How I Lost My Physique While Focusing Only On Powerlifiting

At the end of 2014 I had to think really hard about my journey. I had to look in the mirror for long periods of time to truly figure out what it was I was trying to accomplish with my body. With the years of eating restrictively and going to gym, my body did not represent all that self-discipline.

RUNNING NOWHERE

It was as if I been in training to run the Boston Marathon. For six months straight I had been preparing for that one goal. Once the Boston Marathon day came, all that prep allowed me to get out front quickly at the start of that race. As the race turned into an hour, my pace kept me among the top ten contestants.

 

Boston marathon with people running in the street

Some time goes by and we have less than two miles to go. As soon as that last mile marker popped up, I decided to stop and take a unexpected nap. After my nap I wake up to realize that I still have a mile to go if I want to reach that finish line. That’s how I felt at the end of 2014.

CROSSROADS

I can’t say it was only at the end of 2014 that I felt that way. That’s how I felt ever since 2010. That was the year I came close to looking like what I envisioned in my dreams. I always felt like I could do just a little bit more. The sad truth is that EVERYBODY feels that way.

Even the most elite bodybuilder feels that their body is not good enough for them. As humans, we let our minds tell us just how unworthy we truly are. We are so blinded by the self-abuse, we don’t truly see the progress we’ve made.

When I look at the old photos of me in 2010, I’m amazed at just how a dramatic transformation I put myself through. Granted my mind is still telling me that all I needed was a solid 5-10 more pounds of muscle. Still, that was a major accomplishment!

In my quest to get stronger, I slowly lost the tightness of that 2010 body. How could I possibly do that?

WHAT IS POWERLIFTING

So after all that weight loss, I started following more of a Powerlifting routine. Powerlifting is all about lifting weights for strength. To the outside observer lifting weights is lifting weights. In actuality not all “lifting weights” is the same.

Powerlifting routines are designed for you to work near the maximal amount of weights you can do. When lifting this heavy weight, you need more rest between sets so you can properly recovery for your next set. The amount of reps you do per set will be in the low numbers due to the heavy weights. The weights you would be using is close to the amount you can do for one repetition aka 1 rep max aka 1RM.

POWERLIFTING BODY

If you are lifting heavy weights, you will be getting stronger. When getting stronger you need to make sure that your calories are enough to help out with the potential mass gain. In a perfect world, all this food and lifting would equate to your body gaining muscle. But in the real world, when you eat a surplus of calories, you will gain fat along with muscle. The key is to get your calories right AND do enough conditioning/cardio to keep the fat gain at a minimum.

Guess what this guy was doing through my strength gaining years? No conditioning! No calorie control!

What did that mean….I started to get thicker in the waist. That waist gain was definitely not from muscle but from fat. I never got obese again, but I was always slighter above my intended appropriate waist size goal for most of those years. Once I stayed in that slightly above zone, my body got use to it and it became a norm. Once your body gets accustomed to something, you got to do something drastic to shake it out of its rut.

So I was getting stronger but slowly not getting the dream body I envisioned. A smart man knows that when on a mass gain cycle you will have to cut down. The problem for me became that I had been in this exercise game for so long, what normally works for most no longer worked for me! I was naive and still believed I didn’t need to make too many changes in my exercise plan.

Here’s what a powerlifter typical looks like:
IPF World Champion Dean Bowring perfomring a deadlift

Now if I followed a diet and training plan to look like the above….what should I had expected to look like? Granted, there are some powerlifters that resemble bodybuilders.  But when the thought of a powerlifter comes into the mind, the above image is the typical standard body type. A body designed to be strong and not necessarily to be seen and worshipped on stage.

BIG AND POWERFUL

Powerlifters are not about the most beautiful bodies. Nope.  The body is secondary to their real objective which is to get as strong as possible.  While pursuing my goal of getting stronger, I had that same mindset.  I didn’t care what my body resembled as long as I could keep getting that weight up!

You see powerlifting is all about moving that weight! Squats, Deadlifts, Overhead Press and Bench Presses, and Cleans make up the majority of their big lifts. So those were the lifts I was focusing on. Not a lot of assistance exercises, just the Big Lifts.

No matter what your goal is, those are the lifts you should be mastering. All those lifts handle the majority of the movements you need to get stronger in. To get the body you want with those moments just require the right amount of training and discipline.


 

So I knew the movements I wanted to incorporate in my master plan. It was just a matter of adding some more and taking certain elements out of my routine. There had to be a way to combine all my knowledge without developing a powerlifter’s round body. That’s what I discovered towards the beginning of 2015. I’ll address that next time!

My Yearly Struggle Between Being Thin and Weak OR Strong But Fat

Raise your hand if you make yearly New Year’s Resolutions? How often does your resolutions involve being fit? How often do you make it past January? When you are a consistent gym rat like myself, it’s amazing to see the amount of new faces at the gym during that first week of January.

What’s even more amazing is just how many of those folks give up on their exercise plan three weeks later. Now I would be lying if I said I didn’t have my own yearly goals. But you see, I don’t make New Years Resolutions. For the past five years, I’ve created year- long plans to make myself better than the year prior. Each year will lead up to my eventual dream body. This article is all about my 2015 goal.

I’M TOO FAT?

From 2007 until about summer of 2008, I put on the most weight in my life. I gained over fifty pounds in that short time span.

Michael V. Moore in Singapore in 2008
Singapore 2008



When I finally realized my gain was all fat not muscle, I quickly altered my nutrition and exercise programs. I even joined an online course that opened my eyes. That period of dedicated weight loss kept going until the days leading up to my wedding in 2010.

Michael V. Moore walking down the aisle on his wedding day
September 2010


 I’M TOO WEAK?

A couple of months after getting married I realized that despite how thin I was, I could use some more muscle on my frame. Once lifting for muscle, I noticed how awful my squat, deadlift, bench press and overhead press numbers were. For someone that worked out on a regular basis, I should have been much stronger!

That’s when another hard truth kicked in. I had been lifting to lose weight for so long, that I never truly attempted to get stronger. I had a nice physique, but what’s the use if I can’t lift heavy things. If I became stronger then I could lift more weight, which would mean I my muscles would get bigger.

GET STRONGER

So with that new mentality, I became obsessed with getting stronger. The main strength-training plan I used was Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 program. I read Mark Rippetoe’s Starting Strength to perfect my techniques. As expected, my strength severely increased! My back (especially upper back!), arms and legs got thicker. As everything got bigger, my waist got wider.

STRONGER BUT GETTING WIDER

I expected to gain weight while getting stronger. As the months and years went by, I stopped being as consistent with my eating habits as I should have been. I’m an individual that easily gains weight. People still don’t believe that I can gain a half-inch on my waist just by eating two slices of bread. I’m not making that up, it’s true.

Due to my ability to gain weight rapidly, I have to be extremely careful when it comes to carbohydrate plus fat combinations. I have to follow my nutrition plan 90% of the time to be successful. The moment I go under 90%, my waist starts to inflate.

EATING TOO MUCH

Guess what happened during the years I was eating to get stronger? In my efforts to eat more calories, I stop being 90% compliant. I was closer towards 75%.

For those that don’t understand, it means that if I ate four meals a day, three of them were perfect for my diet. One of those four meals did not fit my nutrition plan. That fourth meal could have consisted of junk food, the wrong food type or too many calories. Whatever it was, it was not what I should have been eating at that time.

As anyone that has ever tried to put on muscle will tell you, it is unquestionably easy to go overboard with eating. It’s not as strict as losing weight, but you still have to be careful. After all those years of restrictive eating, it’s no wonder I loved to gorge myself while getting stronger!

CHANGE IT UP!

Around the middle of 2014 I came to the realization that I needed to change my plan up. Despite how badly I wanted to keep getting stronger, I needed to get my waist back in check. I needed to start getting my eating discipline back as well as make sure my workouts reflected this new lifestyle. 75% compliant might be good enough for others, but my eating habits have to be stricter to get the body I want.  Unlike when I made my dramatic weight loss from before, this time around I wanted to have more muscle definition.

It’s an interesting sensation to have so much knowledge about lifting weights and yet never attained the final body you envision in your head.   Throughout all these years I have helped train others get to their goals but never fully gotten to mine.   I was very  very close to it back in 2010. Based on all the knowledge I have, I was determined at the end of 2014 to make 2015 the year my dream body would start to show up.

I’ll get into 2015 next time!

3 Seasonal Occurrences That Create Relentless Fall Cravings

It’s 10 AM on a Monday morning in September. Do you know where your children are? Hopefully they are at school, which means the adults own the daytime again!

Don’t you just hate how in the summer every time you want to do something in public there’s always an army of youngsters around? The simple trip to the store to run some errands becomes a hassle. Seeing kids back in school is one of the official symbols that the fall season is coming upon us.

I don’t know about you but there’s something about the change of seasons that causes me not to want to try as hard when it comes towards eating right. Each season brings upon different cravings.  The first weeks of winter makes me want stews. In spring it’s delicate cakes. In summer it’s all about ice cream and BBQ! Since fall is almost here, I want to explore some possible factors that motivate this season’s cravings.

FOOTBALL

I wonder if it has to do with the fact that I love American football.  While watching football you are exposed to a lot of commercials advertising nothing but the worst types of food you can imagine.  I counted twenty-one food & beer advertisements during one quarter of football last Sunday!

With so many advertisements going on it’s no wonder I get odd cravings. After hours of football, there’s nothing more I want in my mouth than some fried chicken wings, cheesy nachos, or XXL hot dog pretzel pizza! All bad for you but look so good on your TV.

 

Two pizza hut hot dog pizzas. One with pretzel dogs, the other regular. Both have pepporoni
Pizza + Hot Dogs + Mustard….Only in ‘Merica

 

Could it be the anticipation?  American football is a big time celebration.  Majority of the sports during the summer time are boring.  So once fall rolls around, it’s becomes a time for celebration!  What better way to celebrate then by getting your feast on!

As an American, I know we have this “Go Big Or Go Home” mentality.  The bigger an object is the better.  That’s why those commercials are so out of hand.  They are trying to give you a sensory overload of foods in our weakest moments.

We are already excited about the competition going on, the commercials are doing nothing but hype that atmosphere up even further.

WEATHER

Could it be the weather? September is one of those interesting months in which you normally start the month off in t-shirts and short shorts. But by the time the month is over, you’re most likely sporting long sleeve shirts and pants.

Seeing the clothing slowly change can get to you. I know us guys become gloomy once we start seeing the girls stop showing as much skin in their outfits. That’s a killer sign that the Summer of Love is officially over.

Once summer is over, we know the cold will be coming. So with all the excess fall clothing, maybe our brains feel that it no longer has to impress the opposite sex. If we aren’t displaying the goods on a regular basis, why be as strict on their diet! The cool fall air seems to activate that type of thinking.

HOME COOKED COMFORT FOOD

Fall seems to be the ideal time to create those classic comfort foods.  As Labor Day turns into Thanksgiving, it’s as if you use your oven more often.  At least that was the case when I was a child.

Home cooked meals were a part of my after school memories.  I remember coming home to a house filled with wonderful smells.  There was nothing better than the smell of pot roast, lasagna, gravy, pies and other baked goodies.

Apple Pie in the Oven
Now This is Americana!

 

When it comes to comfort foods we all know that the colder months reign supreme.  It’s something nostalgic about just sitting back and gathering with family.  I can see images of the pioneer days with folks huddled in their wood cabins.  The Dad tossing wood into the fireplace as the kids huddle.  In the kitchen, Mom is fixing some type of heart-warming stew.

Comfort foods like stew were created to warm your body up.  Who doesn’t like the rich warmest of a good warm meal on a chilly evening?  Fall starts to resemble that chill.  I guess subconsciously I start to think about all the comfort foods that will be coming up in the months ahead. Could that be why it becomes harder for me to eat properly?


I’m going to need to figure it out because I have big plans for this fall. I can’t be getting too out of shape. I’ll be talking more about it in my next couple of posts.  Stay tuned!

 

Why You Should Play At The Playground

My two youngest nephews stayed with me over Labor Day weekend.  Like most kids all they wanted to do was play games on their Kindles and watch TV.  Sunday morning was pretty nice outside so I decided to get them out the house to get some exercise.

Despite their reluctance we walked to a place I knew they would enjoy. I took them to the elementary school in my neighborhood. This particular school has a decent sized playground.  Immediately their eyes lite up with excitement.  Looked like Uncle Mike was right!

Memory Lane

We all have different memories of playing at playgrounds as youngsters. Some remember the big kid on top of the slide not allowing kids to slide down. Others have memories of that special little girl or boy they had a crush on. That very first time you touch hands with each other as you marched back into school after recess.  Remember this song?

Good ole fashion love and exercise at the playground. You can be a Romeo or you can be an Arnold.  Romeo is all about finding romance.  Whereas, Arnold is all about the equipment.  Arnold will use his imagination to make that playground into the ultimate obstacle course.

Hidden Physical Workouts

As I sat back and observe my nephews it amazed me just how awesome playgrounds have become. There’s so many hidden physical activities at the playground. You have the monkey bars to increase grip, arm and back strength. This particular playground had wall climbing hooks.

Wall climbing is a clever modern way to disguise upper body pulling movements.  Back in the day there was the hated rope climbing movement. I never had to do rope climbing in PE, but considering I could barely do a pull up, I know I would have been embarrassed!

Playgrounds have slides built for well……sliding. Nothing athletic there. But if you are like most kids you actually run up the slides. That’s almost the equivalent of doing hill sprints.

There are chain ladders for your legs and arms. The chain ladder also aids in your balance and muscle stabilization. Notice how chain ladders are often vertically short? That’s so kids don’t get too hurt while their young muscles get use to the unbalanced stimulation.

Socialize

A playground’s greatest gift may just be the fact that it is a great way for a kid to socialize. How many times did you make a new friend with a stranger at the playground?
[Let’s pause for a second. Ummm, let me rephrase that!]

How many times did you make friends with a kid you didn’t know at the playground?

[Yes that sounds much much better!]

When we are young we would just walk straight up to a new kid and start playing with them. The common friend is the playground. No second guesses about race, politics, or social status. Just good childhood fun

Playground For Adults

Maybe that’s why gyms are so popular for adults. We miss the social interaction with folks we don’t know. We all go to the gym to work out, but we also go to be seen. Why do you think gym classes are so popular? It’s all about the socialization. It’s just too bad that as adults we are more hesitant to make a new friend than we were as kids.

Next time you are at the gym think about your childhood playgrounds. Look for all the similarities. Are all the boys on one side of the gym while all the girls on the other? Are the guys trying to be macho to impress the ladies? Are some ladies chatting in a small group? Funny how things doesn’t change right !

Go Out and Have Fun!

Playgrounds are awesome equipment that can get you in decent shape for free. You can shape and tone your arms,back, legs and shoulders. Remember that the perfect workout plan is one in which you can just have fun. If you feel yourself or even you kids are getting out of shape, find a playground! Embrace your inner youth and go for it!

Just be certain you’re not the ONLY ADULT at the playground. You don’t want to be known as THAT person 😉

Tobias from Arrested Development posing in a brown sweater

 

10 Embarrassing Traits about Mike: High School Years Part 2

I talked about my Elementary and Middle school years in previous posts.  I first started talking about my high school years in Part 1.  Let me finish my trip back into high school with Part 2:

Computer Love

My freshman year of high school is when America Online really took off in America. I was blessed enough that my mom bought me a computer for my Christmas present that year. It had a whopping 100 MB hard drive! My how times have changed.

AOL became my best friend throughout high school. I was always on Instant Messenger reaching out to people. I would be on message boards and chat rooms just typing away!

I even reconnected with a close childhood friend of mine. Remember those days when you had to pay for long-distance?  Chatting on AOL IM took care of that.

I use to be embarrassed with how much time I spent on AOL. I guess that’s nothing compared to how often people use social media nowadays.

A O.G.  (Online Gamer)

Due to my newfound friend called AOL I played a lot of games. My favorite one was Air Warrior. I would play it 12+ hours a day if possible. My weekends revolved around Air Warrior. Who needed friends in the real world!

My buddies were all fellow pilots like myself in Air Warrior. Air Warrior was a way for me to escape the reality of my real world and interact with grown adults. These were grown adults who played video games but treated me with respect.

It was something about being respected and having a normal conversation with people all across the world that drew me to those online games. Those guys opened my eyes up towards possible careers and dreams to pursue. All from a simple game.

Cursed with Pets

Growing up my brother always would have pet fish. When he left the house I was determined to have my own pets. My mom never wanted a dog therefore she settled on me having gerbils.

In my middle school year I had a couple gerbils but they all quickly died. When I got to high school I decided to try and get a pet guinea pig. I loved that guinea pig to death. Sadly it unexpectedly died. That hurt more than the gerbils dying.

Eventually my dad and his family had a Cocker Spaniel they could no longer keep. My mom agreed to that I could have the dog. My dad drove from Cincinnati to Virginia to drop the dog off. I had the dog for less than 24 hours before the dog ran away.

Two months later a animal shelter found the dog. If I could go back in time, I would tell my mom and myself DON’T FALL FOR THE CUTENESS!! RUN AWAY!!!  HE IS EVIL!

Cocker Spaniel
Evil? Who Me?

 

I kid you not when I say that was the Dog from Hell! Being on the road for so long just caused the dog to go crazy. The dog would only use the bathroom inside the house. So almost every day I had to clean up the mess. Additionally the dog would constantly bark and growl at EVERYONE who entered our house. I could never take the dog on walks because he would just go berserk.

I had Scotty for almost a year before we gave him away. It sucked because I always wanted a dog. Little did I know I would get a dog from hell! It was the perfect finale for my pet owner experience during those teenage years.

Avoided Dances

I did not attend one single school related dance. No Prom. No homecoming. I do not feel like I missed out on a life changing moment because I always knew I would do more after high school than in it.

My only regret is just not asking the girls who had crushes on me to the dances. Throughout my childhood, I could spot them out. One of those girls actually asked me to escort her to Homecoming.

I respected the nerves it took for her to approach her crush and actually ask me out. I know our families were expecting me to say yes because I was Mr. Nice guy. Nine times out of ten I probably would have said yes.

But at that moment in time, I was afraid of her thinking that it was more than just a friendship. Because I didn’t want to give false hope I said no.

The weeks leading up to homecoming I felt pretty bad. Due to that situation, I never even thought about asking any other girl to a dance. I didn’t want to look like a jerk.

In my senior year, I did have a girl I thought I was in a long distance relationship with (remember AOL was my best friend!). We were suppose to go to our senior proms together but she broke up with me a month before prom season.

That was a huge uppercut to the gut. The weeks prior to the break up, every time I called she was always hanging out with some guy. I saw the writing on the wall, I was just hoping for us to last until prom before we went our separate ways. Nope, she beat me to the punch!

So with the months invested in that false relationship (looking back I can’t even call it a real relationship), I didn’t even think about local girls to ask to the prom. A couple girls told me they were not going to the prom (giving hints that they wanted me to ask them), but I was so rattled by the long distance break up I never asked. Again, I don’t regret not going to the dances, I just regret not asking anyone that wanted me to ask.

Settled for Average Grades

In high school I underachieved in all my classes. Despite school being extremely easy for me I just never inspired to go above and beyond. I was OK with just getting C+’s and B’s for grades. I never tried to get straight A’s. I knew I was suppose to go to college, so I just did the minimum to get accepted by the average college.

Once I got accepted into college during the fall of my senior year I REALLY stopped caring. Senior year became a joke to me. I took several college level classes that year with the intent on getting college credit.

Once I found out that I wouldn’t get credit due to not meeting the grade criteria, it was a wrap! I took not caring to a whole different level! I showed up to classes and would sleep. I would get F’s on purpose to disrupt my Statistics teacher’s perfect student average grade bell curve (I didn’t like the guy for some juvenile reason). I felt I tried so hard for so long, that it was time for a break.

Little did I know that I was still eligible for several scholarships. Due to being a minority I was involved in special guidance counselor programs. I half listened to the advice and warnings about college scholarship opportunities. One day I got invited to a awards ceremony for Northern Virginia fraternities and sororities.

At this point in my life I had no idea what a fraternity or sorority was. I was completely ignorant to their existence. Apparently I was eligible for numerous scholarships from this group before this award ceremony took place. Additionally there were other local and national scholarships that I could have won if I had applied during my senior year.

I totally regret not trying hard enough in school because it was a slap in my face when I went to college and saw the financial aid they were getting due to grades. I ended up paying more for my education all because I was ok with just being average. The lesson I try and to tell the youth today is always try and do your best. Don’t just settle for being average!