Back again...

Soldato
Joined
5 Feb 2009
Posts
3,608
My on-off weight-lifting journey continues.

I stopped lifting at the end of 2015, and basically drank too much, ate rubbish and sat in my computer chair for three years.

Unsurprisingly this did not have a positive effect on my physique. I've been heavier, but my bf% is higher than it's been for ages, and I have less muscle underneath the flab than I have had before.

I've spent a few weeks trying to cut fat, and over the last week have ramped it up with the Leangains (16:8) diet and lifting weights every other day.

Going well so far. Strength is up and I've lost about six pounds over the last month. I've moved back to the additional belt buckle hole I made in my belt for the first time in ages and looking better.

Now previously when I was working out I never went below about 15%bf. Mostly because I didn't want to lose the size and strength I'd built up. This time I'm thinking of trying to cut down to about 11 or 12% before trying to add some size. I think it should be better bulking-cutting in the 12-15%bf range than the 15-18% one.

Going to be uncharted territory for me and I'm braced for the fact I'm going to look skinny for a while.

Will be posting routine and diet outlines for critique as I go...
 
Soldato
Joined
5 Feb 2009
Posts
3,608
Current routine is:

Day 1
DL
Pull-ups
Dips
Inc DB press
BB row
Tricep extension

Day 2 rest

Day 3
RDL
DB bench
DB row
DB OHP
Alternate DB curls
Crunches

Day 4

and repeat

Will add hack squats in at some point, perhaps when I change the split, but for now I'm hoping the two varieties of deadlift can take care of my leg needs as I start out. Trying to put the emphasis of the standard DL on my quads.

Diet is 16:8 (i.e. 16 hours fasting, 8 hour meal window).

I'm running 20% below maintenance calories on rest days (with lower carbs) and 10% above on workout days (with more carbs). This is divided into three meals comprising 40%, 20% and 40% of that day's calories.

Current schedule is 11am 40% calories (and macros); 12:30/1ish workout; 2pm 20% calories; 6-6:30pm 40%.

I'm using shakes of whole milk, whey, quark, banana and peanut butter to help hit these targets as I find it hard to eat enough solid food even at these levels. This is usually the 20% "meal" of the day (tweaking ingredients depending on calorie, protein and carb needs for the day).

I'd welcome comments/suggestions.
 
Man of Honour
Joined
3 Apr 2003
Posts
15,585
Location
Cambridge
So much arms... so little legs.

I'd junk most of that apart from the presses, rows, deadlifts and pullups, and swap in squats, deficit Bulgarian split squats and lunges of some description.

Putting the emphasis on your quads for your deadlifts massively increases the shear stresses on your back and reduces the point of deadlifting: better using a dedicated "non-deadlift" lift for your quads.
 
Soldato
Joined
5 Feb 2009
Posts
3,608
So much arms... so little legs.

I'd junk most of that apart from the presses, rows, deadlifts and pullups, and swap in squats, deficit Bulgarian split squats and lunges of some description.

Putting the emphasis on your quads for your deadlifts massively increases the shear stresses on your back and reduces the point of deadlifting: better using a dedicated "non-deadlift" lift for your quads.

You see, I knew that! :) Those arm isolation exercises are completely pointless. I don't even know why I stuck them in there. Just to try to drag out the workouts I think. I've never been a fan of isolation movements in general. They're gone!

Crunches I've actually been doing on rest days. They don't need to be in a routine either. They're out too!

Now, the leg movements...

Yeah, I know I've not got much. I will stick in hack squats now I think on the day three routine before the RDL.

I guess I should have something else too.

Thing is... to be totally honest - I hate leg exercises. In the past I have forced myself to do back squats, hack squats, leg press, split squats, lunges and I do like having strong legs. BUT I absolutely hate the exercises!

This is what has generally led to me stopping working out in the past. It would get to the point when leg day was so unpalatable that I'd start putting it off. My old logs start to show two, three, four, five day gaps. Always before leg day. Until eventually I just basically wasn't working out anymore.

I don't know what the solution to this is. Obviously just bucking up and forcing myself to do them. That works for a while, but forever, well I guess I can try..

Well, I will definitely heed you're advice. I know you're right. Isolations and crunches dropped, hack squats in. And what's the best other free weight leg movement that doesn't require a rack would you say?
 
Soldato
Joined
5 Feb 2009
Posts
3,608
Ok. Starting today, routine is going to change to:

Day 1
DL
Split squat
Pull-ups
Dips
Inc DB press
BB row

Day 2 rest

Day 3
Hack squat
RDL
DB bench
DB row
DB OHP

Day 4

and repeat

I could probably drop Inc DB press too, I guess, if the volume of day 1 is too much for starting out again.

Really hope I can keep up with it this time. Perhaps I need to keep the leg movements mixed in with the others in the split so I'm not having to face the horror of a dedicated leg day...
 
Man of Honour
Joined
3 Apr 2003
Posts
15,585
Location
Cambridge
Everybody hates leg day, except me. So I am somewhat biased. :D

Have you tried step-ups or walking lunges? Bulgarian split squats are a very quick way of brutalising your legs without the whole body pressure cooker of squatting, so see how they go...

Now it looks like a good routine, so post progress! :)
 
Soldato
Joined
5 Feb 2009
Posts
3,608
Everybody hates leg day, except me. So I am somewhat biased. :D

Have you tried step-ups or walking lunges? Bulgarian split squats are a very quick way of brutalising your legs without the whole body pressure cooker of squatting, so see how they go...

Now it looks like a good routine, so post progress! :)

Thanks :)

Yeah, I've used lunges and BSS in the past.

Lunges I don't like. I never feel like I have enough room, and I have trouble ensuring my positioning is consistent.

BSS I do quite like, but embarrassingly my problem with them was balance - I kept almost falling over! I recall I dropped these from my last routine because they ended up aggravating a knee injury. I can't remember the details now, but I think it was due to strain on the knee caused by poor balance under tension and that's why I dropped them in the end. I think I'll try standard split squats this time as I might benefit from the added stability.
 
Soldato
Joined
5 Feb 2009
Posts
3,608
So, first time I'm logging a workout this time around.

Diet first:
I'm a bit uncertain what to do here. I want to cut at least another seven or eight pounds of fat as a priority, but I don't know the best way to align this with goals to gain strength.

I know you can't really add muscle and lose fat at the same time under normal circumstances. However, I recall hearing that beginner gains mean you can do this at least for a short time. I wonder if I have some beginner gains to come back since I've been sedentary for three years now.

I settled on eating 20% below maintenance on rest days, 10% above on workout days - but I'm thinking of going just to maintenance on workout days since fat loss is a priority. I'm currently around 18-20% bodyfat and want to drop to about 12% so I'm looking at cutting another stone of fat. No mean feat.

So today, I ate my maintenance calories consisting of:
11am - 60g oats, one cup skimmed milk, one scoop whey. One slice wholemeal toast, one avocado, one egg. (990Kcal, 55g protein)
2:30pm - shake of one cup skimmed milk, one scoop whey, one banana, tablespoon peanut butter (410Kcal, 35g protein)
5pm - workout
6:30pm - brown rice, two chicken breasts in Thai curry sauce, one palm size serving bamboo shoots. 250g fat-free yoghurt, handful grapes, one banana. (720Kcal, 54G protein)

So actually it seems I was a hundred calories or so below my calculated maintenance. Hit my 135g protein aim, though. Not bad?
 
Soldato
Joined
5 Feb 2009
Posts
3,608
Workout:
Pull-ups (7), 5, 4 +1
Dips 8, 7, 4

[Feeling so gutted I can't even do 3x8 bodyweight on these. I used to strap a nice amount of weight around my waist and hammer out reps on these exercises. Oh well, all in good time!]

DL 50kg 8, 8, 8 [taking the weight up slowly here and resisting the temptation to add 10kg or more each workout]
BB row 40kg (8), 7, 7
Inc DB 15kg 8, 5, 5
DB split squat 10kg

Okay, the split squats... I don't know if I'm doing something wrong here, but I do remember having done them today that I did have these in an older routine for a little while, but dropped them.

I'm sure I'm not getting these right. I tried a light weight just for practice. And then ditched the weight and tried them bodyweight to try to get them right.

First, I still have balance issues, which is annoying.

Second, the movement feels quite awkward and uncomfortable. I feel it just as much or more in my back leg rather than the leg I'm pushing up with. This feeling in the back leg is also a bit... off. Kind of an uncomfortable pull on the muscle. It feels like I'd be asking for injury if I upped the weight.

I've tried varying the length of my stride, but I can't get a position that feels like I'm not pulling my rear quad. Any tips with this would be really helpful.
 
Man of Honour
Joined
3 Apr 2003
Posts
15,585
Location
Cambridge
It sounds like your core doesn't exist as there aren't too many reasons a split squat should be problematic. That, and your rectus femoris is tighter than a tight thing.

You will have to put a 3 planks into your routine each day (for as long as you can), as well as the couch stretch.

Put a small weight in each hand as you might find it is easier to do split squats with something to balance with.
 
Soldato
Joined
5 Feb 2009
Posts
3,608
It sounds like your core doesn't exist as there aren't too many reasons a split squat should be problematic. That, and your rectus femoris is tighter than a tight thing.

You will have to put a 3 planks into your routine each day (for as long as you can), as well as the couch stretch.

Put a small weight in each hand as you might find it is easier to do split squats with something to balance with.

I'm quite prepared to believe my core strength is diabolical right now. I've spent three years sat on my backside doing nothing basically so it's probably to be expected.

I am including planking in my routine (always have done, tbh) - up to three sets of 45 seconds now, and going up every few days (I remember 45 seconds was nothing when I was doing this before - I got so out of shape! :().

Both quads and hammies are indeed tighter than a wound spring right now, but I'm working on it! Foam rolling and stretching my legs everyday.

I'll try next go at split squat with just some 5kg plates in each hand to see if that helps. I had another go at the motion this morning just to see what was happening a bit more. I think I was taking too big a step forward, perhaps. Felt better when I started experimenting with a smaller stride length.

Thanks for the tips!
 
Soldato
Joined
5 Feb 2009
Posts
3,608
Ok, might as well update yesterday's training too:

Hack squat 40kg 8, 8, 8 [pleased I was persuaded to put this back in now. It felt good. Going to take it very steady with increasing the weight on this even though these sets felt very easy]

DB Bench 22.5kg 8, 8, 5

DB row 27.5kg 6/7, 6/7, 6+1/7+1 [could easily have got more with my dominant (left) arm, but didn't want to set up any imbalance. My non-dominant arm is surprisingly weak here]

Arnold OHP 12.5kg 8, 8, 6 [switched to Arnolds because - as always I was getting shoulder pain even with light overhead weights in standard DB press position - see below...]

RDL 45kg 8, 8, 8 [again, nice and easy and nice and slowly upping the weight. Resisting the temptation just to start adding 10kg or more to the bar at a time]

So, my (right, non-dominant) shoulder...
This has been an issue for me since I was 18. Overheard movements give me a feeling of a tendon in the shoulder catching and releasing on something. It causes pain quite quickly and this carries over into pretty much any arm movement that involves bringing the arms up to or above shoulder height, or pronating the shoulder with arms raised.

I had an ultrasound several years ago, but they said there was at most only the very slightest impingement and nothing to warrant doing anything about. Saw a physio too another time, but she also didn't seem to think she'd found anything significant and just suggested a few stretches, which didn't really help very much. But regardless of these diagnoses (or lack of them), I've never been able to do overheard movements comfortably so something is wrong.

I used to just lift around this and I seem to recall Smith OHPs were not too bad. Arnolds felt a lot better than DB OHP, but I still started to get a bit of the catching feeling towards the end of the last set, so I stopped. Then I had shoulder pain later in the day when reaching overhead, so it seems I probably aggravated something even though I didn't have any pain at the time.

I'm going to include bent-over lat raises to try to strengthen the rear delt as I wonder if it's due to some muscle imbalance between front and rear shoulder musculature. Will have to can overheard movements until the pain subsides - unless anyone has any alternative suggestions.
 
Man of Honour
Joined
3 Apr 2003
Posts
15,585
Location
Cambridge
Try your shoulder movements first, having done your internal/external rotation warmups.

The tendons for the rotator cuff swell up during workouts and if your shoulder structure is cramped you are more likely cause yourself problems. As such, you should do your shoulder workouts first before anything like biceps, back, or anything else goes in.

It also sounds like you need to focus on your rotator cuff, too, as well as start looking at shoulder and thorax mobility, too.
 
Soldato
Joined
5 Feb 2009
Posts
3,608
Try your shoulder movements first, having done your internal/external rotation warmups.

The tendons for the rotator cuff swell up during workouts and if your shoulder structure is cramped you are more likely cause yourself problems. As such, you should do your shoulder workouts first before anything like biceps, back, or anything else goes in.

It also sounds like you need to focus on your rotator cuff, too, as well as start looking at shoulder and thorax mobility, too.

That's an interesting point that I'd never thought of. I'll give that a go (once my shoulder feels okay again).

My shoulders are a bit rounded so there is likely work to be done there.

I'm trying to remember what prehab work I used to do on shoulders. I have therabands that I know I used, and there was a broomstick stretch. I was actually just Googling shoulder and rotator cuff perhab just before checking back on this thread so I'll see what I can include. Determined to beat this shoulder pain this time. I never took enough care of my shoulders in my teens/20s and I might be paying for that a bit now.
 
Man of Honour
Joined
3 Apr 2003
Posts
15,585
Location
Cambridge
That's an interesting point that I'd never thought of. I'll give that a go (once my shoulder feels okay again).

My shoulders are a bit rounded so there is likely work to be done there.

I'm trying to remember what prehab work I used to do on shoulders. I have therabands that I know I used, and there was a broomstick stretch. I was actually just Googling shoulder and rotator cuff perhab just before checking back on this thread so I'll see what I can include. Determined to beat this shoulder pain this time. I never took enough care of my shoulders in my teens/20s and I might be paying for that a bit now.

I only found out after being MRI'd for tendinopathy and the consultant explained what can go wrong.
 
Soldato
Joined
5 Feb 2009
Posts
3,608
I only found out after being MRI'd for tendinopathy and the consultant explained what can go wrong.

Did you have any long-term tendon damage? And how long was your rehab (if any)?

Might as well update the past few days too:


11/9/18

Pull-ups (8), 5, 5 +1

Dips 8, 8, 5 +1

DL 55kg 8, 8, 8

BB row 40kg 8, 8, 8

Bent-over lat raises 5kg 8, 8, 8 [I'm including these as part of my rehab for my shoulder - basically trying to strengthen the rear delts and scapular retracting musculature a bit]

Split squats 5kg plates. Just trying to get the movement right. It's feeling a lot better with a shorter stride. Still needs some work on the concentric motion, though, before I start with proper weight.


13/9/18

Hack squat 42.5kg 8, 8, 8 [slowly, slowly...]

DB Bench 22.5kg 8, 8, 10

DB row 27.5kg 8, 8, 8

RDL 47.5kg 8, 8, 8

Bent-arm lat raise 5kg 8, 8, 8 [again, these have the goal of shoulder socket/rotator cuff strengthening/rehab. My thinking/hope here is that the bent-arm posture is letting me concentrate on pulling the shoulder back and up, and so aim at the median and rear delts and not cause any impingement pain at the front. I completed these without pain, anyway, which was pleasing.]


I'm also including (but not noting for each session): planking, broomstick shoulder dislocations, therabend lateral shoulder pulls, lying bent-arm raises. Any other shoulder rehab suggestions will be very gratefully taken on board!

Shoulder is still not right. I'm leaving out overhead work for a while. Not really decided what to put in when I go back. I think any presses that have my elbows out wide are a no-go. Closer-grip BB OHP feels better, but still feeling some tendon catching. Thinking at the moment I'll try landmines once my shoulder feels strong enough and pain-free. That movement feels okay even now, so I'll keep my fingers crossed.
 
Soldato
Joined
5 Feb 2009
Posts
3,608
Oh, some other factors I've been noticing:

Weight - I've worked out my BRM and maintenance calories, taken 150 off for luck, and then aimed at eating that figure minus 20% (or around -400-500Kcal) on rest days and -10% to maintenance on workout days. Whichever way you slice it, that's a decent calorie deficit I'd have thought? Plus, I walk 12-15,000 steps each day, including up and down five or six flights of stairs regularly.

BUT - my weight has been rock steady for over three weeks now. Not a half a pound either way on the scales. I dropped six pounds in about two weeks about a month ago and then nada! I swear I've leaned out a lot still, though.

Now, I know muscle memory is something people talk about, but I'm thinking... it can't work this quickly and this well can it? Like in terms of replacing fat pound-for-pound whilst on a calorie deficit? That's fantasy land, isn't it?

The mirror and the weights are telling me things are going well, but I know I can be fooled by those whereas the scales don't lie! I can't decide whether to ride this out or cut calories even further.

For context, I do still need to lose another half a stone of bodyfat at least, I think. I can't see even the outline of my lower abs, I still have lower back fat deposits, and there is bupkis in the way of definition or vascularity in my arms or shoulders.


General wellbeing - I am feeling like a completely different person compared to where I was just four weeks ago! There is quite literally a spring in my step in comparison. Bounding up stairs where before I'd have slouched and huffed-and-puffed. I'm getting no DOMS from exercise and feeling like I could workout every day quite happily if I didn't know it wouldn't be the best for my system.

The past week, though, there's been a bit of extra heaviness in my legs towards the end of the day and a bit of a post-lunch crash in energy levels.

Now, I'm 43 years old, so no spring chicken and it's more than likely that my test levels are down a fair old chunk since my prime. I wonder if that could explain the above.

There are load of test boosters on the market, and I am positive that 90%+ are snake oil. But - anyone past 40 had any good results with any in particular? I've ordered some ZMA not because I expect a test boost but because I've heard it helps with sleep. DAA I've heard has a very short-lived effect. Tribulus has been debunked. Fenugreek seems like a snake oil supplement. Is there anything else?
 
Soldato
Joined
5 Feb 2009
Posts
3,608
15/9/18

Pull-ups 8, 7, 5+neg +1

Dips 8, 8, 9 [back to adding weight next time - yay!]

DL 60kg 8, 8, 9 [second set felt really exhausting, but third set felt completely fine. Weird.]

BB row 42.5kg 8, 8, 8

Bent-over lat raises 6kg 8, 8, 8 [I feel these and the lying bent-arm raise things are really helping my dodgy shoulder]

Feeling physically really good at the moment. Rehab work on the shoulder feels like it's having an effect - the whole joint feels more comfortable and stable than it has done in ages. Going to give it another week or two before re-incorporating some overhead work.

I do have the odd moment of feeling a bit faint/dizzy, though. Usually right after/during workouts or during shoulder dislocations. Think I should maybe get my blood pressure checked out just to be sure it's nothing to do with that. Otherwise feeling good.

EDIT: also had a go at walking lunges today. No weight, just trying the movement with bodyweight as I want a leg exercise for this day that I feel comfortable with. Still feel I don't really have the room in my workout area for these. I might try Bulgarian Split Squats again as I got on with those quite well for a good while a few years back (I did lose them a bit when I started needing to use more weight, but I have a way to go until I get there again).
 
Last edited:
Man of Honour
Joined
3 Apr 2003
Posts
15,585
Location
Cambridge
There aren't that many test boosters that actually work... best way - long-term and without exogenous additions - is to take creatine regularly, talk to people you find attractive and lift heavy stuff. Seriously.

DAA is workable but expensive and the theoretical 10-15% increase in circulating test isn't going to set your gym (or home) life on fire.

Regarding the actual energy level fluctuations you are experiencing, it is also likely this is your body trying to adapt to both the new level of physical activity and the food you are eating...
 
Soldato
Joined
5 Feb 2009
Posts
3,608
There aren't that many test boosters that actually work... best way - long-term and without exogenous additions - is to take creatine regularly, talk to people you find attractive and lift heavy stuff. Seriously.

DAA is workable but expensive and the theoretical 10-15% increase in circulating test isn't going to set your gym (or home) life on fire.

Regarding the actual energy level fluctuations you are experiencing, it is also likely this is your body trying to adapt to both the new level of physical activity and the food you are eating...

Yeah, that's pretty much the conclusion I've come to. A lot of bogus claims and products, but still nothing genuinely worthwhile.

My feelings on creatine at the moment might be a bit off, but... I have used, and responded well to, creatine in the past (and I have a full unopened bag in my supps cupboard).

I've holding off using it for now though for this reason: I feel creatine would help me progress through weight and reps faster and get back towards where I was in less time, BUT I'm worried that faster progress with weight might overwhelm what my tendons and joints can adjust to. I'm progressing quite fast anyway, and I have had tendinitis in the past as well as cartilage and impingement issues, so I'm planning to just progress more slowly, let my support structures adapt in good time and then start on creatine again when I'm back a bit nearer my old lifting levels. A bit over-cautious or a sensible precaution at my age?

Regarding my energy fluctuations: after the last couple of days I wonder if sleep quality might have played a part. I don't know yet whether the ZMA is having the effect I was looking for, but felt I slept much more deeply than usual on Saturday night. Yesterday I felt more awake and alert throughout the day than I have done in ages. Last night was similar. Fingers crossed I might just have been needing better quality sleep with the increased load on my system.
 
Last edited:
Top