Training/Diet Update #5: Continuing Strength

Posted on April 1, 2013


tl;dr: I’m almost as strong as I was before my shoulder injury in 2009. My deadlift is better than ever:

Previously, I mentioned Crossfit and the idea of General Physical Preparedness. I still see Crossfit as fairly close to the ideal to train physical generalists. Still though, for raw strength, weightlifting is pretty tough to beat.

I mentioned back in November that I’d changed neighborhoods and gyms. At the time I said my plan was to cut my body fat % as low as practicable doing 4-weeks of “crossfit-lite” before starting a serious barbell program. I got my weight to about 156# (which is very light for me), but I still don’t really know how low my BF% got. After four weeks of the Crossfit I switched back to the same modified Starting Strength program from last April. Since it had been almost 4 years since I was lifting seriously, I decided to seek professional help with my form. I made friends with Kurt over at Brooklyn Barbell Club and spent a few hours with him working on my main lifts. Most critically, however, on my Squat. Unfortunately, I learned that I’ve been squatting basically wrong for years. Back in 2009, I was “high-bar” back squatting. With Kurt’s help I started “low-bar” back squatting. Unfortunately, this revealed the astonishingly limited range of motion of my hips and ankles. My ankles (and wrists for that matter) have almost no dorsiflexion. This makes it impossible basically for my knees to track over my feet when I try to do a full squat. I can basically do a quarter-squat with perfect form, after which my shoulders come forward to keep my center of mass over my feet. It’s a recipe for a serious back injury. Still though, until very recently I was too lazy to stretch everyday and I thought simply squatting with good form with light weights would be “enough.”


So, now I’m spending a good 10-20 min a day stretching my ankles, calves and hips. We’ll see.

Now, after about 3-months of straight training, I have gathered some pretty good information from fitocracy.

April 1, 2013 Fitocracy

Right now my lifts are:
Back Squat: 5RM 185# @ 172#
Bench Press: 5RM 120# @ 172#
Standing Press: 5RM 75# @ 172#
Hang Power Clean: 5RM 80# @ 172#
Deadlift: 5RM 267# @ 172#

At my peak in 2009 my lifts were:
Back Squat: 5RM 240# @ 194#
Bench Press: 5RM 145# @ 194#
Standing Press: 5RM 95# @ 194#
Power Clean: 5RM 125# @ 194#
Deadlift: 5RM 245# @ 194#

In absolute terms, I’m weaker on 4 of the 5 lifts, which isn’t a big shocker as 3 are primarily upper body strength. One key thing to note however, is that I weigh about 20 pounds less now than I did then, yet I’m deadlifting 20 pounds more. That’s not bad. My Bench and Press are weak, but adjusted for body weight, not that much weaker. The main difference is my squat, which is mostly on hiatus until I can get the flexibility down.

Looking on the bright side, physically I’m feeling good, I haven’t had any injuries or lingering pain, a far cry from 2009 and 2010 where I was taking Ibuprofen every day.

All that said, I’m pretty happy with my gain so far. One reason the gains haven’t been faster is that my work/sleep/travel schedule makes the regularity of the A/B day schedule almost impossible. Now that gains are slowing down, I’m going to make a more serious effort to hit the gym every other day. I’m also going to add some of the Rippetoe assistance exercises to make sure that I stay well-balanced. Who am I kidding about balance? I can deadlift 267# but only press 75#, that’s just messed up.


Posted in: Training