Not much to report in this week as far as training goes. Caught a cold last week which took it's toll this week, but I was still able to get in all my main training sessions.

I tried Zercher squats on Wednesday and I don't think I'll be sticking with it. It's a pain in the ass arms. I'll reincorporate paused squats on recovery day instead.

I missed a 360 lb bench press on Friday, probably due to my back slipping on the bench again. Try again next week!

Lastly, I've been using a slow cooker for a couple of years, and have recently upgraded to a programmable pressure cooker. It's like a super fast version of a slow cooker (cooking in ~1 hour instead of 9 hours), and moonlights as a rice cooker, slow cooker along with a few other functions as well. Solid investment to save time and cook large quantities of delicious food.

Anyway, here are a couple of must read articles to check out:

  1. "Mikhail Koklyaev Interview on Olympics, Breaking Plateaus and Recovering from Inflamed Elbows" at All Things Gym
    • A lot of real world wisdom from one of the strongest men on the planet.
  2. "The Detox Delusion" by Scott Gavura
    • I've heard the word "detox" used for a lot of snake oil treatments. Don't be fooled!


I got an email from someone who was interested in how I’m running Texas Method (TM):

Hi John,

I enjoy your blog and I was going through your log to “reverse engineer” your custom TM.

  1. Can you give more details on the weight progression and the rep scheme?
  2. Also, don’t you feel drained after the volume squat? That’s the issue I had with vanilla TM, I was dying after the squat and the volume on pressing was not as productive as it could be if I was fresher (e.g. the next day). I would be interested to know your opinion on splitting TM (volume upper/volume lower/intensity upper/intensity lower).


Hey Julien,

Glad you enjoy my blog! And I'm flattered that you're reverse engineering what I'm doing haha.

To answer your questions:

1. For weight progression, currently I am increasing by 2.5 lb weekly. It used to be 5 lb, but I've lowered it to 2.5 lb for all lifts. It’s more manageable, and I probably won’t hit any plateaus anytime soon.

If I’m trying to hit a PR, it might be 5 lb or more.

For rep schemes:

Volume Day (Monday):

Total of 30 reps of squats. I’ve done 5x5 and 10x3 previously. Right now it’s:

  • Low bar squat: 5x3
  • High bar squat: 3x5
  • Bench press: 5x5

Recovery Day (Wednesday):

  • Some sort of squat: 2x5
  • OHP: work up to a heavy single, then back off sets. Usually 3,5, up to 10 reps.

Intensity Day (Friday):

  • Low bar squat: 1x3
  • High bar squat: 1x5
  • Bench press: 3x3
  • Deadlift: 2x3

Sometimes it varies a bit, but that's generally it. I’m thinking about trying out Zercher squats on recovery day, because doing lighter squats are a bit boring.

I do not alternate bench presses and overhead presses like in the standard Texas Method template.

2. Yes, I feel drained after volume squats. I like that feeling actually. If I'm not breathing heavy in between sets and a little bit fearful of my next set, then it doesn't feel right (for volume day squats that is).

Doing volume squats will affect anything after it, but I find that I catch my breath after a few warm up sets of my next exercise.

These days I do not perform OHP on volume days. I do them on recovery day only and bench press twice a week. This has been working well as I am getting stronger in both lifts.

I've read of people doing splits with TM (in Texas Method ebooks I believe). I’ve never tried it myself though, but it looks like it could work well. Try it out!

Is it some heavily marketed supplement, gadget, or exercise DVD set with a manly-sounding name and equally manly-looking logo backed by the latest discoveries in sports-pseudoscience?


It's an Instant Pot IP-LUX60 6-in-1 Programmable Pressure Cooker!


To me, it's like a slow cooker on steroids. And speed. Because it’s powerful and fast.

What normally takes me 9+ hours to cook in the slow cooker only took a little over an hour in the Instant Pot.

Here’s a picture of some sort of pork, carrots, onions and some Korean BBQ sauce:

Instant Pot IP-LUX60 6-in-1 Programmable Pressure Cooker yummy.

Now I don't have to wait all day (or all night) for my food to cook.

It actually has 6 different functions along with being a pressure cooker. It also works as slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer & warmer and can sauté food. But I’m probably going to use the pressure cooker function only, since I already have a separate rice cooker and slow cooker.

Pretty excited to use this more often in the future.

Let the gains begin!

Personally I like Chinese New Year better than the regular new years.


Super markets have bags of rice on sale, I get money from my parents (still!) and it just seems more festive and exciting even though I have no idea what’s going on.

But that’s not until February 10, 2013, which will be the year of the Snake.


Jackie Chan Snake Style Kung Fu

Anyways, today is the last day of the year, so it’s time to review how my year went in 2012, and make some goals for 2013. For reference, here is my review of 2011 that I wrote last year.

One Word To Describe 2012

  • Progress (same word I used last year).
  • I would have described it as “wasps”, but they only invaded my basement in the summer time. I hate wasps.

5 Greatest Things That Happened In The Past Year

  1. I’ve gotten stronger in the 4 major lifts:
    • Squat: 440 lb to 510 lb (+70 lb increase)
    • Bench Press: 319 lb to 355 lb (+36 lb increase)
    • Deadlift: 500.5 lb to 540 lb (+39.5 lb increase)
    • Overhead Press: 220 lb to 255 lb (+35 lb increase)
  2. Competed in a powerlifting competition (one of my goals I wanted to accomplish)
  3. Wrote a few blog posts and product reviews (another one of my goals I wanted to accomplish)
  4. Published a bunch of videos of my training. I think that my videos have inspired others to lift weights and get strong. I know that watching others lift and hit PR’s inspires me.
  5. Became proficient in the reverse grip bench press, and unracking the bar alone even though I've read this was supposed to be difficult to impossible to do without a spotter (don't believe everything you read on the internet, folks!)

3 Great Lessons I've Learned From Last Year Are

  1. Whatever you focus on, grows. And whatever you don’t focus on, does not grow. Unless it’s mold or something like that.
  2. Simple = Effective. I’ve been doing my own variation(s) of the Texas Method all year and still have been experience great results. I get the feeling that as I get stronger and start hitting more plateaus, my training my need to become a little more sophisticated. But right now, everything is working fine and I’m not the type of person who fixes what is not broke. Not only is my training simple, my diet and supplementation and rudimentary as well.
  3. If it hurts, don’t do it(when it comes to injuries. Hook grip deadlifts on the other hand…)
    • On a related note, if it hurts and you do “do it”, figure out how to turn lemons into lemonade (see below).

If I Could Do Things Again Last Year, I Would Do These 3 Things Differently

  1. Training through pain. I somehow strained a muscle in my lower back around the spring. I could still work through the pain, but it progressively got worst and worst and came to a point where my low bar back squat was aggravating my back every time I squatted. Eventually I had to stop doing it. Turns out this was actually a blessing in disguise, because it gave me the opportunity to try out a back squat variation (high bar) that was not painful (up to 3 reps), but actually improved my low bar squat. In other words, it forced me to squat with a high bar position, and the strength I gained from high bar squatting transferred over to the low bar squat.
  2. Write more consistently. I’ve written more on my blog this year, but it’s been inconsistent. Need to figure out some sort of blogging schedule, and stick with it. Just like a weight training program.
  3. Read more books. I didn’t read as consistently as I would have liked.

One Word To Describe 2013

  • Consistency

Goals For 2013

As far as lifting goes, my goals are:

    1. Squat: 510 lb to 550 lb (40 lb increase)
    2. Bench Press: 355 lb to 380 lb (25 lb increase)
    3. Deadlift: 540 lb to 600 lb (60 lb increase)
    4. Overhead Press: 255 lb to 280 lb (25 lb increase)

This looks attainable. How do I plan to do this?

Simple really. Stick with my current training program, and microloading with fractional plates.

I figure if I could increase my PR’s by 2.5 lb per month on the OHP and bench press, and increase by 5 lb per month on the squat and deadlift, then my 1RM would increase by 30 lb for the OHP and bench press, and 60 lb for the squat and deadlift by the end of 2013.

I’ve set my goals a little bit lower than the projected gains for all my lifts (with the exception of the deadlift) just in case I get injured, run into plateaus or something else.

Other goals:

  • Compete in a couple of powerlifting competitions.
  • Apply goal setting, planning, executing and reviewing to other aspects of my life
  • Write and read more consistently.
  • Don’t get injured.

Have a safe and happy new year!

This was the final week of 2012 and I managed to squeeze out a few PR's after fueling up on a big Christmas dinner:

355 lb Bench Press

255 lb Overhead Press

230 lb x 3 Overhead Press

Not bad!

I wanted to get a 550 lb deadlift as well, but only managed to get it to my knees.

On a side note, I discovered the proper abbreviation for "pounds" is "lb" and not "lbs" as I have written for a long time :|

This applies to single and plural usage of "pounds" (when it comes to mass, that is).

Anyways, came across some good articles this week. Check it out!

  1. What Is Strength And Why Do You Need It by Charles Stanley
  2. "Happy Holidays, Now Buy My Fitness/Nutrition Book" by Brian Hill
  3. Squatting Big by Blaine Summer (who is an IPF Powerlifting World Champion and World Record Holder)