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  1. I am essentially a beginner and have been doing the 5x5 Stronglifts program for a couple of months. I've hit a bit of a plateau with my overhead press, I'm close to plateauing with my bench press however, I have more to go with my squats and deadlifts. Because I'm plateauing or close to it on a couple of exercises, I have some questions. I have heard of a few things to improve my strength, do you have a preference for one of these (or another preferred option)? deloading then having a run at increasing again 50 reps (any number of sets, just reach 50) at 80% 5x5 plateau (another number was given in relation to my 1RM but I don't know my 1RM, I do know this other number) supersets pyramids Do I wait for everything to plateau before using any of the above options or do I just start adding volume to an exercise as soon as it plateaus and leave the others until they plateau? Is there anything else I should consider or know about? Thanks
  2. SECOND VERSE SAME AS THE FIRST! 1. Do physical therapy 2. Eat gluten free 3. Write good things BONUS - Do things THUMBS UP.
  3. I've returned from the wilderness and am back in society!! If you saw my earlier challenges, you might remember that I quit my desk job in Wisconsin in January and lived in a tent in the desert working for the Arizona Renaissance Festival during February & March. My time as a tent-dwelling nomad has come to an end, and I'm now getting settled in my new home: Portland, Oregon! How overwhelming is all of this? Hella. I'm tired of feeling like I'm "okay" in several areas -- I'm pretty fit, I eat mostly decent, I know a few things... granted, I have high standards and lofty goals, but I really want to narrow in on one thing for this challenge: consistency. My life has gone through some major changes in the past year, and they've been great, but I like having somewhat of a routine, and now that I'm starting a fresh chapter in my life, I'd like to develop some strong habits and routines right out of the gate. (All in my effort to be like the Lara Croft of the 2014 Tomb Raider reboot game, of course.) So: Goal priority #1: Track my food intake in My Fitness Pal for the entire six weeks. I've known for years that I don't eat enough or balance things properly. I'm a healthy weight and ideally would like to increase it by gaining some more muscle and losing some excess body fat. I'd like to get a better picture of the balance of fuel that best allows me to perform, feel, and look better. Ideally this goal will also result in me better balancing my food intake, but for at least the first three weeks I just want to track everything. I'll re-evaluate later on whether I want this goal to specifically include hitting certain macros, or if just tracking & trying is enough for this round. Either way, it'll be on my radar. After I successfully record my food intake, this will result in +2 CON, +1 STA, +1 WIS, and +1 CHA (because I'll hopefully be looking better after over a month of conscientious food choices!). Secondary goal: Consistent movement; also a struggle for me as I've changed schedules, gyms, and routines so often in the past year. I have a 4-pronged approach as I settle into my new life here: I'd like to go to crossfit 2x a week, lift on my own 2x a week, go to krav maga 1x a week, and include a daily practice of a skill I'm trying to work on (strict push ups, handstand, falls, crow pose, etc). It's going to be awhile before I find the right crossfit gym for me (there are 14 local to my area, and my boyfriend and I might be moving soon), so I'll add that in as I can but get the others going ASAP. For creating consistent workout practices, I will assign +2 to STR, +2 to STA, and +1 to DEX. Third goal: Finances have been a focus of my past few challenges as well, and this one will be no different. Moving across the country is ridiculously expensive, so this time around I'd like to finish paying off one of my credit cards (I paid it off with my tax return, but had to charge a few moving expenses) and re-establish regular savings deposits by the end of the 6 months. +2 to WIS. I don't have a fourth goal this time around; the above will be quite enough to keep me busy and honestly I'm really overwhelmed at the moment: new city and the headaches of moving (how to get the rest of my stuff here from Wisconsin; the $300 I have to drop at the DMV for a new license, plates, and emissions test; a new bank account since my old one is only in the Midwest; changing my mailing address; etc....), new job (exciting announcement incoming, I hope - I verbally accepted an offer but am awaiting written confirmation!), newly cohabitating with an awesome nerdy boyfriend who is playing Torchlight II while I type this, the stress of not knowing anyone else yet... So, yeah. Anxiety is rearing its head going hey girl what is UP? Didja miss me? I'm here! Let's wallow! The remaining 3 points will go to WIS, CHA, and CON for remembering to breathe, enjoy the process, and stay calm during a turbulent transition, provided I feel like I did my best with that at the end of the challenge. It's all really exciting, though. Just a LOT on my plate at the moment. And not enough protein. Let's do this!
  4. I'm Orchid! Non-binary FTM extraordinaire! For those who don't know what that means, the simple version is I'm transgender and mid transition from female to male. I'm hoping to build some strength and lose some weight to work on my physique and better achieve that oh-so-desireable masculine form I'm after. Starting weight: 200 lbs (90.7 kg) Goal 1: Build upper body strength Do a friggin' pushup (without knees on the floor) I'm starting from square one on the upper body strength. Gotta start somewhere. One whole pushup without my knees on the ground is the goal by the end of the 6 weeks. Maybe 15 with my knees down without stopping too. Goal 2: Shed some poundage Lose 5 lbs I have trouble not eating tons of junk so this is a tough one for me. Even if I can't lose, so long as I don't gain any more I'll be happy. Gonna try and eat more veggies and less crap. Goal 3: It's just the way that you walk Adjust my walk so that it is not so feminine. Too much hip swaying going on here. Those things are big enough as it is without anything drawing more attention to them. Gotta watch more men walk and take notes.
  5. Remember when I said I wanted to be a Wizard? Well, Wizards need high INT to perform well, so I better get cracking on that. First and foremost: GRADUATE! FINISH THESIS SHIT BEFORE THIS FRIDAY! Yes, the 27th. Now that that's out of the way, the daily goals will consist of: 1. Meditate for 5 minutes per day, EVERY FREAKING DAY. 2. Brush and floss EVERY FREAKING DAY. 3. Foam roll EVERY FREAKING DAY. I usually do this at the gym since it's a part of our warm-up routine, and there's more room at the gym than there is at home, so I'll leave this one out for this challenge. 3. Lumosity / brain games, or SOMETHING TO LEVEL UP MY INT. I'm thinking StarCraft also. I HAVE AN ARMY! I'll be focusing on the problem-solving category on Lumosity, and on games that will improve working memory. I also picked up a book called Smarter recently, and while I've only gotten through the first chapter so far, I'm totally looking forward to applying some of the concepts mentioned in the book. So far, it seems that working memory is a big thing. I've also finished 10% Happier a little while ago, which is what prompted me to do the 5 minutes of daily meditation. As for the life quests: Life quest 1: THIS ISN'T EVEN MY FINAL FORM! Ie, the quest where all the transition things happen. I am definitely keeping this life quest (probably under text cuts), although I don't want to let it consume my entire challenge this time around. The worst of it has passed, and things related to life quest 1 should be smooth(er) sailing from now on. Life quest 2: Declutter (cont'd). Especially clothes. I already started on this at the end of the last challenge. I still need money, but that will be included in the decluttering life quest when I start to sell shit for money. Oh, and I had a job interview today and I might have a chance and fdfhgdfgahdfgahfdgas WAAAAANT. I have a new job and I start on the 9th and I'm so freaking pumped it's not even funny. IT WILL HAVE SANE HOURS. I WILL BE ABLE TO HAVE A NORMAL SLEEPING SCHEDULE. VERY SLEEP! MUCH REJOICE! WOW!
  6. A MONK LEAVES THE TEMPLE And so it comes to pass, Machete is exiled from the temple and must now live amongst the the people. He knows little about the outside world; he hears it is a very unforgiving place. Armed with the anachronistic skills he acquired over the years, he must find his way to properly assimilate. This may or may not be his greatest challenge yet. THE QUEST Communicate (+2 WIS, +2 CHA) The hermit's life creates a disconnect with society. The skill of language decreases this gap. Gain 10XP every day in Duolingo Spanish. Remember Your Training (+4 STR) The life of a civilian is not an excuse to let oneself go. Perform 2 progressive pullup sessions a week. Attunement (+4 WIS) Cultivate the understanding of one's greatest weapon and the enemy's--the human body. Pass NSCA CSCS exam. SIDE QUEST The Way of the Dragon (+3 WIS) Finish reading The Tao of Jeet Kune Do. THE MOTIVATION P.S. Sorry I'm late, by the way.
  7. "Once, long ago, a young man set out from home. He placed his feet on the path and began to walk it. Soon, however, his attentions were stolen not by the beauty and the wonder around him, but the trappings of the world and society. Lured off his path, up onto a platform and set into a wheel that gave him the illusion of constantly moving, yet in truth going nowhere. He labored there for decades. Plodding forward, step-by-step, the wheel ever turning, but nothing ever changing for him. Then one day the man, who had aged from a young man, to one with a weary step, a bent back and a troubled mind, saw a flower; just off the platform from his wheel. A beautiful flower that shone brightly in the early morning sun, dripping with dew. He wanted to see that flower, and so the man stepped off the wheel. He walked to the flower, knelt to smell it, as the wheel had taken all the strength he had to bend. It was the most beautiful scent he had ever encountered. When he stood back up, he saw the path, still there, waiting for him. Down the path he could see a bend and another flower, a different flower. He wanted to see it. So the man set his foot on the path and he journeyed to the second flower and the bend in the road. Ever since that day, the man, tall, proud a member of the barbarian tribes, has continued to walk the path. He has an idea of where it leads, but in truth, he doesn’t care. He looks forward to the next bend in the road, the next flower growing wild on the side, and he smiles." 1) The Journey - Recoverying fully - I recently had a RFA (Radio Frequency Ablasion) done on my back. I have degenerative disc diease in my lower back, a bulging disc and a pinched nerve. With the RFA done I have almost zero pain. It will only last for 6 months to a year, so it is time to put that into some good recovery time. I plan to:Tai Chi - three to four times per week Yoga & Qi Gong - three to four times per week Meditation - Daily 2) Along the road...Life Side Quest: I'm a writer, a storyteller, a chronicler. I've recently finished my second novel, which is the first in a trilogy. This challenge's life quest will be to finish the second book in that trilogy by the end of these 6 weeks. Life Side Quest: Whilst in the shower I got the urge to play guitar. So I borrowed a friend's to practice. Additional life side quest: practice guitar 3 times per week for at a minimum 30 minutes.3) Why I do what I do... My health, first and foremost. I've given the military 19 years of my life and far too much of my health. It is now time for me to take care of myself. I want to dance with my wife. Enough said there. I want the energy back that I know my body can produce. I never nap, I can work all day, I can walk forever, now to recover and get back to where I want to be.4) Evaluation station... my main goal involves strength, flexibility and wisdom. That is where I will be improving (STR/DEX/WIS). 1. Tai Chi - 24[A], 18, 12[C], 6[D] 2. Yoga/Qi Gong - 24[A], 18, 12[C], 6[D] 3. Meditation - 42[A], 35, 28[C], 21[D] 4. A - Full points, B - 75% points, C - 50% points, D - 25% points. 5) Ultimate goal along the path:
  8. I wasn't going to do a challenge, I'm fairly new here and still feeling my way around, trying to see if I feel at home. Then I read through a few challenge threads and realized that there are some goals I should be working toward, and why not see if this is an effective format and an effective strategy for staying on target. Soooo, here goes! Main Quest I love autumn, really, I do, but historically, this is a difficult time for me. I tend to close myself off - I stop communicating well with others, I am more likely to get depressed, and I more likely to get injured. Autumn is when I transition from fun outdoor summer workouts with my husband to hitting the gym, so I lose that hour spent with him doing something fun and transition to workouts that I don't love as much (although I do still enjoy them - I love to workout!). This year, I want to Avoid the Demons of Autumn and stay more positive and healthy, maintain the strength gains I made this summer, and improve (not just maintain) my communications with coworkers, friends, and spouse. Goal 1: I will make a positive, personal daily contact. This may be a phone call instead of sending an email, a personal visit to an employee, or opening a new conversation with my spouse. Scoring: 6 contacts/week = 4 5 contacts/week = 3 4 contacts/week = 2 fewer than 4 = 0 Goal 2: I will do the things that I know keep my mental state positive and that ward off depression and avoidant behavior - no wheat - no alcohol - limit added sugar - run, hike, or do other "sanity maintenance cardio" at least 3 times a week Scoring: Deduct a point any time I have wheat or alcohol (these substances are terrible for me!) Add point each day I do cardio/run/hike (bonus points available for long hikes or long runs) Deduct a point anytime I have a sugary treat Goal 3: I've made some wonderful strength gains this summer with both body weight and barbell workouts. As I transition to more indoor workouts, I will maintain those gains - pullups/pushups/T2B at least 2 times/week - bonus points for OHP and squats - lunges and KB swings at least once a week (winter hiking season is coming as is telemark season!!!) Scoring: 4 points any week I do the 2 days of p/p/t and a day of lunges/KB Add a point for PR on counts of pullups, pushups or T2B Add a point for OHP or squats Add a point for new PR on OHP or squats Side Quest: Grand Canyon Double Crossing on 10/4: 50 miles, 11,000 feet of elevation gain, and my goal is to complete the trek in 20 hours or less: 3:00 AM - 10:00 PM (ish) - this will mess with my workout schedule a little the week before, and definitely the week after, and I will eat wheat for the easily available calories needed (pizza, cheddar bunnies, and mac & cheese to carb load the evening before we start). I am waiving the no wheat rule only for 10/4-10/6. If I meet the goal of 20 hours or less, I will award myself bonus points (max of 15).
  9. Hey-o! Incoming newbie question. Has anyone else started with rack pulls and then moved into deadlifts? I began lifting a little over a month ago and started with rack pulls after researching a bit, figuring they would be easier on my lower back at first (I try to be careful not to aggro an old herniated disk). The rack pulls and squats have done wonders for my overall strength, but I'd like to move up to deadlifts soon. I've been digging around online lately and found all sorts of instructions on how to deadlift properly (yay!), but have found jack-all for how to transition between the two. If anyone has experience with this, I'd love to hear about it. Specifically, I'm wondering if I need to deload a bit in the transition. My rack pull work sets are currently at 135, so I can use the two 45-pound plates, which would put the bar at a better height from the floor. I'm just not sure I can actually haul that much that far yet. Halp? :-)
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