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Ruhtroh's Training Journal!


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Hi! I'm a 19 year-old male. 6' on a good day.

I'm starting this training journal so I can get feedback from you all and see if I'm progressing at a good rate.

I'm doing the Stronglifts 5x5 method.

I weight trained for a year and half starting when I was about 16, but stopped because I wasn't progressing.


All weights are at 5x5 except for starting bench weight and all deadlifts (1x5 for these).


Start (8/14/10):

All measurements are in POUNDS (I can do kilograms if people would rather see that).

Squat: 45

Bench: 115 (this was max at time, probably more like 105 for 5x5, but I was being dumb).

Deadlift: 135

OHP: 65

2 chin-ups (when I did them at start of workout)

0 pull-ups

Unable to do dips.


As of 9/21/10:

Squat: 165

Bench: 130 (I progressed horribly on this because I was too eager to add weight, so I often stalled. Now benching

with correct form for an honest 5x5. Feels much better.)

OHP: 80 (Same problem with this: was too eager to add weight. I'm smarter now.)

Deadlift: 265 (I love what these do to my body: destroy it! lol)

4 chin-ups (at END of workout this time, so tired at this point)

2 pull-ups

Dips: 8, 6, 6.


I don't know what I currently weigh, but on 8/14 I weighed 165 and on 8/26 I weighed 171 (both measured

first thing when I rose). I will add some before/after photos in about 3 weeks. I hope they show good change... I have

no idea if I'll be happy with the changes.


I'm on a vegan diet, of course!


I'd appreciate any honest opinions on my progress (or lack thereof).


Edit: Forgot to mention my goals. I've like to get bigger and stronger (duh). I don't mind adding some fat with the muscle (I'm a very disciplined eater (like all vegans ), so I'm not worried about cutting later.

Edited by Ruhtroh
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Glad to see you've started a log man!


I suffered from the same impatience when I started stronglifts. Ignored the proper deload procedure and just kept hacking away. Deadlifts I kept going for 1RMs. And didn't switch bodyweight exercises over soon enough when they were getting easy(ish).


Deadlift is obviously your strong point, bench is pretty good for the timespan. Squats are decent too if that's a 5x5. None of these lifts are easy, but that's why you do them


It's a strange thing to understand when you start out that the best way to try and make a target weight isn't to constantly use that weight until you make it, but to strategically use recovery and loading to get there. You're not expected to make that +2.5kg increase every workout, you're only expected to attempt it. It'd be considered great progress to make this every few weeks on the upper body lifts especially, it adds up over time. Don't skip deloads, especially your quads and shoulders get hammered EVERY workout. If you don't give them a rest most of your exercises will suffer and impair progress.



Granted this isn't the only or most effective way of training. But it gets to the point when you're trying to push 5x5 maxes (5RM for deadlift) EVERY workout. You can't expect to do this for Squats every 2 or 3 days. Especially every 2nd workout you're trying to do it on Press and Deadlift on the same day!


Relax, ensure you're eating a caloric excess and enjoy lifting damn heavy weights! I look forward to following your progress

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Squat: 155 (Dropped to work on form. No lower back pain, so form must be better.)

Bench: 130 (135 next time for sure)

Inverted rows and dips are getting better.


I know 155 is very little weight for the squat, but I'm feeling pretty good. I started with just the bar, and I'm going very deep. I could barely get to parallel at the start of SL. I might upload a video soon for form check.

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Squat: 160

Overhead Press: 85 (5/4/3), 75 (5, 5) ugh

DL: 225 (Deloaded to check form. Felt light, but form looks off. You tell me!)

Chin-ups: 4, 2, 1 (Definitely getting better at these)

Reverse Crunches felt great (3x12)


Please check my form!


Squat @ 160


Deadlift 225 (Hips rising too fast, back rounding?? )


Please be BRUTAL in your critiques.

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Slow down your Squat on the way down. Asking for an injury there. You don't want that weight bouncing off your knees when it gets heavy. Control it on the way down (REAL slow), explode on the way up.



Deadlift - Hips are coming up too fast, back is rounded. When you're putting the bar down you back is REALLY rounded, and your sticking your knees forward too quickly so you're having to move the bar around them. Break at the hips first, don't put your shins forward till the bar passes your knee. Also it looks like you're using running shoes. Choose flat shoes with an incompressable sole (or barefoot, or deadlift slippers etc.).



This is a good starting point.

1) Foot position

2) WITHOUT LOWERING HIPS, take your grip (shins shouldn't move)

3) Drop shins to bar

4) Squeeze your chest up (this straightens out your back)


Don't think about standing up, think CHEST UP, HEELS DOWN. It's good practice to keep your back straight while you lower the bar as well, it'll strengthen it and make it easier to maintain the position throughout the lift. Your chest stays squeezed up throughout the whole lift. NEVER loosen yourself, everything stays tight.


Deload the weight and practice. Good luck.

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Squat: 165 (only 3 sets... Need that 2 day break, for sure! I felt it more in my tendons/joints??) (Slowed down decent, Chewy.)

Bench: 135 (5x5!! Didn't even come close to killing myself! I did it! Finally get to put plates up! Makes the whole process easier. Woot!)

Inverted Rows: 5, 8, 3

Dips: 8, 5, 3




I ordered some brown rice protein powder. Should be here Monday.

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Looks good so far, Rutroh!


Critiques for the video clips -


1. Dive bombing your squats with a fast descent can be done safely, but I would do as Chewy says and slow the descent for now. Some people excel with a fast descent, but right now, it's not going to do you a lot of good and may have potential to put some excess strain on the knees, try to have about 2-3 seconds on the descent, and of course, come up as fast as you can (there's no use in having a slow ascent in squatting).


2. The deadlift didn't actually look all that bad, I've definitely seen a lot worse. Once you get the bar a few inches off the ground you pull fast, so you've definitely got the strength there, it's just a matter of honing your technique more. It IS acceptable to round the UPPER back a bit, so long as you can be 100% sure that the middle and lower back are in proper position and do not round over at all. Some people's mechanics dictate a rounded upper back can be ideal (for me, doing heavy sets with more than a single rep I usually round the upper back a bit), but never, ever let that lower back lose a tight position. Hips are coming up a bit fast, not horribly bad, but you'd be better to start with setting them an inch or two higher if it keeps your starting position tight and you can tell they're locked into place. And again, Chewy is spot on with the fact that your knees are going too far forward, you should not have to pull the bar around them (and, you shouldn't let them drift so far forward on the descent), so you may need to play around with your positioning a bit more to get things just right. But, like I've said, I've seen a LOT worse for form critique clips, a few small things to work on and you'll see those numbers keep jumping for a long time to come. It looks like you'll be your strongest once the bar gets to the knee, so lockouts should be a breeze, but eventually the start will probably be your weak spot. It also appears that you have some fairly long legs and possibly a shorter torso, so that always throws a twist into finding the technique that's best, but play around with it enough and it'll get there.


I always pull this clip out for the prime example of a long-legged, shorter-torsoed rounded upper back position that's ideal for certain body types:



It just goes to show that not everyone will pull the same, sometimes you have to play around enough to find what works optimally for your frame!

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Thanks so much for the encouragement and advice, VE!


I've substantially slowed down my descent on the squat... that was an easy fix! It will be fun to get to BW squats! Big goal for me.


I will film my deadlift again when I think I've corrected my form. Tomorrow is a deadlift day... I can't wait to get back at it.


Edit: Might as well add an entry on food. I ate and ate and ate and I'm feeling darn good!

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Squat: 165 (did do 5x5 this time! Bodyweight, here I come!)

OHP: 70 (Deloaded... tired of getting nowhere with this.)

DL: 225 (Weight does not feel heavy, but I am still working of form.)

Pull-ups: 4 the first set! (then 2, then 1 with a few declines). I know, 4 isn't many, but consider that I couldn't do ONE at the start of the program, and I've gained 15 pounds or so. I'm happy with the progress!

Reverse crunches felt good


Squats are starting to feel very heavy. I can't imagine lifting 200+. Still, I'm happy with my progress! I am certainly getting stronger!

OHP is driving me nuts. Grrr.

Deadlift... I am still struggling to lower the weight without bending my back. Don't want to add weight until I'm sure I won't hurt myself.


Feeling good! I hope there's protein powder waiting in the mail for me tomorrow!

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Looks good, as always!


To add on to what Chewy recommended for overheads -


Do you have a particular sticking point on the lift? Is it tougher to get off the shoulders, tougher just as it clears the head, or toughest on the lockout portion when triceps need to kick in the most? If you can identify your weak spot, work on that in time and things should get better. Many times, weak triceps will hinder overhead pressing unless you become proficient with strong push pressing or jerking the weight overhead. This is why I often do partial overheads from just over the top of my head or slightly above for lockouts, as I'm strong off the shoulders but the mid point is my weak spot.


So, if you find that your overhead pressing stalls out, I always suggest the following things to help break through -


1. Push presses, going about 10-15% over your normal strict press weight


2. 1-arm heavy DB presses, strict, push press and with a slight side lean, going above your normal strict BB press weight (if you can do 70 lbs. on a BB, then try 40 lbs. with a DB)


3. Overhead lockouts in the power rack, anywhere from just at top of head all the way to a short 2-3" lockout with a heavy overload beyond your normal pressing weight. Done either as heavy overloads for sets or for high reps with what you can normally only rep out a few times.


4. Close-grip flat benching, hands torso width apart (hands probably 16" or so of space between), not the SUPER close style so many people use.


Between those options, you should find plenty of options for working past sticking points. Not all will incorporate well into a 5x5 program, but something to maybe change out if you stall for too long on the overheads, or, maybe done alternating weeks. Just some ideas, since I used to HATE overhead work because it never seemed to get better for me until I tried something different!

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Dreadful workout. I'm upset about it.


Squat: Warm up. Felt pain in left quad. I have slept horribly the past two nights. One of my roommates is driving me crazy. 170 pounds for 3 reps.... I wasn't feeling up to fighting through the soreness.

Bench: 135x5, 140x5, 140x4, 140x3, 140x2. Not as bad as I expected.

Inverted rows: These weren't too bad.

Dips: Again, not as bad as bench and squat.


I desperately need sleep...

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Squat: (3x5) at 170

OHP: (5x5) at 75

DL: (1x5) at 225, + a few singles at 225 to work on form

Chin-ups: 6, 4, 3 (New record for me... getting stronger!)

Reverse crunches


Squats were very, very tough. Barely finished the last rep of the third set. Not sure what's up. My form is better than it was a few weeks ago, though! I'm very close to body weight squats (I'd guess I'm at 175-180).

I think I've stopped rising my hips too quickly on the DL, but my back still rounds on the descent!

OHP felt great. I think I'm going to burst through the plateau I suffered at 80/85!

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Squat: 170 (5,5,3,0,0) Grr! I'm going to eat like crazy and try again on Thursday. If I fail, I will deload.

Bench press: Shoulder hurt during warm-up in spot it hurt a few weeks ago, so decided to not do this. Again, Grr!

Inverted Rows: Not bad at all

Dips: Same as always

Prone Bridges: 3x30 seconds


I need to force myself to eat 50% more. I'm tired of not progressing.

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What numbers you hitting on inverted rows? I recommend switching to barbell rows as soon as you get close to 15 in the first set. It works the complete opposite muscles from bench press so you don't get muscle imbalances. Chins/pullups can take a while to get going and getting an extra rep every so often in inverted rows isn't going to hit your upper back that hard. Balancing it out can be important in avoiding injury.


I don't know if close grip bench will be any easier on your shoulder while it's recovering but worth a shot. Just be careful with it though.


Don't be discouraged by squats, when you hit your first stall you can't expect to hit a 5x5 max every 2nd day. The best thing you can do outside of workout is stop stressing and ensure a caloric excess. If you don't make it (and your attempts are getting worse), try a hard deload of 20%. It'll give your muscles a much needed chance to recover and give you a good run at it again. If you make 3x5 again you could consider sticking with it and increase the weight with 3x5 instead. Or if you give it your best attempt at 170 so far, just try a soft deload of 10% and try working your way back up to it.


When you start hitting heavy weights adding 2.5kg-5kg on other lifts and 7.5kg on squats a week is unrealistic. If you're patient and give your muscles a rest with deloads when you're supposed to, you might make a PB every 2 or 3 weeks and should be happy with that.



Oh btw I recommend weighted prone bridges. 3x30s is way too easy unweighted. It'll have some carryover to your press/deads/squats. Stick a plate on your lower back

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Squats: (3x5) 170

OHP: (5,5,5,5,4) 80

DL: (3x5) 225 Form is getting there

Chin-ups: Baaaad today haha

Prone bridges with 25 pound weight on my lower back. Thanks, Chewy. Made it much harder.


I'm going to progress to 175 for 3x5 next time. Next time I deload, I will switch to 5x5.

I will be home this weekend, so I should get great food, rest, and relaxation.

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I'm at home. No squat rack at the gym here, so I used two leg machines. Bad, I know! But better than nothing! I worked my calves a bit as well.

Bench press: (5x5) 140

Inverted Rows: 9, 6, 4, some with feet flat at end of these sets.

Dips: 8, 5, 3

Prone bridges with 35 pound weight on my back. Ouch! That was good!


I'm THRILLED with my bench press! I had more in the tank when I finished!


So good to be home!

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Today was supposed to be a rest day, but I wanted to go to the gym with my friend, and I won't be able to lift tomorrow.


Again, no squat rack, so I did some leg presses.

OHP: (5,5,5,4,x) 80

DL: (1x5) 225

Pull-ups: 4,2, some decline

Reverse crunches and weighted prone bridges (+35 pounds)


I was quite sore today, hence the poor OHP performance compared to last time.

Still working on DL form... I'd love to add weight, but I want to be safe.


I have been eating so much here at home!


I currently weigh 176 pounds, according to my scale at home. I've gained 15 pounds since starting working out on 8/2/10.

I was hoping to post some progress photos, but I'm not yet comfortable enough with my almost-nekkid self to post the pics!

Talk to you again on Wednesday!

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I struggled with the weight you were on with OHP for a long while (round about the time I started undereating). One of my friends had a little bit of success with microloading (adding extra collars to do increments between 2.5kg/5lbs) - unfortunately due to injury we couldn't get a proper experiment of anything longer than a couple of weeks. If you keep eating big like you are you should hit it soon.


How are the deadlifts you been taking videos/watching them back?


15lb gain is good man, how much body fat have you added visibly?

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I was going to microload with the collars next time. Thanks for the tip!


I've certainly added some body fat, sadly. I have no % BF estimates. But I've added muscle as well, so I am content. My quads are MUCH bigger than they used to be, as are my triceps. I have no idea how I could eat cleaner. Less sugar, perhaps, but I'm desperate for the calories.

I'm not gaining weight anywhere near as cleanly as you did, from what I can see in your pics. Those are inspirational!


Deadlift form is much better now. I had a trainer at my gym look at my form. Looked good, he said, but I need to work on the descent. I am eager to add weight, but I'll wait until everything is sorted out.


Back to squats on Thursday. I am dreading them! hehe

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Haha, I didn't add the pictures from my first bulk at 173.6lbs. Got real heavy man just a slob of fat. Made great strength gains, and muscle gains underneath it though. Was worth it when I cut, unfortunately the cut went on for too long and I missed out on about half a year of gains.


Keep it up as long as you can, cutting fat is easy when it comes. But to keep making gains you need to EAT =D

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