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Thread: Third Time's a Charm

  1. #1
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    Default Third Time's a Charm

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    I’m 36 years old, 5’11”, and 215 pounds. At the beginning of May I purchased a copy of Starting Strength and began my current strength training journey. This is my third cycle with strength training. Now for a brief history:

    My first cycle with strength training began when I was maybe 14 or 15 years old. I went to a fairly small high school and lettered 4 years on the varsity football team playing mostly left guard and defensive end. I remember doing the Bigger, Faster, Stronger program and performing squats, bench press, power clean, and maybe some trap bar deadlift among other things. I gained strength and size incredibly rapidly on BFS and still bear the stretch marks around my armpits, hips, and groin. Though I don’t remember the numbers lifted I’m sure they weren’t very impressive. Unfortunately, strength wasn’t particularly important at my school and it didn’t take much to be one of the stronger guys around. I was maybe 220-240 throughout high school and never reached my strength potential.

    Around 2011 I stumbled on an inferior 5x5 knock-off of Starting Strength and over a few months worked up to sets of 5 at approximately 300 squat, 350 deadlift, 225 bench, 135 press. After that I fell off the strength training wagon, went to post-graduate school, had some kids, and didn’t pick up a barbell for a decade.

    At the beginning of this year (2022), I was fat and weak at a lifetime high of 245 pounds when I decided to get back into shape with a target weight of 200 lbs. I spent 10 weeks doing a HIIT-style cardio program with calisthenics, kettlebells, dumbbells, AMRAP, EMOM, Tabata, etc. I successfully lost 25 pounds in the process, but I wasn’t happy with the trajectory I was on with respect to muscle mass and strength.

    I then moved on to 8 weeks of 3-day per week dumbbell-only full-body workouts with a pair of 55-pound adjustable dumbbells. I continued losing weight down to about 210, and the dumbbell workouts were a step in the right direction, I thought, but I quickly maxed out even at 15 reps with presses, front squats, stiff-leg deadlifts, and the like. I briefly considered buying a pair of 90-pound powerblocks to continue with the dumbbell routine, but fortunately I realized that barbell training was what I was really missing.

    That’s when I ordered a proper barbell and a set of bumper plates and bought a used power rack to equip my garage gym. I picked starting weights of 135 pounds for squat, deadlift, and bench and 95 pounds for press. Over the next 8 weeks I trained my numbers up to 355 deadlift, 320 squat, 200 bench, and 150 press while continuing to lose weight down to 200 pounds before leveling off. Then I went on a 2-week vacation when I didn’t train.

    When I returned from vacation, I tried to reset every lift by 10%, thinking that I would be well-rested and ready to continue the progression, but then I suffered a series of setbacks and “tweaks” that derailed my progress. First, I “tweaked” my back on a deadlift. I skipped the next workout and lowered the weights by another 10% or so. Then I tweaked my neck during squats. I felt a pain in my neck during my first workset but I thought I could just work through it. I finished all my squats, overhead presses, and deadlifts, through some mild discomfort, but then within an hour after completing my workout my neck started to seize up to the point that I begged my wife to go buy me a cervical collar from CVS to help stabilize it. Then I spent the whole weekend in the collar and skipped a week or so of workouts until I felt confident enough to get back under the bar. At that point I aimed to reduce my weight even further to continue with the progression. During my fourth warmup set of squats at 145 pounds I felt another “tweak” or shift in my lumbar spine (maybe it was a facet joint) and ended my workout. At that point I spent another weekend resting and took two more workouts off before resetting at 135 squat, 135 deadlift, 185 bench, 135 press to restart my linear progression and work back up.
    Last edited by Matt Dawson; 08-14-2022 at 08:35 PM.

  2. #2
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    May through June 2022 progress

    May 02
    squat 135
    press 95
    deadlift 135

    May 04
    squat 145
    bench 135
    deadlift 145

    May 06
    squat 165
    press 100
    deadlift 185

    May 09
    squat 185
    bench 145
    deadlift 205

    May 11
    squat 205
    press 115
    deadlift 225

    May 13
    squat 225
    bench 155
    deadlift 245

    May 16
    squat 235
    press 120
    deadlift 265

    May 18
    squat 245
    bench 165
    deadlift 285

    May 20
    squat 155
    press 125
    deadlift 305

    May23
    squat 260
    bench 170
    deadlift 315

    May 25
    squat 265
    press 130
    deadlift 305

    May 27
    squat 270
    bench 175
    deadlift 325

    May 31
    squat 275
    press 135
    deadlift 335

    June 01
    squat 280
    bench 180
    deadlift 340

    June 03
    squat 280
    bench 180
    deadlift 340

    June 06
    squat 290
    bench 185
    clean 135

    June 08
    squat 295
    press 145
    deadlift 345

    June 10
    squat 300
    bench 190
    clean 145

    June 13
    squat 300
    press 150
    deadlift 350

    June 15
    squat 305
    bench 195
    clean 155

    June 17
    squat 310
    press 150
    deadlift 355

    June 20
    squat 315
    bench 200
    clean 165

    June 22
    Squat 320
    press 150
    deadlift 355
    Last edited by Matt Dawson; 08-14-2022 at 04:44 PM.

  3. #3
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    Aug 2022
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    Returning from layoff after series of back tweaks:

    August 3:
    135 squat
    140 press
    135 deadlift

    August 5:
    185 squat
    190 bench
    185 deadlift

    August 8:
    205 squat
    145 press
    225 deadlift

    August 10:
    225 squat
    195 bench
    255 deadlift

    August 12:
    235 squat
    150 press
    275 deadlift

  4. #4
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    My current goal is to hit 175/250/350/400 press/bench/squat/deadlift before moving on to 200/300/400/500.

  5. #5
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    August 15:

    Squat 245x5x3
    Bench 200x5x3
    Deadlift 285x5x1

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Dawson View Post
    August 15:

    Squat 245x5x3
    Bench 200x5x3
    Deadlift 285x5x1
    I'm sure you can easily get past your previous PR, don't let the numbers trick you. Just add 5 pounds and do your job, most of the time, the bar will come up. If you're still around 200lbs, I'd probably start going back up again slowly.
    Remember to keep your squat form in check and push your deadlifts for a few seconds before deciding to put them down.
    Take creatine if you're not.
    Good luck, hope you celebrate new PRs soon!

  7. #7
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    Thanks for the feedback, Francesco. I am confident that I will blow past my previous PRs set in June. While progress was slowing and workouts were getting a little "grindy" I never actually stalled. At the time I was at the end of a nearly six-month cut during which I lost approximately 45 pounds on a keto diet. I am no longer following keto and have since gained some weight up to about 215. I am comfortable gaining more over the next couple of months up to 225-235, though I want to keep body fat from getting too high (>25%).

  8. #8
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    Aug 2022
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    Squat 255x5x3
    Press 155x5x3
    Deadlift 295x5x1

    Soon to make the following changes:
    5 pound jumps on the squat
    2.5 pound jumps on the press
    Alternate deadlift with power cleans

  9. #9
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    Aug 2022
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    Squat 265x5x3
    Bench 205x5x3
    Deadlift 305x5x1

  10. #10
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    starting strength coach development program
    August 22:

    Squat 270x5x3
    Press 157.5x5x3
    Deadlift 315x5x1

    Squats are starting to feel reasonably heavy again. I will continue with 5 pound increments 3 times per week until it's time to incorporate a light squat day.

    I have entered PR territory on the press and switched to 2.5 pound increments. I feel that I am getting a good bounce out of the bottom and if I can stay in the groove the bar shoots up to lockout at a good pace. Would like more practice than only 3 work sets every other workout.

    Finally back to 3 plates on the deadlift. However, I feel like I did not do a great job of getting my back set. Perhaps with the increased bodyweight I need to widen my stance a bit to create room for the belly to drop down. Will start to alternate with power cleans beginning with the next workout.

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