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!

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

 

Gym Intimidation: Four Things To Remember When Getting Started in The Free Weight Area

As a beginner, there was always one particular region of the gym that would intimidate me. I first seriously started working out during the spring semester of my freshman year of college. I remember walking into the gym and feeling the air conditioning create goose bumps on my skin. I swiped my student card and I was in the gym. After swiping in, I would walk over to my right and there it was, the mystical gym.

As gym rookie, I would either head straight to the cardio equipment or towards the machines. Those areas were safe in my mind. The machines made me believe I could lift more weights. I couldn’t be seen struggling, I had an image to maintain right! The ladies and guys would be watching me so I didn’t want to look like a fool. Little did I know that by avoiding the most important section of that gym, I looked even more foolish.

Every gym seems to have the same set up. Within the gym you’ll find a space filled with rows of dumbbells. The dumbbells range in sizes from two pounds all the way up to 100 pounds. In addition to the dumbbells you will see individual benches. In front of the racks and benches you normally have some sort of mirror. This area is the free weight section. If serious about changing your body, this should become one of your mainstays.

Free Weights Are Awesome

This blog is still fairly new, so let me clearly stat something I truly believe. If you want to be in the best shape you could possibly be. Whether that means you want to lose twenty pounds or gain ten pounds of muscle. Whether you want to increase your sprint time in the 50 meter sprint or perfect your tennis backhand, there’s one thing that they all share in common. You need to lift weights!!

Doing some sort of resistance exercise is the fastest way to get to those holy grails of physical achievements. All bodies need to have some type of functioning muscle on them. Even in weight loss, you are trying to maintain the muscle while losing fat. What’s the easiest way to do that? Lifting weights!

I’m sure you know that lifting weights is good for you but there’s a difference between thinking about lifting weights versus going to the gym and actually doing it. I bet your gym has that magical section I was talking about but the problem is you see nothing but big guys with muscles groaning and moaning.

When I was a young rookie, that was very intimidating. I eventual stop being scared and started to spend more time in this area. Here’s how you can get over that intimidation:

We All Start Somewhere

Just remember that we all have to start somewhere. Those bodies that may be intimidating you have taken years of work to get like that. If you’re young, some kids have genetics that bless them with fit bodies. It’s a combo of genetics, eating and moving. If you work hard, you’ll get there too!

All it takes is one day at time. Every one of those bodies was weak at one point. Remember that as you pick up those weights. Don’t’ be so hurry to lift heavier weights then you really can. Embrace the process.   We all got to start from the bottom!

They’re Not All Judging You

There’s nothing like standing in front of a mirror trying to perform your workout when all of a sudden you feel eyes gazing at you. “Oh my gosh! They’re judging me!!” would be your first thought. Or if you’re a woman “are they….yup, they’re checking me out!” You start to panic and lose focus on your workout.

Don’t be so quick to think that people are judging you right away. You just have to remember that people are curious by nature. You could be doing an exercise those individuals have never seen before. It’s natural to look at something new. Or your shirt could be so colorful it captures people’s attention. Majority of the time people are not judging you! It’s a small space with a mirror, so eyes are going to cross each other at some point.

They’re Not All Staring At You

So as a handsome male, I know I’m bound to get some eyes looking this way. What can I say! But for women, I know that the stares can lead to intimidation. It’s nothing worse than being stared out consistently while you are working out. Here you are trying to do a routine and some guys won’t stop eyeballing you.

If you are a woman and that happens a lot, don’t let it detour you from the free weight area. You deserve to be there like everyone else. Believe it or not, but sometimes guys are not staring at you in a sexual way. The reason for the looking is due to the fact that most women tend to shy away from this area.

Congratulations! You are a trailblazer at your gym and it’s taking the guys by surprise. Take it as such and keep it up!

Everyone Gets Embarrassed

If you start to feel that the stares are more than curiosity, that’s when you should simply ask them “Hey, can I help you with something because I see you keep looking at me?” That will embarrass most guys if you call them out on their fantasy stares. Most guys think they are too slick with their eye drifting. Calling him out on it will catch him off guard!

If they do respond with a smart chauvinistic reply, then you don’t have to feel you need a witty reply. Just say, “OK, I was curious” and move on. It may now be time to simply talk to the gym’s manager. Remember you pay a fee to belong to this gym just like that guy. You pay for the right to be safe, so get your money’s worth!

What are some factors in the free weight area that intimidate you? Let me know below!