Amazing Transformation of Body and Mind
(From Jim: Here is an email I got from Mike Parilla. Mike and I have corresponded quite a bit, but mostly about music, not about training. Mike sat down and wrote out his journey. Please read this - I think this is a great story and something many of us can learn from.)
What I've Done, What's Become of Me
Jim, after setting a PR in the deadlift yesterday with 505 x 3 (could have been 5 but left some in the tank), I thought I’d write and let you know that the last 6 months I have made tremendous progress with 5/3/1. I have been running 5/3/1/ since early 2010 and had pretty good numbers during my first ten month cycle. I attributed this to recently coming off of geared powerlifting and being fatter. I was about 240 lbs and wore size 40 pants and also had shit condition. I remember in 09 I believe when I came to see you at the seminar down in the city, you looked at me and said point blank “you know you can be in better shape, right?” Yeah I could have been and you were right. More on that later though.
I did 5/3/1 with minimal conditioning up til April of 2011. In that time I had managed prs of 525X2 in the deadlift, 465X2 squatting, and 335 for 1 in the bench with a shit shoulder. But still was heavy and out of shape and thinking I had to do more in the weight room after the main lifts bombarded my body with lots of assistance work. I had a plan with all the assistance work, it was never on the fly, but in hindsight it was overdone.
In April I decided to make it a priority to up my conditioning and get in shape while staying as strong as I could. As you would expect while my weight came down a ton with all the conditioning , so did my numbers in the weight room. The days of squatting 465 and pulling 525 were replaced by squatting 300 for a few reps and pulling 425 for a few reps to maintain the strength. But as one would think, when you’re pushing conditioning and eating cleaner and losing weight things are gonna suffer. But through the whole time I was conditioning I never lost sight of the fact that you can’t serve two masters and no matter how much the twink in the cage was squatting more than me or pressing than me I never lost sight that my goal was being conditioned while staying as strong as I could. I had my plan and was sticking to it.
Also I must state that while I pushed conditioning I never ate like a dieting bodybuilder or ghandi. I still ate to maintain strength and live a normal existence. I just strived to go either run more hills or add another 100lbs to the prowler or another 6 trips to the prowler. All which gave me great results. At the end of 2011 I was 35 lbs lighter and down to a size 36 pants.
As January rolled around I finally felt like a better conditioned athlete and geared up to finally put the whole package together. My goal being to be able to walk into a gym and on a given day military press 200, squat 405, pull 500 and bench 315 for reps consistently. Numbers I thought a legit strong raw lifter should be able to do. I lift 3 days a week with 3 days of conditioning. Each week consists of military, rotating squatting and deadlifting every other week and benching. The main thing that I attribute my recent gains to is cutting out all the unneccesary accessory work. On the days I military press I power clean afterwards calculating my numbers using 5/3/1 progression, and then do a few sets of 10 based on how I feel and a few sets of front and side raises.
Bench press consists of the main work followed by inclines, dips and rows and pullups. In addition to 5/3/1 progression on the flat, I also applied this to the incline, not as a way to increase my incline, but as a way to remain honest and not over emphasize the accessory. Incidentally my incline press is stronger than it has ever been. Back to the bench press for a second it has always been shitty, never my best lift and with a shitty shoulder my numbers have made progress the last 6 cycles. But unlike the other lifts which I will test for a max or 2 rep max, whenever I did that in the past, with the shitty shoulder it would cause me to miss a week or two cause of the pain. So I decided to replace pride with logic and don’t plan on touching 300 until the cycle that the numbers call for it. It may take me 26 cycles but if it keeps me moving forward, why screw with it.
On the days of the squat, I do good mornings and ab work and on days I deadlift I do safety squat bar squats and ab work and go home. Nothing more.
Then at least 3 days a week whenever I can I push the prowler or do 100 yard sprints at the park. Whatever I feel like doing.
As I stated earlier I just pulled 505 for 3, and my squats are up to about 365 for 3, and military is about 175 for 2 and bench I’m never testing it just as long as the numbers increase each number I’m satisfied with this. While I do get tempted to add more accessory because maybe more is better, I realize that’s not always the case. I mean look at Van Halen, were they better when they added the synthesizer? NO! Keep the shit that works and don’t mess with a good thing. And as for my goals, I’m slowly on my way to lifting the numbers I mentioned earlier as my goals, along with not being a fat piece of shit, and that’s what matters to me. It took almost two years but Jim, I’m in better shape finally.
At the end of the day I have made progress I can be pleased with but never satisfied and I’m not only a better conditioned athlete but I’ve put on 20lbs while still fitting in size 38 pants. The reason I have gone up a pant size is because my legs have grown like weeds and while my waist is a 36 still, I need a little more fabric in the thighs.
I’m not writing this for any praise or recognition. You and I usually talk more about metal music, but I wanted to let you know that my training has consistently improved with the knowledge you passed on and hopefully I can pass it on to a few people I know. Also I just wanted to write down my journey to this point on paper and thought I’d share it with you. At the end of the day just come up with a plan and stick to it like serial killer would. Random homicide is easy but to track and plan out your killings and do it repeatedly while not getting caught for a long time takes diligence and discipline. Yeah it’s morbid and out there but you got the point which is what is important.
Thanks for reading this shit and thanks for being what I consider a friend and for all the knowledge you bestow on my and the rest of us.
Be well - Mike Parilla
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