I just registered for my first show of the 2015 season! Emerald Cup in Bellevue, Washington, here I come! I excited to see how I stand up against more of a national caliber group of athletes. Whatever the results, I will step on stage looking the best I ever have! Ready to have some fun!
By Axis Labs Athlete Josh Black
There are a few things in life that separate the boys from the men. Things like: having courage, and confidence. Taking action and not letting fear stand in your way. Protecting the woman you love, not being dramatic or playing games, looking for solutions. Not losing your temper, taking responsibility for your actions, standing up for what you believe in, and the most important, your deadlift. No sarcasm intended. If you have watched any of my deadlift videos for the first few months I was deadlifting, you probably cringed and said a personal prayer for me that I wouldn’t hurt myself. Thank you! I will gladly accept all the prayers and positive vibes you have to offer me. To sum things up, I will just say it, my form sucked! I had a few people let me know how bad my form was and instead of getting all butt hurt, I humbled myself and I immediately set the goal to master the deadlift and improve my form. Form is the number one thing that you need to focus on because, you will prevent injury, increase the amount of weight lifted, and in turn increase muscle mass.
Benefits of Deadlifts-
Increased Fat Burning
Real Life Lift Increases
Injury Increased Cardio
How I Built a Stronger Deadlift
#1-Watch examples of good form-
Who is the best example you can watch perform a lift? Olympic athletes of course. The first thing I did was go onto YouTube and I watched Olympic athletes performing deadlifts. I also watched some coaching videos.
#2-Film yourself and critique your form-
Again as some of you have already noticed, I took some video of myself and compared my videos to others and critiqued my lift. Remember to do this with an open mind, your doing this to improve.
#3-Have someone else who is experienced critique your form-
This was probably the most effective thing I did to improve my lift. I had my coach Big Jon watch me perform my deadlift and the feedback he gave me was huge. I already felt like the weight was lighter as he corrected some simple mistakes that I was making. He told me to focus on a lower spot in front of me and keep my eyes on that spot. To pull up on the bar, get a slight bend then lift. To lift with my legs and once I crossed my knees I could then incorporate my back. The little changes you make in a lift can have huge results.
#4-Lighten the weight and practice-
The last bit of advice I was given by my trainer was to lighten the weight and practice on the lower weight until my form was perfected. Again form should be your number concern. Too many times I have seen guys, including myself try and muscle more weight that I was not ready for to appease my own ego. Don’t do it! The strength will come with proper form. Implementing the 4 above tips has been a huge help for me with improving my deadlift. This last bulking season I hit a PR of 525lbs on my deadlift and I have gained almost 25lbs in 2 and a half months. I wish it was all muscle weight. Yes I know that 525 lbs. is weak compared to many others out there, but who gives a crap about anyone else and what they are doing, it’s you against you! It’s you making the effort to improve yourself every day. It’s you having the courage to start each day with the goal that you will be better today than you were yesterday. To change your body, to build a better body. If you are not getting the muscle growth that you are hoping for, I can promise you that deadlifting will resolve that problem and the results will be very apparent
Bulking season is coming to an end. I hit lots of PR’s. Life can and will be disappointing at times. The journey continues.
This has been an amazing offseason! I began the season weighing in at 199 lbs. post my last show and I am now ending my bulk about 3 months later weighing in at about 224 lbs., it’s not all muscle of course. ;-) My heavy compound lifts increased dramatically and I hit PR on my Bench press (435lbs), deadlifts (525lbs) and unfortunately not my squats. In all fairness in college I squatted over 500lbs. My booty was huge in college. ;-)
I am excited to get lean and mean again and to like looking at my stomach again. I’m excited for my body not too feel so beat up all the time. Lifting heavy has taken a toll on my joints, especially my neck as I have had to visit the chiropractor on a few different occasions.
In regards to my personal life and in relationships, I used the negative things happening in my life as fuel and when I went into the weight room I used those negative experiences to destroy the weights! As my bulk is ending I continued to feel heartbreak and disappointment in my life, I continue to feel loss. With that being said again it motivates me to push forward and to better myself.
When it comes down to it the only thing I can really trust is the gym, the weights. They will be there for me every day no matter what. Whether I am having a bad day, whether I am being sensitive or stressed out, the weights are always there to support me and be my friend. Yes they don’t talk back but they are there for me.
One of my many faults, I trust, feel, and give of myself too freely. Because of this I set myself up for disappointment and so often get hurt. As I continue through this journey of life, my skin continues to thicken, my muscle maturity continues to grow so hopefully I won’t make the same mistakes I have in the past. I am grateful for the lessons I have learned, the experiences I have had, the friends I have made, fair weather and lifelong.
8 Tips from a Transformation Survivor
By Axis Labs Athlete Josh Black
A little over two and a half years ago I walked into a local gym with the hope that I could change my life. Thinking back, making my way through the front doors was a huge step. I was extremely intimidated by the environment and all the fit people.
I met with a trainer who took my body fat, and gently broke the news that I was obese. Several times I had looked in the mirror and found myself disgusted, but I had never considered the notion that I was obese. I decided then that it was absolutely time for change.
Staying on track and changing my life has been far from easy. Every day is a battle to stick with the commitment I have made to myself. As my journey has continued, I still have to do things every day to motivate myself to stay on track. Here are my tips to help you survive your transformation.
Tip 1-Have a vision/Goal
Before setting out on this life changing and transforming journey, you will need to have a clear vision/goal of what exactly it is that you want. Who has ever gone out and done something great without first having a vision/goal of the end result? Not only do you need to have a clear vision but you need to ask yourself, “why it is important to you”? There will surely be tough days ahead where you will ask yourself, “Why am I doing this”? On those tough days it will be your vision/goal that will push you to fight on and continue with your transformation. Set SMART goals.
If you want to learn more about SMART goals, here is a link to a great article from Shannon Clark. http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/sclark19.htm
Tip 2-Make an Official Announcement
Making an official announcement will mentally commit you. Tell everyone that you are transforming your life. Not only tell everyone, but be excited about it. Make an official announcement on your social networks along with verbally telling people at work, and any other place you frequent. When you tell people about your goal, they WILL follow up with you and help keep you accountable. Utilize BodySpace in this process. It’s a great tracking tool, and it even has a countdown for you reaching your goal. When you put your goal out there for everyone to see, you’re much more likely to follow through. People who keep their goals secret, bail in secret and only disappoint themselves.
Tip 3-Have a Plan, Set a Schedule
Having a plan and a schedule is critical. Would you schedule a meeting with your boss and not show up? Why should it be any different with training your body? Your health is important so you must schedule your gym time and have an agenda while you’re at the gym. One of my favorite quotes, by Benjamin Franklin, states “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”.
There are many resources available to help you come up with a plan and stick to the schedule. Bodybuilding.com has free plans developed and made available from the world’s top professionals in the health and fitness industry. I used Kris Gethin’s 12 week trainer and dropped 45 pounds.
In addition to scheduling time in the gym, it is also important that you plan time in your schedule for other areas in your life including family time, rest days, etc.
Tip 4-Daily Alone Quiet Time-
Finding time every day to be alone and somewhere quiet can be difficult. Our schedules are packed and life can be noisy and busy. As the father of four young children, 3 boys and 1 girl, it’s hard to find a moment and a place during my day where it is quiet and I am alone. In your schedule set a time daily to reflect on your progress, and plan. I have found that the best time for me is in the early morning when my family is asleep and I can sit at my kitchen table and read, ponder, and plan for the coming day.
Become a Student
To be successful at reaching and maintaining fitness goals it is important to be a student. I am a teacher by profession and consider myself a lifetime learner. Am I saying go out and enroll in college courses? No. I found bodybuilding.com to be a comprehensive resource in helping me to better my health and reach my fitness goals. The more knowledge you gain about health and fitness, the more accountable and less ignorant you are. With anything in life, if you want success, you must study methodology, is it not any different with exercise, and nutrition.
Tip 6-Ignore the Haters
While there are many people that will support you along your journey, unfortunately there may often be what the fitness industry refers to as “haters”. Haters come in many forms and are often those closest to us. They may be your friends and even family members.
For a variety of reasons, there are people who feel uncomfortable when those around them start to make positive changes in their health and fitness. Those who know you best, who are supposed to be your greatest support can become your greatest transformation adversaries. Whether it’s your parents, spouse, children, and yes, even sweet old grandma, whoever the naysayer is, my advice, ignore them! If anything use their negativity to fuel your fire to succeed. I am in no way saying write these people off, they are your family, and they may be very supportive in many other aspects of your life. All I am saying is realize they know the old you.
There will be times when you sit at family functions and social events and watch others eat as much, and whatever they want. You will hear the comments and little jabs taken at you as you eat differently. Yes they are enjoying themselves but who is going to be happier with the results in the end? You! Look at your transformation as an opportunity to be an example to them, and maybe you can eventually help them to change their lives.
Tip 7-Look to the BodySpace Community for Support
Transforming your life and living a healthy lifestyle is a road not many take. Statistically looking at the obesity rates in the U.S, the evidence is clear, this road is a road less traveled, and can be lonely road at that.
BodySpace is a place where you can go and find others who are on the same road as you and who are going through a transformation right now, just like you. There are thousands upon thousands of people on BodySpace who,just like you, want to live a healthy lifestyle and want to improve every day.
There are also many others who I guarantee had it worst off than you, and they were able to overcome and transform their life. Find those people who have been successful, those who inspire you. Make those social connections, and look to them for support while going through your transformation.
Tip 8-Believe in yourself, Expect to finishing, Make Changes Permanent
As you go into your transformation, realize that this transformation isn’t just a “diet”. To truly transform your life, the changes you make need to be permanent changes. Realize you’re making a lifestyle change.
Through your transformation, inevitably there will be hard days ahead. Remember your reasons for taking the journey in the first place. Remember the destination. Believe in yourself; be consistent, be patient, and you will transform not only your body, but also your mind and heart.
I promise you that if you commit, if you follow through, if you make changes, and live a healthy, active lifestyle, all other aspects of your life will improve. Your relationships, your career, your attitude…EVERYTHING will improve! You will have a new found passion for life; waking up each day ready to achieve greatness.
The true secret to becoming a transformation survivor is to keep the big picture in mind as you do the little things everyday. While focusing on the little things every day, realize that it is because of the little things, that you are able achieve the great big things. I know you can do it! Don’t wait another day. Don’t put it off until tomorrow, start today!
Happy New Year! I hope that everyone had a wonderful New Year filled with good company, food, and beverages. ;-) I hope that you have begun your new year determined to make this next year your best one yet! I hope that you have sat down and seriously contemplated on what things are important to and your happiness, and what things you want to achieve both short and long term. My first goal, to blog more! To write down my feelings and thoughts because it helps me to think things through. It reaffirms plans or helps me to change them when things are necessarily going in the direction I want them to.
For myself personally I have had some major changes in my life, mainly I am going through a divorce. This is something that I have not shared a lot about because I am not one to post my dirty laundry out for everyone to see.
Not only am I going through a divorce but I am going through this with 5 children. It is something that was my choice, a choice at times that I have second guessed that if what I am doing is the right thing. When it comes down to it, I want to be happy. I want my kids to be happy, and believe it or not I want my ex-wife to be happy. The truth is, neither one of us were happy. We once were, but somewhere down the line we lost sight of each other. Our friendship deteriorated and neither one of us were really concerned about the happiness of the other. Yes if anything both of us are very selfish.
I am not guilt free in the destruction of my marriage but it takes two people, it is never just one person’s fault. I know there are so many things I could do better. I am reading a book called the 3% man and I have already seen the many mistakes I made. The major one, to be frank, I gave away my balls, my manhood. I stopped being a man. I made excuses and passed responsibilities onto my ex-wife that were mine and mine alone. I made excuses for being the person that I wanted to be and I apologized way too much for things I didn’t need to apologize for. I stopped courting my wife. I made the mistake of taking the attitude of I have her so I don’t need to do anything else. Mainly because my life is so busy, I didn’t prioritize my marriage. When I tried to, it was too late and the damage had been done. Don’t get me wrong I am not taking all the blame because there are MANY things my ex-wife did that was very damaging to our relationship and our friendship. I am not going to go through them.
The important thing is that I am trying to learn from my mistakes, and I am now moving forward with a new resolute to achieve new things in my life. Mainly I am moving forward and focusing on being happy.
#1- To be the best father I can be to my children.
#2- To be even more passionate about my career in the teaching field as well as my fitness career.
#3-To live my life everyday focusing on being happy. Not apologizing for doing those things that make me happy. Not apologizing or excusing myself to anyone for staying true to myself. Being a man and not apologizing for it.
#4-IFFB pro card! I am heading to Las Vegas in July and my goal, to win my pro card. Nothing else really matters to me right now in regards to fitness. Yes I am breaking PR’s like crazy in the gym but really the golden goose is that IFBB pro card.Again if you have not sat down and written out specific goals and resolutions, do it and do it now. If you don’t write them down, you will not follow through on them. Be grateful for this day as Pit bull says, it's another day above ground. ;-)
It’s official, I’m now a real NPC physique competitor! This last week I competed in the NPC Idaho Muscle here in Boise, Idaho! I placed 2nd in class C 5ft 11 inches- 6ft 1 inch. There were 17 athletes in my class and around 80 physique competitors in all. Here is the kicker, the guy who placed first in my class won the overall! So close to winning the whole show so yes I was a little disappointed but hey I placed 2nd in my first physique show, I can’t complain. ;-)
Like everyone, we all have room for improvements and it’s important to get the judges feedback. As I spoke to the judges the message was that I had the guy ahead of me beat in everything except one thing, his abs were more defined. I don’t claim to be an expert in judging but I didn’t understand how one thing could place me behind him. I wasn’t going to argue either. The advice I received was that I needed deeper grooves in my abs. So with that being said my new mission in life is to get ridiculous abs.
I had a really good time, it was fun hitting the poses on stage and I was much more relaxed than I have been in the past. I had many close friends tell me I looked the best I ever had which is what it is all about, making improvements and being better than I was before. My last bodybuilding show I weighed 187 lbs, this show I was 199 lbs. So I made some great gains this last off season. Next show I want to be around 5 pounds heavier.
This was the first time I have competed with a team. I am apart of team BigJonfitness! It is awesome to be a part of such a successful team whom supports and encourages each other. Jon and Shawna have taken me further in my fitness journey than I have been able to go on my own. I feel very fortunate to be working with them. They are kind people whom really care about their clients.
Bodybuilding.com You Can Change Your Life
Oct 13th, 20
Often I see post from flexible dieters and all I see are pictures of pop tarts and pizza. Yes I eat these items too from time to time but I hate the message it sends because I believe you still need some foods in your diet such as vegetables. Yes you can take a multivitamin but I'd rather eat some greens.
Can you get results hitting your numbers eating lots of processed foods? Yes I have seen many people get results by hitting their numbers daily for an extended period of time. If you are on the far left of flexible dieting and your eating more processed foods, the changes tend to take longer and you have to be consistent for much longer. The plus side is that you want to lose body fat slowly over a period of time. Thus you retain more muscle through a cut. In my opinion it takes more discipline to be a flexible dieter then to be the traditional clean eater. Cuts that require flexible dieting with higher carbs work, but again you need to give yourself much more time to lose the body fat. So if your not a very patient person it may be a little hard for you. On a positive note once you have made those changes and you do get lean, you can maintain on a higher carb intake. The reverse dieting out is not as difficult of a process.
For me personally I lean more towards the "clean foods" with a victory/cheat meal once a week. I choose to go this route because I have not been able to have the discipline to do the 17-20 week cuts. I tend to cut really lean and then let my body fat jump up a bit and maintain. For me this works because I need to maintain a leaner physique year around and don't ever really let my body fat get too far out of control, also I see that my body reacts better when I am eating more "clean" foods.
Is there a right way or a wrong way? No I think it is completely your preference and how you want to go about losing the fat and what kind of schedule you have. Everyone's bodies are different and what works for person A might not for person B. That is why it's so important to experiment and play with your numbers. Write down what works for you. With that being said just because it worked once, it may not work the next time.
For this last cut and show prep, I took the really low carbohydrates approach and was able to get really great results. I really enjoyed working with Big Jon at Big Jon Fitness in Nampa, Idaho and I learned a lot from him. Now looking to the future I have been reverse dieting for the last few weeks. I must say having carbs back in my diet has helped me really turn up the intensity in the gym. I have lowered my fat intake and moderated my protein intake. My hope is to stay leaner but also be able to add some muscle on.
I have added some other types of foods back into my diet such as fast digesting carbs such as pop tarts, gummy bears, and Eggo waffles. ;-) So far I am having a good time.
Some future goals, 500lbs deadlift, continue to build my legs, abs, and traps.
Race for the Cure, Run With Jamie Eason
This last Saturday I had the amazing experience of running by Jamie Eason’s side for the Race for the Cure event in Boise, Idaho. I of course knew who Jamie was, but I never knew that she is a cancer survivor. It was awesome to be able to talk with Jamie about her family life and her adorable son and supportive husband. She is a very kind, down to earth person. It was great to hear her share her experience of how she overcame cancer and changed her life for the better.
I was able to meet many other survivors at the event. It really hit home for me as my own mother is a cancer survivor. Grateful that she is alive and well, counting my blessings.
The weather was wet and cold but it did not stop thousands of people coming out and showing their support. I had the fortunate experience of being a part of the Bodybuilding.com team of guys who ran the one mile course and took pictures with many! After the race we were up on stage with Jamie leading the cool down! At the end of the day not only was my body sore from flexing during pictures, but my cheeks were sore from all the smiling. ;-)
All in all it was an amazing, humbling experience which I will never forget! Thank You Bodybuilding.com and Jamie Eason!
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Alright, I am giving up on Bodybuilding and fitness, this is my last update. APRIL FOOLS! ;-) Never!
I am a little over a month now from stepping on stage and competing for the 5th time. I am more excited than ever have been to get on stage. Why? A few reasons, number one I feel more confident in what to expect and I feel like I am not the new guy anymore. Number two, I look better than I ever have, the best part, I still have 31 days to fine tune some of those areas that I still want to improve. The third reason I am so excited is that I feel so much better about my posing. I have been coached and I feel like the adjustments that I have made will really help me to better present my physique to the judges. Is there room for improvements? Yes of course there is always room to grow. That’s another reason why I love this sport so much because there is always things to learn and improve on. It truly is a journey that I really have just started.
Some of the challenges I am facing right now, time management. I had spring break this last week and I didn’t stick to my early to bed and early to rise along with morning workouts. The break through my schedule off as I wasn’t quite sure what times I would be going into the gym. I am very much a list kind of guy and I need to have plans daily in order to succeed. Yes I even write out action list daily.
Yes I am going to start another blog with quoting a country song……There are so many good messages in every genre of music. Typically in the early morning as I am driving to the gym, like many, I listen to the radio. My commute is short, about 12 miles but it’s a time I enjoy. It’s a part of my mental preparation for the day along with my morning routine of reading, while eating my Clutch Whey protein pancakes. This time the quote comes from one of Tim McGraw’s songs. “Someday, I hope you get the chance, to live like you were dyin.”
Clutch Whey Protein Pancakes
No I don’t have a terminal disease and I don’t expect to die anytime soon, but who does? The point is, we are all dying! Each day we are getting older, and hopefully wiser, but nonetheless older. Our life is shortening and our time here is ticking away.
My advice, don’t waste another day at battle with yourself! Take advantage of today! In the past I would find myself often saying, “I plan on doing ________in the future”. The truth is, I was making excuses for not having the courage to step up and do it today. Now that I am a little older, I feel an urgency to take advantage of my time. I don’t want to put off my dreams until later, because if not now, when? There is no later, there is only now!
Yes it is very easy to type the words down and to say it, but following through and carrying things out is a whole different subject. If it were easy, everyone would walk the walk, and talk the talk. If it were easy everyone would achieve their dreams. A little secret is that if it were easy, if it did not require much effort, the achievement would not be nearly as rewarding in the end. With whatever you set out to do in your life, it seems like this truth is applicable. Satisfaction comes with overcoming obstacles.
Unfortunately the world we live in has many obstacles that stand in our way. Life is not fair and it is certainly not easy, but regardless of the obstacles that stand in our way, you have to remember to enjoy the things that make life so special. Celebrate the little successes you have, because it is the little successes that push you towards reaching the big ones. Have a short term memory when it comes to failure. We all have them in our lives. It’s part of growing. The point is, don’t sit on them and don’t let them consumer your thoughts. Thoughts lead to action, good and bad. Don’t let past failures scare you away from future successes. Learn from them and move on.
Remember were all dyin, all of our time is ticking away, don’t waste it, do it now, and if you fail, at least you tried. If anything, you can always try again.
Chance of a Lifetime! My Experience at Bodybuilding.com headquarters, by Axis Labs Athlete Josh Black
A few weeks ago I had the chance of a lifetime! I was given the amazing opportunity to go to Bodybuilding.com headquarters in Boise, Idaho! I felt like Charlie Bucket and I had found the golden ticket and I was going into the factory. I was there for three days participating in photo and video shoots for the upcoming Bodybuilding.com program Pillars. Out of the whole country, and all the members on BodySpace, Bodybuilding.com picked two men and two women to participate in this project. I feel honored and truly blessed to have been one of those chosen and to be able to share my transformation story, and be a part of the forthcoming Pillars.
I was the local guy, the rest were flown in from Maryland (Antonio Wright), North Carolina (Ginger Jernigan), and Colorado (Pam Brown). All of us went through a transformation and Bodybuilding.com played a huge part in our success.
I was so impressed with the Antonio, Ginger, and Pam’s stories and how far they had come. To hear them talk about their lives, the challenges they faced and overcame, along with their success was truly empowering and motivating! It was only three days but we bonded and became friends. We may be from different parts of the country but we all had one thing in common, we all have a passion for fitness and health.
Walking in the Front Doors
Bodybuilding.com just moved into their new facility and man was it nice! Across the front of the building in huge black letters with blue background is BodyBuilding.com. As I went to open the front doors I noticed the handles were barbells. The front lobby had a custom built bodybuilding.com motorcycle from Orange County Choppers. I of course took the opportunity to jump on it and take a picture. The last thing in the lobby was a wall full of clear panels. The panels were full of signatures from all the employees and people who had visited the facility. Yes I got to sign it! There is a sign in middle of the panels which reads. “We commit to changing lives and become our best selves”.
As you leave the lobby and walk into the main building the next thing you see to is the gym! It made a huge statement to me that the gym was the first thing you see when you enter the main building doors. On the outside of the gym there was another sign that reads, “Life is a gift, one that should not be taken for granted. Fitness is a call to take your life to a higher level. Set a goal. Follow a plan. Track results. Stay Motivated. Motivate others. Repeat. To move mountain you first have to move muscle. Change your body, change your life”.
From the moment I walked in the doors, the staff at Bodybuilding.com was awesome! They made me feel like I was a superstar. Lisa Hawkes the Digital Publishing Project Manager made me feel very welcome and made sure I knew exactly what was going on and what I was supposed to do. For all three days there was a detailed production schedule. Lisa led us up to wardrobe where we got to pick out B-Elite clothes. At the end of the production we were able to pick out one B-Elite outfit to keep. They also gave us a Bodybuilding.com gym bag full of goodies. Score!
Brandon Poe, the Executive Producer gave us a tour of all three stories along with the history of Bodybuilding.com. He explained what it was like to work for this amazing company. We were able to sit down with Mr. Montz, the head of the BodySpace program and share feedback with him about the BodySpace. We were given a sneak peek at was coming up in the future and how the site was going to change. It was very exciting to see all the staff and how hard they were working. They were collaborating as they attacked the projects they were assigned to. They had areas separated that were their think tanks. The walls were covered with inspirational books along with whiteboards and pens to write down ideas. As a teacher I really appreciated the conduciveness of the learning environment. As I was sitting in the think tank for the last part of the video shoot, I picked one of the books off the shelf to read, it was The 4-Hour Body by Timothy Ferriss, yes I am going to buy it so I can read the rest.
Ryan DeLuca Founder and CEO of Bodybuilding.com
We were even given the unique opportunity to have a sit down in the conference room with the founder and CEO of Bodybuilding.com Mr. Ryan DeLuca. Yes it was a little nerve racking to sit across from a man who has built a huge empire. I quickly became comfortable as he spoke to us and shared his feelings and experiences. He took the time to ask for our feedback. He shared his story of how he started Bodybuilding.com out of his garage! Truly amazing story! I went home that night and was describing Ryan to my wife and these words came to mind: laid back, well spoken, friendly, sincere, humble, ambitious, and caring. We were told by several employees that the guy remembers everyone’s name and details about all of them. He also has an open door policy to come in and talk with him pretty much whenever you want to. That’s pretty impressive when you have 500+ employees! We were also told the he is constantly self educating by listening to books in his car. Side note, if you are an employee at Bodybuilding.com they pay you $50 to read a book and turn in a book report, two reports a month max! They also reward employees for exercising and making healthy choices along with transformation challenges. You can earn credits along with paid time off. Needless to say it was obvious to see why the company is on top and why their employees love working there. The last thing that I thought was really cool was that Ryan and I graduated high school the same year. 1996! I think he has had a little more financially success than myself. ;-) I better get on it!
Lights, Cameras, Nervousness!
I have had fitness photo shoots before, I have made videos before, but man I was nervous. My nerves were quickly put at ease as I got to know the production crew. They were so laid back and they had a lot of fun with what they were doing, in turn I was able to have fun and be myself. An example was the second day we had a little down time before the photo shoot, a few of us decided to go into the break room and play a few rounds of ping pong. Though I lost, ;-) I had a great time and got a good sweat going on. I was told they have ping pong tournaments at lunch. They also had a huge flat screen TV with Xbox in the corner. I would have a hard time getting much work done. ;-)
Conclusion-My life has and will continue to change
Looking back at this experience I am in awe that I was so lucky to again be picked. My life has and will continue to change forever because of it. I am excited to be a part of the BodySpace program and in turn I feel like my story and experiences will hopefully help to motivate many, many, more people to change their lives. When I think of it in that perspective of being an example and helping others, my heart is full of joy because serving others and feeling like I am making a difference is a huge reason why I am so passionate about fitness. This is the same reason I am an educator/teacher. Though bodybuilding and fitness is seen by outsiders as a very selfish sport, because you really are self-absorbed in your body, workouts, nutrition, etc. Though it may seem very self-absorbed sport and community, it is very much the opposite. Yes fitness is part of my career but it is much bigger than that. For me personally it is about fighting against obesity and other unhealthy lifestyles that are effecting the whole human race. Like the sign said outside of the gym at bodybuilding.com, it’s about helping others to take their lives to a higher level. Because fitness improves every aspect of your life.
As Good As I Once Was, How To Naturally Help Boost Your Testosterone Levels By Axis Labs Athlete Josh Black
As my 36th birthday quickly approaches, I have been reflecting on my life and particularly my age and getting older. The other day I was driving home and listening to the radio. As I have gotten older I have become a big country music fan, a far cry from my younger days filled with rap and heavy metal. I of course still listen to those stations too.
This particular day I was listening to Toby Keith's hit song, "As Good As I Once Was". I love the lyrics particularly the chorus, "I ain't as good as I once was, I got a few years on me now, but there was a time, back in my prime when I could really lay it down". I know there are times I find myself saying "I used to be able to". My message for myself and for everyone else, STOP! Forget your past success and look to huge future, look to your current goals and the things you are achieving now.In many ways I am better now than I was 10 years ago. For starters I am in better physical shape than I was 10 years ago, I am more knowledgeable about how I can live a healthy lifestyle and therefore my quality of life has improved significantly. I have more energy, my goals are clear, and I'm more excited than ever to achieve them.
Indeed knowledge and experience is powerful, but that doesn't change the reality that I am getting older and my body is changing. The gym to me is truly the fountain of youth. With that being said there are things I can do to slow down Father Time a bit.
In men testosterone levels peak at age 20 and decline at the rate of about 1% each year after. Testosterone is so important to men because it helps with sexual drive, bone density, muscle strength, and overall energy. Yes levels decline but you still have normal testosterone levels that need to be maintained. Low testosterone levels affect more than 10 million men in the United States alone.
Here are a few ways to help keep your testosterone levels and boost them as well.
For myself I take two products that help boost my testosterone levels naturally, Axis Labs HypeTEST, the men's multivitamin Endoshield, and the testosterone modulator Myodex. See the two links below for further product details.
2. Compound Movements-
Exercises such as squats, dead lifts, and power clings, are all demanding compound movements that help to drive your anabolic rate and provide a larger hormonal response. I recommend doing a warmup and then heading strait to these heavier compound movements at the start of your workout. They require much more energy and you will maxi is your lifts if you hit them when you are fresh. When I plan my workouts they are centered around those lifts.
3. Eat Healthy Fats-
Some examples of healthy fats: eggs, almonds, pistachios, and avocado. Eating these fats will help promote healthy fat loss but also keep cholesterol levels high enough, no too high, to promote testosterone production.
4. Eat Your Veggies-
Eating vegetables helps your body to remove estrogen from your body. As you meal plan center your meals around what vegetables you will include. I do this with breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I am also a big fan of the bullet blender and chopping my veggies up into a veggie cocktail.
Men who get 7-8 hours of sleep have shown to have higher testosterone levels.
a study published in the University of Chicago showed that men who averaged just 5 hours of sleep or less experienced a drop in testosterone levels of 10-15 percent. (E,Cauter) Go to bed early, wake up early reading to conquer the day. A few years ago I would have laughed if you told me that I needed to wake up early every morning and go to the gym. Now I look forward to it. I enjoy the quiet hours in the morning eating my breakfast and mentally preparing for the day before I go to the gym and hit my workout.
Are these tips new? No, but I am always having to remind myself of what works and what doesn't work, what moves me towards achieving my goals, and what doesn't.
(E.Cauter) <a href="http://www.uchospitals.edu/news/2011/20110531-sleep.html" target="_blank">http://www.uchospitals.edu/news/2011/20110531-sleep.html</a>
Plan for Success, Not For Failure, By Axis Labs Athlete Josh Black
Have you ever went on a road trip on the spur of the moment? You jumped in your car and just drove, no directions, no map quest, just hoping to arrive safely at your destination in a timely manner? You didn't pack any clothes, budget for food, gas, housing, or entertainment. Did your trip go smoothly? Were you heading in the right direction? Did you arrive?
Has a general ever lead his troops into combat without a battle strategy? A NFL coach without a series of scripted plays for every situation possible, a contractor building a house without blueprints, a business man starting a new business without a business plan, a teacher without lesson plans, I could go on and on.
It is no different with achieving your goals on your fitness journey. One of my favorite quotes, "If you FAIL to plan, you are planning to FAIL". Benjamin Franklin
January first is quickly approaching. Every year I see the gym filled to the brim with new faces, faces with some hesitancy and nervousness, but excited nonetheless. They are beginning their new journey to living a healthy lifestyle. Yes it is annoying that there are more people on the equipment that I want to use, but it's exciting to see people get the bug and take that first big step.
As the weeks go on, like a plague swooping in and killing off a population, many people die out and disappear. The survivors are very few. What separates the survivors with the deceased gym goers?
They have a plan!
Yes having a plan is so important but just having a plan is not good enough. Having the right plan is the secret to your success.
1. Make sure the plan is tailored to your goal/s-
Whether it be weight loss, muscle gain, endurance, performing better at a sport, having more energy, whatever your reasons are, make sure your coordinates are dialed in to the right destination. My recommendation, go to bodybuilding.com and choose an individualized plan that aligns with your goals. The plans are free and they are written by some of the top trainers in the world. Everything is mapped out for you including training, nutrition, and supplementation, yes they carry all of Axis Labs products!
2. Begin Your Journey with an official announcement-
Tell EVERYONE that you are embarking on this journey. Call, text, Facebook, tweet, Instagram, blog, email, whatever way you choose to communicate. Doing this does a few things. First it creates accountability for yourself. You are way more likely to follow through with something if you let everyone know about it. If you tell everywhere they will ask you how things are going, they will hopefully give you encouragement. Side note, be prepared for those who will hate and try to bring you down. Whenever you set out to achieve something great you will always have those people who will want to discourage and bring you down. My recommendation, use their words of discouragement as fuel for your motivation to be successful.
The second thing that announcing your journey will do for you, it will turn on your internal commitment button. Once you make that official announcement I promise you that a switch will go off inside of you and you will mentally commit. Those who fail, fail in secrecy because their goals are kept secret.
3. Remember why you are doing this in the first place-
Achieving your fitness goals is not an easy journey by any means. It is the road less travelled. If it was easy, everyone would take this trip and arrive at their destination.
Because this will be a very difficult journey your need to remind yourself often of why you are doing this in the first place. Everyone, I mean everyone, has hard days where they have to push through setbacks. It is in those moments of challenge that you must somehow mentally dial back in to why this is important. Ask yourself how much better your life will be by sticking with your game plan.
4. Envision and believe-
As corny as it might sound, believe in yourself. Envision what it is that you would like to become and believe that you can achieve. The power of self- perception and the will to achieve is something like a muscle, it can grow with time and experience. As you start to see little success you will begin to believe more and more. Celebrate the little successes and use them as checkpoints to help continue to move you in the right direction.
I keep referring to this is a journey, not a drive across town. Be patient and enjoy the ride. Realize that big changes take time, and more importantly consistency.
Be teachable and learn from good and bad examples, Josh Black’s rules of training..
As a personal trainer and a person trying to get into the best shape of my life, I am in the gym constantly. I joke with my wife that my first home is the gym since I spend more time there then my own home. This is of course a exaggeration but sometimes it feels that way. Being a father and husband I of course don’t want to take time away from my family, so I maximize my schedule by working out early in the morning and or late at night. When I work out its all business, in and out. I put the headphones in and get it done because l don’t have the time to be there all day chit chatting all day.
I am also a people watcher. This is a blessing and a curse. A blessing because you can learn a lot from watching other people train. A curse because I constantly see bad technique and form. I find myself wanting to correct people but I resist knowing most people, especially guys, will let their ego get in the way of good advice. Also, who has time for that? Again I want to get in and out. Don’t get me wrong at times I stop and I do offer advice and try to help others, that’s who I am, I love to help others. I believe that is part of the responsibility of being healthy is helping others to do the same, like Arnold said, “give something back”.
I am lucky because I work out at a gym where some of the top fitness trainers, bodybuilders, and many sponsored athletes also train. I have seen Jim Stoppani, and Lee Labrada, working out, just to name a few. The person I see the most is physique competitor and fitness model, Steve Cook. Steve is an Idaho boy and lives here so I see him more frequently than others. Over the last few years, Steve being the person that he is, has given me a lot of awesome advice. You bet I watch him workout and see what he is doing.
Do you have to have famous athletes and trainers working out in your gym to learn things? Of course not, I have learned a few things from watching and talking with many people from all walks of life. Every gym has a person who looks amazing and you ask yourself, “what is that guy doing”? You don’t only ask yourself, you ask them, you watch them, if your smart you learn from them. When I do talk to them it’s at the drinking faucet or at the tables when they are done with their lifting session because again I don’t want to interrupt their workout or mine. In between sets whether its 2 min or 1 min I can watch them and see what they are doing.
Now the opposite, the bad examples. The most frequent bad examples I see are guys whose ego gets in the way of progress. They put as much weight as possible on the bar, they use the momentum of their body movement more than the actual muscle they are trying to isolate and build to move the weight. Two frequent lifts that I see this happen, bicep curls, and bench press. With the curling movement it becomes a swinging movement, the bench becomes a bounce or arching of the back.
After all the people watching and through my own experiences, I have developed the following rules: totally my opinion.
#1-Form-prevents injury and maximize isolation of the targeted muscle.
#2-Blood flow-This is also referred to the pump, the burn. My goal is to get as much blood and nutrients into the muscle. This means focusing on every rep and making it count. For me the slower the movement and more control of the weight, the more pump I feel. I generally with have a faster positive movement, and a very slow negative movement pausing at the top, and the bottom. This helps prevent that swinging movement I mentioned earlier.
#3-Lift Heavy while maintaining form-The word heavy is different from person to person but when I say heavy I mean as heavy as I can go, while maintaining my form and hitting my rep range. If my range is 6 I can go heavier, if it’s 35 reps my weight drops but I still keep the weight as heavy as I can. I might even drop the weight while reaching the rep range.
#4-Variety- Typically your body will not hit plateaus for about 6 weeks, meaning you could do the same workouts for that six weeks and still get results before hitting plateaus. For me I have found that if I have variety in my workouts muscle confusion does take place and I have a better workout and see better results.I have my bread and butter base lifts that I do every week, bench press, squats, and dead lifts. I will build my workouts around those lifts because they help my body to natural production of testosterone and my anabolic rate.
#5-Timing between sets. If I am trying to get leaner I take shorter breaks and I lift heavy but my weight naturally goes down as my recovery time is shorter. If I am trying to put on some muscle and size, I increase my wait time between sets and give my body time to recover so I can lift the really heavy weight for the next set.
#6- Vary Rep Range-I have tried and heard every rep range in the book. 12, 10, 8, 6, 4 pyramiding or the 15, 15, 15. Drop sets of 5 up to 30, giant sets of 50,40, 30, 20, 10, 5, and back up again 5, 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, or the good old 100 reps to burn out. There are so many ways to break down the muscle. The point is vary the range and focus back on number 2, blood flow. If your muscles are not pumped and burning your not working and you need to change it up! Up the weight, adjust your form, squeeze the muscle longer, slow up the negative movement, maybe even drop the weight. Do something different than what your doing that is not working at that moment.
How to survive vacation!
It’s summer time/vacation season which means on the road, at the airport, restaurants, unfamiliar, uncomfortable territory. Your fridge is hundreds if not thousands of miles away. There is no possible way you can eat clean and keep it together right? Nonsense! Where there is a will, there IS a way.
I am a teacher and I have more custodial time with my oldest son, so during the summer I take most of my big vacations. This last month alone I drove 3.141.6 miles with 4 kids in the car, three of them under 5 years old. Yes at times I felt like I was going to go crazy! It was all about creating memories for my kids and having quality family time, and guess what, we have one more road trip planned for next week. Disneyland was awesome, and well worth the sacrifice in a car for long hours.
I am 2 months out from my next competition and a photo shoot with my sponsor (Axis Labs) in Colorado. Needless to say I don't have time to screw around and have cheat meals. I have to have things, things meaning my diet and exercise plan, locked in to get the results I need to be ready to dominate a show and look good on camera.
So how is it possible? What things have I done to make sure I am keeping it together?
1. Whey protein-the nice thing about whey protein is that it is convenient. I can be in a car, in an amusement park, at a gas station, anywhere, and still be able to drink a nutritional shake and get the nutrients to my body that I need. All you need is a shaker bottle, bottle of water, and your whey protein. I use Axis Labs Clutch Whey Golden Vanilla.
2. You can eat out clean. Any restaurant I go to I can always get a chicken breast, veggies, and a salad. Your paying for the food you can manipulate the menu to what you want.
3. Pack some non perishable items. I love almonds. I will have almonds and other healthy snacks while in the car that I can munch on when I am in the car or out and about.
4. Utilize hotel gyms or get guess passes. Most hotels have decent equipment that you can get a workout in, or you can get a guess pass at a nearby gym. I always enjoy a change in scenery. If all else fails push ups, sit ups, and planks work great along with a jump rope or running stairs, swimming laps. Get creative!
Again just because you are out of your element doesn't mean you can't be successful! If you want something bad enough you will find a way in any circumstance!
If you made a priority list of concerns about your child's safety, it would be stacked with no-brainers like violent video games, inappropriate movies, drugs, alcohol, strangers, busy streets, and texting while driving. But would it include unhealthy food?
Childhood obesity rates are continuously rising. In the past 30 years, obesity has more than doubled among children and tripled among adolescents. It's no secret that this statistic is directly related to diet and food consumed by our children.
Unfortunately, the world we live in makes it easy and affordable to feed our children terrible food. The food industry, much like the tobacco industry, has glamorized and masked unhealthy foods. What kid wouldn't want to eat at fun restaurants that hand out toys and have playgrounds or video game centers? These establishments hook children when they're young and tell them, "Deep down, this is what you really want." Then, as kids get older, they don't have much spending money and end up turning to dollar menus, vending machines, and convenience stores.
The grocery store is better, but barely. Most are filled with aisles of boxed and packaged processed foods that would survive a nuclear war. Much of this food is misleading and proudly advertises "low fat," when in reality it's extremely high in sugar, sodium, unhealthy chemicals, and processed ingredients.
Not all hope is lost, though! It's still possible to help our children to make healthy choices for a lifetime. These seven steps to improve childhood health are a great place to start!
1 / Look for Little Changes That Have Big Effects
Have you let your children eat sugary cereal every morning for breakfast since they could first hold a spoon? Well, that seems like a good place to start. They may fight it at first, but there are plenty of other, healthier things they could be eating. Maybe healthier snacking is a more feasible target for you right now—that's fine. Pick your battle, and go win it!
Instead of thinking solely about the end result, direct your attention toward little steps to achieve the end goal. Little changes make big differences in the long run. As a parent of four (three boys and one girl), I've been through the difficult process to change my family's eating habits. It didn't happen overnight and it wasn't easy, but it was certainly worth it.
2 / Practice What You Preach
You can't tell your children to act a certain way and do the exact opposite. Be an example for them by eating healthy, being physically active, and most importantly, enjoying yourself while you do it! This won't work if it feels like punishment to either you or them. Your children are smart, but there's some real truth behind the old saying, "The apple doesn't fall far from the tree."
3 / Take Out the Trash
My son has a severely overweight friend. When he comes over to play, he always comes with a backpack full of candy bars, soda, and chips. He's a walking convenience store! This is an example of a child who has free access to whatever he wants—or has been led to believe he wants, anyway—whenever he wants.
I'm willing to bet money that most household kitchens have pockets of unhealthy, processed food hidden somewhere in them. My solution: Get rid of the bad food! Go into your kitchen and throw away everything you don't want yourself or your children to eat. Take out the trash and make your kitchen a temple for healthy foods.
There are always healthy alternatives to unhealthy foods, but it's up to you to make the effort to find what works for you and your family. My family threw out processed, sugary, high-fat, chemical-filled foods and added healthier options like natural peanut and almond butter, whole-grain products, fresh fruits, almond cheese, olive oil, garbanzo bean and almond flour, and almonds.
4 / Change Your Lifestyle, Not Your "Diet"
I hate the word "diet" because people immediately think of a temporary adjustment. They then think, "Oh great, I have to eat less food, and the foods will be tasteless." This logic is completely false, but good luck explaining that to your family item-by-item. This is a lifestyle change, so embrace it as one!
Become a student of nutrition and health. Use the Internet as a resource to find information and recipes. Know how to read labels and scan for unhealthy ingredients, and then put that knowledge into action. This helps to create accountability, and accountability promotes success.
5 / Let Them Be Kids—In Moderation
Is living a healthy lifestyle and eating healthy foods critical? Yes! With that being said, kids should be kids and enjoy treats occasionally. For example, there's no way I would deny my children a birthday cake. The key word is "moderation." It's up to you as a parent to determine what moderation means for your family. In my opinion, if you eat something daily, or if you have it in your house all the time, it's not moderate.
Likewise, you can do everything right at home, but you still can't control what your kids eat and do out in the world. An occasional unhealthy meal at a friend's house or at school isn't the end of the world. Think of it this way: Would you prefer that they felt comfortable telling you about it, or that they felt compelled to lie to you? Which one seems more likely to lead to a healthy lifestyle as an adult?
6 / Encourage Physical Activity
You see your kids finally "giving you a break," but I see kids planted on the couch playing video games and watching TV. They need to be outside playing and burning calories! Don't be afraid to join them—after all, this is your lifestyle too, right? Throw the ball around, go for a walk, or let (or make) them help with yard work. I look forward to the day I can take my children to the gym and become their personal trainer. It's a motivator to keep myself healthy.
Change takes time, and it takes your best efforts. But with consistency, these little things can make a big difference in the long run. A healthy lifestyle will prepare your children for success in the future. I want my children to be happy and successful adults, and being healthy and fit are two keys to success.
7 / Educate, Don't Just Dictate
Whether your kids are at home, school, or a friend's house, they need to learn how to make healthy choices on their own. You won't always be there to make the right choice for your child, and if you're just a voice in their head shouting "Don't do that!" they'll learn to ignore you. Ultimately, all you can do is educate them and hope they make the right choice.
At the same time, you must teach them to be respectful of others' lifestyle choices and habits. I tell my children they're good examples to others when they eat healthy. Take your kids shopping, have them help you prepare meals and pack school lunches. Help them understand the thought process and preparation that are part of a healthy life. These activities are authentic and will help your child be more confident to make healthy choices.
I have officially signed my contract with Axis Labs. I feel so fortunate to be apart of a company that is up and coming with a full quality product line.
I am big into the Science of supplements and how everything works. One of the first things I noticed, Axis Labs has videos explaining their supplements, their ingredients, and how they really work.
It's so important to know what your putting into your body and becoming a student of supplements. Axis Labs is a company that is easy for me to promote because I know I am endorsing quality products.
Excited for what the future holds and to be able to step on stage representing Axis Labs!
My last two shows I placed first for the 1st time! It felt great and I for sure what to continue down the road of winning. Two weeks later I placed 2nd which to be honest I was disappointed. I wanted to win, I always want to win. I have been competing my whole life and it's something that is so engrained in me that I can't help it. It's what motivates me. I have other motivations too but I would by lying if I said I wasn't in it, to win it!
The truth is that two weeks before my last show, three days before the show that I won, I looked the best I have ever looked, and yes I screwed it up by throwing a hell marry and doing something drastic that made me look softer and not as defined. The consistent reason that I heard from the judges of why I lost, I wasn't lean enough. I was for sure lean, but the 54 year old dude that beat me, was leaner. I might have been way bigger than him, but in NGA leanness is what they are looking for. If anything I was excited/impressed to see a guy that age looked so good. It gave me some hope that I can continue doing this for many years to come!
The great news is I now know EXACTLY what to do next show to be freaking shredded and big. It's reassuring that after 4 shows I feel like I finally figured it out, or at least I think I did. ;-)
Youtube clips: Bodybuilding Teacher