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Thread: I think I've Reached the Point where the NLP is Kicking my Ass

  1. #1
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    Default I think I've Reached the Point where the NLP is Kicking my Ass

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    Hello all.

    I am 38 years old and on week 7 of running the program. At this point I am taking 2 days off between every workout.

    Weight: 167 ---> 192 (lbs)
    Diet: 4000 calories, 200g of protein
    Sleep: At least 7 hours per night
    SQ: 175 ---> 250
    DL: 210 ---> 275
    Bench: 120 ---> 160
    Press: 70 ---> 110
    History of back issues. Discectomy at L4-L5 in 2016, lower back still tweakable but I think the disc issue is resolved.

    Yes, my weight and lifts are continuing to go up, but at this point I am starting to feel beat up. To illustrate that, perhaps I'll go through today's (unusually rough) workout:

    • My shoulders/neck/collarbone area always in a state of weird, nondescript soreness at this point. I haven't quite put my finger on what causes this (potentially breathing out at the top of the DL), but it hasn't prevented me from doing anything, so I just live with it. Same goes for my knees. A bit of soreness but nothing to write home about.
    • Squats: 250. All my form checks have been getting shot down lately so I've been experimenting with my form. Set 1 feels good. Set 2 I fall forward on rep 3 but I catch myself by stepping forward, fix stance and finish the set. Set 3 is HARD. Rep 5 took everything I got, there is no way I could have done a 6th. My lower back hurts on both sides after this. I'm not sure what I am doing wrong but I've felt this before. If I were to guess I would say it feels like pain in the sacroiliac area.
    • Bench: 160. It takes me like 20 minutes to warmup because I am zoned out because of how hard my squats were. First set is fine. Second set I mess up form on rep 4 and somehow pull my hamstring (???), so I can't do a 5th because it's cramping. I take a 6 minute break and get through set 3.
    • DL: I had to skip DLs because my hamstring cramps up and hurts every time I bend over and put tension in it. I'm disappointed about it.


    Beyond that, there is the mental battle that is starting to be a factor. I am sure this is normal, but I am starting to feel a bit scared when I get under the bar. Things are getting heavy, my form is a bit sloppy at times, and I worry about getting hurt. I know I'm not lifting that heavy yet compared to other men my size, but I'm squatting over 40 pounds more than my all-time high working weight, so obviously there's a part of me that goes "holy shit" every time I get under the bar.

    So with all that in mind, here are my questions:

    Question 1: I know this changes from person to person, but how long do people typically stay on the straight NLP with 5 pound increments every workout? Is 7 weeks too early to start thinking about adding a light day?

    Question 2: On the "how to do the NLP" episode of the SS podcast, they talk about how the first programming change is usually the deadlift. In my case, I am feeling like my squat is harder on me than my DL. What's the move here? If it's time for me to add a light day for squats (80% of previous 5RM) - should I just do that but keep progressing 3x per week on the DL until that becomes too hard as well?

    That's pretty much it. I'm loving this and I want to keep progressing and not be out due to injury. I know we don't believe in deload weeks here because if we did that's probably what I'd do, especially to try to perfect my form before going heavy again.

    Thank you and Long live the Rip

    p.s. I saw a coach recently. He wasn't a SS coach and didn't have much to say about my squat other than it was good. Unfortunately there are no SS coaches in my area (Ottawa Canada) so my next options will be to look at online coaching.

  2. #2
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  3. #3
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    Yes sir, I have read and re-read those.

    This adds up to a 225-245 x 5 x 3 squat workout after 6-7 weeks of training for our novice male, IF HE HAS BEEN EATING CORRECTLY.
    [...]
    Realistically, gains on the squat will slow after this to an average of about 10 pounds per week due to the fact that most people will get sick occasionally, miss a workout or two because of school, work, family, etc., or get a minor injury that will need to be dealt with. Ideally this does not necessarily occur, but you’ll find that in most cases the extremely rapid growth in strength and size experienced during the first 6-8 weeks is not sustained.
    Based on this, it sounds like I am right on schedule, even if I'm outside of the 18-35 year old demographic by a few years (I'm going to be 39 in June). 7 weeks in, 250lbs squat (+75lbs), up 20+ pounds bodyweight. I'm thinking I'm eating more than enough calories as I now look about 6 months pregnant and I have been adding weight to the bar consistently - but it feels like my 38 year old joints/bones are feeling it.

    Going to stay on schedule and aim to continue adding 10 pounds per week by adding an 80% squat day in the middle, and I'll do that for as long as I can.

    In terms of my DL, I'm going to keep adding 5lbs per workout so I can catch up to my squat in terms of grindyness.

    Sometimes all we need is a thumbs up to know we are on the right track.

  4. #4
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    Hello, sir,

    Not to supplant Rip's response, because he is TMPHBITEU, but have you read the advanced novice section of Practical Programming for ST - 3rd Edition (grey book)? I am in a similar situation as you and found the grey book to be helpful alongside Rip's aforementioned articles. For me, timing my rests at 5 minutes+ and eating ALOT the day before my next workout keeps me on the NLP at the 12-week mark. I use the app religiously and started inserting a light squat day as I, too, am not managing my calorie intake consistently.
    Again, reading Rip's two articles and PPST3e are the most helpful when things are getting hard.

  5. #5
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    Have you had your testosterone checked?

  6. #6
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    In your other posts, you mention having severe sleep apnea. That'll do it. Sleep is the most important recovery variable. 7 hours is already a little low. And if it isn't good quality...well, there you go. You mention going on the CPAP relatively recently. Try to bump that up to 8 hours and give it a few weeks.

    Hamstring cramps during bench press aren't uncommon, but having them be debilitating enough to prevent you from deadlifting is. Maybe consider electrolyte supplements?

    Intra workout carbs might also be a thing. Gatorade covers both of those. Give it a try. I drink a mixture of dextrose powder and whey protein (mostly for glucose level considerations as a T1 diabetic, but physiologically similar principles apply). Eating closer to workouts night fix all this by itself, if you're not already doing that.

    If you get a real bad cramp, foam rolling for a few minutes should let you actually perform the exercise. Your deadlift isn't that light, but given how you describe feeling, you could probably stand to have it be heavier.

    The one thing that does sound concerning is losing control of the bar. Does this happen often? If not, just be careful next time. If so, try cueing...not doing that. Your form check had the bar a little high on your back. Make sure you're in the low bar position.

    Overall...you are not that far off track. Things go up and down, get better and worse, harder and easier, based on a number of different factors. It's probably not worth changing the programming just yet.

    Also, 250 pounds won't hurt anyone if they're not an utter moron. Relax. When you get to 600 pounds you can be worried.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Rippetoe View Post
    Have you had your testosterone checked?
    Yes sir. Last checkup was one year ago and my test was 635 ng/dL, the norm apparently being 164-753 based on what my test results say.

    Quote Originally Posted by RandyC View Post
    Hello, sir,

    Not to supplant Rip's response, because he is TMPHBITEU, but have you read the advanced novice section of Practical Programming for ST - 3rd Edition (grey book)? I am in a similar situation as you and found the grey book to be helpful alongside Rip's aforementioned articles. For me, timing my rests at 5 minutes+ and eating ALOT the day before my next workout keeps me on the NLP at the 12-week mark. I use the app religiously and started inserting a light squat day as I, too, am not managing my calorie intake consistently.
    Again, reading Rip's two articles and PPST3e are the most helpful when things are getting hard.
    Thanks brother! The grey book is on the way actually. I also think my squat form in not great so I'm trying to find a coach. I would much prefer online but here in Ottawa we don't have any SS coaches. I've worked with a coach before and all they said was that my squat was good (Rip does not agree with that assessment).

    If you haven't listened to the "How to do the SS NLP" and "How to become an Intermediate" podcast episodes, I strongly recommend them as well.

  8. #8
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    Thanks for once again taking the time Maybach - your feedback is always greatly appreciated.

    Quote Originally Posted by Maybach View Post
    In your other posts, you mention having severe sleep apnea. That'll do it. Sleep is the most important recovery variable. 7 hours is already a little low. And if it isn't good quality...well, there you go. You mention going on the CPAP relatively recently. Try to bump that up to 8 hours and give it a few weeks.
    Yes, I've been on CPAP for about a week now and so far it's pretty amazing the difference it makes. I'm realizing I just got used to feeling burned out all the time over the years and I can't wait to see how I feel after a few weeks or months of quality sleep.

    Quote Originally Posted by Maybach View Post
    Gatorade
    Say no more - I'll sip on gatorade instead of (or in addition to) water during workouts.

    Quote Originally Posted by Maybach View Post
    The one thing that does sound concerning is losing control of the bar. Does this happen often? If not, just be careful next time. If so, try cueing...not doing that. Your form check had the bar a little high on your back. Make sure you're in the low bar position.
    This was the first time it ever happened, but definitely not the first time the weight shifts forward and ends up at the front of my feet. I can't seem to get comfortable in the low bar position. Shoulders hurt, the weight shifts to my toes, I'm at risk of tweaking my back... it's rough.

    I've been re-reading the blue book and looking at videos and trying to get back to the basics - it's very frustrating though because it shouldn't be rocket science. There are no SS coaches in my area, but I'm going to look at online coaching.

    Quote Originally Posted by Maybach View Post
    Also, 250 pounds won't hurt anyone if they're not an utter moron. Relax. When you get to 600 pounds you can be worried.
    Unfortunately, I've tweaked my back more than once with way less. In fact, my back feels lightly tweaked right now after those 250lbs squats I did yesterday... I've also had a surgery at l4-l5, also from way less.

  9. #9
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    "Always Hard"

  10. #10
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    starting strength coach development program
    A back tweak is not an injury. That's why we have a separate word for it.

    If you back feels "slightly tweaked" you are currently experiencing the worst case outcome from these squats.

    You may have required a surgery from a lighter load, but you definitely didn't do it squatting the way you are in these videos. And the fact that you can squat "way more" than you did when you incurred your previous back complaints should tell you something about the relationship between absolute load and injury risk.

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