Adjustments To Novice Program for Cardio/Endurance? Adjustments To Novice Program for Cardio/Endurance?

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Thread: Adjustments To Novice Program for Cardio/Endurance?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
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    Default Adjustments To Novice Program for Cardio/Endurance?

    I've stuck with the novice SS program since 8th April. It's now 18th July. My weekly routine goes like this:

    Mon/Wed/Fri
    A: Squat/Bench/Deadlift (recently added bodyweight dip sets 3x5)
    B: Squat/Press/Deadlift (recently added chins 3x5)
    (No clean due to an achilles injury)

    My stats:
    I'm 49yrs, male, 245lbs, 6'3"

    Squat: 3x5 110kg (242.5lb)
    Bench: 3x5 85kg (187.4lb)
    Press: 3x5 62kg (136.6lb)
    Deadlift: 1x5 160kg (352.7lb)

    This is where I am today, but it's also where I got to at the end of May - but I had to reset due to a stomach bug. In total I missed about 2 weeks workouts. I then reset too heavy, struggled for a week reset again much lighter and slowly increased back to where I was at the end of May.

    But there were benefits to the reset. My form on all lifts is far more solid and I've turned my deadlift from 5x1 back to 1x5 (reducing time between reps). Also managing to keep an overhand grip on my DL.

    + Dips & Chins
    I've been disappointed with my bench. Progress is slow and it never feels very solid. I decided to add 2 of Rip's suggested assistance exercises to see if it made any difference. For the last 4 weeks I've added dips on the bench day and chins on the press day. I feel my bench is far more solid as a result.

    Low Cardio/Endurance capacity
    Here's the shock. I started the SS program following achilles tendon surgery. So I was doing this before I could walk properly and it was my only exercise. It has been a great help to recovery. BUT last week I was late to visit a friend and tried running. I made about 50 yards and had to stop and walk 50 before trying again. I was gasping and sweating buckets.

    This kind of weighed on my mind a bit. I feel strong these days but suddenly I also felt 'unfit'. I finally decided to try a 'HIT' type workout on Wednesday to see what would happen - Oh dear!

    Given that my current 3x5 squat is 110kg (242.5lb). I thought I would manage high reps at half that weight and tried 50kg (110lbs). Naturally, the first 5 of the set went easily, but on number 6 I felt like someone had drained me of energy, at 7 I was gasping and sweating, and at 8 I thought my head would explode. That's all I managed. I did 2 more sets of x10 reps each but the experience was much the same and I sat and gasped for a long time before I could move on.

    Doing 3x5 I rarely sit or gasp between sets or exercises.

    I also thought I'd try a front squat for the first time, for variety. But found myself 'weak' when it came to it. I gave up pretty quickly. Although after the back squats was maybe the wrong time to try.

    Admittedly, I was doing the lighter squats faster than I would a heavy set, but the almost immediate loss of power at 6-8 was shocking.

    I went on to do the same for my Press. At 3x5 I manage 62kg (136.6lb). Today at 30kg (66lbs) I only managed 8. I ended up doing 3x8 as I could get up to 10 on any o them and was failing on the last set.

    I decided against killing myself with a deadlift set. I instead decided to do bent rows. Here I 'succeeded' in doing 1x8 40kg (88lbs) then 2x10 at 40kg. Not particularly impressive! I ended with 2x8 chins and left the gym feeling totally wiped out.

    Conclusion:
    I am truly shocked that all my 'work' has resulted in such poor cardio/endurance capacity. And my strength lasts only for 5 repetitions! I know I am 'older' so this is a factor. My life is fairly sedentary (work at a computer) and I've had 6+ months of reduced activity due to my achilles injury, so working out at the gym, doing 3x5 is almost the entirety of my exercise. And I've certainly put on weight since I started this program. Although looking in a mirror, I look more 'thick set' than before, but no really discernable muscle mass increase. Definitely some fat increase!

    So as a result of my 'experiment', I'm suddenly feeling like a fat middle aged man who is moderately strong so long as he doesn't have to do more than 5 of anything.

    Moving Forward:
    So here's my proposal: I'm considering swapping out my Wednesday SS (3x5) workout for a higher rep workout - 3x8 or 3x10 or 3x12. That way my week would look like this:
    WK 1: Mon A (3x5) / Wed B (3x10) / Fri A (3x5)
    WK 2: Mon B (3x5) / Wed A (3x10) / Fri B (3x5)

    On Wednesdays I might continue doing Bent rows instead of DLs, and keep the DLs for heavy days. Or perhaps I could alternate that also - doing a 3x10 DL on a Wed then a 3x5 Row on a Fri and swapping that each week. Not sure if 3x10 DL is a good idea atall though.

    Due to my front squat 'experience' I was also considering bringing those into my workout. Perhaps alternating Weds and Fris - WK 1 3x10 FSquats on Wed, 3x5 BSquats on Fri then WK 2 3x10 BSquats on Wed and 3x5 FSquats on Fri.

    Before anyone accuses me of not doing the SS Program, I do get it. But here are my justifications:
    1. Continuing with SS without change I might well do better from 2x workouts per week rather than the current x3. In another month I may well be struggling from 3x heavy days per week.
    2. I 'need' to do something about my cardio/endurance capacity. My ankle is a limiter on what I can do, so upping/doubling the reps one day a week may be a good way of tackling this. And burning some extra cals in the meantime.

    I am very interested to receive any (constructive) feedback, obsessive as I may occasionally sound, this is weighing on my mind. Having followed Rip's advice as closely as possible for 3-4 months now I think it would be daft to 'go off and do my own thing' so I'm hoping that this suggestion isn't too far from the spirit of SS. Although at the same time I think my 2 justifications above have some merit and this isn't just an excuse to 'mess with the program'.

    Many thanks for reading (if, indeed, anyone has!)

  2. #2
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    I read everything you wrote, but I have a question, what are your goals?

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mac Ward View Post
    I read everything you wrote, but I have a question, what are your goals?
    Thanks. As for goals, nothing unusual - I'd like to be able to lift like Viktor Testsov whilst looking like Chris Hemsworth (Re: the Thor movie)...

    Ok, joking aside, I'd like to get my main lifts up to 'respectable' weights. (A DL of 190kg/420lbs, SQ of 165kg/365lbs, B of 122kg/260lbs, and a Press of 75kg/165lbs would be a good start in this respect.)

    And since I snapped my achilles doing judo, I'd like the cardio/endurance capacity to be able to last more than a few seconds of sparring. Which in my current state (as described above) I would be nowhere close to.

    And yes, there is a 'vanity' element too, if I'm honest. I'm 49 years old and have a 3 year old son. I may be 20+ years older than most of his friends' dads but I'd like to make up for that by being bigger and stronger : ) ... or at least reduce the middle aged spread that has overcome me since my achilles surgery. But, on balance, hitting some decent lifting weights and knocking some cr@p out of my sparring partners (once I get back to training) are slightly more important priorities of the three.

    Finally, I am genuinely curious as to whether my experience of low cardio/endurance capacity is common doing a 3x5 routine such as SS.

    Thanks again for reading and responding.

  4. #4
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    Dude, you're all over the map.

    Strength comes from training, leanness, abs, and the rest coem from diet.

    Cardio and strength training do not go hand in hand. I'm not saying you can't spar and not be out of breath in 5 seconds, I'm saying that recovery dictates how quickly you will make progress. If you give up recovery time doing cardio stuff, you won't be ready for your next training session. And as you already know, 49 years old is not the optimum age for recovery.

    Strength is a long term adaptation, cardio is not. There is TONS of information about this very subject on this board.

    I am 45, 236, 6'3". I'm in the USMC, I run 3 miles once a year for a test, and I train the 4 weeks prior to get me specifically ready for that. Last time I did it in 25:30ish. Could I do that right now? No, it nearly killed me then, and I trained for it. Does this bother me? No, because I could care less what my 3 mile run time is, I'd rather drive.

    The recommendation on this board is going to be to train for strength, and take that strength to your chosen activity. If you chose to do other things (which is perfectly acceptable and a personal decision) recognize that strength gains MAY be slowed, but if you are achieving your personal goals in the process, than go for it.

    But if you don't need to run a race, why train for it? If you snapped an achilles training judo, then is it worth it to continue doing so (to you)?

    If it were me, I would want to be strong enough to pick up my 10 year old son and carry him around on my back in 7 years, and you won't get that from running. Even better, in 25 years, I would want to be strong enough to pick up my grandbabies. To me, strength is slowing the process of atrophy...the atrophy of ability and life. I don't want to live forever, I want to live forever unassisted.

    My $.02$

  5. #5
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    Not to hijack. Mac you gave me a lot to think about.

  6. #6
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    I agree that diet is a probable factor in my performance, but the difficulty going much beyond 5 reps seems like a rather limited strength. I suggest 8-12 reps just once a week, that's not really a cardio workout, surely. I just find it difficult to accept that strength lasts for 5 reps but if I add 1-5 reps to that and I turn weak.

    Part of the reason I thought my suggestion might be workable was because I have read about volume days on this board, as a strategy for novice/intermediate progress. I was told in another thread, a little while ago, that I probably shouldn't be doing 3x heavy days per week at this stage anyway, and it was suggested I drop to 2x. With my generally inactive lifestyle at present, if I dropped to 2x workouts per week I would want to do something as a replacement. Hence I thought a volume day/higher rep day.

    Maybe I'd totally misunderstood. That's possible. And probably my initial goals need to be reviewed. I started this program to assist my recovery from achilles surgery and strength was the only thing I could work on. I am pleased with my progress, and would like it to continue, but throughout my life 'fitness' has meant strength PLUS endurance and a decent cardio capacity. I've played rugby and done martial arts over the years and have always had a good 'competitive' mix of these qualities which have served me well, so maybe I'm struggling with the concept of strength in isolation.

  7. #7
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    How will 10 reps at 85Kg make you stronger than 5 reps at 110Kg? If you can do 5 reps at 180Kg, how many reps can you do at 100Kg?

    I think your recovery issues are more likely due to the fact that you are deadlifting every session, vice every other. If you review the program, you should deadlift every session until recovery is an issue, then introduce the powerclean. The program calls for an addition of 5lbs to the bar for the squat every time until recovery is an issue, then you assume the light day on Wednesday adding 5lbs twice week vice 3.

    Doing 8-10 reps is not a light day, and will not aid in your recovery. Light/heavy is not determined with reps, it's determined with weight on the bar.

    You're weights are not at the intermediate level for a guy your size. You are experiencing the part of the program where it starts to get a little hard, and most look for something less hard.

    In the end, it's your life, your body. The program as we teach it, is not what you are asking to do. As I say to others, try it and see.
    Last edited by Mac Ward; 07-22-2013 at 10:26 PM.

  8. #8
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    On a useful note, have you tried creatine? Outside of improving technique, this is the only change I've made in my rather unimpressive stab at the Program and my performance has become much more consistent than in the past.

    On a less useful note, more qualified people than myself will respond, but I've read this forum long enough to have opinions , so here's a sample:
    1. Unless you are interested in a "burnout, recover, re-evaluate" cycles that last weeks, I'd pick my goals and find an existing program that matches them. There are a few on the SS Programming forum. Outside of a variant of SS, 5/3/1 is a popular choice. General Programming forum would be a better place to ask about it. For SS-like program that compliments Judo, this is a sensible program, I hear.

    2. Being bad at a good exercise is not a valid reason to add it to your program. There's a tonne of those, getting good at them will require as much focus as the main lifts did but adding them will take away from progress in the big four. Starting Strength incorporates two: chins/pull-ups and power cleans. You're already doing chins, so maybe it's time for power cleans. Coincidently, they are a lot more dynamic than the other exercises, so may provide a sufficient endurance fix.

  9. #9
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    Here is something to ponder from your goal perspective. Your son is 3 and you've been running SS for 3 months approximately. Unless your son's birthday is in the next 2 months, you will more than likely be at the end of LP by then. Then you pick a program where you can at least maintain your strength and start to cut the belly. And get a prowler. So now you have just added 6 more months to "looking" svelte like the younger dads. Get a prowler. So before you son turns 5 you will be strong and svelte, and if you follow the running theme in this post you will have your conditioning back. Get a prowler.

    I can relate. 5'11" 250lbs 50yo But I don't have the kid so I don't need the speed of a true cut My youngest just graduated college. I am being patient and slow.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rherington View Post
    Here is something to ponder from your goal perspective. Your son is 3 and you've been running SS for 3 months approximately. Unless your son's birthday is in the next 2 months, you will more than likely be at the end of LP by then. .
    is it realistic to think a 49 year-old will be at the end of LP in 5 months? Really, I'm asking.

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