Dante's Beginner Strength Training Log

Today, I officially started the StrongLifts Beginner Strength 5 x 5 program. Even though I haven’t lifted in over a year I thought it would be easy. Squats and bench press were easy (no weight on the bar), but the rest kicked my ass. I won’t post every workout here because I’m going to follow the program exactly except for replacing the core work with McGill’s recommended exercises as I have a herniated disc. I’ll log my nutrition at Fitday.com:

My profile:
32 years old
66 inches tall
153 lbs / 27% body fat (Accumeasure caliper)

My goals:

  1. remain injury free
  2. build strength and mobility to protect herniated disc
  3. increase conditioning so I can keep up my kids
  4. gain knowledge to help my family stay fit
  5. get lean and look good

I could use some help shooting for specific numbers. I think 170 lbs bench press by the end of the year is reasonable. Picking numbers for squats and deads is difficult as it depends on my back. My best squat was 5 x 300 lbs. if I could hit 200 I would be really happy.

Training Day 1 7/12/2010

Magnificent Mobility all easy and medium exercises (my 3 year old and 1 year old daughters did these with me)

Squats 5 x 5 x 45 lbs
Bench Press 5 x 5 x 45 lbs
Inverted Row 3 x 8/7/7 (couldn’t actually touch my chest to the bar on most of those, but got upper arms past parallel)
Push-ups 3 x 15/8/6 (last rep took about 10 seconds)
Advanced Bird Dogs 2 x 10
Side Bridges 1 x 5 (10 second hold each rep)
Stir the Pot 2 x 10
Curl-ups 2 x 10 (10 second hold each rep)

50 jumping jacks (I thought I should do some cardio since I blew my carb limit today, but I guess 1 minute doesn’t count)


Workout 2 7/14/2010

Squats 5 x 5 x 55 lbs
Overhead press 5 x 5 x 45 lbs
Deadlift 1 x 5 x 85 lbs
Pull-ups 3 x 5/3/3
Stir-the-pot 2 x 10
Advanced side bridge 2 x 10 x 8 lb dumbbell
Bird dogs 2 x 10 x 8 lb dumbbells and 6 lb ankle weights (need to get some manly ones)
Curl ups 5 x 10 sec.

I just started building a power rack so I don’t have a pull up bar yet. I improvised by screwing some pipe straps to the main joist in my basement and attached some Ironmind Claw Curls. It was difficult doing pull-ups by just the finger tips so if I got my upper arms parallel to the floor I counted it as a rep.

Here are the Claw Curls: www.ironmind-store.com

This is basically what I’m building: Homemade 4x4 Power Rack
Mine will be 77 inches tall and have a 1 3/4 pull-up bar on the front to build grip strength.

When I do side bridges, I hold a dumbbell with the free hand straight up and slowly move it about two feet in front of me and then two feet behind me. I keep the torso still and only move at the shoulder. You can feel the different muscles in your core contracting and relaxing as the leverage changes.

Workout 3 7/16/2010

Squats 5 x 5 x 85 lbs
Bench Press 5 x 5 x 65 lbs
Inverted Row 3 x 12/10/9
Push-ups 3 x 15/10/7
Side Bridges 2 x 1 40 lbs on hip (10 second hold)
Curl-ups 1 x 10 (10 second hold each rep)

Workout 4 7/19/2010

Squats 5 x 5 x 95 lbs
Overhead press 5 x 5 x 55 lbs
Sumo Deadlift 1 x 5 x 105 lbs
Chin-ups 3 x 3/3/3
Stir-the-pot 2 x 10
Curl-ups 10 x 10 sec
Supermans 5 x 10 sec

I thought it would take months to squat and deadlift that much weight, but my back feels great. I don’t have the slightest hint of pain. I still need to work on hip flexibility more. I can go below parallel, but it feels tight.

My PWO shake consisted of strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and tuna. Does drinking tuna make one hardcore?

Workout 5 7/21/2010

Squats 5 x 5 x 105 lbs
Bench press 5 x 5 x 105 lbs
Inverted row 3 x 7/7/7
Push-ups 12/10/10
Side bridge 2 x 10 sec x 40 lbs
Supermans 3 x 10 sec

My deadlift, squat, and bench are all the same weight now. From this point on I’m going to add weight in increments according to the program. So, according to the spreadsheet that will put me at a 277 squat and a 188 bench press by the end of September. Those are lofty goals for me. I had some slight pain in my lower back on the right side during squats, but I don’t think it’s going to slow me down. I’m going to go hang on my inversion table for a while.

Workout 6 7/23/2010

Squats 5 x 5 x 105 lbs
Overhead press 5 x 5 x 60 lbs
Sumo Deadlift 1 x 5 x 115 lbs
Pull-ups 3 x 6/7/6 (cheated a little, still using talons)
Stir-the-pot 3 x 10
Curl-ups 5 x 10 sec
Supermans 3 x 10 sec

Just picked up a NordicTrack skier on craigslist for $35 so I can get some cardio in and get rid of this gut faster. It’s been two weeks and my measurements and BF% are all pretty much the same. I didn’t expect a change, but the program calls for measurements every two weeks. I did lose a couple more pounds, so I weight 151 now. I still haven’t taken any pictures yet.

#7 7/26/2010

Squats 5 x 5 x 115 lbs
Bench press 5 x 5 x 115 lbs
BB row 30 x 45 lbs
20 x 65 lbs
15 x 80 lbs
Push-ups 12/8/8
Curl-ups 10 x 10 sec x 35 lbs
Supermans 10 x 10

I switched from inverted rows to regular BB rows. I didn’t feel as though I was getting much out of the inverted rows. They were awkward and I never felt any soreness. I did much more volume with the bent over BB rows and can feel it throughout my whole back and biceps. I did a lot of reps because I haven’t done these in years so I was just feeling them out. My lower back, surprisingly, feels completely comfortable with this exercise too.

#8 7/28/2010

Squats 8 x 5 x 120 lbs
OHP 8 x 5 x 65 lbs
Deadlift 1 x 5 120 lbs
Chin-ups 8/6/5
Side bridges 2 x 10 sec x 40 lbs

I didn’t feel like the work out was hard enough so I added three sets to the squats and OHP. I’m going to add a lot more weight next time. I did regular deadlifts instead of sumos and back feels great. Since I started lifting again my back hurts far less frequently.

#9 7/30/2010

Squats 5 x 5 x 125 lbs
Bench press 5 x 5 x 115 lbs
BB row 5 x 5 x 115 lbs
Push-ups 16/8/7
Curl-ups 5 x 10 sec x 45 lbs
Supermans 5 x 10 sec

I accidentally did the same weight on bench as Wednesday. I’m going to stay with the barbell rows instead of inverse rows. I feel like I need to make my lower back as strong as possible. I think as long as I maintain good form there isn’t excessive pressure on the discs.

Great stuff man! Keep it up and you’ll be benching BW in no time!

[quote]TisDrew wrote:
Great stuff man! Keep it up and you’ll be benching BW in no time![/quote]

Thanks for the encouragement. Unfortunately, I hurt my back yesterday from running around and playing with the kids. My back is very sensitive to running; this has happened a few times. I’ve been in moderate pain for over 24 hours now. I didn’t lift at all, but I put some time in on the Nordictrack skier which made it feel a lot better. Then I did Magnificent Mobility which made it hurt again. I’ll probably just do cardio and mobility again tomorrow and pick up where I left off on Wednesday. Some good news for today is my pants were falling off at work and I had to put another hole in my belt to keep them up. My BF is down to 25%, but my weight is staying about the same.

#10 8/4/2010

I still had pain in my back today, but I worked out very lightly anyway.

5 minutes on skier to warm up

Squats (box squats just about parallel)
65 x 5
75 x 5
85 x 5
95 x 5 pain started increasing so I stopped

Bench Press 5 x 5 x 120 lbs

BB Row
45 x 10
65 x 10
75 x 10
75 x 10
75 x 10

Push-ups 15/9/7

Standing Calf raises
40 x 30
40 x 30

Overall a terrible work out. I felt like crap all day and hardly ate anything. I’m really depressed that my back has been in pain for over 3 days straight.

#11 8/9/2010

Squats 5 x 5 x 135 lbs
OHP 5 x 5 x 75 lbs
no deadlifts, I might have to remove them from program completely
Chin-ups 5/4/4
Dips 3 x 10
core stuff

I missed another workout due to back pain. I caught up to the weight I should be doing today though. More important than the weight, I was was able to go well below parallel today and it felt great. A little Malibu Pina Colada mix makes vanilla whey so good. My weight is down to 149 but I’m not trying to lose anymore; this heat is killing my appetite.


Squats 5 x 5 x 155 lbs
Bench press 5 x 5 x 130 lbs
BB row 5 x 5 x 120 lbs

I passed body weight for squats; I guess that’s a milestone. Six weeks ago I was squatting 45 lbs and never thought I would get this far in a few weeks. I don’t have the slightest hint of discomfort in my back. I was really struggling with the weight on bench presses today. I completed every rep, but the last reps took about 6-10 seconds to get it all the way up. What’s really sad is that I eat chicken breasts that are bigger than my pecs.

Just completed week 7. I’m squatting 170 lbs easily but I missed reps on the bench three workouts in a row. Today I benched 135 lbs. I did 5 reps, then 4 (missed one), 4 again. Then my daughter needed help going to the potty so I had an extended rest. I came back and did all 5 the next two sets. I did an extra set of 2 reps to get the ones I missed. I hadn’t been doing the push-ups since I thought it was pointless after benching, but since re-reading Hartman and Robertson’s article on shoulders I put them back in.

BB row 5 x 5 x 130 lbs
Standing calf 4 x 14 x 50 lbs
Seated calf 4 x 14 x 130 lbs
Push-ups 20/9/9

Still weigh 150 lbs, BF% reading is down to 20% (don’t think that’s very accurate). I’m going to do the 9 site measurement at Body Fat Calculator. I saw Roman recommended it on his blog.