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S&C UnderGround >> No improvement pretty much ever


5/4/07 3:55 PM
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Ted Bennett
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Edited: 04-May-07
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Thanks, Pete - that's exactly my thinking on it - I thought/hoped that doing those last painful and semi-ugly reps was where I'd get the increases in strength and size.

Must be working - been at it six weeks, and came out of the shower last night and had my wife tell me that she could see a definite difference in my triceps, delts, and quads. Of course, she had to balance such a nice thing to say with something else - she innocently inquired if it concerned me that if all my muscles got bigger, wouldn't that make something else look smaller in comparison?  ;-) 

5/4/07 4:11 PM
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YourMomsBox
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Edited: 04-May-07
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dude, you are not eating enough. bottom line. you need to fucking consume way more calories. if you are not willing to do that, you are never going to gain weight. there was a great article on DD a while back by Jack Reape, i believe. where he talks about putting on muscle mass for guys like you. plus some of the guys he was working with were in the army and had to run and ruck and all that shit. he talks about little tips like never ever drink water. always drink gatorade or whole milk or something with calories etc etc. i think the range he talked about was 5 - 7k calories per day. it's tough, but until you are ready to make that sacrifice, you are never going to gain.
5/4/07 7:41 PM
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orcus
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Edited: 04-May-07
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I don't care about gaining weight or getting bigger, just getting to a respectable level of strength.
5/4/07 10:42 PM
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toddseney
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Edited: 04-May-07
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Try HIT or Heavy Duty.
5/5/07 10:48 AM
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mike willus
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Edited: 05-May-07
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My advice is try the 20 rep deep breathing/milk squat program. It worked for me better then anything else ever has.
5/5/07 10:56 AM
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orcus
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Edited: 05-May-07
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I'll get back to you guys in a year after I've given all these suggestions a try :)
5/7/07 1:46 PM
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shawns
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Edited: 07-May-07
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www.crossfit.com
5/8/07 12:44 PM
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GaryG
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Edited: 08-May-07
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ttt
2/10/12 2:12 PM
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orcus
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Edited: 02/10/12 2:16 PM
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 Here I am 5 years later, same situation. If anything, I'm weaker than I was then.

Since my OP, I've done Westside for Skinny Bastards, various other routines, and for the past 6 months, Wendler 531. My max on deadlift is worse than when I started. What the fuck.

Here was my Wendler progress. These are just the final workset reps from each of the three work sessions in each cyle (i.e. I'll leave out the deload week). I'm not going to say my poundages because they're humiliating, so "0" is just my starting weight and each weight after that is how much the weight went up. I was doing the 3-days a week version, with two bodyweight exercises per workout as my assistance.

Cycle 1
0 x 8 reps
10 x 6 reps
20 x 6 reps

Cycle 2
10 x 7 reps
20 x 4 reps
30 x 6 reps

Cycle 3 (decided to bump up "max" by 5lb instead of 10lb to "keep the gains going longer", lol)
12.5 x 7 reps
22.5 x 7 reps
32.5 x 3 reps

Cycle 4
17.5 x 7 reps
27.5 x 7 reps
37.5 x 1 rep

Cycle 5
22.5 x 3 reps
32.5 x 1 rep -- this weight was the same as my "starting max" for the program, i.e., 90% of my actual 1rm. You can understand my frustration.


This kind of anti-progression is typical for me on any program. I should also note that this was the first time I have done squats consistently in a long long time, maybe ever, so I was really expecting big things from that, on top of the unanimous praise 531 has gotten.

I know there's a mental component involved for sure, but this definitely is not the only thing at work here. There've been times I've come up especially short and thought "what the fuck", and then noticed I put the wrong (slightly heavier) weight on, so it's not like I'm just psyching myself out -- otherwise on those occasions I should have been able to do the heavier weight since I thought it was the lighter weight.

I get plenty of sleep,  I eat healty. I'm vegan so I'm sure some will say I'm lacking some vital stuff, which is possible, but keep in mind again that I'm not trying to get numbers that will impress people in the gym -- I'm just trying to get past the results the average Joe would have gotten after 6 weeks of starting lifting. I was not doing appreciably better when I was merely vegetarian, and not significantly better when I ate meat. My weight has been absolutely stable since college.

I do not have any problems with my physical hobbies (bicycling, backpacking, drumming), or physical aspects of my job (carrying subwoofers, carrying speakers up a ladder and holding them overhead while screwing them in, carrying and mounting large TVs, etc), or physical tasks in day to day life (moving furniture etc).

I've had my testosterone, thyroid, D, iron, etc tested; all are normal.

So, what the fuck. Do I have MS or Lyme disease or Lou Gehrig's or something, but it happens to only manifest in the weight room?


  
2/10/12 2:19 PM
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gusto
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what has happened to your body weight over the past 5 years?

what about waist size?
2/10/12 2:43 PM
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orcus
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 My weight is identical. I've been 5'9", 140lb since college. Waist size is bigger but there's little visible difference in my appearance. I put that down more to the fact that I've been doing less cardio in the past year -- less bicycling because I wanted to concentrate on squats and didn't want my legs to be exhausted all the time.
2/10/12 3:07 PM
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dizz
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 Have you tracked your calories in a day? I would be willing to bet you're not eating enough. Especially if you're vegan - eating clean generally means eating less calories per meal, so you hvae to eat more and more meals to make up for the calorie loss.

I know you don't want to get "bigger" necessarily, but for you to get stronger you need to get bigger. Which means you need to eat more. You seem to be doing the appropriate programs and getting enough sleep, which means you just need more calories. Eat until you feel sick. Stay full all day.
2/10/12 4:44 PM
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KOArtist
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Do u at least use some pea/hemp/rice protein? Try that and see if it helps...a shake or 2 a day. Or some BCAA's if they make vegan versions. Phone Post
2/10/12 5:53 PM
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Jacks Wasted Life
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I would think protein would be a concern as a vegan. I don't think you need absurd amounts but a minimum of 100 grams a day of quality protein.

Also if you are having difficulty gaining weight making your diet a little less clean can help. Don't go nuts but pizza a couple times a week can really help (again tougher as a vegan).

On the training front I'd recommend cutting volume and frequency...it sounds like you don't have good genetics so overtraining is a big issue for you. I'm in my mid 30s, lifting once a week and making my best gains ever. My routine is:

Trapbar deadlift, Bench Press, Pullups, Hanging Leg Raises...that's it. A lower body, push, pull, and abs.

I do sets of: 12, 10, 8, 6, 12 (increasing weight every set except the last which is a backoff set). I just do sets of 15-20 for abs.

I'm not big on training to failure. If I hit my rep goal I increase the weight 5 lbs next time. If I don't, I keep using the same weight until I get my target reps. Working up to heavier weights using good form is the biggest thing.

I used to use lower reps but find better gains in size from the higher reps.

Since August my weight has went from ~180 to ~190. I still have a long way to go but this current routine is working better for me than anything I've done in the past.

Sorry for the FRAT Phone Post
2/10/12 6:45 PM
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Taku
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Edited: 02/10/12 6:45 PM
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 orcus,

My advice would be to make thngs as simple as possible (but no simpler). If standard stuff has not worked, try less standard stuff. I personally would not recmmend WSFSB, etc. Keep it simple. Create a simple plan, train hard on a handful of basic movements, eat well, rest well, repeat.

MAXIMUM MUSCULAR STRENGTH =
PROGRESSIVE RESISTANCE EXERCISE +
AMPLE TIME TO RECOVER / REBUILD +
NUTRITIOUS MEAL PLAN +
COMMITMENT OVER TIME

I recommend that you explore a minimalist approach.

THE 4 P's

Hit me back with specific programming questions comments, concerns.

TAKU
 
2/10/12 7:29 PM
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orcus
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Edited: 02/10/12 7:33 PM
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 " I know you don't want to get "bigger" necessarily, but for you to get stronger you need to get bigger. "

Do I though? I see loads of guys here around my height and weight who are doing as much as twice as much weight as I am. In my experience, every pound I put on over about 135 is just fat -- my waist gets bigger, but I don't get any stronger and I get NO increased muscle size whatsoever.

"
Do u at least use some pea/hemp/rice protein? "
" I would think protein would be a concern as a vegan "

Yeah, hemp.

Here's a typical day:

Oatmeal - cup of rolled oats, handful of almond, handful of sunflower seeds, raisins, cinnamon, flax meal, some dried apple

smoothie -- hemp powder, celery, kale, almonds, pistachios, flax meal, banana, strawberries, blueberries

chili -- black beans, zucchini, tomato, celery, peppers

dinner -- lentils, potatoes, cauliflower, peppers, etc (i.e. something indian) with brown basmati rice

another smoothie

maybe a PBJ on ezekiel bread


I need more greens but otherwise that seems pretty decent to me.
 
2/10/12 7:32 PM
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orcus
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Edited: 02/10/12 7:33 PM
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 Jacks and Taku, thanks. I do often feel like I have the classic signs of overtraining, but with 531 I'm only lifting three days a week and only one set per workout is a real tough one. 

Before 531 my last routine was three days a week and seemingly very simple/minimal:

deadlift (2x5) or weighted pullups (2x10)
military press (2x10) or weighted dips (2x10)
abs

I also never have any sleep problems which I understand is a typical overtraining symptom.
 
2/10/12 7:47 PM
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Cheggers
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Weird. I first thought you need to eat more. I noticed I hit a plateau with stronglifts, then moved to wendlers boring but big template. I've been hitting it hard for 6 weeks abd am finally noticing gains again. If you're not getting stronger why not change up your routine for 6 months. Read tri-chokes body weight thread. Phone Post
2/10/12 9:39 PM
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Jacks Wasted Life
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For most people 3 days a week wouldn't be overtraining but if you've tried multiple programs at 3 days a week with no gains it may not work for you and you should try less.

I understand that lifting once a week is pretty unusual; I started doing it mostly because I have a crazy schedule. I hoped to maintain but have gotten bigger and stronger.

Maybe try 2 times a week. Squat, Bench and Chins one day. Rest 3-4 days then do Deadlift, Overhead Press and Rows for your second day. Maybe you can gain on 2 days. The biggest thing is are you getting stronger. Even getting 1 more rep or 5 lbs more on the bar are big improvements that add up over time. If you aren't getting stronger you need to tweak something which usually means doing less until you find a volume and frequency that lets you start making gains. Phone Post
2/11/12 1:22 AM
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orcus
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 Oh, believe me, if I put even 1lb/month on my lifts, I would be over the moon with delight.

But I think you're right and I will have to try something like one day a week.
2/11/12 3:32 AM
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Chocolate Shatner
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Orcus, in reading all of the old stuff and now the new stuff, here are a few points I'd like to make for you.

1. While you might be vegan for various reasons, perhaps that just isn't working out for you.

2. Taku is correct in that you need to create a simple program. When you program, you need to focus on your primary goal of getting stronger. It would seem that using bodyweight exercises isn't conducive to that goal, honestly.

3. In the realm of goals, you seem to have too many. Namely, you want to get stronger, but you don't want to get bigger, and definitely you don't want to add an ounce of bodyfat. This is self-defeating, honestly. Rule 1: you have to eat strong to get strong. Rule 2: You will most likely need to put on some fat in the process. You're serving multiple "masters", and getting nowhere with any of them.

4. Stop comparing what you can lift to what other guys in the gym can lift. In high school, I knew a kid who was 150 pounds and could bench 330 easily. Meanwhile, I busted my ass for 4 years and could barely match him even though I weighed 50 pounds more (and this was with shitty high school "form"). On the other hand, I owned the school squat record, even though there were guys who were 50 pounds heavier. In the end, IT DIDN'T MATTER. I learned that the hard way, when I stopped trying to compare myself to what other guys in the gym were doing and doing what worked for ME, and had ME making progress.

You need to do the same for you. If your true goal is to get stronger, make a tangible, realistic goal, and go for the fucker. If you need to add some weight to do it, then do it. If you need to change your training to do it, and do shit no one else in your gym does, then do it. If you need to chow down on some dolphins and Bengal tigers to do, then do it. When you reach your goal, reevaluate your goals, and then make a new one.
2/11/12 6:39 AM
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Easytarget
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Beyond Brawn

buy this book. it will answer your questions and give you the knowledge to get better in the gym. it was written for people like yourself.
2/11/12 9:06 AM
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Jacks Wasted Life
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I don't have Beyond Brawn but I have the original Brawn. There is definitely a lot of good material in there but Stuart McRobert has a really pessimistic tone which didn't work for me.

The 2 best resources I've found on effective strength training are Dinosaur Training by Brooks Kubik and this forum. Lots of posters here know their shit and I've learned a lot from hanging out here. Dinosaur Training is somewhat similar to Brawn but much better IMO.

I don't know if going vegetarian instead of vegan is an option for you but I think you'd see a HUGE difference if you added milk, cheese, yogurt, eggs and whey protein back in your diet while still not eating meat, poultry or fish. Phone Post
2/11/12 11:59 AM
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damion
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A few thoughts:

Have you done a simple linear progression like Starting Strength or Greyskull Barbell?

Have you ever had anyone check your form on squats and deadlifts.

What's your average rest period? In your OP you mention resting 90 seconds in between sets of 5x5. You need to rest much longer if it's strength you're after. 3-5 minutes at the minimum.

2/11/12 1:37 PM
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orcus
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 " 1. While you might be vegan for various reasons, perhaps that just isn't working out for you. "

Yeah, it's entirely possible. If that's really the reason I'm so weak, I'll just have to live with it I guess. 

"
2. Taku is correct in that you need to create a simple program. When you program, you need to focus on your primary goal of getting stronger. It would seem that using bodyweight exercises isn't conducive to that goal, honestly. "

Well, the bodyweight stuff is just one of the choices for assistance in the 531 program. Each workout is the main exercise (deadlift or squat or bench or shoulder press) for 3 warmup sets and then 3 work sets, and then just two assistance exercises.

"
3. In the realm of goals, you seem to have too many. Namely, you want to get stronger, but you don't want to get bigger, and definitely you don't want to add an ounce of bodyfat.  "

Yeah, I may have mis-phrased. Basically it's more that I want to get as strong as I can without having to bulk up or whatever. Like I said, my life is pretty much entirely unaffected by my strength. I can do everything I want to do. I guess it's just I want to be stronger for personal satisfaction.

"
 Stop comparing what you can lift to what other guys in the gym can lift. "

Definitely true. I'm trying not to so much compare for peak strength, more just as a reference as to the kind of things that *should* be 100% achievable with some consistent effort.

"
I don't know if going vegetarian instead of vegan is an option for you but I think you'd see a HUGE difference if you added milk, cheese, yogurt, eggs and whey protein back in your diet while still not eating meat, poultry or fish "

I thought of trying this for a month or so to see if I noticed a difference. But keep in mind that being vegan just started less than two years ago -- until then I was drinking milk, using whey protein in my smoothies, cheese, etc. I wasn't noticeably stronger.

"
Have you done a simple linear progression like Starting Strength or Greyskull Barbell? "

I've done Starting Strength.

"
What's your average rest period? In your OP you mention resting 90 seconds in between sets of 5x5. You need to rest much longer if it's strength you're after. 3-5 minutes at the minimum. "

60 seconds or a bit more between the warmup sets on 531, 2+ minutes between the work sets. I will try longer rests.

I've videotaped my form in the past and while I'm not going to be making instructional videos, it looked okay. I watch the Rippetoe dvd regularly.


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