Saturday, February 28, 2015

Weight Lifting: Stronglifts

I plan to write about cardio but first, I am going to do a post dedicated to weight lifting. This one gets dedicated to Stronglifts because it's the routine I went to first and there will be others discussed later. I'm not an expert, this is more about the general aspects of lifting in particular while working on fitness and weight loss, but do research and consult a doctor when necessary.

My Background: I first did weight lifting back in high school. While we didn't do any for most of the sports back when I played (none for volleyball or basketball), during the few years I did track, I was in shot put and discus, so that meant lifting as part of the practice. I remember doing bench press with my best friend. I also remember avoiding squats. Because we weren't the top, the coach focused not on us so we didn't learn things like cleans and snatches. But we did do some lifting with the bar along with a few machines. Then I took a class in college (the one I first attended required one) where I did more circuit type with machines and became acquainted with the leg press. Not much over the years except the occasional gym with machines as the options are limited in small town Utah and Wyoming.

I decided to try Stronglifts based on a couple of reasons. Compound moves are good for beginners and that concept made sense. I didn't have Starting Strength or New Rules of Lifting (both are books). Ice Cream Fitness is similar but has few different lifts as it also incorporates accessory lifts with each workout. Pull-ups never interested me, which some programs try to help people accomplish, but they just remind me that I'm short. In the end, I went with the simpler approach that had a couple of lifts I was familiar with and a little less that I'd have to learn compared to some other beginner programs.

Web site:

However, I will admit that after learning the routine, I didn't use the site much. I watched the videos a couple of times to see the form and such, but that is all. I don't get any emails and I don't have the app. I just recently got a phone that can even do apps but I don't keep my phone with me while I workout. I use a small notebook from the dollar store to record each session. The creator is entertaining if you watch the videos that show the workouts, but beyond that, I don't follow him or anything else.

Workout A:
Squat 5 reps for 5 sets
Bench Press 5 reps for 5 sets
Row (pendlay) 5 reps for 5 sets

Workout B:
Squat 5 reps for 5 sets
Overhead Press 5 reps for 5 sets
Deadlift 5 reps for 1 set

5x5 is a the general rep scheme with the noticeable difference with deadlift. It's a progressive overload focused workout, so each time the idea is to increase the weights each when possible and de-load after 3 fails (missed reps and unable to get proper form are fails). I didn't always move up, in particular when the weights got heavy on squats and deadlifts, and like many my overhead press is still on the weaker side. I also was in a calorie deficit. On a side note: I do have bad knees, arthritis in my back, problems with my hip, elbow and wrist but I am always cautious and have seen a doctor but have found the lifting doesn't aggravate any of them with good form.

It was fun. I started with just the bar for many of the lifts and had never done rows, deadlifts or rows before. I did have a trainer at the gym help at first in order to learn the proper form on each lift and that was very helpful. There are also many videos on youtube that are helpful as well. I made it through 12 weeks using the program before I took a week off from the gym (due to getting sick) and I did enjoy lifting.

Starting Numbers * End of Week 12 in lbs

Body weight: 188 * 175
Squat: 45(bar) * 150
Bench: 45(bar) * 85 (90 but not 5x5)
Overhead Press: 30 * 65 (70 but not 5x5)
Row: 30 * 105
Deadlift: 65 * 200 (4 reps, 197.5 for 5 reps)

Overall, not bad for 12 weeks of lifting. I enjoyed it even though some of the lifts had me curse under my breath *cough* overhead press/row *cough*.  I do recommend lifting as part of fitness goals because it definitely has many benefits but there are some who won't like it. Just like I don't like spinning, at all.

That's my overview of Stronglifts. Next up in the distant future will be New Rules of Lifting for Women. I'm in the middle of Stage 1 now.

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