Pretty much how every workout session went.
Pretty much how every workout session went.
I'm convinced that had I started barbell training in my teens instead of starting at an over-the-hill-age of 30 that I would be an absolute monster with chimpanzee strength.
A goddamn living legend.
Anonymous Reddit users would be worshiping the keyboard I type on instead of questioning my method(s) (which is basically, add more weight to the bar each training session, and lift it), or offering ridiculously unqualified “critiques” of my form.
If I had started squatting, bench pressing, deadlifting and overhead pressing in my teen years in the high school dungeon weightroom, and trained consistently until now, my power levels would be so high that it would most definitely shatter a Saiyan scouter from Dragon Ball Z.
Instead, I ended up spending a lot of time screwing around with unfocused, pumping up and flexing in the mirror workouts before taking strength training seriously in 2010 at the ripe old age of 30.
Fast forward to today and I am left playing catch up with a mirror “John Phung” from a parallel universe who focused on getting strong at an early age instead of aimlessly lifting weights.
I would imagine an encounter with a mirror "John Phung" would be like this. Except it wouldn't be such an even match.
Despite my current 1RM (which, at the time of writing are as followed: Squat: 585 lb, Bench Press: 420 lb, Deadlift: 585 lb and Overhead Press: 290 lb), I am 100% sure that the parallel universe John Phung is warming up with my maxes. I am left 'mirin his overwhelming physical strength, and live in regret everyday, wondering where I would be had I started serious, structured and focused strength training sooner.
I will continue to train, adding weight to the bar and becoming stronger. This is a slow process, and unfortunately I do not think I will ever catch up to the mirror John Phung lifting in a parallel universe.
However, I have devised a plan in order to make huge leaps in strength in this current universe. And no, it's not sterons.
I have written a letter, to my past self, with guidance and instructions on becoming STRONG based on my current knowledge and experience. It doesn't contain a step-by-step, paint by the numbers training program to follow from age 14 all the way to 34, because there's value in discovering things for yourself. I just want to get him (or me) on the right path. Once my past self reads this letter, he will (hopefully) take action on my advice, train, and become in-comprehensively strong. The John Phung you see today will be puny and weak in comparison to the alternate John Phung...if my plan works.
Yes, I know what you nerds are thinking. This will violate the temporal prime directive and alter the current timeline. But if that's what it takes to make significant leaps in strength, then so be it.
It's me, you.
This is future John Phung from 21st century in the year 2014.
I am writing to tell you that despite being exposed to weight training at an early age, I only started training serious at age 30.
Currently, at age 34, our current maxes are:
While I'm sure this will seem impressive to you, let me assure you, it is not. There are individuals out there much smaller and stronger than I am (in the past and present). But you have the potential to become much stronger than I...imagine if you (or I) had started training seriously at your age. Your strength would surely eclipse mine.
We have screwed around too much in the weight room and have nothing to show for it. This letter will provide you guide on what to do and what not to do. Read this carefully, and apply the knowledge you will gain in the future to your current training:
That's it for now.
More instructions will follow, along with winning lottery numbers.
Future John Phung
P.S. Poop before you squat or deadlift.
Now, all I need to do is get a DeLorean DMC-12, invent a flux capacitor and time circuits, obtain some plutonium (or Mr. Fusion + garbage), assemble it into a time machine, drive it 88 MPH into the past, send this letter to myself in the past, and I'm set to become a muscle sphere with a 2500+ lb total.
It seems like every other PR video I upload, there's always a comment or question about what music I'm playing in the background.
Everybody has their own person preferences for choice of music to listen to during a workout. Powerlifters seem notorious for playing some sort of heavy metal music, but personally it's not my thing. There's something about the constant screaming that doesn't appeal to me.
I prefer epic battle music, which is mostly instrumental and has a little bit of incomprehensible vocals thrown around here and there.
There's something about beating drums and trumpets that brings up images of warriors in a far off land in a distant past, preparing for some glorious impeding battle. A battle where you have to give it your all, or die in the process. You know, stuff you see in fantasy movies or anime.
The idea of preparing for battle parallels the moments before attempting to set a new personal record in the squat, bench press, deadlift or overhead press. More specifically, preparing to blast (or grind) through a sticking point that’s unique to each lift, which really seems to be where the “battle” takes place.
During my warm ups, I’ll listen to some interviews or something educational. Or sometimes nothing. I don’t need a high level of arousal when warming up, but when the top set of the day approaches (which, these days is a PR attempt), my focus begins to narrow…and the real battle is just on the horizon.
I’ll usually start playing some music during the last few warm up sets, in order to get in the zone prior to lifting a weight that I've never lifted before for a given number of repetitions.
Anyhoo, my entire PR Music playlist is here. But here's my current top 10 list of training music to get psyched and pumped up to prepare to hit a new PR:
By the way, that's Franco Columbu with the painted nipples at 1:08.
This was used in the cinematic trailer for World of Warcraft.
Sometimes, getting too hyped up leads to sloppy technique. If I feel I need to relax and get even more focused on the task at hand, I'll play something slow.
Now, crush some PRs!
So I competed at a bench press only powerlifting competition yesterday. I had known about this meet for a while now, but I was undecided whether I should do it or not until last Tuesday.
I figured I should do this meet because it was probably going to be the only competition I would do this year. On top of that, it's within walking distance from where I live.
And I'm not usually surrounded by strong people who lift heavy weights (at least, not in real life), so it'll be nice to be around a bunch of big, strong beefcakes all wearing tight-ass singlets.
Lastly, it gives me something to blog about!
Held on Saturday, August 23, 2014.
Backyard meet that's located about 20 minutes from my home...20 minutes of walking that is!
Weigh ins at 11:00 AM, rules meeting at 12:00 PM and benching began at 1:00 PM.
Well, for my 4 day meet prep, it was pretty much this:
DON'T USE ARMS UNTIL MEET DAY.
That meant no benching, and no pushing myself up from a prone position.
Reason why is it was after Tuesday's bench training that I decided to do this. My triceps were pretty fried from reverse grip benching 370 lb x 3, followed by 330 lb x 7.
So, best bet was just to rest and hope for the best on the platform.
For the rest of the week, I rested on Wednesday, squatted on Thursday, and rested again on Friday (normally train 5-6 days per week).
Also, because my current training revolves around hitting some sort of personal record everyday, I'm used to maxing out for 1 or more reps on a regular basis.
Looking over the old CPF meet report, my rack height was “6”. But watching the videos, “6” seemed too low, so I'm going to try something higher. I'm used to unracking the bar by myself, even with a reverse grip, and one of the keys is getting the height of the J-hooks high enough so that the arms are almost locked out.
Mark's video from last year’s No Frills bench press meet, it looks like an “8”. I'm guessing our arm length are more or less the same, so 8 should be good.
Anyways, possible attempts were:
I think I read from Dave Tate about opening with a 3RM, hitting a PR on the 2nd attempt, and then going for broke on the 3rd attempt.
I was thinking about opening at 150 Kg or 330.7 lb because it would be similar to my last paused reverse grip bench warm up set. It's also the same opening weight that I used last year at the last powerlifting meet that I competed in.
Considering the fact that I'm stronger now compared to last year, and got 7 reps with 330 lb earlier this week, and my 3RM is currently 385 lb, I decided to open with something a little heavier.
However, I felt a little conservative because I haven't really been practising paused benching on a regular basis, and I would be benching on an unfamiliar bench without sandpaper duct-taped onto the bench, so I decided to go with 160 Kg (352.74 lb) as my opener.
The 2nd attempt is 175 Kg (385.809 lb). This would mean a 0.809 lb PR LOL.
The 3rd attempt at 182.5 Kg would be breaking the 400 lb mark. Wasn't very confident about this even though I can touch-and-go bench 400 lb for a double, and current 1RM is 415 lb (without a pause).
Another option I was thinking about was opening with 170 Kg (374.786 lb) with a REGULAR GRIP, then reverse grip the rest of the attempts in order to get a PR on the opener and 2nd attempt.
I hit a bodyweight PR on my first attempt when weighing in, which was 100.5 Kg. Goddammit! A puny 0.5 Kg over the 100 Kg weight limit.
Took off my shirt, singlet and socks.
My second and final weigh in attempt was a nice 99.9 Kg haha. Good enough to compete in the 100 Kg weight class!
The last time I competed was in the 90 Kg weight class. I am not looking forward to cutting weight to make 90 Kg in the future.
There was no weight cutting for this meet, since it's more or less an informal, backyard driveway garage lifting competition with a 1 hour weigh in. I'm happy because cutting weight is a pain in the ass, and all I want to do is lift some weights.
In fact, I actually tried BULKING HARDER for this meet just to make sure that I could bench the most I possibly can during the competition! Wanted to be as big and bloated as possible, while still being able to weigh 100 Kg.
Another concern was having my back slip on the bench.
I made sure that I wore a shirt that I had PR'd in on the bench, so I went with my tight, white Marc Ecko Star Wars shirt:
Tried to keep it as close to my regular warm up weights as possible:
Easy, as expected.
Easy, not as expected.
+0.809 lb PR!
My man Adam Wathan offered to chalk up my back before this attempt. I felt like I walked out of a cloud of smoke after haha. Easy, definitely did not expect 400 lb to move this fast.
Afterwards, Adam told me he “put some ‘roids in the chalk” LMAO. Died.
Going into the meet, the attempts that I initially choose seemed wise.
Considering that my max paused reverse grip bench press was 385 lb, and my max touch-n-go reverse grip bench press is 415 lb, going for a small PR on the 2nd attempt on an unfamiliar bench with no sandpaper duct-taped onto it, and lifting in an unfamiliar environment seemed to be the right thing to do.
Also, going for something just over the 400 lb mark on the 3rd attempt would be +15 lb on my paused 1RM, so it seemed like an aggressive but doable weight.
But the headshake of disapproval from the judge on the right of the video (Rich “Tiger” Singh) says it all: Should have added more goddamn weight to the bar!
In hindsight, looking back at the videos, I should have went a little heavier. At least 2.5-5 Kg more on my 3rd attempt. Or maybe all attempts.
If I had access to the Delorean time machine from Back To The Future, I would drive it 88 miles per hour, and accepted to lift in 2 divisions (originally registered for open and sub-masters, which a recent rule changed would have allowed me to lift twice), giving me a total of 6 attempts on the platform! That way, I could be conservative for the first 3 attempts, and just keep on adding weight for the consecutive lifts.
Or I could have done a regular bench press for the first 3 attempts, and then switch to the reverse grip on my last 3, allowing me to PR in both variations!
Unfortunately I don't have access to a time machine, so that's not going to happen anytime soon.
The next CPF meet in Ontario will be October 25, 2014 all the way in Newmarket at the Concord Fitness Club. Most likely not going to do that one, because it's a lot further than 1.4 km walking distance from my home. My mind might change, so we’ll see. If not the October 25th meet, then something local in 2015.
In the meantime, I guess I’ll keep doing what I’ve been doing, and hopefully not add anymore bodyweight. Don’t want to get too big.
And big thanks to Bruce McIntyre for running this meet! I think the No Frills bench press meet is going to be a yearly tradition for me now.
I have a new weighted vest that increases weight automagically over time.