T Nation

Chasing Big Strick

I’m not sure how to jump into this so…I’ll just hold my nose, close my eyes and jump right in. I’ve been lurking about the site for a little over 2 months. The site, particularly this forum, is a godsend. It is inspiring to see others, in similar circumstances, pursuing similar goals. It has definitely given me hope, where melancholy had tried to set up camp. Thanks to all of you.

I have gleaned a lot of useful information from the articles and experiences of the folks here. Definitely enough to realize that I have pretty much been walking around in the dark my whole training life…(Perhaps the days of maxing on bench, 5 days a week, weren’t the brightest of moves). If, any of you have any advice, please offer it up. I am neither too proud nor too dogmatic to give it a go. At this point, I just want my numbers to go up.

A bit about me…I am 39, will be 40 at the end of May. I have a good bit in my profile. So, I will try to avoid repeating myself. Back in January I started lifting again. As I only had a home gym (160# stack) and dumbbells (up to 65#), what I could do was limited. I had been lifting, off and on, as dictated by injuries and other life events, for a couple of years. I wasn’t much interested in strength, since my main goal was weight loss (I was 330#). I dropped 110#, but have since put back on 30#…both muscle and fat. After skulking about the site for a month, though, I decided that it was time to step up and go for strength again. I still need to drop some weight. But with my blood pressure normal again (from 155/96 - 2 years ago to 110/70 - 2 days ago), blood sugar normalized and resting pulse in the low 60’s, I figure I can eat well, lift hard and not worry as much about dropping lots of #s.

As I mentioned in my profile, I stopped doing squats and deadlifts 24 years ago. I had/have a pars defect/spondylolysis (too much football). I was told not to squat, deadlift, do push press, hell, to avoid running down stairs. At this juncture, I figure the worst I can do it aggravate it and have to backoff. So, until/unless my body blue screens, onward…

It is worth noting that, a decade ago, I was working out pretty regularly, including legs press, since it didn’t put the weight directly down my spine.

Maxes over the course of my life -
Bench - 290# coming out of high school , 260# when I got to college (I have no idea why it went down), 300# in my early 20’s and 320# when I was working out about a decade ago.
Squats - When I stopped squatting, at 16, I was at 395#…couldn’t quite get parallel with 405.
Deadlift - In all honestly, I had only deadlifted twice when I found out about my back. I have no idea what my max would have been.

Current maxes - Performed on my 3rd workout after getting the olympic set.
Bench - about 290#…I am hoping to get back to 315 by my birthday.
Deadlift - 350#…feels really awkward (which is no surprise). I went for 375# right after, but couldn’t pull it.
Squats - Won’t even attempt a max until I get the power rack. If I ventured to guess, I would say just over 225#

The bench will move up. I have always struggled with my bench. But, again, I have never really had a proven, concerted plan to make it go up.
The squats and deadlift are really depressing to me. A decade ago I was leg pressing 1050# for sets of 10. Now, squatting 225# almost sits me down. As for the deads, I think my legs are what is holding them down. It is my hope that I will make some quick progress on my legs, since it has been so long since I have actually used them. We will see.

Just to give an idea of what I am settling into, as a routine, here are my last 2 workouts. I hope my notation is correct…weight x sets x reps and weight x reps

I am in a bastardized 5x5 and intentionally started low on the weight. I am hoping that my body adapts to lifting heavier by the time I get near my 5x5 maxes.


Close Grip Bench

Military Press

Seated OH DB Press
DBs - 65#x2x8


Tricep Pushdowns

The laterals and tricep pushdowns were supersetted.

135x2x10 - as low as I could go


BB Bent Over Rows

Close Grip Pulldowns
160x3x10 - my home gym only has a 160# stack

Reverse Flyes

This was my 2nd squat workout since starting back. It was encouraging to feel my legs a bit more acclimated to actually doing something.

Fatigue is a big issue right now. I am not used to this level of intensity and don’t have much gas beyond the 2nd exercise. (i.e. - Normally I would do 185x3x5 on Military, but can’t handle the weight after bench and close grip) I am hopeful that it will be temporary. And I seem to have foregone DOMS for IOMS. “I” = immediate

The other issues are tendinitis on my right elbow (Curls are excruciating, as are wide grip pulls) and a nagging pain on the top on my left shoulder. The shoulder doesn’t inhibit me. I am having to work around the elbow, though.

Welcome littlestrick. Time to start living again. As in most things, the first step is the biggest and hardest to do. The best mind set to get into is, this is for life!

The longer you stay at it the better life gets. At 52 there are no rules for me. I can do anything I set my mind to. It is great to see another enter this wonderful world of working out to live a better life.

So aside from being a superdad do you have any other goals. They make it easier to stick with it. So does logging, which you have started. I’ll watch with interest, being a superdad myself and all. Good luck and again welcome aboard the magic school bus. Stay strong the alternative really sucks!

Welcome, LittleStrick. I hope you find BigStrick!

Good luck with your program.

Wow, you’re plenty strong, and I’m sure you’ll just get stronger. A lot of us have been doing the 5/3/1 program, which may be good for you in terms of avoiding wear and tear. I’ll let more knowledgeable voices chime in on that, but if you’re interested, take a look around the site for info.

Keep up the good work!


Thanks. I have always enjoyed lifting. I just haven’t always done it with a tenable/intelligent plan. I think I have several goals…

  1. To be in good physical condition when my kids are old enough to join in. My Dad (not biological father) was 19 when I was born. I was 36 when my youngest was born. I want to be able to do, with my kids, like my Dad could with my brother and I. Lots of good memories…

  2. I want to feel good and feel good about myself. I always feel better after physical exertion. And, of course, setting and reaching goals helps one’s view of themselves.

  3. As for goal weights…
    Short term - by my b-day (5/29)
    Bench 300
    Squat 300
    Deadlift 400

Long term - who knows
I know that I want to be able to bench with at least 4 plates per side (405). I would like to top 500# on Deadlifts and squats…assuming my back holds. As for a timeframe, I have no idea. I haven’t been back at it long enough to gauge how I think I will progress.

[quote]mathineer wrote:
Welcome, LittleStrick. I hope you find BigStrick!

Good luck with your program.[/quote]

Mathineer…thank you. As it turns out, I suppose that Big Strick is 2 things. My initial reference was to my Grandfather, who was known by that nickname. He was an interesting man. He was an all-stater in football and track, in HS. He ran hurdles, high jumped, and threw shot and discus…was South Pacific Heavy Champion (boxing) in WWII…and, supposedly, could bench over 500# and military 350#. Definitely, for me, someone worth mimicking.

But, I am definitely trying to turn this Little Strick into his own Big Strick.

[quote]sfp wrote:
Wow, you’re plenty strong, and I’m sure you’ll just get stronger. A lot of us have been doing the 5/3/1 program, which may be good for you in terms of avoiding wear and tear. I’ll let more knowledgeable voices chime in on that, but if you’re interested, take a look around the site for info.

Keep up the good work![/quote]


I have seen the 5/3/1 referenced in several logs. In fact, I have been a frequent reader of yours. It is definitely something I need to look into. Right now, I am just trying to get the soreness out. I am so not 18 anymore.

Of course, probably the hardest part, when starting back, it coming to grips with where my performance really is versus where I thought it was. Talk about a reality check.

Glad to meet ya! Looks to me like youll have no problems with your short term goals. Your almost there.

I’ve seen a few different variations of the 5X5 program. Are you doing the one that calls for you to workout 3 days a week or the 4 days a week? Personally, I’ve found success at the 3-day a week program when it came to intensity and the ability to recover. Also, I found out that I had to do “warm up to get warmed up” before I start lifting; basically, 10 min of light eliptical, then stretch then progressively pile on the weights.

Good luck and Welcome!

[quote]63Galaxie wrote:
Glad to meet ya! Looks to me like youll have no problems with your short term goals. Your almost there. [/quote]

63Galaxie…thanks. Glad to be here. The short term goal for bench is just getting back close to where I was. Hopefully that will be easy. Squats is the one I am worried about. I feel really good to right at parallel, but have nothing below that. I will be very interested to see how they progress.


I am currently on a 3 day cycle. At least at present, I just don’t recover quickly enough to do any more. Maybe in the future I will go 4 days, but I doubt it. Trying to hit the muscles enough to acclimate (get used to not being a slacker), I have been going Sun., Tues. Thur…chest/shoulders/tris then legs/back/bis, flopping back and forth.

I know that some folks split it bench, deads and squats on a 3 day rotation, but my pecs feel neglected with a week between workouts.

I’m probably just not pushing enough weight to make them beg for the rest.

Your warm-up comment reminds me. I have an odd occurrence when I bench. I normally start out by doing a couple of sets with 135#, 10-12 reps. Then another at 185#, before heading into working sets. Either after my 2nd set at 135#, or the one at 185#, I get a strange sensation in both pecs, near the shoulder. I really can’t describe it well…they seem to tighten some, feel almost strained, but not like a burn from fatigue. I do not get the feeling in any other bodypart. Maybe I will try treadmilling a bit before I start tomorrow.

BTW - I see that you are going to be in OK, at a meet, in the near future. Good luck! Looking forward to see how you do.

Ill second the warm up to warm up thing. What your tie in area of your pec is telling you is its not warm. I do at least 10reps with the bar, 10 with 95 then 135. Lately Ive been doing a lot of dumb bell stuff first as well as pushups. Lots of stretching.

The Diesel crew has some good stuff on youtube.

welcome to old ( or not so old) creaky lifters

your strong your squats will come back…

I guess I am one of the bigggest pushers of warmup rehab type stuff, I have to get warm
and be sweating before I hit the iron,or I pay for it.

I am big on foam rolling, YTWL from diesel crew , and shoulder dislocates with a broomstick bar, or pipe.

they all work wonders.

good luck


63G and kmcnyc…thanks for the advice. I have seen the YTWL mentioned in other threads. I will check it out. The shoulder dislocates sound fun…I’ll track those down as well.

Also, since tomorrow is bench day, I will go ahead and add some warmups with the bar and some light stretching before hand.

Getting to my working sets without feeling “odd” would be a nice change.

Thanks again

Try a set of pushups. Hope it helps. Let us know.

Okay…I tried warming up better. I added a couple of sets with just the bar and did some light stretching before starting and between the 1st 3 sets. It definitely helped. That same feeling started to emerge after my 1st set of 135#, but never really progressed beyond rearing its head. I think a few better stretches/warmups, like those suggested by kmcnyc, along with the extra sets with the bar, might do the trick.

Thank you for the advice!

Also, related, but not to today. I mentioned that I was experiencing IOMS, instead of DOMS. I lied…inadvertently. The soreness never really went away after squats, but it was definitely more intense today! So now I get both of them. Man was I hating the stairs today. And, of course, my 5 y.o. wanted me to carry him up the stairs to bed. At least it worked some of the soreness out.

The workout…

By the way, in recognition of the shorthand discussion between Meat and Bunny, and seeing as I am not Canadian, I am switching to weight x reps x sets or weights x reps

Flat Bench-

Decline Bench-

Incline Bench-

**This was my 1st time doing incline or decline in…dear Lord…15+ years. They both felt awkward, as expected, and I ran out of gas by the time I hit the incline.

Close Grip Bench-

Close grip is difficult for me. Due to a broken wrist, when 12, (separated the bones…broken in 3 places) I can not supinate my left hand. I can only get to about 45 degrees. So I can’t get my hands any closer than where they brush the sides of my chest (maybe 13 inches), or it is insanely painful.

Seated DB OH Press-

DB Laterals-

Tricep Pushdowns-

My shoulders are screaming. Nice feeling.

Question to those in the know. As I get fatigued, on bench, my elbows want to creep a bit more perpendicular to my body (flair out a bit). Is this diverting the stress to or from my chest?

Thanks for all of the advice.

[quote]LittleStrick wrote:
Question to those in the know. As I get fatigued, on bench, my elbows want to creep a bit more perpendicular to my body (flair out a bit). Is this diverting the stress to or from my chest?

Thanks for all of the advice.[/quote]

I’m certainly not one to be chiming in here, but, as I understand it, keep elbows tucked in the lower part of the lift, and flare them out as the bar gets higher.

Anyone else? Did I get that right?

Well, I am definitely feeling my left shoulder this morning. I have a recurring nag on the front of it. Doc claims that it is inflamation/fluid buildup, around the bicep tendon tying into my shoulder. Of course, 2 shots of cortisone and a few weeks off never fully got rid of it.

Good grief, I am writing more about tweaks and pains than lifting. I’ll have to remedy that.

Anyway, all felt fine until I did the inclines and declines. They really tweaked it.

Tomorrow is squats again. Hopefully this one will get me used to the lifting and chase away the soreness.

sfp - thanks for the insight on the bench. I will go back to the tube and check some videos.

sfp is right. As your flaring out, what tends to happen is your actually pulling in more shoulder. Ive done it so bad Ive rotated my shoulder. Like a shrug. Along with keeping your elbows tucked, squeeze your shoulder blades before you start. It will help keep you as “a unit”. That way one muscle doesnt try to take over. Youlll be surprised how much it will help.