Diet of Iron and Tears

New here, decided to start a training log here in the hopes that I receive criticism in the process of getting stronger. Also it’s a good place to keep records of how I am progressing to see where I’ve come along the way.

My long term goal is to one day compete in a powerlifting competition. This a long ways away, so right not I am focusing on simply getting my strength up. Started in December of last year with Starting Strength after messing around in the gym on and off during my four years with the Green Wienie.

Currently about to start my second cycle of Madcow 5x5 after stalling on most lifts at week 10.

I’ll also be keeping track of calorie intake and even sleep as I really need to keep an eye on that! Only posting that stuff on training days.

As of yesterday here are my stats: weighed in at 185 pounds .
One rep maxes for the big three
Bench- 235 pounds
Squat- 285 pounds
Deadlift- 325

Yes, I know, it’s not where I should be after doing strength training for that long, but that’s why I am here. To learn and adjust anything along the way. One problem I think I have is simple mental toughness. Getting past the mental barrier of lifting a heavy ass weight. I believe I can lift more than I can.

Next time I post will either be tomorrow, where I am going to map out my lifting goals for the rest of the year/programs I plan on doing. Or on my next training day, which will be Tuesdays.

EDIT: Stats- Height- 5’ 10 (177.8 cm) Weight- 185lbs (83.9kg) Age-24

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One thing I’ve pretty roundly found to be true on this website (especially in the Training Logs section) is that no one will criticize you solely for your strength or progress to date; only for your willingness to do things that are necessary to improve.

The guys who end up on the wrong end of ridicule are usually the ones that claim to have certain goals, but resist any advice in helping them achieve said goals. Which is fine, not everyone has to be Brian Shaw or Eddie Hall, but don’t tell us that you’ve been doing everything perfectly for years with no results, so you think you need steroids, only to tell us that you don’t eat breakfast, you know?

Guys like you, who say “This is where I am, here’s where I want to go, advice welcome” usually do well, so welcome and good hunting. Read the training logs of good examples like @Alpha and @T3hPwnisher for some inspiration (not that you have to BE those guys, just a good example of what hard work actually is and where it can take you).

Thanks for the training log examples and for the advice! I want to be as open as possible with my training so that way if there is anything that can be tweaked someone can let me know. Looks like a solid community so far and I am excited to be a part of it!

So today marked the last day of my first cycle of Madcow 5x5. Lifts went as follows:
Again, everything is in lbs.

Bench 215 x 3
Squat 255 x 3 (although I want to record my depth last time, I am doing low bar btw)
Pendlay Row 175 x 3
Curls 3 x 8 60lbs
Triceps Extension 3x8 60lbs

I’ll post how I progressed from the beginning tomorrow.

My next cycle of Madcow begins this Friday, so the next four weeks will be lighter than normal as I work my way up to my 5 rep maxes and then progressing weekly on the weights. I plan on doing another cycle because I liked where the program has taken me so far. I want to work on my strength for a bit longer before I do hypertrophy. The reason I want to do hypertrophy is because after some reading around (mainly on Greg Nuckols website ) is that a bigger muscle is a stronger muscle. I believe after this next dedicated period of strength training I am going to work on building some size and see where that takes me with my numbers. I have been looking at PHUL which works both on strength and hypertrophy. My only concern for the program is progression, it is not really specified on the website (unless I missed it). I will be planning that program in the next 12 weeks before I actually start it.

Other than planning out my next program, I am also fine tuning my form on my lifts. My biggest concern being the deadlift as my back looked like it was rounding a bit. Oh, I also never mentioned diet. Currently I track my calories via an app (myfitness pal). On workout days I eat roughly 200 calories over my TDEE, on rest days I eat at maintenance and won’t shy away from eating at plus 100. My eating habits used to be much more lose. I started lifting at 155 and put on weight fast because I was eating at plus 500 everyday, eventually bumping it up to plus 600 briefly. As soon as I hit 185 I got a little scared of putting on too much fat, so I have managed to eat so that I have stayed at that weight range while keeping an eye on my waist and also my lifts. Currently I am probably just shy of 20 percent body fat so yes, I do plan on cutting after my hypertrophy program. The reason for that is because I read that it is easier to build muscle when leaner.

For some reason forgot my height. 5 ’ 10 (177 cm for you metric folk)

Like I said, I am still new at this so please call anything out and make me think/learn!

Why the tears? New PED I haven’t heard of? :smiley:

And there is an alternative to linear progression. In the table all calculations are of 215 at those percents on the farthest left. Then the adjusted to not be weird numbers in the 3rd column. Finally how much weight is added each set (to make sure you dont add 20 pounds then add 40 pounds the next set).

215 is your last completed. You won’t match your PR every workout, but you will have an opportunity to hit a PR every workout. If you have a weaker week (like in a calorie deficit) this will take that into consideration as you go but give you an opportunity to quickly regain lost ground (so as not to stall and have to restart).

Exceptions to those rules happen when the weights get heavier, like for my squat my first two sets would be 205 and 305 but I always go 135-225-315 if those situations.

Going to be keeping an eye on this log. BTW, you’re fine to enter a meet now if you want. We’re a similar height, you’re about 30 lbs lighter and your bench is about where mine was when I did my first meet at 198 lbs.

Haha, possibly! Thanks for the table though! I’m going to save that for later, it looks like it’ll come in handy!

@MarkKO, thanks! My only concern is my squat and deadlift. How long were you lifting before you went to your first meet?

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@celticfrost91 I trained for about nine months before my first PL meet. I’d been competing for around two years before that though, just not in PL so it wasn’t a huge thing for me to get on the platform, just a matter of adjusting to the new lifts.

Don’t worry about where your lifts are at. Pick a meet three to six months away and go for it. Then you’ll have a benchmark to build on.

Gonna be going over my progress on the first time I did Madcow 5x5. This is really for my own record, buuut I guess I can share :wink: The program was something that interested me after stalling out on Starting Strength a bit much around month 6. What I liked was obviously the weekly progression as linear progression every workout felt like a beating, even if it seems I could have squeezed more out of SS (believe me, it was something I battled with internally). I did about 10 weeks on Madcow which seems to be in line with what the website said, usually around the 12 week mark is when progress begins to stall. So on to the progress.

This might get lengthy…

Squat 235 x5 ----> 250 x 5

I am really tempted to say 255, but I produced a lousy 5th rep with awful depth. One thing that I struggle with is mental toughness. As a former grunt, I know I have what it takes to hack it, but for some reason I get a little scared of injury. Working on form and manning up is what I want to focus on this next cycle.

Bench 180x5 ----> 210 x 5

Bench, although a weak point a long time go, isn’t something I am too worried about. I love this exercise. If anything, I want to fine tune my form. Focus on a tight back, planted ass, and learning proper leg drive will be my goal for this next cycle. Ok, I guess I do have another concern. My right wrist has a pin from a fracture back in the day. Used to be a problem for benching so it is something that I still keep an eye on.

Deadlift 265 x 5 —> 285x5

I stalled pretty bad on the Deadlift on Starting strength and did a big deload. Form is something I really need to think about. Once I work on one thing, I do something else a little wonky. I was doing 290 and recorded that and to my horror my back was rounding a bit. Something I thought I didn’t have an issue with. This next cycle I really need ensure I am using proper leg drive, bracing the thoracic area and providing my lower back with a solid brace. I love the challenge the deadlift brings, but it’s easy to get frustrated because I am not happy with how much I am pulling.

Overhead Press 110x 5---->120 x 5

Yep, this one is a pain. I have a problem with extending my lower back on heavier weights. I think a stronger core will help get this lift up as well as remembering to properly brace during the heavy set.

Pendlay row 165 x 5

I didn’t include this in my previous program so I started pretty low to learn the form. At 170 I was getting gassed and not pulling the weight all the way up to my upper abdomen. I am curious to see how this lift progresses next cycle.

Diet and weight:
181lbs ----> 185lbs

Didn’t realize that I gained 4 pounds! Something I pooped up was the bulk. During SS I was putting on weight a bit too fast. For Madcow I became much more conservative as I neared 20 percent bodyfat (this is not accurate! just eyeballing here). During the 10 weeks I ate either at maintenance (roughly 2,800 calories) or +100 on rest days. Workout days was originally +300, lowering down to +100 or +200. Much different from eating plus 500 every day.

I am going to be watching my waist line as I do have a bit fat. As far as I know, it is very hard to build strength when in a caloric deficit and easier to build when leaner, and because I want to build strength I do not want to cut just yet. The way I adjusted my caloric intake allows me to be in excess,but stay around 185.I have hovered between 183-185 the last 6 weeks, which is fine with me. I am going to keep this the same next cycle, possibly only eating at maintenance on rest days.

And as far as sleep goes I get around 8 hours a night, 6-7 occasionally if it’s a bad night.

I’ll be doing this again in about 12 weeks when I am done with my next cycle. As said before, I will be working on hypertrophy after this next round of Madcow. The goal for that will be to increase muscle size as well as strength (emphasis on size). I am going to have to learn about volume and programming around that goal. Eventually I do intend to cut so I can get leaner and have that positively affect my strength growth. But that’s down the road.

Yesterday was day 1 of Madcow 5x5 round 2. Because the first four weeks are ramping back up to my 5 rep max, I am using this time to focus on form. So here is how yesterday went (five reps each set):

Bench 125—135—150—170—190
-I was focusing on working on my bar path. As the weight gets heavier I notice that I focus on the actual weight and where I touch my chest varies.

-Something else I noticed, on my last rep I was “chicken-winging” it. It wasn’t excessive. I am not sure if this was just a one time poop up, or if my back lost tension and I was benching on a “squishy” platform. Gonna keep an eye on this.

Squat(low bar) 140—160—180—205—235
-I was working on knee traction, making sure my knees weren’t wiggly or moving anywhere they weren’t supposed to be. For some reason focusing on this actually made the squats feel “better.” It might be because the weight is very light right now, but even on 235 it felt much more solid.

Pendlay row 105—115—125—135—150
-This one isn’t my favorite simply because the gym I have been going to has hex plates. So every time the bar goes to the ground, it is almost a guarantee that the plate will land on an awkward angle and roll. Will be moving gyms soon!

Assis: Hypers 10x 2 20 lbs and Situps 10x4 20lbs

Overall, it was a bit refreshing to be working at a lower weight and focus on form. Next time , if I can, I am going to record my form and look into that. The next workout I’ll be doing deadlifts and the bane of my existence, overhead press. I am looking forward to switching gyms. I have been going to a local YMCA during the summer and simply don’t like the atmosphere (lots of old people and young kids messing around… and hex plates). My gym by school is much more lifting friendly. I am trying to work in time where I sit and learn about training. Currently reading through Practical Programming, although science heavy, I enjoy it. Usually after work and the atrocious commute, the last thing I want to do is sit and learn, but right now it’s the only time for that. Brain gains goes a long way too.

So it isn’t mental toughness you’re lacking, it’s a precise awareness of how hard you can push safely. Different kettle of fish entirely.

I had/have a similar issue. Using the RPE scale helps, if only because the longer you use it the better you get at estimating your RPE. That means you get a real feel for your limits. Be patient. It takes time, and is different for each lift. Right now, I probably only really know my limits for squat and military press; deadlift I’m close, bench not so much.

So last night I had a pretty rough night of sleep. Spent the night at a friends place and the A/C wasn’t working making for a disgustingly humid night. I’m hoping I got 6 hours of sleep but it really feels like 5. Didn’t affect my workout today other than initially feeling fatigued. So let’s get to it. Remember, it’s a 5x5.

Madcow 5x5 Round 2, week 1-2

Deadlift 200—220----245----270
-Recorded myself and still saw a slight rounding of the back. I tried to keep my back rigid and neutral. While the lift itself felt fine (no lower back fatigue, felt my posterior chain getting some work in) I am still curious as to why this is. One thing I think is the possibility of weak hamstrings.

Squat 140—160—180----180

  • Light day for squats, double checking depth, which felt and looked fine. Once again focused on where my knees track during the lift, doing this makes me feel more explosive out of the hole. Again, could be just light weights. One thing I noticed was that my arms tend not to evenly line up. I think this is because of my bad wrist flexibility. But because my arms are simply keeping the bar in place, I don’t think this should be an issue…

Overhead Press 70—80—90—105
-Put an emphasis on using my core to ensure my body is a solid base when lifting. The lift felt good today, wasn’t able to record myself however because the gym got unusually crowded.

Assis: Sit-ups 3x20

Good day today, other than initially feeling like doo-doo. Going to look up deadlift solutions for my little back issue. I think Romanian Deadlifts might help because they will get my hamstrings stronger. My only issue with that is I hate messing around with programs. I don’t want to add this assistance exercise and have it “throw things off.” Unless the program specificall
y says a certain exercise is ok to add in, or if the program is more of a template type, I don’t want to mess around with it.

@MarkKO, the RPE scale looks interesting. I found a video on YouTube that is an overview of how to incorporate it into my programming. It looks like a handy tool that I can use. I’ll be looking more into this and using it as well! Thanks.

I think Mike Tuscherer and his Reactive Training System may be worth looking at too, just to get an idea of how it applies to powerlifting.

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Pretty good workout this morning after a wonderful night of sleep. Gym was pretty empty and I was feeling motivated today. I did have to cut the workout short by slicing out an accessory workout (dips). I probably should put a little hustle in the morning, but that doesn’t happen until the caffeine hits! I’ve also been reading a ton of World War 1 stuff (history major) so that’s gotten me all sorts of motivated right now. Anyways, onto the war against gravity.

Madcow 5x5 Round 2, week 1-3

Bench 125—135—150—170—195x3—150x8
-Unlike last time, no chicken wing at all. Which is good because the weight is 5lbs heavier than my top set on Monday. I worked on keeping a tight back and exploding the weight up. I have a tendency to bring the bar down a little lower than I would like, touching the bottom part of my sternum when I am not paying attention. Next time, I am going to work better at this. I would like to see more consistency out of my bar path. Other than that, no issues at all.

Squat 140—160—180—205—240x3—180x8
-Focus on bracing, I didn’t pay much attention until I noticed some fatigue developing in my lower back (which is a tad sore from the deadlifts). Braced my core, utilized that valsalva maneuver and didn’t notice the fatigue for the rest of the sets. Also made sure my arms were “lined up” which I determined to be incorrectly tightening my back. And I worked on exploding out of the hole. Not so fast that my form goes to shit, but not so slow that a turtle can reproduce during my rep.

Pendlay Rows 105—115—125—135—155x3—125x8
-Nothing worth mentioning here, other than hex plates are frustrating to work with. I focused on squeezing my back together and “slamming my elbows” into the ceiling.

Assis: Curls 3x8 60lbs
Triceps Extensions 60lbs

Was feeling very good afterwards and very energized to tackle the day. Sadly the energy went away during my 50 minute commute into the city where my day took a left turn into Monday even though it’s a Tuesday. Got the next two days as a rest day then I’ll be back at it. In the meantime I will be reading Practical Programming, which has been very informative. Learning a lot of science heavy stuff at the moment, which I am slowly going through (I am bad at science), but it is interesting to read about how muscles are made up, how they work, and then imagine that while lifting. Honestly it’s nearly insane how muscles work.


His name is like something you’d use to cheat in scrabble, haha. We actually used to be co-workers though, so I got to learn how to spell it.

That’s pretty cool. I should have checked the spelling - with a name like mine you’d think I’d probably be more aware of that kind of thing.

Long week and glad the weekend is here. Had a good day at the gym yesterday followed by a slow day at work and a quiet night. School is right around the corner and I am actually looking forward to it simply because of the change in schedule it will bring. Yesterday went pretty well. Focused on form as it’s still a “deload” period in the program.

Madcow 5x5 Round 2, week 2-1

-Bench felt very good today. I am getting used to keeping my back tight throughout the entire lift, as opposed to keeping it tight on the first rep then letting my back get lose throughout. Wrist was not sore at all or feeling bad, which is a very good thing. I didn’t pay too much attention to bar path, which will be a priority to work on next time. If the gym is empty enough I am going to try to record my form to see if it is in my head, or if I need to fix it.

Squat 160—175—195—215—240
-Added more to my warm up sets. This really helped “grease the grooves.” I always do 5 min. on the bike before I lift, while it’s good for getting me warmed up, I think the additional warm up sets helped a lot. It might add time to my work outs, but I felt much more prepped and used to the movement when the heavy set came. 240 for 5 felt much easier than before. I was actually nervous the first two reps, but I realized that I got this and finished the 5 reps feeling great. I felt comfortable going to depth and confident coming out of the hole.

Pendlay rows105—115—125—135—155
-I watched an Alan Thrall video on how to barbell row, I was reminded of some basic form fundamentals. This wasn’t a lift I used in Starting Strength so I don’t have this lift as down as the others (although it is rather simple). One thing I did was flaring out my elbows, this helped immensely and 155 felt much more fluid because of that one cue.

Assis: Hypers 2x10 25lbs plate
Sit ups 4x10 20lbs

Weights will be light until week four when I will using my 5 rep max weights.Haven’t read Practical Programming these past few days and will be reading that today actually. I also plan on looking into Mike Tuchscherer’s Reactive Training System this week as well, as suggested before. My diet has been in check recently, went a little over yesterday trying to meet my protein needs but it’s nothing to sweat over. Still in the 183-185 range, which is what I am intending right now. Looking forward to tomorrow when I get to tackle deadlifts.

Good workout today, although I wasn’t feeling too motivated today. Woke up on the wrong side of the bed or something and wasn’t in the zone. Especially after deadlifts, even though the lifts felt great today, something felt off in my head. I’m sure it was just a one day thing. Not every training session is going to be tits.

Madcow 5x5 Round 2, week 2-2

-Deadlifting today felt great. I wanted to pay attention to lumbar flexion, I addressed this by reading up in Starting Strength and wrote down the cue to stick my butt out and stick my chest out. Imagine overextending the lower back, although if one is flexible to do this, obviously don’t overextend. I used to think I was that flexible so that’s why I never tried this cue, because I was scared of fucking up my back. I tried it today and didn’t feel any lower back fatigue on the heavy set at all. Normally my lower back gets fatigued real quick. 275 felt very easy today and was happy with myself. One thing I want to work on is adding in more warm up sets next time.


  • The bar I was using wasn’t the best. The knurling was nearly gone and made for a slippery bar. Bracing the bar against my back was difficult was my hands would slip out to the side. Anyways, I made do and worked on exploding out of the hole and loading my hamstrings.

Overhead Press85—90—100—110
-My troubled lift. I worked on using my core and flexing my entire body. I felt solid today and noticed improvement with my core. Around 120 is when I am going to really watch what I’m doing. I have always been slow to progress with this lift. My first milestone that I am looking forward too is 135x5. It feels like when I make progress on this lift, stalling is quick to follow.

Only around 2 weeks left at this gym until school starts and I get to use the gym over there. I like that gym much better than the one I’ve been at over the summer. Lifter friendly environment and round plates. I’m a little anxious about the school schedule and hope it won’t affect my gym time or my dieting. I did well last semester, no reason why it should be any different.

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I know a half the population that would train a lot more often if it were :smiley:

Always REALLY watch what you are doing. The warm up sets are to make sure your form is locked in before the heavy stuff so when a lift gets hard and your brain shuts down the weights move themselves. Think of every rep is practice, even competition attempts. Every time you do a good rep your mind remembers that rep and says “yea buddy, thats how we do it”. Unfortunately every bad rep you do your mind thinks the same thing. The more good reps the more likely it is the good reps keep coming.


Thanks for this. I can’t put my finger on where I heard it, but you just reminded me of a lifter who said he approached his warm ups the exact same way he approached his 1RM. I’ll have to put this down on the top of my notebook.

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