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Medman, the Ant Man!


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Thanks guys! Yeah, taking the squats down when I realized my form was bad, and taking that week off were the two best decisions I made since starting stronglifts. I was feeling worn down/on the verge of hip injury all the time, so ignoring that could only have had terrible consequences!

 

I think I need to take a picture on my next deadlift day like your 185 one, Adena!

 

Good idea, I just wish I had video too.

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Videos would be great but are also beyond what I can do right now (no camera!).

 

As promised, here's an update, together with a photo of me at the top of one of my 235 lb deadlifts (yes, it's 235 and not 225...there are two little 5 lb plates hiding at the very ends that don't show up in the photo). It's not so much a smile as a grimace (I always get my game face on when putting in crazy effort...I have no control over it so I've decided to embrace it). It's funny because this photo has shown me that, apparently, I fan out my sternocladomastoid when I deadlift, which makes me neck look much thicker than it actually is...

 

http://i346.photobucket.com/albums/p437/mbene085/StrongLifts/17-05-10_2108.jpg

 

As for the workouts, here's the latest:

Squat: 5x5 @ 185 lbs (finally worked my way back up to it!)

Overhead Press: 1x4, 2x3, 2x2 @ 90 lbs

Deadlift: 1x4 @ 235 lbs

Weighted Chinups: 3x5 @ 20 lbs

 

I should have had the 5th deadlift, but I forgot to buy chalk, and the bar I was using really didn't have the best grip. My hands had gotten sweaty, and it was really a grip failure that kept me from doing the 5th rep. I need to get myself some chalk so this doesn't happen again. Oh well, I'll nail 235 next time! My 4th rep still had good form so I think I can easily get the 5th with some chalk (or one of the better bars in the gym).

 

Overhead press DESTROYED me. I got 5x5 at 85 lbs last time, but 90 lbs killed me. I think part of it was psychological (really wasn't my best gym day), and part of it was my shoulders being tired from all the striking practice I've been doing for my krav maga class, which really does a number on my shoulders and arms.

 

On the plus side, I made up for it by nailing my previous PR of 185 lbs on the squat. Last time, I barely made it through the sets, and was in so much pain by the end that I could barely sit down on the bench afterward, and could barely get myself up off it after a couple of minutes. That was when I vowed to drop the weight and learn to squat with better form. I nailed 185 with much more confidence and power (and didn't feel dead afterward at all). I want to repeat this weight though, because my gym partner told me I wasn't quite hitting parallel. I might drop the weight 15 lbs or so and build back up, going below parallel. I don't see much point in trying to break 200 lbs if my form isn't perfect.

 

Weighted chinups are getting hard. I was really feeling the 20 lbs (just moved up from 15), but then again, I do them right after my heavy deadlifts, so what can I expect?

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Nice job! I'm never going to catch up to you at this rate, haha!

 

Psh, this is just an opportunity for you to push yourself even harder

 

What I've come to realize is that my legs and back are really my biggest strength. My gym buddy and I started at very similar strength levels, but I've surpassed him by about 25 lbs on the squat and 100 lbs on the deadlift, while he's surpassed me by 10-20 lbs on the overhead and bench presses. I seem to be quicker at building lower body strength while he's an upper body guy. Kind of a neat scientific experiment, with two guys doing the exact same program and getting different results. I wish I could see the kind of gains on my presses as I've had on my squats and deads. My presses have gone up by about 20-30% since starting, while my squats and deads are approximately 100% higher than three months ago!

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I seem to be quicker at building lower body strength while he's an upper body guy
I'm the same man, but I think you're doing great on your presses, I still suck at them!! Just be patient and the gains will come. Your current gains are quite amazing for the time frame, I hope they don't slow down
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sorry im late but i agree really nice numbers lately

 

Unacceptable. I expect compliments on a more timely basis. Thanks a lot!

 

I'm the same man, but I think you're doing great on your presses, I still suck at them!! Just be patient and the gains will come. Your current gains are quite amazing for the time frame, I hope they don't slow down

 

Thanks! It's nice to have some encouragement. It can get frustrating watching my buddy outpace me on the bench and overhead presses. I keep reminding myself that I have no control over my genetics, and that I should be grateful that my squats and deads have progressed so nicely. The really frustrating thing, though, is that he has much bigger legs than me. I'm getting strong but still have marathoner legs. They're not quite as skinny as they were, at least. I'm trying to keep a powerlifting vs a bodybuilding mentality...I'm more concerned about building strength in my legs than how they look.

 

I'm super stoked about how fast the gains have been, but being realistic, I know they'll be slowing down soon! I'm anticipating needing to switch to an intermediate routine by the end of the summer. These past couple of weeks have been lame (only going to the gym about twice a week) because it's exam season, but my final exam is next Friday, so after that I'm going to refuse to let myself miss any sessions all summer.

 

I've also been considering cutting a bit. Because these past couple of weeks haven't been as intense lifting-wise, I'm trying to fill in the gaps with cardio I can do at home. I've already lost 1-2 lbs of fat, and might try to lose another 1-2 before the lifting (and eating) gets intense again. My abs have hypertrophied so much, it would be nice to cut down a bit and show them off!

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So, exam time + car in the garage + wanting to cut anyway = have been to the gym once since my last post. I've been doing my 4 hours of krav maga weekly plus 10 rounds of heavy bag work these last few days. I love taking out my study frustration on the heavy bag! I do combination drills, krav maga technique drills, practice my footwork, and finish it with a one-round punchout drill (punch as fast as you can nonstop for 3 minutes).

 

It's a nice change from using running as my main source of cardio. I kinda burned out on running last year.

 

I also started off the heavy bag session tonight with 15 knuckle pushups, and finished it off with 2x15 knuckle pushups. I did them on my hardwood floor, but with my handwraps on.

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  • 2 weeks later...

So, I switched gyms for the summer to the cheapest one available (because I'd have to pay more to use the uni gym during the summer) - it's at a community centre and despite being pretty ghetto, it has a power rack while the uni one only had squat racks, so that's nice. I decided to deload most exercises by about 10 lbs from my previous PRs because it had been a couple of weeks since I was consistent with lifting. Now I'm 100% back in the game, mentally and physically.

 

Squat: 5x5 @ 165lbs

Bench Press: 5x5 @ 125 lbs

Pendlay Rows: 3x5 @ 110 lbs - PR

Weighted Dips: 3x5 @ 30 lbs

Overhead Press: 5x5 @ 80 lbs

Deadlift: 1x5 @ 225 lbs

Weighted pullups: 3x5 @ 20 lbs - PR

 

So, as you can see, only 2 PRs this week on the pullups and Pendlays. Everything else was deloaded after realizing that being lazy with the lifting for a couple of weeks really did decondition me a bit.

 

Squats are my recent focus. The new gym has a power rack in front of a mirrored wall (like...RIGHT in front of it). I never got a view of myself lifting. I never realized my stance was so wide! That wasn't a problem though. What was a problem was that I realized I wasn't going below parallel. I was hitting parallel sometimes, sometimes not quite getting there. I immediately deloaded 20 lbs (185 to 165) and focused on actually going below parallel. I'm MUCH happier now. However, as a side effect of squatting so deep with a pretty wide stance is that I've ripped the ass of 3 pairs of boxers. I'd get down to parallel and hear "rrrrrrip". Whoops! I think I need to invest in some boxer briefs for lifting or something...

 

I'm ready to set new PRs and beyond on all my lifts this summer. I'm considering switching to an intermediate schedule (weekly increases instead of each session) for squat, overhead press, and possibly bench because I've hit a wall on each of those a couple of times already. It doesn't surprise me considering how far I've come in these past 4 months (I just looked through my notebook and realized I added 100 lbs to my squat in 3-4 months, which was an increase of over 100%).

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  • 2 weeks later...

Squat: 4x5, 4 @ 180lbs [Long explanation below]

Bench Press: 5x5 @ 130 lbs [PR!]

Pendlay Rows: 3x5 @ 120 lbs [PR, but mild form failure]

Weighted Dips: 4x5 @ 40 lbs [PR!!]

Overhead Press: 5x5 @ 80 lbs [coming back up from a deload]

Deadlift: 1x5 @ 205 lbs [Long explanation below]

Weighted neutral-grip pullups: 3x5 @ 20 lbs - PR

 

So. Here's the deal with my squats. I am seriously f*cking up something in my left glute, possibly where the IT band starts. It's like a more serious version of my problem in my very early days, and I'm certain it comes from an asymmetric form. My little brother was watching me, and said my left foot seemed behind my right one, with my torso rotated toward the right a bit. I tried evening things out, but that put more stress on my left glute and ramped up the pain massively, which made me realize my stance must have become asymmetric recently as a way of avoiding the pain of this injury. The injury itself I'm sure was from a slightly asymmetric stance to begin with (this is an issue I struggled with months ago and though I had fixed). I'm going to blame the fact that the past few weeks have been at this new gym, with a new rack, in front of a mirror. So many things changed that I'm sure the kinks in my form I had worked out resurfaced because I had lost whatever landmarks I was using before.

 

In any case, I definitely need to take a break from squatting. The pain is starting to radiate down my leg in certain positions (making me wonder if it could be piriformis syndrome). It's really frustrating but I know that squatting is obviously the last thing I should do right now. I'll need to take a break, and start back up with light weight trying to address whatever form issue caused this in the first place. It's frustrating because I was almost back up to my PR weight of 185, only going much much deeper than before (I've been squatting to/past parallel which I could never do before). Maybe I pushed the depth too much, too fast?

 

If anyone has recommendations for leg exercises I might be able to do before I try squatting again, I'm all ears.

 

As for deadlifts...after hurting myself squatting, I was warming up and made it to 205 when I realized I couldn't attempt my work weight. Too much pain/fatigue/aggravation from the squats.

 

At least I hit PRs on pretty much everything else to make up for the squat drama . Blew past my previous bench plateau weight of 125 and did a solid 130 yesterday without any hints that I might fail. Hoping that means I can nail 135 on my first attempt on Friday! I also threw in an extra set of dips at 40 lbs because the first three didn't tire me out enough. My 115 lb Pendlays went great, but my first attempt at 120 yesterday was less than stellar...I noticed some hip drive in a few reps and my last couple didn't make it all the way to my chest, so I'll be repeating the weight.

 

In other news, I got my P1 in Krav Maga this past Saturday! It's the first rank (out of 5). So if someone tries to attack me because they're tired of waiting for the power rack, at least I'll be able to drop them like a wet sack of potatoes

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Oh and angryvegan, I don't recall what brand the EAAs are. Calories are whatever I feel like eating...I'm not into calorie-counting. When I was bulking, I just made sure I ate a ton. Right now I'm trying to cut a bit, so I'm eating more or less "regular" amounts of food (what I'd eat even if I wasn't working out calorie-wise).

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Aw, man, I'm so bummed out about your left glute issues. Sorry to hear that. Sounds like you're doing well in other areas though, so nice job on krav maga and your PRs in several lifts! That's great news! I hope you feel better soon.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks for the support guys. Unfortunately, the hip issues have gotten worse. The piriformis issue is still there (but slowly improving), but while playing ultimate frisbee, I managed to pull my left hip flexor. So even light weight squats and deads are completely off the menu, probably until August. I'm angry but the last thing I want to do is go back to squatting too soon and have this go on as a chronic issue for ages. I finally figured out where these injuries came from, and it's specific to the retarded rack at the ghetto gym I'm stuck at for the summer. I had to do this weird kind of twisting motion to each side to get the bar unracked, which would stress the piriformis so much more than the squats themselves. When I'm back to 100%, it will be the end of July anyway in all likelihood, so I'll be able to go back to the uni gym I was using.

 

However, I'm still hitting the rest of the exercises hard.

 

Bench Press: 5x5 @ 135 lbs [PR, finally benched my bodyweight!!!]

Pendlay Rows: 3x5 @ 120 lbs [PR, far better form than previously]

Weighted Dips: 3x5 @ 45 lbs [PR]

Overhead Press: 5x5 @ 85 lbs [tied PR]

Weighted pullups (supinated and neutral grip): 3x5 @ 25 lbs -[PR]

 

Take THAT, stupid hip! I don't need you after all. Well, obviously I do. Squats and deadlifts are my best and favourite lifts, but at least I'm making good upper body progress in the meantime!

 

I've also been using the upper-body stationary bike at the end of my workouts. It's fun doing something endurance-based with only your arms for once. Hurts like hell though!

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Spending one month away from squats and deadlifts sucks, but it's really not too long. You shouldn't see much of a strength loss, I think. And your numbers on upper body movements will probably see some gains. Nice job reaching your (and my) body weight on bench, haha! I'm kinda pissed I haven't gotten there yet, but I'm happy for you!

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Thanks for the encouragement, guys! I've gone to see a sports med doc and have my first day of physio on tuesday...I'm hoping for the go-ahead to resume squatting and deadlifting, but we will see what the physiotherapist has to say!

 

Rob - It felt pretty damn good! Even better than the first time I put the plate on the bar for squats (which at the time was an accomplishment!). Using a full plate on weighted dips is a kick too. The other day at the gym, I was alternating sets with this random guy who was bigger than me, and after I finished my first set he said "Damn that's hardcore!"

 

I'm switching to weekly increases on my upper body lifts as I feel I've hit that "intermediate" level where adding weight each session becomes impractical. Pendlays are up to 125 lbs, OHP was a near miss (failed last rep of last set!) at 90 lbs, and pullups/chinups are up to 30 lbs weighted.

 

Oh, and did I mention I've been cutting weight at the same time? Down 3 pounds from my all-time high about a month ago of 137, while still hitting PRs on my upper body lifts. I did this mostly through diet, as I've been a little nervous about most types of cardio given my hip problems. Waiting for the physio's opinion on which activities are safe and which aren't. I'd be happy with dropping a couple more pounds, but I don't want to start losing muscle or sliding backwards on my lifts. I figure I'll start eating big when I can get back to heavy squats and deadlifts, since bulking without squats or deadlifts seems like a recipe for getting fat.

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  • 5 weeks later...

Before getting into the long spiel, I thought I'd just post my numbers from this past week:

 

Bodyweight: 137 lbs

Squat: 5x5 @ 190lbs [PR]

Bench Press: 5x5 @ 140 lbs [PR]

Pendlay Rows: 3x5 @ 130 lbs [PR]

Weighted Dips: 3x5 @ 50 lbs [PR]

Overhead Press: 5x5 @ 95 lbs [PR]

Deadlift: 1x5 @ 245 lbs [PR]

Chinups/pullups: 3x5 @ 40/35 lbs respectively [PR]

 

So, here's the spiel. I took a few weeks off from doing squats/deadlifts and worked on my physio and stretches to help with my piriformis syndrome, and I'm recovering well. A few weeks ago, I started incorporating squats and deads back into my workouts, but started with low weight and worked back up slowly.

 

For squats, I worked on changing my form - my feet were really wide apart before, so I brought them closer to shoulder width and focused on increasing the depth compared to what I used to do. My hip flexibility has been improving ever since I started 5-6 months ago, and I am finally getting depth I am actually happy with.

 

After all these weeks of laying off the lower body exercises and the slow rebuilding of my form and strength, I finally hit new PRs on the squat and deadlift today! I definitely let out a few growls as I got those last reps up, haha. I'm at new PRs for all my upper body lifts as well, since they were all I had to work on for a couple of months.

 

Now that I have heavy deads and squats back in my routine, I'm going to up my calories and protein and try to start bulking again. My goal is to be a lean 150 by next summer - which would thrill me since I remember not all too long ago being 110 and thinking 130 was a pipe dream!

 

So here's my official goal for the coming year: Hit a lean 150 lbs bodyweight (13 to go), hit 2X BW on the deadlift (300 pounds, 55 to go), and 1.5X BW on the squat (225, 35 to go). I think those numbers are definitely doable. Not sure what my goals are for the upper body lifts...bench has always been a weak point and my 5x5 at 140 has been a real accomplishment after 5 months of hard work...I'd like to think I could hit 175 for my 5x5s but it's hard to picture.

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