SocraticMethod's Strength & Conditioning Log (Advice/Criticism Appreciated)


Feb 18, 2008
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It was recommended I start a training log, so here goes. I'm a total newb to this type of training. Since college I've been doing 3 sets of 10 and making little progress. I'd take time off and be a lazy bum for a while, then come back to the gym. At first I'd see gains, since I was actually doing something as opposed to nothing. Then I'd hit a wall, get frustrated and stop going for a while, only to repeat the cycle.

So a month or two ago I stumbled on the "New Personal Favorite Idiot" thread. At first it was good for a laugh - then I realized I basically did the same type of routine as the "idiots." (Other than curling in the squat rack. Even I knew not to do that.) So I decided to jump on board and read the workouts in the FAQ. At the same time, me and a few buddies decided to do a triathlon in May, and began training for that. We're all graduating in May and going our separate ways, so this is one last thing we're doing together as a group. As such, I'm running, biking and swimming a lot because my endurance is total crap. That led me to choose to the 2-Day Split in the FAQ.

Basically, my week looks like this:
Monday: Run and bike (either running in the am and biking in the pm, or doing a brick in the pm)
Tuesday: Swim in the am, MMA in the pm
Wednesday: Day 1 of the Split, optional morning run
Thursday: Swim in the am, MMA in the pm
Friday: Long run, optional bike
Saturday: MMA in the am, run and/or bike in the pm
Sunday: Day 2 of the split in the am, run and/or bike in the pm

This is my basic plan for the next nine weeks - the tri is on May 10. I'm three weeks into this basic plan. My numbers are still terrible, but they're a lot less terrible than they were when I started, so I guess that's something.

As for goals: weight training, I have no idea what kind of goals to set. Having never done this before, I don't know what kind of progress to shoot for/hope for/expect. So any advice there would be greatly appreciated.

For the tri-training, my goals are first to not drown during the swim, and second, simply to finish.

Much thanks to anyone who actually read all that and would care to weigh in. On to today's workout:

Sunday, March 17, 2008
Bench: Warm up with just the bar X 5; 155 X 5; 175 X 5; 185 X 5; 195 X 5; 205 X5
Squat: Warm up set with bar X 5; 135 X 5; 145 X5; 155X 5; 165 X 5; 175 X 5
BOR: Warm up X 5; 90 X 5; 100 X 5; 110 X 5; 115 X 5; 125 X 5

Again, any advice, criticisms, etc. is greatly appreciated. One thing specifically I was wondering is whether I'm structuring the sets correctly with going up in weight each set, or whether I should start higher and try to do multiple sets at a higher weight. For example, instead of starting at 155 on the bench, should I start at 175 or 185 and do 2 sets there? Or should I pick the highest weight I can do 5 X 5 with and just do that?

So much to learn ...

Thanks to anyone who actually trudged through all that.
welcome to the forum. good job thus far. Make sure to go through full range of motion in all exercises. On squats go down atg or close to it for example...

good luck
I suggest you test your 1 rep maxes on your list first. This will kind of tell you where you stand and help you figure out what kind of goals to set. If your max squat is 300 then shooting for a 100 lb increase over like a 6 month period would be reasonable.

I had the same problem in terms of setting goals and my best advice is to get over it and just set some goals. Be intuitive about it, something you see yourself realistically getting.

In terms of set progression, most people here pyramid up to their max. For example, if your doing a 5x5 they'll pyramid up to their 5 rep max on their last set or something similar. The main idea is if you want to get stronger your gonna have to lift heavy. So don't be afraid of going heavy knowing you'll only be able to crank out 3-4 reps.

I hope your squatting correctly. Most newbz have improper form they don't go down deep enough, I did for the longest time without knowing. It was a big wake up call when I corrected my form.
I'll say what everyone said to me when I first started my log: good job on starting a log :D. I know there's more than one reformed curl monkey on these forums. I'm a reformed do-nothing monkey.

I'm three weeks into the Bill Starr 5x5 from the FAQ and I have to tell you that I've never in my life felt this strong. Keep it up and follow the advice of the experts on this forum. Make sure to post videos of your form and have people help you out. I've been doing that and it's helped a lot.

Good luck and keep it up!
Thanks for the replies/advice, guys!

A question about determining my one-rep max for the lifts. Is that something you generally do as part of your regular workout, or separate. For instance, tomorrow I'll be on Day 1 of the Split (Dead lifts, OHP, Pullups). So should I figure out my 1RM for each of those and then finish the rest of that workout, or should I determine my 1RM for all 6 lifts of the plan, and have that serve as tomorrow's workout?

I'm working on getting some videos of my form - I'm sure it could use some improvement.

As for today:

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Swim Workout - 45 minute swim, alternating between speed drills and slower lengths where I focused on form and breathing. (I suck at swimming.)

My MMA session was canceled for tonight, so I took a nap. I stand by that decision.
Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Today I tried to figure out my (paltry) one-rep max for dead lifts and overhead press.
Dead lift: 245
OHP: 135

I wasn't sure exactly what to do, so I did a light warm up, then did a rep at the heaviest weight I had done so far and kept going up till I hit the wall. Is that generally the best way to do it? I think I started too low with dead lifts.

So as for goal-setting: I'll be doing this split for the next 8-9 weeks. Then I'll run the triathlon, graduate, move and start a new program. So I'm looking to set a goal for graduation - May 18. Does improving these by 10 pounds in 8 weeks sound about right? Less? More?

I plan to determine my 1RM for squat, bench and BOR this weekend.

For the rest of today's workout I did pullups. I did some with palms out and some palms in, so it looked like this:
3 Palms Out; 3 Palms Out; 3 Palms In; 3 Palms Out; 3 Palms In; 2 Palms Out (crapped out on the third rep); 3 Palms In (crapped out on the 4th rep). I finished with negatives.
Monday: Run and bike (either running in the am and biking in the pm, or doing a brick in the pm)
Tuesday: Swim in the am, MMA in the pm
Wednesday: Day 1 of the Split, optional morning run
Thursday: Swim in the am, MMA in the pm
Friday: Long run, optional bike
Saturday: MMA in the am, run and/or bike in the pm
Sunday: Day 2 of the split in the am, run and/or bike in the pm

Looks good. Remember to let the body rest. Most take a day off once a week, some more (like every 4 days) some less (say, every 9th).

I'm going to assume your running/biking/swimming is not all just LSD, but intervals will be worked in as well?

At any rate, train hard (and smart) and good luck man.
Thanks, Dan.

I've thrown a couple days off in there. I actually took the day off on Monday - just needed it. As I get closer to the triathlon date, I actually have a couple pre-scheduled rest days.

I started working in intervals last week. I was trying to build a base early on - might not have been the right way to do it, but I was really starting from scratch with all this. I've made some pretty good progress running and swimming, that I'm actually starting to think I can do this.

Thanks for the advice!
Thursday, March 20, 2008
a.m.: Swim workout: 45 minutes of laps. I gassed early and often. My swimming is still pretty terrible.

p.m.: MMA - we focused on clinch and ground game tonight, working 2 minute rounds of third-eye-drills and pummeling into position, with 30 second rest periods, for most of the first hour. Second hour was all jui-jitsu. Again, two minute rounds with 30 second rests - first rolling with someone starting in full guard, then starting from the knees.
Saturday, March 22, 2008

I had to the second day of my split up a day, because the gym is closed tomorrow for Easter.
So today I tried to determine my one rep max for Squats, Bench and BOR.

Squats: I worked up to a max of 225, which, sadly, is quite a bit more than I expected. I was pretty beat after working up to that, so I only did one set of 185X5 after.

Bench: Worked up to a max of 215. I thought I'd get more because I did 215 X 3 last week. My left arm/elbow felt like crap starting on my warm up - I got caught in a pretty deep armbar on Thursday. Didn't think it did any damage, but maybe that had something to do with it. I did a set at 185 after reaching my max - that didn't feel good either.

BOR: Worked up to 160, then did a set at 135.

So a question: now that I have my one rep maxes figured out, how close to those should I come during my regular workouts? I actually did more than I expected on squats and DL. For example, my last squat workout I worked up to 155 X 5. Since now I know I can get 225 once, should I be going closer to that for my last set of 5? Also, on that same line - how important is it to hit 5 reps on the last set? Is it OK to only get out 3 or 4 if I'm pushing myself with the weight? Or is that OK once and while as a test, but I should generally be getting 5 on each set?

Sunday, March 23, 2008

a.m.: Ran 2 miles. I did it in about 25 minutes. I forgot to look at the clock when I first got back in because I'm an idiot.
Monday, March 24, 2008

Bike Day: 30 minutes of interval training - 2 minutes hard, 2 minutes active rest
My legs felt like Jello at the end, for whatever that's worth.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008

a.m.: Swim training - 45 minutes. I felt better this morning than I did last week, conditioning-wise. It was a good workout.

p.m.: MMA - Hour 1: take downs, followed by grappling for position; Hour 2: free roll starting from standing position.
Thursday, March 27, 2008

a.m.: Swim Training - 45 minutes. Today I alternated lengths - doing one slower and easy and focusing on my breathing, rhythm, and technique, then the next length focusing on speed. I still suck at swimming and I felt like Jello-flavored death afterward.

p.m.: Two-mile run in 21 minutes (I'm slow) followed by stretching.

Note: I didn't lift yesterday. I got dumped on my shoulder on Tuesday night and it hurt like hell all day Wednesday, so I took the night off.

If anyone is reading this - would you suggest doing a longer workout on Sunday to make up for skipping Wednesday? Since I skipped DL, OHP, Pullups day yesterday, I was thinking on Sunday instead of just doing Squat, Bench, BOR, I'd do something like DL, Bench, Squat, Pullups. Any thoughts on that? Thanks.
Saturday, March 29, 2008

I ran hills for 15 minutes today after a warmup. My legs went before my lungs. I followed with some wood choppers and stretching.

I realize I forgot to post yesterday - I just did a mile-and-a-half run.
Sunday, March 30, 2008

Squats: Warm up then: 155 X 5; 165 X 5; 175 X 5; 185 X 5; 195 X 3

Bench: Warm up then: 155 X 5; 175 X 5; 185 X 5; 195 X 5; 205 X 5 (struggled on the last rep, but got it clean)

BOR: (I realized I've been doing these all wrong up till now. I think I'm on the right track now.)
Warm up then: 95 X 5; 105 X 5; 115 X 5; 125 X 5;
125 X 5

Overall, I felt really good today - and it felt good to get back into lifting after missing Wednesday.
Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Dead lift: Warm up: 95X3; 135X3
185X5; 185X5; 195X5; 205X5; 205X5

OHP: 95X5; 105X5; 115X5; 115X5; 120X5

Pullups: Four sets of three bodyweight pullups, followed by negatives.
Update, Sunday May 11, 2008:

OK, so I completely fell off keeping this log up to date, and slacked off with my training to an embarrassing degree. Right around the start of April I got the flu, then final exams and papers kicked my ass, and I pretty much pissed away a lot of the progress I had made. (Boo!)

BUT, I got back on the wagon over the last 3 weeks (when I wasn't studying) and yesterday I (very slowly) finished my first triathlon. My time was crap, but I finished it, which was my goal. I'll worry about improving my time on the next one.

So for the next two weeks I'm planning on continuing with the 2-Day split I had been doing, along with some running and MMA. At the end of next week, I am moving back to Jersey. I need to find a gym for the summer (I will be moving again in August), but once I do I am thinking about starting the 20-Rep Squat program in the FAQ, with cardio/conditioning 2 or 3 other days per week, rather than the heavy conditioning w/ 2 lifting days that I was doing to prepare for the tri.

I was hoping for some input/advice/criticism for this plan. Does anyone have any experience with the 20-Rep Squat routine? Is this a good step to take at this point?

Thanks to anyone who read this.
Sunday, June 1, 2008
First day doing the Stronglifts 5X5 plan, and my first time back in a weight room in a little more than a month.

Workout A

Warm up: empty bar X 5; empty bar X 5; 95 X 2; 95 X 2

Working Sets:
135 X 5; 135 X 5; 135 X 5; 135 X 5; 135 X 5

Bench Press:
Warm up: empty bar X 5; empty bar X 5

Working Sets:
135 X 5; 135 X 5; 135 X 5; 135 X 5; 135 X 5

95 X 5; 95 X 5; 95 X 5; 95 X 5; 95 X 5

Three sets of 3. I'm not strong.

This workout wasn't much to speak of, but it felt really good to get back in there working after really slacking on lifting for way too long.