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VeganEssentials

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  1. Somehow all the pictures of me these days are done while lifting Here's a recent favorite, taken at Sensless' place down by the pond - a clean and press with the axle. http://www.veganessentials.com/images/AxlePress1.jpg I'm not a very photogenic man, so I may as well be lifting something heavy while getting my picture taken! Ryan
  2. That would be me, aka VeganEssentials! Actually, at last week's weigh-in, I came in at 271 with shoes and shorts, making me closer to about 268 by this time. Still gaining with little added food intake, which hopefully means that it's all good weight going on! Sorry to hijack briefly. Good work on the bench, by the way!
  3. A bit of strongman stuff done today - Met with the group and started off with some deadlifts to warm up, doing double-overhand grip sets up through a triple at 405 before the grip gave out since I always use mixed-grip for pulling. Nothing too heavy, just enough to get feeling good and warmed up. Did some flipping with the 670ish tire, probably about 20 flips total done in sets ranging from 3-6 flips each, some uphill (noticeably harder) and some downhill. Technique and speed getting better. Wrapped up with a really quick round on the stones to a 52" platform. Did 3 loads with the 275 lb. stone to start, a really easy single with the 320 lb. stone (much easier than last time), and a slightly assisted load with the 350 lb. stone. Another session or two and the 350 will be owned, which is way ahead of what I thought since I'd originally guessed it would be a few months until I'd get that thing loaded on the platform. Two guys nudged it when I was about halfway up to loading it so that I wouldn't lose it (nobody else wanted to load it, so when they took it down, I was told I had to make sure it went back to the top again!) Gotta be able to get 380+ for next summer, and I think with more squats, deadlifts and practice on stones it will happen for sure. Rest for a few, squats again on Tuesday! Ryan
  4. Michael - I don't know about a 500 bench any time soon! I'm aiming to hit 350 for a single and 315x5 sometime in 2006, but honestly, I don't plan on pushing the benching as hard as other stuff. For strongman training only incline benching has much application, since the flat bench doesn't simulate any events or give added strength for much of anything. Steep inclines, however, will help with overhead pressing, so I'll definitely be working those more now that I've gone past 300 for flat. Today was a quick session for shoulders and back! Started with strict presses in the rack: 1x5 @ 135 1x5 @ 185 3x3 @ 200 Just wasn't feeling it at the start, and since my strict presses aren't great it wasn't destined to be a hugely eventful day for this one. BB Rows were next: 1x10 @ 135 1x5 @ 225 3x7 @ 275 for a PR on reps with that weight After that, just goofed a bit since I had around 10 minutes left. Did 2 sets of Hise shrugs in the rack, 1x8 @ 405 and 1x8 @ 500. After that, I went home and did one set of 20 rep single-arm shrugs with the IM Eagle Loops on a loading pin @ 150 lbs. That was it - nothing too brutal since I hope to get some event training in this Saturday, then deadlifts on Sunday! Ryan
  5. As always, everyone is different for how well they respond! I myself cannot do something like heavy squats or deadlifts twice weekly or my progress stops quickly, but if I do it every 6-10 days I find that the recovery between workouts makes progress happen quite steadily. There are lots of factors that will play into each person's recovery time such as age, amount of sleep per night, physical/mental stress of day job or school, what lifts they train etc. Years ago I could train 5-6 days/week with lifting and running a few miles afterward and always feel fresh (didn't get much stronger, but endurance was sky-high!) Now if I lift in the gym more than 3x/week I'm sluggish and if I were to try and do some cardio in addition I'd be wiped out without a long, slow re-entry into it. This is where a lot of the factors I've listed above come into play - I'm older, I work longer hours at a higher-stress job, and I train heavy compound lifts vs. lots of isolation stuff. Someone who is in their late teens or early 20s, doesn't work / have classes for 10-14 hours/day and does more lighter weight/higher rep work will have an easier time recovering than I would, that's for sure. If you can get away with training more frequently AND it is making the progress you're looking for, by all means, do it until it doesn't work any longer. However, if you're spending more time in the gym training and you're not seeing considerably more progress than when you were training less frequently, you have to question whether or not it is worth it! Ryan
  6. A day with 2 new PRs is a good day indeed, so here's how it went - Met with Sensless at my normal gym today to set some good PRs, and started with squats - 1x5 @ empty bar 1x5 @ 135 1x5 @ 225 1x3 @ 315 1x2 @ 405 1x1 @ 425 1x1 @ 455 1x1 @ 500 - new PR by 15 lbs! Egged on by Sensless, we put 545 on the bar and I gave it a go. Got a few inches up but crapped out, more from my mind failing before my body did. Felt light as hell coming out of the rack, so give me about 4-6 weeks and this one will go down too. Loaded up 525 afterward, same thing - came up about 6", stalled and quit early. Soon enough it will all come to me, aiming for 550 after the new year and 500x5 before spring. Moved to benching next to go for the 300 mark, with success! 1x5 @ 135 1x3 @ 225 1x1 @ 255 1x1 @ 275 1x1 @ 300, slow and ugly but still done successfully, probably 10 seconds to get it all the way up 1x8 @ 225 So, I finally hit a 300 bench and made my 500 squat goal nearly 6 weeks ahead of the original schedule, putting me to aim for a 320 bench and 530 squat before January 1st. I plan to make these and keep going up in 2006! Ryan
  7. Quite true. I've seen pics of Ronnie Coleman doing a splits and also stretching one leg up over head height and that man has more muscle packed on him than any being alive. If you train to be flexible, you can have it regardless of your musculature. If you don't train for it, you can be inflexible even if you're skinny. It definitely goes both ways. When I stretch during squats, I can place almost my entire hand down underneath my shoe while I see others much smaller than myself struggling to touch their toes. It all depends on whether you work for flexibility or not! Ryan
  8. Leg and chest day today! Started with squats, felt good from the start: 1x5 @ 135 1x5 @ 225 1x3 @ 315 1x1 @ 405 1x1 @ 455 1x5 @ 405 1x5 @ 415 1x4 @ 425 (stopped at 4, knew I wouldn't make the 5th rep) Working up some endurance as I'm finding the alternating my routines in 3 week cycles works well for me again - one week heavy singles or doubles, one week heavy sets of 5-8, the 3rd week speed work with 10x2 for a moderate weight. Next week is light speed work week, the following week is the goal of a 500 lb. raw squat! Next, did some low rep benching just to do it and continue the goal of eventually hitting a meager 300 lbs. just to know that I actually did it. 1x5 @ 135 1x2 @ 225 5x2 @ 250 All sets went well, no slowdown or sticking points, feeling a bit more confident in benching even if it is only my 2nd consecutive week done all year (in addition to the 2-3 other sessions I had back in spring). Next for legs did some GMs: 1x5 @ 225 1x10 @ 275 1x10 @ 300 1x10 @ 315 Getting better with these, hope to crack 400 for a few reps in December. Wrapped up with a few power snatches just for fun, using the 135 with bumper plates that someone had left for 3x3 and that was it. May finally get back to some grip work tomorrow, Thursday will be back day and maybe shoulders if I have enough time.
  9. Deadlift and shoulders day today! Started with barbell clean and push presses - 1x10 @ empty bar 1x5 @ 135 1x5 @ 185 1x7, 1x5, 1x4 @ 225 Was hoping to get 7,6,5 on my sets but I think I'm not fully recovered from yesterday's short training session plus I had a lousy night's sleep. Next time it'll happen. Moved next to deadlifts, still working to get form back and regain confidence - 1x5 @ 225 1x3 @ 315 3x5 @ 425 - all sets done easily, still gas in the tank but was gasping for air after each set (my endurance still sucks.) Wrapped up with seated overhead lockouts in the power rack. First sets were done with a very short ROM of about 5" - 1x5 @ 225 1x5 @ 275 1x2 @ 300 (didn't feel stable on these for some reason - had a hard time with the support) Followed up with 2 sets done with about a 10" ROM, done from about 3" over forehead height to lockout - 1x8 @ 205 1x8 @ 225 Got kicked out at closing at the end of these sets, headed home and finished up with 3 sets of single-arm shrugs using the IM Eagle Loops and a weighted loading pin. An easy 3x10 @ 155 lbs. for each side and that was good for the day. Squats coming again on Tuesday if I'm feeling good, Wednesday if I'm worn out still from the DLs.
  10. Okay, here's my take on it - Unless you're going to compete and attempt to make the most out of bodybuilding/powerlifting/whatever, steroids are a pretty stupid idea overall. Over the last decade I've lifted with a few guys who have done them, and as it goes, since none of them ever went into any sort of competitive field in either bodybuilding or strength athletics they all regret their decision to try them. For example, one guy decided to try them after only a year and a half of lifting (talk about being in a hurry!) - he gained about 30 lbs. in just 6 weeks and a lot stronger, but he had a lot of tendonitis issues in his elbows and got mad an how puffy and bloated he felt. So, what does he do? He goes on another cycle to try and hold on to the strength and muscle gains, but in the end he dieted too hard and did too much cardio and lost just about everything he'd worked for. In the end, all he got was about $600 less in his wallet, sore elbows, and some weird pains in his kidneys for about 4 months afterward. And, for months following his stopping the gear, all he could talk about is how much he thought he should go back on (which he was fortunately talked out of). Not to mention the erectile issues were not fun for him either - that lasted about 6 months until things returned to normal. All this because he was in a big hurry to gain, when in the end he put the same weight on naturally over the course of about 8 months afterward without the monetary loss and side effects. The others felt pretty much the same way - if they'd been using them to gain a competitive edge it may have had some value to them, but for "show" it is a pretty lame idea, especially if you haven't been training for at least 8+ years beforehand. If someone has stopped all their gains in less than a half decade, it isn't because they need to get on the juice - it is either because they're training foolishly or are too lazy to put forth the effort. I never thought I'd get above 240 from lifting, and here I am clocking in at 265 lbs. and still growing after 10 years. So, when I hear excuses about bad genetics, being a "hardgainer" or some BS like that I just shake my head, because in the end, they're all excuses and nothing more. You're only limited by your own efforts, and the moment you convince yourself that you "need" something to improve you've already lost the battle. It is sad that so many professional athletes have gone the route of juicing, but then again, that's their livelihood - some people will sacrifice anything to chase their dreams. For that, I can feel empathetic over it because for some people, not using will cost them a place on the team, a few places in competition, etc. But for the rest of us who are still just getting started, I can't think of a more foolish way to blow money and cause some issues that are unnecessary. Just train hard, educate yourself on what you need to do to grow and you CAN get what you want in the end! Ryan
  11. Today was strongman event training day - I got late to the meetup, but still did some fun stuff. Lots of goofing around, but the following stood out - Farmer's walk about 100 feet with 240 lbs. per hand (480 lbs. total), drop the implements, turn around, grab them and head back. I felt like I was going to pass out on the last 25 feet, but everyone kept shouting for me to finish so I wrapped it up to the end point. Attempted to lift the farmer's handles with 330 lbs. on each for a 660 lb. total, got them a few inches off the ground but couldn't lock out. Too tired from the carry beforehand. I'll need to work this hard for next year because I'll have to make at least 290 lbs. per hand for 75 feet for the competition! Tire flips, just had fun doing a few sets of 3-4 flips with a 670 lb. tire. Nothing too big, just working on form as they were giving me pointers on how to flip it even faster. Stones - Did a few quick single-motion lifts with the 220 lb. stone without stopping to lap and re-grip, then went straight for a new PR on the 320 lb. stone, making what looked to be impossible from how far away I was from the platform. Somehow I tossed it far enough out from my chest to get it straight on the 54" loading platform, making this 20 lbs. heavier than my previous best. Tried it a second time and just missed the load by a few inches, banging the stone off the edge of the platform, but all in all, it went up easily so I'm definitely getting stronger with these. 340, here I come! That was about it for the day - I'll be waking up soon to get my deadlift and overhead lifts in, then next stop is squat day on Tuesday as normal. I'll post again when the next session is complete!
  12. Today was back and chest day to rack up some more PRs! Started with barbell bent over rows: 1x10 @ 135 1x5 @ 225 3x5 @ 295 - PR from only having done sets of 3 last year when I'd row more often Next, moved to Hise shrugs in the power rack: 1x10 @ 405 2x5 @ 515 1x20 @ 315 Time to bench again, 2nd session in about 3 months, first time in around 4 weeks: 1x6 @ 135 1x3 @ 225 1x2 @ 255 1x2 @ 270 1x1 @ 285 for a new 5 lb. PR (not much, but it is still something!) 1x18 @ 135 Came home and had the urge to toss in 2 last sets of rows with the 2" thick DB handle: 1x10 @ 140 per arm (had to take breaks twice per arm - grip was giving out!) 1x20 @ 105 " " That's it for today. Should be able to get some event training done this weekend, and I'll post when it is over! Ryan
  13. Nobbi, Definitely try squatting with legs slightly wider than shoulder width, go down to where your butt is below your thighs and knees (below parallel) and push off your heels as much as possible and it'll work more for improving glutes than narrow stance with legs parallel. You don't need to turn your feet outward much, maybe about 15-30 degrees depending on what is comfortable for you, but give it a try and see if it helps! Ryan
  14. I third the motion to lose the belt. A belt offers a bit more support, but honestly, it reduces your ability to strengthen your core more and therefore does more to keep your back weak. If your lower back is weak, first, make sure you're keeping your form solid (no rounding of the lower back, keep the bar close to your body for rowing movements and deadlifts, etc.) and do a fair amount of work to specifically target and strength the lower back to build it up. If anything throws most people out for injuries in life it is from back problems, so working now to prevent it from getting worse will be something to pay off for the rest of your life. Do deadlifts, stiff-legged deadlifts, good mornings, hyperextensions, glute-hamstring raises (if equipment is available), machine back extensions, and if you ever get to use one, a reverse hyper machine. All of these lifts or machines will be what you can use to easily make your lower back stronger, so put the effort into building it up because for every day you don't, you're one day closer to potentially throwing it out while lifting! Ryan
  15. The main thing with squats is, are you pushing off of your toes, middle of your foot or heels? Where you push from, how wide your stance is and how deep you go will determine what you get out of them. For example, I used to do really high-bar style squats and push too much off the fronts of my feet - it made my quads grow like crazy, but my hamstrings and glutes didn't get much out of it. Once I widened my stance a bit, started going deep to well past parallel and would push off my heels instead of the fronts of my feet I could feel the unworked muscles getting into it more, and now my hamstrings and glutes feel the most sore after a good session. Experiment with different widths (I prefer just sightly wider than shoulder stance, but very wide works well for glute/ham recruitment as well) so it may just be that your form needs a bit of tweaking to get it down to where it will do the most good for what you're seeking. If you decide to use a leg press (which I don't really recommend), try heels-only presses with the front half of your feet hanging off the platform - use only your heels to push off and it'll do more good for your needs than standard positioning leg presses. But, as it is known, I think that the leg press machines of the world should just be melted down to make more steel for 45 and 100 lb. plates as they'd do more good that way, so I'm not one to say much about those cursed things Once I realized years ago that my being able to leg press 1300 lbs. for 5 reps didn't translate to being strong in any other movement made me lose all respect for those machines. Not to mention a few back injuries from the idiotic seat angles soured me a bit as well. Anyway, getting a bit off track here. Squat, squat wide, squat deep, and push off of your heels and you'll get what you need! Ryan
  16. For me it was just holding on to heavy weight that made my forearms grow really well most of all. Deadlifts, static holds, and some occasional grip work (pinch gripping and thick-bar work did best - grippers will do less good than the other grip work will overall) did the best to add size. My forearms aren't ripped like Rob's by any stretch, but they do measure in at around 15" so I must be doing something right to make 'em grow! Ryan
  17. The first time I tried to watch the video it took about 90 seconds for it to load - no idea why it was that long. I'll see if I can get a new version of it up, and if so, I'll post it here! Ryan
  18. Daywalker, I had a friend take this video clip back about a year or so ago when I first did a Zercher rack lift with over 400 lbs. - this is at a slimmed down bodyweight of about 240 lbs. back then: http://www.veganessentials.com/veganfitness/134-3457_MVI.AVI Basically, the lift can be done any number of ways, ranging from off the floor (the most challenging, requiring a really strong lower back and lots of flexibility) to doing them for short-range lifts with a hold to simulate strongman events. What I do is somewhere in the middle as of now, but I'll be incorporating doing them off the floor and from a short ROM in the future again. Fun lift, but it takes a while for your arms not to get scraped up by it! The Good Mornings have come along quickly for me - I still remember hurting my back trying to do a double with 205 about 2-3 years back, so knowing that I can do nearly twice that much now is quite nice. Definitely seems to be helping with my squat, so if you get the chance to include them I highly recommend it! Ryan
  19. Squat day today, and what a day it was! Goal for the day was to simply set a new PR with 430 lbs. for 5 reps in a set, but it ended up much better than that! Did the following sets of squats - 1x5 @ empty bar 1x5 @ 135 1x3 @ 225 1x3 @ 315 1x1 @ 405 1x1 @ 430 Next set was supposed to be 5 reps with 430, but I went until I couldn't go any longer and did 7, much to my surprise. Very nice! Didn't stop there since I still felt great, so I did 2 more sets: 1x1 @ 460 - popped up as easily as 405, so one more! 1x1 @ 485 for a quick PR - this one came up as easily as the 430s did, so going for 500 in 2 weeks will be a snap. Aiming to hit 500 for a double or triple before year's end, and I'll do anything it takes to get there! Next, did some 1/3 ROM squats in the rack, about a 13-14" movement - 1x5 @ 545 1x5 @ 600 Dropped the pins low and did some bottom paused squats to stretch out. Just 3 singles @ 315 with 5 seconds at bottom to stretch. Next, some low position Zercher lifts from a parallel bottom squat position - 1x3 @ 315 1x1 @ 405 1x1 @ 475 Getting better with these! Hamstrings got REALLY tight on the last single rep, so I had to stop before hitting 500, but I'll do it again soon. Finally, wrapped up with Good Mornings, setting new PRs with these as well - 1x5 @ 225 1x5 @ 315 1x5 @ 350 1x3 @ 375 (50 lb PR!) I was thoroughly destroyed afterward and had nothing left to give for benching, so I have to do it in 2 days along with back work at that point. It will get done, though, and I'll post the back/chest workout when it is complete on Thursday night! Ryan
  20. Today was a quick make-up day for the shoulder workout I didn't get in yesterday - it was supposed to be outdoor training, but weather was terrible being about 45 degrees and raining all day so I had to stay inside. Started with standing barbell shoulder presses, done strict with no leg drive - 1x10 @ empty bar 1x5 @ 135 1x3 @ 185 1x2 @ 205 1x1 @ 215 Attempted to hit my old PR of 225, didn't get past top-of-head height. Oh well, been a while since I focused on strict pressing. 1x2 @ 185 and I was done with these Moved next to 1-arm DB presses done fairly strict - no leg drive in the standing set, but a slight side lean on the last few reps: 1x7 w/ right arm @ 100 1x6 w/ left arm @ 100 Decided to do one lighter set seated, so I threw in 1x10 with each arm with a lighter 75 lb. DB and that was it for these. Wrapped up with goofing around on some weird cable shoulder press machine to try it out - didn't feel too bad since the handles on the cables were free and independent on the machine, but still, does any machine REALLY work all that well? Did the following sets in single-arm style - 1x12 @ 50 each arm 1x10 @ 80 " " 1x10 @ 100 " " I could barely move my arms at all after this since my shoulders were so sore, so I headed home and wrapped up the shrugs in my basement. Just a few sets as done earlier last week with the IronMind Eagle Loops to prevent grip fatigue, done single-arm style for the following: 1x10 @ 130 lbs per arm 1x10 @ 150 " " 1x6 @ 175 " " 1x3 @ 200 " " 1x20 @ 100 " " That was it - I'm trying to incorporate some direct shrugging work in on 2 days per week to get some additional upper back mass tossed on, but that's about the only chage to the usual training schedule. Tuesday will be squat day again as usual, will report once it is done! Ryan
  21. Failed to meet up for strongman training today due to unforseen schedule conflict, so I hit the gym for a quick 30 minute deadlift session to break myself back into doing them again regularly. Warmed up a bit, then hit a re-introduction style workout: 1x5 @ 135 1x5 @ 225 1x3 @ 315 3x5 @ 405 2x1 @ 435 I couldn't believe how tired my lower back was again after neglecting do to deadlifts for so long - I had to keep sitting down every minute while resting because it hurt just to keep my torso upright with how drained I was. Needless to say, this is a slap in the face since I used to do DLs or variations of them 2-3x / week and feel great every time. Looks like I just have to stop being lazy and get back on them regularlay! Did a few last minutes good mornings in there as well, but I was destroyed and didn't have much left in me - 1x5 @ 135 1x5 @ 225 1x5 @ 300 Attempted 350, too tired to get back upright 1x2 @ 300 1x3 @ 225 I ached so badly afterward that I didn't know if I'd make it back to my car, but somehow I managed Now, to get those DLs to where 500 is a snap again, but I'll need about 8 weeks of re-training them to get there. Soon it will come! Tomorrow will be a minor strongman training session in my backyard - going to do some stone lifting for reps and some log work for reps in the garage if it keeps raining, and I'll post afterward! Ryan
  22. Back workout day today! Got to the gym with only 35 minutes, so I had to do half there and half at home, but it all worked out in the end. At the gym, did the following: Barbell rows - 1x5 @ 135 1x5 @ 225 3x7 @ 275 All rows done with no cheating by raising my torso angle upward or by having an angle that's not close to parallel with the floor (I can't stand it when people claim to row "heavy" and do a 6 inch range of motion at a massive angle where they're standing more upright than bent over!) Hammer Strength 1-arm pulldown machine 1x10 @ 135 lbs. for each arm separately 1x8 @ 160 lbs. " " 1x5 @ 185 lbs. " ", stripped weight off immediately after first 5 reps and did 12 more with each arm at a light 90 lbs. each. Power cleans - did just 2 @ 225, didn't feel too good for them today so figured I'd move on. Wrapped up at the gym with Hise shrugs in the power rack as follows - 1x10 @ 315 1x8 @ 405 1x6 @ 505 Time was up, so I headed home to wrap up in the basement gym for a last few sets. Did thick bar DB rows (2" bar) - 2 sets of 12 reps each arm @ 110 lbs. total Finished with IronMind Eagle Loop shrugs (weight on a loading pin) as follows - 2x20 @ 105 for each side 2x20 @ 130 for each side With the loops there's no tiring of the grip, so that made it a bit better. Wrapped up by making a home-made 4" thick handle sleeve for my already massive 3" handle dumbbell - I couldn't believe how hard it was just to lift 60 lbs. on it. The sleeve was made from a thick cardboard tube that we had left over after using a paper roll for packing at work, so it seemed like it'd be perfect for this. I'd like to eventually lift 100 lbs. with it, but that'd be an incredible feat. We'll see how far I can take it over time! Saturday I'll be doing strongman training with some local guys - farmer's walks, log presses and stone lifting are on the agenda, should be a fun time. Back to report after it is done! Ryan
  23. Didn't lift in the gym since last week Tuesday, so I had some good rest time....except that I've been working 11-14 hours/day this past week, so my body and mind are pretty run down from that. Things should be normal again soon, but I could tell my gym performance was down this evening. Today was squat day as usual, and the goal was 5x5 @ 405 lbs. Did the following: 1x5 @ empty bar 1x4 @ 225 1x3 @ 315 1x1 @ 405 3x5 @ 405 I wanted to get 2 more sets in, but I was so dead and couldn't catch my breath - this past week, either I'm starting to get sick or my asthma is getting worse, and either way I'm not too pleased with it. I feel like I can only get about 60-70% of my full lung capacity the past few days, like I only take half-breaths instead of getting full use of my lungs. If it isn't improving by Friday I'll head to the doc and see what it might be. So, dumping squats after the 3rd set, I did 2 quick sets of Zercher squats, starting from the top position, bottom position being with bar hitting thighs as low as possible: 1x5 @ 225 1x3 @ 315 Again, airflow was bad, breating way too heavily for the effort, stopped there instead of going for 405 as I'd considered. Last, with 5 minutes left I tossed in 3 quick sets of close-grip benching, hands about 10-12" apart, paused for 1 second at the chest done for speed. 1 warm-up of 5 reps @ 135, then 3 work sets at 225 for doubles and that was it. I was too damned tired and time was out, but hopefully Thursday's workout will be better and I'll feel more alive (and will actually be able to breathe again!) Ryan
  24. I train anywhere I can make it to! Main Gym - Westwood, a huge fitness/injury rehab facility owned by the local hospital. Decent equipment, close to home, nearly empty after 8 PM - all the things I like best! Secondary training areas - Power Station - good hardcore gym, but too far away to go to often. Very small, but nothing other than the essential equipment. My basement/backyard - basement has dozens of grip-related toys in it, backyard has a 260 lb. round concrete stone, steel log, barbell and about 500 lbs. of plates that I can drag out from the garage. My friend's palce - has a squat stand setup, bench, and 2" thick bar, plus natural stones everywhere for lifting. Local area places where people meet to do strongman training - a few guys within 30 minutes of here have quality equipment for event training, so occasionally on Saturdays I make it out now to do some training on stones, the steel log, yoke walking or whatever else they're focusing on for the day. I say, lift anywhere you can do it!
  25. CollegeB, those are 45 lb. plates on there. I've done it with a pair of 5s added as well, but there was no way that much weight would have gone up for the photos since my shoulders were already fried. Didn't help that I held the position for about 15 seconds to try and allow for 3 pics to be taken, almost dropping the bar on my head in the process! Bigbwii - I actually have never done any sport other than skateboarding, which certainly didn't help me to build any muscle for the 13 years that I did it. I've always been pretty big, though primarily from fat for most of my life, and as I wrote in another thread, I weighed over 200 lbs. from age 13 or so until I was about 23 and started lifting (originally just to lose fat). However, I weigh about 30 lbs. more than at my heaviest while lifting during the non-vegan days where I ate like mad and took every supplement under the sun. I think it's great that you want to get a build that's functional - from your pics you've obviously got a great start with a solid physique, so just work those compound lifts, eat like there's no tomorrow, get plenty of rest and it'll all come in time. As long as you're not afraid of putting a bit of fat on in the process (trust me, I've got my share under all that clothing!) you'll definitely go far with some hard and heavy training. As I found out after many years of training, if you don't have the confidence in yourself and won't go the extra mile to push harder than ever you'll only get so far, but once you give more than you thought possible you'll get what you've been after!
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