T Nation

Returning to Lifting

Hello all,

I lifted for a while, but then took a break when I got an office job, and am getting back into it.

-Torn superspinatus, right shoulder, doc cleared me to ‘lift as much as I want’, and said it was too small to warrant an operation.
-Right wrist impingement, dorsiflexion is bad
-Upper spine kyphotic when back squatting or OH squatting, ok when front squatting, has been a problem ever since I saw a terrible chiropractor, also, ow.

I do not know the Oly lifts, but am comfortable with KBs.

I would like to start Indigo-3G, the earliest would be August 20, but I would like to talk to someone about programming before taking the plunge to make sure I am prepared to succeed.

In addition to training, I do a rope class once a week, I enjoy it, it is not very intense, but it uses lats, biceps, rotator cuff, abs, and I guess a little bit of quads. I also started doing calf raises with a weight held overhead in the mornings.

If you answer an outstanding question, please quote the question, if I feel like I have an answer, I will remove it from the list below. I plan to keep the first few posts updated with ‘what am I doing now’, and post comments as I change things.


2-2.5x BW DL
“Strong” upper body
Increased work capacity

Outstanding Questions:

For a 40min session of low-intensity strength work (see above, fun with rope), what kind of peri-workout nutrition is recommended? What about while on Indigo-3G?

What supplementation is recommended if I should find myself doing long endurance activity to prevent it from sabotaging my gains? An example would be an unplanned hike, bike ride, or jog, probably not exceeding a half-marathon.

I travel frequently, and while on travel, gym access is questionable. I typically have two weeks notice or so. What should I do in the event that I am unable to follow a program for a week? One option would be upping the volume in the weeks prior, such that I need a deload week (a la the Poliquin ‘super accumulation program’ linked here: http://www.T-Nation.com/readArticle.do?id=1605986 ).

-Is the program outlined below terrible? If yes, please say so, if no, see below.
–Is the Peri-workout nutrition correct?
–Is the quantity of recovery time correct?
–Do you have any load variation advice?
–How would you suggest warming up?
–What are some replacements for the jumping good morning that fit with the aims of the program?
–What is the most shoulder-friendly DB Bench Press variation?

Asked this question about Six Weeks to Superhero on the beginner’s forum, cross-linking here to keep everything in one place. http://tnation.T-Nation.com/free_online_forum/sports_body_training_performance_bodybuilding_beginner/questions_about_6_weeks_to_superhero?pageNo=0

Went to the gym today to test some numbers, apparently I’ve lost quite a bit of strength. All of the numbers below are working 5RMs, measured in lbs. I spent 40min working around these numbers (going over, going under, etc) so I considered it a workout, tried out the ‘rope pull’ machine, and drank Surge Recovery.

KB clean and press: 2x62
Yates row: 140
Deadlift: 200
DB Bench: 2x55
BB Military press: 80
BB front squat: 110

My BB press form sucks, my DB bench form needs work, and I should probably use an incline, the row is not as much fun as it used to be, I topped out the KBs in the gym for the clean and press, if I am going to do anything like that with a barbell, I need wrist straps. Dorsiflexing the wrist is painful, and my form sucks anyway, so some of those exercises that require that are out.


Peri-workout: Surge Recovery

Supplements: ZMA, Curcumin (daily), Flameout, Superfood, Rhodiola (intermittent), Rez-V


Peri-workout: Anaconda, MAG-10

Supplements: Indigo-3G (12/day dose), ElitePro Minerals, Flameout, Rhodiola (intermittent), Curcumin (intermittent)


I categorically refuse to count calories. My diet consists of fruits, vegetables, and various dead animals from a local farm in whatever quantities I feel like eating, mostly cooked in a crockpot or frying pan. I do add brown rice, home-made whole wheat bread, and small amounts of honey, I do not have ‘garbage’ cheat days, but will eat some crap in social settings. My body composition is ‘fine’, and my weight is stable, though I could be leaner.

Equipment and time available:

In my apartment: I have 2 28kg, a 24kg, and a 32kg KB, a pullup bar, and a pair of rings. I can use these at any time one the weekends, and at any time after work hours on weekdays.

At work: I am too busy to take breaks for ‘do a pushup every hour’ type programs.

At the gym in the building: several cardio machines, no rowing machines, lat pull down, several leg machines, DBs up to 50lbs, a cable machine, and a pool. I could in theory use this at least once a day

At the gym down the road: plenty of free weights, machines, bosu balls, a heavy bag, and nearly anything else I can think of using. It would be rude to use more than one cage or more than one barbell at a time. I can use this one per day for 40min, and twice per day on weekends.

This should not imply that I am working out constantly, it is intended to give a statement about the amount of time I would be able to devote to workouts if recovery permitted it.

Here is an attempt at developing a ‘Complex’ based training program. This is inspired by “Six weeks to Superhero”, but contains six runs of two complexes instead of eight runs of four complexes. Since this is a program made by a non-expert, lowering volume seemed like a good idea. From this, I adjusted bench days to have two days of rest between them: http://www.T-Nation.com/free_online_article/most_recent/the_best_damn_bench_press_article_period

Six weeks to superhero requires more equipment and technical skill than I have available; my form on the big compound BB movements (other than the DL) is atrocious, and I do not know the oly lifts. This is a ‘pull/press’ and ‘upper/lower’ split program.

Since I am presently untrained, I suspect that I will see strength gains on this program; the rest periods between sets are short, but the rep ranges are correct for strength gains.

Peri-Workout Nutrition: 2 scoops of Anaconda/MAG-10 per 40min session.

Recovery Programming:
Heavy day: maximum number of circuits of chosen complex in 40min
Medium day: One fewer circuit than performed on heavy day
Light day: Two fewer circuits than performed on heavy day
So if I managed six circuits on my heavy day, I would do five on my medium day, and four on my light day. I opted to do a ‘medium’ and a ‘light’ on my ‘two workout days’.
Rest periods between sets should be in the 30-90sec range

Tuesday: BP Complex (light)
Wednesday: DL Complex (heavy)
Thursday: BP Complex (medium)
Saturday: Rope variety fun, DL complex night (medium)
Sunday: BP Complex morning (heavy), DL complex night (light)

Weight and Rep Programming:
Unless I get a better idea between now and ‘commitment’, using six weeks to superhero scheme (adapt to volume, add reps, then add weight and drop reps, then add reps) until it stops working or overwhelms me. Will definitely track total volume in the lifts per week.

BP Complex:
What - Why - How much
1Top Half Bench Press - Overload - 3-5
2Rings Pushup Variation - Strength/Stability - 3-5 (?)
3DB Bench Press Variation (?) @60% - Strength/Speed - 5
4Medicine ball chest pass - Speed/Strength - 8-10
5Plyo Pushup - Explosive - 5-10

DL Complex
What - Why - How much
1Top Half Deadlift - Overload - 3-5
2Deadlift - Strength - 3-5
3DB Swing - Strength/Speed - 2-3
4Jump good morning (dropping load) - Speed/Strength - 8-10
5Broad Jumps - Explosive - 8-10


I feel like the complexes as written have issues, I have always been terrible about warming up properly, and I have not picked a BP variation, so this is a program in need of help.

-The ring pushups replace a heavy conventional bench, I had both, but it seemed like a ‘pick ONE’ scenario
-I opted for the ‘ring pushups’ instead of a conventional bench or DB bench for strength, the strength progression will be by manipulating leverage, so the ‘three rep’ range is doable.
-The DB bench for speed needs to be the most ‘shoulder safe’ variety available.
-Anxiety about the consequences of bashing a hole in the drywall or drop ceiling may cause me to compromise my explosiveness with the medicine ball, a different exercise that does not ‘launch’ an object may be needed.
-Plyo pushups are done on my knuckles because of wrist injury listed above.

-The speed/strength and strength/speed of the DL complex feels wrong
-the DB swing is used because the KBs are on the other side of the gym, and would require either removing them from their station, or leaving the station I am using, which would be an issue.
-The jumping good morning may need to be done using a hard stop to reduce impact on knees at the bottom of the jump, or a droppable weight

Notes on Implementation:

I hope to implement these so that manipulation of plates is not required during the workout, constantly moving heavy plates is an uncontrolled variable, and therefore not acceptable.

The Upper body complex consists of preparing the pin press (start position for elbows is a >90deg angle), hanging the rings off the bar, and placing the DBs and medicine ball under the bench. Progression is pin press, set the bench up for the DB press during first rest period, perform ring pushups, get DBs into position for DB press, perform DB press, lie on floor to perform medicine ball toss, or stand and face a wall (may not be a good option in my gym, requires leaving the station), perform plyo pushups, rest, repeat. This requires no adjustment of plates, which is a good thing.

The lower body complex gets harder, the overload deadlift is the conventional deadlift weight, sitting in a squat rack with ‘overload’ hanging from it by webbing, unclip the webbing, and put the weight on the floor, to conventional deadlift. The good morning is problematic, I can adjust the plates on my DL and either not drop it, or use the squat rack as a ‘stop’; monopolize a second bar, bring in a sandbag and shit up the gym, use the DBs from the DB swings and not drop them; use the ‘web weights’ added to the overload DL and drop them (HERP DE DERP WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG); or I could come up with a better motion.

Outstanding Questions:
-Is this program terrible?
-Is the Peri-workout nutrition correct?
-Is the quantity of recovery time correct?
-Do you have any load variation advice?
-How would you suggest warming up?
-What are some replacements for the jumping good morning that fit with the aims of the program?
-What is the most shoulder-friendly DB Bench Press variation? From this: http://www.T-Nation.com/free_online_article/most_recent/discover_hidden_shoulderkillers I am guessing incline reverse grip DB, rotating to touch all four DB plates together at the top.

Where are the overhead presses and squats!? The schedule of the program is

Day 1: Squats AND Overhead pattern
Day 2: Deadlift AND Bench
Day 3: Off, or active recovery, or Neural Charge, or back/arms training
Day 4: Overhead AND Squat
Day 5: Bench and Dead
Day 6: Off, or active recovery, or Neural Charge, or back/arms training
Day 7: Off, or active recovery, or Neural Charge

Darn, I hope my post isn’t stuck with a mod.

I liked the layout of 6 weeks to superhero, but for a number of reasons, I don’t think it is the best program for me to do, so I tried my hand at designing my own from scratch, using some of the concepts. I decided to focus on just two patterns of movement, and boost the volume in those movements by a little under 50% to offset the reduced total volume; dropping the total time in the gym from eight complexes to six seems cheap, but since the typical newbie mistake when making a program is biting off more than you can chew, I thought it was a good idea. I would be open to adding more work, I am just not sure how.

My squat and MP form is bad, and my vertical pressing is better than my horizontal pressing. Not squatting is probably a bad idea in the long run, but it should be ok for now; since I am more comfortable with the KB overhead presses than the horizontal presses, I figure I should focus on getting my horizontal pressing up to speed and use the overhead holds as assistance.

This may end up just being a thought exercise, and go entirely out the window when I see the indigo program. Thanks for the feedback!

I would stick with the Indigo Programs, or use the 5/3/1 template

Trying again…


One cycle is three days: A, B, Rest/Assistance, Repeat. If a day is missed, don’t reset the cycle, just resume it.

For me, assistance is lats/bi/abs in a low intensity ‘rope fun’ session.

Tracking volume (total weight lifted in each exercise per session), intensity (weight per rep), duration (length of the session, and therefore, amount of rest between sets), and density (number of sets per duration).

Programming is to push one variable at a time for six cycles, do a two cycle deload, and start with a different variable for the next six cycles. If untrained, can probably push it a little harder, and may be able to get away with skipping the deload. The key is probably just not letting the ego go all full retard with the weight of the weighted parts.

If linear loading schemes stop giving results, switch to stair-step, and then wave loading.

Stop before failure. For the 1s and 2s, grinding it out is acceptable, missing the rep is not. For the 3s, any ‘press out’, grind, or slowdown is failure. For the 4s and 5s, loss of distance moved (‘pop’) is failure.

BP Complex (A):
What - Why - How much
1Top Half Bench Press - Overload - 3-5
2Rings Pushup Variation - Strength/Stability - 3-5
3Decline Reverse-Grip BP @60% - Strength/Speed - 5-7
4Medicine ball chest pass - Speed/Strength - 8-10
5Plyo Pushup - Explosive - 5-10

DL Complex (B):
What - Why - How much
1Top Half Deadlift - Overload - 3-5
2Deadlift - Strength - 3-5
3Double KB clean and jerk - Strength/Speed - 5-7
4Jump good morning - Speed/Strength - 8-10
5Broad Jumps - Explosive - 8-10


-All of these exercises are exercises I am individually interested in working and can perform with good form, with the exception of the jump good morning, which I will learn. They are grouped according to approximate movement pattern. There are a few odd choices.

-I opted for the ‘ring pushups’ instead of a conventional bench or DB bench for strength, I am weak enough that three reps is a big deal, and strength progression will be by manipulating leverage, so at my present level, it will not be hard to keep it in the 3-5 rep range for ‘strength’.
-The Decline Reverse-Grip Bench Press is a very silly sounding exercise; it is likely very shoulder safe, and hits an angle (lower pec) that the others are likely to miss.
-The medicine ball chest pass is irresponsible in a crowded weight room; I am considering hanging a small plate from a chain and shoving it instead.
-The KB CnJ replaces the power clean, and adds a small amount of quads and overhead work to a program that is sorely lacking both.
-For certain exercises, there are limits, when the C&J is maxed out (heaviest bells in the gym, 7 reps per complex, density is 30sec rest periods), it may be time to switch that exercise out; for the jump good mornings, ‘one kettlebell’ from the C&J will be the weight, the heaviest bell I have access to at the gym is less than 1/3 BW, so this should be fine.

More shit I’m thinking about…

I have concluded that the ‘bruises’ on my thighs are actually stretch marks. They appeared in week four of HPMass, so as best I can tell, going from zero to squatting 4x a week made my quads grow so much in a month that I literally ended up with stretch marks.

Holy crap.

My inspirations:

Okie dokey, I am making progress figuring out what to do. Priority one is not doing any ‘new’ movements, because I always fucking get hurt.

Deadlifts, step-ups (to a bench), ring pushups, lat pulldown machine. Bam, four exercises, only one of which requires a trip to the gym. Support will be a variety of heavy-ass t-handle swings, kettlebell C&J, kettbell halo-to-slashers, and hanging leg raises.

Deadlifts are twice a week, as heavy as possible to smoothly accelerate, one set of cluster reps (rep, ten seconds of rest, rep, until unable to complete), followed by a second set five minutes later, if I hit eight total reps, then go heavier next time. Follow that with 15mins of kettlebell clean-and-jerks, at a weight that permits me to continue all the way through. This is a heavy, Anaconda-worthy session that requires a minimum of counting shit, and switching exercises. The inspiration is the “RKC Program Minimum” which I got good gains on once; I want to get to a point where I can use the 2x 28kg kettlebells I have for the long-cycle, instead of just very low rep ‘strength’ sessions. I can finish it with the halo-to-slashers and hanging leg raises as ab work.

For two other days, I will do pulldowns, ring pushups, and step-ups; I will do them time-under-tension style, at the moment they’re all weak, but that should improve. I will use the heaviest weight I can use for good form, and up it 5 seconds a session until I push 100 seconds with bodyweight for step ups and ring pushups, and probably adjust weight upwards around the 40 second mark for the pulldown machine.

The hanging leg raise isn’t something I can do well, but any grip endurance work is welcome, and I’ve always wanted to get better at it. The step-ups with bodyweight are surprisingly hard, probably a coordination issue. The halo-to-slashers, as long as they’re light (28kg bell is WAY too much, 24kg is just right, weird) are great for the biceps, loosen my shoulders, and really work my obliques.