Starting Strength #36A

Managed to tweak my lower back during the deadlift session. This is the first time I’ve tweaked my back from doing the deadlift. Afterwards, I walked around a bit and decided to do light sets of 5-7 reps of the deadlift.  Going to try to keep it moving the next day doing air deadlifts and air squats.

Weight: 222

Squats:  2x5xBar / 5×90 / 3×135 / 2×180 / 3x5x225


Bench:   2x5xBar / 5×70 / 3×97.5 / 2×122.5 / 5×150 / 2x5x135

Relatively easier than last week.

Deadlift: 2x5x120 / 3×182.5 / 2×257.5 / 2×305

Tweaked the left side of my lower back.

Starting Strength #12B

Today was interesting.

Somehow I tweaked something in my lower back (right side) the night before unpacking my luggage from the weekend trip. I didn’t think much of it. Come the workout and my lower back feels like it’s very inflamed. Squatting just the bar without the belt felt very uncomfortable. It felt like there was a ton of pressure where I had tweaked my back. I couldn’t lift my right leg at all.

I consulted the coach and recommended I squat with the belt. To be honest, I was pretty skeptical it would help, but miraculously it made about 80% of the pain go away. I was able to work through the pain for all the lifts.

BUT, once I came home, I pretty much couldn’t walk or sit without feeling very uncomfortable. I lay down for the rest of the night after dinner. I’m hoping that it’s not a herniated disc and I don’t need surgery to remedy it.

Weight: 215.89

Squats:  3x5xBar / 3×90 / 3×140 / 2×185 / 3x5x235

It’s been a week since my last workout. These felt relatively quick, especially the earlier sets. These felt easier compared to the last workout. I was feeling pretty burnt out at the end of the previous workout. The week long rest was definitely much needed.

Press:   3x5xBar / 3×60 / 2×75 / 3-4-3×90

Stalled hard on these. Left arm felt like it was lagging behind the right. Coach indicated that I need to press the bar over my head and not away from the face. The moment arm is probably what was causing me to gas out since I didn’t get my head underneath the bar fast enough. Coach recommended I back off to 87.5 lbs and to go up in 2.5 lb increments.

Deadlift:  5×135 / 3×150 / 2×190 / 5×275

Deadlifts felt relatively easy. Used hook grip for all the sets. It is getting easier to use the hook grip; less pain overall. Coach indicated that my last rep of the top set, I was leaning forward a little. Cue to keep in mind is to stay off the toes and push legs through the floor.

Week1 – Day1A

Squats:  5x5x45
Bench:  5x5x45
Rows:  3x5x45 + 2x5x65

First day back hitting the iron.  Gym was pretty crowded for noon time.  Getting acclimated to the typical judgmental vibe from the regulars.  I did some extra stuff for shoulder, but I’ll have to do a bit more research and see what I can do to alleviate the shoulder impingement and strengthen it with some extra shoulder exercises.

Week 6 – 5/3/1 – Day 22

Cycle #2

Agile 8 + DeFranco’s  Gym was PACKED today.  Skipped on the roll over to v-sits, not enough room on the mat.

Deadlift:  5×115, 3×140, 1×175 + 3×195, 3×225, 3×255

Used alternating grip on the last set.  Used hook grip on the second set.  I rested a smidge longer after each rep on the last set.  Overall, it was pretty easy.

Boring But Big 60%

Squat: 5×135 + 5x10x165

Words can’t describe how exhausted I was after these.  Lower back had the sensation of being extremely tight after the set, a lingering pain that slowly subsided.  My arms, traps and upper back got blasted to hell from squeezing.  It’s funny, the harder and more exhausted I became after each rep, the harder I squeezed and tried to snap the bar on my back.  There was some slight cramping in my left shoulder.  Didn’t drink enough water today- didn’t even get to half a gallon.

Week 1 – 5/3/1 – Day 2

Cycle #1

Today’s workout was grueling.  I decided that since I just started a new routine and the weights are relatively light to what I’ve been working on that I would forgo using supplements until the lifts get a bit heavier.  I felt pretty exhausted by the end of the Boring But Big 5x10x135 squats.  I got lightheaded for the first time in a very very long time.  The squats themselves were easy, but I definitely don’t think my body was acclimated

Agile 8  I was curious to see what type of dynamic stretching and/or warm-up I should be performing seeing as how I no longer squat at the beginning of every workout session.  Going straight into lifting deadlifts without proper warm-up or stretching, in my opinion, would be a very poor choice and prone to getting one injured.  I managed to find the “Agile 8” warm-up/stretch routine.  I was quite happy about performing the stretches- it’s always fun to learn and do something new.  Managed to work up a good sweat doing the stretches.  The glute/piriformis myofacial release didn’t seem to do much for me even though it’s probably one of the more painful stretches of the eight.  The groiners were a pretty good way of gauging my flexibliity.

Deadlift:  5×190, 5×215, 5×245

Used alternating grip on the last set.  Weight is still relatively light, but it was a bit challenging.  Lower back was hurting a bit afterwards.


Squat: 5x10x135 – These were pretty brutal.  The actual lifting action wasn’t bad at all.  I had good depth and squatted somewhat explosively from the hole.  However, after each set, I was very fatigued and out of breath.  These sets felt more like high intensity cardio if anything.  One thing I noticed that bothered me quite a bit was my low-bar bar positioning.  I had never noticed it before, but I think this may be why I’m having slight muscle imbalances in my upper back and arms.  After thinking about it for a while, I came to the realization that my left side wasn’t being fully engaged in a low bar position.  It seems as though I continually shift the bar ever so slightly until the bar ends up resting on my left trap while my right side is still somewhat engaged in the low bar position.  This, of course, can also attribute to why I feel like my torso is twisting when I go down.  I think what I’m going to do for the next squat workout is to lower the bar’s starting pin height so I can really dig the bar low on my upper back.  I need to make sure I focus on keeping the upper back tight to avoid having the bar shift up.

Ab Wheel:  10/6/5/5/5 – These are hard as hell.  In addition to having to keep a tight core, my arms ended up being worked pretty hard as well.

Week 13 (Rest Week) – Day 36A

Today’s my first day of recovery.  I decided on lower volume and intensity for this week because I felt that my body wasn’t recovering fast enough to keep my going workout to workout.  In addition, mentally I was very exhausted, motivation was very low when going to the gym.  I’ve also decided to force deload my squats because I feel as though my form has deteriorated to the point where, if I continue doing what I’m doing, I would most likely end up injuring myself very badly.

I arrived to the gym much earlier than usual so I took my time with my warm-ups.  Squats felt relatively light compared to the 230 I was rocking a week ago.  I felt pain in my lower left back area when warming up and all throughout my sets.  Benching was a bit heavy as I decided to continue progressing on the lift but with just recovery volume, 3×3.  I think the problem with my technique is that I’m not benching straight down and straight up.  I noticed that I shift the bar a lot when pressing the weight, usually shifting the bar to the right a bit.  Also, I think I need to find the correct bar width grip.  Many times, I think I may be gripping to narrow and therefore flaring my elbows when pressing.  For some reason, when I engage my back into a powerlifter arch, it seems as though the lift becomes significantly easier.  I think this has a lot to do with lifting stabilization.  When I start from a flat back, I don’t really engage my lats and upper back and stabilize, lending to my wobbly press when I press up.  Coinciding with this effect is that, I’m not using as much of chest as I want to and instead I feel my biceps and shoulder being worked and due to imbalance, my right side gets worked a bit more.  Rows were pretty heavy.  I tried using the hook grip and it did wonders for my gripping strength.  I can definitely see many people screwing their thumb up though using the hook grip.  I’m not sure if I will continue using the grip, but I think this would be the appropriate time to invest in some lifting straps.  It really does suck that the gym doesn’t allow chalk use.


3 x 10 Shoulder dislocations

3 x 15 sec. Doorway pec stretch

3 x 10 Leg swings

3 x 20 sec. static Squat stretch


2 x 5 x Bar

5 x 135

3 x 155

3 x 3 x 185


2 x 5 x Bar

5 x 95

3 x 115

3 x 3 x 135


5 x 95

3 x 115

2 x 135

3 x 3 x 150

Week 11 – Day 31A

Starting this week and forward, I’ve decided to lower the volume from 5×5 to 3×5 on the Squat.  Generally, on the SL5x5, I would go until I deloaded twice on the Squat before I dropped the volume, but I find that my extreme exhaustion and the longer amount of time spent resting is hindering my ability to move ahead on the program as a whole.  Ideally, I want to complete a workout within the hour max.  Lately, I’ve been spending more than 1.5 to nearly 2 hours.  This is inefficient and only detrimental to me making further progress.

Squats felt very heavy.  I think part of the heavy feeling can be attributed to my switch to 3×5, mainly being a mental psyche out to myself.  Dropping the sets made me think that Squatting will be easier.  I managed to finish the set, but I felt some lower back pain after my last set.

Last set of bench press surprised me quite a bit.  Up until now, I’ve been struggling a fair amount with the lift.  One thing that I changed between my bench now and my bench in the past- powerlifting arch.  I was getting extremely frustrated, so I decided to go back to my powerlifting arch setup that I used before that I had great success with (PR of 3×155, highest I’ve ever gotten on the bench).  The last set was a joke when I arched.  I definitely felt my upper back being utilized more and it helped with my balancing issue, overloading my right arm.  The reduced squat volume may also have helped with muscle endurance.

Rows were difficult.  I missed doing the lift in the past 2 workouts.  I found myself jerking and becoming more upright on the last couple of reps.  I still haven’t decided if I should stay at 135 at improve form or move on.  I also didn’t do warm-up sets which was probably not my brightest of ideas.

Dips were much easier and I managed to bang out many more reps compared to last A session.  Reverse crunches were fairly difficult on the last set.  I think I will begin to incorporate some interval training cardio post workout.  A brief 15 min. HIIT on the tread or better yet, outside while the weather is still nice should do the trick.


3 x 10 Shoulder dislocations

3 x 10 sec. Doorway pec stretch

3 x 10 Leg swings

3 x 20 sec.  static Squat stretch


2 x 5 x Bar

5 x 135

3 x 185

2 x 205

3 x 5 x 230


5 x 5 x 135


2 x 5 x Bar

5 x 65

3 x 85

2 x 105

5 x 5 x 120



9/6/5 x BW

Reverse Crunches:

3 x 10 x 20lbs

Week 10 – Day 28B

Stalled on the 4th and 5th sets of the workset on squats.  Lower back was hurting like a mother after the workset, couldn’t stand for prolonged periods, had to sit down for the pain to subside.  After a while of resting, the pain disappeared completely.  Press was significantly easier than before.  I think it’s finally catching up to, albeit taking 10 entire weeks.   It’s somewhat disappointing the fact that I’m not even in the triple digits and it’s the 10th week pressing.  Deadlift was relatively easy- no back pain at all.  Alternating grip for the workset and the warm-up right before.  Noticed today that my arms weren’t perpendicular to the ground when pulling on the deadlift.  This helped a bit with the lift.  3 step cue on the pull:  legs straight and line-up bar over middle of foot, touch shins to the bar, lift chest-up and sit back making sure back is straight and not rounded.  I also did 3 sets of reverse crunches using a 20lb counterweight.  I did this once before and thought it was somewhat of a silly thing because I didn’t feel anything in my abs.  Today, I felt the burn.  No swinging and controlled crunch.


3 x 10 Shoulder dislocations

3 x 15 sec. Doorway pec stretch

3 x 10 Leg swings

3 x 30 sec. static Squat stretch

3 x 30 sec. glute activation


2 x 5 x Bar

7 x 135

5 x 155

3 x 175

2 x 195

5/5/5/3/3 x 220


5 x 40

3 x 50

2 x 60

5 x 5 x 77.5


7 x 155

5 x 175

3 x 195

2 x 215

5 x 245


3 x 10 x 20lbs Reverse Crunch

Week 8 – Day 24B

Very heavy squats.  My lower back was killing me after the last set.  Last rep was insanely effing hard.  The pain went away after the workout and, currently, it’s not bothering me at all.  Presses were super easy.  No squat walkouts means more endurance for my upper back.  Deadlifts were surprisingly easier than last work out and didn’t round my back this time.  I used alternating grip.


3 x 10 Shoulder dislocations

3 x 15 sec. Doorway pec stretch

2 x 10 Leg swings

2 x 30 sec. static Squat stretch


2 x 5 x Bar

5 x 150

3 x 170

2 x 190

5 x 5 x 210


2 x 5 x 40

5 x 50

3 x 60

5 x 5 x 70


7 x 150

5 x 170

3 x 190

2 x 210

5 x 230


8:45am – Protein Shake (21g carb, 36g pro)

10:14am – 1/2 cup Oatmeal with Milk (35g carb, 9g pro)

1:00pm – 12 Buffalo wings with Bleu Cheese, Regular Hamburger, Fries

3:30pm – Chobani Greek yogurt (19g carb, 14g pro)

5:00pm – Chobani Greek yogurt (19g carb, 14g pro)

9:45pm – Plate of rice, 3 oz. salmon, protein shake (21g carb, 60g pro)

Bodyweight:  174 lbs

Body Fat:  

Week 7 – Day 19A

Heavy, heavy workout today.  6.5 hours of sleep and not enough eating are the likely factors to a pretty difficult workout.  I think I’m going back to rushing my squats again.  I tweaked my lower back while squatting on the 3rd set.  Still managed to finish my sets.

Bench was pretty heavy, but sufficient rest is key to getting all sets done.

Rows were heavy as well, I think I jerked the weight up on a few reps.  More rest needs to happen between latter sets to avoid cheating and using hip drive.


2 x 10 Shoulder dislocations

2 x 10 sec. Doorway pec stretch

2 x 10 Leg swings

2 x 30 sec.  static Squat stretch


2 x 5 x Bar

5 x 125

3 x 145

2 x 165

5 x 5 x 185


10 sec. x 235

10 sec. x 255


2 x 5 x Bar

5 x 65

3 x 85

5 x 5 x 1110


5 x 5 x 115


1 x 15 sec. warrior lunge + twist

1 x 15 sec. butterfly