Strong Lifts 5x5

Started April 28 on Stronglifts 5x5. Old school strength training that gets results.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Back at it.

So hit the gym yesterday after a week off. While ruminating over future goals, sticking with 5x5 for now.

Squats- 255lbs Deloaded a bit after the week off. Focused on form, nice and deep, good hip drive etc. Felt good to get under the bar again. While it was lighter than where I left off, still a good amount of weight and felt it after wards.

Bench -160lbs. A slight deload (5lbs). Again focused on form. Still a good amount of weight for me being only 5lbs under my current max for 5x5. Had to work for the 5th rep on the last two sets.

Rows 135lbs - Slight deload, wanted to test the elbow a bit and see how it felt after the week off. Still not 100% but pretty close.

Added in 3x5 of body weight dips and just because I hadn't done them for months did a couple sets of dumb bell curls. I was actually quite amazed at how much stronger my biceps were considering I hadn't done a single curl for 3 months. Had no problem curling 42.5lb dumb bells with solid form where my prior best was maybe 32.5. I probably could have gone heavier even but my elbow did complain a bit at the motion so didn't want to push it.

Overall a good session. Dentist appointment Wednesday afternoon so going to have to miss the session, but will hit the gym on Thursday, take Friday off then get back into my old routine of Sat/Mon/Wed for weights.

One Year!

So, last week ended up being an unscheduled but needed week off from the gym for a couple reasons. After flaming out in the last workout of week 11 I felt a need to give my body a bit of a rest. The nagging injuries were starting to pile up a bit and I wasn't giving them the rest needed to heal.

I also decided to head out for a bit of a spur of the moment camping and fishing extended weekend with some friends. Headed out to a beautiful lake near Merrit on Thursday and spent the weekend having a blast. The fishing wasn't great (caught a couple nice trout with long stretches of no action) but the relaxation coupled with lots of beer was a nice break.

It also gave me a bit of time to reflect on this last year. July 24th 2010 is when I started this journey to get fit. It was seeing pictures of myself on my 38th birthday that really hit home to me I needed to make some positive changes.

So it's been one year since I started getting serious about getting fit. My stats July 24th 2010

246lbs
34%Body fat.
Tight size 42 pants
2xxL shirts

My First workout was upper body and my god was I weak. I maxed out at 6 reps of 40lb dumbells for chest and I was shaking to get all 6 reps. My squats max was 6x 100lbs (on the smith machine). Shoulder press was 17.5lb dumbells.

Stats July 24th 2011.

212lbs
~18%BF
Comfy size 36 pants
Large shirt.

Bench 165lbs, Squats 270lbs OHP 105lbs Deadlifts 275lbs.

Now alot of the strength gains have come in the last 3 months doing SL5x5. I plateaued on the BFL pyramid back in Feb I would guess. I wan't making much gains between then and when I started Strong Lifts at the end of April. Now maybe I wasn't pushing myself as hard as I could due to boredom after 9 months of the same workouts and an abundance of cardio I don't know. What I know is the new routine gave me the motivation to really hit the weights hard.


Overall I am happy with the progress over this last year but not satisfied. I find myself a bit conflicted as to my goals going forward. One part of me wants to continue on with reaching for strength goals. 300lbs squats. 400lbs dealifts, 200lb bench. The other part of me wants to lean out more. Shoot for around 185lbs at ~12%BF. Visible abs and all that. I just don't know that the two goals can be obtained in conjunction. Can I go into a caloric deficit and continue to make strength gains. Can I lean out without adding cardio back into the equation?

Is it better to continue on with chasing strength gains or is it time to switch gears, maintain what I have gained and do a cut phase for 3 months?

I read and read and read and educate myself. Split routines, 5x5 type programs, different diet plans etc etc etc. It is over whelming at times. I find myself really at a cross roads and unsure what to do. A bit frustrating to say the least. While I know it is not out there, there are times where I wish there was some magic 8-ball to answer all my questions. I think I know enough to set up my own program and diet plan. I know what does work for me, but is it the most efficient? Is there a better way to skin the cat?






Monday, July 18, 2011

Week 11 W/O 3

Last session of Week 11. Squats, Bench and Rows.

Right from the get go I knew today's session was not going to be great. I had family coming into town for the weekend, a ton of things to get done and my focus was all over the place. I contemplate skipping all together but went.

Bench 165lbs. Last chance at 165lbs before deloading. Did bench first and got 5x5. Didn't really have to dig for it until 4th rep of 4th set. Felt very good to be on the edge of a deload and push hard to get the weight and move on.

Squats 270lbs. This is where my lack of focus hit. Warm ups where fine and did 3x5 at 270lbs but my head just wasn't in the game. I had the strength for the weight but I don't know, just no drive to push myself that hard. Dropped to 250kb for the last two sets.

Rows 145lbs. No problems here. Form felt good, elbow didn't hurt to bad.

To beat myself up over not doing my squats I added in some dips at the end. Prior to starting Stronglifts I could not do an unassisted body weight dip so I was curious to see if that had changed considering I had done no tricep specific lifts in almost 3 months. Much to my surprise I pounded out 3 sets of 5 @210lbs body weight, they were hard but not overly.

So despite the squats sucking, I left the gym feeling not bad about the session. I'm a bit pissed at myself as not doing 270lbs 5x5 means redoing that weight. But, on the flip side, if someone had told me before starting I would take my squats to 270lbs without missing at a weight or deloading I would have said no freaking way.


Thursday, July 14, 2011

How to burst your bro-ego in 2mins or less


Week 11 W/O 2 Captain Legs?

Second Sessions of week 11. Squats,Deadlifts, Overhead Press.

Squats 265lbs- Warm ups 5x135 5x185 3x225.
Form felt better through out all 5 sets. Going to have to video myself to do a form check. Looking the mirror it looks like I am hitting parallel and with the safety bars set just slightly below parallel for me everything seems fine, but having a video will tell the tale.

Over Head Press 105lbs - Warm Ups 5x45 5x 65 3x 85

Missed on the OHP press today. 5x5x4x4x5 So frustrated by this lift. Seems every weight increase is going to take 2-3 attempts to get it. I took a bit longer break (3mins instead of 2) between the 4th and 5th set and got the 5 reps (really had to push for the 5th) on the last set. Maybe the break is the key. Also like Bench I think I will try doing OHP first before squats.

Deadlifts 275lbs- Warm ups 5x135 5x225 3x250
5x275lbs. Just gonna stop and enjoy that for a second. Hard to believe less than 3 months ago I had never done a dead lift. Heavy, hell yes. Had to psyche myself up for the lift. Little Metallica blasting on the IPOD and really focus on my form. At this weight bad form =injury. I think the hardest part as the set went on was grip. Even with a mixed grip it's a lot of weight to hold and the tennis elbow I have going on doesn't help my grip strength with my right hand.

So, as questioned in the post title, is there such a thing a Captain Lower Body? The polar opposite of most "bros" at the gym that focus most of their time on upper body. Is it a bad thing? I keep progressing at squats and deadlifts but my upper body lifts, Bench, OHP and even rows a bit, I struggle. I don't know if it's a normal thing or not to be able to squat 265 and DL 275 but fail at 105 on OHP? 165lbs on bench seems very light compared to my body weight.

Going forward I'm going to change up the order of my lifts. Start with the upper body stuff, then do squats and see if that makes a difference doing them before gassing myself with heavy squats.
Also think I need to make sure I'm doing the ancillary exercises, chins, dips etc. It's been kinda hit and miss on doing these.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Week 11 W/O 1

First session of Week 11. Squats, Bench, Rows
Skipped my session on Friday to give my elbow a bit of a rest. Seems to have paid off as it it feeling much better. Not 100% yet, but better than it was.


Squats - 260lbs. Legs seemed to have benefited from the extra time off as well. Got all the reps in although I wasn't totally happy with the last 2 reps of set 5. May keep it at 260 for one more session.

Bench - 165lbs. 5x4x4x4x4. Didn't get 165lb again but much better than last time. The plan was to do bench first and see if that makes a difference but being Monday, bench was lined up with all the "bros" doing crappy assisted half reps. Had to laugh, watched these two guys, early 20's on the bench while I was doing my squats. Had about 185lbs on the bar. Right from the first rep the spotter was helping the guy make the lift, and the guy continued for 5 reps like that. I think the spotter was getting more of a workout than the guy actually on the bench.

Rows-140lbs This is were the rest for my elbow paid dividends. Last week I couldn't even do the warm ups without my elbow screaming. Yesterday, no problems.Did get a bit of a talking to from one of the staff about making to much noise dropping the weights. Told her I was doing Pendlay rows and that is kinda how it goes with them, she's was "what's a Pendlay row"? Le sigh. this is one of their personal "trainers" if you can believe it.

Followed up lifting with 15mins of good cardio on the eliptical. If there is one thing I do kinda miss it's running 3x a week like I was doing. Kinda sucks knowing after working so hard to get to a 27min 5k I have lost that level of cardio over the last couple months. I know it's contradictory to my current goal of getting stronger to worry about it and be running 15k+ a week but I do miss it.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Week 10 W/O 2

2nd workout of week 10 Squats, Bench, Rows


Squats 255lbs. Warm ups 5x135 5x185 3x225. Got all 25 reps at 255lb work weight. Form felt good. Had to work for the last 2 reps of sets 4 and 5.

Bench 165lbs. 3x5x4x3x3. Ugh. Had to set up in the power rack and the bench press was busy. Didn't expect to have so much problems with 165 after punching out 160lb last session.

Rows - Had to skip rows completely. During warm ups for rows, the elbow that has been bothering me flared up and I just couldn't do the motion without pain. Decided rather than risk hurting it even more to give it a rest.

Squats aside a pretty disappointed gym session. Last week during this workout I did bench first as the squat rack was occupied and hit 160lbs with no problems. I had no problems doing squats after bench, but wondering if doing the heavy squats first is taking to much out of me. I know I was pretty blasted after them yesterday when it was bench time. I'll switch it up again on Monday when it's time for the bench press workout again and see if it makes a difference. Even though not working the chest during squats, the energy output is pretty high for me at the weight I am squatting.

Considering taking Friday off and giving my elbow 4 days off to see if it helps it recover a bit. Hate missing a session but I'm afraid if I don't give it a chance to recover I'm going to end up missing more down the line. Getting older sucks.