Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Week 21 Workout 1

So last week I didn't get workout #3 in. We had a friend's wedding Friday afternoon, and I went to an archery tournament on Saturday. So that's two weeks in a row I only got two workouts in. And this will be the third week as I leave for a big archery tournament in upstate New York tomorrow. I will do workout #2 tomorrow morning.

So to last night's workout. Not a great one. 240 lb squats, 135 lb bench presses, and 155 lb barbell rows.

On squats, the weight felt really heavy, but I was able to complete the first set. Second set I failed on rep #3. I then completed the last 3 reps. 5,2,5,5,5. Disappointing. I was hoping to blow through to 275 without any more stalls. I still did a 290 lb walkout after the 5th set.

Bench press. I went 4,4,3,3,2. Just didn't feel it right from the get go. Disappointing and I have a feeling that I will be deloading after two more attempts and going to 3x5 on this lift.

Barbell rows, I went 3, 5, 5, 5, 3. The middle 5s were probably more like 4s as my form was terrible on the last rep of each set. The two 3s were because I could tell my form was breaking down and I stopped the set.

Bottomline, I will be at these same weights next time on each lift. I am most concerned with the rows as the 155 lbs felt really heavy. I think I'll progress on squats, but the bench press is also up in the air.

My weigh in on Saturday was 182 lbs with 15.9% body fat. I was unable to stick to my nutrition plan all day Saturday, and only partially Thursday and Friday due to the wedding events. I weigned myself this morning and was at 183 lbs with 15.5% body fat. Since it was a morning weigh in you can add 2 pounds to that. Overall I like the way I have regulated as I felt I had put on too much fat previously.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Week 20 Workout #2

235 lb squats, 95 lb overhead press, and 250 lb deadlifts.

Again, as with last week's midweek workout, I felt a little tighter and stiffer last night. I did the first two work reps. Then on the 3rd I went below parallel on the first rep and couldn't save it. I came close, but just couldn't push up. But I reracked and finished the last 3 sets. So I didn't count that as failure. So I completed 5x5.

Also, the guy I talked to a couple weeks ago about squatting was there. He watched my form and gave me some pointers. He also encouraged me by saying it takes a long time to get the flexibility to do them perfect. I am going to try to get some off day practice in with a broomstick to see if I can't improve my form.

Overhead press was no problem at 95 lbs, 3x5.

Deadlifting. So I did my 1x5 135 lb warm-up. Then loaded 225 lbs like last time. I did one at rep at that weight. My hip felt pretty good. A little pain but nothing major. So I put 250 lbs on the bar. Watched the Tigers hold on to beat the Rangers on the TV above me, then managed to complete 5x5! Again, I was in my socked feet. I am considering going shoeless for squats too. We'll see.

So overall a good workout. I will do the final week 20 workout this Saturday (friend's wedding is Friday). Can't wait to attempt 135 lb bench press!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


It has been a while since I have discussed nutrition. So it is time we revisit that subject.

I have documented my struggles with nutrition, on and off, since I began this journey to a stronger, more well built body. And while I have achieved many of my preliminary goals, as a hardgainer nutrition is probably as important as lifting, maybe even more so.

I recently got impatient with my gains and switched from skim milk to whole milk. About that same time we had house guests and my diet slipped a bit from the high protein, high nutrition whole foods I had been eating, to a bit more processed foods. The combination of the two caused my fat gains to go up. I went up to 190 lbs with over 17% body fat.

Since getting back to cleaner eating, and going back to skim milk, I moderated back down to about 188 lbs, and just over 16% body fat. My 34" waist pants are fitting more comfortably. What all this tells me is that I am still gaining muscle, but I have been able to cut back on my fat stores with the cleaner eating.

Here is a typical day of eating for me:

6am: 1/2 cup oatmeal and 1 scoop whey protein in 6 oz skim milk
1 cup of orange juice

90am: 1/2 cup cottage cheese
1 banana
1 serving instant oatmeal

Noon: Venison and brown rice stuffed green pepper
serving of potatoes

3pm: sweet potato (I have recently began eating this with no toppings!)

Pre-workout: 1 scoop whey protein
Post-workout: 1 scoop whey protein and 1/2 cup oatmeal in 6 oz of skim milk.

6:30pm Venison meat-sauce and whole grain pasta
1-2 servings vegetable (usually corn or peas)
12 oz skim milk

9:30pm 2 servings of natural peanut butter and 2 slices whole grain bread

A buddy at work gave me a Muscle and Performance magazine. In an article on the myths surrounding high protein diets was a list of a "A Day In The (PROTEIN-FULL) Life. It goes:

Pre-breakfast: 1 scoop whey protein & 1 cup orange juice

Breakfast: 3 eggs, 1 cup cooked oatmeal, 1 cup raspberries

MidMorning Snack: 1/2 cup reduced fat Greek yogurt & 1 ounce walnuts

Lunch: Tuna salad sandwich(5 oz tuna, 1 tablespoon light mayo 1 cup romaine lettuce, 2 slices whole-wheat bread)

Preworkout: 1 scoop whey protein and 1 apple
Postworkout: 1 scoop whey protein, 1 scoop casein protein, 1 slice white bread, 1 tablespoon jam

Dinner: 8 oz top sirloin steak, 1 cup chopped broccoli, 2 cups salad, 2 tablespoons olive oil and vinegar dressing

Bedtime: 8 ounces cottage cheese and 1 ounce almonds.

The totals on this? 2,497 calories, 246 G of protein, 182 G of carbs, and 90 G of fat.

Not bad. So I will try to mimic this. I am not too keen on the low-fat mayo, nor the white bread in post workout, but I agree with everything else going on here. Sometimes you can go with chicken breast instead of the sirloin, or a salmon steak. Tuna fish straight from the can supplemented with a vegetable would work great in place of the sandwich too. The idea is to try and change it up as much as possible.

So I will continue to track my progress. Supplement wise I did add some L-Glutamine tablets to my daily regimen. And since I am over 40 am considering some DHEA supplementation.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Week 20 Workout #1

After skipping Fridays workout due to my left hip flaring up during Wednesday's workout, I was a little concerned about the 230 lb squats tonight. But after the first work set, the rest of the sets felt easy.

So for the squats at 230 lbs, I completed 5x5.

Now on to bench press, at 130 lbs. I had failed the last two times at this weight. I was a little leery about my chances because Sunday I had worked hard and had some muscle aches from freeing my garden tractor from our ditch. I ended up deadlifting the back end of the tractor, something I am not sure I could have done before Stronglifts!

The warm-up sets felt hard and I my confidence began to wane. The first couple of sets felt really difficult but I completed them. I remembered to squeeze the bar hard and to act like I was trying to bend it. The last rep of the last two sets came difficultly, but I completed 5x5! On to 135 lbs on Friday!

150 lb barbell rows. Remember I wasn't happy with how I did these last time, but I was able to complete these with relatively good form. The form broke down a bit on the last couple of reps of the last couple of sets, but I completed 5x5. That's the good news.

The bad news? My hip pain flared up again during the rows. And it stiffened up on my on the ride home. I'll have to keep an eye on it, but 250 lb deadlifting might not happen Wednesday at this rate.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Week 19 Midweek Workout

Last night I just wasn't feeling right. During my warm-ups for squats I felt stiff and tight and like I didn't have my usual range of motion. I warmed up and went into my work sets, 230 lbs. First set, last rep, I paused like I sometimes do and just couldn't hang on. I reracked the bar and finished the other 4 sets. The last set felt easier than the first couple! So I will be staying at 230 lbs for Friday's workout.

Overhead presses went well as expected, deloaded to 90 lbs and switched to 3x5. I am hoping 3x5 means I will progress up over 120 lbs on this lift.

Deadlifts. So I warmed up at 135 lbs. 1x5 no problem. I then loaded 225 on the bar. I was going to do a 1x3 before loading up to 250 lbs. That's when I knew I had a problem. My left hip joint was screaming trying to do 225. I completed one rep and called it a night. It just wasn't happening. Left hip still bothering me. I will keep an eye on it and determine what to do about tomorrow's workout. I can't imagine doing squats if my hip is hurting like this. It isn't sore, it is very tender and there is a sharp pain if I make certain movements.

Overall disappointing. I guess all lifters deal with an injury now and then, but into my 19th week of lifting I was hoping I was out of the woods.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Week 19 First Workout 1

225 lb squats, 130 lb bench press, 150 lb barbell rows.

225 lb squats, though a couple of the reps were tenuous, I was able to complete the 5x5. A couple of the reps I was down a while, but was able to fight it and get the squat! It felt great. 225 lbs didn't feel nearly as heavy as 215 lbs used to. And adding 50 lbs after the 5x5 and doing a walkout is working great. I feel stronger than ever on my squats. At this rate I should be able to continue to progress. I would love to be over 250 lbs before another stall.

130 lb bench press. Didn't feel as good as last week. Struggled on the 5th rep on almost every set, and just couldn't power the last rep up. So I went 5-5-5-5-4 again! Hopefully Friday will be the charm.

150 lb barbell rows. Wasn't happening tonight. Went 3-5-5-3 on these. My form wasn't great. I will try the next two times at this weight but I think a deload is in my future!

Felt great on squats, alright on BP, and terrible on rows. A so-so workout.

Not sure I've mentioned this but last week I started doing 1000 mg of L-Glutamine in the morning and another 1000mg before bed. Maybe that is why my squats are progressing again.

Also, saw a guy doing 435 lb squats at the gym today, though he wasn't going quite parallel. Impressive none the less.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Week 18, Final Workout

So yesterday at 8am I hit the gym. I had a long day ahead of me with several events scheduled through the day.

Work softball game.
Family birthday party.
Church seminar.

So I had to get my workout in early. First, squats of course at 220 lbs. Remember that Thursday I went 5-5-5-5-4. Well, yesterday I completed the 5x5! And I felt like I could have done 225 lbs no problem. After completing it I loaded an additional 50 lbs and did a walk-out.

If you are doing SL 5x5 I recommend the walk-out. After doing your 5x5, load another 50 lbs on the bar and just put it in the squat position on your back, walk back, but don't squat it. This build tendon and ligament strength and I believe it will help you be successful in lifting heavier squats in the future. (And so does Mehdi!)

Overhead press was next, 105 lbs. No surprise, I plateau'd. So down to 3x5 on this lift next time. If I stall again I am going to spring for the fractional weight set Mehdi recommends. I would love to eventually get to 135 lbs on this lift, even if only for a 1x5.

Deadlift. 240 lbs. My previous, all be it premature, plateau. 240 with good form seemed like it was going to be impossible. I just didn't feel I was going to budge that weight. But I keep my back arched, and gave it a try. Nothing.

I then remove my shoes and gave it another go. I completed the 1x5!! Mehdi recommends lifting barefoot or with lifting shoes. The shoes I wear are not air pocketed or anything like that, but the apparently have enough cushion to matter. I think I am going to invest in a pair of these:


I see other lifters wearing them and they make sense. Kind of funny looking but I am not there to win a fashion contest.

So tomorrow I go for 225 lb squats! What an accomplishment that would be with 2 45 lb plates on each side. Also 135 lb bench presses, again an accomplishment with a 45 lb plate on each side. And then 150 lb barbell rows. I am going to watch my form on these closely.

I did my official week 18 weigh-in today. 189.8, with 16.4% body fat. Plus my pants have been fitting well. So it is obvious I am still progressing despite switching back to skim milk. Nutrition is the key!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Midweek Workout Week 18

220 lb squats (PR), 130 lb bench press (PR), and 145 lb barbell rows.

After stalling at 215 lbs, and then finally busting through my previous plateau, I was a little concerned. But after my first work set it seemed easier than I thought it would be. It felt good. And I knew that completing all 5 sets would mean 2 45 lb plates on each side next time. That was good motivation!

The second set felt just as good as the first, and so did the third. The fourth set got a little more laborious, but without being in danger ofnot completing a rep, I was confident for my fifth set. The first rep of the last set was hard, the second was even harder, the third required a lot or strain, and the 4th just wouldn't happen.

5-5-5-5-3. So close

Bench press. 130 lb, a new high since I started 5x5. The first set was tough, but then I remembered Mehdi saying to squeeze the bar, and act like you are trying to bend it in half. The second and third sets came rather easily after that. The fourth set, especially the last two reps was tougher.

The fifth set started well, but by the third rep I knew I'd be lucky to complete the set. The 4th rep barely made it. And on the fifth rep I just didn't have it and had to put the bar in the hooks.

5-5-5-5-4. Even closer!

Barbell rows, 145 lbs. Been at this weight before. I completed all 5 sets with the only form problems being on the last rep of the last two sets.

Good news, since dropping whole milk again my weight is down 1.5 lbs and and a .5 to .6% lower body fat. I am happy with that. Glad that I experimented with whole milk but it was just too much.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Week 18, Workout 1

What happened to week 17's 3rd workout? Skipped. Due to some commitments I couldn't make it to the gym. This week I also have some scheduling issues, so I am working out on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

So tonight was 215 lb squats, 105 lb overhead presses, and 230 lb deadlifts.

215 lb squats. After a deload at this weight, then a stall last time, I was feeling confident. And I completed the 5x5 without much of a struggle. I was never in danger of not completing it. So next 220 lbs. I am hoping that the strength I have gained will shoot me right past these next several weights.

Overhead press. After not coming close last time at 105 lbs, I was not confident. But my goal was to complete at least the first three sets. That way if I have to switch to 3x5 on this lift (and I will if I can't complete 5x5 on Saturday), then I can at least continue to progress. I went 5-5-5-4-1. So that is a good sign! I will obviously try to complete the 5x5 on Saturday, but if not this will be the first lift I switch to 3x5 on.

230 lb deadlift. The deadlifting has been kicking my butt lately. And even though I've been at this weight before I was a little worried. But I powered through it without too much effort. It was tough, for sure, but I completed it with good form. Now on to 240lb, where I stalled before, all be it, prematurely.

Nutritionally I have been doing well. Maybe a bit too well. I am not happy with the amount of fat I have gained, so I am going to back to skim milk. And I am going to cut my calories a bit. Though I am still going to do high protein.

I'll check in after Thursday's workout.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Midweek 17 Log

215 lb squats, 125 lb bench reports, and 135 lb rows.

The squats were feeling so good! I powered through the first four sets. And was confident I was going to conquer the 215 lb level. Then on the very last rep I just couldn't bring the weight back up. So I went 5-5-5-5-4. I think that I will get past this with the third try. Then hopefully my strength gains will let me continue to progress.

Bench press. YES! All 5 sets of 5 at 125 lbs, my previous plateau, and really never in danger of not completing them. I was a little rushed because the gym was closing at 10. I started these at 9:30pm and wanted to be done by 9:45pm to have time for rows. It was so satisfying to lift that last rep! Again, hopefully I will be at the 135lb level (or higher) with 2 45 lb plates before I have a stall again.

Rows. 140 lbs. Been at this weight before. Due to time I couldn't rest, or warm-up, and I had to rush these. On a few reps my form was crappy. But I think I will advance to 145 next time because I've been at these weights before.

Overall, a good work-out considering that I was rushed at the end. Weighed my self last night and came in at 188 lbs even. So the nutrition continues to be doing well. Wearing a pair of 34" pants today that tend to run small, and they are still comfortable!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Week 17 Workout 1

Well, my fears were realized. I stalled on squats and overhead press last night.

On the 215 lb squats, I went 5,0,5,5,5. Just couldn't come back up on that first squat in set two. Not sure what happened. Rest felt okay though it was difficult. I had hoped deloading would have helped me bust through this plateau, but no can do. I think I will be able to complete 215 next attempt, but we'll see.

On the 105 lb overhead press, I went 5,5,1,3,0. I knew I was going to struggle since last time I busted through 105 lbs on this lift I was really doing the push lift. But after the first two sets I thought "wow, I might pull this off." Very next rep took a lot to complete, and then the next rep just wouldn't come. I managed 3 the next set, but didn't even attempt a the final set.

220lb deadlifts went well. I think my form has improved the most on these than any other lift. Now up to 230 next time which is where I maxed out last time.

So Wednesday, 215 lb squats, 125 lb bench press, and 140 lb rows. We'll see.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Final Workout Log Week 16

So Saturday morning I headed to the gym to wrap up my week 16 workouts. 210 lb squats, 120 lb bench press, and 135 lb barbell rows.

All of the lifts were challenging, but not as much as they were the last time I was at these weights. The squats were difficult, but I was able to complete all 5 sets. I was never in danger of not completing them, though I was delayed coming back up on a couple of the reps. I really had to push through to complete those reps. This means I am a little skeptical regarding the 215 lb level, which is where I plateau'd previously.

120 lb bench press went better than I expected. I had stalled once at this weight, but then completed it on the next attempt. I then plateau'd at 125 lbs and had to deload. I think I will probably be successful this week at 125 lbs, and will probably struggle at 130 lbs the following week. Just a hunch, we'll see.

135 lb barbell rows. These seemed more difficult than last time I was at this weight. Which is probably because I have been forgetting to put the weight back down quickly. I concentrated on that, pulling the weight up quickly, then letting it drop, while keeping my form.

A couple of notes. I had one guy using a machine next to the power-rack try to pump me up as I prepared to start squatting by saying something like "Let's get ready! No pain like squat pain!" LOL It was funny, and I agreed with him.

I struck up a conversation with another guy that came in as I was finishing my row sets. He started squatting. He was squatting 325 lbs, with impeccable form. So I asked him how long he had been squatting. Turns out he used to compete and is just getting back after recovering from an accident. When I complimented him on the weight he was squatting he told me he set a world record by squatting 783 lbs! As easy as he was squatting 325 lbs I believe it.

He also gave me some good advice regarding squatting, on how to work on my form. He said he does most of his squatting with a broomstick. And that he'll squat facing a wall to make sure he is staying back.

One other note, I started doing walk-outs after squatting. After my work sets I add 50 lbs to the bar and just unrack it, step back, hold for a few seconds, then rerack the bar. Mehdi recommends this for strengthening your ligaments and joints for squatting heavier weights later on.

Nutritionally I continue to eat high, clean calories, with as much protein as possible. My official weigh in for week 16 was 186.8 lbs, and 16.4% body fat. Again, the body fat is an estimate, using a body fat measuring scale, which is probably lower than reality. In September, at the 6 month mark, I will have a trainer at the gym give me another assessment and I'll get a true body fat measure then.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Week 16, Midweek Workout

So yesterday afternoon I hit the gym for my workout. 205 lb squats, 100 lb overhead presses, 210 lb deadlifts.

On squats I did two warm-up sets, 135 lbs and 185 lbs. I then went into my work sets, resting for 4 minutes between each. Concentrated on form. 205 lbs felt heavier than I remembered it. Since I plateaued at 215 lbs I am worried that deloading isn't going to work and that I am going to stall at that weight again. That is rather disappointing as I had hoped to hit 250 lbs before having to switch to 3x5.

100 lb overhead presses were, as expected, challenging. Now that I am not doing the push press (didn't realize the difference) I was still able to do the 5x5, but the last rep of the last two sets was a struggle. I did get the weight up though and now I move on to 115 lbs, my plateau weight from before, next week.

210 lb deadlifts were challenging. In fact, I don't remember 210 lbs being so heavy last time I was at that weight. For historic purposes, I was progressing nicely on this lift until I hit 240 lbs. I stalled twice and mistakenly considered that a plateau and deloaded. I then deloaded voluntarily following my Florida trip. I am considering all of that one legitimate deload. If I plateau again, I will deload and switch to adding 5 lbs instead of 10 lbs. Again, this is disappointing as I was hoping to be much closer, or even at, 300 lbs before I changed this.

I have tracked my nutrition the last two days. While my calories are about where I had wanted them, my protein is down 10-20% from my target. I hope to fix this by upping my whole milk consumption. I am going to try to do 1/2 GOMAD, which is 64 oz of whole milk a day. Right now I am at about 40, so I need to get two more 12 oz glasses of this a day. This will add 600 calories and 32 grams of protein to my consumption.

I weighed myself last night. I consider it unofficial since I don't do my official weigh in until after my next workout, but I was a little over 188 lbs, and the body fat reading was 16.3%. That is probably more like 19% since the scale isn't very accurate on its body fat measurements.

Nutrition: July 6th, 2011 Eating Log

So I thought I would try this one more day:

6am: 8 oz whole milk, serving of ON's 100% Whey powder, 1/2 cup of quick oats.
Estimated calories: 406
Running total: 406
Estimated protein: 38g
Running total: 38g

9am: packet of GV Cinnamon Roll instant oatmeal, 1 serving of cottage cheese, 1 banana
Estimated calories: 308
Running total: 714
Estimated protein: 19g
Running total: 57g

12pm: Combination plate: Fettucini Alfredo, Lasagna, and Chicken Parmesan, w/Tossed Salad
Estimated calories: 1310
Running total: 2024
Estimated protein: 110g
Running total: 167g

6pm (post workout): 8 oz whole milk, serving of ON's 100% Whey powder, 1/2 cup of quick oats.
Estimated calories: 406
Running total: 2430
Estimated protein: 38g
Running total: 205g

7pm: 6oz venison sloppy joe, 2 servings baked beans, 12 oz whole milk
Estimated calories: 1030
Running total: 3560
Estimated protein: 73g
Running total: 278g

9pm: 2 eggs scrambled, 12 oz whole milk
Estimated calories: 490
Running total: 4050
Estimated protein: 29g
Running total: 307g

Not bad, 4050 calories, 307g of protein. Remember, my targets are 3700 calories, and 370 grams of protein.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Nutrition: July 5th, 2011 Eating Log

I got this idea yesterday when I was blogging about my nutrition. To take a day, log what I ate, and then try to estimate the calories and figure out how much I took in. So here goes:

Got up at 5am to get ready for work.

6am: 8 oz whole milk, serving of ON's 100% Whey powder, 1/2 cup of quick oats.
Estimated calories: 406
Running total: 406
Estimated protein: 38g
Running total: 38g

9am: packet of GV Baked Apple instant oatmeal, 1 serving of cottage cheese, 1 banana
Estimated calories: 308
Running total: 714
Estimated protein: 19g
Running total: 57g

12am: 2 grilled chicken breasts
Estimated calories: 329
Running total: 1043
Estimated protein: 103g
Running total: 160g

3pm: baked sweet potato, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, 1 tablespoon Olivio, cinnamon
Estimated calories: 213
Running total: 1256
Estimated protein: 2g
Running total: 162g

6pm: 8 oz. kielbasa, 4 servings baked beans, 1 avocado, 1 tomato, 1/4 onion, 1 tblspoon olive oil, 12 oz of whole milk.
Estimated calories: 1443
Running total: 2699
Estimated protein: 68.5
Running total: 230.5

9pm: 1/2 serving ON Serious Mass, 12 oz whole milk, 1 banana
Estimated calories: 934
Running total: 3633
Estimated protein: 38g
Running total: 268.5

That was my day yesterday. 3600+ calories, 268 grams of protein. At 185 lbs, and being severely ectomorphic, my goal is a minimum of 3700 calories, and I want to be at 2X grams of protein, or 370 grams.

As you can see I fell short of that. If I add 3 more glass of milk a day, that would put me at an additional: 612 calories, and 36 grams of protein. That would get me closer to my goals.

As you can see, I am taking in 6 times a day already. I could eat more at various sitting, but when I do that (eat more for lunch) it seems I can't eat as much as dinner. And so the struggle goes!

Also, the dinner I ate was not ideal. Kielbasa is processed meat. Baked beans have a a lot of sugar in them. But it is what the wife made last night so I ate it, along with Rachel Ray's avocado and tomato salad (which is really really good!). I try to avoid the processed meats, and try to limit my sugar intake.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Week 16 Workout #1

With a busy July 4th schedule, I headed to the gym earlier yesterday to get my 5x5 in. Since I had skipped Friday's workout (circumstances beyond my control), I was scheduled for squats (200 lb), bench press (115 lb), and barbell rows (130 lb).

I completed all lifts, 5x5. Of course these are all weights that I was at before, to that is no surprise. I am anxious to see how I do as I approach my previous stall weights on the lifts.

Switched to whole milk for all of my milk drinking/usage. And also started drinking more milk. Trying to see if this will increase my weight gain. Mehdi is insistent that if you aren't taking in enough protein and calories then you won't keep progressing. So I continue to try to take in as much as I can, but there are limits on how much one can eat! I may start taking a log of my consumption to see if that helps.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Want Your Muscles To Recover Quicker? Drink Orange Juice

Found this article on a study that was done regarding the effects of orange juice on muscles following workouts.

Click here for article: Drink This Juice for Better Energy

Interesting findings. I had cut orange juice out of my diet to try to limit my sugar intake, replacing it with more whole fruits and vegetables. I might have to add a glass a day back into my diet and test this study's findings out.

Week 15, Midweek Workout

As I posted yesterday I had to move my 2nd and 3rd workouts this week to a Thursday and Saturday schedule due to my daughter's birthday.

So yesterday afternoon I got Week 15 Workout #2 in. 195 lb squats. I don't remember 195 lbs being this hard before! But since my deload on squats after a stall at 215 lbs, these last two workouts on squats have been difficult. I did have last week off so that doesn't help. Also I was still really sore from Monday's workout. The soreness lasted through my warm-up sets, and my first workout set, then was replaced by a tightness. I still feel the tightness this morning but the soreness is gone. I completed all 5 sets.

95 lb overhead press. Since discovering I was actually doing push presses, this exercise has just become flat out hard. I struggled on the last two sets, especially the last rep of each set, but I was able to complete them. 100 lbs is going to be trying to say the least.

200 lb deadlifts. Again, I don't remember 200 lbs being this difficult before my voluntary deload on this lift. I did go back to the overhand grip as I read on Mehdi's site that I shouldn't be using mixed grip until the loads get heavier. I had been using the mixed grip from the beginning.

Nutritionally I have continued to struggle taking in enough calories and protein. I have upped my usage of protein powder to every morning, and then after workouts, and the mass gainer powder in the evenings of non-workout days. That should help. I still am considering GOMAD, but am more put off by the cost of that than anything else. We'll see.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

No Midweek 15 Update

No update because I didn't work out! Yesterday was my daughter's birthday, so because of festivities I was unable to go to the gym. So I will be going this afternoon. 195 lb squats, 95 lb overhead presses, and 200 lb deadlifts.

I am really missing Mehdi's blog posts. He is on a furlough until September. Reading his posts really amp up my motivation. However, I did stumble across this blog:


I've enjoyed reading Brad's progress so far on Stronglifts 5x5. I am really impressed with his bench pressing!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

I Haven't Been This Sore Since Week 1!

Wow. My legs are really sore. I haven't been this sore since week 1. It is kind of surprising considering I only missed 1 week. It just goes to show how quickly your muscles will revert if you don't keep them used to working out. This is why sporadic workouts just do not work.

As Mehdi says, consistency is the key. Stronglifts 5x5 requires a small commitment: 3 hours per week; 1 hour per day 3 times per week. When compared to other strength conditioning programs that is not a lot. But the results speak for themselves.

Take me for instance. If you had told me I could squat 200 lbs I would have scoffed just a few weeks ago. My average to below average strength told me that there was no way. Yet in 12 weeks I was squatting 200 lbs, not once but 25 times (for 5 sets of 5). Barbell rows were tough at 80 lbs at the beginning, but before my 1 week break I did 140lbs! I was able to deadlift 240lbs, something I wouldn't have dreamed of back at the start of this program.

So the strength will come, but consistency is the key.

So despite my soreness, I will work out tonight. Just like I did in week 1 when I took Mehdi's advice and worked out through the soreness. Guess what? It worked, and the next day after working out through the soreness I was no longer sore. That makes me want to get into the gym!

So tonight is 195 lb squats, 90 lbs overhead presses, and 200 lb deadlifts. CONSISTENCY. COMMITMENT. HAVING A PLAN. Those are the keys to success.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Week 15 Workout 1

So yesterday I hit the gym after a week off because of my business trip last week. 190 lb squats, 110 lb bench press, and 125 lb barbell rows. Remember, I made the decision to deload by 10% on all lifts to work on form and to try to break through some plateaus that I've run into.

The squats went well, as is to be expected with the lighter weight. Surprisingly today I can feel it in my gluts, hams, and quads. I guess a week off really affects you. The rack next to me was occupied by a guy doing 1/4 squats if that. After I completed my 5 sets of 5 he asked me how old I was. When I told him 42 he said "you know, the older you get the deeper you squat is bad for your knees."

I tried to grin and move on but he continued to talk about it so finally I said to him "well there is a school of thought that says that partial squats are actually worse for your knees, but everyone is different." Mehdi's words about the "unsolicited advice guy" kept coming to my mind. That's the first time its happened so far, but I am guessing it won't be the last time.

Bench press and barbell rows went fine. I have fallen in love with barbell rows. Such a subtle little lift that works so many muscle groups. I really contribute the definition I am seeing in my back to barbell rows. So now the rest day. Hopefully with proper nutrition my muscles will be sufficiently recovered for tomorrow's workout.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Back To The Gym

After a week off because of a business trip, it is back into the gym tonight. I am very excited to get back. After 14 weeks on Stronglifts 5x5 I am very happy with the strength gains I've made. I decided prior to my trip that I would deload by 10% on all the lifts. It is a legitimate deload on squats, bench press and overhead press. So if I deload on those lifts again will go to 3x5 on those.

I haven't had a legitimate deload on deadlifts and barbell rows yet. I deloaded after 2 failed attempts at 240lb on deadlifts, but a legit deload comes after 3 failed attempts. Also, I voluntarily deloaded on barbell rows to work on form. But prior to this break I had failed to complete 5x5 on the other 3, 3 consecutive times. So those deloads are legitimate.

Nutritionally, I continue to do much better with the inclusion of the Serious Mass powder. During my trip I wasn't able to eat as often as I would have liked, but I was able to continue with the whole foods, and with getting a good calorie count. I believe I only lost 1 lb last week. So now I am back to my regular routine.

Can't wait to lift tonight! 190 lb squats, 110 lb bench press, and 125 lb barbell rows.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Review time!

Well it has been a while since I gave an update, so here goes.

My last update I gave I mentioned that I had been sick and that it affected my strength. I was just feeling week and struggled with my lifts. Well after taking two workouts off, I felt even weaker getting back into the gym.

The midweek 14 workout didn't go so well. 215 lb squats I went 4,0. Then bench press I went 3,5,5,4,4. Then I completed all 5x5 of 140 lb barbell rows. Just wasn't feeling very good in the gym even though I wasn't sick.

So then last Friday I went 5, on 215 lb squats.  On overhead press I went 4,4,3. Part of the reason for this is that I found out I was cheating on the overhead. I was actually doing push presses. Where you bend at the knees and push up as you lift. True overhead presses are much more difficult. I then completed all 1x5 of the 225 lb deadlifts.

This week I am out of town for business with no access to Olympic weights. So I made a decision that when I get back I am deloading on all the lifts by 10% and really concentrating on form. I was due to deload on 3 of the lifts anyway.

The good news is that I am really anxious to get back into the gym! The hotel I am staying in has a lot of mirrors, and I realize now that I have made a LOT of progress. The definition in my shoulders, back, arms, and quads is incredible. Being thin I never thought I would have this kind of bulk and definition. Granted I am still a long way from where I want to eventually be, it is nice to know how well this program is working.

This week on a business trip has made proper nutrition difficult. I am getting plenty of whole food calories, but not at the intervals that are ideal. I am anxious to get home and to get back into the routine. I have been concentrating on the protein this week though and have really been packing the protein from meat and fish in.

I will post next week about how getting back to the gym after a week off goes.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Midweek 13

This week has been a bad one. I have been fighting some type of bug and have had a lot of fatigue as well as some aches and pains. It has also made me feel weak overall. Wednesday it was so bad I didn't even make it to the gym. So I rescheduled my midweek workout for last night, and then I will work out on Saturday as well.

Yesterday I was still feeling the effects, and I stalled on both the 215 lb squats, and the 110 lb overhead press. I went 5,5,5,3 on the squats, and 5,5,5,2 on the overhead press. The good news is that if I were at 3x5 on these lifts I would have been fine. The bad is that this is the 2nd stall on the overhead press. One more and I deload for real this time.

On deadlifts I did the 215 lbs, no problem. As expected. It felt harder than it should have been though and I think it is because of this bug I have been fighting. I might go to just 5 lb increments after hitting 225 next time. We'll see.

Still looking to get some 1.25 lb plates for the overhead and bench presses. No one seems to carry these so I think I'll have to order them.

Nutrition is going great. As I build more and more muscle, the fat I accumulated initially is melting away. My waist is back to being slightly below my normal 34", and I am just liking the way things are fitting much better. I don't think I am taking in enough protein though so I am considering a protein drink every morning to go along with my post workout protein shake, and my non-workout day mass powder.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Week 13 Begins, Realized Something Reading Mehdi

First, I worked out last night even though I didn't feel like it. I worked 13 hours on Saturday, then I shot an archery tournament, in the heat, on Sunday. Needless to say I was spent Monday. Got up went to work Monday, came home and cut the grass.

I was really tired and unmotivated but Mehdi's words stuck in my head: you have to do it whether you want to or not. So I dragged my butt into the gym, and did my full workout.

First squats. 210 lbs. Completed all 5x5. These are becoming taxing, and I had to rest a good 3-4 minutes between sets. Also, when they are finished I really don't feel like doing any other lifts. But the sense of accomplishment is incredible. I want to hit 300 lb squats by September, we'll see if that is realistic or not.

Then bench press. I went 5, 5, 4, 3, 1 at 125 lbs. I might be able to complete the 5x5 at 125 lbs on Friday. We'll see. This is also where I learned something new. I had the mistaken belief that stalling twice in a row meant you deload by 10%. Wrong. It is if you stall at the same weight 3 times in a row. So I will be staying at 125 lbs again instead of deloading. Also I have decided to treat the lifts I've deloaded on as not deloading, since I did it in error. Remember, two deloads mean you change from 5x5 to 3x5.

135 lb barbell rows? 5x5, no problem with good form. Felt good doing these with the 45lb plates on the bar, not having to stack other plates on the ground to get the proper height. It makes it easier to drop the weights quicker when you don't have to do it accurately. I think I can go for a while on these now, adding the requisite 5 lbs per time.

Continue to struggle with nutrition. It seems so hard to eat right, and to eat 3000+ calories per day. But I continue to try. Whole grain pasta and brown rice seem to be the best options, but there is only so many times you can eat that. Praise be to God that I have venison I can supplement with. I also continue to do a lot of fish and chicken.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

200 LB Squats In Less Than 12 Weeks!!!

That's right. I couldn't even wait until tomorrow to post this. I completed 25 reps (5 sets of 5) tonight of 200 lb squats. Here is why this is so exciting to me:

  • I can remember in week 1, squatting the 45 lb bar 5x5 times, and being so sore I almost quit.
  • I can remember squatting 75 lbs on a Friday workout and worrying if 80 lbs would be doable the following Monday.
  • I remember stalling at 150 lbs, then again 155 lbs, and wondering if I was plateauing. 
  • I remember stalling at 175 lbs and really being concerned that I was plateauing.
If you had told me 11 weeks ago that I would be squatting 200 lbs 25 times I wouldn't have believed it. I am now a complete believer in the Strong Lifts 5x5 system. Dedication, perseverance, and determination makes all the difference in any lifting program, but I honestly believe this system is perfectly suited for building strength.

Now the bad news. Stalled at 125 lbs on the bench presses. This wasn't surprising considering how I struggled to complete all 25 reps at 120 lbs. I have decided that I need to get 1.25 lb plates and make 2.5 lbs my new modifier each time on bench and overhead presses. I will continue to do the stall, and deload on those lifts until I can get some 1.25 lb plates.

More good news, after deloading at 130 lbs to work on form on the barbell row, tonight I was able to complete all 25 reps, with good form, on that lift which is again back up to 130 lbs. Now on to 135 lbs. I have been trying to concentrate on Mehdi's advice to lower the bar quickly on this lift. That seems to make a big difference. Now I can move on to the 45 lb plates and not take the time to use plates on the floor to get the proper height.

Nutrition continues to be going well with the new powder. I did make the mistake of trying a full serving of that stuff, with skim milk. 1800 calories, and a bloated feeling for several hours. It will be a long time before I do that again! I think weigh in this week will show that the Serious Mass powder is paying dividends.

200 lb squats! And relatively easily to boot. I can't believe it!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Have A Plan

I remember 15 1/2 years ago I decided to get into shape. I started going to the gym and running 2 miles as a warm-up. I would then do light resistance training on machines. Doing that, along with watching my diet, I was able to get into really good shape.

The biggest problem I had? I had no plan. I would go to the gym, walk the track for two laps to warm up, run 28 laps (which equaled two miles) and then walk two more laps to cool down. Then I would hit the electronic machines randomly. I didn't have goals. I didn't have any overriding thing I was trying to accomplish.

Granted I did see changes, and people complimented me on conditioning, but I couldn't lift any more weight than I ever had. My stamina increased in playing pick-up sports, but really I was just flailing along without any real clear path to where I wanted to be.

I don't even remember when or why I stopped. It just kind of happened. And there is no surprise to that since I wasn't even consistent in the nights of the week I worked out!

That is what I love about the Strong Lifts 5x5 program. It gives you plan. Mehdi encourages you to have goals. The overall thing you are trying to accomplish is to become stronger. It is 3 days a week (NEVER two days in a row), an hour to an hour and a half each time. And the plan is so simple. Squats, bench press, barbell rows one workout. Squats, overhead press, deadlifts the next. And continue to rotate those. Adding 5 pounds to each lift each time you do it.

I still watch, while I rest between sets, other lifters at the gym wandering around aimlessly. Doing dumbbell curls for a random number of reps, at a randomly grabbed weight, and then floundering on to their next exercise. No plan. And therefore no consistency.

That will never be me. Ever again.

Start Of Week 12

Yesterday was Memorial Day, and we had plans for the holiday. So I got up and ate breakfast and headed to the gym. I needed to get my workout in before the plans for the day got started.

I did my 195 lb squats. These continue to be challenging, and I give myself a good 3-4 minutes of rest between sets now. But I never was in danger of not completing them. I am anxious to move to the mentally rewarding 200 lb level! My warm-up sets now consist of 135 lbs, and 155 lbs. Going back and looking at my blog posting about my first workout on Strong Lifts 5x5, I wrote:
So week 1, day 1. I enter Powerhouse Gym and it is slightly before the after work rush. I go to the squat rack where a huge man is squatting 135lbs. Turns out that is his warm-up. After he does a set I remove the weights and do my first set of 5 with the just the bar. I then help him load the bar back up to 165 lbs, and watch him do another set.
I remember telling that guy that I would be at his level one day. Well, here it is 11 weeks later and I am past that level! It feels great.

I was also able to complete all 5 sets of 5 on the 105 lb overhead presses. It was tough, but it felt good knowing that just two weeks ago I failed twice to complete 5x5 at 100 lbs, and deloaded down to 90 lbs. We'll see how 110 lbs goes on Friday. I still may take another Strong Lifts 5x5 user's advice and get 1.25 lb plates to take with me to the gym. Going to smaller increments on overhead and bench presses helped him get through plateaus on those lifts.

Speaking of plateaus, its official. I have plateau'd on deadlifts. After last week failing to complete even one rep at 240 lbs, I was able to pull that weight twice yesterday. But that is still a stall, and two in a row. I will stick to the program and deload down to 205 lbs on the deadlifts. Hopefully that will help me bust through this current plateau. If I have to eventually deload again on deadlifts then I will deload and switch to adding only 5 lbs each time I do them. Currently the program calls for 10 lbs increments. But you can't cut reps anymore at 1x5.

Nutritionally I have busted through another plateau. I had settled in at 179 lbs and couldn't seem to make any more progress. However, I bought a 12 lb bag of Optimum Nutrition's Serious Mass, and that has enabled me to add a quick 700 calories and 30 grams of protein daily to my diet. I am now at 182 lbs and my 34 inch waist pants still fit with room to spare! Also, this is only at a half serving of this stuff, so I have room to expand that consumption if need be.

Tomorrow, 200 lb squats, 125 lb bench presses, and 130 lb barbell rows!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Mehdi's Blog Posting Today

This was too good not to post here.

Click here for blog: Should You Pay Attention?

I love what Mehdi says in this posting.

Rarely will they remind you of a simple fact – the top 3 causes of death in the US according to Wikipedia remain smoking, obesity and alcohol. Is it surprising that more people die each year from smoking tobacco than from eating tuna cans? It shouldn’t, yet a lot of guys waste their time worrying about the details instead of staying focussed on the big picture…

The fact that they leave out the truth about smoking, being overweight and drinking alcohol shows they have an agenda.

While I am at it, here is another great posting by Mehdi:

Click here for blog: Are You a Freak?

The coworkers, always commenting on the home made meals you eat behind your desk. Meanwhile, they go to Toxic Hell every noon because they’re too lazy to cook and bring food to work, to then feel depressed after seeing themselves in the bathroom mirror after lunch. They wished they had more time and more motivation to train 3x/week like you do, while trying to lure you to happy hour.

Sounds familiar?

Well said!

Follow Up To My Last Post

Ever notice how some days you feel stronger than others? I was talking to a buddy of mine that works out and he was commenting on that topic. He works out with a couple of other guys I know, and we were comparing notes.

"Ever notice how some days you can lift so much more than others?" I wasn't doing much in the way of weight yet so I listened eagerly. "It seems that some days I can lift weight for reps I didn't think was possible, but other days I can't lift lesser weight."

Of course, now I've noticed this. Take the deadlifts I failed on. When I did the 1x5 at 230lbs, I felt as if I had room for more weight. Yet the other night I couldn't budge 240lbs.

I think this is where the wisdom of Mehdi comes in. When you fail to complete a 5x5 set, he has you remain at that weight for the next time you do the same lift. I've seen this with my squats. Stalling at various weights one time, and then completing the same weight the next time without any problem! And then going up in weight the next time without stalling.

I was talking to another buddy, one that came and worked out with me early on in my Strong Lifts program. I was telling him how I was up to 185 lbs squats, weight I never, ever would have thought I could have done 5 sets of 5 at. I told him I remember hitting 75 lb and getting worried about heavier weights. "So have you done 75 lbs since to see how it is?" I told him that my first warm-up set of 5 is now at 95 lbs, and it feel like the bar is empty.

This makes me believe even more in Mehdi's program. Adding the 5 lbs each time really stretches you. Makes you stronger, not necessarily bigger. And that is fine with me.

190 lbs squats tonight. 120 lb bench presses. 125 lb barbell rows. Can't wait to hit the gym tonight!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Failed On Deadlifts

Well, it was bound to happen. After stalling at least once on every lift, last night it happened on my deadlifts.

Friday I did 1x5 deadlifts at 230lb. While tough I was able to muscle through it without ever a threat of not completing the 1x5. However, last night was I was unable to complete even one rep at 240lb. I deloaded to 230lb and could only do 2 reps.


I have a theory though. We have a Sleep number bed. For some reason the thing doesn't seem to always maintain the number you have it set to. The last few days I've had some lower back pain. Well last night I checked and in fact the bed had deflated down to 5 (maybe lower as that is as low as the reading goes). I pumped it back up to my normal 30 and woke up this morning with no lower back pain at all!

So I think this lower back pain weakened me. I will try next Monday again at 240 lb, and I think I'll be okay. As long as I keep checking my sleep number.

I completed the 185lb squats and the 100lb overhead presses. I stalled twice on the presses before. So now on to 105lb there.

I got my new mass gain powder last night. I will try a serving of it tonight. Hopefully it will help with the bulking up.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Week 11, Workout 1

Hard to believe that I am into week 11 already! And hard to believe it has been a week since my last log entry. So here is what happened.

On Wednesday I stalled on squats at 175. I went 5,5,5,5,3. However, I have continued to progress on every other lift after deloading on the overhead presses and barbell rows. I worked out Saturday morning (couldn't on Friday night), and completed the 175 lb squats no problem. And deadlifted 230 lbs! Overhead presses are back up to 95 lbs, and I completed them. Of course 100 lbs is where I stalled twice on overhead presses.

Yesterday I did 180lb squats, and 120 lb barbell rows, completed all 5 sets of 5. On the bench press, my first stall. At 120 lb I went 5,5,5,5,4. Just couldn't complete that last rep. I am looking forward to tomorrows workout to see how I do on the deadlifts at 240 lbs. Deadlifting is definitely becoming challenging. My goals are to squat 200 lbs or more, and deadlift 300 lbs or more by July.

I was right, I stayed at 179 lbs (actually down a lb from the week before), and 15% body fat. I do have another weight gain powder coming, having completed the meal replacement stuff I was using. There just wasn't enough calories in the meal replacement. We'll see how the next couple of weeks go once I get the powder. Other than that I have been doing well on the whole foods, and have stuck to it pretty strictly.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Week 9 Done, Week 10 Started

Okay, first let me say that I made a couple of decisions. First, I went down to 90 lbs on my overhead press after failing to complete 5x5 twice in a row. I went 5-5-5-4-5 at 100 lbs, then I went 5-5-5-4-0. I deloaded down to 90 lbs, and did 5x5 yesterday. (It was the first workout since I deloaded on the overhead.)

Second, after trying 130 lb barbell rows on Saturday (I'll get into that later) I realized that while I completed the 3 sets of 5, my form was terrible. I was really lifting my upper-body to complete the rows. I stopped and decided that I would deload on those, back down to 115 lb, and see if that will get me through the 130 lb barrier on the rows.

A word on motivation. Friday I couldn't workout. I had a wedding rehearsal for a wedding I was in about an hour from home (and my gym). Right after work. So I couldn't workout on my usual Friday. I got up early Saturday to be at the gym and get my final week 9 workout in prior to the wedding. There was temptation to skip entirely but I fought it.

Then last night I was really hungry (I missed my 4pm sweet potato feeding) so I went home to eat dinner first. Because it was a long weekend I was extra tired last night. I laid down for a few minutes and that almost prevented me from doing my week 10 first exercise. However, I was able to get my butt up and get into the gym for Week 10's first workout. I did 170 lb squats, 90 lb overhead presses, and 220 lb deadlifts, completing all of the requisite sets (5x5 on first 2, 1x5 on deadlifts).

As far as the nutrition goes, that has been a struggle. I just haven't been as hungry recently. I think this might be the first week I actually go down in weight, Week 8 I was at 180 lb, I think at most I will stay the same weight for week 10s weigh in.

Also, the deadlifts are becoming tough. I am at 220 lbs, I was hoping to hit 300 lbs without stalling/deloading, but we'll have to see how that goes.

Also I am worried about 115 lb bench presses. At 110 I began to struggle to complete the last couple of sets. We'll see how it goes.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Update: Couple more stalls

As I reported, I was unable to complete the 150 lb squats last week on Monday, going 5-5-5-4-5. Wednesday I stayed at 150 lb and completed the 5 sets without a problem.

Then on Friday I stalled not only on the 155 lb squats (again going 5-5-5-4-5) but also the 100 lb overhead presses (also 5-5-5-4-5).

Yesterday I completed the 155 lb squats, and had no issues on bench presses (105 lb) nor on barbell rows (125 lb). So tomorrow I will be attempting 160lb squats, 100 lbs overhead presses, and 210 lb deadlifts.

Calorie intake continues to be an issue. I am just not very hungry most of the time. I am now at 180 lbs and 14.9% body fat. But my increases and gains have stalled somewhat. I have considered upping my milk intake, but we'll see how it goes.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Well It Happened

Monday the inevitable happened. I failed to complete the 5 sets of 5 on the 150 lb squats. I went: 5-5-5-4-5. So I stay at 150 lb for my squats today. I was never in danger of not completing the 5x5 at 145 lb, but Monday I just wasn't feeling that great. In fact, I took yesterday off of work because I was still under the weather.

So I am chalking it up to being weakened by whatever my body was fighting. I fully expect to complete the full set of 5 tonight.

The 95 lb overhead presses were challenging, but I was able to complete them without issue. And the 190 lb dead lifts were challenging as well, but completed.

I was hoping to get over 200 lb before failing on squats. Oh well.

Tonight 150 lb squats, 100 lb bench presses, and 120 lb barbell rows. I will report back tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Week 7....OUCH

Last night I started week 7 off with 135 lb squats, 90 lb bench presses, and 115 lb barbell rows.

The squats. They are starting to get difficult. The last rep on several of the sets I had to really struggle to get the weight up. However, I was really never in any real danger of not finishing.

The bench presses. Still doing alright on these. I can feel it in my arms and chest, but was never in real danger of not completing them.

The barbell rows. Danger! I came close to not completing all 5 sets of 5. It was hard work to complete and my form went to pieces on the last couple of reps of each set. I could feel myself raising up with the bar. I am seriously considering staying at 115 lbs on these until I can do all 25 reps with proper form.

If anyone reads this and has done 5x5, tell me what you think about my last statement.

The calorie and protein intake is still going good. I am finding that a busy schedule makes it more difficult, but I have done relatively well thanks to supplementation. I have weighed in at 178 lbs a couple of days, but need to maintain the 3000-4000 calorie intake daily.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Week 6 Workout #2 Complete

Last night I successfully completed Week 6's midweek workout. 125 lb squats, 85 lb bench presses, and 105 lb barbell rows.

I have continued to read Mehdi's 5x5 guides for form on the various exercises. I still don't feel I am going quite low enough in my squating. I think I may be stopping just short of parallel. Not sure about that just a feeling. I think my form is good on all other lifts. Even the deadlifting. Friday I will be up to 170 lb on the deadlifting. 160 lb was a lot of work on Monday.

I am considering doing GOMAD (gallon of milk a day). Haven't fully decided. Mehdi suggests whole milk and I am really trying to keep from gaining too much fat. The strength seems to be coming, I am sure the muscle building will follow. So I will have to think about it.

Other than that I continue to try to consume as many calories as I can. I have the meal replacement powder I mentioned in the last post. We'll see how that helps.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Week 5, Midweek

Last night I did the 2nd workout of week 5. 110 lb squats, 75 lb overhead presses, and 150 lb deadlifts.

The squats are certainly getting more challenging. Again I was never in danger of not finishing the 5x5, but I am definitely taking a 2-3 minute break between sets now. Amazing how little soreness and stiffness I am having now. Most of that is no longer in my quads, but in my gluts and hams. A little in my calves, though I'd love to feel it more there. I hate having chicken legs!

The overhead presses are now the most challenging to complete. Again I am taking about 3 minute rests between sets. But I can really feel it in my shoulder and chest today. I seriously may have to look into 1.25 lb weights in order to keep progressing.

The deadlifts are more challenging. Did 1x5 at 150 lbs without any risk of not completing it. But it is much more of a challenge than in the past. It feels good to pull that much weight, and hopefully the strength gains will make it so that I can continue to progress appropriately. With deadlifts in this program you add 30 lbs every two weeks (10 lbs per deadlift session), so in two weeks I will be at 180 lb.

Nutrition continues to be a battle, but I feel I am winning. I have found that supplementation is a must, though I am consuming as many calories as I can through whole foods. Still I picked up a box of 30g protein bars. They have 280 calories. Also, I am waiting on delivery of the meal replacement powder I ordered. I plan on taking that as a supplement on my off workout days (Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday). At 14 servings per container that means it will last me a little over 3 weeks.

So things are progressing. I can definitely see changes in my physique. I am up to 175 lbs, about 13.5-14% body fat. But my 34" waist pants are still fitting so that tells me I am doing something right.

Also, I eat a baked potato every day. Usually about 3pm, this gives me some fuel in the tank for my workouts at 4:30-5pm. Yesterday at the gym I was waiting on my post workout protein shake (gym was running 1/2 off special on them), one of the employees who is fit and ripped was standing talking to someone holding a plate. He was asked what he just ate, and he answered "A sweet potato". That made me feel good, I am doing something right!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Exercise #11, Middle Of Week 4

95lb squats, 70 lb. bench presses, and 90 lb barbell rows.

Squats went alright this time around. Still concentrating on form, and getting at least parallel. Last squat of the last set was a bit of struggle as my muscles were fatigued. However, I powered through it and am anxious to try 100 lbs on Friday.

70 lb bench presses are no problem. I polished off the 5 x 5 of those without too much effort.

90 lbs rows were definitely a challenge. I was never in danger of not finishing the 5 sets of 5, but I could feel it especially in the last two of each set. I really concentrated on my form for the rows, trying to keep that lower back straight, and bringing those elbows out as I pulled the bar up.

Still making good progress. No more weight gain, but I it seems that second day of rest on the weekend is when I really make progress on the muscle building.

I am going to look into a good meal replacement supplement to try to up my caloric intake. I am leaning toward this one right now: Raw Meal

Friday's workout will be interesting, especially the 70 lb overhead presses. Those have been kicking my butt!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Week 4 Off To A Good Start

Week 4, first exercise of the week (yesterday): 90 lb squats, 65 lb overhead presses, and 130 lb deadlifts.

Two things that I have expressed concern about in the past: being able to do squats as the weight went up, and my form on the squats. Both of these things don't seem to be an issue! Though 90 lbs doesn't seem like a lot to people that do squats regularly, if you had told me I could do those 3 weeks ago I would have been skeptical. However, I powered through them with little issue yesterday.

On my squat form, I have really concentrated on it. Back straight, heels glued to floor, elbows back, shoulder blades and gluts squeezed, chest out. And I am going down much deeper into the squat than ever! I am excited to continue to build my strength through squats.

The overhead presses are concerning me a bit now. Only at 65 lbs, the last couple of sets are starting to be laborious. I think I will be okay to get through these into the 80 lb range, but am concerned about getting into weight above that. I guess I just need to trust the program and hope that my strength will go up with the weights.

On the dead lifts, I continue to concentrate on form. Even at 130 lb now they aren't really straining me too much. I will be interested to see at what point it gets challenging to do 1x5s on those.

Results are still good. I am up over 6 lbs without an effect on how my pant's are fitting in the waist. That is a great sign!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Week 3 Nearing An End

This afternoon I will do workout #9, completing my first 3 weeks of Strong Lifts 5x5. This time it will be 85 lb. squats, 65 bench presses, and 85 lb. barbell rows.

Wednesday's workout (#8) was a bit rough. I had my personal training session that came free with the gym membership on Monday. The PT put me through a fairly intense workout, including 200 lb leg presses. We worked on form for squats, dead lifts, and barbell rows at lower weights. But after 30 minutes of being pushed pretty had by her, I went and did my Strong Lifts routine.

Tuesday I was feeling it, especially in my legs. The soreness lasted into Wednesday and made my 80 lb squats more challenging than they otherwise would have been. However, once again Mehdi's advice to workout through soreness paid off. I felt better Thursday than I did Tuesday!

Also, the rewards are really starting to be noticeable. While I was impressed with the definition I was already showing after two weeks, this week I am starting to notice more bulk. My upper arms have more girth than they ever have before. My shoulders are even looking defined and bigger.

And my quads are bigger than they've ever been. Squats are the best exercise there is. I am looking forward to seeing how I do with them moving into higher weights. Another 15 lbs next week will put me at 100 lb squats.

Another thing I was surprised about was that the overhead presses are already getting more challenging. At 60 lbs on Wednesday, the last couple of sets were actually difficult. Again I will trust that program will work and as the weights go up with the overhead press, so will my strength.

Also I got an email from Mehdi. He is writing a squat guide and asked for input. I gave him my input. Look forward to that guide. Last week he emailed out a dead lift guide. That guy is good at this stuff!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Workout Session #5 In The Books

Last night was workout #5 in my Strong Lifts 5x5 program. 65 lb squats, 55 lb bench presses, and 75 lbs barbell rows.

Since the weights are a bit heavier (relatively speaking), I started implementing warm-up sets.

For instance, for my squats I did 2x5s with the bare bar. Then I did 1x5 of 55 lbs. Then went into my 5x5s of 65lb. I will keep those warm-up weights for the next couple of weeks.

A concern has started to creep in. As I was doing the 65 lb squats, I started to wonder if I will be ready for heavier weights (100+ lb) when I get to that point. The 65 lb squats, while not extremely difficult, were more laborious than the previous weights. Maybe I am doubting the system, which is to gradually build strength, but we will see.

Today I am not really sore or tight. I think I am past the worst of that. I have a little bit of hip soreness, but I think that is from upping the reps with the warm-ups, not so much the weight. I think as I get used to the warm-up reps then I will be fine.

On the nutrition front I punched what I ate yesterday into fitday.com 3300 calories! 180 grams of protein! Let's see if I can keep that up. To build muscle you need fuel. It was hard eating that much, admittedly, but with brown rice it is easy to pack in the calories.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Start Of Week 2

So I started week 2. Day #4. 5x5 of 60 lb squats and 50 lb. overhead presses, and 1x5 of 100 lb deadlifts.

The squats are getting more difficult, but I am over the soreness and tightness now. I am starting to see good definition in my thighs. Calves seem a little more defined. I messed up and didn't take starting measurements so I will have to continue to do a visual, subjective assessment.

Overhead presses were no problem. As were the 1 set of 5 100lb deadlifts. I feel a little soreness in my chest today, but I am loving the early results (again subjective). While the mass isn't what I want yet (obviously), I am really pleased with the definition that is already showing. I admit to being a bit skeptical at achieving any results with such low reps and low number of workouts.

I did the free assessment that came with my gym membership. I have a printout out of results. While I did average on some of the assessments, overall I did poorly. I will have it done again in a few months after doing SL 5x5 and see if the numbers improve.

I can't wait until Wednesday's workout!

Friday, March 18, 2011

I Am So Excited

And I just can't hide it. I'm about to lose control and I think I like it!

Years ago I used to go to the gym. I'd run 2 miles, then I would do workouts on various machines. I hated it. I would dread going. Everything about it was boredom and drudgery. I'd spend 1 1/2-2 hours and never felt like I was getting any bigger or stronger.

I let that membership lapse and never really regretted it.

Then I stumbled across Mehdi's site http://stronglifts.com/ and the clouds parted. The sun started shining, and a rainbow formed. Okay, I exaggerate, but I could tell from the get-go that this was finally a weight training program I could do.

So I am into workout number 3. 55 lb squats. 50 lb bench presses. 70 lb barbell rows. I cannot wait. Never have I looked so forward to working out before. I can't wait to get to the gym. The only reason I looked forward to it years ago was because there was a Hawaiian Tropic model that would walk the track as I ran it. (Hey, I was single back then!)

I will report over the weekend on my progress. Today I have little to no soreness nor tightness. I thank Mehdi again for the great advice. On Wednesday, due to my thighs being so sore, I considered skipping. Then I found this post by Mehdi: Soreness: Train Through It or Take a Day Off? I was back on track, and Mehdi was right. Training through it helped in recovery!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Form. Form. Did I Mention Form?

So after two workouts, as I mentioned in the last post, I am worried about my form. Prior to Strong Lifts I had never done squats or dead lifts. In fact, I had rarely ever worked out with barbell free weights. (I had always bought into the line that free weights were dangerous, could cause muscle strains, etc.)

So the more I think about the program (and I do look so forward to my next iteration!) I get concerned about my form. If anyone else is considering the program, and you've never done some or all of these exercises in the program, go to /http://stronglifts.com and check out the Must-Read Guides on left side of the screen.

When I watch these videos I try to take note of the feet position, shape of the back, hands on the bar (placement, grip), things like that. In the gym I try to conjure up those images and see if they match what I am doing. Mehdi over at http://stronglifts.com/ writes quite extensively on the importance of good form.

Luckily the gym I joined includes one session with a personal trainer. I have already discussed that I want that session to be about form on these 5 exercises. Until then I will continue to study Mehdi's guides and work on my form while the weights are low.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Workout Session 2

So on to the 2nd workout session. 5 sets of 5 with 50 lbs on squats, 45 lbs on overhead presses, and 90 lbs. on dead lifts.

My legs were still very tight and sore from Monday's workout. I force myself to squat the 50 lbs, and the first squat I don't make it quite as low as I should. I try to correct it on the other 4 squats of the first set. I rest about a minute between sets. \

Finished with squats I walk around a bit to try to keep my thighs loose. I then set-up for my overhead presses. Since I am pressing the bare bar (45 lb) I lay my dead lift plates out on the ground to prop the bar up. The overhead presses go fine, though I think I need to work on my form a bit.

I then move on to the dead lifts. Those are just one set of 5. I complete them then head home to drink my protein after workout drink.

Legs and thighs are still tight and sore. I am hoping it starts easing up. Also, the diet is going great.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

First Workout Using Strong Lifts 5x5

Before I get into the workout, let me let you know where I was at prior to starting the program.

A few months ago, after watching my weight balloon up to about 20 lbs higher than where I like it to be, I started dieting. Whenever I diet I always like the way my clothes fit me, but hate the way I look.

I am skinny guy. I embraced the fact that I was skinny as a child. My wrists and ankles are razor thin. I have narrow shoulders. I just don't have a big skeletal structure with which to work. However, I have a great metabolism and even when I think I am heavy most people look at me like I am nuts when I say I need to lose weight.

So I dieted down to my playing weight, roughly 165 lbs. But once again hated how I thin I was. I have also been a weakling. Barely able to lift my body weight. Let me rephrase that. My upper body strength has always been average. But my lower body strength has always been below average. In fact, in the early 90s I worked out with a female coworker for a little while. As is the case with women she couldn't compete when it came to arm, shoulder, and chest exercises. But my weakness really showed itself when we went to the leg press. She buried me. It was embarrassing.

So I started to incorporate weight exercises into my routine, as well as trying to fit in as much cardio as my schedule will allow. Schedule is always an issue. With a young family, full time career, and a household to maintain, more than a few minutes a week is a strain. Cardio just requires too much time (on top of other exercising), is boring, and you see little visual results from it.

I am 6'1" (actually about 1/4" over that), and weigh 167 lbs as I start my trek through the Strong Lifts 5x5 program.

If you don't know what the Strong Lifts 5x5 program is, click here: http://mysl55log.blogspot.com/2011/03/what-is-strong-lifts-5x5.html

So week 1, day 1. I enter Powerhouse Gym and it is slightly before the after work rush. I go to the squat rack where a huge man is squatting 135lbs. Turns out that is his warm-up. After he does a set I remove the weights and do my first set of 5 with the just the bar. I then help him load the bar back up to 165 lbs, and watch him do another set.

It goes back and forth like this until I am finished with my 5 sets of 5 squats. I move on to bench press. All 3 benches are in use. Gym is really filling up now. I can feel the burn in my thighs. (I told you have I very weak legs.)

Finally a bench press comes free and I snag it. Using the 45 lb. Olympic bar I do all 5 of my 5 press sets, resting about a minute between each one. I then go over to an unused bar and load two 10 lbs weights on it for my barbell rows. I repeat the 5 sets of 5 to finish.

Afterward my body was a buzz. Never have I worked the entire body so thoroughly. My legs are beginning to stiffen, but not overly so. Not like when I used to do leg presses. I drive the 5 minutes home and consume a protein powder, quick oats, and skim milk (meant to use whole milk! DOH) drink. I then do some light snacking on hummus, and wait for dinner.

Today (the next day) I have some thigh stiffness. Very little upper body soreness. I feel good and feel I could workout again today. Tomorrow will be day two, with squats, overhead presses, and deadlifts. CAN'T WAIT!

Dinner is a high protein venison (thank goodness for hunting!) casserole, with a pea, carrot, green bean, and corn medley.

A word on diet: after reading Mehdi's report I realized that I was dieting too much in the past to build muscle. From now on I am going to space feedings out every 3 hours, and incorporate at least one high protein source in with each meal. High calorie, complex carbs, and highly nutritious foods are the order of the day. I will blog here about what I do on a typical day moving forward.

I began to ready myself for this workout by starting the new, higher calorie diet, about a week before. It isn't how much you eat, it is what you eat that is important. If you don't hunt, I feel for you. Venison is high in protein. Try to makes friends with a hunter. Buy him a tag for next season and see if he will fill it for you if you also pick up the processing cost.

Also went pheasant hunting over the weekend so I have plenty of high protein meat there.

Deer > Cow
Pheasant > Chicken

What is Strong Lifts 5x5?

First, a huge thank you to Mehdi for all of his work on Strong Lifts 5x5.

In short, Strong Lifts 5x5 is a workout program. You can find out more information here:


I was looking for a workout program that fit my strength level and my schedule. No easy task. I had always done workouts with dumbbells at home, or on machines at the gym. I would incorporate lots of cardio work, as well as natural exercises (IE. crunches, pushups, pullups, etc).

Coupled with a case of severely bad genetics, the results were that while I did get more defined, I always lacked bulk. I just couldn't build muscle. I tried amino acid supplements with my workouts. I tried protein powder supplements. But the problem was I was being counterproductive.

A) I always started out with too much weight.
B) Cardio was counterproductive to the goal of gaining strength and size.
C) My diet was too low on calories, even with the supplements.

So when I decided to start looking for a new way I stumbled across Mehdi site. After reading the preliminaries on his program I signed up for his newsletter and got the free SL5x5 report book. WHAT AN EYE OPENER!

First, it just made sense, everything he said. The reasoning for starting light. The reasoning for concentrating on the 5 exercises in his program. The reasoning for working out every other day at most, and with only the bar at first.

I was sold. I began to look for a gym with three things:

  • Olympic weights
  • Squat rack
  • Affordable fees

I was able to find that in the local Powerhouse Gym near me. Granted there are some monsters in there, and they eye an 167 lb. weakling pretty amusingly. But that won't deter me.

Mehdi sent an email asking if I was going to try. He then sent me a spreadsheet to track my progress through the program. Please see the next blog entry for my first workout results.