/girlfriend; you need some motivation.

Something has to light a fire under your ass.

Find it grasshopper.

-John

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Weight training and running are very different.  When I get cut for the summer, I use a combination of running, weight training and a proper diet.

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This year, I skipped running almost completely for about 4 months so that I can bulk up.  Occasionally,  I will run the entire year. But this year, I wanted to make sure that I put on enough size.

Around February 14th I decided that I would stop bulking up and start to slowly cut down for the summer. Although I am not dieting super hard yet, I am slowly cutting down on my calories and I also started running 3x a week.

One thing that I have noticed right away, is that the training used for running is very different for than it is for weight training.

With weight training, you definitely need extra rest.

When I deadlift or squat, I need an entire week of rest and for chest, I can do it twice per week at most.

You also need more calories when you weight train.  If you do not consume enough calories or rest enough between heavy workouts, you will never grow any muscle.

Running is a different story.  I can get in pretty good shape by just running hard 3 or 4x a week, but If you really want to get fast, rest is your enemy.

When I am running fast, it means I am training all the time.

You also lose your running stamina quickly.

I can skip 3 months of weight training and still be pretty strong.  With running, if I skip 3 month of training, I will lose it completely.  It’s almost like I never ran before.

In the Spring is when it gets weird.

I am going to have to lift heavy weights, which requires rest, while running several times a month that requires no rest.

I also need more calories for building muscle, but less calories for getting cut.

So, how do I lift heavy weights for muscle and run for cuts at the same time?

It’s not easy.

That is why you need to start off with some solid muscle before you starting cutting up, because you will lose some of it.

The key is to try to hold on to as much muscle as possible, while still removing all of my body fat.

It is tricky.

I compare it to a chef.  If you take 100 chef’s and ask them to bake the same cake, there will always be several cakes that stand out.

Why?

Everyone has the same recipe, the same ingrediants.  So why doesn’t every cake taste the same?

It’s tricky.

-John

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Now that my winter bulk up is over, I am starting to add some cardio back into my routine.

This week I ran 4 times.  I ran Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday.

I was considering running on Sunday, but I decided not to.  When I use my running for cardio, I like to run HARD.  Easy running is for marathon runners and it doesn’t burn off a lot of body fat.

If anything, most marathon runners are skinny fat.  Skinny fat is where you have a low body weight but still a high body fat percentage.

The key to cardio is intensity.  Run hard, run fast and push it.

This year, my goal is to run 3 miles under 21 minutes without running for than 3 or 4x a week.  I also never run more than 3-4 miles in my training, when I run, it is short and fast.

I meet runners all the time that utilize a ton of mileage in their routine, but their running times never go anywhere.

It’s truly a waste of time to go outside or on a treadmill and start plodding along.

The key to cardio is to work on your SPEED.

You don’t really lose a lot of endurance as you get older, but you definitely lose a lot of speed.

Speed is the key to life and vitality, not endurance.

Sprints, tempo runs and even sports are the cardio routines that you can use to get into great shape and remove body fat.

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Last summer I was running outdoors and when I would start to feel burnt out, I would switch to basketball.

But overall, I would never run more than 12-15 miles a week, max.

Today I ran 2 miles in 15:00 minutes (7:30 per mile pace).  I’m only into my second week of running, but I am quickly starting to feel pretty good.

Running is a weird sport, it usually takes me around 15-20 runs before I start to get into the “groove”.

But once my legs and my breathing starts to make the adjustment to the training, I can really start to push it hard.

Remember, start training outside now so when the weather changes, you will be ready.

By the time Spring rolls around you want to be in the middle of a hard training routine, not at the beginning.

-John

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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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Sports and life in general are competitive.  I can never understand people who are not competitive at every age.

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Don’t get me wrong; there are bloggers that I follow that live in R.V.’s or travel the world for a living and sometimes that sounds like a great idea.

But I am too competitive.

And I get bored very easily.

I worked from home at one of my prior occupations and surprisingly I didn’t really enjoy it.

Unless I was working from home in the summer, there was usually nobody around from Monday to Friday.  Basically, instead of being locked in the office, I would be stuck at home.

I like to be competitive.  It keeps you young.

Today I was at the gym and I started to size up some of my competition.

Usually there is only one or two decent bodybuilders in a gym and rest are just there for maintenance.

The best way to tell if someone is training correctly, is that you should be able to see major changes in their body.

If they look the same across the whole year, basically, they are just maintaining.  Maintaining is fine, but you will never really improve, nor will you ever get ripped.

At my gym, there are several guys that look decent.

So for this coming summer, I need to design a workout plan to defeat my competition.

  • What are my weaknesses and what are my strengths?

My weaknesses are definitely my upper back and legs.

My strengths would be my mass, chest and abs.

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Since I am slowly starting to lose weight, my goal this year is to continue to train heavy.  I have a strong advantage in strength and mass, so I think that is where I should focus.

Like I’ve stated in other posts; I believe it is important to show off your best body parts.  So for myself, I need to continue to train chest and shoulders heavy, while I get my body fat percentage low enough so that my abs are ripped.

Another week or two and I will reveal my Spring training guide, but right now, it is looking something like this:

Monday: Chest

Tuesday: Legs/cardio

Wednesday: Cardio

Thursday: Shoulders

Friday: Back

Saturday: Cardio

Sunday: Rest

I want to slowly get back into my cardio workouts for several weeks, before I start to really get cut for the summer in May and June.

So far, I am one week into my cutting phase and I already lost 3.5 lbs.  I usually cut 10 lbs pretty quickly, then it starts to slow down after that.

Good luck everyone!

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I am proud to announce that today was my official last day of Winter bulk up 2017-2018.

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Overall, I give this season an “A”.  Before the start of the season I set several concrete goals:

  1. Bench 315: Got it! Almost benched 325 as well.
  2. 500lb dead lift: Did 500 for 2 reps and 525 for 1
  3. Shoulder dumbbells 100’s: Big failure.  Got up to 85’s, shoulder injury is not healing.
  4. Squat 315: I don’t have a spotter for this exercise but 315 is in my range. Probably closer to 345-365.
  5. Gain 30 lbs: I gained 35!

Besides not reaching my shoulder dumbbell goal, this year was a total success!  This was the heaviest I have lifted in several years.

I also kept up a small cardio routine, but nothing significant.

Now, I need to make the transaction from bulking into my cutting phase.

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So, how do we accomplish this?

The goal is to keep as much muscle mass as possible, while also removing all of my body fat.  I know that I won’t be able to lift as heavy in June as I did in January, but I still should be lifting heavy.

What are some mistakes I have made in the past?

A) Cutting calories too fast.  I need to lose 20 lbs, but I should do it slowly.  If I start starving myself I will get “skinny fat”, like marathon runners.   That is where you are skinny with a high body fat percentage

B) I start slacking with the heavy weights.  Although I will lose the leverage provided from being fat, I NEED to keep pushing myself in the gym.  Heavy compound exercises; squats, deadlifts, bench, etc.

It is also time to add some cardio.  I am going to start going hard with the cardio tomorrow.  3x a week until the weather improves, and then I might increase to 4x depending on how my body is holding up.

Spring goals?

I am still working on this, but I want to focus on a few key area’s.

A) Keep squatting.  This year I started squatting after taking several years off and I feel a big difference.  Not only is my body a lot thicker, but my abs are going to look good when I lose weight.

B) Heavy bicep and calve workouts: These are really secondary exercises, but when you wear a tee-shirt, what muscles are visible? Answer: calves and biceps.

For my cardio goals, I still haven’t locked any plan down yet.  I always try to hit 3 miles in 21 minutes and also add in some sprinting.

I would love to compete in a sprinting competition.  It was been 20 years since I have last competed in track and field, and I am getting a little bored of the 3 and 5 mile races.

This morning I weighed in at 185 lbs.  It is going to take me a couple weeks to get the boiler heated, but once I do, this engine is going to be revved up and ready to kick ass.

JASUMMERPICTURE-MIX

-John

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Most people in the gym train by themselves.  Sometimes you will see two people who go together consistently and it is the same for running.

You don’t need a partner to train, which is good.  I can do almost all of my exercises except max bench press, without a partner.

But, it does help to have one.

Unfortunately, in the last several years I have been going through training partners like underwear.

When I was younger everyone wanted to lift with me, now, not so much.

When I have a good training partner, I try to lift as heavy as possible.  I need to take advantage of a good spot on my exercises while I can.

More importantly, it helps with motivation.

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Yesterday, I went to the gym aiming to break my winter bulk up deadlift max of 525 lbs.

Once again, I was there by myself warming up, when I ran into a guy that I know.  Turns out that he is a powerlifter.

I told him I was going for my max today and he immediately replied “oh, I need to see this”.

For some reason, that was all the motivation I needed.  He started cheering me on as I worked up to my final set and by the time I put 525 lbs on the bar, I had 3 or 4 guys watching me.

Motivation helps.  It’s hard to voluntarily go to the gym at lunch and lift 525 lbs off the floor.  But when I have people yelling and encouraging me, it went right up.

It’s the same for running.  Nobody wants to go outside and jog 5-miles on a 23 degree morning, but when you running partner shows up, you are going outside.

You also push yourself.  Some days you don’t feel like running fast and your partner does and vice versa.

I also used to make up imaginary friends.  Sometimes when I am training alone, I start to think about my competitors being there.

I start trash talking to myself.

I think about my old coaches.

I think about old enemies.

I recite my favorite scenes from Rocky.

Whatever it takes to become a champion.

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-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

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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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I officially weighed in on December 1st and I am in shock by how much weight I gained.

I weigh 175 lbs!  That is a 25 lb weight gain since Labor Day.

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My goal at the beginning of this bulk up season was to peak at 180 lbs.  Unfortunately, If I keep this pace up, I will reach 190 lbs in several weeks.

Going forward, I am going to continue to eat the same until New Years Eve.  At that point, I plan on gaining fat slower.

So, what do I mean by gaining fat slower?

It’s unfortunate, but when you bulk up, you will gain some muscle and also some fat.  It is almost impossible to only put on lean muscle.

But what you can do, is slow down the pace.

After New Years I am going to slow my body weight increase 50% by taking in fewer calories and by also increasing the cardio.

By Valentines Day, I will completely slow down and then I will transition into my spring training routine.

It’s crazy how fast the winter goes.   Only 12-15 week of heavy lifting left and then I need to focus on getting ripped.

Good luck!

-John

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