Five Reality Checks That Helped Me Plan A Successful 2015 Training Plan

In 2015 I was in need of a change. The years of doing exclusively powerlifting workouts left my body in a state that did not fit my ideal body. I needed the strength but I wanted my dream body even more. That’s why I decided to try a bodybuilding routine for my primary exercise routine in 2015.

I talked about how I went from out of shape to in shape to strong but fat. It was time for some consistency in my body and goals. It was time for those two worlds to meet.


Coming into 2015 my stats were as follows:

Weight: 220 lbs.
Waist: 37 inches

My best rep numbrs in the major four lifts were:

Squat: 250 lbs x 7 reps
Bench Press: 220 lbs x 10 reps
Press: 155 lbs x 1 rep l
Deadlift: 295 lbs x 10 reps

I worked hard to get those numbers up.   I knew it was time to change my game. Here’s some cold hard facts I had to tell myself:


No matter how much I love to fantasize, the reality is I’m not an athlete. There are so many great exercise programs geared towards athletes. That is why in the last five years the world has seen the explosion of Olympic style weightlifting.

Cross Fit competition with Chrisw Camille about to do a deadlift motion


That’s why the CrossFit gyms have taken off. They took an old school philosophy that had been around for years and made it hip. Not only in America, but in countries around the globe you can see people following the Workout of The Day.

I’m a fan of Olympic Style weightlifting. The problem that I have with CrossFit is the randomness of exercises. Olympic Style weightlifting is a skill that needs to develop over time to perform it correctly. Cross Fitters who don’t pay attention to technique are destined to get a injury sooner than later. That’s my biggest grip with Cross Fit.

Getting back to the point, I’m not an athlete. Therefore I shouldn’t be trying to do lifts that will make me jump higher, or increase my explosiveness. For a change of workout pace sure. It’s always good to change your workout every now and then. But those types of workouts should not be my core routines.   Sometimes we really got to sit back and think about why we are doing the workouts we are doing.


Being on a diet for an extended period of time can become annoying. While I was strength training I attempted to restrict my calories but didn’t stick with it long enough. I let my mind tell me that I was small enough and I should just embrace getting big again.

No more calorie restrictions! Yes, sign me up! The truth is that it would have been better to lose as much fat as possible before putting on the weight. During that period, I lost scale weight but I can’t say I lost fat.

Your body will look more muscular when you have less fat on it. Once the fat drips away, that hard earned muscle begins to shine. I kept getting so close to my 2010 years but seem to stop just before reaching that promise land. I didn’t want that in 2015.

At the beginning of 2015 I had about 30 lbs of fat on my body. I determined that if I lost half of that weight, I would be in a good body fat range. So I made up my mind that I needed to lose about 15 lbs of fat in 2015.


My years of yo-yoing between big and small provided me with some good analytical information. My body has shown time and time again that the last place I lose weight is in my waist. When taking caliper skinfold measurements the biggest sites on my body is my abdominal and suprailiac regions.

The first places I lose weight is my face and arms. That’s why I always appear thinner to people then I really any. The most visible parts of my body are my arms and face. I use to wear a lot of baggy clothes so my face and arms stood out even more.

In the perfect world I could just take the fat from my waist and attach it to my arms. <Poof> I would have the biceps I always wanted! But that’s not reality. In 2015 I knew I would have to get my waist to a place under 35” to achieve the 15 lbs of fat loss.


With all those years invested in the gym and at the grocery store it was time to reap the benefits! I just wanted to look good! I didn’t need to be the next Phil Heath, but I just wanted to look good without my shirt!

Phil Heath Posing at a competition
Phil Heath

When you have been overweight and/or skinny fat, you tend to shy away from revealing your body in public. My mind is in a much better place where I could care less. If I work hard at it and carry the right mental attitude, I know my body will follow. So I wanted my 2015 to start to reflect that. It may not be everyone else’s dream body, but it’s mine!


I do not want to be a professional bodybuilder. I’m a realistic guy. I know that it will take years for me to put on the type of muscle to professionally compete. What I do want from those guys is to master their gym and nutritional habits to get a muscular physique. Whither that physique is 185 pounds or 225 pounds, I don’t care!

Here’s what I determined success for me in 2015 would be:

  • Consistent waist under 35 inches
  • Square powerful chest
  • Arms great than 15 inches
  • No bags under my eyes from lack of sleep (so 7-10 hrs sleep a night)
  • No chronic joint pain (knees, back, spine, etc.)
  • Have less than 20 lbs of fat on my body
  • No travel excuses for eating right
  • Approx. 175 grams of Protein a day
  • Veggies at every meal
  • Carbohydrate sources mainly from rice and potato sources.
  • Build my beach body THEN get stronger with that physique
  • No more yo-yo seasonal eating. Avoid the unhealthy relationship with wheat/fat/sugar/processed foods!!

I’ll break down those success marks next time!

How I Discovered What Type Of Training I Currently Need

I loved getting stronger and actually being able to do something with the muscles I had on my body.  In the previous post I mentioned how I followed a powerlifting prototype for many years after my dramatic fat loss (see: My Yearly Struggle Between Being Thin and Weak OR Strong But Fat).   As far as weight gain, I did not care. As long as I was making progress in strength, my body could weigh whatever it wanted to and I was OK with it.

The honest truth is that I REALLY don’t care how much I weigh.  Even now I really don’t care.  That is just a number on the scale.  I refuse to let it totally define me.  Too many people let the scale be the only way to measure progress. I prefer to let mirrors and pictures be my true measurement systems.

Portrait of a sexy young beautiful woman checking her waist in the mirror

It was using those two methods that I started to figure out that my strength training was going in the wrong direction for the body I wanted to achieve.  Here I was, lifting heavy weight but still not having the body I wanted.  What was I doing wrong?


One of the biggest derailments was my eating.  No matter if you want to gain or lose muscle, your diet is the key.  A diet can make you lose 10 pounds of fat OR gain 10 pounds of solid muscle.  The more you are in tune with your nutrition, the better the results. When you are not in tune, you’ll experience fat loss stalls and more fat gained than muscle when putting on weight.

While doing strength training I should have kept my calories lower for longer cycles.   I did attempt to keep the calories low in certain periods of time during my strength training years but I would let articles convince me to keep them up higher so I could stay lifting heavier weights. I should have known better. If I wanted a leaner look, the calories should have came down more often.


If I was doing powerlifting movements, eating like a powerlifting and not doing lots of cardio like a powerlifter….guess what I would look like?  A powerlifter!

For some reason it didn’t click in my head.  I would read articles explaining how I was a “wuss” for not being strong.  I let all those powerlifter articles fool me into thinking that getting strong was the only thing I should be pursuing. That was only partially true because there was more to it than that.

My AH HA Moment

One day I came across a bodybuilding article that made me really think.  It was written by Nate Miyaki.  In it he mentioned to “Find what you’re fighting for?”.  I had to re-read it several times before I got the message.  Basically he was asking the readers why are you doing this for?

When I sat back and analyze how I first got involved into working out at the gym I realized that I did all this mainly to look good.  As narcissistic as that sounds, that’s the truth.  I want to have a body where I can take my shirt off and feel comfortable.  When we all dig deep down into why we work out, the answer sometimes is as vain as mine was.

So if I wanted to look good, what would be the easiest way to get to that path?  The easiest way is to workout like a bodybuilder.


When we think of bodybuilding we get images of Incredible Hulk looking guys on covers of muscle magazines.  There’s no denying these guys have defined bodies.  Now that we are inn the steroid and drug enhancement era, some bodybuilders have too much muscle going on that starts to look sickening!

Guy posing in the mirror looking like he may take steroids due to how big his muscles are

But there’s no question that bodybuilders have developed techniques that will get you to the body you want.  When your goal is to look good in front of a mirror, bodybuilding templates are the way to go.

Don’t let those hulk images fool you, the real essence of bodybuilding is to isolate and shape the body.  It’s a totally different concept than powerlifiing.  To an outsider, they think that lifting weights is just lifting weights.  But if you were to compare a powerlifter to a bodybuilder’s training routine.  You would see a night and day difference.

I spent too many years foolishly glossing over bodybuilding workouts.  I treated the workouts just as another workout. I did not actually feel the weight through the reps to make sure the muscle did all the work.  In my youth it was all about just moving the heaviest weight the fastest.

In bodybuilding, you want to maximize the tension in the muscle no matter what the weight is!  That tension causes blood to pump into your muscles, which in turn help make the muscle shapelier.  In other words, your physique starts to look like a Greek God vs. Greek yogurt!

When you put your ego to the side and do the workout properly, you will see great results. It doesn’t take a lot of weight to make your muscles pump up. What it does take is patience and focus. I’m no Arnold Schwarzenegger, but I see the difference in my body in less than one week while following a bodybuilding routine.


When following a bodybuilding routine the workout is actually secondary to your diet. The primary way to get your desired body is still through nutrition. Bodybuilders are some of the most dedicated nutritionist on the planet! It’s amazing at the attention to macronutrients and calories that bodybuilders do when prepping there daily meals.

Bodybuilders have been on the leading edge of nutrition for years. Most of the eating habits that the diet experts try to tell people they should be eating originally came from experienced bodybuilders years ago. A great example is how carbohydrates and fats should not be combined in high portions during the same meal if you wanted an ideal body composition. The “experts” just call this the Atkins Diet or Paleo Diet or whatever the next craze will be.


So when I analyzed “why I was doing this”, I knew that I needed to make every gym session count. I needed to make sure that all the nutritional foods I ate would be properly processed for the body I wanted. I determined that I should be following a bodybuilding program in 2015 to get towards my dream body. Once I had that dream body, then I would go back to strength training. That was my plan for 2015.

Sounds good but is that what I did in 2015?  That’s a story for next time!

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.


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.


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?


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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!


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.


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