Exercise and training
Chris 1091 0 1629
Just a continuation from http://bit.ly/1eCXfZ6

@aRay: I've been training for about a year. The problem is inflexibility in the shoulders coupled with occasional rotator cuff and mid back pain. It's certainly nothing that warrants surgery, but the shoulder issue is something I want to sort out immediately.

This is also hardly helped by the physical requirements of a job in IT. I've taken to regular stretching and mobility work just this past week, which includes shoulder dislocates with a resistance band, planks, hip flexor and glute stretches, pec stretches, quite an array of stuff.
February 2014
  • ARay 1355
    Sounds like you're on the right track but I'll post some things that have helped me. For some perspective, I've been training about 10 years. My right shoulder has always been a bit of an issue (internally rotated a bit along with some scapular winging), but as I said earlier I've been able through trial and error figure out how to keep it happy and continue to train with no issues. At it's worst I've had my whole right arm get tingly and pretty much lost motor control in it for about 24 hours (got back from the gym and tried to eat, fork kept hitting my nose not my mouth, funny now but not then). Today I'm able to train with no issues.

    1. Always warm up throughly, I always neglected this when I was younger.

    2. Focus on strengthening the upper back and stretching the pecs/delts/biceps. Most of us in today's largely inactive society with desk jobs are chronically tight up front and weak in the back. Band pull aparts, 'no money', Y/T/L, blackburns, external rotations are all good exercises for strengthening the musculature of the upper back. I usually do a few sets of these in my warm ups, then a few at the end of my training session.

    3. Aim for double the amount of pulling exercises as pressing. I've found horizontal rowing movements to be better for shoulder health than vertical pulling movements. DB Rows, chest supported rows, inverse rows with straps/rings are great. I.e. your session calls for 40 total reps in the bench press, try to hit at least 80 reps of pulling movements.

    4. On all of these movements focus on using the targeted muscle not just moving weight, learn to probably contract your upper back and lats and how the scapula should move along the shoulder girdle.

    5. For squats consider carrying the bar in a high bar position if you do not already, low-bar position will stress the shoulder more. Consider moving bench press grip in if you bench with a wider grip. Deadlift with a double overhand grip not mixed.

    It just takes time and consistency and staying positive. If you are unfamiliar with any of these exercises I'd recommend looking up Eric Cressey's (Boston based strength coach) website as well the website for EliteFTS. Lots of resources there. Any other questions feel free to ask, but I have to head the gym for now.

    Edit: Some other things I meant to say, if pressing is painful, try dumbbells for awhile instead of barbells and use an elbows tucked neutral-ish grip. Same with pulling movements (rows/chins) neutral grip tends to keep shoulders a bit happier.
    February 2014
  • Davidjvl 44608 46301
    I got into lifting about a year ago, and I did really get into it. I started by doing Starting Strength, then I changed to some sort of ABxABxx mess. The resulting confusion ultimately made me give up. I also had to move back in with my parents who live in a rather isolated region of the country, so I knew noone who could spot me. I'll be moving back out soon and I want to get back into it. Do you guys agree that Starting Strength is good for someone who is, essentially, a beginner?
    February 2014
  • ARay 1355
    Davidjvl:

    Yes. Starting Strength is a good program for beginners, focuses on what is important and none of the bs. My best suggestion is try and find a group of people who are more experienced than you are to learn from or train with them.
    February 2014
  • [[donhamiltontx]] 18662 45031 7145
    To everyone: don't forget to EAT right. Unless you are a nutrition expert, I advise finding a nutritionist for a while. Online nutrition planners (aka meal planners) can be very helpful, if for no other reason than educating yourself about foods. Good nutrition is a lot more than just cutting out potato chips and eating more salads.
    February 2014
  • Davidjvl 44608 46301
    One of the reasons I failed the first time was nutrition. I actually did read up quite a bit, and I've learned about the proper requirements of nutrients, but I was impatient. I more or less starved myself at 1000 calories a day for about 4 months. I took the "calories in, calories out" rule a little too seriously. I did lose just under 20 pounds and went from a 34 waist to a 29 (I'm very short - 5'6), but I don't think I gained any muscle. Miraculously I didn't gain any weight back.

    I'll try to be social in the gym, or something, to find spotters. I like and would like to use the time to listen to target-language input on my ipod, but I guess I can settle for listening while doing cardio.
    February 2014
  • Paule89 2611 3376 16692
    "To everyone: don't forget to EAT right."

    Nutrition is my biggest problem, actually. I know some basic stuff about nutrition, I eat relatively healthy, I almost never drink alcohol and I don´t smoke. The problem is, that I just don´t eat enough because I´m just not hungry most of the time.

    Any advice on that?
    February 2014
  • Davidjvl 44608 46301
    "The problem is, that I just don´t eat enough because I´m just not hungry most of the time. "

    I have the reverse of this :/ I wish I was skinny enough to start bulking! It'd be so easy.
    February 2014
  • Chris 1091 0 1629
    ^Except it probably wouldn't be, because if you were skinny, you'd likely have a fast-as-hell metabolism and hate eating. Food seems to be the bane of the Skinny Guy, more so than actually lifting weights.

    Thanks to @ARay for the helpful suggestions. One thing about squats, though: low bar feels infinitely more natural and efficient than high bar does, even though I'm after a decent-sized pair of legs. The only issue, as you mentioned: shoulder inflexibility. The low bar placement, and by extension the position of the shoulders, has frequently caused a horrible headache-like pain in my biceps, eventually radiating down into my forearms, which thankfully disappears a while later. That's slowly being solved, but the actual movement itself feels so much better. My only concern is lack of quadriceps involvement. I'm on an upper-lower split (probably should be doing SS, but I love my dumbbell bench presses and rows) and will additionally be leg pressing and possibly adding in RDLs. What leg development can I reasonably expect from such a posterior chain-dominant exercise?

    Also, it was the power cleans in SS that truly wrecked my shoulder (all my own fault of course), so I'm laying off those for a bit, too.
    February 2014
  • ARay 1355
    Davidjvl:

    As Chris pointed out, I forgot starting strength called for power cleans. In that case, I would recommend you just omit those, rest of the program is solid though. Great exercise if done correctly, but most people have zero need for them. Also, I would not worry about cutting/bulking any of that for now. Just start eating to support muscle. Clean foods, multiple times a day, develop the habit of eating that way until it becomes natural. If you're busting your a** in the gym and eating good foods on a consistent basis, you will see results.

    Chris:

    Your quads will be plenty stimulated with low bar squats. I've squatted low bar for years and my quads are certainly not small. Front squats are another great option though. I often do a few sets of fronts after I squat.

    Paule:

    I'm assuming you're trying to gain weight? It's all about making a commitment and just doing it until it becomes natural. Something simple you could do is commit to eating three whole-food meals a day, and then use two or three protein shakes a day. These protein shakes you use a blender and can add in a ton of calories, so something like:

    2 Scoops of whey
    1 cup oats
    2 tbsp peanut butter
    some sugar

    or if you need more kcals (this will get you about 1,000kcals in one shake)

    12oz Milk
    1 scoop protein
    1 Banana
    2 tbsp mixed nuts
    2 tbsp olive or coconut oil
    some honey
    1/2 cups oats
    1/2 cup mixed berries

    It's pretty easy to get more kcals if you are creative.

    Just like learning languages, whether it's training or nutrition, it's just about being consistent, developing the discipline to do it until it becomes second nature. It's all about consistency, just keep pushing and you'll get results.
    February 2014
  • Chris 1091 0 1629
    Certainly nice to have a Lifting Maestro (I just made that up right now) on the boards! If I can further avail myself of your help, what would recommend calorie-wise for someone verging on skinnyfat? I've been taking in more than enough calories for my needs (3000+ has brought me to my present bodyweight), but I'm starting to get a rather unsightly paunch, and generally just feeling kind of soft all over. I'm extremely hesistant to "cut" for fear of losing what little I've made over the last year, but what would you advise? A modest surplus of 100-200 calories and just keep hitting it hard in the gym?

    I think part of my problem last year was not pushing myself hard enough (increasing the weight) and my back pain prevented me from making much progress on the squat, so instead of fueling growth, I think the extra calories have gone elsewhere...
    February 2014
  • ARay 1355
    That's not uncommon Chris. Good thing is, it is usually a pretty easy fix. Do two things for me, first think hard about how disciplined you really are with your nutrition. Second, give me a basic overview of what you're doing nutrition wise.


    February 2014
  • Chris 1091 0 1629
    Quite disciplined I would say, at least with respect to the total calories I seek to consume. I'm not particularly hung up on "clean eating", although I try to get fruit and vegetable servings daily and I don't make a deliberate effort to seek out terrible food. I don't count my macros, but I do make sure to get a decent amount of protein each meal ("decent" based on prior calculations for different foods and amounts, so I have a fair idea of what I'm getting) and I know for a fact I'm getting enough carbs. Fats I'm less concerned about, even though I know they're important, but I'm probably getting enough.

    A sample meal for the day, with office-based job considerations in mind, would be something like:

    0) Muesli bar and apple - 300 calories (just to tie me over until I get to work)
    1) Weight gainer shake - 500 calories (about 40g of protein with milk)
    2) Usually a mince/steak/chicken pie and fruit juice, or a healthier-than-McDonalds chicken burger with fries - 600-700 calories estimate
    3) Weight gainer shake - 500 calories
    4) Whatever's cooked for dinner, some kind of roast meal, lots of vegetables. - Maybe 300 to 600 calories
    5) Chicken breast and mash with broccoli - 600 calories
    6) *Maybe* an additional shake if calorie requirements are for some reason below quota. Supplemented with broccoli or other vegetables or fruit as necessary.

    So we're looking at around or over 3000 calories a day. I can usually eyeball a meal and guess the calories, which appears to have been working. The above is fairly consistent, although lunch and dinner tend to change based on mood and/or availability. The meal-replacement shakes I consider a necessity due to working in an office 8 hours a day.

    I also try to get a decent amount of fruit and vegetables a day.

    For what it's worth, I'm 5'11, 165lbs/75kg and my maintenance was calculated to be around 2500. Thanks!
    February 2014
  • Moderator
    alex 1705 656 31848
    I was doing SS for a while, but ran into some back troubles due to the deadlift and squats. I've been a bit lazy the past couple of weeks (cold rainy Vancouver weather hasn't helped!), but I'm looking to get back into my routine in the next week.

    I'm 6'2" and weight fluctuates - I was down to around 185 at my lightest and 220 at my heaviest, but am around 210 now. I wouldn't be looking to trim down any more than 195-200 this summer, as I like to carry a bit more bulk.

    Good to see some others on here also interested in training :)
    February 2014
  • Chris 1091 0 1629
    Languages and weights...you have you those two things, you've pretty much got it made. :D
    February 2014
  • ARay 1355
    Chris: Honestly I see a lot of room for improvement there. My initial thought is this, at 5'11" 165lbs, keep focusing on getting bigger and worry about body fat later (I'll come back to this). However, you need to decide for yourself what your goal is. What is your priority? Becoming a powerlifter (strength)? Becoming a bodybuilder (size)? Is there some other sport you participate in and training is simply a stimulus to increase your performance at the given competitive sport? Do you simply just want to exercise to look and feel better (a completely reasonable goal)? Everything done in the gym should be done for the reason of achieving a said goal, same goes with the kitchen (if you decide to begin taking nutrition seriously).

    That said, if you are looking to lean out a bit, I would focus on eating a bit cleaner and I can certainly make some suggestions that will get you moving in the right direction, but for now figure out what your goal is.
    February 2014
  • Chris 1091 0 1629
    My goal is really to just get bigger, look and feel better, be less scrawny and take up room, but in the form of muscle weight and not fat, of course. I have absolutely no issue with not having a "six-pack" bla bla, and I'm aware gaining fat is probably necessary for muscle gains. I guess I'm still just getting used to my new weight, since I originally started at a frighteningly underweight 108lbs/49kg.

    This is why I wasn't originally too concerned about exact macros, as long as I hit my calorie intake, and got enough protein. That I take seriously, every day. I'll readily admit my diet isn't truly perfect in the strictest of bodybuilding ideals, and I'm consciously sacrificing some of that for convenience, but how much improvement are we talking here? I do eat my greens, as well!

    I should add, I'm often a bit torn between what I feel I "should" be focusing on (strength) as opposed to what I really want, which is just sheer muscle weight. Strength is very important to me too, and something that I know will be developed as I progress, plus I want good strength for everyday life, such as carrying furniture and what have you, but right now I just want bulk.

    Thanks again for your comments and help!
    February 2014
  • ARay 1355
    Good work, gaining 60lbs is no joke. Given your goals, keep doing what your are doing provided that you're still seeing progress. However, in my experience the quality of the food you eat affects the quality of the weight you gain. If you're feeling soft, just clean up the diet for a week or so and see what happens.

    Train to get stronger, you'll also get bigger.
    February 2014
  • [[nathan71]] 384 6 0

    I wonder what steve can bench?
    February 2014
  • Davidjvl 44608 46301
    What do you guys think about caffeine consumption? I'm speaking both in regards to lifting and to general day-to-day coffee drinking.

    I usually drink at least one double espresso before a language studying session.
    February 2014
  • Chris 1091 0 1629
    I drink a can of Red Bull every day (which has more taurine than caffeine, but whatever) and also, equally regrettably, take a preworkout supplement "just because". Neither are in the least necessary, but I'd still wager that a double espresso is more nutritionally substantial (while not being all that substantial) than a Red Bull.

    In fact, I'm going to cut out all of that crap, clean up my diet as per ARay's suggestions, and report back in a week or so.
    February 2014
  • Davidjvl 44608 46301
    I'm going to officially go clean too, starting tomorrow when I get up. I can't take ARay's suggestion because it's wayyyy more calories than my 168cm frame can handle. I'll just content myself to an 1800 calorie plan. I even bought a new package of oatmeal! See ya in a week :)

    February 2014
  • ARay 1355
    Coffee is good. Cup in the morning and before training. I often throw a tablespoon of coconut oil in when I need more easy kcals.

    Chris, meant to give you more specific suggestions but I've been busy. Didn't forget though. A few things that stick out.

    -The weight gainer shake, I'm assuming is from some supplement company? My preference is to get as much real, whole foods over shakes/supplements. If I am going the protein shake route, it's pure whey protein isolate, then add real food if I need more kcals (see the shakes above, or just eat a ton of nuts and an apple with it if I'm lazy). I'd suggest looking into highest quality source for the protein you can find. A lot of those big supplement companies add in lots of junk you don't want.

    -Milk. Great for gaining weight and smashing things, not great if you're worried about getting leaner/not adding fat. Try dropping the milk see how that affects things.

    -Carb timing. I tend to keep most of my carbs around training, before/during/after and then my last meal of the day. If it's an off day I'm usually only eating carbs at the last meal of the day. In this same line of thinking, if you want to minimize fat accumulation, consider dropping kcals a bit on off days.

    -Food prep. I prepare my meals ahead of time so I'm not eating a fast food burger or whatever in a pinch. About every 4-5 days I just cook up a few lbs of chicken and beef and store it in tupperware in the fridge. Meals for the next few are simple and taken care of. I'll only eat out at a restaurant or get a pizza once a week. Also, since I talked about going out, I don't drink alcohol. Not sure what your consumption is, but it certainly plays a role in body composition so don't overlook it.

    The best thing about training is, it is a life long learning process. Try something (in the gym and the kitchen) and see if it works for you. You will always be getting feedback from your body if you are paying attention. Figure out your goal, create a plan, follow through with the plan, see what worked and what didn't, reassess, learn.

    February 2014
  • ARay 1355
    Example

    1. 4-5 Eggs cooked in coconut oil, some blueberries, black coffee with tablespoon of coconut oil.
    2. 50g whey protein isolate, large amount of almonds/cashews/walnuts
    3. Chicken, a cup of spinach, lots of olive oil
    4. 50g whey isolate, almonds, apple
    5. (Pre-training, hour or so before) Chicken, rice/potato/oats, green veggies
    6. (Training) 20-50g whey or BCAA, throw in 20-40g sugar
    7. (Post-Training) Ground beef and rice, veggies
    8. Whey, oats, peanut butter, some sugar or honey

    Easy. I train for powerlifting so I'm not as crazy about getting everything perfect like a bodybuilder would. However, I also don't like carrying around tons of fat and prefer to stay relatively lean so I've settled on this approach. I don't count kcals at this point I just know what I need to adjust depending on how I feel in the gym and how my body is responding.
    February 2014
  • Chris 1091 0 1629
    ARay, Thank you very much for taking the time to write all that. I'll need a bit time to fully digest it all (pun not intended) and ask further questions, but a note regarding the weight gainer, since it does play a fairly important role in my diet: the specific brand I buy is Mutant Mass (horrible name) and it was chosen after a careful selection of what's on the market.

    Four scoops yields 1000 calories (I only use two scoops a day with milk), and of the 182g of carbs, 38g are sugar. For my uses, I only get about 19g, because I'm taking two scoops, one per shake. The protein is also a mix of various whey, casein and egg proteins and overall seems pretty well designed. Decent amount of fibre, too.

    One scoop is 250 calories (math genius here), and I mix one with 500ml of a lower-fat, higher-protein milk, giving a total of 500 calories with 25g protein from the milk and 15g from the protein/gainer for about 40g per shake.

    The real reason they're so valuable to me is because I work in an office 8 hours a day, and treat the two shakes as meal replacements, which they effectively are. It just feels like an impractical and pointless hassle to try and substitute them for chewable meals, when they appear to provide just what I need.

    Does this still sound terrible? This is the ingredient profile: bit.ly/MKbgya

    I'll add also, that I am planning to incorporate fruit and vegetables more strictly, in addition to a more substantial breakfast. Of the 3000 calories, 1000 are from the shakes, so it's still 2/3 whole foods, and more if you count the milk itself.
    February 2014
  • lovelanguagesIII 40 2 137
    I'm not into lifting at all (I prefer a bit of martial arts, swimming etc.) but I have found this whole thread very interesting (especially with regard to nutrition). What I like most about it though is how much detailed information ARay provides and how supportive he is in his posts. Great attitude! And to all those trying to follow his suggestions: good luck! You all sound very dedicated.
    February 2014
  • ARay 1355
    Chris: I'll respond later, about to go train.

    lovelanguages: I appreciate the kind words, but I'm not trying to become LingQ's training guru, for all I know there is a member out there who warms up with my maxes. I simply saw Chris mention it and thought I might be able to help as I do have a bit of experience and it is my greatest passion. I've certainly done some stupid things and made mistakes in the gym so any guidance I can give I'm glad to, as I've certainly had others help me on my journey.

    All: The following is an essay by Henry Rollins. I do not think truer words about training have ever been spoken so I thought I would share.

    The Iron by Henry Rollins

    "I believe that the definition of definition is reinvention. To not be like your parents. To not be like your friends. To be yourself.

    Completely.

    When I was young I had no sense of myself. All I was, was a product of all the fear and humiliation I suffered. Fear of my parents. The humiliation of teachers calling me “garbage can” and telling me I’d be mowing lawns for a living. And the very real terror of my fellow students. I was threatened and beaten up for the color of my skin and my size. I was skinny and clumsy, and when others would tease me I didn’t run home crying, wondering why.

    I knew all too well. I was there to be antagonized. In sports I was laughed at. A spaz. I was pretty good at boxing but only because the rage that filled my every waking moment made me wild and unpredictable. I fought with some strange fury. The other boys thought I was crazy.

    I hated myself all the time.

    As stupid at it seems now, I wanted to talk like them, dress like them, carry myself with the ease of knowing that I wasn’t going to get pounded in the hallway between classes. Years passed and I learned to keep it all inside. I only talked to a few boys in my grade. Other losers. Some of them are to this day the greatest people I have ever known. Hang out with a guy who has had his head flushed down a toilet a few times, treat him with respect, and you’ll find a faithful friend forever. But even with friends, school sucked. Teachers gave me a hard time. I didn’t think much of them either.
    Then came Mr. Pepperman, my advisor. He was a powerfully built Vietnam veteran, and he was scary. No one ever talked out of turn in his class. Once one kid did and Mr. P. lifted him off the ground and pinned him to the blackboard. Mr. P. could see that I was in bad shape, and one Friday in October he asked me if I had ever worked out with weights. I told him no. He told me that I was going to take some of the money that I had saved and buy a hundred-pound set of weights at Sears. As I left his office, I started to think of things I would say to him on Monday when he asked about the weights that I was not going to buy. Still, it made me feel special. My father never really got that close to caring. On Saturday I bought the weights, but I couldn’t even drag them to my mom’s car. An attendant laughed at me as he put them on a dolly.

    Monday came and I was called into Mr. P.‘s office after school. He said that he was going to show me how to work out. He was going to put me on a program and start hitting me in the solar plexus in the hallway when I wasn’t looking. When I could take the punch we would know that we were getting somewhere. At no time was I to look at myself in the mirror or tell anyone at school what I was doing. In the gym he showed me ten basic exercises. I paid more attention than I ever did in any of my classes. I didn’t want to blow it. I went home that night and started right in.

    Weeks passed, and every once in a while Mr. P. would give me a shot and drop me in the hallway, sending my books flying. The other students didn’t know what to think. More weeks passed, and I was steadily adding new weights to the bar. I could sense the power inside my body growing. I could feel it.

    Right before Christmas break I was walking to class, and from out of nowhere Mr. Pepperman appeared and gave me a shot in the chest. I laughed and kept going. He said I could look at myself now. I got home and ran to the bathroom and pulled off my shirt. I saw a body, not just the shell that housed my stomach and my heart. My biceps bulged. My chest had definition. I felt strong. It was the first time I can remember having a sense of myself. I had done something and no one could ever take it away. You couldn’t say s—t to me.

    It took me years to fully appreciate the value of the lessons I have learned from the Iron. I used to think that it was my adversary, that I was trying to lift that which does not want to be lifted. I was wrong. When the Iron doesn’t want to come off the mat, it’s the kindest thing it can do for you. If it flew up and went through the ceiling, it wouldn’t teach you anything. That’s the way the Iron talks to you. It tells you that the material you work with is that which you will come to resemble. That which you work against will always work against you.

    It wasn’t until my late twenties that I learned that by working out I had given myself a great gift. I learned that nothing good comes without work and a certain amount of pain. When I finish a set that leaves me shaking, I know more about myself. When something gets bad, I know it can’t be as bad as that workout.

    I used to fight the pain, but recently this became clear to me: pain is not my enemy; it is my call to greatness. But when dealing with the Iron, one must be careful to interpret the pain correctly. Most injuries involving the Iron come from ego. I once spent a few weeks lifting weight that my body wasn’t ready for and spent a few months not picking up anything heavier than a fork. Try to lift what you’re not prepared to and the Iron will teach you a little lesson in restraint and self-control.

    I have never met a truly strong person who didn’t have self-respect. I think a lot of inwardly and outwardly directed contempt passes itself off as self-respect: the idea of raising yourself by stepping on someone’s shoulders instead of doing it yourself. When I see guys working out for cosmetic reasons, I see vanity exposing them in the worst way, as cartoon characters, billboards for imbalance and insecurity. Strength reveals itself through character. It is the difference between bouncers who get off strong-arming people and Mr. Pepperman.

    Muscle mass does not always equal strength. Strength is kindness and sensitivity. Strength is understanding that your power is both physical and emotional. That it comes from the body and the mind. And the heart.

    Yukio Mishima said that he could not entertain the idea of romance if he was not strong. Romance is such a strong and overwhelming passion, a weakened body cannot sustain it for long. I have some of my most romantic thoughts when I am with the Iron. Once I was in love with a woman. I thought about her the most when the pain from a workout was racing through my body.

    Everything in me wanted her. So much so that sex was only a fraction of my total desire. It was the single most intense love I have ever felt, but she lived far away and I didn’t see her very often. Working out was a healthy way of dealing with the loneliness. To this day, when I work out I usually listen to ballads.
    I prefer to work out alone.

    It enables me to concentrate on the lessons that the Iron has for me. Learning about what you’re made of is always time well spent, and I have found no better teacher. The Iron had taught me how to live. Life is capable of driving you out of your mind. The way it all comes down these days, it’s some kind of miracle if you’re not insane. People have become separated from their bodies. They are no longer whole.

    I see them move from their offices to their cars and on to their suburban homes. They stress out constantly, they lose sleep, they eat badly. And they behave badly. Their egos run wild; they become motivated by that which will eventually give them a massive stroke. They need the Iron Mind.

    Through the years, I have combined meditation, action, and the Iron into a single strength. I believe that when the body is strong, the mind thinks strong thoughts. Time spent away from the Iron makes my mind degenerate. I wallow in a thick depression. My body shuts down my mind.

    The Iron is the best antidepressant I have ever found. There is no better way to fight weakness than with strength. Once the mind and body have been awakened to their true potential, it’s impossible to turn back.

    The Iron never lies to you. You can walk outside and listen to all kinds of talk, get told that you’re a god or a total bastard. The Iron will always kick you the real deal. The Iron is the great reference point, the all-knowing perspective giver. Always there like a beacon in the pitch black. I have found the Iron to be my greatest friend. It never freaks out on me, never runs.

    Friends may come and go. But two hundred pounds is always two hundred pounds."
    February 2014
  • ARay 1355
    Chris, you've gained 60lbs already, so you're clearly headed in the right direction. Here is my simple suggestion, just try getting more of the kcals in from more 'real' food sources for awhile. Maybe try the second shake I posted in response to paule, or find/create your own. You will certainly get more micronutrients. I imagine you will see a benefit in performance and energy levels. See if there is any noticeable difference there and the quality of the weight you add. You can always go back to the gainer shake if you don't like it, or if it's not worth the hassle to you. Again it's all a learning process. What I saw in the ingredients aren't going to kill you, but I'm also pretty leery about how accurate those are. There has been some studies that show a lot of supplement companies are very dishonest in that regard.
    February 2014
  • Chris 1091 0 1629
    I've read that essay by Henry Rollins before. Great stuff.

    You certainly make a good point about micronutrients, even considering the vitamins A, D and K that are in the milk I'm using. The gainer has no vitamins or minerals at all. I tried adding blueberries (to chocolate milk, hmm...) but the damn blender didn't, well, blend them, and they just sunk to the bottom. Bit of a bummer, there. I'll have a think about what I can do, but I definitely agree that it could use some improvement in that regard.

    I think I might just opt for whey and add my own carbs. Your final point is a bit of an eye-opener, actually.

    In other, rather wonderful, news, I will be building my own home gym come late March, early April which is awesomeness beyond description. The gym I go to is a fantastic gym, fully equipped with wonderful staff, but I'm forced to travel there at peak hours because of work, and they close relatively early. It's popular and it gets busy as hell. Early mornings don't work out time-wise, either, so the solution is do it all at home. We have a separate little one-room house right in front of our car-park/open garage which my Dad uses for classical guitar practice (we call it the Music Room).. He agreed just last night to let me use the far end to install The Stuff, and although it'll be a damn tight squeeze, especially with a 7ft Olympic bar, the size and length calculations do work out, even for overhead pressing in the fairly low ceiling.

    So I'm chuffed to bits about this, because the floor is concrete underneath the carpet, unlike anything in the main house, and he's going to redo the flooring, install linoleum in the far end while recarpeting the rest, and then I'll probably put rubber mats on top.. A true power cage didn't work out in the small space, but a half rack has proved to be perfect. That way I can do everything, including overhead pressing inside the thing itself, which reduces the amount of space I take over for what is already quite a small room with a completely different primary purpose.

    I've also agreed to do my workouts between 5am and 6:30am for his convenience, so that'll be fun...

    This is the rack I'm looking at: http://bit.ly/1hGDXKe It doesn't specify maximal weight capacity, but the reviews are surprisingly stellar for the price.
    February 2014
  • ARay 1355
    That's great. "Dungeon" gyms are great and that half rack is all you need. I spent years just training with a squat stand, a flat bench, a barbell, lots of chalk, blood and vomit. Good times. I train at a dirty powerlifting gym now with great atmosphere and lots of very strong guys.

    I have a question that perhaps you can help me with as you're certainly more experienced with languages than I. Not to hi-jack our own thread here.. Anyways, I've been trying to develop a 'program' if you will, for how to use lingq. Honestly at the moment it is a bit random although I use it daily, I always review vocabulary, somedays I read a lot, others not as much. I am in university so I may have other studies to attend to. I also know I need to listen more than I currently do.

    I just want to figure out some type of 'programming', how to to progress, like I have for training. I set up a cycle, I know what weights I have to hit each day, everything I'm doing. It's all planned out to lead to progress. I'd like to try and figure out a 'program' with lingq, rather than just going about this randomly. I am taking German in school as well so I have other exposure and lessons than just lingq, but I feel I could be going about this more efficiently. Any thoughts?
    February 2014
  • Chris 1091 0 1629
    I'll get to your question as soon as I can, although I'll probably start another thread for it. Then more disciplined folk than myself can chime in also.

    Also, slight change to the Dungeon: turns out instead of setting up a half rack in a cramped-as-hell room, my Dad's decided to actually have something like a 3.7m x 3m shed constructed in the back yard, with insulation and concrete flooring which I can then have all to my lucky self. I'll obviously have to chip in on the costs, but this changes things entirely. A full power cage is now a no-brainer and I'm looking at this very beast: http://bit.ly/1kc474V Not terribly expensive, but still holds more weight than the half rack and is arguably safer. I can barely contain myself here :D

    Mind if I ask how old you are ARay?
    February 2014
  • ARay 1355
    Nice, might as well look into building a platform while you're at it. I've seen a few plans floating around the internet.

    I'm 26, worked for a few years before I decided to finish up my degree.
    February 2014
  • Davidjvl 44608 46301
    "I'm 26, worked for a few years before I decided to finish up my degree."

    I'm a few years behind myself. I'll start at a university in August as a 22 year old junior thanks to the AA I'm finishing up this semester. I find that the couple of years that I have on my classmates makes a big difference.

    I'm really looking forward to moving to my new school both because I'll have access to a decent gym for free (well... it's included in tuition), and I'll only be about an hour's drive from Québec, where I can speak all the French I want :)

    The upcoming move has made me really motivated to eat clean. Unfortunately my darned father bought several boxes of Girl Scout cookies... I have been only barely resisting

    If you have a smartphone, download the Lingq app. Mess around on it between classes, or during breaks when studying school stuff. I can't ever focus on my school stuff for more than 30 minutes without taking a break, so I usually insert 15 minutes or so of some kind of language activity between each 30 minute study period. Don't really worry about what you're doing language related. I'm guessing that your number one priority is school, so just keep yourself active in your foreign language and you will improve. Whenever you can devote a few hours to German in a day, by all means go for it! Also, I never did more cardio than when I was first getting into French and listening to Assimil tracks on loop.
    February 2014
  • ARay 1355
    Davidjvl, thanks for the tips. I've been trying to increase the amount that I listen. I think that is what I've been neglecting the most. Also review vocab and read daily, just haven't listened enough. Burned some cd's for when I'm driving and uploaded tracks to my iPhone for when I'm walking around campus. I was thinking about the app, also heard of some flashcard system called Anki is supposed to be good.

    How's cleaning up the diet going?
    February 2014
  • Davidjvl 44608 46301
    Increasing my listening in the very way that you describe helped me get to a huge breakthrough in French. Anki is not for everyone, but it is good as a means to review on your phone between classes or during otherwise "dead" time. My problem with it is that it takes a lot of dedication to make the flashcards on a regular basis, and I find the process extremely boring. There are pre-made decks that you can download, but they are not at all personal, and more or less defeat the point. Try it out and see if you like it, it does work.

    Cleaning up is going OK. Yesterday I gave up Coke Zero, which had become a bit of an addiction. So far today I have eaten three 400 calorie meals, and plan on eating another this evening. I've snacked on some unsalted peanuts, which I know are loaded with calories, so I probably should stop, or just try to be careful. I have been using black coffee as a crutch.

    February 2014
  • ARay 1355
    I kicked pop a few years back, only drink water and black coffee these days. I definitely noticed a difference in how I felt, looked, and performed. Have you started 'starting strength' back up?
    March 2014
  • Davidjvl 44608 46301
    "pop"
    ahahahahahaha.... Do you mean soda?
    No really, sorry, just a bit of East Coast elitism on my part ;p

    I have not yet restarted Starting Strength. I really don't want to do it incorrectly. It might sound lazy, but I'm going to wait until I move to my new university in June to try get a grad student from the fitness department who teaches at the university gym to show me how to do the stuff correctly. Actually, is that a stupid idea? I figure a guy working on a M.S. in that stuff should know what he's doing.
    March 2014
  • ARay 1355
    Yea yea, from Michigan originally, the land of cold gray skies, smog and sadness. I live in the South presently, people here think I'm Canadian when I speak.. oh well, I like Canada so sometimes I just go with it.

    One would think, however you can never be sure. Certainly worth a shot though. My suggestion would be to try and find some powerlifters. I understand you may not have a desire to compete in powerlifting (most people don't), but if you want to learn the barbell lifts, finding some experienced powerlifters would be a great resource.

    Do you have access to a gym presently? I remember you saying you had moved to an isolated part of the country. If you do, might as well start now (if it is something you are truly interested in). There are plenty of resources on the internet to get you a decent idea as to how to perform the barbell lifts. As long as you start with very manageable weights (i.e. the bar) and provided your form isn't absolutely horrendous, there is no reason to fear doing them 'wrong'. Developing your kinesthetic awareness and dialing in your technique take years.

    If not, might as well start doing some bodyweight calisthenics to develop a little strength and work capacity (if you are truly interested in training, not trying to make you do anything). Push-ups, pull-ups, bodyweight squats, lunges, planks, other abdominal work might be a good idea if you plan to eventually train with a barbell.

    March 2014
  • Davidjvl 44608 46301
    @Aray

    I live in the south too. My current city (Raleigh) does not necessarily leave me geographically isolated, or anything like how I made it sound, but I came here only recently and I never made any connections with anyone who could help induct me into lifting. I figure that I can wait 3 months until my move to a new city to really work on it. I don't really have the spare cash at the moment for a 3 month subscription. I can barely pay the 10 dollars for lingq.

    I think I'll read SS carefully, then work on it on my own until I start adding weight. I will then see if I can find guidance from a trainer. I think I'd actually like going to a powerlifting gym, but I don't know why I should pay when the university offers a gym free to students.

    Do you have a specific regimen that you like for bodyweight exercises? I try to do 20 pushups and 20 sit-ups whenever I've been sitting for too long, but I guess I could do something more structured. I am going to order a pull-up bar on amazon.
    March 2014
  • lovelanguagesIII 40 2 137
    I am not really into lifting weights but currently I'm trying to get back into martial arts again. I also do push-ups and sit-ups on a regular basis. While I can do up to 60 push-ups I'm terrible when it comes to pull-ups. I'm still in the one-digit area there ;-)

    I have found that taking a long walk and doing some cardio training afterwards is the best way for me to prepare for a long study session.

    I am also cutting down on my carbohydrate intake, while increasing the amount of vegetables. Nothing spectacular, but so far it has worked fine for me. I feel much more energetic. (If only I could find a way to better control my addiction to chocolate ...).
    March 2014
  • Chris 1091 0 1629
    @Robert: lifting weights and developing strength and explosiveness will definitely help with martial arts, and really, just about any physical endeavour in life. You just have to find a way to enjoy it ;-)

    @David: Definitely read SS if you can. I just ordered the hardback version, although I've essentially internalised the contents of the kindle edition. It's a work of genuine magnificence.
    March 2014
  • ARay 1355
    @David: I certainly understand the financial side of it being a poor student myself. It could be possible for you to find a powerlifting gym that would not charge you. In the powerlifting sub-culture, many people train in 'garage gyms'. My suggestion is go here: http://asp.elitefts.net/qa/

    Post a question there and say you're very interested in learning the barbell lifts and powerlifting and see if you can find a group of guys that train in Raleigh or the new town you will be moving too. Most powerlifters will be very helpful to someone interested in the sport.

    If not, start educating yourself on the barbell lifts, read, find videos, analyze everything. Buy some PVC pipe about the size of a barbell (can be shorter) and practice the movements, take video's of yourself doing them, analyze how what you are doing compares to what you see experienced lifters doing on youtube. This way you will at least be getting some practice in now. Come up with a consistent routine of bodyweight squats, pull-ups, push-ups, and ab work in the meantime and get to work! Doesn't have to be anything complicated or perfect, just push yourself. Just do three sets of each every other day. The next week try and beat your numbers from last week.

    @lovelanguageslll

    In my experience pull-ups respond best to volume and frequency and not going to failure (this is important). Say for example you can get 7 pull-ups on on a maximal effort set. Try cutting that number in half, so we will do working sets of 3 reps each. Doing 5 sets of 3 reps should not be too difficult if you can do 7 pull-ups. Focus on making each rep perfect, staying controlled throughout the movement, making sure to initiate the movement from the lats (not the arms) and getting your chin well over the bar. I was able to reach a goal of 20 pullups with an approach similar to this:

    -Do the 5 sets of 3, two or three times a week. The next week, add another set, so 6x3. Week after that do 7x3, finally on the 4th week do 8x3.

    -When you're getting 8x3 pretty easily start adding reps, so 5x4, 6x4, 7x4, 8x4

    -5x5, 6x5, 7x5, 8x5 etc.

    Keep going until you're a pull-up machine!

    March 2014
  • Chris 1091 0 1629
    Further to what ARay just mentioned, here's the routine I wrote for my little brother (no idea if he's actually stuck with it, but I digress):

    This is all bodyweight stuff:

    Squats: 3x30
    Push ups:3x20
    Chin ups: 3x10
    Planks: 3x2:00

    At least three times a week. Just basic stuff, really.
    March 2014
  • lovelanguagesIII 40 2 137
    ad ARay and Chris: Thank you for your help. I'll definitely try out what you suggested. I'll keep you updated on how things are going.


    I'm almost as excited about getting back to some of my former work-out routine as I am when I start studying a new language ;-)

    I want to do some regular cardio training as well. I promised one of my brothers (we used to train in the same kick-boxing club when we were teenagers and young adults; he was much better than me though, winning quite a few regional and national championships) that we'd be sparring on a regular basis again.

    After a long conference, there is hardly anything more relaxing and at the same time energizing than a couple of sparring rounds, preferably with someone who likes you well enough not to kick your butt ;-)


    March 2014
  • lovelanguagesIII 40 2 137
    I just watched a youtube tutorial on how to do pull-ups (so I'd better understand what ARay told me). I have to say that I've never been a fan of that kind of exercise (probably because I have always been pretty bad at it) but the guy who did the tutorial started the video with a hilarious sentence that kind of motivated me: "Hi guys, let me show you why I like hanging out at the bar" ;-)

    March 2014
  • ARay 1355
    lovelanguageslll: Pull-ups are great, definitely hard work but worth the effort. Some other things to keep in mind that may help:

    1. Focus on staying tight throughout your entire body for the duration of the movement. When I do pull ups I'm stabilizing my entire body by contracting my abs, glutes, and quadriceps (I keep my legs straight, obviously you may not be able to if the pull up bar is too low). I'm only moving at the shoulder and elbow joints. I can't stand watching people do sloppy pull-ups. You should just be moving up and down, no swinging, no kipping or cheating or any other nonsense.

    2. To learn how to contract your lats, think about starting the pull from just below and behind your arm pits, not with your arms. This should get your scapula moving properly and get the lats activated in the movement. When I trained athletes, I would often stand behind them and "karate chop" them lightly in the lats while they were starting each pull up to give them an idea of what muscle I wanted them to contract.

    3. I personally would always prefer to see my athletes do 1 or 2 perfect pull ups rather than 5 awful looking ones. You can build up the strength to do more provided you follow a logical progression.

    4. While this may seem to contradict the above, don't stress out too much about getting everything perfect at first. Just start putting the work in, you will get better. Any exercise, whether it is a pull up, a squat or a deadlift is a skill. It takes many hours of practice to become proficient in it.

    Edit: "Lats" is meathead slang for the latissimus dorsi if you did not know..
    March 2014
  • Chris 1091 0 1629
    I'll hopefully be starting SS this weekend, though who knows. Given my shoulder imbalances and issues, would it be advisable to add some rear delt-specific work in, or would the general stretching and basic barbell movements be sufficient? Also, does anyone know if a massage therapist is especially helpful for relieving muscle tightness, particularly in the pecs and anterior delts (part of the problem I think)?
    March 2014
  • ARay 1355
    "..Given my shoulder imbalances and issues, would it be advisable to add some rear delt-specific work in.."

    Generally yes, most people in modern society have very weak upper back strength and are very tight up front through the pecs/anterior delt/biceps tendon. I would definitely add some direct rear delt work in along with lots of volume rowing (see that first response of mine in the thread). This is generally the first course of action for any scapular or glenohumeral joint disfunction.

    As far as a massage therapist, it could be worth a few trips, especially if you can find an A.R.T. practitioner. You could also try stretching and some self myofascial release with a lacrosse ball or baseball, this will most likely be cheaper.



    March 2014
  • Chris 1091 0 1629
    I'm hesitant to modify SS, since Rippetoe repeatedly says to do it as written, but how would you change it given my situation? People often replace power cleans with rows, but I don't know if that's a good idea.
    March 2014
  • ARay 1355
    From what I remember it goes something like this. Bench/Press alternating. I see no need for you to do power cleans give your injury and training history as well as goals.

    Monday:
    Squat - 3x5
    Bench/Press - 3x5
    DB Rows/Pullups - 4x8-15
    Rear Delts - 4x10-20
    Biceps
    Triceps
    Abs

    Wednesday:
    Squat - 3x5
    Bench/Press - 3x5
    Deadlift - 1x5
    DB Rows/Pullups - 4x8-15
    Rear Delts
    Abs

    Friday:
    Squat - 3x5
    Bench/Press - 3x5
    DB Rows/Pullups - 4x8-12
    Rear Delts
    Biceps/Triceps
    Abs

    Edit: I wouldn't worry about modifying a program for your needs, provided it fits your goals and there is a reason for it. The most important thing is you are following the PRINCIPLES of the program.

    March 2014
  • Chris 1091 0 1629
    Yeah that looks pretty solid. I was even looking at Jason Blaha's"Icecream Fitness" 5x5, which you may or may not have heard of:

    http://bit.ly/19uRA9M

    Only problems are I can't really afford one of those hyperextension contraptions at the moment, and I won't have access to cables.

    The idea of power cleans is rather appealing to me, even though it's not really suited to a strictly hypertrophy-focused program. When I get everything set up next week, I'll only have access to a barbell and minimal dumbbell weights, and I pretty much plan to keep it that way. When I was at the gym, I had access to so much crap that it was difficult to resist the temptation to incorporate everything. By sticking primarily with a barbell, I can focus on a more minimalist, meat-and-potatoes type of routine and actually make some progress this year.

    I've pretty much become "that dude" who goes to the gym several times a week, but never gets anywhere. And despite the fact that I keep going, it can get pretty demotivating. I think a really simple, strength-based routine like SS, or even Icecreamfitness 5x5 or the one you designed just now, would be the best plan forward.

    I'm hopefully setting up shop this Saturday or Sunday in my grandfather's garage now since the quotes I got for a shed were between $7000-13,000. Hilariously overbudget.
    March 2014
  • lovelanguagesIII 40 2 137
    ad ARay: Thank you for your detailed description. I really appreciate it. You sure sound like someone who knows what he is talking about.

    P.S. You are studying German, right? So, maybe one day we can talk about all this in German just to practise your language skills.
    March 2014
  • ARay 1355
    @Chris: I have not heard of Jason Blaha. I gave it a quick look and it certainly seems to be a decent 5x5 type program. Rippetoe, Windler, Louie Simmons, the guy under the bridge (or youtube) pedaling his routine, are not the Gods of training. Don't get too caught up in in doing one particular thing. Don't over think it. There are many ways to get stronger. Essentially all solid strength routines boil down to this. Focus on the major barbell lifts, follow a logical progression to lift progressively heavier loads. Eat. Sleep. Repeat. Develop a plan for your goals, follow through with that plan, reassess, learn.

    "..I've pretty much become "that dude" who goes to the gym several times a week, but never gets anywhere. And despite the fact that I keep going, it can get pretty demotivating.."

    Nip this type of negative thinking in the bud now! Get your attitude right and expect more from yourself. Your mindset can make all the difference between getting crushed by a weight and smoking it. My suggestion is pick a program and establish goals for a 12 week period. I would recommend just picking Rippetoe's routine or either of the similar 5x5 type programs. COMMIT to it and attack that program day in and day out out 12 weeks. Provided you have specific and realistic (you're not going to be squatting 5 plates 12 weeks from now) goals and follow through with your program consistently, you will be satisfied with your progress. Get after it bud! I'm happy to help you set this up if you'd like.

    lovelanguageslll: Das wäre prima, aber ich glaube, mein Deutsch ist noch nicht sehr gut. Ich lerne täglich, so vielleicht können wir nach ein paar Monate (Monaten?) in Deutsch reden, wenn mein Deutsch besser ist!
    March 2014
  • lovelanguagesIII 40 2 137
    ad ARay: (...) ... Das wäre prima, aber ich glaube, mein Deutsch ist noch nicht sehr gut. Ich lerne täglich, so vielleicht können wir nach ein paar Monate (Monaten?) in Deutsch reden, wenn mein Deutsch besser ist! (...)

    Hut ab! Dein Deutsch klingt bereits jetzt ausgezeichnet. Ich bin sehr beeindruckt.

    (...) ....vielleicht können wir nach ein paar Monaten ....(...)

    March 2014