New Lifting Routine (Starting Strength week 5 1/2)


I’m now 5 and a half weeks through Starting Strength. I’ve stalled on my lifts a couple of times and have gotten a wee bit bored of the routine, so I’ve decided to take a break (meaning I’ll come back in approximately 4 weeks) and try something new.

Starting Strength is a strength routine and as much as I love lifting heavy things off the ground / into the air, I’m looking to mix things up. After a lot of analysis paralysis I decided on PHAT, which is a strength/hypertrophy routine that is split over 5 days. Unfortunately I don’t have enough time to do both cardio and the full 5 days of lifting, so I’ve condensed it down to 4 days. To be fair, I’m now no-longer following the ‘official program’ but more of an adaption for my needs, not Layne’s (the god of the program).

Before I continue, I’ll show a spreadsheet of my last half week of SS:


I was most happy with the standing overhead-press of 50kg x 5, those readers who lift weights will know that plates usually come in 1.25, 2.5, 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 (if you’re lucky), and it is always such an achievement loading up a new plate size and removing the need to play Tower of Hanoi on the barbell.

Below is the condensed routine:


This has a lot more volume than I am used to, so I’ll definitely be easing into the program. Before anyone hounds me for the lack of pull-ups/chin-ups, I agree, but I have a ‘doorway pull-up’ bar at home and hence chose not to clutter my pretty spreadsheet.

I have stripped exercises that required equipment that my gym didn’t have, when I say stripped, I really mean replaced with free weight alternatives.

This week I’ve done both strength/heavy days, so I’m really looking forward to the hypertrophy equivalents to come.

I encourage anyone who spots glaring issues with the program to please comment.


JFLAP, XML and Python (COSC261 fix)


Last semester at University, I took a course based around ‘Formal Languages and Compilers’ aka COSC261. We had weekly quizzes to complete, which was great, but there was one task that always felt a lot more tedious than it needed to be: translating JFLAP diagrams to a transition table in to list of lists e.g. [ [ ], [ ] ] format, as required by the University’s quiz server.

I felt a couple stabs to the grade-book as I hastily submitted DFAs that worked perfectly on my local machine, but were rejected via the quiz server. The rejection was solely caused by mishandling of the data entry. As any geek would, I raged at the thought of mindless data entry and studied the implementation of JFLAP. It turns out that JFLAP saves as a .jff file, which does sound mysterious, until I inspected it in vim. Below is a screenshot of the inspection and the implementation.


Sure enough, it was a neat XML representation. Have a look for yourself, the developers put a lot of effort into the formatting (thanks a lot, team).

$ vim yourJFLAPfile.jff

Once in vim, you’ll need to enter :q! to exit, yes include the colon. This quits without saving, as you probably don’t want to modify the file directly (i.e. likelihood of adding errors).

Recently I had been working on processing data-feeds, which the majority of which were RSS/XML based, so this was a breath of familiar air indeed. My implementation is merely a proof of concept and definitely encourage anyone with enough time to improve upon it! The output is currently a tuple (FROM, [TO, SYMBOL]). As a trivial exercise you’re welcome to convert this to a list of lists, so that the quiz server does indeed accept it.

I’ll leave challenge of interpreting the parsing as homework. The script and all directions are on GitHub:

Some of the issues I ran into were:

  • Parsing Epsilon
  • Withholding the frustrated knowledge of how many marks could have been saved

Future Aims:

  • Implement for NFA, currently it works great with DFA (I’ve already added the ability to process Epsilon and the entries for each node are not statically typed)
  • Build an implementation of the script that links to our schools variant of Moodle, so that students can upload the JFLAP files (be sure to watch out for that nasty XML).

Starting Strength, Week 4


week4_Starting_StrengthJust a small update today. Week 4 of Starting Strength is complete. Squats, deadlifts and overhead press are continuing to increase, which is awesome. Having done OHP twice this week, I’m really excited about increasing my bench soon, since I’m yet to achieve that final rep on the last set of 75×5 legitimately without a spotter’s assistance. Hopefully this week will be the week!

Just 8 more weeks to go. I can see bodyweight exercises such as pull ups and chin ups becoming increasingly difficult as I had mass to my frame (especially legs from squats 3x a week).

That’s all for now,


Starting Strength, Week 3


I have successfully completed week 3! Quite happy with that indeed. I’m writing this post part way into week 4, unfortunately the 75kg bench press was too heavy for me today and I couldn’t complete the last set (only got 3 reps, before getting spotter’s assistance). I rested well before the last set but just couldn’t power through it. Because of this, I’ve decided to cut the assistance exercises until I get back on that linear progression train (I was greedy putting them in, anyway).

On a positive note, all other lifts have been increasing. And I can now do 3 unassisted chin-ups, which isn’t bad for an overweight guy 96kg at 5’9. My battle plan is continue this strength training until I’ve reached my goals (60kg Overhead-Press, 100 kg Bench, 120kg Squat and 140kg Deadlift).

Starting Strength, Week 3