Primitive home training with spirit!

Discussion in 'Training Logs' started by Philip, May 31, 2008.

  1. Philip

    Philip New Member

    Hello! This is my first post so I'll just briefly present my training background, goals and training scheme.

    I'm 19 years old, having physical training with emphasis on strength and mass gains as one of my main interests. Up until the age of 17, I did gymnastics which means my experience in traditional weight lifting is limited. I have, however, developed a solid strength foundation excelling in gymnastic type strength movements if you know what I'm talking about [​IMG] The past 2 years I've been working out primarily in my basement since I have no access to a decent gym where I live, thus being limited to more primitive equipment and methods which have worked very well I must say.

    My current height and weigth:
    5'9'' (176 cm) at a body weight of around 163 lbs (74 kg).

    4 weeks ago, I came accross HST, read about it and thought: hell this **** seems like serious stuff and so I decided to take 10 days off for SD whereupon I started my first HST cycle. However, I do not follow this method for the entire body... Due to the gymnastics I did in the past and probably a little genetic factor involved (and my personal preferences) my highest priority have been my lower body for some time now. Thus, I decided to employ the HST principles on my lower body. I feel my upper body has all the mass it needs at least for the time being so I'll just continue to maintain upper body mass by doing some limited work that covers it.

    My main problem is that I only have access to a small size barbell (5 kg) with 80 kg of weigth plates. Therefore, I must complement the squat and deadlift (which I cannot perform at maximum weigth in the 5 RM interval) with one-legged variations such as the "pistol" and step-up. Currently, my lower body training routine looks like this (I do upper body and core work every workout as well but as it is of lesser priority right now, I will only outline the lower body part of my routine):

    Squat 2 sets
    Step-ups (on a chair [​IMG] ) 2 sets per leg
    Deadlifts 2 sets
    (3x per week)

    I have just finished the first week of 10's, thus having trained with HST for 3 weeks. As you see, I use probably more total sets than what is common for my lower body. This is because 1) I am an unexperienced lifter which means lesser weights which means I cannot exert my body to the extent of an experienced lifter with fewer sets; 2) Not even during the 15's I could max in deads, thus I am compensating with more volume.

    A question that I have is about zig-zagging... I have read that repeating weigths you used in the 15's in the 10's is fine, but in my case I will not reached the maximum weight I used during the 15's until the 4th (of 6) workout with 10's. I.e. I will be doing 10's at the same weights I did 15's and exceed the 15 rep maximum not until the 4th 10 rep workout. Is this stupid?

    Feel free to visit this log and critizise [​IMG] , I will post my entire routine with upper-body work later.
  2. quadancer

    quadancer New Member

    It does seem a bit laggard, but probably doesn't mean too much in the long run, since this is your first (discovery/adjustment) cycle. Add a bit of weight if you will, just stay off of max attempts until it's called for. Your maxes will climb from your testing anyway as you gain strengths in the cycle.
    One priority you should have is watching papers/ yard sales/ flea markets/ thrift stores to buy used equipment, since you have a place for it. Read the threads in the "Home Equipment" forum here.
    <div></div><div id="QUOTEHEAD">QUOTE</div><div id="QUOTE">1) I am an unexperienced lifter which means lesser weights which means I cannot exert my body to the extent of an experienced lifter with fewer sets</div>
    Ummm...weight is relative to strengths. You are doing MORE sets than the program calls for, which mean you could do more weight with less sets.
    <div></div><div id="QUOTEHEAD">QUOTE</div><div id="QUOTE">2) Not even during the 15's I could max in deads, thus I am compensating with more volume.</div>
    Same as above. You 'can' max at anything, so I don't entirely understand what you mean. Did you read the FAQ's, and Articles? It's very important to do so.
  3. Philip

    Philip New Member

    I will search for second hand basic equipment such as an international barbell and a rack.

    What I meant with &quot;not being able to max in deadlift during the 15's&quot; was that I do not have sufficient weight to do so. Further, it seems that I have a good sort of strength endurance meaning my body is used to heavy volume although my maxes are relatively low. This in turn would imply that I'd have more difficulty adequately exerting the particular muscle group with fewer sets. I have understood it is typical that programs with lesser volume but higher max effort is better suited for experienced lifters, no?

    For example, a professional 100 meter sprinter can 'make himself' much more tired and exhausted from three 100 m intervals than can a marathoner, in spite of the sprinter being more used to the distance. Why? Because the sprinter has the ability to go all-in during that short period of time.

    I read somewhere about an amateur lifter who did only one set of squats per week. It appeared that he did, against all odds, increase his strength as well as size. Well, his weekly set of squats was in the frame of 12 reps @ 220 kg... He, understandably, did not recommend any 'newbies' to rely on one set of squats per week.
  4. Lol

    Lol Super Moderator Staff Member

    Hi Philip and welcome to HST.

    My advice would be to get hold of some more cheap weights so you can keep a load progression going through this cycle. If your current bar isn't up to it then get a tougher one too. If you are doing deadlifts for the first time you will make rapid progress each cycle. No sense in stunting your progress by not having enough weight.

    At this stage you should make some pretty great progress in your lower body if you squat and deadlift three times a week.

    It's not essential but have you though of using a bit more variety? I would learn to front squat as well as back squat as they are quite different beasties. You will find front squats are harder to perform than back squats so your current weight supply will take you further. Also Romanian deadlifts and stiff-legged deadlifts are good compliments to squats of all kinds. Regular deadlifting can get hard to do several times a week once the loads are heavy (ie. during 5s) but at this stage you should be fine (what happens is that your lower back takes a real beating and they are quite hard on your CNS).

    As a young sporty guy, learning to do cleans would also be a smart move. See if you can get hold of a copy of Starting Strength (2nd. Edition) by Rippetoe and Kilgore as it provides invaluable info on how to squat, clean and deadlift correctly.

    Starting Strength
  5. Philip

    Philip New Member

    <div>
    (Lol @ May 31 2008,11:19)</div><div id="QUOTEHEAD">QUOTE</div><div id="QUOTE">Hi Philip and welcome to HST.

    My advice would be to get hold of some more cheap weights so you can keep a load progression going through this cycle. If your current bar isn't up to it then get a tougher one too. If you are doing deadlifts for the first time you will make rapid progress each cycle. No sense in stunting your progress by not having enough weight.

    At this stage you should make some pretty great progress in your lower body if you squat and deadlift three times a week.

    It's not essential but have you though of using a bit more variety? I would learn to front squat as well as back squat as they are quite different beasties. You will find front squats are harder to perform than back squats so your current weight supply will take you further. Also Romanian deadlifts and stiff-legged deadlifts are good compliments to squats of all kinds. Regular deadlifting can get hard to do several times a week once the loads are heavy (ie. during 5s) but at this stage you should be fine (what happens is that your lower back takes a real beating and they are quite hard on your CNS).

    As a young sporty guy, learning to do cleans would also be a smart move. See if you can get hold of a copy of Starting Strength (2nd. Edition)  by Rippetoe and Kilgore as it provides invaluable info on how to squat, clean and deadlift correctly.

    Starting Strength</div>
    I have been searching for a bar and rack to buy and I think I'm up to something. We will see if the my offer is accepted...

    Frontsquats are something I have taken into consideration, and I will probably include them after I've finished this week.

    I've done some cleans in the past but I feel very uncomfortable with the exercise since my wrists apparently cannot handle the weight correctly when I rest it on the front of my shoulders. I studied an instructional video clip and came to the conclusion that my forearms are unproportionally long compared to the upper arms! When I bend the forearm as it is bent when resting the barbell on my front shoulders, my wrist reaches beyond the frontal part of the shoulder... One solution to this could be not to put down the barbell on the shoulders but instead holding it as in the beginning phase of shoulder press and then drop the barbell and continue with another repetition.
  6. <div>
    (Philip @ Jun. 03 2008,11:12)</div><div id="QUOTEHEAD">QUOTE</div><div id="QUOTE">I've done some cleans in the past but I feel very uncomfortable with the exercise since my wrists apparently cannot handle the weight correctly when I rest it on the front of my shoulders. I studied an instructional video clip and came to the conclusion that my forearms are unproportionally long compared to the upper arms! When I bend the forearm as it is bent when resting the barbell on my front shoulders, my wrist reaches beyond the frontal part of the shoulder... One solution to this could be not to put down the barbell on the shoulders but instead holding it as in the beginning phase of shoulder press and then drop the barbell and continue with another repetition.</div>
    One no-no of frontsquats is to hold the weight. It has to rest on your shoulder. I had the wrist problem when I started front squatting, it was solved with some practice (the wrist flexibility increases) and by holding the bar a tad wider. Don't start too heavy to avoid really injuring your wrist. It will get easier.
  7. Lol

    Lol Super Moderator Staff Member

    <div>
    (Philip @ Jun. 03 2008,3:12)</div><div id="QUOTEHEAD">QUOTE</div><div id="QUOTE">I've done some cleans in the past but I feel very uncomfortable with the exercise since my wrists apparently cannot handle the weight correctly when I rest it on the front of my shoulders. I studied an instructional video clip and came to the conclusion that my forearms are unproportionally long compared to the upper arms! When I bend the forearm as it is bent when resting the barbell on my front shoulders, my wrist reaches beyond the frontal part of the shoulder... One solution to this could be not to put down the barbell on the shoulders but instead holding it as in the beginning phase of shoulder press and then drop the barbell and continue with another repetition.</div>
    Ripp discusses wrist flexibility and forearm length in Starting Strength. I suppose there is an ideal length but there's always a workaround. In this case, spacing the hands wider on the bar really helps. I have to do that a bit.

    Wrist flexibility takes about a month to improve dramatically. Some wrist warmups and stretching prior to cleans really helps things along. Front squats are best performed with the bar in the racked position à la cleans so it's really worth while working on wrist flexibility for more than just cleans. You are a young guy too, so this will be a lot easier to adapt to than for an old bloke like me.  [​IMG]

    Like electric said, when cleaning, holding the weight of the bb with your arms instead of racking it is actually a really bad idea and will likely lead to some kind of strain injury in your arms once you push the loads up a bit. Think of your arms as acting like ropes that impart a pulling force on the bar but that are not used to support it. Trying to support the load with your arms will also prevent you from lifting as much load as you could and will change the form of the movement.

    To clean correctly you ideally need to get a coach to help you develop good form but if that's not a possibility you really would be wise to get your hands on a copy of Starting Strength.

    All the best with the deal on the rack and bar.
  8. Philip

    Philip New Member

    Alright, no holding the barbell in the power clean... thanks for pointing that out [​IMG] As soon as I get my hands on a copy of Starting Strength these details will not slip my mind.

    I have been reading and reading this entire afternoon, trying to gather further knowledge and inspiration as how to construct a more proper and consequent strength routine. Not that the training I have been doing the past years have been lacking – it just hasn't resembled any type of traditional weight lifting routine (that is, more BW type exercises, with added weigth when necessary though). However, I am not a complete beginner when it comes to strength. As an example from the good old days as a gymnast, one thing I did for max-strength development was climbing a 20 feet rope with 18 kg of added weight (without assistance of legs/feet). The bulk of my leg strength has been one-legged variations with little weight needed; the few times I have squatted, I have reached weights of a little above 100 kg full ROM at a BW of 70 kg. I know it is nothing in comparison to most of you more experienced lifters, but it suggests there would be no point for me starting with a total beginners routine (from what I've read, when your squatting exceeds you BW, heavy squatting 3x a week will likely fatigue more than it will render).

    This brings me to the issue I have been wondering a lot about the last days. It really is a tough nut to crack since part of my goal involves prioritizing the lower body (you know, 'gymnast almost chicken' syndrome [​IMG] ). I begin to realize that in order to gain some serious mass down there I must get stronger, before elaborating too much with HST principles. After all, a 100 kg squat is not very strong in this weight training context. I thought of employing some kind of 5x5 routine for intermediate lifters, like Bill Starr's as outlined on Madcow's site. Now here it gets tricky. The simple question is: how would I prioritize the lower body?

    In the Training Primer Madcow has written, it says you could add isolation movements (or other target-specific such as step-ups) for the prioritized muscle group. Problem is I am not sure my legs will be able to handle the volume of additional leg work and be able to progress strength-wise throughout the program as is meant. I can almost feel the accumulating fatigue even during rest days as a result of the heavy 5x5 squatting...

    My whole intention is to get those legs to grow faster than my upper body (although upper body growth is no problem). Would it make sense to cut back on upper body sets, doing say 2x5 instead of 5x5 weighted pull-ups whilst maintaining a high 5x5 volume for squats?
  9. Philip

    Philip New Member

    FINALLY, I have purchased a proper squat rack, bench, barbell and weights this! Time for some serious strength progression... This Monday I started Bill Starr's (Madcow version) intermediate 5x5 routine. I do not know my exact maxes, although I have a pretty good approximative view of where I stand. Since I have not been into a solid consequent 'barbell routine' before I will probably not follow the 2.5 kg weekly increase if I can make faster progression now in the beginning (it's not that I am a complete beginner, as I wrote before I have acquired my 'bulk' of strength through gymnastics and my 5 kg 'home barbell' at lesser weights.)

    To summarize, I have a pretty good foundation technique- and strength-wise but I have not done too much heavy barbell training before (hence I do know exactly where I stand max-wise).

    Anyhow, here is Monday's workout (weights in kg):

    Squat 6x5
    38, 48, 63, 78, 85.5, 93

    Barbell row 5x5
    4x5 + Max: [email protected]

    Bench 5x5
    4x5 + Max: 1x3@78

    2x10 heavy calf raises
    2x50 easy calf raises
    2x10 good-mornings@38 kg
    2x10, 2x8 hanging leg raises

    I had to test a final estimated 5RM squat set. It turned out to be a pretty inaccurate estimation as I felt that was below my maximum (and after 5 previous sets). I do not really know how I should progress: increasing weigths in accordance with the program as it is outlined or ramp up to my max to see where I am and then maybe back off.

    Today's (Wednesday) workout:

    Squat 4x5
    38, 48, 63, 63

    Military press 4x5
    18, 28, 38, 43, 48

    Deadlift 4x5
    58, 78, 88, 98

    sit-ups
    3x30

    I felt I could have lifted much more weight than 98 kg in the deadlift. Well, I guess it would have been stupid to max the first workout in a long time I did heavy deads, that will have to wait to maybe next Wednesday.

    DAMN IT FEEL GOOD  [​IMG]

    Edit: Some moderator ought to change the heading to this log: 'primitive' is not very descriptive anymore.
  10. Lol

    Lol Super Moderator Staff Member

    Congrats on the rack purchase. Hey, primitive is just fine. It sounds hardcore!  [​IMG]

    How are you doing heavy calf-raises?
  11. colby2152

    colby2152 New Member

    You may always lift &quot;caveman&quot; style! [​IMG]
  12. Philip

    Philip New Member

    <div>
    (Lol @ Jun. 11 2008,9:27)</div><div id="QUOTEHEAD">QUOTE</div><div id="QUOTE">Congrats on the rack purchase. Hey, primitive is just fine. It sounds hardcore!  [​IMG]

    How are you doing heavy calf-raises?</div>
    Thanks! The heavy calf raises are done in the doorframe, standing on the threshold on one forefoot at a time and pushing the top of the doorframe with my arms extended over the head so to make it heavier – I guess my training still includes some primitive aspects [​IMG] The calf work is not too important but I would like to keep them conditioned both through heavier and lighter resistance mainly in order to prevent overload injuries when I will be doing more running and marching with a rucksack in the future (next year I will be in the army).
  13. quadancer

    quadancer New Member

    On your cardio day, run up and down stairs or the bleachers in a stadium. You won't believe what this does to your calves. Just a thot.
    Oh, and go into bootcamp in the best condition you can...but NEVER show off, always sandbag it a bit; you're gonna need the reserve for the punishments they dish out for your &quot;discrepancies&quot;. [​IMG]
  14. colby2152

    colby2152 New Member

    <div>
    (quadancer @ Jun. 12 2008,7:55)</div><div id="QUOTEHEAD">QUOTE</div><div id="QUOTE">On your cardio day, run up and down stairs or the bleachers in a stadium. You won't believe what this does to your calves. Just a thot.
    Oh, and go into bootcamp in the best condition you can...but NEVER show off, always sandbag it a bit; you're gonna need the reserve for the punishments they dish out for your &quot;discrepancies&quot;. [​IMG]</div>
    Or Jump Ropes....
  15. Philip

    Philip New Member

    This evening I went out for a good refreshing 40 minute jog. In the end I ran to a nearby long wooden stair. I ran it up and down 4 times for emphasizing calf explosivity. Thanks for that advice quadancer, I will make it a habit to do some slow hill or stair runs on the toes in the end of a run on cardio days. The calves are indeed some tricky muscles to get growing – not like the major muscle groups that only needs to get pounded through a basic strength routine.
  16. Philip

    Philip New Member

    Okay, today's strength session à la Madcow 5x5:

    Squat
    4x5, 1x3, 1x8
    38, 48, 63, 78 ... 95.5 ... 63 (kg)

    Barbell row
    4x5, 1x3, 1x8
    23, 33, 43, 43 ... 53 ... 33

    Bench press
    4x5, 1x3, 1x8
    28, 38, 48, 58 ... 70.5 ... 48

    Assistance work
    Ring dips with weighted vest (10 kg)
    2x8, 1x7

    2 rope climbs@BW (20 feet rope, without assistance from legs)
    1x15 chins@BW
    BW=77 kg

    2x15 heavy calf raises (standing on one foot)
    2x50 light calf raises (both feet)


    I have the rope hanging from a tree our garden. I had not climbed for a couple of weeks so now that I did it I had my forearms fried. The single set of chins afterward finished them off for a ten minutes [​IMG]

    I felt still very fresh in my legs after the squats which is an implication that the volume of my workouts are still comparatively low. The 95.5 kg set of 3 was not easy, however not too difficult either. I do not know either my squat 5RM or 1RM but I have never squatted more than 105 kg (although I did that some time ago in bad shape). I expect progress to be rapid at my low level of experience in the lifts.

    Also, I might increase over-all volume by ramping weights less steeply up to the maximum 5 rep set.
  17. BAX67

    BAX67 New Member

    Hey Philip,  I've done a few Madcow 5x5 cycles with great success in both strength and size.  Since this is your first week, your weights should not feel super easy or super tough.  By the 3rd or 4th week you'll definitely know if you need to adjust your weights a little.  Eat lots and rest and you'll definitely reap the rewards.  Good luck!!
  18. Philip

    Philip New Member

    Thanks BAX! Today the day after friday's 6 set squat bout the legs feel pretty fine – not too tired, not too sore. It feels as if I did something yesterday though... How would you describe the optimal fatigue-relating 'sensation'? I guess it would certainly not be very favourable to walk around constantly super-sore if you are aiming for PBs on a weekly basis..

    Another thing, I will be away over the next weekend including Friday which means no access to training equipment [​IMG]  Would it be smarter to do the 'Monday workout' tomorrow (Sunday) to be able to train Sunday/Tuesday/Thursday instead of just skipping the Friday workout (the downside would be that I only get one day of rest following yesterday's workout (Friday) when there supposedly should have been two days for optimal recovery)?
  19. BAX67

    BAX67 New Member

    Since it's pretty early, Sunday, Tues, Thurs should be fine. You'll get your rest the following weekend with 3 days off. One thing I noticed with the program is I never really got too sore following workouts. I could feel I did something, but nothing like not being able to hardly walk up the stairs or anything. Like I said before if your diet is in check and you get plenty of rest, your going to like what you see in a couple of months. Congrats on the rack and weights purchase. The only thing you may need down the road is more plates!! [​IMG]
  20. Philip

    Philip New Member

    Ok, so Monday's workout was moved to Sunday (today) for planning pursposes. I included three sets of ab-wheel rollouts from standing position, however I am using an inclined plank as I am yet too weak to perform the full standing ab-wheel rollout. I believe being able to achieve this exercise will render tremendous core stability.

    Squat 5x5
    38, 53, 63, 78, 95.5

    Ab-wheel rollout 3x5

    Barbell row 5x5
    33, 38, 43, 48, 53

    Bench 5x5
    33, 43, 53, 53, 70.5

    2x50 light calf raises
    2x10 good-mornings, 38 kg
    4x10 hanging leg raises


    I had my brother filming my 95.5 kg squat effort so that I would be able to see my back (I feel it rounds a bit in the bottom position). Yup, my back loses its arch in the bottom position [​IMG] DARN!!! Obviously my lacking flexibility does not allow the arch to be maintained as I pass parallell. I will immediately start to be doing flexibility exercises as instructed in this video I found (in the beginning it shows the problem).

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=Rq8CWv8UPAI

    As a former gymnast I generally consider myself to have good flexibility. However flexibility in that particular position is something I have never really made an effort to improve. It should not take long to gain adequate flexibility to maintain the arch in the bottom position [​IMG]

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