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Harriet

Slow Progress Diagnosis Plz

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Hey all, I’m writing to get some thoughts on how to break improve my very slow progress. My lifts aren’t as strong as other women’s seem to be for the same level of experience. And I’m not sure which strategy will help, and which could hurt.

Background: I was extremely sedentary and 156 pounds of skinny-fat, then dieted down to 127 of hysterically hungry skinny-fat with rice crackers and other crap over about 8 months in 2017. Then I stopped dieting, started eating greater amounts of healthier food and started lifting in February 2018. I went up to about 147 pounds over maybe 8 months, and went from my first 30kg deadlift to 67.5kg (148 pounds) deadlifts for 3 x 3.  I moved to the USA and now, as far as I know, weigh about 145 pounds at roughly 5’ 6”. I’m in my early 30s and was very weak and unfit for a very long time. I moved to the USA about two months ago. My lifts are currently:

 

squat 3x7 x 100

bench 3x7 x 70

OHP 3x6 x 50

Deadlift 3x4 x 145


I go to the gym three times per week and alternate between

day one: squat/bench/inverted row/dead hang

day two: deadlift/OHP/dumbbell row/dead hang

 

Diet: I’m currently eating  intuitively, but with 100-150g protein per day, on a sort of flexitarian diet with some meat, some legumes, some dairy, and not much carbs except for one day a week when I have a treat meal at a restaurant, and one day when I have a couple of slices of pizza instead of my usual lunch. I'm not willing to regularly count calories at the moment, but I could make behavioural changes to my diet. I’ve gotten a smidgen leaner and more defined over the last couple of months.

 

The lifting: I started with Stronglifts 5x5. When I started failing bench and OHP, I played around with different set and rep schemes. I also tried different reps for the Squat and Deadlift. When I moved to the USA my deadlift immediately dropped to an ugly 135 pounds — not sure if it was the stress of moving or if the weights in my old gym were inaccurate. It’s taken me two months to work back up to 145 pounds. I have been increasing reps every workout, but only increasing the actual weight on my lifts every 3 workouts for the deadlift and squat, and every 4 workouts for the Bench and OHP (if I don’t fail any reps). At the moment I’m doing 3 working sets of anywhere from 3 to 8, depending on the lift. The reason for this conservative approach is that I repeatedly failed benches in my old gym and the roll of shame got increasingly painful. Also, trying to move faster on the OHP just didn’t work for me. Also, most of my deadlifts recently have been extremely hard, and not just physically. I feel nervous just starting the lift—I’m talking heart racing, mind begging me not to do it. I wonder if it has anything to do with my grip.

 

My attempts to improve things over the last couple of 6 weeks: I recently increased my protein, started implementing some good sleep habits and a little meditation, and added 2 sets of 10 reps at 50% of the working weight after each lift. I swapped assisted pull-ups, which weren’t working, for inverted rows, which feel right. I’ve been doing dead hangs for my grip and it seems to have helped a bit— my last set of deadlifts were hard but in a normal way, not a freakout way. I’ve also started trying out mixed grip for some of my deadlift sets. I’ve also been doing lots more “cardio” here in the USA—plenty of cycling and walking—because there aren’t enough trains.

 

So from reading about other women’s experiences, it seems like my lifts are really low after 9 months of consistent lifting. I’m trying to decide what strategy to take— whether to push harder or chip away at it slowly. Should I increase the weights more often even if I regularly fail some reps? Or will pushing too hard just get me setbacks, psych-outs and exhaustion? Should I accept that I’m just not as strong as other women and keep increasing reps three or four times before adding weight? Or should I give the deadlift its own separate day plus accessories? Or overcome my fear of getting fatter and eat more? Or implement some scheme with percentages, like 5/3/1? Or a mix of these things? I’ve tried googling these things, and I can’t make a decision. I would be very grateful for any insights, thoughts, or stories from other lifters who had slow progress early on.

<3

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I don't lift weights, I do bodyweight. When I hit that wall and felt like my progress was slow, I had to overcome the fear of getting fatter and eat more to gain strength. One of the things I did was eat more carbs. Think of it like an experiment, you can try eating a bit more carbs for 6 weeks and see how it goes. If you feel like you are gaining too much weight, you can cut back. But chances are you will  gain strength. It is so hard to let go of that fear of gaining  weight, but it's not like you are going back to old habits, you are just experimenting and tweaking the habits that are working to optimize them.

 

 

 

 

 

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Comparison is a motivation killer. You’re you and it sounds like you’re doing the right things and should keep it up.

Extremely sedentary is a very low starting point. Seriously, you should be proud of your progress


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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Personal opinion, 5/3/1 isn't that great unless you are having to deal with external stresses and just need something to maintain yourself. It sounds like you are early in your training and should be trying something a little more aggressive. Have you considered completing the Stronglifts program as laid out all the way through? If you wanted something more aggressive and varied than Stronglifts, you could try Danger's program and see how you do on that. That worked for me and I ran it a few times starting after I ended my time on Stronglifts and had given up on some of the suggested Stronglifts follow ups. https://rebellion.nerdfitness.com/index.php?/topic/66234-the-danger-method/

I moved on to a JTS template after that and have been running that for this year. I had done 5/3/1 a few cycles in between some of thoe transitions and that's where I got the opinion that it's not that great unless you just need something low stress.

 

If you're worried about the bench, that's easy enough to address. If you can't find a spotter, then setup in the power rack with a movable bench and set the safeties so you can set the bar down and slide out from under it. If I'm alone and running heavy sets, I'll setup in the power rack and have safeties setup so they do not interfere with bringing the bar to my chest but if I fail I can set the bar on the safeties above my clavicle and slide out. If your rack uses sliding safeties, always make sure to give them a good shake to make sure they are fully locked before you start so they don't slip out. 

 

If you think your grip is a problem for deadlift, you might try static holds. Either just pull and hold as long as you think is best or if you just want to work the top you could setup rack or block pulls. You could also adjust that height of the rack or blocks if the issue is just confidence and you want to work your grip in specific range. You could also hold your last rep in the set for as long as possible for extra grip work.

 

As far as eating goes, I'd just make sure you're eating enough to not feel hungry. I'd worry more about dialing in a program you can feel confidant in cycling through before trying to actively add weight. 

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8 hours ago, Elastigirl said:

Think of it like an experiment, you can try eating a bit more carbs for 6 weeks and see how it goes.


That's true, I could stop if I felt I didn't like the changes. I actually liked my body better after putting on weight from lifting. I guess some unprocessed carbs could be useful and not interfere with my attempts to get healthier and have more energy (I think refined carbs contribute to making me tired when I eat them regularly).

Thank you for sharing your experience <3

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8 hours ago, Sloth the Enduring said:

Comparison is a motivation killer. You’re you and it sounds like you’re doing the right things and should keep it up.

Extremely sedentary is a very low starting point. Seriously, you should be proud of your progress
 


Thank you :)
I guess you're right. I don't really know what level everyone else started from. I guess I started from level minus five or something. So just getting to level zero was something pretty good.

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6 hours ago, Orion Antares said:

Personal opinion, 5/3/1 isn't that great unless you are having to deal with external stresses and just need something to maintain yourself. It sounds like you are early in your training and should be trying something a little more aggressive. Have you considered completing the Stronglifts program as laid out all the way through?

 

As far as eating goes, I'd just make sure you're eating enough to not feel hungry. I'd worry more about dialing in a program you can feel confidant in cycling through before trying to actively add weight. 

 

Thank you for the suggestions.

 

I could definitely try something more aggressive. I didn't do the whole stronglifts procedure with three failures in a row followed by deloads. I guess I just felt like the repeated failures were nasty and a sign that something was going wrong, so I switched to increasing reps, not weights. At least now I have a better sense of when I'm going to fail, so I could try a more ambitious program where I add weight more often, and just stop one short of real failure. 

JDanger's programme looks kind of complex with percentages and ramping up and down. Is it the whole programme you think is awesome, or were you just recommending it because it's more ambitious/aggressive than my current approach? Because I actually like the simplicity of my straight sets and half-weight sets and don't want to get super complex until I have to. 

Ugh. The darned safety pins don't go low enough. I have to choose between hitting the bars a few inches above my chest, or benching without them. I think I now have a better idea of when I'm close to failing, so I don't mind benching without pins. That could change if I choose to increase the weights more often, though. Maybe I have to suck it up and ask one of the abundant beefy college boys for a spot when I try a new weight. Ugh. I'm making my sulky face now because I'm shy and don't want to talk to college boys. 

I don't have any problem with the top of the deadlift, just breaking it off the floor. Do you think static holds are better than dead hangs, or that it's good to alternate? I could do hangs on one day and holds on the other. 

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So, I guess I'm going to try increasing the weights more often. I don't want to make huge changes to my programme all at once, so I'm going to see if I can increase the squat and deadlift every second workout, and the bench and OHP every third workout (instead of every third and fourth time, respectively). I'm definitely going to fail some lifts, but I'm going to take this in my stride and keep hammering away at it. I'm hoping that failing at a more ambitious weight will still lead to faster progress than being too cautious and spending too much time increasing reps. 

I'm going to eat when hungry-- that means eating more if the lifting causes extra hungry, as it did in the first six months--and add some unprocessed carbs like steel oats or quinoa on my lifting days. 

Wish me strength. 

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5 hours ago, Harriet said:

 

Thank you for the suggestions.

 

I could definitely try something more aggressive. I didn't do the whole stronglifts procedure with three failures in a row followed by deloads. I guess I just felt like the repeated failures were nasty and a sign that something was going wrong, so I switched to increasing reps, not weights. At least now I have a better sense of when I'm going to fail, so I could try a more ambitious program where I add weight more often, and just stop one short of real failure. 

JDanger's programme looks kind of complex with percentages and ramping up and down. Is it the whole programme you think is awesome, or were you just recommending it because it's more ambitious/aggressive than my current approach? Because I actually like the simplicity of my straight sets and half-weight sets and don't want to get super complex until I have to. 

Ugh. The darned safety pins don't go low enough. I have to choose between hitting the bars a few inches above my chest, or benching without them. I think I now have a better idea of when I'm close to failing, so I don't mind benching without pins. That could change if I choose to increase the weights more often, though. Maybe I have to suck it up and ask one of the abundant beefy college boys for a spot when I try a new weight. Ugh. I'm making my sulky face now because I'm shy and don't want to talk to college boys. 

I don't have any problem with the top of the deadlift, just breaking it off the floor. Do you think static holds are better than dead hangs, or that it's good to alternate? I could do hangs on one day and holds on the other. 

 

It might look complex and if you had to build it yourself it could be considered that way but once you get into it's relatively straight forward to follow. It can also help you to get used to gauging your limits learning what weight to select for the AHAP set. But ultimately you just need to pick a program that you can stick with and you feel like you are able to make progress with given time.

 

As far as strength goes, there'd be little difference between static holds and dead hangs at this level of weight except that with with a deadlift the bar could try to roll while that does not happen for the dead hang. If you feel the issue is just your grip strength, then either will work. If the issue feels more technical such as the bar rolling when you start your lift, then you could even try working on initial pull range. Work on setting your grip, getting the slack from the bar, maybe even pausing after you initially start a pull just off the ground before competing it. I guess it sounds like you are still using a double overhand grip so switching to a mixed grip or learning the hook grip can help prevent that bar roll. It would probably be more advantageous learning the hook grip and not switch to the mixed grip until you had to but that's something you'll need to decide yourself. I know there are some people who hook grip at heavy weights, I personally cannot because I have an issue with my thumbs being prone to dislocation too easily in that position. I just warm up double overhand until the weight gets close to my working set before I switch to mixed.

 

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5 hours ago, Orion Antares said:

 

It might look complex and if you had to build it yourself it could be considered that way but once you get into it's relatively straight forward to follow. It can also help you to get used to gauging your limits learning what weight to select for the AHAP set. But ultimately you just need to pick a program that you can stick with and you feel like you are able to make progress with given time.

 

As far as strength goes, there'd be little difference between static holds and dead hangs at this level of weight except that with with a deadlift the bar could try to roll while that does not happen for the dead hang. If you feel the issue is just your grip strength, then either will work. If the issue feels more technical such as the bar rolling when you start your lift, then you could even try working on initial pull range. Work on setting your grip, getting the slack from the bar, maybe even pausing after you initially start a pull just off the ground before competing it. I guess it sounds like you are still using a double overhand grip so switching to a mixed grip or learning the hook grip can help prevent that bar roll. It would probably be more advantageous learning the hook grip and not switch to the mixed grip until you had to but that's something you'll need to decide yourself. I know there are some people who hook grip at heavy weights, I personally cannot because I have an issue with my thumbs being prone to dislocation too easily in that position. I just warm up double overhand until the weight gets close to my working set before I switch to mixed.

 

 

Thanks for the response. It sounds like there's no harm in adding some holds, and I could try  paused deadlifts for my 50% x 10 sets (I can't see it happening on my heavy sets--they're all-out).


I think it's a grip and psychological thing. My grip is weak, and I also get a bit freaked out by failed lifts, or ugly grinding almost-fails, or just by starting the pull and not really believing I can lift something so heavy (sometimes I surprise myself). I have only recently learned about pulling the slack out of the bar. I also tried visualising the lift going successfully, which helped. My grip exercises also seem to be helping a bit. I guess at this stage a few sessions with a coach would probably be a good investment since there are likely a few other things one can't learn by googling. I do as much as possible with double overhand and switch to mixed grip for my last one or two heavy sets - something I had to do recently because double overhand was just not working. It's hard to concentrate on the lift when you feel it's going to slip from your hands. 

I would consider adding elements from JDanger's programme if I thought they might be helpful, but I don't want to change too much at once because I need a baseline to compare with and see if new changes are working or not. If I may ask, what would be the advantage of working up and down in with percentages instead of doing a warm-up, then straight sets plus a couple of lighter/higher rep sets as I'm going now? And are blocks with different rep ranges useful for a comparatively new lifter? 

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No, block pulls aren't generally going to be useful for a new lifter. It would just be a shortcut to get you to the top easier if you wanted to do heavy holds without needing to do the full pull. In that case you'd be setting up the bar maybe an inch at the most below lockout just to skip the fatigue of the full pull and to focus only on the hold for grip.

 

Personally, I feel like those lead up sets are more like heavy warm-ups. But the top set is to be the challenging set where you want to push yourself but try not to reach technical failure. The back-down sets that follow are meant to still be physically challenging to stimulate muscle growth but also to help you improve your technical form with the slight weight drop.

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5 hours ago, Harriet said:

a few sessions with a coach would probably be a good investment

 

Yes yes and yes. If this is possibility then there is no reason not to get a professional opinion and guidance. Just research your options and get someone with a good reputation for what you're looking for.

 

5 hours ago, Harriet said:

If I may ask, what would be the advantage of working up and down in with percentages instead of doing a warm-up, then straight sets plus a couple of lighter/higher rep sets as I'm going now?

 

Pyramid sets are an excellent way of tapping into the benefits of the higher weights with less strain than having the highest weight as the full working set. I give this breakdown to people of all experience levels and see excellent progress. (It also helps the head to know that you only have to hit those higher weights for a single set, and then comparatively, the decrease feels lighter and smooth.)

 

I'm curious about your long term goals, it might help your mental roadblocks to re-evaluate them every so often :) 

 

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55 minutes ago, RedStone said:

Pyramid sets are an excellent way of tapping into the benefits of the higher weights with less strain than having the highest weight as the full working set. I give this breakdown to people of all experience levels and see excellent progress. (It also helps the head to know that you only have to hit those higher weights for a single set, and then comparatively, the decrease feels lighter and smooth.)

 

I'm curious about your long term goals, it might help your mental roadblocks to re-evaluate them every so often :) 

 


Okay, so pyramids might be worth incorporating at some point, especially if I feel worn out maybe. 

Uhhhh, well there's no specific reason why I need a bigger deadlift, but I just WANT one. I like seeing the numbers go up. More concretely, I would like a double-bodyweight deadlift to start with, and maybe more later. I want to be able to eat a decent amount of healthy food without counting. I want to look like an awesome super version of myself with visible muscle, a nice overall shape and great posture. I want lots of energy and better health and I want to find it easier to do everyday things like running up stairs and, um, carrying an entire canoe or two medium-sized children by myself, you know, just in case the water runs out or they get tired.

 

3 hours ago, Orion Antares said:

No, block pulls aren't generally going to be useful for a new lifter. It would just be a shortcut to get you to the top easier if you wanted to do heavy holds without needing to do the full pull. In that case you'd be setting up the bar maybe an inch at the most below lockout just to skip the fatigue of the full pull and to focus only on the hold for grip.

 


Oh, I actually meant the blocks of different weeks where the rep range changes from 10 to 5 to 3. If I use different rep ranges in each workout, would I also benefit from different periods of training focusing on different rep ranges? Or is that more for advanced lifters?
 

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Lots of great suggestions already - if you're enjoying your routine right now and don't want to switch up too much (eg. exercise selection, rep goals, etc) then just keep on keeping on, and (as already suggested) maybe up your kcal a bit.

 

If you were looking to really shake things up, I'd probably swap out almost all of your exercises for different variations. eg. Goblet squat instead of barbell (helps grip & core), Hip Thrust instead of DL (build/activate glutes), Pushups on Gym Rings instead of Bench (instability makes it harder, also a healthy break for your shoulders) - I'd also double up on the inverted row rather than including a DB row, add some face pulls/banded pull-aparts, and replace OHP with single arm bottom-up-KB-press or just a straight up single arm OH DB press. All of these movements are less technical than the DL, Squat, OHP, or Bench - IMO, that makes it easier to safely increase the weight, and still feel good doing it. And sometimes they can illustrate areas that are holding back your primary lifts. I'd also explore using something like a rep goal system instead of programming in weird rep/set schedules to periodise - it's simple, and easier to remember. But that's all just my opinion - feel free to take what's useful and ignore the rest. 

 

Also, bear in mind that there are lots of different ways to make progress - adding weight to the bar is only one of them. There's also # of reps/set, technical proficiency, time to complete a rep, perceived effort, recovery time between sets, recovery time between workouts, etc. Celebrate the little wins - those are the ones that actually give us progress in the long run. ;)

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On 11/2/2018 at 1:16 PM, Harriet said:

Also, most of my deadlifts recently have been extremely hard, and not just physically. I feel nervous just starting the lift—I’m talking heart racing, mind begging me not to do it. I wonder if it has anything to do with my grip.

3 hours ago, Harriet said:

there's no specific reason why I need a bigger deadlift, but I just WANT one. I like seeing the numbers go up. More concretely, I would like a double-bodyweight deadlift to start with, and maybe more later.

 

Grip is a simple thing, either you can hold the thing or you can't, that's pretty much all she wrote when it comes to that. What's the worst thing that happens if your grip fails during a deadlift? Serious question. In my experience, either the bar doesn't leave the ground, or... it does leave the ground, momentarily, and then goes right back to the ground with a little thud. What's the biggest concern?

 

Buuuttt... if your mind is begging you not to do your lift - the same lift you want to hit a double BW PR to start with... I dunno. Sounds like something other than holding onto the bar is going on. You add more reps rather than adding more weight. Why? What do the failed sessions look like? Are you writing your own programming at this stage?
 

3 hours ago, Harriet said:

I want to be able to eat a decent amount of healthy food without counting. I want to look like an awesome super version of myself with visible muscle, a nice overall shape and great posture. I want lots of energy and better health and I want to find it easier to do everyday things like running up stairs and, um, carrying an entire canoe or two medium-sized children by myself, you know, just in case the water runs out or they get tired.

 

Sounds like you're looking to feel strong and capable, feel well and healthier. What kinds of things make you feel that way?

 

On 11/2/2018 at 1:16 PM, Harriet said:

not much carbs except for one day a week

 

What are your thoughts on eating/not eating carbs?

 

_____

 

Otherwise, here's a quick reference list of some stuff that's good for grip/tensile strength:

Carries (farmer & suitcase)

Pronator/supinator rotations

Deadhangs/fingerhangs

DB bent rows

Wrist curls

Hand grippers

 

There's lots more, I'm sure people will continue to add more suggestions! GL

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30 minutes ago, RedStone said:

 

Grip is a simple thing, either you can hold the thing or you can't, that's pretty much all she wrote when it comes to that. What's the worst thing that happens if your grip fails during a deadlift? Serious question. In my experience, either the bar doesn't leave the ground, or... it does leave the ground, momentarily, and then goes right back to the ground with a little thud. What's the biggest concern?

 

Buuuttt... if your mind is begging you not to do your lift - the same lift you want to hit a double BW PR to start with... I dunno. Sounds like something other than holding onto the bar is going on. You add more reps rather than adding more weight. Why? What do the failed sessions look like? Are you writing your own programming at this stage?
 

 

Sounds like you're looking to feel strong and capable, feel well and healthier. What kinds of things make you feel that way?

 

 

What are your thoughts on eating/not eating carbs?

 

 

Hmmm. Well, the times when I failed the deadlift I just didn't get it off the ground. I started, something in my mind said NOPE, and my concentration collapsed. I've never actually done a half deadlift or anything where it failed part way through. But on the ugliest, grinding lifts I was wondering if I would snap in two. It just felt like a lot of pressure, which I'm not used to. Then when my lifts felt really hard and unpleasant for several weeks in a row I thought something might be wrong. Also, the failed benches are genuinely unpleasant. And I've been thinking of failed lifts as proving that my programme is wrong, or that I'm too weak for it. Maybe that's giving failure too much importance. It would be nice to know whether other people feel like a lot of their lifts are ugly, grinding affairs. Or have weeks at a time where everything feels hard and crappy. Or that they fail a lot and still get stronger. If everyone has experiences like that... well... maybe I could just get a bit more comfortable with failed and ugly lifts and just go for it anyway. On the other hand, you sometimes read things saying "don't lift to failure, fool" and that not every workout should be all-out. 

I've been really weak and sedentary for a long time, which has stopped me doing ordinary stuff that I'd like to do. I've been really, really tired for a long time and it sucks. I tried a couple of different types of exercise. I hated cardio and liked lifting straight away. When I started lifting it felt awesome, both in terms of getting stronger, doing something I didn't think I could, feeling braver, everything. And there are still lots of days when it feels awesome, though there have been some bad days recently. So, I want more of the awesome. I like playing at being a warrior, and I want to replace all the tired with strong. Nothing bad will happen if I don't get to a 2BW deadlift, though. 

I cut down on the carbs to see if it would help with my ongoing fatigue, because regularly eating refined carbs makes me feel shitty and tired, and I overeat them. They also "crowd out" vegetables and protein when I eat them regularly, because I choose them over other things if they're available. I don't know where whole, unprocessed carbs fit in. 

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3 hours ago, Defining said:

Lots of great suggestions already - if you're enjoying your routine right now and don't want to switch up too much (eg. exercise selection, rep goals, etc) then just keep on keeping on, and (as already suggested) maybe up your kcal a bit.

 

If you were looking to really shake things up, I'd probably swap out almost all of your exercises for different variations. eg. Goblet squat instead of barbell (helps grip & core), Hip Thrust instead of DL (build/activate glutes), Pushups on Gym Rings instead of Bench (instability makes it harder, also a healthy break for your shoulders) - I'd also double up on the inverted row rather than including a DB row, add some face pulls/banded pull-aparts, and replace OHP with single arm bottom-up-KB-press or just a straight up single arm OH DB press. All of these movements are less technical than the DL, Squat, OHP, or Bench - IMO, that makes it easier to safely increase the weight, and still feel good doing it. And sometimes they can illustrate areas that are holding back your primary lifts. I'd also explore using something like a rep goal system instead of programming in weird rep/set schedules to periodise - it's simple, and easier to remember. But that's all just my opinion - feel free to take what's useful and ignore the rest. 

 

Also, bear in mind that there are lots of different ways to make progress - adding weight to the bar is only one of them. There's also # of reps/set, technical proficiency, time to complete a rep, perceived effort, recovery time between sets, recovery time between workouts, etc. Celebrate the little wins - those are the ones that actually give us progress in the long run. ;)

 

I'll look into rep goal systems, thank you. And I'll think about adding alternative versions of my main lifts, too. Huh, I was thinking about swapping the DB rows for more inverted rows, as I always feel like I'm cheating the DB rows and using my arms, but the inverted ones I feel properly in my back.

 Long run, yes. Gotta remember there's a long run. I don't need to be hugely strong by tomorrow. Probably. I'm told the mountain lions hardly ever try to eat people here :)

 

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This is the last time I'll hijack the program thread, so I suppose I should offer some thoughts on that specifically before digging back into some of those finer points. Looking at the lifts you're doing, and where you're having trouble, I would prefer to see you take a 3 day split for regions (push/pull/legs) which can then involve more supportive (accessory) work variations (including many of the fine suggestions above), OR hit everything 3X per week with a focus on strength, power and muscular endurance on each day respectively, in which the ^^^ variations come in based on the nature of the day. You'll get more specialized form support with the first option, and more overall strength and performance with the second. Both are classic training models.

 

Quote

But on the ugliest, grinding lifts I was wondering if I would snap in two. It just felt like a lot of pressure, which I'm not used to.

 

This is one of the times it's useful having a pro watching you - to let you know when it's safe to push through the uncertainty, or when it's time to work on form to make sure you don't break. (More on breaking in the spoiler.)

 

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Then when my lifts felt really hard and unpleasant for several weeks in a row I thought something might be wrong. Also, the failed benches are genuinely unpleasant. And I've been thinking of failed lifts as proving that my programme is wrong, or that I'm too weak for it. Maybe that's giving failure too much importance. It would be nice to know whether other people feel like a lot of their lifts are ugly, grinding affairs. Or have weeks at a time where everything feels hard and crappy. Or that they fail a lot and still get stronger. If everyone has experiences like that... well... maybe I could just get a bit more comfortable with failed and ugly lifts and just go for it anyway.

 

Tanking lifts are part of the process, we ABSOLUTELY all have that. We all have periods where nothing is going up smoothly and everything feels like a grind, and times when the gains are linear and simple and things are hapenning. (Women can pay attention to hormonal shifts and the relationship between our cycles and strength output, I've kept records on this for years and adapt my training accordingly.) If anything, the longer you've been lifting, the harder it is to break the plateaus. 

 

You can also look at your nutrition and see if you're getting enough fuel... it takes a lot of gas to run a strong engine! 

 

10 hours ago, Harriet said:

I don't know where whole, unprocessed carbs fit in. 

 

I certainly understand wanting to remove binging triggers like processed carbs, but it's worth an experiment to see if lower GI carbs help your strength output. Unless you have an allergy, they most likely will. I wouldn't be surprised if you are under fueled.

 

9 hours ago, Harriet said:

Long run, yes. Gotta remember there's a long run. I don't need to be hugely strong by tomorrow.

 

That's good, because that's pretty much how it works. There aren't any short cuts unfortunately, just going in and doing the thing, again and again and again. So long as the thing you're doing makes you feel the way you want to feel... well, you're pretty much set for life :lol: Loving your program goes a long way, and trusting that it TAKES TIME helps get through those harder patches.

 

Getting your fuel and recovery (sleep, general rest and stressors) sorted,  showing up and doing the work, even on days where it feels super tough... that's what gets the job done. 

 

Spoiler

You are not alone. AT ALL. This was a 2.5+BW DL from a few years ago that I did not pick up. In fact, I fell on my ass. 3 red lights. But it didn't break me.. not even a little bit. Anyone that tells you it's all peach pie is selling something. Probably peach pie. But it's the tough stuff that makes us stronger, just a human condition ;) 

 

 

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, RedStone said:

 I would prefer to see you take a 3 day split for regions (push/pull/legs) which can then involve more supportive (accessory) work variations (including many of the fine suggestions above), OR hit everything 3X per week with a focus on strength, power and muscular endurance on each day respectively, in which the ^^^ variations come in based on the nature of the day. You'll get more specialized form support with the first option, and more overall strength and performance with the second. Both are classic training models.

 

I was actually thinking of trying a split, because I suspect my pushes and pulls are suffering from putting squats and deadlifts first. A couple of times I didn't wait long enough between them and failed my first sets on the bench or OHP, then went on to succeed at the second and third sets. Who knows how much the rows, which come last, are suffering? But more overall strength sounds very tempting, too. But the split would also allow me to add in alternative variation exercises as accessories, like Defining suggested. I'll pick one and give it a try.

 

1 hour ago, RedStone said:

 

Tanking lifts are part of the process, we ABSOLUTELY all have that. We all have periods where nothing is going up smoothly and everything feels like a grind, and times when the gains are linear and simple and things are hapenning. (Women can pay attention to hormonal shifts and the relationship between our cycles and strength output, I've kept records on this for years and adapt my training accordingly.) If anything, the longer you've been lifting, the harder it is to break the plateaus. 

fuel and recovery (sleep, general rest and stressors) sorted,  showing up and doing the work, even on days where it feels super tough... that's what gets the job done. 

 

 

Thank you for saying this. I believe I have been giving the failed lifts and bad weeks too much meaning and importance. It's nice to know others have them, too.

 

I am going to slowly add some whole carbs back into my diet, too. Thank you so much for the detailed attention. I feel hopeful and am going to start planning which changes I should make first. I love planning my lifts almost as much as succeeding at them :D

Here are some red pandas for you and everyone who posted with help:

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giphy.gif?cid=3640f6095bdf19542f4d725959

 

 

 

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54 minutes ago, Harriet said:

I suspect my pushes and pulls are suffering from putting squats and deadlifts first.

 

Totes McGoats. Whatever big stuff you do first is going to get the bulk of your energy stores.

 

54 minutes ago, Harriet said:

A couple of times I didn't wait long enough between them and failed my first sets on the bench or OHP, then went on to succeed at the second and third sets. Who knows how much the rows, which come last, are suffering? But more overall strength sounds very tempting, too. But the split would also allow me to add in alternative variation exercises as accessories, like Defining suggested. I'll pick one and give it a try.

 

Love it. Give it a solid meso to see how it feels (2-4 weeks), whatever it is you decide on.

 

54 minutes ago, Harriet said:

Thank you for saying this. I believe I have been giving the failed lifts and bad weeks too much meaning and importance. It's nice to know others have them, too.

 

Fails and wonky lifts can be really great actually! They provide a lot of physical feedback to learn from! Everyone has times like that, it's part of the process, just a matter of how you rise from them. Everything I know now comes from all the mistakes I've made, and I make plenty more everyday, you know, just to make sure I have more good stuff tomorrow ;) :lol:

 

54 minutes ago, Harriet said:

I am going to slowly add some whole carbs back into my diet, too. Thank you so much for the detailed attention. I feel hopeful and am going to start planning which changes I should make first. I love planning my lifts almost as much as succeeding at them :D

 

Tis the way of the Warrior! We are but simple spreadsheet/GIF folks. 

 

54 minutes ago, Harriet said:

 

Here are some red pandas for you and everyone who posted with help:
 

 

giphy.gif

 

 

 

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17 hours ago, Defining said:

I'd also explore using something like a rep goal system instead of programming in weird rep/set schedules to periodise - it's simple, and easier to remember. But that's all just my opinion - feel free to take what's useful and ignore the rest. 


Hey defining, I looked at rep goal systems, and they sound good because sometimes I lose reps due to lack of concentration or not waiting long enough, or sometimes I have a good day and could do more, and it seems like a waste. So to clarify, would I try to get, say, 25 reps within 3 sets, but stop at three sets whether or not I succeed? Or, alternatively, would I insist on getting 25 reps in however many sets it takes, but only increase the weight next workout if I managed my goal within 3 sets? Also, I tend to do only 9-15 total reps for my deadlifts, and 12-10 for bench. Would 15, 20, and 25 be okay total rep goals for the deadlift, presses, and squat respectively or should they be higher (considering that I'll do some other accessory work)?

Thanks <3

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22 minutes ago, Harriet said:

Hey defining, I looked at rep goal systems, and they sound good because sometimes I lose reps due to lack of concentration or not waiting long enough, or sometimes I have a good day and could do more, and it seems like a waste. So to clarify, would I try to get, say, 25 reps within 3 sets, but stop at three sets whether or not I succeed? Or, alternatively, would I insist on getting 25 reps in however many sets it takes, but only increase the weight next workout if I managed my goal within 3 sets? Also, I tend to do only 9-15 total reps for my deadlifts, and 12-10 for bench. Would 15, 20, and 25 be okay total rep goals for the deadlift, presses, and squat respectively or should they be higher (considering that I'll do some other accessory work)?

Thanks <3

Totally depends on how you prefer - there are no rules here, just systems that work for an individual. You may find that increasing your volume is more productive than adding accessory lifts.

 

Personally, I have a 'minimum 25 total rep' preference, that is to say I have to get in all 25 reps, even if the last couple are singles - but I have the time/luxury to be able to handle higher volume/frequency training. I also typically start with a weight I can lift for 5 reps without dying on the last one for the big lifts, and then increase weight once I can get 3 full sets of at least 10 reps (that gives me a full range of endurance/strength) - but again, that's just me! I aim for higher reps & volume on upper back, glutes, and shoulders though (8-12r/35 total goal) - partly to use lighter weights/speed up setting up the plates, and partially because I feel the muscle connection better with lighter weights for those body parts.

 

So you may be looking at lower weight and higher reps, or just stick to your original 15/20 rep guidelines and keep things heavier - up to you!

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1 hour ago, Defining said:

So you may be looking at lower weight and higher reps, or just stick to your original 15/20 rep guidelines and keep things heavier - up to you!

 

Groovy. Thank you for the clarification! More red pandas are in order: 

 

giphy.gif?cid=3640f6095bdf58af417a713536giphy.gif?cid=3640f6095bdf585d5079736155

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