Don’t Follow Your Passion

November 26, 2016

Mike Rowe from the television show Dirty Jobs gives some excellent advice, “Don’t follow your passion, follow opportunity.”  It’s worth considering.

 

Topics: Personal, Philosophy | No Comments »

My Lifting Routine

November 26, 2016

The other day I mentioned that over the past year or so, I’ve gained 50 lbs of muscle.  I thought I’d share the workout plan my cousin, a bodybuilder, put me on.  This routine has served me well for the past seven or eight months, and I have made massive gains with it.

On Mondays I do chest, Tuesdays are for shoulders, Wednesdays I focus on back, Thursdays are arm days, and on Fridays I do legs.  I have been on this same routine for roughly a year now.

Monday – Chest Day
1.  A bench press pyramid (My current max bench is 250)
140 lbs x 10 (~55% max), 160 lbs x 8 (65% max), 185 lbs x 6 (75% max), 210 lbs x 4 (85% max),
220 lbs x 3 (88.5% max), 230 lbs x 2 (92.5% max), 240 lbs x 1 (96% max), 185 lbs x 6 (75% max), 140 lbs x 10 (~55% max)
This is sometimes switched up with a CT Fletcher “Iron Marathon”, where I do 155 lbs for basically 210 reps, taking short breaks inbetween longer and longer sets.  1 rep, rack it.  2 reps, rack it.  3 reps, rack it.  4 reps, rack it.  Etc., up to 20 reps, rack it.  It’s an insane number of reps.  This one exercise alone can take up to two hours to complete.

2. Incline Bench Press – 4 sets of 8 reps, currently ~135 lbs
3. Dumbbell Flies directly followed by (no rest) close grip dumbbell bench press.  4 sets of 12~15 reps.  I choose the highest weight where I can do most all of the close grip presses without failure.
4. Ab-work: 2 sets of 50 reps on the ab machine

Tuesday – Shoulder Day
1. A barbell military press pyramid, similar to bench press pyramid.  (current max ~175 lbs)
2. Dumbbell military press pyramid (for 10 reps, higher and higher weight up to 4 reps)
3. Front Dumbbell raises (4~5 sets of 12 reps)
4. Side Lateral Dumbbell raises (4~5 sets of 12 reps)
5. Upright Barbell Row (4~5 sets of 8 to 12 reps, going up in weight each set)
6. Ab-work: 2 sets of 50 reps on the ab machine

Wednesday – Back Day
1. Deadlift pyramid (similar to bench press)
2. Seated row pyramid (15 reps down to 4 reps, increasing weight each time)
3. T-bar rows (4 sets of 8 reps, increasing weight each set)
4. Lat pulldown pyramid, similar to bench press (10 reps down to 2 reps, increasing weight each time)  This is often superset with assisted pull-ups, just to make sure every set my back is totally exhausted.
5. Good morning pyramid (similar to bench press)

Thursday – Arm Day
1. Barbell curl pyramid (similar to bench press), superset with tricep pushdown on cable machine (increasing weight each set)
2. Dumbbell preacher curl pyramid, each arm individually.  (similar to bench press)
3. Hammer curls (oftentimes hammer preacher curl pyramid) (4 sets of 10 reps)
4. Skull crusher pyramid (similar to bench press, but going from 12 reps to 4 reps, always increasing weight)
5. Dips (sometimes but not always, just for extra tricep work)

Friday – Leg Day
1. Squat pyramid (similar to bench press)
2. Inclined seated leg press pyramid (similar to bench press), superset with calf raises at the same weight (for each set, I do the same number of calf raises as leg presses)
3. Leg extension machine pyramid (similar to bench press)
4. Leg curl machine (4 sets of 10~12 reps, increasing weight each set)
5. Occasionally I’ll end with hack-squats for high volume to totally burn out my legs
6. Ab-work: 2 sets of 50 reps on the ab machine

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My Experience Lifting Weights

November 15, 2016

About a year ago I started lifting weights in the gym.  It wasn’t so much to get fit, as before that I was running eight miles everyday.  But as I kept running, year after year, I started to look like those olympic long distance runners — very very skinny.  I’m 6 foot 1, and through running, I had withered myself down to 131 lbs – not good.  Looking back on some of the pictures I have, I looked almost emaciated.

I decided to get into weight training and put on some mass.  I didn’t want to just eat and get fat, as that wouldn’t be good, so I decided I’d put on some muscle.  I’ve sort of fallen in love with it.  My cousin, who is a super strong body-builder, gave me a workout routine and I went out and bought a lot of books on weight lifting.  It’s been a really neat journey.

In the past year or so I’ve put on around 45~50 lbs of muscle.  Yeah, you may have to read that again — pretty insane!  My entire appearance has changed.  It’s blown my mind.  I didn’t even think such a transformation was possible for me.  I have always been skinny, a sort of scrawny guy, and I thought that was genetic.  My parents would always tell me that our family is skinny and there’s nothing to do about it.  My mom was super skinny and small, my Dad was very tall and skinny, and I have been most of my life as well.  So, for most of my life, I believed them.

However, I’ve learned that you don’t have to be skinny if you don’t want to be.  I read Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Encyclopedia of Bodybuilding, and what really struct me was the nutrition section.   I had lifted weights before many years ago, but I never put on any real muscle.  I lifted for around a year, and looked basically the same; that had just confirmed to me what my mother had said — I’m just genetically a skinny person.  But I’ve realized that roughly 80% of body building and weight lifting is nutrition!

Like for instance, you need to eat at least 1 gram of protein for every pound you weigh each day, on top of a bunch of carbs for energy.  The key to gaining strength and muscle is eating — and eating a LOT.  So I’ve been eating tons of chicken, hamburger, steak, and other meat, chugging protein shakes, eating protein bars, and eating a lot of food.  Combine that with some hardcore weight training and wow, total transformation!

I started off curling 15 lb dumbbells, and after a few sets of five or six reps, my pathetic, tiny biceps were exhausted.  I’d wake up all sore and couldn’t lift anymore for days.  Now, just the other day, I’m curling a 120 lb barbell for reps.  The other day I was military pressing 175 lbs over my head.  If I was in the pool with someone, I could just Hulk Hogan body slam them, easily lifting them over my head.  Me, formerly skinny, formerly puny Jason.    (Don’t worry, I won’t lift any of you over my head… though, I wouldn’t mind trying!)

When I first started bench pressing, I dreamed of benching 1 plate (135 lbs).  Now that’s so light to me, I use it to warm up.  It’s too light to even count for a set in my pyramid workout I do.  I’m nowadays benching around 250 lbs, and it’s going up by 10 lbs every two weeks or so.  My squat is moving in the same direction.  Sitting on the computer all day, it used to be kind of difficult just getting up and down, squatting my bodyweight 10-15 times – that alone was a workout.  Now?  Throw 250~300 lbs on my back and watch me go.  Up, down, up, down.

I went to put on jeans I used to wear and literally I can’t fit in them.  Not because I’m fat, but my legs are too big.  Too much damn muscle!  No more skinny chicken legs.  The other day I was on the leg sled, pushing like 600+ lbs.  It’s incredible to me.  I’ve went from a skinny, scrawny, really weak dude, to one of the strongest guys you’ll come across in the gym — in one year.

Lately I’ve been spending  about 2 and a half hours in the gym each day, and I eat and eat and eat when I get home.  I eat like six or more times a day.  Tons and tons of protein, and I lift hard, almost every day.

It’s fun to me.  It’s like, wow, I can do this?  My goal is to do this for another year or two, get to around 200~210 lbs of raw, man-beef.  Not big and fat, but 210 lbs of pure ripped muscle.  That’s not crazy huge like those bodybuilder guys you see in the Mr. Olympia competitions, but I’ll be big and jacked, for sure.  Then I’ll just workout to maintain that body weight.

I spend a lot of time these days watching weight lifting videos on Youtube, learning from personal trainers and power lifters.  I always used to play sports and have always missed it.  This is sort of filling in that void.  I might one day decide to upload a bunch of videos of me and the guys in the gym.

Speaking of the guys — I’ve joined a really hardcore gym where I live.  This is a gym where the guys yell out things like, “Whhhhhhhoaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa” and “Light weight BBBAABBBBYYYYYY!” before doing a heavy lift.  They’re all really supportive, giving me tips, and spotting me when I need a spotter.

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Why If I Vote, I Guess I’ll Vote Trump

October 23, 2016

I’ll preface this by saying that I don’t like Donald Trump.  I don’t want to vote for either of these candidates, Trump or Hillary.  I was feeling so discouraged watching the candidates, I had decided that I wasn’t going to vote.  However, I got to watching the debate and I heard Hillary say she wanted a no fly zone over Syria.  Hillary sounds like she’s very informed, but Hillary’s worst quality is she is a warmonger.  All of the top generals are telling Hillary, “Don’t do it.  That would bring us to war with Russia.”

Why are we fighting all of these wars?  First we had Iraq, then Libya, and now Syria and Russia.  Millions of people have already been killed, we’ve ran up trillions of dollars in debt (enough money to pay for everyone’s college education for the last decade), and for what?  All we’ve got to show for it is ISIS.

As Sargon of Akkad points out in his Youtube video, these wars seem to follow the same six step pattern.

  1. Secular Middle-Eastern dictators suppress Islamists and Jihadists
  2. The West invades to support a native (usually Islamist) uprising to oust the dictator
  3. Lack of unity in the Islamist forces prevents a stable government from forming
  4. The power vacuum causes persistent civil war between the rebels
  5. The chaos and Islamist links facilitate ISIS entering the country and gaining territory
  6. A new front is opened in the global jihad currently being waged by radical Islamists.

At the very least Trump doesn’t want a war with Russia and is staying out of Syria.  That is the only reason I’m voting for him.  I don’t want any more wars, especially with a superpower like Russia.

So even though I don’t agree with Trump’s domestic policies, I am voting Trump to (hopefully) spare some lives, whether they are those of our troops, or innocent civilian casualties from these brutal wars.

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Donald Trump And Taxes

October 2, 2016

Recently in the news I have been seeing a lot of coverage of Donald Trump not releasing his tax returns.  I’ve seen articles written about him, painting him as this evil tax evader who doesn’t want to pay his “fair share” of taxes.  Basically, being a shrewd business man, Trump has been trying to pay as little taxes as possible, and bragged about it during the presidential debate.

In response to this, Vice President Joe Biden appeared on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon saying, “What amazes me about Donald Trump is his lack of sensibilities.  I mean the way he talks about, ya know, rooting for the housing market to fail because that’s business.  That’s not business, that’s callous.  Or that ‘I paid no taxes and that makes me smart.’  What, does that make the rest of us, suckers?”, to which the crowd roared with applause.

Now I’m not a fan of Donald Trump, but people need to think more deeply about this issue.  It reminds me of a problem my cousin faced when he worked at Walmart’s Distribution Center.  At his job, he drove a forklift around, moving boxes around from point A to point B.  Management assigns them workloads, and they are rewarded if they can do the job quickly.  With this incentive, many of his coworkers began to lie that they were doing more work than they actually were, and so management pushed up the regular daily quota for boxes moved to some unobtainable amount.  This didn’t bother his coworkers, since they just continued to lie and look good, however, now my cousin was looking bad because he didn’t appear to be  moving as much produce around the warehouse as the others.  Now my cousin is a really honest guy.  He is a deeply religious Christian who doesn’t believe in lying.  So, he ended up getting fired, mainly because he wouldn’t lie about his productivity like the others.

So what does this have to do with Donald Trump and him trying to keep his business taxes down?  Imagine if you have a company in a particular industry, and all of your competitors are taking advantage of tax loopholes and other opportunities, but you do not.  You’re going to lose and be put out of business.  You can’t compete on an equal playing field as the others.  You can’t blame an individual businessman for doing what is in his personal best interest, because if he doesn’t, his competitors will and they will drive him out of business.  So, it’s like Mr. Trump said in the debate, him keeping his taxes low makes him a smart business man.  To me it’s a gray area.  That doesn’t make him good or bad, but he’s just doing what he needs to do to succeed.

Now of course its a huge problem if big corporations don’t pay taxes, but why is this the case?  We should instead be addressing the corrupt system of money in politics, where rich people donate money to politicians’ campaigns in order to get special favors.  That’s what’s wrong.  The laws themselves need to be rewritten so that both Donald Trump and all of his competitors have to pay the same taxes as the rest of us.  But painting him as an individual tax evader is just dishonest and lacks any sophistication and understanding of capitalism.

But this is what politicians do.  Just look at that sleazy salesmen smile Joe Biden has on his face.  That smug high ground he pretends to have.  Hillary Clinton received hundreds of millions of dollars in campaign contributions for this election alone.  Why do you think all these corporations give her all that money?  Why do you think all of these people have given money to her foundation, especially when she was a senator and secretary of state?  They’re planning to further rig the system in their favor, getting the very tax breaks and special favors Biden is accusing Trump of using.  Who is worse, a person playing in an unfair system because he has to, and then succeeding, or the person rigging the system to begin with?

I don’t like either candidate.  Who knows if I’ll even vote.  I’ve never seen an election which is this nasty.  Lately it’s become like an episode of Jerry Springer.  Hillary chimes in, “Donald talks about how hot is daughter Ivanka is, and even says he would date her!  What kind of father is this?  And he calls women pigs!”  Donald responds, “Oh yeah, Hillary, look at how you treated the women your husband Bill had affairs with!  You wouldn’t even believe their harrowing accounts of sexual abuse, you monster!”  Then Donald Trump brings one of the women Bill Clinton had an affair with to sit on the front row during the presidential debate.  It’s like, wow.  This is really nasty.  Reality television has made it all the way to our presidential politics.

Topics: Politics | 2 Comments »

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