T Nation

Saan's Strength Log

I’ve been lurking and reading the logs of the powerful women here at T-Nation for about six months and I’m excited to finally start my own log. I’ve been very impressed with the way you give each other support and advice. I’m living in China and I feel somewhat alone in my quest for strength at times (though my husband does lift too) so I would really like to get in on the great community you have here.

I’ll be brief about my background; there is a longer intro at the beginning of my blog on my profile page. Last year I became fed up with my fat lazy self and determined to get my shit together, physically, before my 30th birthday (Dec. 27th, and yes I more than achieved my goals!) I started my transformation with the typical cardio and lowered calories at the beginning of February and started lifting weights in April. I got really addicted to the weights! It was hard to hold myself back from lifting heavier but I made myself go a bit slowly to learn proper form and such. By lifting weights and cleaning up my diet I lost about 25 kg. and started to look and feel like myself again, only stronger. After working hard to lose the fat I’ve been excited to finally focus on strength. I’m very competitive by nature so I’ve decided I would like to eventually compete in a strength sport. Olympic lifting really appeals to me but I would like to build up a foundation of strength before hiring a coach to teach me the lifts. I’m also interested in powerlifting and strongwoman competitions.

My training has been a bit bumpy the past couple of months because I have been traveling so much. I managed to complete two rounds of WS4SB3 before a two week trip to Vietnam where I had no access to weights. Yesterday I completed week 3. I lift every other day so each “week” takes me 8 days. My body seems to like this schedule best. I’ll post the round 3 workouts below.

My big goal for this year is a 300 lb. deadlift. I’m not entirely sure how possible this is but I really want it! I hit a PR of 90 kg (just shy of 200 lbs.) last night and I haven’t yet hit a plateau (nor have I worked especially hard or long on the deadlift), so here’s hoping.

My gym has fixed barbells and dumbbells in pounds but an Olympic bar and plates in kilos, so I will note lbs. or kg. on all my weights.

20 Dec. 2007 (before Vietnam)
ME Upper

mobility warmups

Chinups (assisted): bw-27 kg./5 -23/3 -18/3 -14/3

DB bench press: 20 lbs./20 20/20

BB rows: 35 kg./9 35/9 35/8
supersetted with
Rear delt flyes: 8 lbs/8 8/8 8/8 (barely)

DB shrugs: 45 lbs/10 45/10 45/10

Hammer curls: 20 lbs./10 20/10 20/7l, 8r (my arms were totally worn out and I couldn’t get to 10)

a little stretching/yoga

Dec. 21-Jan. 1 OFF (Vietnam)

2 January 2008
60 minutes yoga

3 Jan. 08
DE Lower (at home)

mobility warmups

High jump: 3 3 3 3 3

One-arm offset overhead squat: 6 kg and 12 kg/5 5 5

Split squat front foot elevated: 40 kg/10 40/10

Swiss ball leg curl + bridge: 12 12 12

L-seat: 20 sec. 15s 15s


5 Jan. 08
RE Upper

mobility warmups
Overhead Squat: 35 lbs/8
Lateral Lunge: 35 lbs/8
Overhead Reverse Lunge: 35 lbs/8
Sotts Press: 35 lbs/8

Pushups: 12 10 10 8 (totally disappointed with my performance here)

Parallel-grip pullup: bw-32 kg/8 -32/8 -32/8
supersetted with
Band pull-apart: 8 8 8

DB military press: 25lbs./8 25/7.5 25/6+2 push-press (am I correct to note the weight of the individual db’s rather than the total weight?)

Left off the assistance work because I was feeling totally thrashed!


7 Jan. 08
ME Lower

mobility warmups

Sumo deadlifts: 50 kg/5 60/5 70/5 75/3 80/3 85/3 90/2 (PR! )

Bulgarian split squats: 50 lbs./6 50/6 50/6

Romanian deadlifts: 55 kg/8 55/8 55/8 (My grip started giving out at the end of the last two sets so I rushed to finish them. My form felt a bit off on these so I will have to review it. Maybe it was just because for the first time I was able to use a power rack to set up the lift! I am really excited that my gym finally has this equipment–I haven’t really been able to practice squats yet except single-leg and overhead squats)

Stupid ab circuit–bicycle crunches, toe touches, hip thrusts, v-ups, 12 each movement, 2 circuits (I hate the burning feeling in my abs)


Since my gym finally has the power rack I’m thinking about switching my ME lower movement to back or front squats next week. I think I’ll stick with chinups for ME upper for at least a couple more weeks, tempting as it is to finally be able to lift heavier on the bench press (again I got stuck previously because the gym didn’t have the right equipment).

Here’s yesterday’s (7 Jan.) nutrition:

breakfast: 4 eggs scrambled with 1 T olive oil, ~1 cup broccoli, ~1/2 bell pepper, ~2 T cheddar

lunch: 1.5 small chicken breasts (baked with basic chile marinade), plenty of raw broccoli, bell peppers and some carrots

pre-workout: 1 heaping scoop chocolate protein powder with a little plain whole yogurt and water

post-workout: 1.5 scoops unflavored protein powder with a little plain whole yogurt and pineapple juice (usually I have fruit but for some reason I skipped it)

dinner: 2 slices brisket, beans, potato salad, cornbread with butter–not at all typical but totally yummy

pre-bed: 1 scoop chocolate protein powder in water…I wanted to have nuts but I was still too full from dinner

Welcome, glad you are joining us.

Welcome to T-Nation!


Welcome to the forum and out of lurker status.

Great job on the squat PR.

Thanks for the welcome! :slight_smile:

Yesterday I felt pretty sore in my glutes and hamstrings and my back was a bit stiff. I decided to do yoga but being so stiff I didn’t feel like it was a particularly effective session. My balance has been terrible the past few weeks so I’m trying to incorporate more yoga (I’ve done very little yoga since I started lifting weights). I only managed to find time for 30 minutes before I had to run off to the Beijing Linux Users Group monthly meeting. My mom got me a foam roller for Xmas and it just arrived a couple of days ago; I was wanting to try that out last night but rolling around on my bum on mats on the floor doing yoga hurt so much I chickened out. I’m still pretty sore today but tomorrow hopefully I’ll be ready to try the foam rolling.

Today’s workout (9 Jan. 08) was ME Upper.

Since I was feeling stiff and sore I took a hot shower before going to the gym; that felt great…it’s my cheater’s warmup.
Jumping jacks for a few minutes because I was feeling energetic and bouncy
Mobility warmups

Chinups (assisted): bw-27 kg/5 -23/4 -18/3 -14/3 -9/2 (tried to do one bodyweight chinup at the end but I only got halfway up)

DB bench press: 25 lbs./15 25/15

BB rows: 35 kg/9 35/9 35/9 (last rep was a bit rough)
supersetted with
Rear delt flyes: 10 lbs/7 8 lbs/8 8/8

DB shrugs: 50 lbs/8 50/8 50/8

Hammer curls: 20 lbs/10r, 9l 15/10 15/11r, 10l (this is the only exercise I regressed in; it’s my first time doing this workout since I’ve been back so I’m not too worried about that)


I felt really great today; lots of energy and totally euphoric as I left, dancing a bit to the music on my mp3 player. There was a tiny Chinese girl in the gym with a trainer doing situps and chinups and running on the treadmill. I can’t imagine having to run on a treadmill as an eight year old. But her cuteness made me grin in spite of myself.

Today’s nutrition (9 Jan.):

breakfast: 1 scoop chocolate protein powder with plain whole yogurt and water (I woke up late and wanted to eat as quickly as possible but I can’t stomach solid food right after waking)

after breakfast: 2 cups green tea (my usual morning drink–I get really great green tea since I live in China!)

snack: 1 banana

lunch: a good size portion of pulled pork (kind of an accident–I sent my husband to the meat market for pork loin and he came back with some fatty pork roast. I covered it with a dry rub and roasted it slowly, then poured off as much of the fat as possible), about 3/4 cup roasted pumpkin (with olive oil, salt, pepper, chipotle powder), a few bell pepper strips, a little raw broccoli and two carrot sticks

pre-workout: 1 heaping scoop chocolate protein powder with a little plain whole yogurt and water

post-workout: 1.5 scoops unflavored protein powder with plain whole yogurt and pineapple juice, 4 mandarin oranges (they’re small) and a few strawberries

dinner: 4 eggs scrambled with 1/2 T olive oil, about 1/2 cup broccoli, about 1 T mixed cheddar and colby cheese

pre-bed: almonds and celery…these flavors go really well together! also some fish oil

Pretty decent, though I think I’ve been relying a little too much on protein powder. I’m an ex-vegetarian and sometimes it’s difficult for me to eat so much meat. Eating tomorrow should go well too; I cooked some salmon tonight (and posted the recipe in the recipe forum here) and have some chicken breasts marinating in the fridge for a stir-fry with shiitakes and long beans.

I was just chatting with my husband about nutrition and decided to total up yesterday’s food on nutritiondata.com. It came out to 1662 calories–170 g protein, 70.1 g fat, 92.8 g carbs–21% carbs, 37% fat, 42% protein. Not bad at all I suppose but I think the calories are a little low. Indeed, I weighed myself this afternoon and I weighed 65 kg, which is down from my usual morning weight of 66-67 kg.

Now I know that I’ll have fluctuations in weight and I have to look at loss or gain over time but I haven’t weighed 65 since the day I got back from vacation. Right now I want to gain muscle with a minimum of fat and I’m more interested in strength gains anyway. I expect my weight to go up but I guess if it stayed the same while I got stronger I’d be ok with that too.

Now my husband is in a more difficult position. He says he’s been keeping track of his nutrition all week and he often only gets 1200-1400 calories a day (he’s offered to let me look over his logs tonight–here’s hoping I’ll discover something he left out and they aren’t really that low). He is trying to increase strength too and lifts three days a week and does Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for 3 hours 2-3 times a week.

Obviously he needs way more calories. I already suggested nuts and milk but he says he’s getting too much fat to increase his consumption of these. Neither of us has been eating much carbs except veggies (nor do we really desire them)–I had one bowl of steel cut oats this morning, a couple of slices of black bread at a Russian restaurant Tuesday evening and the cornbread on Monday (which was totally unusual) and that’s it for me for the week. He is about the same.

I do all the cooking for both of us and it already feels like I cook such massive amounts it’s a bit tedious. Does anyone have any suggestions of things to add to our diets that are a bit more calorically dense but still healthy? There is no whole wheat or whole grain pasta available here.

And my crappy old gas stove with only two burners does not allow a low enough heat to properly cook brown rice. :stuck_out_tongue: I guess I can make brown rice in the oven somehow probably… We do eat barley from time to time but that doesn’t really have many calories either. Any ideas totally appreciated. Thanks.

Ok, I realize now that last post just sounds whiny. I should suck it up and eat some bacon. And force-feed my husband some bacon too. :wink:

[quote]Saan wrote:

I felt really great today; lots of energy and totally euphoric as I left, dancing a bit to the music on my mp3 player. There was a tiny Chinese girl in the gym with a trainer doing situps and chinups and running on the treadmill. I can’t imagine having to run on a treadmill as an eight year old. But her cuteness made me grin in spite of myself.

Workouts are looking good. I just wanted to say congrats on the weight loss. My deadlift goal is 300lbs too.

My daughter is 9 years old and loves to run on our treadmill. They have so much energy at the age. In gymnastics, they have to do chinups, pullups, climb a rope and situps too. It is cute:)


[quote]cvb wrote:
Saan wrote:

Workouts are looking good. I just wanted to say congrats on the weight loss. My deadlift goal is 300lbs too.

My daughter is 9 years old and loves to run on our treadmill. They have so much energy at the age. In gymnastics, they have to do chinups, pullups, climb a rope and situps too. It is cute:)

I wish I had stayed in gymnastics as a kid. I dropped out because I was afraid of doing a backbend (I was only 5) and they wouldn’t let me advance to the next level until I could. I did the first chinup of my life just a couple of months ago!

Somehow I just can’t imagine running on a treadmill as fun but I guess that’s just my mental block. I love to run outside. I bet you have a fun time keeping up with your daughter.

I’ll be watching your log as you aim for that magic 300 lb. deadlift (there’s something about that number!)

So my husband and I had our conversation about nutrition earlier this evening. It turns out he’s been eating more like 2200-2600 calories, nowhere near as bad as he claimed. I wanted to have some kind of practical action plan for increasing calories and was disappointed that we didn’t really come up with one. But he has a new drive to eat more now, especially after I admonished him for eating like a little girl. :wink:

He was going to the gym tonight and I was feeling really energetic so I decided to go as well, even though today was supposed to be an off day. My next workout was DE Lower, which is not exactly easy but it is shorter and relatively easier than the difficult ones (for me those are ME Lower and RE Upper).

High jumps are kind of boring so I decided to do broad jumps again (I did them only on my first week of WS4SB3) even though it was -4 C outside where I do them. I live in a huge apartment complex–it’s 10 30-story buildings around a big garden. The garden has a track around the perimeter which is at least as big as the track around a football field. There are also a couple of places where there is a squishy ground covering like there might be in a playground (actually there’s one of those too) that is laid out in a grid, perfect for broad jumps. So I ran (no way I 'm going to walk when it’s that cold and my workout clothes are not that warm) about 1/4 lap to the grid, did my jumps, then ran the long way around to the gym (which is in the basement of one of the buildings). I should have done my mobility warmups at home before I left but I was so excited to GO that I forgot. So…

10 Jan. DE Lower

1/4 lap run
Broad jumps 3 3 3 3 3 (by the end my jumps were at least 8 inches further than the last time I broad jumped!) I didn’t rest much between sets because it was so cold.
3/4 lap run

Mobility warmups

Split squat front foot elevated 40 lbs./10 40/10

Swiss ball leg curl + bridge: 13 13 13 (this is getting too easy, I should change to a different exercise next week)
Between the last two sets of this I decided to prove I can still do a bodyweight pullup (since I couldn’t yesterday) and I managed to do 1.5 pullups from a dead hang with no kipping. This was pretty exciting because I swung my hips like mad to get my first bodyweight pullup back in November.

Hanging leg raises: 10 10 10 10 (last couple were pretty difficult) I was amazed how much easier these were than the last time I did them. That was Dec. 1 and I did 5 sets of 6 then. Woo!


I’m feeling pretty euphoric again but running always does that to me, especially running at night. I’ve been coughing a bit though; I should have checked the pollution index before I exercised outside. Beijing’s air quality is terrible. It’s like I ran a lap and smoked a pack of cigarettes. :stuck_out_tongue:

I like your fresh, energetic attitude towards training. :slight_smile:

And yes, your husband does need to suck it up and eat some bacon! Fats aren’t bad, if they are the right kinds. To get my calories higher on occasion I’ll add flax, nut butter (almond or peanut) or heavy cream to my shakes.

[quote]sic wrote:
I like your fresh, energetic attitude towards training. :)[/quote]

Thanks. :slight_smile: I’m trying to keep my beginner’s enthusiasm and hopefully turn it into intermediate enthusiasm.

Yup, we’re working on this. Mmmm, heavy cream . . .

It’s been an incredibly busy weekend but I did manage to squeeze my gym time in this afternoon. I was a bit rushed, though, as I had friends coming over to my house later in the afternoon. Given the imperfect circumstances, the workout went about as well as possible. RE Upper is definitely the most challenging day for me right now, even when I’m not short of time.

13 Jan.
RE Upper

Mobility warmups

Pushups: 17 12 8 6 (better than last time but I’m still not impressed with myself)

Parallel-grip pullups: bodyweight-32 kg/8 -27/8 -27/7
supersetted with
Band pull-aparts: 9 9 9

DB military press: 25 lbs/7 + 1 push-press 20/10 25/5 20/8 + 2 push-press (ugh. I still can’t get the 25 lb. dumbbells up for 4 sets of 8; maybe I could if I wasn’t already feeling so fatigued by this point. The difference between 20 and 25 lbs. feels huge. I should switch to a barbell next week since my gym now has a power rack for me to set the lift up on. I probably should have switched this week but being in such a rush I didn’t think about it)

BB shrugs: 65 kg/8 75/8 75/9 (on the Smith machine, because someone was using the only other barbell–this was actually the first time I’ve used the Smith machine for anything. It was a bit weird)
supersetted with
DB curls: 20 lbs/8 20/6r 5l 15/11 (same problem as with the military press; next week I should use the brand-new ez curl bar)


My upper body felt well-used after zooming through all this.

I have a sinus infection. :frowning: I’m feeling a bit woozy from some drugs I took (which didn’t decrease the pain nearly enough) and today is deadlift day. I’m not sure if should go to the gym or not. I still have a while to decide; my gym doesn’t close until 2200.

How do you guys decide whether to work out or not when you get sick?