Brief Intro and Workout Journal

Hello everyone. This is my first post here at T-Nation, I’m excited to be here. I’ve been following Rippetoe’s Starting Strength program for about 5 weeks now, and I wanted to share my results with you to get any feedback possible. But before that, I want to give you a quick background …

I am a 27 year old ectomorph, 150 lbs, about 16% bodyfat. Never really weight trained until after college, but even then, I would lift for a couple months and then find an excuse to stop for a couple months. So in other words, I consider myself still a beginner.

I have a home gym in my basement, and for 2008, I’ve decided to take this seriously, and for the last 5 weeks or so, I have been successful. I’ve done quite a bit of research (mostly here at T-Nation), read some books (Scrawny 2 Brawny was one of my favorites) and as mentioned before, started the Rippetoe program. My short term goal is to reach 160 lbs, then from there I’d like to focus on reducing my BF to at least 10%.

In the 5 weeks I’ve been lifting, I’ve gained 7 lbs (BF increased 0.5% … I’ve been measuring it using a Tanita scale, weighing myself every week as soon as I wake up in the morning)

. I’ve also changed my diet according to some principles I picked up from S2B (eating 6 meals a day now, increased my calorie intake, and trying to keep my C/P/F ratio to 50/30/20). Right now, I only supplement with Multivitamins, Fish Oil, Whey Protein and Cytogainer (I’m using Cytogainer as my PWO, but as soon as I finish this container, I’m switching to Surge)

Ok, so here’s my progress over the last 5 weeks:

Week 1, Day 1
Squat 5/5/5 - 135 lbs
Bench Press 5/5/5 - 100 lbs
Deadlift 5 - 100 lbs

Week 1, Day 2
Squat 5/5/5 - 145 lbs
Military Press 5/5/5 - 75 lbs
Pendlay Row 5/5/5 - 75 lbs

Week 1, Day 3
Squat 5/5/5 - 150 lbs
Bench Press 5/5/3 - 105 lbs
Deadlift 5 - 115 lbs

Week 2, Day 4
Squat 5/5/5 - 155 lbs
Military Press 5/5/3 - 80 lbs
Pendlay Row 5/5/5 - 80 lbs

Week 2, Day 5
Squat 5/5/5 - 160 lbs
Bench Press 5/5/5 - 105 lbs
Deadlift 5 - 130 lbs

Week 2, Day 6
Squat 5/5/5 - 165 lbs
Military Press 5/5/5 - 80 lbs
Pendlay Row 5/5/5 - 85 lbs

Week 3, Day 7
Squat 5/5/5 - 170 lbs
Bench Press 5/5/5 - 110 lbs
Deadlift 5 - 140 lbs

Week 3, Day 8
Squat 5/5/5 - 175 lbs
Military Press 5/5/5 - 85 lbs
Pendlay Row 5/5/5 - 90 lbs

Week 3, Day 9
Squat 5/5/5 - 180 lbs
Bench Press 5/5/5 - 115 lbs
Deadlift 5 - 155 lbs

Week 4, Day 10
Squat 5/5/5 - 185 lbs
Military Press 4/3/1 - 90 lbs
Pendlay Row 5/5/5 - 95 lbs

I had a feeling that with my squat I was losing form, so I decided to drop some weight next time and I had my wife take pictures of me while I squat. Also, the military press was very difficult for me and I started arching my back too much, so I also reset for next workout.

Week 4, Day 11
Squat 5/5/5 - 165 lbs
Bench Press 5/3/1 - 120 lbs
Deadlift 5 - 165 lbs

Week 4, Day 12
Squat 5/5/5 - 170 lbs
Military Press 5/5/5 - 80 lbs
Pendlay Row 5/5/5 - 100 lbs

After I studied the pictures my wife took of me doing the squat, I realized that I was hardly going parallel!! So this whole time, I was probably only doing a quarter squat. I wanted to try and get ATG, so I decided to go back to 135 for next workout and focus on my form.

Week 5, Day 13
Squat 5/5/5 - 135 lbs
Bench Press 5/5/5 - 100 lbs
Deadlift 5 - 155 lbs

A couple notes here. First, I worked very hard to get my form correct with the squat, and I think I’m doing better. After more pics, I’m definitely getting at least parallel, if not lower. But I also noticed in some pics that my knees may be extending a bit past my toes, and I thought I’ve read that that’s a no-no. With the Bench Press, I tried continuing at 120, but then I realized that I was cheating with form, I wasn’t lowering the bar all the way to the chest, so I deloaded to 100 and worked on form, went very well.

I tried going to 170 lbs with deadlift, but could not lift off floor without rounding back, so dropped to 155. This workout may have been one of the more intense, because I finally focused on correct form for all exercises, especially squat.

Week 5, Day 14
Squat 5/5/4 - 140 lbs
Military Press 5/5/4 - 85 lbs
Pendlay Row 5/5/5 - 95 lbs

After this workout, I think I’ve come to the conclusion that I MUST buy a power rack. Otherwise I’m going to risk really fucking myself up during the squats. On my last rep with the squat, I could not lift myself up and I started wobbling, and then I ended up leaning forward a bit and stood back up, I’m guessing this is very dangerous, and I think the power rack may help me here. Also, I dropped the weight a bit with the Row because I started rounding my back to lift (again, my form started suffering).

With every workout, I add weighted decline situps @ 3 sets, 15 reps. If I’m able to get all sets and reps at a given weight, then I increase 2.5 lbs for next workout. I’m currently at 10 lbs added weight.

Please comment away, I’m looking for any and all feedback, whether I’m doing something wrong, or my progress appears normal, anything. I’m here to learn, to work my ass off, and to grow!!

You are progressing normally. You’re going through all the learning steps that everyone does. Realize that everyone progresses differently depending on their genetic potential, experience and effort. Whether you are progressing fast or slow is not as important as that you are trying.

By all means, buy a power rack. Check the used market. Many buy exercise equipment and then lose interest.

Keep working on your form. There are many excellent online resources, many on this site.

If you post picture and videos on this thread it will be easier for people to give you specific advise on your form.

Work on your diet. I don’t trust electronic scales, but .5% fat increase would mean that you entire weight gain was fat. I’m sure that’s not true but don’t try tho gain weight. try to stabilize. Understand your body. Working on strength will build muscle in the long run. Once you understand what your body needs, start carb cycling. That is, eat enough for muscle growth on days you train and then on days you don’t, eaat less so you lose fat on those day. Remember that you goal is to gain muscle and lose fat.

In the long run the most important factor is consistency. The speed of progress will depend on the effort you put into it but consistency will carry you through the rough parts and maintain you for the long run.


Thank you. I will definitely have to start posting some pics/vids to getter more advice on form, etc.

As far as the electronic scale, I agree, it may not be the most accurate way, but since I don’t go to the gym, I figured I couldn’t get the caliper test. But the 0.5% fat gain translated into about 1 lbs of fat, and I’m assuming the rest (about 6 lbs) was muscle. I definitely feel stronger.

I’ve never read about carb cycling, I’ll have to look into it as well. Thanks again.

You’re right, my math is wrong. In any case, read

Bottom line:

  • if you want to gain muscle: bulk 5 days/week and cut 2 days/week

  • if you want to lose fat: cut 5 days/week and bulk 2 days/week

Number of cals. to bulk or cut on: BW in lbs x 2. So, if you weigh 150 lbs, bulk by 300 cals, and cut by 300 cals.

Overall this will allow you to build muscle and lose fat at the same time.


Interesting article… Looks like I might have to adjust my current diet then.

Stu, so if my goal is to build muscle, and right now I’m lifting 3x a week and doing HIIT cardio 2x a week, would my diet involve bulk 3x a week and cut 4x a week?

You don’t have a lot of fat to lose. You might go high on lifting days, medium on HIIT days and low on the weekends. There are a couple of other articles you could read. One has this type of program.


Update to journal:

Week 5, Day 15

Squat 5/5/5 - 140 lbs
Bench Press 5/5/3 - 110 lbs
Deadlift 5 - 160 lbs
BB Curls 12/12 - 45 lbs
Incline Skull Crushers 12/12 - 45 lbs
Decline Situps (+10 lbs) 15/15/15

I had a great workout today. Added the extra arm work, but going to stick to only 1x per week (started light, with bar only, had no difficulties). I feel like my form has improved vastly over the last couple workouts. The squat was definitely ATG (I also found a power rack made by Powertec which I’m interesting in purchasing, this should help me a great deal when doing squats).

Random question for anyone who happens to read this … do you track your meals? And if so, how? I’ve been using for a couple weeks now and I seem to like it. Just wondering what everyone else is using…

I found your thread in another post (wiiwii). Good choice as far as Rippetoe. I’m in the 6th week with good results.

Yes and no. I just read a Dan John article (I think) where he addresses that topic. What if you have long feet or short feet? There will be a noticeable difference. As long as everything is in line, your feet shouldn’t be a concern.

It’s not necessary. But if it makes you feel safer go for it. I do front squats, which allows the weight to be dumped easier.

All of your lifts are progressing, so that’s good. You are allowed to add in chin-ups or pull-ups and dips. I highly recommend that. Then you don’t have to do curls or skull crushers (not that there’s anything wrong with them, I just think chin-ups and dips are superior). Plus its good to work on handling your own bodyweight.

Thx. I actually checked out your log, congrats on the incredible progress!! I hope that I get to experience the type of gains you did with your lifts…

It’s not necessary. But if it makes you feel safer go for it. I do front squats, which allows the weight to be dumped easier.[/quote]

I must be a real beginner, because believe it or not I’ve NEVER done a front squat. I’ll have to give it a try on my next off day.

I’m definitely going to add the dips and pull-ups for my next workout. The curls/skull crushers I’ll limit to only 1x a week, while the dips/pull-ups I’ll alternate with every workout. Thanks again for your advice and encouragement!!

I’m not going to argue with experience. Totally, I have only lifted maybe 3 years over a period of 12 years. Not much. I started doing front squats out of necessity, not choice. By choice I would do back squats. My school’s gym doesn’t have a power rack or squat rack. I wanted to do Rippetoe, but I didn’t want to substitute with the leg press. Just an olympic bench. So … I front squat off the bench.

Update to journal:

Week 6, Day 16

Squat 5/5/5 - 145 lbs
Military Press 5/5/5 - 85 lbs
Pendlay Row 5/5/5 - 100 lbs
Pull-ups 4/3 - bodyweight
Decline Situps (+12.5 lbs) 12/7/6

Added the pull-ups to this workout (and going to add the dips to the next). Unfortunately, I can’t seem to complete a set of 8 reps with just my bodyweight!!

I’ve tried both the pull-up and dip before, and I can’t seem to complete a set of 8 reps with only my bodyweight. Why is that?

Is there anything specific I can do to improve on these exercises?

I finally decided on a power rack and went ahead and made the purchase. I probably won’t get it until mid March, but I’m still excited!! (plus, FREE SHIPPING!!)

I’ve taken a couple days off of lifting because I’ve been feeling under the weather, but I guess after 6 straight weeks of Rippetoe, a couple days off is nothing. I’m going to try and continue where I left off probably in a couple days. Can’t wait!!

Dan John - Fitcast episode 6

This is a GREAT squat video. He makes it easier to use good form. Enjoy!

After about a week off, I finally got back to working out. Here’s how it went:

Week 6, Day 17

Squat 5/5/3 - 140 lbs
Bench Press 5/3/2 - 110 lbs
Deadlift 5 - 160 lbs
Dips 2/2 - Bodyweight
Decline Situps (+10 lbs) 10/10/4

Because of the week off, I went down a bit in weights, to about a week prior. I couldn’t believe how weak I felt today!! Weights that I lifted without problems about a week ago, I had difficulty with today.

Does anyone know if this is normal?

Also, not sure if my tris are very weak, but I’m pathetic when it comes to the dips. I couldn’t get off more than 2 reps, bodyweight only.

Can’t wait until next workout, I’m ready for progress!!

Haven’t updated in awhile, but here’s my latest:

Week 6, Day 18

Squat 5/4/2 - 140 lbs
Military Press 5/5/5 - 75 lbs
Pendlay Row 5/5/5 - 95 lbs
Pullups 3/2 - Bodyweight
Incline Skull Crushers 12/12 - 50 lbs
Barbell Curl 9/7 - 50 lbs

Week 7, Day 19

Squat 5/5/5 - 140 lbs
Bench Press 5/5/4 - 110 lbs
Deadlift 5 - 165 lbs
Dips 4/3 - Bodyweight

Not sure if I was still feeling the after effects of being sick, but on Day 18, I felt very weak, and it shows in my lifts. No progress on Squat nor Military Press. I think my difficulty with the squat is all mental. Because there’s no squat rack, my form is suffering because I’m worried about the bar coming crashing down on my back. The rack should be getting to my house in a couple weeks. I think in the meantime, I’m going to switch my routine a bit, and start doing front squats (after being inspired by TheDudeAbides!!).

[quote]Tonino wrote:
I’ve tried both the pull-up and dip before, and I can’t seem to complete a set of 8 reps with only my bodyweight. Why is that?

Is there anything specific I can do to improve on these exercises?[/quote]

Negatives have supposedly helped a lot of people, even me. I would do as many as I could, then do 3-4 slow, controlled negatives. Even if you can do 7, that’s still good. Nothing is written in stone that you have to do 8 reps. Just know that in a week or two you will be able to add a rep or two. These things take time. I typically only added a rep total each session, rarely two reps.

You could also try doing half-reps and really squeezing at the peak.

I have had mental barriers/blocks surpassing previous bests, or even breaking new ground. Don’t let lack of ‘must have’ equipment slow your progress either. I though I wouldn’t be able to even do Rippetoe without a squat rack. Then I discovered an alternative exercise. It’s about overcoming.

If you’re worried about the bar breaking your back, then you’re going to worry about it falling forward as well. The point is that there is always going to be training roadblocks. I did decline bench press on a poorly designed bench. Still did them even though it felt like I was going to slide off. I never felt stable and secure the whole time. Still did them.

Thanks for the words of encouragement. That’s exactly the attitude that I need to display.