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My programme- comments and critique welcome

Discussion in 'Strength & Conditioning Discussion' started by JauntyAngle, Sep 17, 2010.

  1. JauntyAngle

    JauntyAngle International man of mystery

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    So, I did read the FAQ and quite a few of the links. After a lot of messing around and only marginally productive activity, I have finally settled on the below. I know there are still quite a few things that I am doing suboptimally, somehow it is hard to give up old habits. This is going to be long, by the way.

    1. Backgound

    I'm about to turn 37 and have been doing different forms of exercise since I was 16. In addition to weights, when I was younger I did a lot of martial arts and also dance classes. For the last 8 years my main thing has been yoga, at which I am 'intermediate' level, which means I can do things beginners can't dream of, but there are things that advanced people can do that I can't dream of.

    I've been slowly working my way towards strength training for a while. I started doing deadlifts a few years ago, and I independently came to the conclusion that isolation exercises are near useless and started doing compound exercises almost exclusively. I also started organizing my weight training my movement, not body part, i.e. doing 'push away from the body' and 'pull towards the body' one day, and 'push above the head' and 'pull down towards the head' the next. But I was doing mainly lighter weights and volume. I get bored after a year or two, and so started looking to change it.

    Oh, and a core piece of information is that I work in Afghanistan. I am here 6 weeks at a time, then get 2 weeks at home.


    2. How I selected my routine

    For about 2 months, I was just doing bench presses, deadlifts and pullups, 5x5. This was because I heard that these, along with squats are the core powerlifting exercises. I didn't do squats because they are a little tricky to do in my gym in my guest house in Kabul, and I was reluctant to do them for some reason (worried about my knees,I guess). I guess I would do bench and pullups one day, bench and deadlifts the next, then take 1-2 days with no strength. I was improving, but I became aware that this probably wasn't optimal. And 5x5 deadlifts was a bit heavy on my back.

    So I went through the Beginner/Intermediate routine FAQ, and one of the first that caught my attention was Bill Starr's 5x5. It was really clear and seemed well structured. But on studying it more I realized it would take a lot of time, mainly because you have to rest 5 minutes between each 'intensity' set. I thought it might take 2 hours per workout, if not a little bit more, and I didn't want to commit quite that much time. Then I noticed a 2-day split in the same FAQ: Day one: Deadlift, Overhead press, Weighted pullup/chinup, Day two: Squat, Benchpress, Bent over row. This looked good to me, as it only had 3 exercises on each day and it had all the exercises I wanted to do.

    So I was 100% geared up to do that, but two things happened. First, while trying to figure out how to do power cleans (to set up for overhead presses) I fell in love with power cleans (because I was really weak at them, and I love it when I find an exercise I can't do). Second, I noticed the chorus of voices on this forum all supporting 'Starting Strength'. So I thought... okay, let's take another look at Starting Strength.

    I found my way to the part that had beginner and novice programmes on the Starting Strength Wiki. The original programme looked great, but there were no pullups (which I like doing). The second programme listed, Onus Wensler, also had no pullups. But it did have powercleans. Still not quite right for me, I thought. The 'Practical Programming' routine looked near perfect- chinups and pullups were a big component, but no powercleans. Then I read down a bit furhter and found The Wichita Falls Novice Program. This had everything- the basic Starting Strength, but also with pullups/chinups, and power cleans. Yay!

    Oh, and one more thing. I got the Starting Strength book and video. Boy, am I glad I did that. Watching Mark Rippletoe explain these movements and then teach them for 40 minutes beats the hell out of surfing half a dozen low quality YouTube videos. I wish I had done that before. Even the exercises I thought I knew how to do, there were a lot of things I didn't know. As for the exercises I didn't know...

    3. The Programme

    So, the Wichita Falls Novice Programme is

    Monday
    Squat 3x5
    Bench press/press 3x5 (alternating)
    Chin-ups: 3 sets to failure or add weight if completing more than 15 reps

    Wednesday
    Squat 3x5
    Press/bench press 3x5 (alternating)
    Deadlift 1x5/Powerclean 5x3 (alternating)

    Friday
    Squat 3x5
    Bench press/press 3x5 (alternating)
    Pull-ups: 3 sets to failure or add weight if completing more than 15 reps[/I]

    I am doing this exactly: no more, no less. I will change if and only if I plateau, or if I get injured.

    Before each session on the weights I will run for 10 minutes. Then I do 10-15 minutes of yoga to stretch. I do 5 sun salutations speeded up (quite similar to a Burpee, but with more emphasis on flexibility), and then the standing sequence from the Ashtanga primary series. Again a bit quicker than normal for yoga, because I am impatient to get into the weights, and I like to keep hot.

    I am flexible with the off-days. At least one day I will do nothing, at least one day I will do a full yoga session, and at least one day I will run for 30 minutes. I am aware that the running might make me lose some gains I might otherwise make, but I like to have the ability to run for 20 minutes or so easily. And the yoga is important for me personally.

    My approach to de-loading is very scientific. As mentioned above, I do 6 weeks in Afghanistan, 2 weeks at home. When home, I don't lift so often or so heavy, take more breaks, swim more. The bit about 'scientific' was a lie.

    4. Diet, Nutrition, etc

    For the last year, I have been following this diet (while in Afghanistan only): I can only eat a meal in which bread, pasta, rice or potatoes are a main element one time per week. So once per week I can have a burger, or lasagna, or something like that. Rest of the time those are off the menu.

    I make up for the lack of starchy carbs by increasing the amount of meat, salad and vegetables I eat with main meals. I eat a lot of fruit, and I am snacking continually on almonds, walnuts and dried fruit (all available in large supply in Afghanistan). If that won't do it, I can always get an omlette, tuna salad, tuna or cheese on rye bread (which is not prohibited in my system). Because I live in a guest house with cooks standing by, it is always easy to get food. They are cooking main meals for 6-12 people, so I can always get extra. When I wasn't lifting much I lost a lot of weight doing this diet, now I am lifting and following the diet (but eating more volume) I am gaining. I am not 'eating enough for two pregnant women' but the amount is slowly going up.

    I don't follow the diet when I am at home, i.e. not in Afghanistan. Sue me.

    Re: supplements, I am just taking a shake mix that is basically just whey protein and vitamins. I don't want to do more than that because I think I will get plenty stronger as I am. Right now I don't want to do less, because I figure the extra 40g of protein can't do any harm and it is sort of like an insurance policy in case I don't eat enough proper food in a day.

    So there it is! Comments, suggestions, etc most welcome.
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2010
  2. Tosa

    Tosa Red Belt

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    Looks good.
     
  3. VoodooPlata

    VoodooPlata Brown Belt

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    Stretching before exercising will make you a bit less explosive. This is according to 23 independent studies one of which was made by Bj
     
  4. JauntyAngle

    JauntyAngle International man of mystery

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