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Tired all the time – The 400 pound bench press – Behind-the-neck press? – Prison muscle – Fish fan? – Fair game!

By Iron Vic Steele

Good morning,

I successfully lost 16-pounds over the summer. I basically trained every day either lifting or performing some form of cardio exercise. My eating was extreme. I basically ate some protein and a salad once a day. For 2.5 months this worked great and I lost weight every week. Then I hit a brick wall. I haven’t lost a pound in three months despite training harder. I upped the cardio to almost an hour six days a week. I weight train 30-minutes six times a week. I tried making my one meal smaller – but nothing is working. I am exhausted, tired all the time and tired of hitting my head against this wall. I just got turned onto Parrillo methods by a friend last month and noted that your philosophy towards eating is way different. How do you lose weight by eating more food?

Rocky, Dallas

In many ways you are the classical trainee, hard-working, disciplined – and misguided. Mainstream fitness conventional wisdom maintains that calories need be slashed to lose bodyweight. However, when the body is starved and overworked it goes into a catabolic state. Prolonged catabolism will cause the human body to eat its own muscle in order to forestall starvation. Rather than consume stored body fat, the body’s reserve fuel to counter starvation, the body will eat its own muscle. This is muscle cannibalism: the body strips muscle walls of amino acid content. The starvation diet approach shuts down the metabolism, throwing the body out of whack and preventing normal function. What John Parrillo recognized is that differing foods have a different metabolic impact: some foods are preferentially partitioned into making muscle and some foods are preferentially portioned into making body fat. At Parrillo Performance the differing impact of differing foods is accounted for. A hard training individual can consume a lot of lean protein and not get fat. Fiber carbs can be eaten in unlimited amounts. Your exhaustion can be cured in a matter of days by simply switching to a multiple meal eating schedule. Make sure to consume a serving of lean protein, a portion of fiber and a portion of complex starch carbs. By switching from starvation mode to Parrillo mode you can expect to shed your tiredness and experience some sensational gains. All you need to do is up your calories from clean bodybuilding foods.


Is a 400-pound bench press still a big deal? It used to be a very big deal. I read that the bench press record is 1,100 pounds! What does that guy look like? Apparently, a lot of guys have bench pressed 1,000-pounds. It used to be that a 400-pound bench press was a big deal. Not any more I guess…I weigh 170 and can bench press 250 using strict form. I would love to get to a 300-pound bench press by my 40th birthday next year. Any ideas would be appreciated.

Louis, St. Louis

Those huge bench presses are bogus. Here is the deal Louis from St. Louis. These monster bench pressers wear what is known as a “bench shirt,” a canvas vest that adds 400-pounds to their actual capacity. Human beings are stuck at around 700-pounds for bench pressing without the bench shirt. The first 700-pound bench press was done in 1970 by a man named Jim Williams. The highest “raw” bench press to this day (no bench shirt) is around 725-pounds. 25-pounds is not much of an improvement in the 48 years since Big Jim broke 700. The bench records done wearing bench shirts are so ridiculous that the bench press “world records” exceeds the deadlift world records. Take the shirts that add 40% away and no one is any stronger. A 400-pound raw bench press is still a big deal, assuming the lift is done strictly. A big factor is bodyweight: a 400-pound bench press for a 300-pound man is less impressive than a 400-pound bench press for a 200-pound man. Insofar as your quest to bench press 300, I would suggest you add some lean muscle mass: you will need more horsepower and torque, more strength and more muscle than you have now. Look to add a pound of bodyweight per week for ten straight weeks and at a full 180-pounds, Louis from St. Louis, you can expect to hit your 300-pound bench press goal. Keep the foods “clean” and make sure to do plenty of cardio; this ensures the weight gain is lean muscle and not marbled with fat. I would suggest three supplements that will aide the cause: CapTri® C8 MCT is the mass-builders best friend. At 100 usable net calories per tablespoon, there is no more concentrated way to take in clean calories. Hi-Protein powder™ is a must as is 50/50 Plus™, Parrillo’s post-workout replenishment shake. Put it all together and 70-days down the road, you will have muscled-up ten pounds and have nailed that 300 pound bench press.


My shoulders kill me after doing press-behind-the-necks. My training partners and I do this great shoulder exercise as a regular part of our shoulder training program. I can do them and while doing them I am fine. Afterwards, later that day or that night, I get a dull ache in my left shoulder that lingers for days. It feels as if my shoulder sockets are being pulled apart. Am I doing them wrong? I hate to stop doing them. I am using 185-pounds for sets of 5 to 8 reps.

William, Wheaton

Let them go. There is a sizeable percentage of the lifting population that cannot and should not do the PBN as they have the wrong kind of shoulder socket construction. Apparently, people of differing ethnicities have slightly different shoulder construction. A well respected shoulder surgeon explained it to me one time over steaks and drinks at the Palm in Washington DC. Use the heavy seated dumbbell press as your substitution exercise. Dumbbells allow the hands to rotate as needed and will allow you to avoid pain while pressing. Yes, the PBN is a fantastic exercise – but the seated or standing overhead dumbbell press is just as good a shoulder exercise and will not jack up your joints. Indeed, because you are built all wrong for the PBN when you do them your shoulder sockets are being pried apart. You might want to try some Parrillo Joint Formula. This product is specifically designed to help lessen joint pain and might be of benefit to you. Insofar as the behind-the-neck press, let them go: RIP PBN.

 Mr. Steele,

I happened to see a TV special on prison powerlifters. They have powerlifting in many of the state prison systems. These guys featured were muscular, shredded and busting 600-pound squats and 700-pound deadlifts right and left. These men have the worst equipment imaginable and train outside in rain, wind, snow and scorching heat. Yet, despite all the disadvantages, these guys are making sensational gains. I find this truly incredible. How is this possible?? 

Rex, Detroit

Good question. Instead of looking at what they have going against them, look at what they have going for them. Most consider the fact that convicts are forced to use crude tools is detrimental, a bad thing. Convicts use barbells, dumbbells and chin bars. They have some exercise benches, maybe they have squat racks, and maybe they have access to dip bars. That’s it. No access to hi-tech progressive resistance machines, no cardio devices, all of which is usually viewed as a disadvantage. When it comes to shocking the body and inducing hypertrophy, the core exercises done rough and raw using crude tools trump everything. Want massive muscles? Get a 700-pound raw, drug-free deadlift. I have never seen a man with a 700-pound dead that didn’t have an outstanding set of back muscles. Prisoners are consistent: they never miss a session and sessions are short, workouts must be done in a limited amount of time. Week after week, month after month, year after year, prisoners are engaging in short, intense workouts using the core exercises. Psychologically, the prisoner is always putting out, performing at 100% of capacity when training in plain view. Five years of this kind of consistency and focus can transform a man into a superman. Add some Parrillo-style nutrition to that kind of consistency, intensity and attention to the basics and you take prison muscle to the next level Take a que from prisoners and simplify things.


We are currently catching massive Copper River salmon – retailing for $500 a fish in Seattle! We are stuffing our faces at night after fishing a remote section of the river all day. I know you’d dig it if you were here – what is your favorite fish or shellfish? Fresh or saltwater? The only downside is how pricy the good stuff can get. Are you a fish fan?

Lars, Parts Unknown

You are a lucky man. Copper River salmon are prized fish. This species only has a two-week window to capture prime specimens. This is the most coveted salmon in the world, you are eating the best of the best. For me, I love nothing better than sitting down with a full pound of giant steamed shrimp. A pound of shrimp contains 500 ultra-clean calories with 92 grams of protein with only four grams of carbs and a mere seven grams of fat. I am a fan of expertly baked, broiled, sautéed and grilled fish, whole and filets. I love shellfish of all kinds with my guilty pleasure being fried oysters. Scallops are incredible and lobster would likely be my favorite single seafood, if forced to name one. Look for fish markdowns at the store: then take the half price fish or shellfish home and prepare it that night. You can get some amazing deals on fish and shellfish, but you can’t let it sit. Seafood is incredible! Indeed, I am a huge fish fan!

Hello from Fairbanks,

What is your take on wild game as a protein source? We get a lot of off-beat proteins up here, moose, elk, bear, sheep, rabbit, deer, all types and all kinds of wild game. We also get a pretty good selection of fish, mainly steelhead trout (freshwater salmon) Most experts say that game is generally a good source of protein. You folks are the protein experts and wondered if you had any thoughts on the subject.

Bennie J. 

What is not to like and recommend about game that is high in protein and low in fat? Because wild animals lead an active life, continually foraging for the next meal, they are leaner, they are more in shape and they are tastier than the industrial animals raised for supermarkets. What fat is on a portion of game is a superior type of fat. Animals that live in sunlight obtain Vitamin D while industrial animals are born, raised and die without ever going outside. True, some types of game are higher in fat (bear) than small game, (rabbits) but it can be safely said that whatever fat is on game is quality fat and miniscule by comparison to supermarket proteins. I am quite envious of your access to exotic meats. I have often wondered about moose and elk and what they taste like when perfectly prepared. Cooking game requires care and expertise. With such a low-fat content, it is easy to overcook game, making it dry and tough. Game is great!

2019-12-09T01:03:08-05:00 December 9th, 2019|Iron Vic Speaks, The Press|

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