Sunday, September 21, 2008

1st week of 5x5 Report

This week I started the Stronglifts 5x5 Beginner Strength Training Program. I intend to post regular updates that detail how it's going.


Because I'm out of shape. I'm in my late 30's. I feel like I have a body of someone in their late 40's. I sit at at desk all day writing code. When I do get out (to mountain bike, hike, hunt, gardening, housework, whatever) I'm sucking wind and my back is sore.

I know my core is out of shape. I can feel it.

When I've tried some of the stretches that are recommended in the 5x5 forums I've found that I have great limitations in my lower back, hips and thighs. My range of movement in all of them is pathetic.

I think all of this is related to me blowing a disk out a few years ago in my lower back. I believe my body wasn't meant to sit as much as I regularly do. I'm trying to undue years of this and institute a framework that I can exercise by for the rest of my life. ie "fix the core".

My Goal(s)

  1. First one: just to do this, 3 times x week, like you are supposed to. That means waking up on time, getting to the gym on time. Going to bed on time.
  2. Second one: increase strength 5x5 @200lbs squat (or more) at the end
  3. Third one: use this to work toards decreasing my fat percentage to 10-12% over the next year or two.

Starting weights?

My first difficulty has been determining what starting weights to use. When I looked at the spreadsheet that people often use to track their progress (downloadble from the Stronglifts website on the 5x5 page, the bottom), I felt I could definitely lift more then it's starting weight on all exercises.

The question remainde: could I complete a 5x5 with a heavier starting weight? It doesn't matter if I can squat a max of 250lbs. If I can't do it 5x5, that's not where I needed to start. And if I can't do it with proper form, it doesn't count either.

I decided to go with the bar and 2 45's. That's 135lbs total. I figured "I should be able to do this".

After reading the stronglifts website, I found the mantra "Start light, focus on correct technique and add weight progressively. " so I knew I was on the right track.

At the moment I'm more concerned about form. I know I can lift more weight than this, but I want to train myself to have correct form and posture. Yes, I'm trying to undue years of messing around in the weight room (ie smith machine) off-and-on.

Starting Information

Pre-Start specifics

Pre-Start specifics
Body-fat19.6% ([1])

5x5 Week #1 Results

5x5 Week #1 Results
Squat135 Squat140 Squat155
Bench135 Overhead Press [2]140 Bench155
Barbell Row [3]100 Deadlift135 Barbell Row135

Fat Results

Week #1 Fat Results
Body-fat19.6% ([1])


Overall I feel good that I completed the first full week. And I feel great. Friday taking the stairs at work, my legs didn't burn. My back didn't ache at the end of the day from being in the chair so much! I noticed I think my posture throughtout the day might have been more upright. Forcing myself to get out of bed @5am (and go to bed @9pm Sunday evening) is rough. There sure is a huge difference in the amount one can squat using the smith machine and not. I am glad I am finally not using it.

There is a new guy at the gym, doing a similar workout. We are intersecting on the gym's loan squat rack M&F. Not good. It slows me down.

I've found the B-workout, with the deadlifts, is a much faster workout then A. The dips, holy hell, do they end up zapping every once of energy I have left at the end of the workout (and by then, there's not much left let me tell you).

I'm sore. Yes, I admit it. I lift first thing in the morning. I get up @5am and drive to the gym. The rest of that day, I've not been sore. But about the afternoon of the next day, my ass my ass my ass!! So that evening when I get home from work I stretch and stretch and rub and stretch. I'm considering trying to implement some stretching/cardio/yoga on the Tuesdays/Thursdays inbetween each workout to help.

I did not "watch what I ate", however I did try to eat something more then 3 times/day. Which, by the end of the week, I had to! I was hungry about every 3 hours. Not the "I'm bored" hungry, the "my stomach feels empty and is now growling" hungry. I'm not too concerned about what I eat. My meals usually consist of:

My normal daily diet
Bowl of oatmeal, glass of v8, green tea Leftovers from prior evening dinner or a baloney/turkey sandwhich, apple, banana, veggies, yogurt Roast, Chili, Grilled Chicken, Grilled Pork, Spaghetti, veggies (steamed++), salad. Rarely desert.

So now I'm supplementing with a piece of fruit and maybe a granola bar @10am and 3pm. One day I ate a pre-dinner at 5pm. Dinner's normally at 6:30 (depends on when I get home from work too).

This week was also more difficult on the diet; my wife made a pan of Apple Dumplings the Sunday before I was to start this. It's a rare thing - about once every year or two. So each evening through the week we had Apple Dumplings ala-mode for desert.

[1] using's measurement method

[2] I actually did Power Cleans here (ie going from the floor, all the way above my head, on each rep). Woops!

[3] Barbell Row or Power Cleans, your choice according to 5x5, just remember to alternate