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Too much information, not enough knowledge (or, please help me make a plan)

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Whelp, this turned into a bigger post than I planned. I'm sorry. Didn't realize I had so much to figure out.


Fitness Goals

  • Strength (a little size gain would be welcome vanity-wise, as well) and conditioning(? - not sure that's the right word). I volunteer on a tall ship, and a strength increase would be really helpful when trying to haul lines and sails. But, it's the kind of gig where you need that strength all day every day when we're at sea (about two weeks out of the year) because even just trying to stand still uses muscles you forgot existed, let alone climbing and hauling. So much hauling.

Exercise Preference

  • I've only begun to use barbells in the last year. Not sure I've found a preference or know all the differences between styles of lifting, yet.

Current Physical Stats

  • Male/33/5'11"/149 lbs. (Up ~10 lbs. since starting)

Previous Training History

  • No real training to speak of outside of martial arts classes over a decade ago or the occasional game of racquetball.

Current Training

  • I've been running Stronglifts (with a few weeks off over the whole period because of flu or vacation) for eight months.

Current Diet

  • Daily Calories ~2800

Current Resources/Limitations

  • The globo gym I attend is open when I need it to be. The only real limitation is my ever-fluctuating schedule. But I try to work gym time in even when inconvenient.


I've been reading through this board a lot the past few days, so I'll try to give all the info I can remember that's relevant. Forgive me if I forget something. I know I need to post some form check videos, too, in the near future.


Current lifts/weak areas -

Low-bar squat - 3x5 170 lbs. - I'm weak on beginning the ascent, and then have a hard time keeping my chest rising at the same speed as my hips on the last 1/3 or so of the lift. Also, though I can usually keep it (at least mostly) forced out, my left knee wants to collapse inward when I'm lifting heavier.

OHP - 5x5 75 lbs.  -  After reading through the boards and a bit of Supple Leopard I think I'm pretty much doing this lift incorrectly, so I'll probably deload quite a bit and give it a fresh start.

Bench - 3x5 125 lbs. (barely) - Weak coming off the chest, but I also realized the last couple times I was in the gym that I'm losing any tightness in my back after locking out on the first rep of a set.

Barbell rows - 5x5 145 lbs. (I'm really starting to hate these). The weights are starting to get too heavy for me to lift with any kind of speed at all.

Deadlift - 1x5 230 lbs. - I'm weakest here in my grip. I've lifted heavier but not for full reps because my grip all but gives out on the second or third.


I know my numbers aren't all that impressive for someone who's been running SL for eight months. Basically the pattern was: reach a weight that was difficult, fail three times, deload, work my way back up, complete the difficult weight (and maybe the next weight up, too), then almost immediately reach the next weight that was difficult, fail three times, deload, work my way back up (etc.).  Right now gym time is taking too long. Between the three main lifts of a workout, one bodyweight (dips or chins), and a couple sets of calf raises I can be in the gym nearly two hours because of the longer rest times. And if I hit a new weight on more than one lift in the same day, I barely have anything in the tank for chins or dips, at which point I have no idea if I'm even benefiting from the few I eke out. Return on investment seems pretty low.


I'm ready for a change and am planning to start 5/3/1 soon. I'll probably stick with SL for the next few weeks as I just switched to 3x5 on most of the lifts and want to run that a bit. In the meantime I want to figure out my plan of attack for 5/3/1 because there are so many options and I lack any experience outside the main lifts. At this point I could read until the cows come home and have no better idea how to progress.



  • Assistance:
  1. For assistance work I'd like to use at least one bodyweight exercise. Seems like there's good benefit to the chins and dips and I want to keep that going (and make better progress than I am now). But reading through the boards makes me think that keeping the assistance to bodyweight work probably won't help me address the weak areas in my lifts.
  2. Wendler talks about doing all the different variations - wide, narrow, chins, pull ups, etc. Do I just alternate grips every set?
  3. I can hit one set of 10 chin ups. After a few minutes rest I can hit another set of eight or nine, and a few minutes later four or five. When Wendler talks about hitting 75 total reps, or 5x10, or whatever the case may be, do you just do as many as you can (up to 10 or 15 per set) within a certain allotted time? In other words would I just add two more sets to my regular pattern and get in as many reps as possible, with the goal of adding every workout? Same goes for dips or other bodyweight exercise?
  4. I'm not sure what other lifts to incorporate. Do I just do the Triumvirate plan Wendler lays out (maybe with different options for the leg press and leg curl)?
  • Conditioning: I've been generally avoiding anything but lifting as I have a hard enough time putting on weight as it is. (An illustrative anecdote? I thought you'd never ask! I went on vacation two months ago, lost six pounds, and have still only put three of those back on. Eating has always been a chore, but I'm more conscientious now about making sure to get my calories than when I started. Still, I probably miss my target one day a week and I know that it hampers progress. My buddy says my body is like a furnace compared to him, which makes me laugh). That said, it seems like getting in some conditioning work can only help in the long run, especially with my overall goal. Wendler advocates a Prowler and hill sprints. I don't have access to a Prowler and I *despise* running (though if everyone says I should do it, I guess I'll do it). What conditioning do you like/has worked well for you?
  • App/Tracking: I've been using the SL app to track my progress and it has probably been the difference between my continuing on the program or petering out, as I don't have to do much, if any, planning for the day before heading to the gym. I'm looking at this app for 5/3/1 tracking. It doesn't have any of the assistance schemes built in except BBB, but if I have a plan going in it looks like I can program it to fit my needs. Anyone have experience with this app, or one they like instead?


Okay. So that's way more than enough questions for one time. Much obliged for the insight of all you folks farther along down the road than me.


Stay on target!


Level 4 Human Snubfighter Jockey


STR 10 | STA 5 | DEX 8 | CON 6 | WIS 6 | CHA 5


Current Six-Week Challenge

Previous Challenges: 1, 2, 3, 4


My Epic Quest Character



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Firstly, kudos to you for sticking out with SL for 8 months through deloads and plateaus.  Ultimately, if you are not gaining weight, you are not eating enough.  If you are not gaining weight, you are likely not gaining muscle.  After 8 months, switching to an intermediate program might be a good idea, but it's not going to lead to progression if you are not eating enough.  You might have to start increasing your daily calorie goals until you start gaining weight, maybe 100/cal/day per week.

  • Like 3


Challenges: #1#2#3#4, #5

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It's never a bad thing for me to be reminded to eat more. But as for programming it feels like I'm due for a change. I'm chalking up more days in the gym that feel like defeat than victory.

I'd just like to have a more solid plan in place (and some knowledge to back up why I'm doing what I'm doing) before deciding to switch programs.

  • Like 1

Level 4 Human Snubfighter Jockey


STR 10 | STA 5 | DEX 8 | CON 6 | WIS 6 | CHA 5


Current Six-Week Challenge

Previous Challenges: 1, 2, 3, 4


My Epic Quest Character



Link to post

I did SL for from November 2015 until July 31 2016. 

I have switched to (mostly) Wendler's 5/3/1.  So far, I really like it. 

I switched because SL was just beating me up too much. 


Shiny new programming is great - someone once told me on these boards that you are ready to leave SL as soon as you really think that you are ready - however I also believe Grymm to be correct.  Eat MOAR. 


Level 13 Warrior

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