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Why Do We Fall

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I started to do this on Facebook in the Men's Academy group (hey guys), but I've gotten so annoyed with Facebook I've just deactivated my account till they figure their stuff out.

I've been doing Starting Strength since the start of the month, and thought it might be useful what's happening with the program as it happens, maybe compare my experiences with other people's.

Background: I've always been heavy. Until recently, the heaviest was 146kg (321lb) by 2009. Usual story - too much junk in, little to no movement.

With the help of an aggressive (and expensive) diet program, as well as getting really involved in Muay Thai, I got down to 101kg (222lb), the lightest/slimmest I've ever been. 

My now-wife and I moved abroad to London, and the following 7 years were a slow, depressing decline into bad habits and poor eating. 

I'm now the heaviest I've ever been, and am starting to feel the consequences, physically and especially mentally. My good friend is a newly-qualified PT, and he put me onto Starting Strength (I'm his new favourite project). 

As an aside, I should say I love the idea of the program; the steady increase gives a nice, objective "level up" each workout. My diet has been slowly getting better (in that, it's been a week since I've eaten chocolate, crisps, fat sodas, or takeaway), and I think part of it is not wanting to sabotage the work I'm doing under the bar.

I'm really hoping I can keep this going. I've got a lot riding on it. 

Goal: At the moment, my goal is to still be doing this at 12 weeks. I'll reassess then. 

I'm going to post stats monthly, that I take along with full body photos (I'll keep them to myself, you'll be glad to hear). Hopefully I'll see some change at the start of March.
Gender: Male
Age: 32
Height: 6' 0"
Weight: 168.4kg 
Neck: 18"
Chest: 54"
Waist: 62"
Hips: 51"
Thighs: 32"
Biceps: 16"
BMI: 50.6
Body Fat: 49.4%
Resting HR: 80
BP: 130/90

31/01/18 - Session 1
Squat: 20kg 3x5
Press: 20kg 3x5
Deadlift: 40kg 1x5
Notes: Good first session. Felt a bit of a tool squatting with an empty bar. But I aim to fill it. Very mild burning sensation in lower back post workout (came on as I started re-racking the plates after the last deadlift). Eased up quickly.

02/02/18 - Session 2
Squat: 22.5kg 3x5
Bench: 20kg 3x5
Deadlift: 45kg 1x5
Notes: Worse pain in lower back post workout. Stiff walking, burning when slightly bending. Cleared up fully when I sat in the car. Potentially Thoracolumbar Fascia?

04/02/18 - Session 3
Squat: 25kg 3x5
Press: 22.5kg 3x5
Deadlift: 50kg 1x5
Notes: Stretched the hell out of myself and invested in a foam roller between Session 2 and Session 3. No pain post workout.



06/02/18 - Session 4
Squat: 27.5kg 3x5
Bench: 22.5kg 3x5
Deadlift: 55kg 1x5
Notes: Squat progressing nicely. Bench is still way too easy, so looking forward to it getting heavier. Today was the first day I felt the deadlift was a challenge. But a good one. Got a session with my trainer on the 18th, looking forward to a good form check session.

Diet wise, things are progressing well enough. No chocolate, crisps or fat soda (as opposed to diet drinks which are still there occasionally), and minimal fast food. Had burgers and chips for dinner after Session 4 due to unforseen circumstances. Felt awful after, which I feel was a silver lining of sorts.

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So, it's been a terrible few days. Due to some unforseen crises (and a poor amount of food planning), I've ended up falling off the wagon a bit, and eating a lot of chocolate the 2 days since Session 4. Angry with myself for being so weak.  But it's also shown me how little I can allow for "just the one". I obviously don't have that type of relationship with that food. 


From My Fitness Plan's perspective, I've come in under my calorie limit both days (or just over), but I'm not convinced.


Session 5 later today, so the aim is to eat like a saint, and actually have something positive (or not negative) happen on the Scales for the weekly weigh in on Saturday.

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13/02/18 - Session 6
Squat: 35kg 3x5
Press: 27.5kg 3x5
Deadlift: 70kg 1x5

Lat Pulldowns: 15kg 3x12

Barbell Rows: 5kg 3x12
Notes: Had a bad few days over the weekend, and missed my first session on the 11th. Felt awful. Decided to smash it today and behave as if I had made it (so jumping 10kg instead of 5kg on the deadlift, for example). 

My trainer/friend (let's call him J) has got me to add some volume training to help burn some fat. He wanted chin ups, which isn't gonna happen for a while, so I'm building up later pulldowns for now. Feel so much better after the session. 

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On 2/9/2018 at 1:50 AM, baileyborough said:

As an aside, I should say I love the idea of the program; the steady increase gives a nice, objective "level up" each workout. My diet has been slowly getting better (in that, it's been a week since I've eaten chocolate, crisps, fat sodas, or takeaway), and I think part of it is not wanting to sabotage the work I'm doing under the bar.

Nice. I feel like when people have a fitness goal (like squatting 100kgs or running a marathon), it makes it a lot easier to stick to their diet. 


I'm glad you've been enjoying the lifting sessions. I did stronglifts for a few months about 2 years back and it was the most fun I ever had lifting. 


Don't worry too much about missing a day or two on your diet. Even the best people will have chocolate and chips and some beer every now and then. 


If you feel like the junk is sabotaging you too much, then try one of these strategies

  • Get your wife and/or PT to keep you accountable.
  • Remove all junk food from your house
  • Keep a food journal, and write down how your body feels after every meal (this works well because you can pinpoint foods that make you feel like crap immediately after eating it)
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15/02/18 - Session 7
Squat: 40kg 3x5
Bench: 30kg 3x5
Front Squat: 10kg 3x10

Barbell Vertical Jump: 10kg 3x5

Close Grip Bench Press: 25kg 3x12
Notes: J has tweaked the routine slightly on workout B; he's taken Deadlift back to every second exercise and added in the front squat/Jumps. These are performed as supersets. Holy crap are they hard. I think the aim is to get me used to the rack position (which I'm still getting the hang of), and  prep me for Power Cleans down the line. 


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3 hours ago, baileyborough said:

Notes: Ticking along. Getting frustrated at the lack of visible improvement (beyond the numbers going up). I'll keep going, but I'd really like to see some small results now to keep the motivation.

By visible improvement, do you mean weight loss/body changes? If so, it generally takes about 4 weeks for you to notice changes. Have you taken photos and measurements of your body? Doing that once a month is a good way to see differences. Have you noticed your clothes feeling looser? I find that my belt size is my best indicator of fat loss because you can easily measure it. 


If you're lifting numbers are going up, that's awesome, keep using that as your motivation. At the start of lifting, your body adapts to it, then it puts on good muscle once the weight starts getting heavier. By the looks of it, you're about to hit a 100kg deadlift soon, and the first time you deadlift 100kgs feels super awesome.

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20/02/18 - Session 9
Squat: 50kg 3x5
Bench: 35kg 3x5
Front Squat: 10kg 3x10

Barbell Vertical Jump: 10kg 3x5

Close Grip Bench Press: 30kg 3x12
Notes: Initially tried to front squat/jump with 15kg bar, but my form is atrocious still. Over extension of wrists, too much leaning forward (back squat style). I stuck to 10kg and knocked it out for now.  After, videoed my form with my wife at home using a broom handle. J pointed out the issues and recommended some reference videos, so I'll keep practicing the form for now, hopefully get something fixed before the next time I try them.   The other side of it, is I've been looking carefully at my posture. Working a desk job in a really shitty office has left me with a neck and shoulders that any Warhammer Orc would be proud of. As I type this, I'm consciously trying to keep head up, shoulders back (man, this is hard).  I wonder how long I'll have to work hard to do this before I start adapting to proper posture again. I've asked my wife to kick my ass if she sees me hunching or stooping again.

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22/02/18 - Session 10
Squat: 55g 3x5
Press: 32.5kg 3x5
Deadlift: 80kg 1x5

Lat Pulldowns: 35kg 3x12

Barbell Rows: 12.5kg 3x12
Notes: The Press is starting to slow down now, J reckons it will likely stall out around 40-45kg at my current rate. Barbell Rows went up a bit, only because the 10kg dumbells were in use. I will prob step it back next session to make sure form is perfect for them. Otherwise, happy with the session. Did a bit more practice on the front squat using a proper bar, and I think I'm starting to get the hang of it. Starting to do a basic Yoga routine at home on off days, as I'm noticing the lack of flexibility in certain areas. Plus, I've always wanted to squeeze into Yoga pants...;)

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24/02/18 - Session 11
Squat: 60kg 3x5
Bench: 37.5kg 3x5
Front Squat: 20kg 3x10

Barbell Vertical Jump: 20kg 3x5

Close Grip Bench Press: 35kg 0x12

Notes: Disappointing session. Happy with the squat and bench went, front squat was slightly better, but had to give up because my wrists started to hurt again. I'm convinced it's a mixture of wrist flexibility and arm mobility. I'm hopeful it's improving, but couldn't finish all sets. Was so deflated, I left without doing the close grip bench. Which in hindsight, annoys me even more. I'll have to do a lot to make up for this. 

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Stats Update:

Age: 32
Height: 6' 0"
Weight: 165kg  (↓ 3.4kg)
Neck: 18"  (-)
Chest: 56"  (↑ 2")
Waist: 60" (↓ 2")
Hips: 53" (↑ 2")
Thighs: 31" (↓ 1")
Biceps: 18"  (↑ 2")
BMI: 49.4  (↓ 1.2
Body Fat: 47%  (↓ 2.4
Resting HR: 80
BP: 138/82  (↓) 


Notes: Overall happy with the month's progress. I took my Squat/Bench/Deadlift from 20/20/40kg to 60/37.5/80.  I've seen the beginnings of some body change, and I've made a habit of working out. 

J has now given me a fairly intensive meal plan to follow (2400 Calories per day, 40/30/30 split of Carbs/Fats/Protein), so March is going to be about continuing the linear progression (long may it last), while implementing a proper diet. 

Here we go.


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05/03/18 - Session 12
Squat: 65g 3x5
Press: 35kg 3x5
Deadlift: 85kg 1x5

Notes: First workout in nearly a week after being snowed in (digging my way out probably doesn't count).  Really stuck for time, so I only managed to get the core lifts done, not the accessory exercises. Annoyed about that, but at least I got this much done. I'm pretty happy with the form on all three, though at 85, the deadlift form started to wobble. Need to keep a closer eye on that. 

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08/03/18 - Session 13
Squat: 70kg 3x5
Bench: 40kg 3x5
Front Squat: 20kg 3x10

Barbell Vertical Jump: 20kg 3x5

Close Grip Bench Press: 35kg 0x12

Romanian Deadlift: 40kg 3x8


Notes: RDLs have been added.



10/03/18 - Session 14
Squat: 75g 3x5
Press: 37.5kg 3x5
Deadlift: 90kg 1x5

Chin Up Lat Pulldown: 30kg 3x12

One Arm Dumbbell Row: 10kg 0x12


Notes: I seem to be missing a few exercises at the ends of the sessions, a mixture of laziness, and time constraint. Need to get my shit together.



12/03/18 - Session 15
Squat: 80kg 3x5
Bench: 42.5kg 3x5
Front Squat: 20kg 3x6

Barbell Vertical Jump: 20kg 3x5

Close Grip Bench Press: 35kg 0x12

Romanian Deadlift: 40kg 0x8


Notes: Packed gym, short session. Starting to get grief from my wife, for being away from home so much. This could get ugly.


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15/03/18 - Session 16
Squat: 85g 3x5
Press: 40kg 3x5
Deadlift: 100kg 1x5

Chin Up Lat Pulldown: 30kg 0x12

One Arm Dumbbell Row: 10kg 0x12


Notes: Decent enough performance today. Managed all of the 100kg deadlifts, but the form was suuuuuper ropey at the lockout. I might try deloading. Didn't get the accessory stuff done either; deadlift seems to completely goose me by the end of the session.



17/03/18 - Session 17
Squat: 90kg 3x5
Bench: 45kg 3x5
Front Squat: 20kg 3x6

Barbell Vertical Jump: 20kg 3x5

Close Grip Bench Press: 35kg 0x12

Romanian Deadlift: 40kg 0x8


Notes: Squat is starting to feel serious heavy now. Front squat is still a pain. I'm getting better, but still nowhere near flexible enough to get the proper form.



19/03/18 - Session 18
Squat: 95g 3x5
Press: 42.5kg 1x5
Deadlift: 100kg 0x5

Chin Up Lat Pulldown: 30kg 0x12

One Arm Dumbbell Row: 10kg 0x12


Notes: Managed to squeeze out the last few squats, which I was happy with. Press, I got 1.5 sets done before fail. I was also getting the stink eye from some guys, which didn't help me take my time. Deadlift, I came back at it with a fresh go at form, and helped a lot. Got 3 done of 5, and either laziness or exhaustion took over. Really angry with my lack of discipline for finishing the sessions the last few weeks. 



Diet has been mostly okay. I'm tracking macros, and starting to get a head for what I'm looking at, which is good. J suggested considering a keto diet, or even a stricter Paleo style eating plan for the next while. I'm interested, but my normal eating isn't locked down enough yet to get a solid Keto underway. I'm still slipping here and there with bad food (mostly sneaky cheeseburgers, or the wrong types of meat, etc).


I spoke to J yesterday about all this, and he's suggested changing the sessions around a bit. So, for the next while, I'll be tweaking the accessory exercises in Workout A, and Workout B will finish with a Barbell Complex. Carry on with the diet for now, see what the damage is at the end of the month for the next checkpoint.

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21/03/18 - Session 19
Squat: 100kg 1x4, 95kg 2x5
Bench: 50kg 3x5
Barbell Complex (Bent Over Row, Romanian Deadlift, Hang Clean, Push Press, Front Squats): 20kg 3x8


Notes: Hot damn. So the squat, I got 4 reps at 100, but couldn't stand back up on the 5th, so deloaded and got through the rest at 95. I'll try for 97.5 next time, work up slower.   The complex is good. Flexibility is an issue with the front rack still, but I'm working on that. Beyond that, it's still really hard work, so it's doing its job I guess. Onwards and upwards.

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