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Old 07-23-2016, 07:20 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Starting Strength: Magoo's Experience Thus Far

Okie dokie, so what I've been up to...

Some time last year, I decided to pay attention to my health. As I burned off fat doing this and that, I figured out that I wasn't particularly genetically gifted when it came to natural strength. I've always been a bigger dude, but as I went from 280# in my school years to 230# when I got a job, then down to 200# when I decided to focus on health, I found that "lanky" was an adequate word to describe me. By the end of last year, I decided I didn't like that descriptor all too much, so I bought me a barbell and started up Mark Rippetoe's Starting Strength program.

Basically, Starting Strength a novice full-body strength building routine, focused on the squat, and set up 3x a week, arranged as A-B-A, B-A-B. "A" workout is Squat, Bench, Power Clean; "B" workout is Squat, Overhead Press, Deadlift. Salt and pepper with select assistant exercises and intelligently, only as needed.

So let's throw out some personal notes and stats when I started:

- Before I started Starting Strength, I had a basic dumbbell routine, but I can't say I was dedicated to it, or that I really intelligently thought about what I was doing and why. Point here is: I have done a little weight lifting, but, like, not really? I dunno.
- According to my log, I started the program Dec. 18, 2015. I didn't have the presence of mind to record my body weight. Probably around 210# or so. I was 6'3".
- My lifts at the time (let's remember I have never seriously lifted before this point) were:
> Squat: 5 reps, 3 sets, 135#
> Bench: 5x3, 115#
> Deadlift: 5x1, 175#
> Overhead Press: 5x3, 75#

Some notes on the exercises:
> It's recommended that only one set of deads is performed per B workout.
> I don't have the ceiling clearance to do the recommended standing overhead press, so I did unsupported seated presses.

And, let's fast forward to today!
- My lifts as of 7-22-2016 were:
> Squat: 5x3, 230#
> Bench: 5x3, 145#
> Deadlift: 5x1, 260#
> Overhead Press: 5x3, 95#

- More program notes!
> I'm currently 6'3" (I'm not expecting that to change), and about 207#.
> I have the build of a gorilla. Long arms and relatively short legs. My lower body exercises are coming along nicely, but my upper body is plateuing HARD. It's super frustrating.
> I admit that I was more willing to skip workouts than I should have been, so I'm convinced I could be much further along than I am. C'est la vie. I started focusing on discipline a few weeks ago, so I'm once again on a pretty good track.
> Nutrition is... eat lots. That's about it really. I mean, keep it clean, but you need a boatload of calories and protein to keep up with development.
> My overhead press is currently seated supported. I'm trying to target the shoulders more directly since I have the cleans, deads, and squats hitting the core.


So yeah. That's where I am now. Nothing impressive, but the gains are coming along. My body weight is too low for what I want to do, so I'll have to start eating more. I need to come up with some good assistant exorcises to help my upper body. That lanky leverage disadvantage is kicking my ***.

Anyway, I'll format this post to make it easier to follow when I get a chance. I'll update stats in, say a month.

Yay me!
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Old 07-24-2016, 04:21 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Great stuff man, keep the squat form tight and don't let those legs out too much. I've been following a similar program with 5x5s and tore the **** out of my groin squatting wide. A lot of those guys on youtube are wearing compression shorts but never mention it.
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Old 07-24-2016, 08:33 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Sounds like you've made a great start. Reading your post I was a little unsure about your goals. Setting measurable goals is extremely important both to keep you focused and to design a program (for example "gain 20 lbs of muscle" and "deadlift 2x body weight" will require very different programs).

No matter what your goals, perfect form and execution are way more important than how much weight or how many reps. If you can't do it perfectly you are moving too fast and setting yourself up for injury. Don't chase numbers at the expense of listening to your body. I set up a camera to video myself to check form and it's been tremendously helpful keeping me on the right track.

Good luck, strength training is so rewarding, often in unexpected ways. Keep up the good work!
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Old 07-24-2016, 04:53 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Thanks for the kind words, folks!

You know, goals were actually kind of challenging when I started. I didn't know what a reasonable goal was, so I just kinda pumped iron until things started changing. I suspect that's why I was so willing to flake on workouts. When I was closer to being able to squat my body weight, the whole goal thing clicked. I had reasonable benchmarks, and was able to come up with the next plan. Right now, I want to be able to bench over 200#. Over all, my focuses are on getting stronger, as opposed to just bulking up or toning.

I actually started recording myself last workout. It definitely helped me identify problems that needed correcting. I'm kinda dependent upon myself right now, since my friends aren't into strength training, and I just don't think I can do a gym membership right now. Besides, I really enjoy a home gym. There's something almost meditative about working out in MY area with MY conditions. So until I decide I can commit to a gym membership, my safety and form are in my hands. I can't afford to be overly ambitious or let myself get sloppy.

On that note, I've only been working with a cheap half rack and other cheap box store gear. As I progressed, I learned more about what to look for in quality equipment, and that what I have is so sketchy it's probably actually dangerous. My bench is flimsy and WAY too low, my rack has 4" pin spacing, so the bar and safeties are never right where I need them, and my bar is glossy smooth with terrible knurling. My next major investments will likely be a good power rack, bar, and bench.
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Old 07-24-2016, 05:57 PM   #5 (permalink)
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having had years of training....IMOP if you can manage it front squats are a superior tool, to back squats, it keeps the back more stable and put the weight through the hips and to the back of the body. before I needed hip replacements I was front squatting 200kg for reps....
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Old 07-24-2016, 06:18 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I've read a lot off good about front squats. I'll probably include them as I advance, but I think I'll have to stick with low-bar back squats for a while. Low-bar back squats were selected because they engage the hips more than hi-bar or front, hitting the posterior chain a bit harder than the others, and since the focus right now is building up a core strength, I think I would be remiss to change that up too much.

When I move on to an intermediate program, anything's possible.
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Old 07-25-2016, 03:21 AM   #7 (permalink)
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First off, congrats on sticking with a tried and true program and seeing the results. Not many people actually do that.

I would suggest seeing a qualified coach to address any technique issues you might have. Would be worth the money, if you can find a good one who knows how to properly teach the basic lifts and correct any problems you might have. Post a video if you would like and I'll help in what ways I can. I'm not a coach, but just a strength enthusiast. I am considering becoming a personal trainer in the next couple of years. I've taught several friends how to squat, deadlift, bench in a safe manner.

Just a couple of things, the Military press is known to stall out pretty quickly and pushing the numbers up can be hard. Don't be afraid to cycle back and work your way back up.

I'm 6'1" with long legs and arms. Your build and mine are good for deadlifting, but not so much for squatting. The DL is probably my favority lift with over head pressing be close seconds. Do you use a conventional or sumo style squat?
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Old 07-25-2016, 07:25 AM   #8 (permalink)
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A coach is something I'll consider. Actually, I've been thinking about it a bit, lately. It seems like the responsible thing to do.

The deadlift is definitely feeling like my most proficient lift. Grip strength is the limiting factor right now, and that's driving me crazy... I've tried mixed grip and hook grip, hook grip being what I'm using most now, but my weak grip strength in combination with that slick barbell with like zero knurling is really killing me. For squats I use a conventional stance. Maybe a tad bit wider.
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Old 07-27-2016, 02:25 AM   #9 (permalink)
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The slick barbell with no chalk is definitely going to limit your deadlifting. Maybe some hockey tape would help if chalk isn't enough.
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Old 07-27-2016, 07:18 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Chalk is a good tip. Recommend trying a pair of straps when you go heavy.
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