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

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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:

Starting_Strength_week5_1_2

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:

PHAT_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.

Cheers,
Carl

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Starting Strength, Week 4

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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,
Carl

 

Starting Strength, Week 3

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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

 

Body Dysmorphia

Dody Dysmorphia
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As someone training for strength and loosely following the Starting Strength routine (which doesn’t involve a lot of arm isolation exercises, but the triceps, shoulders and biceps all do get heavily worked via the compound exercises), I haven’t really made the conscious effort to focus on arm size. In-fact, I often see guys at the gym hammering curls for hours on end and wonder to myself if I should change my routine and join in!

I’ve found that the Starting Strength routine has enabled my body to build muscle proportionately, albeit especially legs. Because of this, I’ve always viewed my arms as ‘small’ and when I compare myself to some people’s amazing physiques online, they are. It wasn’t until I recently attended a party and was snapped into a picture that I got a different perspective.

Dody Dysmorphia

That’s me not featuring the black eclipse

Note, I am friends with the man in front of me, and I’m not here to comment on his physique. What intrigued me was how it wasn’t until I was in a photo with a regular guy that my perspective changed regarding my own body. Until this photo I had always thought my arms were on the smaller size, they are definitely no 18″ cannons. The point being that sometimes it’s important to take a step back and analyze things from another perspective.

Body dysmorphia can be an especially dangerous perspective, so this is just a message to all those currently on their fitness journey, to keep at it and remember to sometimes zoom out, and take a look at things from a different angle.

– Carl

Starting Strength, Week 2

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After completing my running goal, I’ve been keen to get back into the strength training. After reading the Starting Strength (vol 2), I’ve decided to give this version a go:

Monday

  • Squat
  • Bench Press / Overhead Press (Alternating)
  • Chin-Ups

Wednesday

  • Squat
  • Bench Press / Overhead Press (Alternating)
  • Deadlift
  • Dips*

Friday

  • Squat
  • Bench Press / Overhead Press (Alternating)
  • Pull Ups
  • Leg press or Weighted Plank*

*  = Only if feeling extra strong that day, and have met all daily criteria *** These are not in the original program but I really enjoy doing them. Sorry, Rip

I have added a few extra exercises into the routine. Importantly, these are accessory lifts and have been delicately picked to help me improve my main lifts (Bench, squat, deadlift and overhead press). I have made a personal promise to only do these lifts if I complete all my daily goals.

Each SS workout only takes around 45 minutes if the gym is quiet, so it usually isn’t a problem adding extra training in, obviously the extra accessories will be dropped if the gym is packed out.

Carl Kenny | Starting Strength | (click to see in full size)

Carl Kenny | Starting Strength | (click to see in full size)

Here is a screenshot of the excel file I’m using to help track my progress (click to see in full size)

I’m using a spreadsheet freely available over on the Starting Strength wiki.

For a direct link to the Spreadsheet (Excel) file, click here.

Please note, I’ve adapted my version to be in kilograms, the original link provided is in pounds. The amount of increase is all that needs to be changed.

My current lifts are:

  • BP: 70kg
  • DL: 100kg
  • SQ: 65kg
  • PR: 45kg

You may have noticed that this program includes squatting 3 times a week. Personally I’m really excited about this, as I’ve only recently worked up flexibility to a point where I can legitimately squat below parallel. Whenever I remembered I basically held myself in a world third squat position for as long as possible (excuse the not so politically correct label), that looks like this:

T Nation | Third World Squats

T Nation | Third World Squats

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Be sure to check out the articles on third world squats (and where the above image came from), over at T-Nation: Here and here

I will be on this program for approximately 10 weeks. Hoping to achieve the following at the end of the journey:

  • Bench:100
  • Squat: 120
  • Deadlift: 140
  • Press: 60

I’ll be sure to update how the progress is going. If anyone is interesting in reading the book, then you can buy it here or read the detailed wiki. The books is especially handy for those interested in performing the big lifts safely and don’t mind somewhat lengthy anatomical descriptions. It is really worth the investment for learning the lifts.

If you have done a Starting Strength variant, then I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment.

Cheers,
Carl

Couch-to-5K

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ImageThis is my story of how I worked from lounging on the couch to running 5k.

In this post, I will outline my experience with the Couch-to-5K program, beginning with a graph of my performance throughout training and then continue to provide juicy details as you read on. The following graph and all relevant statistics can be found on my RunDouble profile.

The official Couch-To-5k (C25k) program takes 9 weeks, I began the program on January 12 and ended on the 20th of February. This tallies to approximately to 7 ½ weeks. I chose to condense the program, since I had signed up for a casual 5K event late February. My experience follows:

Specifications:

  • 92kg (202 lb) starting weight
  • 86kg (189 lb) ending weight
  • Previous Fitness: Boxing and football until the age of 16, then sedentary lifestyle till 21
  • Goal: Run 5K (no time-limit) and weigh <90 kg
  • Maintain muscle mass
  • Technology: RunDouble, MyFitnessPal and Tabata android apps.
  • iOS equivalents: RunDouble, MyFitnessPal and Tabata
Pace is time per kilometer, in-case the inversion seemed counter-intuitive

ImageThe reason for the drop in January is that I forgot to turn on the GPS before starting RunDouble. I remained consistent and driven to obtain the results as fast as possible.

This attitude lead me to pushing myself after the allocated time and coupling the program with high intensity interval training (HIIT) to achieve the results faster. I tried to run every second day and lift four times per week.

My weekly routine includes a legs workout, so it was important that I planned a days rest from running post squats.

My ideal routine looked like this, however it was modified as life happened:

  • Monday: Run (AM) / Push (PM)
  • Tuesday: Pull (PM)
  • Wednesday: Run (AM) / Legs (PM)
  • Thursday: REST
  • Friday: Run (AM) / Push (PM)
  • Saturday: Pull (PM)
  • Sunday: Run (AM) / Legs (PM)

The cocktail of strength and cardio training was implemented alongside a calorie deficit diet (-500 each day), enabling fat loss with moderate muscle retention.This allowed diet and exercise combination was key to dropping 6kg (13 lb)

For individuals new to fitness and wanting to start out, I thoroughly recommend the C25K program. The program isn’t set in stone, nor is it a race. If you find yourself struggling, ‘de-load’ i.e. re-attempt the previous week and make sure that your diet is in check. I already had a strength base, so mainly focused on running throughout this period.

Evidence of said 5K run completion

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If you’re uncertain of how to even start, start walking. The hardest part is getting off the couch, all you need to do is create a habit. The allocated runs at the beginning of the program can easily be completed within ~20 minutes, so it’s just a case of making the time i.e. getting up earlier. Build your fitness incrementally and don’t expect dramatic results if you’re just starting out. I recommend the progress pics sub-reddit, and brogress which has an emphasis on muscular physiques, the submitters usually post the time to completion, diet and routine. Just remember that the ones who post have remained persistent to get those results, the ones who don’t follow through usually don’t post.

The time of transformation will be relative to your body’s current state, so it is important to create habits and plan long-term.

Below are the runs I completed. I got into the habit of running for the prescribed time away from my house, walking back then attempting to run up the hill. The final sprint is indicated by the final peak, as you may have noticed it’s duration tends to get longer and eventually I reach the top of the hill, wahoo!

Week 1 Day 1 and so on …

w1d1 | Carl Kenny

w1d1 | Carl Kenny

w1d2 | Carl Kenny

w1d2 | Carl Kenny

w1d3 | Carl Kenny

w1d3 | Carl Kenny

w2d1 | Carl Kenny

w2d1 | Carl Kenny

w2d2 | Carl Kenny

w2d2 | Carl Kenny

w2d3 | Carl Kenny

w2d3 | Carl Kenny

w3d1 | Carl Kenny

w3d1 | Carl Kenny

w4d1 | Carl Kenny

w4d1 | Carl Kenny

w5d3 | Carl Kenny

w5d3 | Carl Kenny

w6d2 | Carl Kenny

w6d2 | Carl Kenny

w8d1 | Carl Kenny

w8d1 | Carl Kenny

Below is the technology that helped me on my journey.

MyFitnessPal was essential to counting calories and analyzing protein intake. Initially it comes as a shock, my education somehow dodged quantifying food as a resource, instead of a delicacy. The app comes with an in-built bar-code scanner, so it’s super easy to record your food intake and it makes a habit to record your meals, so if you eat habitually it’s rather efficient.

Tabata, is consists of 20s (High intensity) work then 10s rest interval training method, with a default number of cycles as 8. I complemented the C25K program, by adding this method onto the end of my runs. I believe that this allowed me to progress faster, as I was contributing towards sprint and long-distance training each running day. The rush of HIIT reminds me of sports and will be beneficial when I return to either boxing or football.

Below is a complementary back-shot at 86kg, which was my goal:

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Unfortunately, I never took a back photo at the beginning of my progression. There’s clearly a lot of body fat still for me to lose, but I am happy with muscle mass I was able to retain.

I’m now focusing on reaching lifting goals, with a 90 day timeline, so stay tuned for progress updates!

  1. Deadlift – 120kg (264 lb)
  2. Bench Press – 90kg (198 lb)
  3. Squat – 100kg (220 lb)
  4. Press – 60kg (132 lb)

Feel free to comment if you have any questions.