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Posts posted by VeganEssentials

  1. Agreed with what mrbear666 said. Drugs in sport are here to stay, and sadly, if a professional athlete who is world-class in any sport that requires maximal speed, strength or a combination thereof says they're drug-free, it's 99.9% likely that they're lying to you.


    It's a shame when things happen like the baseball witch-hunts that single out only a few players when the majority are using, just as it's terrible that Lance Armstrong was singled out when, as it's commonly said, if you make it to compete in the Tour de France, it's assumed that you're already taking a lot of drugs just to have gotten that far. Someone like Armstrong would have been the best regardless of whether everyone was drugged or everyone was clean, but since he was at the top, all the others could do was try to destroy him out of jealousy while trying to keep their own actions hidden. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that, for all he's gone through, the rest of the non-clean people who worked to take him down go down with him. What's fair for one is fair for all, and just because he was the naturally better athlete shouldn't have made him the focus while leaving the heat off everyone else who competes and isn't clean.


    Unless they can clean up sports entirely (which they can't), I don't see why there's any fuss over pretending that some people should be targeted for their choices while the vast majority slip through without notice because they're not at the top of the game. I don't plan on using anything in this lifetime, but of course, if playing my sport professionally were my livelihood and millions of dollars were on the line, I can't say that I wouldn't fall prey to temptation. If there were a company waiting on the sidelines with a multi-million dollar check for my endorsement of their sports products, I'm sure there'd be a LOT of struggle over how to make sure I'd stay at the top when knowing that drugs were pretty much the norm and that I wouldn't be doing anything different from what the rest of the competitors were doing. It's always easy for people to say "I'd NEVER use anything that artificially enhances my performance!", but I can only assume that the people who say that have never had a large amount of money on the line if they were to go that direction and make it to the top

  2. All depends on whether or not you have any neck issues with neck bridging, though - with my nerve damage and being around 230 lbs., neck bridges put me at risk of injury, so some of us just can't do them safely and get anything from them. Even if you have a thicker neck, the other factor to consider is that if you have little upper back mass and minimal trapezius development, it only shows off your other flaws so it's ideal to round out everything when possible!

  3. Quick update!


    Decided to get a short-term gym membership where it's actually heated during the coldest months (sick of training in freezing temperatures for now, decided to move into warmth for convenience and motivation), still staying about the same for weight/strength, haven't been too serious about training for a while but just making sure to maintain until I get my fire back again.


    Deadlift day a few days ago, worked up to 420x5 before calling it a day, otherwise, nothing too eventful, just spending most of my time working or enjoying myself with few expectations, hoping to get back into serious training again in about a month after my Spring travel season for work is over and done.


    Will probably work on a cutting plan in about a month as well, haven't added any bodyfat, but getting awfully curious how it'd be to get sub-10%, might just go for it this spring to see if I can finally get down to seeing a 6 pack of abs in my final year before I hit 40 just to see what I can manage. But, I may get sidetracked and just want to get stronger again, we'll see where things go at mid-March!

  4. As one who has a long, uneven neck (due to some unidentified nerve/tendon damage encountered years ago), I've found that the following are by far the most beneficial to helping neck thickness and reducing how noticeable a smaller neck can be -


    1. Shrugs

    2. Deadlifts

    3. Direct neck work, either via headstrap w/ added weight, or, weight placed on my head while lying down used as resistance


    I haven't done much of #3 in some time, just the other two, and it's keeping things in ideal balance. With me, it's the long uneven neck plus wide, low-set traps that make it tough, but as long as you lift heavy and often enough and do what's noted above, in due time, things will get better!

  5. Chris Califano, raw vegan fitness guy on Long Island has this interesting information about protein:




    I'm not endorsing or critiquing. Just passing it along and people can make their own judgement about it. His claim is we don't need as much protein as is popularly believed.


    Some people do better with more protein, some do fine with less. Anyone who makes a blanket statement that would infer that we could all do well on less protein is, to me, just another person trying to sell their schtick for the usual self-marketing hype that's not based on science or the principle of individual differences in how we respond to diet. I used to do better with more carbs, not any longer, I have to cut them considerably and put protein first if I don't want to bloat up and start gaining crud weight quickly. My own experiences are too contradictory to what the low protein people claim is "fact", so I usually just dismiss them quickly as another gimmick based on scaring people into thinking their kidneys are going to blow up if they don't restrict their intake. I've said it here before, and I'll say it again - if higher protein was the evil that so many raw people make it out to be, then there would be a dialysis clinic on every corner for all the Americans who eat high protein for their entire lives who, in theory, should be needing their kidneys flushed on a weekly basis. Since that has not happened, well, we can see that the "protein myth" might just be that taking in more than the minimal amount of protein will lead to problems is quite possibly the bigger myth of the two in question.


    That, and while Califano is ripped and has an okay amount of lean mass on him (nothing exceptional, basically the amount that anyone who trains effectively for a half decade or so can achieve), he's far from the size of what many who bodybuild want to look like, and sadly, he'd be on the low end of placing if he decided to compete based on what I've seen photo-wise.


    More power to him for doing what he does, but I'm getting awfully tired of the "gurus" who want to proclaim that their way is best for everyone when there's no evidence to back it up. When Califano puts another 15-20 lbs. on his frame and can impress me, I'm ready to listen

  6. You can change a muscle's size, but not shape. That part is pre-determined by genetics, and whatever your body wants to do for how a muscle will look as it gets larger, that's just how it will be.


    Bodybuilder Frank Zane is a prime example of this - he had a short biceps insertion near the elbow joint that gave him a great peak on his arm, but it wasn't a "full" bicep all the way to the elbow as most of his competition had, and it was considered a weak spot in his posing routine. He couldn't change the shape of the muscle to be the way the competition appeared due to genetic differences, so he had to learn to pose differently, angling his fists forward during the classic front double biceps pose. This made his biceps look longer and fuller, even though it was all just a posing trick and not an actual change to the muscle shape.


    Some things are just destined to be how they're going to be, the only way to change it would be through cosmetic surgery.

  7. Hey, Mini Forklift!


    No belts that we have right now at all (much less anything IPF approved), I'd check Strength Shop UK for those, they should still have such belts on hand that would be just what you're looking for!


    Had one upper back/chest session a few days ago, forgot to log it, did shoulders and deadlifts last night -


    Light power cleans to warm up -

    3x3 @ 135 lbs.


    Standing overhead log press in the power rack, rolling log out and back into position each rep -

    1x8 @ 75 lb. empty log

    1x5 @ 125 lbs.

    1x5 @ 150 lbs.

    4x6 @ 180 lbs.

    2x12 @ 150 lbs.

    1x25 @ 125 lbs., hit 20, rested 10 seconds, 5 reps to finish


    Deadlifts -

    1x5 @ 135 lbs.

    1x5 @ 225

    1x5 @ 275

    1x5 @ 315

    10x5 @ 365


    Then began light assistance work for the final half hour -


    3 circuits of lean-away 1-arm cable lateral raises (2x25 @ 20 lbs. each arm), band pull-aparts (25 reps w/ red band), and sip shrugs (25 reps @ bodyweight), 45 seconds rest between circuits


    3 circuits of cable face pulls (3x20 @ 140 lbs.), barbell shrugs (3x25 @ 315 lbs.) and face down on incline bench DB front raises (3x20 @ 20 lb. dbs), 30 seconds rest between sets


    That was it, feeling pretty good, weight coming down slightly to 224 without any real strength loss so far, should be good for starting back up on training regularly now that schedule isn't so hectic.


    Upper back and some light strongman event work on Monday, legs and chest to follow that!

  8. I second negatives, but also, don't be afraid to do assisted pull-ups using a bit of kick off at the start until you develop the strength to do them on your own. Not a full jump, but even tipping off your toes a bit can give enough of an assist to really notice a difference, and if you can build to doing a few reps in each set with a little assistance, you should eventually be able to decrease the assist to where you'll manage a full hang rep before long.


    What many people find is that they go from not being able to do one single rep to being about to do about 2-4 at some point. Then, there's often a jump again where you'll be able to crank out maybe 5-8 reps after more practice, pull-ups can be weird like that.


    Just remember, if you don't keep after them, they won't get better. Most people who lift like to do what makes them feel strong while avoiding the things that MAKE them strong, so always put as much focus on your weak spots as the things you do well with, and it will work out in time.

  9. from what I understand of Crossfit, it is common to do olympic lifts for time, either against a clock, against other people or trying to beat your previous record. the olympic lifts are technical and NOT appropriate for conditioning purposes, as crossfit seems to use them. you want to do them when you're fresh and focused. so i would say if your crossfit location does this-- then it is unsafe


    You'd be hard-pressed to find a facility that isn't making their clients do olympic lifts. This is where it comes into play that people SHOULD make sure that their Crossfit facility has someone who is USAWA certified in teaching proper form on olympic lifting to clients and that it's not left to someone who may well have no idea what they're doing. It doesn't take more than one light barbell snatch that drifts too far backward without the shoulders fixing the bar in place properly before a rotator cuff can blow out, so obviously, the better the technique, the better off trainees will be.


    It isn't that one can't do the o-lifts safely without having proper coaching (I never got hurt doing them with my crappy technique even when going for max lifts), but since Crossfit tends to throw people right into the fire and then put them under pressure by making them race against the clock, it can be a recipe for disaster when a novice lifter is trying to make 20 snatches in 90 seconds because he doesn't want to fail on his WOD.


    Ideally, anyone who will do the o-lifts would have at least a few weeks of coaching on building ideal technique, but that's counter-productive to the general mission of Crossfit's intense atmosphere of "train hard, train fast", which is why the injury potential is greatly increased.

  10. Agreed that an adjustment to posture will be helpful to changing the appearance as you'd like for your profile. Band pull-aparts and two handled rope cable face pulls will help with keeping shoulder blades in proper position and assist with posture. Videos here:





    As for other factors to improve profile appearance -


    1. More lower back work. You sound like you're doing plenty for upper back, but if you neglect the lower back, things will be out of balance. Deadlifts, good mornings, hyperextensions and reverse hyperextensions can all help out with that.


    2. More chest size will alter appearances to reduce any distension of the belly area as well. Not that it's easy to add a lot of chest size, but every bit more added will balance things out.


    3. More triceps size will obviously change the balance of the arm in relation to the torso as well.


    I'd start with posture work first and put some time into the two exercises shown above (you can do them every often at the end of your workouts, or, just try to get them done at least 2x weekly). Nothing that can't be fixed with work, you've got a good, lean base, so it's just going to take some time!

  11. Crossfit is like anything else - you get a lot of places that have shitty trainers who think "Let me throw in some gimmicky and potentially unsafe lifts from Strongman or some other training system and tell people it'll change their lives unlike any other program!" who should be strung up by their privates for jeopardizing the safety of their clients. You'll also get good, experienced coaches who know what they're doing - it's simply another case of "buyer beware" - just because someone's certified to teach something doesn't mean they're any good at it (this goes for all aspects of life, just that in training like Crossfit, it can mess you up royally in a hurry when under the guidance of an idiot). Do your research first, compare local facilities from feedback you'll get from past and current members, and of course, look for results. If a Crossfit coach has an entirely new client base every few months because people either keep getting hurt/get lackluster results/get bored with it, that's a bad sign, but if you see people who have made great transformations who keep coming back month after month, year after year, it's probably safe to assume that it's one of the better facilities you could go to. Just check out a facility thoroughly to avoid being caught in a mess of training under some dope who thinks that someone who has only touched a barbell once before should be doing heavy kettlebell complexes on their first day training.


    There's nothing inherently wrong with Crossfit, but ultimately, you have to figure whether or not it is going to do what you want. Consider that the people you see on ESPN doing the Crossfit Games are NOT people who came into it as average folks, rather, you'll find that they almost all have extensive high-level athletic backgrounds in things like gymnastics, olympic lifting, etc. that gave them a great base for years prior to taking up Crossfit. Most people are going to get stronger to some degree (but, not as strong as those who simply lift for the sake of strength), will get in better overall conditioning (but not in the same ways as someone who trains for conditioning for a specific purpose, like endurance cycling), and obviously, when combined with a solid diet, it can do great improvements for one's body. But, Crossfit is a jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none type program where you're pretty much trained to be ready to be able to tackle anything within reason for overall fitness, but if you're after a specific goal of being able to, say, bench press double your bodyweight, be able to run a marathon, or anything else that's specific to a goal, it won't be ideal for someone who is after something of that nature. For the average fitness fan who is looking for something new who may have avoided weight training in the past, it's a step in the right direction, and it never hurts to improve one's conditioning, either.


    I don't see Crossfit going anywhere any time soon since it started decades ago and has had a few good years entrenched as something fun and marketable, but it's definitely saturated right now, and probably won't be as large in 5 years as it is today. What'll inevitably happen is that the hucksters who are in it just to make a quick buck off something popular will fade away over the next few years, and eventually it'll be down to a pool of those who actually SHOULD be training people in Crossfit, and that's not a bad thing by any means.

  12. Good work on the squat!


    If you find that you get stuck at that mid point for the toughtest spot, consider trying overloaded half squats where your ROM at bottom will end at the depth of your sticking point. So, if you find that right in the middle of your full ROM is where you tend to have trouble, set the pins at that spot, add maybe 20-40 lbs. to your current max, and hit some half squats to your sticking point with a bit more weight than your max, and you'll build some extra strength through that spot over time. Looks like you come out of the hole quite strong, but the spot where you need to push your hips through (my weak spot on the deadlift, not as much on the squat) is where you might be having a bit of trouble. Heavy deadlifts from just below the kneecap will help with that a bit as well, getting you to strengthen that hip push during the transition where most people tend to have their weakest spot.


    Nevertheless, great progress, onward to 400!

  13. Popping in for quick log of last night's leg workout, lowered weight and added a set and one rep to my usual scheme since I've been off of training for most of December and don't want to overdo my first leg day back again.


    Barbell squats to just under parallel -

    1x5 @ 135 lbs.

    1x5 @ 185

    1x3 @ 225

    1x3 @ 275

    6x6 @ 315, all sets felt good for 8+ reps, but keeping things in check for now.

    Will do same set/rep scheme with 325 next week and work my way back up to where I left off in a few weeks.


    Safety squat bar squats to rock bottom -

    2x8 @ 225 lbs.

    1x20 @ 135

    Easy on the legs, just for added core work and some lighter weight reps at the end


    Circuit of lying leg curls (3x15 @ 150 lbs.), band pull aparts, and ab wheel from the knees to fully prone, 30 seconds rest between each circuit, and that was it.


    Legs pretty beat up today, some of those pesky little hidden muscles around the lower back are pretty sore as well today, too, from 3 weeks of nothing to stimulate them, so I'll be limping for a while after this one.


    Should be doing overhead work and some light lower back stuff either tomorrow or Saturday!

  14. 3 weeks off training (finally got a session in on the 30th) due to crazy workload, holidays and getting the flu on top of it. In the middle of it all, I lost my ownership in the gym I helped start, life's all over the place these days, might take a bit more time off lifting and probably won't be online much for a while as I get some things in order. I'll be back one of these days, just not sure how soon, best to everyone in their training!

  15. Glucose tablets just before training and 1-2 afterward should help fix that quickly if it's a blood sugar issue.


    Also, are you drinking lots of caffeine during the day prior to training? If I have too much, I get queasy and sometimes a bit light-headed near the end of my training, some of us just can't be too active with a mega-dose in our systems.

  16. You'll find a lot out there for mixed thoughts on decompression - some people want to label it as quackery (if that were the case, though, why is decompression via traction standard procedure for those hospitalized with back issues?), others like myself consider it a life-saver from our experiences. You'll want to look for someone with the DRX-9000 spinal decompression machine, it's a massive contraption and it feels weird getting strapped into it (and the feel of waves of tension for traction at varying poundages), I started to see pain reducing after about 6 treatments, and by the 20th, I was 90% pain-free, 100% by the 30th and final session. Been able to deadlift in the low 400s again and am able to squat about 400 as well, all with no pain or recurrence of my disc issues, so I'll always be a fan of decompression treatments. Definitely worth a look, but as noted, it doesn't work immediately, you would need to commit to a fairly long round of treatments to really get the full benefit. Hope this helps a bit!

  17. Thanks, Mini Forklift! Be sure to check the Elite Fts videos of the Dimmel deadlift as well, after seeing it done properly once, you'll know exactly how to do it!


    Upper back and chest work tonight -


    Flat barbell bench press, medium grip

    1x5 @ 135 lbs.

    1x4 @ 185

    1x3 @ 225

    1x2 @ 255

    1x1 @ 275

    10x5 @ 245

    Felt great with benching, didn't have a really tough rep until the very final one. Moving on to a few less sets next time I go with 5's again, will shoot for 8x5 @ 250 in a few weeks. Once that's done, I will test a new max again.


    Barbell rows -

    1x5 @ 135 lbs.

    1x5 @ 225

    2x10 @ 275

    Shot some video, realized I was really doing more of a Yates row style on these, will drop the weight again next time and do some high volume work to get better with rows again.


    Wide grip pull ups -

    2x12 @ bodyweight (230 clothed tonight)


    Dumbbell rows -

    2x15 @ 155 lb. Dumbbell each arm


    Monster band with v handle seated rows -

    2x20 @ black band, about 140 lbs tension at start of row, about 180 lbs at finish of row


    1 arm weighted Prowler rows on AstroTurf -

    1x30 each arm @ 300 lb loaded Prowler


    Pretty beat for the big stuff at that point, wrapped up with back to back sets of face down on incline bench db front raises and red band pull a parts and called it a night.


    Squatting on Tuesday night!

  18. Sadly, few things compare to the squat for building mass and power. And, with disc issues (if they haven't been resolved via decompression or other means), you'll definitely want to avoid any leg pressing as that's the surest way to cause undue stress on affected vertebrae.


    To ask, do you have access to a reverse hyperextension machine? With proper use of one and some good rehab, you may be able to squat and deadlift again one day (lots of guys out there in powerlifting who were told to never train again after similar injuries who came back stronger than ever), but they're not always easy to find. I swear by the decompression treatments I had done as the only reason I can squat and deadlift again, but they're expensive and also not always easy to come by.


    First thing I'd recommend is a belt squat setup like the one from IronMind. I have one, bought it when my back was really bad, it did allow me to squat light weight for high reps with zero disc pain or stress, but it takes a bit to get used to. Here's a link to one:




    If you have to make do without anything extra, I'd suggest lots of walking lunges with dumbbells in your hands to keep from any added back strain, perhaps some plyometrics for explosive power, and the usual old leg extensions and hamstring curls. If you have to avoid compression then there's not a whole lot more than some of the mediocre things that exist that won't exacerbate pre-existing injuries, but something is better than nothing.


    The hip belt squats with something like the IronMind product would allow you to definitely work hard enough to build some good size and strength back, probably what I'd recommend most for the time being. And, of course, if you can find a good reverse hyperextension machine to use (must be a good one with a natural ROM, not a poor knock-off that feels unnatural), or, if you can try a long round of decompression treatments (at least 20 sessions, 30 is preferable), you might find those things to be life-changing as well for helping your back issues to practically be gone over time.


    Wish I had more recommendations for you, just figured I'd share what I've learned these past few years with my own L5-L7 issues!

  19. Most of the week off due to 12+ hour work days, got in for overhead/lower back work tonight, but was pretty gassed from being up too late this week and not eating enough.


    Axle press in the rack -

    1x10 @ 55 lb. empty axle

    1x5 @ 105 lbs.

    1x3 @ 145

    1x2 @ 195

    1x1 @ 205

    1x1 @ 215

    1x1 @ 225, felt pretty easy but didn't want to jump up much today after not doing axle pressing for a while, dropped weight and did more reps -

    3x8 @ 185 lbs.


    Deadlifts -

    1x5 @ 135 lbs.

    1x3 @ 225

    1x3 @ 275

    1x3 @ 315

    1x2 @ 365, not feeling great already

    1x1 @ 405, was seeing stars on the first rep, a bad sign for heavy pulling today, cut the weight and did speed doubles instead -

    10x2 @ 285 lbs., 1 minute rest between sets


    Axle overhead half presses in the power rack, bar started about 1/2" over top of head for press -

    1x5 @ 200 lbs.

    1x3 @ 235

    1x2 @ 250

    1x3 @ 235

    3x10 @ 200


    Dimmel deadlifts (somewhat like RDLs, butt pushed back, lower bar just past knees, hip/glute explode back to standing straight), first time doing, went light as they suggest -

    3x25 @ 135 lbs.

    Didn't feel like much while I was doing them, but after the 2nd set, my glutes were on fire, definitely does the trick when you do them ballistically as is recommended.


    Called it a day after that, just didn't have much more left in me, should be doing some upper back work this weekend then squats again on Monday!

  20. Regardless of the product, if it doesn't have a lot of calories, it won't do much for weight gain. Not sure how much there is for calories in the Garden of Life protein products (I'm not a big fan), but I would say your best bet is to make sure you've kept track of how many calories you've been eating in order to not LOSE any weight, add 500-800 calories on top of that, and start there along with your weight training.


    One thing to remember is, if you aren't breaking down muscle tissue to rebuild it back up with resistance training, you're pretty much assured to gain mostly fat with any added weight, so having a good training program that promotes growth is as critical as making sure you're getting plenty of calories. Both components need to work together, otherwise, the whole plan falls apart!

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