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Getting Serious about Getting Big


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today i grabbed a vegan cookie out of the vending machine at the gym on my way to the locker room and took a few bites before changing into my gear. that’s right, vegan cookies in the gym vending machine. i’m super spoiled. anyway, i had a few calories pre-workout, and lo and behold, no sore stomach afterwards, even on deadlift day. i’m not sure if a cookie is the right thing for me to be eating before lifting hah but it did the trick today. i’ll just have to get in the habit of having a bite or two of something before going in, just enough to keep my stomach happy without feeling weighed down.

i ran into a couple of my students at the gym today… which was actually not awkward. i liked getting to sneak a peek at the workouts that they do, because one of them is pretty built and i’ve been watching him get bigger over the past few months at this new lab so i’ve been curious. i was hoping to maybe pick up a technique or two but i think i’m actually mechanically more proficient and he was utilizing machines and more assistance work than i usually get into.

i’m getting stronger. pulled 225lbs today. went for 235lbs and couldn’t lock it out, but the lock out at 225 was really strong and i was happy with it. next week, going for 230. just five pounds at a time, and before you know it i’ll be at that 2xBW. geddit. deadlift day takes so much out of me – i’m always thankful for the rest day afterwards.

now i’m gonna eat a GIGANTIC curry for lunch and finish off that cookie. gimme the gains.

 

deadlifts

10x115lbs

6x135lbs

6x165lbs

6x185lbs

3x205lbs

3x215lbs

1x225lbs

 

squat

10x95lbs

10x105lbs

10x105lbs (superset with…)

dumbbell side bend

3x10x45lbs

 

lat pulldowns

3x10x72lbs (superset with…)

kroc rows

10x45lbs

10x40lbs

10x40lbs

 

leg press

3x10x340lbs

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I've been away from logging for the past month or so, but I haven't been away from the gym! I've taken up yoga and decided that I'm going to be starting out 5x5 next week. I've been seeing really good gains lately from lifting without a strict structure, but I'm ready to try a structured program for the next month and take it from there. Yoga has been awesome, and I think the fact that I'm pretty strong now has been helping me get into some of the trickier poses more quickly than I would have been able to, say, a year ago. It's nice to sweat and get a good stretch and not be completely wiped out afterwards. I also started my dodgeball league, so every friday night now I've been in a gym full of grown ass adults whipping recess balls at each other and it's a blast.

Anyway, I'll start up logging again for real on Monday after my first day of 5x5. I'm ready.

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once i decide i want to do something, i’m not good at waiting. i just want to get it started. so, i decided to start a 5×5 program and i couldn’t wait until monday to start and i went in today instead. being 5×5, my log is about to get real boring, but hopefully real big. the exact program that i’m following is kind of a modification on your basic stronglifts, 4 days a week, but has a full 5x5 set of deadlifts because i really don't want to cut down to only one set a week i’ve felt like a beast all day today since this workout and i’m so hungry. currently lettin some thin sliced tofu slow bake with some perfect philly beef marinade… i’m eatin large tonight!!

 

deadlift

10x115lbs

5x5x185lbs

 

front squat

10xBW

5x5x88lbs

 

cable row

3x5x90lbs

2x5x96lbs

 

alternating incline db curl

5x5x20lbs

 

alternating bent over dumbbell rows

5x5x50lbs

 

notes: definitely adding a 10x45lb warmup for front squats next week. i’ll move up weights on everything, i guess, as i was able to complete all of the sets without feeling like i was at complete failure.

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yesterday i got in a volume workout at home with bodyweight and some light weights. i can execute five pullups in a row now. i basically cycled through dips, various pushups, shoulder press, and some raises... hit most of the upper body and left my biceps alone as much as possible because they got hit hard saturday.

today i did an hour of vinyasa yoga, and i love it more every time i do it. the instructor i've been seeing at northwestern is pretty great and i like her style. i always work up a good sweat in her classes (but i also go in pretty covered up clothing-wise so i'm sure that helps).

i think my yoga practice has been aided a lot by my powerlifting, in that i'm already extremely aware of my body and how to line myself up correctly and be aware of different body positions, and that i'm strong enough to hold difficult poses now. i'm hoping that the yoga will also cross over and help my powerlifting and keep me flexible and limber... or... make me flexible and limber haha because i'm not that flexible yet

i've been eating everything in sight and the scale won't budge from 123 lbs. i'm now constantly on the lookout for more food. i am attempting to become a bottomless pit, and something tells me these 5x5 sessions are really going to help with that. cross your fingers for me!

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Woooo lifted big this morning now to eat eat eat for the rest of the day

 

Squat

10x65lb

5x115lb

5x125lb

4x5x135lb (i approached the squats slow because i have a tendency to get nervous under the weight. but then i crushed it.)

 

Bent Over Row

5x5x80lb

 

Chin-Up (20lb assist)

5x5

 

Straight Leg Deadlift

5x5x135lbs

 

Lat Pulldown

4x5x87lb

4x87lb (failure)

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so sore after lifting today, but i think it’s just because i went real hard. this was my first time using some of my new supplements so it could also be that those pushed me a little extra (alternatively, placebo affect and i pushed myself… we’ll probably never know ). no matter what i pulled and pushed around some good weights today and i’m feelin hungry, which means it’s time to grow. scale still at 123lbs. i think the chin-ups from wednesday are responsible for the soreness in my lats the past two days... which is excellent because i'm not sure i've ever really felt sore there. more chin-ups! lat spread, activate!

 

supplements pre-wo: 4g creatine, 2.5g l-arginine ketoglutarate, advocare spark

supplements during/post-wo: 4g creatine, advocare biocharge (just read that this has BCAAs 4:1:1 so i think i’ll be switching to my new 2:1:1 BCAAs tomorrow and keeping these on hand for BCAA emergencies hah)

 

close-grip bench

5x5x60lb

 

machine ab crunch

5x5x110lb

 

upright row

5x5x60lb

 

tricep dip (44lb assist)

5×5

 

ohp

2x5x65lb

3x5x70lb

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Went in Saturday and got my deadlift session on. I really like doing the deads on Saturdays because I have much less of a sense of time crunch on the weekends, and I can just take my time and really enjoy deadlifting. Ahh, the simple things in life.

This 5×5 is killin me in the best possible way. So sore, continually, so this must be doin something good for me.

 

Deadlift

10x135lbs

5x5x190lbs

 

Cable Row

5x5x90lbs

 

Front Squat

10x45lbs

5x5x90lbs

 

Incline Hammer Curls

2x5x25lbs

2x4x25lbs

3x25lbs

 

Dumbbell Rows

5x5x50lbs

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My focus for 2014 is bench press. I focused hard on deadlifts during 2013, and added 100lbs to my un-trained PR. Unfortunately, my bench only went up ~30lbs from un-trained. My weak bench keeps me from feeling like I'd be a true competitor at a powerlifting meet, and I want to overcome that hurdle both as a mental block (continually thinking I'm not strong enough to compete) and a physical block (I gotta get myself to at least a 150lb bench to be competitive, realistically). Today I did some long hard looking and thinking and reading about form, got myself pumped up, and got out into the gym. It's not big yet, but it will be.

 

Bench Press

10x45lbs

5x70lbs

4x5x75lbs

 

Trap Bar Shrug

5x5x145lbs

 

Incline Bench Press

5x5x70lbs

 

Roman Chair

5x10

 

Tricep Pushdown

5x5x96lbs

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My weak bench keeps me from feeling like I'd be a true competitor at a powerlifting meet, and I want to overcome that hurdle both as a mental block (continually thinking I'm not strong enough to compete) and a physical block (I gotta get myself to at least a 150lb bench to be competitive, realistically).

 

I think anyone who has ever competed in anything before feels that way, man. We tend to want to hit certain numbers before we hit the platform. I know I did. But when I was first starting out in powerlifting, my coach basically just threw me into a meet after a few weeks of training at that gym. He paid my entry fee so I felt like there was no backing out. I felt like I wasn't ready, like there was no point because I wouldn't be competitive.

 

I shared that with some of my training partners and they told me that doing that meet would be the best thing I could do, because the first time is more about the experience, learning, the sense of liberation that comes from completing your first meet and the motivation to do it again, but better. I didn't win the meet or anything but I surprised myself with a 90lb PR on my total. It's really an invaluable learning experience that can't be replaced by anything else and really kick-started my training after that. Plus, you'll meet like-minded people (though most of them probably won't be vegan) who can help you reach your goals faster.

 

Sorry for the wall of text lol, just my $0.02. Looking forward to seeing you get that 150# bench and beyond

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I definitely appreciate the input! I think I need to find a team to lift with - that's priority #1. If I went in with a team, I think I'd feel a lot more confident. As is, I lift completely on my own all the time. Kinda unfortunate but there's not a gym with a team that I know of anywhere within a reasonable commute for me by public transit so currently I'm out of luck. I figure I'll keep pushin and getting stronger and in the next year or two hopefully the opportunity will arise to train with a team and hit a competition!

 

Squat

10x75lbs

5x5x140lbs

 

Bent Over Row

5x5x75lbs

 

Chin Up (16lb assist)

5x5

 

Stiff Leg Deadlift

5x5x140lb

 

Wide Grip Lat Pulldown

5x5x90lb

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I feel like my body is already starting to adapt a little to the 5x5 style of training. I started everything at ~80% of my 1RM for the first week, and pretty much all of my lifts were successful through week 2 after adding 5lbs to everything. It's too soon to really tell, but I feel like I'll be making some good strength gains with this program. I'm definitely doing more pulling and rowing than I'm used to, and it's probably for the best. I think I'll be much better rounded with this program under my belt after awhile.

 

close grip bench

10x45lb

5x5x65lb

 

crunch machine

5x5x115lb

 

upright row

5x5x65lb

 

tricep dip (35 lb assist)

5x5

 

ohp

5x5x70lb

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Yeah, finding a team or a training partner to lift with is one of the best things you can do imo, but do what you can as you can. You can still get really big and strong training on your own, too. 5x5 is a great program, I used my own version of that to get to 2 plate bench, 3 plate squat and 4 plate deadlift lifting alone. Other people have done even more. Keep up the hard work.

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I’m so glad deadlift day is Saturday. I get to take my time, go all out, go home, stuff my face, and crash out for a few hours. Weights are movin up. I’m feeling solid.

 

Deadlift

10x45lb

5x135lb

5x5x195lb

 

Cable Row

5x5x96lb

 

Front Squat

10x65lb

5x5x95lb

 

Alternating Incline Hammer Curls

3x5x25lb

2x4x25lb

 

Dumbbell Rows

5x5x55lb

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must be a glutton for punishment because i hit a full 5x5 session and then decided an hour of vinyasa class directly after would be a super idea... i'm not even entirely sure how i dragged myself to the train and then back home off the train last night. but i did it! got home and made a gigantic meal of pasta (sauce with a few peppers, onions, mushrooms, chick'n, tons of fire roasted tomatoes and topped off with vegan parm - so good) and ate two bowls of it, and even remembered to take my ZMA (actually, Nighttime Recovery from Advocare which is ZMA with some herbs) before bed. today i'm sore, but probably not as sore as i would've been without the big meal and the ZMA and the solid sleep I fell into after. I'll get back in there today.

Also, I found the first balance pose in yoga that didn't come right to me, so now I've got something solid to work towards in my practice and that makes me extremely happy. I wonder if possibly I couldn't get into the balance from my muscles just being absolutely exhausted by the end of lifting and towards the end of class, but I'll work on the pose this week and see if I can't get it down. It's side crow - I can get into crow relatively easily and find my balance, but I couldn't even get into side crow. I like a challenge!!!

 

Bench Press

10x45lb

5x75lb

5x5x80lb

 

Trap Shrug

5x5x150lb

 

Straight leg roman chair

5x10

 

Incline Bench

3x5x75lb

2x4x75lb

 

Tricep Pushdown

5x96lb

4x5x92lb

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I need to figure out a good vegan fish oil and I think I need to start foam rolling. My body is adapting to 5x5 in terms of strength (weights still goin up steadily on the majority of my lifts), but I'm starting to feel it in my joints a little. Noticing it most in my shoulders, back, and core; no problems to speak of in my lower body. Any tips that anyone's got on this front would be greatly appreciated - I want to keep hitting it this heavy but I don't want to do any sort of damage that'll slow me down in the long run. Right now it's just a little twinge and lower comfortable range of motion, but I'm going to listen to my body and try to stay on top of it. I'm so close to hitting my 5x5 chins without assistance!

 

Squat

10x65lb

5x5x145lb

 

Bent Over Row

5x5x80lb

 

Chin Up (14lb assist)

5x5

 

Stiff Leg Deads

10x45lbs (double over)

5x5x145lb (alternate)

 

Wide Grip Lat Pulls

5x5x90lb

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I think flax oil is a good fish oil replacement if you want to take some sort of oil. I'm not sure how effective either of those are at helping with joint pain, though. Definitely start foam rolling, take advantage of it if your gym has them. What are you currently doing for warm-up and cool-down?

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I usually jog on my way to/from and I do some static stretching and a few warm up sets for the big lifts.

 

On Saturday I tried a new gym at the university, and I think this will be the place I'll be lifting from now on. It's definitely a powerlifting gym, multiple racks and platforms (and a lot less popular than the gym with all the treadmills and machines) so hopefully I won't have to wait on equipment like I have been. Pretty rad.

Also, I'm pretty proud of hitting my 200lb 5x5 deadlifts this weekend. Good form, good lockout, I'm feeling really solid. My appetite is pretty much raging out of control. I'm a happy camper.

 

 

Deadlift

10x45lb

2x6x135lb

5x5x200lb

 

Cable Row

5x5x100lb

 

Front Squat

10x65lb

5x5x100lb

 

Alternating Incline Curl

3x5x25lb

2x4x25lb (this is my third week hitting failure with these, which I think means it's time to drop back down to 20s. booooooo)

 

One Arm Dumbbell Row

5x5x60lb

 

One Arm Dumbbell OHP

3x15x20lb (just because...)

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I'm trying so hard to enjoy bench press day and I just don't. I don't feel strong on my press and I'm doubting whether the 5x5 scheme is going to be the right thing to get my lifting heavier, because I get nervous under the weight and then tend to not bring the bar all of the way down to my chest so I only get ~3/4 reps and it's still hard as hell. I'm gaining mass in my chest, there's no question about that, but I'm not sure why I don't feel stronger. Added in fly's just to hit the chest again and some shoulder press because I feel like I'm not getting my shoulders enough with this 5x5. Really thinking about keeping my 5x5 for lower body and switching to more of a bodybuilding rep scheme for upper body.

 

Bench Press

10x45lb

6x65lb

5x5x85lb

 

Barbell Shrug

10x45lb

5x5x155lb (no trap bar at the powerlifting gym so I used a standard bar - maybe that's better because I used double over grip and that'll help improve grip strength)

 

Roman Chair Straight Leg Raise

5x10lb

 

Incline Press

3x5x75lb

5x70lb

5x65lb

 

Tricep Pushdown

5x5x90lb

 

Dumbbell Fly

3x10x15lb

 

One Arm Dumbbell OHP

3x10x20lb

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Gettin bigger, that's for sure! It's not showing up on the scale yet, still pretty stagnant between 123-125 lbs, but my shoulder growth is making most of my button downs start to feel uncomfortable and my thighs barely fit in a bunch of my pants anymore so I'm calling it progress! I feel like I need to be eating even more than I am - so I'm really glad that my appetite seems to have kicked itself into high gear since I switched to 5x5. These days I feel like I need an extra meal in between lunch and dinner, rarely do I get the chance to actually eat one but I think that if I give myself the time and prep ahead to get some more food in then the gains will come!

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