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mvelic: Building Strength


mvelic

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No story... just data. Joking: while it's taken me a while to grow comfortable in my own skin, but I've always wanted to get strong and be a bit bigger. I've tried in the past, but just assumed it was my genetics that prevented any growth. But now that I'm learning more about body building, and saw some success in the past few months with body-weight lifting, I'm giving it another go.

I'm concentrating on the Stronglifts 5x5 program. I'm also going to better track my food intake and rest cycles. Finally, I've purchased "Starting Strength" and I'm going to work through it.

The only hitch in this whole deal is that I've been sick this past week, and I'm still recovering. So I'm not sure how much that'll affect my workout schedule, but I'm going to play it by ear and not push myself (back into sickness).

But I wasn't joking about the data; I'm a data geek. I'll be updating this main post in addition to making regular updates.

Main Quest
My main quest is to get stronger and build muscle.

Three Goals
1. Complete the first six weeks of Stronglifts 5x5
A - 18 of 18 workouts completed (+3 STR)
B - 12 to 17 workouts completed (+2 STR)
C - 6 to 11 workouts completed (+1 STR)
F - Less than 6 workouts completed

Progress: 14 of 18 (As of 9/6)

2. Focus on rest (7 hours a night)
A - 42 of 42 full nights (+3 CON)
B - 28 to 41 full nights (+2 CON)
C - 14 to 27 full nights (+1 CON)
F - Less than 14 full nights

Progress: 24 of 42 (As of 9/9)

3. Buy and read "Starting Strength" to help with journey
A - Read whole book (+2 INT)
B - Read chapters specific to 5x5 exercises (Squat, Press, Deadlift, Bench Press, Row (Assc.)) (+1 INT)
F - Fail to do either

Progress: Finished Squat, Press, Row (Assc.), Deadlift, Bench Press, Programming (As of 8/4)

435px-The_Strong_Man_of_the_Police_Schoo


Side Quest
Find a primary physician and get a check-up
Pass - Complete task (+1 CON, +1 INT, +1 WIS)
Fail - Fail to complete task (-1 WIS)

Progress: Not yet begun (As of 7/28)

285px-Stethoscope_%28PSF%29.png


My Motivation
Be awesome. Get stronger. Look sexier naked.


My Stats
Height: 5'11"
                Base | Week 2 | Week 4 | Week 6
Weight....... 205lbs | 206lbs | 208lbs | ---lbs
Upper Arms... 13.00" | 13.00" | 13.25" | --.--"
Chest........ 45.50" | 45.50" | 45.75" | --.--"
Waist........ 43.00" | 42.75" | 42.50" | --.--"
Thighs....... 22.00" | 22.25" | 22.50" | --.--"
Calves....... 16.00" | 16.25" | 16.00" | --.--"

Class: Warrior (Lvl 2); Ranger (Lvl 1) || Stats: STR - 4 | DEX - 2 | STA - 2 | CON - 3 | WIS - 4 | CHA - 4

Challenges: 3, 2, 1

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7/29/13 Update

 

Wasn't feeling 100% today due to cold, but I'm nearly over it, so I should be able to get lifting tomorrow or Wednesday. But I still accomplished things! Signed up for a great gym (recommended by Beast Skills himself), and I'm about a third of the way through the Squat chapter in Starting Strength. May be able to finish it tonight. And I still have a full 7 hours of sleep ahead of me too.

Class: Warrior (Lvl 2); Ranger (Lvl 1) || Stats: STR - 4 | DEX - 2 | STA - 2 | CON - 3 | WIS - 4 | CHA - 4

Challenges: 3, 2, 1

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Honestly: how much can one write about the Squat. A shit ton, apparently. Read up to the coaching sections of the chapter, going to quickly skim those to see if they are overly relevant to learning to perform the exercise well or if it's a bunch of rehash and reiteration of facts from within the chapter.

Class: Warrior (Lvl 2); Ranger (Lvl 1) || Stats: STR - 4 | DEX - 2 | STA - 2 | CON - 3 | WIS - 4 | CHA - 4

Challenges: 3, 2, 1

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I read through Starting Strength during the last challenge.  There is a lot of good stuff on form and details about why something is so, even if it is counter-intuitive.  Reading through the chapter on OHP for instance the morning before going in to the gym made a tremendous impact in my capability on that lift.  And if I fail at a lift I can still usually attribute it to technique (full lungs during OHP, for instance).

Current Challenge: (Feb-Mar 21) Step by Step

My Epic Quest Character Sheet  *** Old Challenges and Links hidden below

Spoiler

My Old Battle Log

(2012) 1st (Scout) 2nd (Scout) *** (2013) 3rd (Warrior) 4th (Warrior) 5th (Warrior) 6th (Assassin) ***

(2014) 7th (Ranger) 8th (Scout) 9th (Monk) 10th (Scout) *** (2015) 11th (Ranger) 12th (Ranger) 13th (Ranger) 14th (Ranger) 15th (Scout) 16th (Scout) *** (2016) 17th (Ranger) 18th (Scout) 19th (Scout) 20th (Rebel)

(2021) 21st (Adventurer)

Past groups: The Wild Hunt 6 *** The Serenity Crew *** The Wild Hunt 5 *** The Wild Hunt 4 *** The Wild Hunt 3 *** The Wild Hunt 2 *** The Wild Hunt 1 *** Browncoats

Achievements: (20 Sep 2014) Completed first half marathon *** (17 Feb 2014) Finished mission to bring body fat from over 25% to under 12% over six months (trying to repeat that now)

 

 

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Finished the Press chapter; starting in on the Deadlift. It's a bit longer again, so I don't think I'll finish it before my workout tomorrow. I will say this about the book: it's delightfully (and hilariously) un-PC... I'm quite enjoying it.

 

Was practicing some of the positions, and I'm concerned I'm not as flexible as I should be. Hoping the bar/some weight will help with positioning, but perhaps I'll work on flexibility as an impromptu side quest if it becomes a serious issue.

 

Well I think I'm going to prep my bag for the gym now and perhaps call it a night. Didn't get my full 7 hours last night, but here's hoping for better today.

Class: Warrior (Lvl 2); Ranger (Lvl 1) || Stats: STR - 4 | DEX - 2 | STA - 2 | CON - 3 | WIS - 4 | CHA - 4

Challenges: 3, 2, 1

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7/31/13 Update

 

Hit the new gym today - feeling pretty good and my cough didn't affect the workout at all, which was nice. Here's what I did.

 

Squat

45x5 (x2)

55x5 (x5)

 

Press

45x5 (x2)

50x5 (x4)

50x4

 

Bent over Row (with a dumbbell) - instead of the Barbell Row since the olympic/deadlifting platforms were busy

40x5 (x2)

45x5

50x5 (x5)

 

ISSUES

So... yeah. I can tell I've got some major issues with my squat form (at least based on the description of the squat in Starting Strength). Thankfully I kept my head/gaze lowered, so that was good, and I felt like I was staying pretty vertical with my squats for the most part. But I'm not sure I was getting to full depth every time. I could tell my knees wanted to pull inwards, and I had to concentrate to shove them out and parallel with my feet. I wasn't quite sure how to approach/get under the bar. And while I was good about keeping my thumbs above the bar, I don't think I was getting my elbows pushed out enough to keep my forearm and wrist in line - IE, I was holding some of the weight of the bar on my wrist. While I thought I had racked the bar low enough (mid-sternum), I don't feel like I was getting it low enough on my back.

 

I spent some time watching others as well, and I'm not the only one with form problems, so that made me feel slightly better. On Friday, I'm going to see if I can't record my squat session to verify some of the above that I've mentioned. And I'm really hoping it's just a flexibility problem that will work itself out in a few weeks. And thankfully Starting Strength has stuff dedicated to fixing these issues.

 

As for my press, I felt it went well. I remembered to tighten my legs, back and chest, and I felt I was getting the whole "lean back, push, pop-up" movement. Forearms stayed pretty vertical the whole time, but I did have some issues with keeping the bar evenly distributed during some pushes. I know I favor my right side, so I'll have to watch out for that.

 

As for the dumbbell bent over row versus barbell row, all the platform spaces were in use. By people who knew what they were doing. So I didn't want to interrupt and work between sets, especially since the weights would have been so vastly different. I'm hoping that this will just be the one time occurrence.

 

Next workout (Friday) will be Squat, Bench Press, Deadlift. Need to finish both those chapters in Starting Strength, and hopefully I can work through some of my Squat issues by then too.

Class: Warrior (Lvl 2); Ranger (Lvl 1) || Stats: STR - 4 | DEX - 2 | STA - 2 | CON - 3 | WIS - 4 | CHA - 4

Challenges: 3, 2, 1

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If you haven't already, head over to the Starting Strength forum (SS Coaches sub forum). I would watch a bunch of the form check videos people post there and then read the coaches feedback. I know it always helps me to see people doing it and sometimes I'll spot something they do better than me or I'll spot something I'm also doing wrong.

The iron never lies.

 

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7/31/13 Update

 

Hit the new gym today - feeling pretty good and my cough didn't affect the workout at all, which was nice. Here's what I did.

 

Squat

45x5 (x2)

55x5 (x5)

 

Press

45x5 (x2)

50x5 (x4)

50x4

 

Bent over Row (with a dumbbell) - instead of the Barbell Row since the olympic/deadlifting platforms were busy

40x5 (x2)

45x5

50x5 (x5)

 

ISSUES

So... yeah. I can tell I've got some major issues with my squat form (at least based on the description of the squat in Starting Strength). Thankfully I kept my head/gaze lowered, so that was good, and I felt like I was staying pretty vertical with my squats for the most part. But I'm not sure I was getting to full depth every time. I could tell my knees wanted to pull inwards, and I had to concentrate to shove them out and parallel with my feet. I wasn't quite sure how to approach/get under the bar. And while I was good about keeping my thumbs above the bar, I don't think I was getting my elbows pushed out enough to keep my forearm and wrist in line - IE, I was holding some of the weight of the bar on my wrist. While I thought I had racked the bar low enough (mid-sternum), I don't feel like I was getting it low enough on my back.

 

I spent some time watching others as well, and I'm not the only one with form problems, so that made me feel slightly better. On Friday, I'm going to see if I can't record my squat session to verify some of the above that I've mentioned. And I'm really hoping it's just a flexibility problem that will work itself out in a few weeks. And thankfully Starting Strength has stuff dedicated to fixing these issues.

 

As for my press, I felt it went well. I remembered to tighten my legs, back and chest, and I felt I was getting the whole "lean back, push, pop-up" movement. Forearms stayed pretty vertical the whole time, but I did have some issues with keeping the bar evenly distributed during some pushes. I know I favor my right side, so I'll have to watch out for that.

 

As for the dumbbell bent over row versus barbell row, all the platform spaces were in use. By people who knew what they were doing. So I didn't want to interrupt and work between sets, especially since the weights would have been so vastly different. I'm hoping that this will just be the one time occurrence.

 

Next workout (Friday) will be Squat, Bench Press, Deadlift. Need to finish both those chapters in Starting Strength, and hopefully I can work through some of my Squat issues by then too.

 

 

I would be interested in learning more about the OHP too!  I've added it in, but want to make sure I've got good form, etc.  Any tips that you've learned?

Ranger - Level 2

STR:  9.83 | DEX:  3.5 | STA:  4.5 | CON: 3 | WIS:  5.5 | CHA:  5

 

Please consider donating to my ride against cancer.

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I would be interested in learning more about the OHP too!  I've added it in, but want to make sure I've got good form, etc.  Any tips that you've learned?

 

I guess keep in mind that my only reference at this point is the book, Starting Strength, and that I've been doing this for three days total now. But the most common tip the author (constantly) repeats is that the weight/barbells want to travel in a vertical line. This is regardless of the exercise being performed. So if you can hold a mental picture of your body keeping that barbell moving up and down within an imaginary slot (sort of like how the bar in a smith machine travels), your body will do pretty well to figure out the rest to make it happen.

 

For the OHP, that involves leaning back slightly at the beginning, then popping your upper body underneath the bar once it's cleared your head, at which point the bar will be slightly behind you. If you don't do the lean and pop, you'd have to push and pull the bar around your head, which is extra energy and stress during the exercise. The other big tip that was mentioned was to simply stabilize from the lower back down - that your back and legs should support the push, but not contribute to it.

 

Seriously though, I'd recommend picking up the book. It goes through the major barbell exercises and explains the mechanics of them, as well as how to troubleshoot problems.

Class: Warrior (Lvl 2); Ranger (Lvl 1) || Stats: STR - 4 | DEX - 2 | STA - 2 | CON - 3 | WIS - 4 | CHA - 4

Challenges: 3, 2, 1

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I guess keep in mind that my only reference at this point is the book, Starting Strength, and that I've been doing this for three days total now. But the most common tip the author (constantly) repeats is that the weight/barbells want to travel in a vertical line. This is regardless of the exercise being performed. So if you can hold a mental picture of your body keeping that barbell moving up and down within an imaginary slot (sort of like how the bar in a smith machine travels), your body will do pretty well to figure out the rest to make it happen.

 

For the OHP, that involves leaning back slightly at the beginning, then popping your upper body underneath the bar once it's cleared your head, at which point the bar will be slightly behind you. If you don't do the lean and pop, you'd have to push and pull the bar around your head, which is extra energy and stress during the exercise. The other big tip that was mentioned was to simply stabilize from the lower back down - that your back and legs should support the push, but not contribute to it.

 

Seriously though, I'd recommend picking up the book. It goes through the major barbell exercises and explains the mechanics of them, as well as how to troubleshoot problems.

Thanks - those are good starting points for me! 

 

I think I'll go ahead and order the book this weekend...I've been wanting to read it for close to a year now, so I think its time!

Ranger - Level 2

STR:  9.83 | DEX:  3.5 | STA:  4.5 | CON: 3 | WIS:  5.5 | CHA:  5

 

Please consider donating to my ride against cancer.

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But the most common tip the author (constantly) repeats is that the weight/barbells want to travel in a vertical line. This is regardless of the exercise being performed.

 

I would just like to amend this statement - I'm reading through the Bench Press chapter now, and a completely vertical movement could cause injury to shoulders, so SS advises a small shift during the movement of the bar. While it should be locked directly above your shoulders when pressed, it should be lowered to mid-sternum (or so). Elbow positioning also plays into protecting the shoulder as well.

Class: Warrior (Lvl 2); Ranger (Lvl 1) || Stats: STR - 4 | DEX - 2 | STA - 2 | CON - 3 | WIS - 4 | CHA - 4

Challenges: 3, 2, 1

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Small update: finished reading the Deadlift and Bench Press chapters ahead of my training time today. That officially puts me at the "B" level for Goal #3. I do want to finish the book, but I'll definitely temper the Power Clean chapter with the link you've provided, msuroo.

Class: Warrior (Lvl 2); Ranger (Lvl 1) || Stats: STR - 4 | DEX - 2 | STA - 2 | CON - 3 | WIS - 4 | CHA - 4

Challenges: 3, 2, 1

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Small update: finished reading the Deadlift and Bench Press chapters ahead of my training time today. That officially puts me at the "B" level for Goal #3. I do want to finish the book, but I'll definitely temper the Power Clean chapter with the link you've provided, msuroo.

 

I mean, by all means read it - just keep in mind that everyone who has ever had anything do to with olympic weightlifting disagrees with virtually everything he says.  He talks as if the whole world is crazy and that he is the only one who truly understands physics, but success leaves clues, and beleive me, if cleaning in a straight line were more efficient, the Chinese and the Bulgarians would be out there doing it.

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I mean, by all means read it - just keep in mind that everyone who has ever had anything do to with olympic weightlifting disagrees with virtually everything he says.  He talks as if the whole world is crazy and that he is the only one who truly understands physics, but success leaves clues, and beleive me, if cleaning in a straight line were more efficient, the Chinese and the Bulgarians would be out there doing it.

 

I'm not even there yet, I've got so many issues with every other lift I'm doing right now. The internet is not helping matters: pretty much everyone has their own preference and is ready to burn down the village of the folks who don't do it their way. I was able to take some video of my lifts today, I should have them up sometime soon (ish).

Class: Warrior (Lvl 2); Ranger (Lvl 1) || Stats: STR - 4 | DEX - 2 | STA - 2 | CON - 3 | WIS - 4 | CHA - 4

Challenges: 3, 2, 1

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8/2/13 Update

 

Squats

45x5x2

55x5

65x5x5

 

Bench Press

45x5x2

55x5

65x5x5

 

Deadlift

95x5x2

115x5x2

 

ISSUES

As I mentioned above, I took some video of some of my sets from this day and noticed a whole bunch of stuff that was bad. Even things that I was trying to coach myself on and thought I was doing okay, still bad. I'm going to get them posted soon, and I'll edit this to add the links once I've got them up. I will have your internet babies if you folks can give me some advice.

 

EDIT - As promised, here's a link to the videos: http://nerdfitnessrebellion.com/index.php?/topic/35089-squat-bench-deadlift-check/

Class: Warrior (Lvl 2); Ranger (Lvl 1) || Stats: STR - 4 | DEX - 2 | STA - 2 | CON - 3 | WIS - 4 | CHA - 4

Challenges: 3, 2, 1

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I noticed that for you is easier lifting on deadlifts than squats. Ir happens the same at me.

 

I think most people tend to deadlift much more than they can squat. As far as my numbers go, I'm not close to maxing at this point, and I'm not really close to exhaustion. I just want to take it a bit slow as I'm new to barbell and I need to work on my form before I can go heavier.

Class: Warrior (Lvl 2); Ranger (Lvl 1) || Stats: STR - 4 | DEX - 2 | STA - 2 | CON - 3 | WIS - 4 | CHA - 4

Challenges: 3, 2, 1

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On the positive side, it looks like I'll be setting up a session with a trainer at my gym for early next week. Honestly glad they talked me into signing up for some.

Class: Warrior (Lvl 2); Ranger (Lvl 1) || Stats: STR - 4 | DEX - 2 | STA - 2 | CON - 3 | WIS - 4 | CHA - 4

Challenges: 3, 2, 1

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