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Thread: Milking Billy Goats

  1. #1
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    Default Milking Billy Goats

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    Quote Originally Posted by Erasmus
    Mulgere Hircum: to milk a he-goat, that is, laboring to do what can by no art be effected -- from Adagia
    If Erasmus had spent more time pumping iron and less time bent over his books, he might have said that training an older lifter is like milking a billy goat.

    Rambling and half-coherent training history posted in this thread. Age: 42. Weight: 193 lbs or so.

    The goal is to do Starting Strength exactly by the book, or as close as lifestyle allows, so feedback is welcome.
    Last edited by Mulgere Hircum; 08-10-2010 at 11:37 AM.

  2. #2
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    Workout 1

    Mon. 8/9/2010

    192.0 lbs, scale claims 21.9% bodyfat

    3548 kcal, 191.1 g protein, 180 g fat, 265 g carbs, 8 glasses whole milk.

    Frighteningly, I don't mind eating that much. I wasn't terribly stuffed until I ate a couple of slices of watermelon after supper; I may have to cut out that kind of high-volume food. The biggest problem is convincing myself that I won't bloat up eating like this.

    Squats: 45x5x3, 65x5x1, 75x5x1, 95x5--balance was poor, so backed off and did two more sets at 75.

    Rip's technique descriptions are the best I've ever seen, and no one will be surprised to hear I've always done them wrong. The physiological information was enough to show *why* deep squats aren't bad for the knees--or at least enough to convince me to ignore all the other advice I've ever gotten (which was generally not to go past 90 degrees). So this is the first time I've gone anything like this deep, and the numbers show it. I don't believe I was getting the rebound to work properly, but it was the fastest I've ever squatted. Apparently my previous squats were about equivalent to partial box squats. There are plenty of form issues to work on, and a live training session would help, but progress was made. I think I'll have to order the DVD. I also have never done squats without keeping the airway open, as everyone else solemnly demands, so I was turning red and feeling a bit lightheaded by the end. On the bright side, leading with the hips felt good and probably kept my numbers from being even worse.

    Bench: 45x5x3, 65x5, 75x5, 95x5, 115x5x3

    Again, huge change in technique, but this time all in my favor. I always used to do slow reps without any bounce, and with (apparently) very wrong body position. The result is that stopping conservatively when the lift slowed, as the book specified, I still did three sets of five with the weight I'd measured as 1RM before I got the book. There is no doubt coach Rip improved my bench press immensely. I can feel that I'm moving more weight faster--I could feel some strain in the pec tendons, which I'd never felt before. Nothing unpleasant, more of a little "hello, you never asked us to do *this* before" message from the connective tissue.

    Deadlift: 45x5x3, 65x5, 75x5, 95x5, 115x5, 135x5 (didn't like form, backed off) 115x5x2

    I hadn't gotten all the way through the deadlift section yet so I may have more to fix here, but never the less there was plenty to fix. It appears I have been bending over too far and substituting back for quads, which is why I took the big wheels back off and finished with 115.

    Overall, there is no doubt that the legs are the weak link, especially the quads--I have long skinny arms with short muscles and poor leverage, and my little bench press was equal to the deadlift and significantly bigger than my squat.

    On the bright side, I have no grip strength issues with those little weights.

    Biggest recovery obstacle may be getting enough sleep.

  3. #3
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    Good starting session, goat milk.

    What's your plan for your next workout's squat weight and the following workout's bench and deadlift weight?

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by MazdaMatt View Post
    Good starting session, goat milk.
    Goat milk isn't quite what it means, but I expect I asked for whatever people do to it.

    It's a useful phrase. Kant uses it to say a lot of discussion is like one person trying to milk a billy goat and the other trying to catch the (obviously non-existent) results with a sieve, which probably describes most weight-training discussion on the internet.

    What's your plan for your next workout's squat weight and the following workout's bench and deadlift weight?
    Originally I thought I might just start out with the young guy progression of ten lbs for squat and deadlift and five for the smaller movements, just so nobody could say I wasn't doing the program. However, that's probably silly, as Rip says it's better to go slower than to get stuck, and in any event now I plan to do the geezer progression from the start just so I have more time to absorb all the technique changes. I was prepared to slow the progression down already; I have 2.5 lb disks and 1.25 and 5/8 lb magnets, so I can go in increments as small as 1 1/4 lbs on the bar when things really slow down.

    I guess that means the next workouts for these moves are 80 squat, 117.5 bench, and 120 lb deadlift. I gather from some of the discussion that Practical Programming explains this stuff in more detail, so I have it on order. I originally thought it wouldn't be useful until I'd finished SS, but now I guess it probably will be useful now.

  5. #5
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    Workout 2

    Tuesday

    194.4 lbs, 23.0% BF. 9 hrs sleep, 3113 kcals, 214g protein, 137g fat, 268 g carbs, 7 cups of milk.

    Had some delayed soreness in the pecs, but not too bad. It's probably just as well that I'd been fooling around for a week or so before starting the program, though, or I'd probably be hurting. I forgot to mention last time that I actually could feel the benches in the posterior deltoid, which doesn't make sense to me. It wasn't sore, however. My squat and deadlift aren't heavy enough to create soreness.

    As predicted, sleep is the hardest. I'm used to working on a sleep deficit, and now I tend to wake up after about four hours. Of course, having a toddler who cries in the night isn't helping.

    Wednesday

    192 lbs/24.5%, 8.25 hrs sleep, 3440 kcals, 260g protein, 10 cups milk (!).

    Time to milk the billy goat again.

    Squat: working: 80x5x3.

    Moving up on the geezer schedule. The deep squats actually felt better this time, which hopefully indicates progress. Some is just technique, since I felt like I was actually getting some benefit from the bounce, but it wasn't as taxing as the first time. I'm somewhat tempted to add ten pounds next time instead of five, but that might be overdoing it. Maybe I will if everything seems lighter. Balance is still somewhat of an issue, with an occasional rep coming up on the toes, and I suppose that will just have to sort itself out over time. I need to check the book to see what can cause that.

    There is a mirror three feet in front of me in the squat cage, so I really can't follow Rip's advice to start at a fixed point on the floor or wall. That probably hurts balance. OTOH it does make it easy to ensure that I'm squatting below parallel. One way I know I'm getting some bounce, BTW, is that I actually preferred going a bit deeper than absolutely necessary. I was getting some extra bounce off of some bit of flesh somewhere.

    Press: 45x5x3, 65x5, 85x1 (clearly too much), 65x5x2.

    I'm only pressing 57% of my bench. No surprise here, presses were always a difficult move for me. Either I have weak delts, poor leverage, or (what I expect) both. However, I do like doing them faster better than my old slow pace (which I think I got from McRoberts), and probably do handle more weight that way. The technique changes didn't feel like they changed much either way, but I'm sure I added a few pounds just from the speed. It's more fun to try to explode them off the bottom than to ease it up.

    Cleans: 45x5x2, 45x3, 65x3, 85x1 (obviously too much), 65x3x2.

    I don't think I've ever seen anyone doing a dynamic lift in that gym, and I was half expecting to be told I couldn't do power cleans.

    Apparently remembering to change from a 5x3 format to a 3x5 format is too hard for my little brain. There is no way I can accelerate these from the bottom without destroying what little technique I have, so I fear they will be a slow deadlift to mid-thigh before the jump for some time to come. Given the technique problems, I suppose I should just be happy that I managed to do it with weight on the bar at all. Technique was about as good as I can do with any weight at 65, and really ugly at 85. I was tempted to treat this as pure technique practice and finish up with a set of deadlifts, but didn't.

    Overall, this felt like a much lighter day than the first one, partly because of the power cleans instead of deadlifts but, I hope, from adaptation as well. Hopefully that means I'll feel fresh for another heavy lifting day Friday.

  6. #6
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    Good going again. It sounds to me like you COULD add ten pounds to the squat a couple times. You're feeling the bounce, you're getting the big picture. To stop going on your toes, just think about "weight on the heels" (sounds simple, but seriously) and it helps to make sure your upper and lower back are staying really tight - when they get loose the bar goes forward and you need to use your toes to push back. Some people like to curl their toes back to be sure they drive from the heels.

    Powercleans - good thinking doing a slow deadlift to mid thigh. That's actually how I'm trying to fix my sloppy PC's now. A lot of coaches suggest this because people get all crazy trying to throw it from the floor to their shoulders. Accelerate from about your knee - the weight is light enough. Just make sure you're not reverse-curling it and make sure you catch it on your shoudlers, not your hands.

    BTW, at 43, you're not exactly a geezer around here. You'll recover just fine once you're in the groove and you won't regret a little bit of agressive squat and deadlift loading at the start... just for a few sessions.

    Good luck!

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by MazdaMatt View Post
    Good going again. It sounds to me like you COULD add ten pounds to the squat a couple times.
    I'm thinking of doing the normal weight addition next time (10 squat, 15-20 deadlift, and 5 bench) just to see what happens. It's easy enough to back off.

    To stop going on your toes, just think about "weight on the heels" (sounds simple, but seriously) and it helps to make sure your upper and lower back are staying really tight - when they get loose the bar goes forward and you need to use your toes to push back.
    It could be a loose back. But given that I wanted to substitute back for quads in the deadlift, I wonder if that is happening here as well. There is probably an unconscious desire to do that since the quads were always weak.

    Some people like to curl their toes back to be sure they drive from the heels.
    That's a thought. I went and bought some Chuck Taylors for lifting, which ought to be more stable than worn-out cross trainers and I suppose might help balance.

    Powercleans - good thinking doing a slow deadlift to mid thigh. That's actually how I'm trying to fix my sloppy PC's now. A lot of coaches suggest this because people get all crazy trying to throw it from the floor to their shoulders.
    I was trying *not* to do that at first, because of RIp's concern that you don't make it two separate pulls with a pause. But I just don't think I have it well enough to integrate them yet. I have trouble getting it to touch the thigh going slowly, which suggests to me that the position is wrong in the first place.

    Trying to fix that would lead me back in the direction of a more horizontal back, which I thought I was doing too much of on deadlifts. I suppose it is possible that I'm proportioned such that the back should be closer to level, but I still think I was overdoing it.

    Accelerate from about your knee - the weight is light enough.
    It's light enough that when I screw up the rack I can sort of muscle it in place. That does have some advantages since I really can't drop it where I'm working out.

    Just make sure you're not reverse-curling it and make sure you catch it on your shoudlers, not your hands.
    There is a definite desire to catch with the hands. If I try to fix the pull and quit thinking about the rack, the elbows go back down. I can catch 65 lbs so it doesn't really punish me for having bad form yet, either.

    BTW, at 43, you're not exactly a geezer around here.
    Hey, don't take away my fear-based motivational system. I need that!

    It's just a bit of fun, since SS could be read as implying that anyone over 35 is a geezer. I'm not dead yet--I walked 17 miles with a rifle and light pack the last day of deer season last year--but I am old enough that I can use age as a motivation to work on it while it is still relatively easy. Most exercise programs, being lawsuit-averse, say "if you're over XX talk to your doctor before beginning any exercise program." I'm basically not ever going to ask a doctor for permission to exercise, but it might not be a bad idea to avoid letting things go until I'm that old anyway.

    You'll recover just fine once you're in the groove and you won't regret a little bit of agressive squat and deadlift loading at the start... just for a few sessions.
    I think so, and if I don't try it I won't know if it will work. If it doesn't I can easily back things off before I'm severely overtrained.

    It was very strange feeling closer to my real limits on benches than anything else. But I can still add five pounds there and see what happens.

  8. #8
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    You really sound like you're among the most level-headed and logical newbs around here.

    If you're having a hard time brushing the thigh on powercleans, you're probably bringing the bar AROUND your knees instead of keeping your shoulders forward of the bar and straighting your knees to bring the bar up in a straight line.

    chucks will help your balance immensely and let you feel the heel much better.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by MazdaMatt View Post
    You really sound like you're among the most level-headed and logical newbs around here.
    You mean the fact that I don't have an irresistible need to fiddle with the program? Us greybeards are supposed to acquire wisdom at some point or the other.

    Besides, you lose your whining rights if you don't actually do what you're told.

    If you're having a hard time brushing the thigh on powercleans, you're probably bringing the bar AROUND your knees instead of keeping your shoulders forward of the bar and straighting your knees to bring the bar up in a straight line.
    It's certainly possible. I suspect deadlifts are easier to do with a lot of weight than light weights, because you can't really move the bar sideways much. At least, from the last time I deadlifted I recall that after a certain point I had to change how I did them to keep from kneecapping myself. I assume that means I wasn't doing them correctly before that. The problem is, trying to avoid that leads to bending over more, which doesn't seem to resemble the pictures.

    Some of those things would greatly benefit from live coaching. Well, I ordered the DVD, it may help some.

    You know, it would almost be possible for me to detour through Wichita Falls sometime when taking the kids to see their grandparents in Oklahoma. I hear someone or the other there knows how it is done. Extra trip time usually goes toward taking the kids to something fun, though.

    chucks will help your balance immensely and let you feel the heel much better.
    Hopefully. I figured an actual lifting shoe wouldn't be that much of an advantage at the amounts I am lifting anyway. I don't need the built-up heel anyway; my ankles are flexible enough to squat flat-footed.

  10. #10
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    starting strength nutrition camp
    Yeah, from how you're describing things I think you are pulling your shoulders behind the bar and not straightening the knees first. You do end up leaning over if that's the shape of your body. The mechanics dictate the form based on YOUR measurements. The bar starts over mid-foot, grab the bar, drop your shins to it, arch your back. The bar has to go straight up, so you need to pull it towards yourself with your lats while you straighten your knees out of the way. the bar NEVER loses contact with your body and goes straight up. The rest is automatic.

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