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!