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Fat Fat to Strong Fat to Strong Training Log

The title is the goal. I’m 37 with history of using gyms mostly for cardio and a bit of machines for last 20 years. I’m 5 foot 10 and weigh a bit under 17 stone (235 pounds) I bought a Gorilla sports bench press set with barbell, ez curl bar, dumbbells and some vinyl weights 2 years ago and have been intermittently playing with bench press only since then. The last couple of months I’ve got more serious about this as well as adding some other exercises and am trying to follow a progressive overload programme targeting 5 sets of 5 and upping by 2.5kg/5pounds each time as 1.25kg are my smallest plates.

Current programme is
Day 1 Deadlift - sumo stance 102.5kg (225 pounds) 5x5
Day 2 Bent over row 52.5 (115 pounds) 5x5, bicep curls 20kg (44 pounds) 5x5
Day 3 Bench 82.5KG/181 pounds 5x5 (87.5kg/192pounds tested 1rm) Shoulder press 55kg/120 pounds 5x5

The deadlift I just did today and feel like I can keep upping this by 2.5kg a time for quite a while although grip is becoming an issue. I also have a problem that I’m running out of plates and can only fit another 2.5kg on my bar as it was a pretty budget set I bought.

The bent over row also feels like it has a fair bit more in it and very confident of getting the 52.5kg Tomorrow. I haven’t been progressively upping the curls just put them in as an accessory. Would like to do pull ups but don’t have a bar currently and wouldn’t be able to perform even one anyway.

On bench I’m less confident as feel a lot closer to my current max. Upped it from 60kg max to 87.5kg max in last 2 years. Did 5 sets of 5 at 80kg last session but it was really tough so will see if I can make it. With shoulder press I don’t have a squat rack so have to power clean it up before starting each shoulder press set. feel I have a bit more in me on this one so feel v confident at getting the 55kg, did 5 sets of 5 at 52.5kg last time.

I tend to do these 3 sessions 3 days in a row and then take either one or two days off depending how I fee then start again. I’m taking whey protein shakes before each session now and trying to maintain weight but turn some of my fat to muscle. Not counting calories but have been maintaining weight over last couple of months, I eat a lot of meat so with that and the shake I expect I’m getting sufficient protein.

Would appreciate advice on what I’m doing, should I add any extra exercises and or supplements? Would love to do squats but don’t have a rack. I’m doing sumos to try and get some legwork in as well as frankly being a bit scared of normal deadlifts effect on back.


Hi there - I’m not the one who should be offering much training / diet advice, but subsequent reader will probably want to know more about your diet, your goals, if you’re doing any kind of conditioning, etc.

Where did your programming come from?

Will follow your log. Best wishes, stay safe


Hey Burnur,

Thanks for commenting, stay safe too mate. Checked out your log and will follow. Diet is generally ok plenty of veg, fruit and meat I just tend to eat too much of everything which has produced my current weight! I also like a beer which can contribute a fair amount of calories. By conditioning do you mean cardio? I’m not other than a couple of mile walk every day. Have a concept2 rower in my garage but not using it atm.

Program I’ve sort of developed from reading strong lifts 5x5, Push pull legs and the lifts I like and equipment I have available in my garage. I’m sure its not ideal just what I’ve fallen into and as you’ll see below I don’t religiously stick to it either.

Todays workout:
52.5 kg bent over rows still feel really easy so ended up doing 5 sets of 8.
realised bicep curls prob more like 26kg as wasn’t including the weight of the ez bar 5x5 felt quite good pump at end.

Had a couple of beers in the sun and couldn’t resist doing my bench press. I know its wrong but feel I lift slightly better after a beer. Tried a new technique today of using my heels to drive down. Previously I’d had my feet on the floor but only my toes. Wow it worked far better than I’d expected, been trying to clench my shoulder blades for the last couple of weeks and don’t feel its made any difference but could feel the heel drive work immediately. Last session I barely managed 5 sets of 5 at 80kg, today I did 5 sets of 5 at 82.5kg and felt had a fair bit left in the tank so now quite confident of getting 5x5 at 85kg next time I bench.

Undecided whether to try to get shoulder press done this evening feeling pretty tired right now. Really can’t believe though how well the heel drive worked shows how far I have to go with technique even in bench which is the exercise I’ve most practice on.

Basically, and not necessarily for long times or high intensity. If you weren’t doing anything at all I would have suggested at least some form of easy conditioning like walking which I think is beneficial for pretty much everyone. If you want to do something more involved it should probably fit your goals.

Re squats, If I had a barbell and no rack and wanted to squat with it.
Some people on here (@flappinit @jbooty115 @DSmolken are the ones I can think of, surely there are others as well) have built their own equipment or repurposed “non-gym” equipment in a cost effective way.
Aside from that, personally I’m in no way comfortable squatting with a bar on my back and no safeties and would never do it with any appreciable weight, but I’d consider zercher squats which you could pick up off the floor or pretty much two of any piece of furniture or solid object of the same height.
You could also do bodyweight or db squats, even if you keep your current routines you could do some of that in your warm up.

Squats are awesome.

However, there are so many substitutes for squats, that you can still get an incredible workout with the stuff you have.

In addition to building something like @burnur said, you can do the following with just a BB and individual plates:

  • Landmine Squats (don’t need a Landmine attachment, just put one end of the bar in a corner, or if your inside, put the end in an old shoe and put that shoe in the corner. These can be done by holding the bar up by your chest or holding the bar down low between your legs)
  • Goblet Squats (hold a DB, or plates)
  • RDL (I prefer these to many other pull lifts like deadlifts, but to each his own)
  • Step Ups (holding plates or a BB)
  • Lunges (both forward and reverse)
  • Split squats (holding plates or with BB)

As to your overall program, I LOVE minimalist training, and my body responds to it greatly. However, it wouldn’t hurt to throw in some accessory work. Like on a deadlift day, add 3 sets of another leg exercise that doesn’t stress your lower back as much so it doesn’t affect your rowing day. On your bench day, add some direct tricep work. On your Rowing day, if you have access to any sort of of pull-up bar, or a place you could use bands for pulldowns, that’d be awesome.

You will see progress with your program. There’s no doubt. However you do need more leg work than just deadlifts. It’s a very specific movement pattern, and itll create muscle imbalances at some point if it’s all you do for lower body. Heck, you could even do just deadlifts that day, and add another more dynamic exercise like lunges to your bench press day.

I will also follow your log, and hopefully ill get to read while you achieve some goals!

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Burnur, Jbooty,

Cheers for the input its given me some good ideas on how I can incorporate squats and other things I should try to put into my programme. I half heartedly tried picking up a 55kg barbell from my bench station under elbows for zercher but decided not for me at moment so trying landmine squats. I will also try to start putting some dips or narrow grip bench into my bench day to add a bit of triceps accessory work.

Today did my 55kg shoulder press 5 sets of 5. Missed the 5th rep on 4th set though, funny as up till then I hadn’t realised how close to my current limit I was. Rested for 10 seconds with the bar still up and tried again but barely managed to push it an inch. Rested 5 min and got 5 reps on the 5th set, tried to get a 6th rep to make up for the miss and got really close but just couldn’t lock out the left arm. Will prob do shoulder press before bench next time, unsure whether to ignore the miss and push up to 57.5kg or go again at 55kg. Also did 5 sets of 8 landmine squats with 22.5kg on the bar so 32.5kg total. Thought with that weight was going to be really easy but I can feel my muscles now and the movement felt awkward to begin with but getting better on later sets. Happy to add this one to my programme now and slowly up the weight as normal.

Current short to medium term goal is to bench 100kg just for 1 rep whilst also upping all my other lifts. Once I’ve got that 100kg bench I’m gonna try to lose some weight, will carry on trying to push up the lifts when losing weight but accept one will compromise the other to an extent.

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Rest day yesterday. Back and legs felt a little sore today so did bench. Got 5 reps at 85kg on first set, 4 reps on 2nd, 4 reps on 3rd and 3 reps on 4th and 5th set. The missed reps weren’t failures as I don’t like failing on bench so won’t attempt the rep if I don’t think I can make it. The only one that was close was the 3rd set, looking back I had a good chance of getting the 5th rep and was a touch and go decision not to attempt it. Overall pretty happy as I was going up 2.5kg so at least I got the 5 reps on one set, will definitely stick at 85kg next time and see if I can get the full 5 sets of 5 before moving up again. Funny thing my left bicep got quite a pump on from the bench press and felt quite sore not in a bad way just normal post exercise. I’ve never had this before and can’t see how biceps are involved in bench press, but it happened.

Also did shoulder press today. Decided to ignore the one rep failure last time and push onto 57.5kg. I’m beginning to dread this exercise not for the press itself but for the powerclean I have to do to get up there. I had 3 failures on the powerclean today twice when it hit my belt and once when I didn’t manage to get my hands under. I’ve never lifted with a decent bar so don’t know if its just my rubbish technique or whether lack of olympic type sleeves makes this movement much harder. Shoulder press itself was ok got 3 sets of 5 reps and 2 sets of 4 reps with failures on the last rep on both final sets. I may knock this exercise on the head until gyms open again and or I get a power rack as I really hate the powerclean now that the weights are getting heavier.

Halfheartedly tried some skull crushers with empty bar but my bench isn’t really right for them as has the bars for bench press built in so I have to lie the wrong way round and then don’t really have enough room. Think I’ll go for close grip bench press for triceps next time.

Decided to do rows rather than deadlift yesterday as lower back was a bit sore, I think from one of the failures on power clean. did 5 sets of 8 at 55kg which felt really good and got a sore (in a good way) upper back afterwards. also did 3 sets of 26kg ez curls. Back day is currently easiest day, I really should get myself a pull up bar.

Today did 5 sets of 5 105kg deadlift which went well. Theres now no more room on my bar for anymore weight. I have another 15kg of plates so will try and jury rig 1.25kg on each side next time. Also did 5 sets of 8 35kg landmine squats which felt good, I could really feel my legs during and afterward, getting the hang of the technique a little as well and worked out right place to stand to be able to get a deep squat.

Tomorrow is meant to be rest day but feel pretty good at mo so may skip this and have another go at getting 5 sets of 5 on the 85kg bench press.

I had a similar sensation a while back on incline press, I’m no expert but i think that the bar was coming out past my elbow near the bottom.

If you post a video to one of the other forum sections you’d probably get lots of useful feedback.

Thats interesting that someone else has had the same thing. Makes me think bicep must be working against tricep straightening the arm making the exercise harder but maybe aiding stability when using bad technique?

Tried to get 5 sets of 5 at 85kg bench for second time today. Got full 5 on 1st, 2nd and 4th set. Got 4 reps on 3rd set and 3 reps on final set. I was really annoyed at the final set as I was willing to ignore the miss on the third set and really looking forward to moving up to 87.5kg. Anyway its progress as 3 rep misses overall compared to 6 last time, go again in a few days and hopefully get the full 5 sets of 5 this time.

I’m really focussed on getting my bench up to 100kg ASAP, have to remind myself that this is a marathon and not a sprint.

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As some scrub on the internet with no real experience/credentials who hasn’t actually seen what you did, I couldn’t say.

If you’re really focused on a bench press milestone performing it more efficiently will probably help you get there sooner and safer. If you do think your technique needs improvement, I would be a hypocrit and again recommend (last time, I promise) taking a video and soliciting feedback in a topic in beginners forum. Plenty of folks have done it and that kind of post almost always gets constructive advice.

Thanks for the advice I do appreciate it. I will try and get the wife to take a video next time I bench.

Yesterday was a rest day though I played around a little with close grip bench press. Today 5 sets of 5 on 107.5kg deadlift.

Quite happy with the ease of the solution to get a little extra weight on the bar, lets see if it scales up next time.

Also did 5 sets of 8 at 37.5kg landmine squat.

Decided to start the weight loss program 16st 11 pounds, 235 pounds, 107kg is to much at 5ft10 in any unit of measure at my muscle mass anyway. Started yesterday, am counting Macros and trying to keep protein up at 280 grams/day which is surprisingly difficult considering I thought I ate a lot of meat. Aiming for overall calories under 2200.

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18 May
5 sets of 8 57.5kg rows went well. Also did 26kg barbell curls 3 sets of 8

19 May rest day

Today was bench press and I got the 5 sets of 5 at 85kg so delighted. The final rep on last set was ragged with left arm not wanting to finish the lift but just got it. Videoed first set so will post when ive worked out how to.

Heres link to my first set of 5 at 85kg bench press tips welcome.


Today was deadlift 5 sets of 5 at 110kg. Felt very tired on the later sets. Have decided to leave landmine squats to tomorrow and do them with barbell rows.

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Today 5 sets of 8 bent over rows at 60kg felt good. Also caught up on 5 sets of 8 landmine squats at 42.5kg (decided to up by 5kg as still at a v low weight on these) which also went up well.

Got some good feedback on my bench press technique from posting vid on beginners forum with general consensus that it looks ok and to carry on pretty much as is. Will certainly try tucking arms in a little more though and see if I can get more of an arch.

Hey man, just came across your log on the feed. Good stuff so far. Burnurs recommendation is a good one, but I am partial to zercher squats, weighted and BW walking lunges.

The main issue with zercher squats is that they’re pretty limited to how much weight your upper back can handle. Holding the position safely for any extended period of time really tests bracing ability. I think it’s a great exercise that not only allows you to squat decently heavy, but also reinforces good bracing, keeping a tight upper back and being able to breathe and brace under a load.

From my experience, my squat went up quite a bit once I started doing lunges. Bodyweight or weighted, I dont think it matters too much. I do a lot of them twice a week and it hasn’t seemed to impact my squats negatively.

Just my 2 cents on the subject. Awesome job with the bench press progress by the way.

Cheers Boilerman, will give Zerchers another try perhaps with just the bar to begin with until I get used to having the weight in my elbow crease.

Today is due to be a rest day and is the week anniversary of starting my weight loss/logging so will update on that. Aim to update this every Saturday for the next 9 weeks so planning to continue for 10 weeks in total.

Weekly averages 260g protein, 62g Carbs, 40g fat, Calories 1648
Weight at beginning 16st 11 pounds (235 pounds) weight at end 16st 4 pounds (228 pounds) 7 pound loss.

This is the first time I’ve counted Macros and feel its going quite well so far, haven’t felt hungry at all. I didn’t manage to make my goal of 282 grams of protein a day on any day yet but got reasonably close and hopefully that will be easier this week as I bought a load of beef and pork to go with the chicken breast and tuna cans I’ve been having this week. The carbs are underestimated as I don’t count vegetables / fruit apart from potatoes etc. I count alcohol as carbs though so where I drink a 200 calorie beer can I divide that by 4 and put it in the carb column.

Expect the weight loss to plateau a little next week as I’ve had the easy water loss and waiting for the diet to get tougher as well.

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