Journey to a strong back

nrg500nrg500 Posts: 1,233B-Class
Started lifting in 2008. I was a 150-lb guy who can't even do a single push up. I was that weak. Did the usual stupid stuff like concentrating on curls and machines. I avoided deadlift and squats thinking they are dangerous. I didn't have a training log. I just hit the gym and lift the weight I feel like lifting. No tracking of progression

Relied on high intensity cardio to lose fat. Diet involves canned tuna and raw egg whites. I also tried cooking my meals. My meals revolved around chicken breast meat. My meals are not enjoyable. I ate 5 meals a day with each meal 2 or 3 hours apart. Eating felt like a routine, not exciting. When it's eating time, I say to myself "chicken breast na naman.... haayyy"

In 2009, a TipidPC member introduced to me The "Truth About Building Muscle" e-book by Sean Nalewanyj. Put it simply, the training program in that e-book is based on training to failure using 5 to 7 reps. My lifts improved and I started putting in writing my training sessions. After some time, my weight increased to 180 lb but most of it is fat gain. Was able to hit 180 lbs on the stiffed leg dead lift but I injured my lower back sometime in 2010. Rested for months and hit it again. I got injured again, experiencing lower back pain when standing up. I stopped squats and deadlifts.

During my recovery from lower back pain, I came across Lean Gains by Martin Berkhan. It's a lifestyle based on intermittent fasting. I tried it coz high intensity cardio was getting nowhere in terms of fat loss. From 170 lbs, I was able to reduce my weigh to 145 lbs and managed to retain my strength.

I paired training to failure with intermittent fasting, did it up to 2013. Never took a week off. My lifts are progressing but slow. I hit plateaus. I thought that increasing food intake will solve it. Too stupid not to see that my current training method was working against me. I didn't notice the signs like getting sick too frequently. My strength level is zig-zagging - I would gain some, lose some. My sex drive is plummeting. I had a problem getting a good night sleep. I still pushed harder thinking that I can force my body to increase in strength. Then, I think my body had enough, my strength started gradually decreasing in June 2013. No matter what I try, the lifts won't increase anymore and my energy levels continue to drop. Even outside the gym, I feel sluggish. Upon getting home from work, I just want to rest and sleep

I started cutting the weight load in the 2nd week of July 2013

Here are my lift stats before the deload

Front Squat - 140 lbs @ 3 reps
Barbell Bench Press - 142 @ 6 reps
Chin ups - 185 lbs @ 4 reps (body weight + 25-lb plate)
Conventional Deadlift - 170 lbs @ 3 reps
Sumo Deadlift - 202 lbs @ 6 reps
Push Press - 82 lbs @ 4 reps

^ The last 2 to 3 reps of those exercises were slow grinders. My form probably got bad in the last reps. I'm glad I didn't injure myself

It was mentally challenging for me to cut the weights but I just said to myself that I have nothing to lose since my lifts are not increasing anymore

Here is what I lifted at the start of deload

Back Squat - 102 lbs @ 5 reps
Barbell Bench Press - 122 @ 6 reps
Chin ups - body weight @ 5 reps
Conventional Deadlift - 117 lbs @ 5 reps
Push Press - 62 lbs @ 5 reps

Deloading felt weird and very frustrating at first. But it changed as I have progressed. I don't feel like crap anymore after my training. But I still made sure I was going thru my workouts hard enough but not too much. Also, I switched back to Back Squats and Conventional Deadlift. I can't get strong if them if I don't train them

Here are my lifting stats now.

As of July 29, 2013

Back Squat
1st set - 122 lbs @ 4 reps
2nd set - 112 lbs @ 5 reps
3rd set - 102 lbs @ 6 reps

Barbell Bench Press
1st set - 132 lbs @ 6 reps
2nd set - 122 lbs @ 7 reps
3rd set - 112 lbs @ 8 reps

As of Aug. 2, 2013

Conventional Deadlift
1st set - 132 lbs @ 5 reps
2nd set - 122 lbs @ 6 reps
3rd set - 112 lbs @ 7 reps

Push Press
1st set - 72 lbs @ 5 reps
2nd set - 62 lbs @ 6 reps
3rd set - 52 lbs @ 7 reps

Body weight is ~158 lbs

I hope I can break my past records before the deload. Weight progression for upper body exercises is 2.5 lbs per session and for lower body exercises, 5 lbs per session


  • JettieJettie Posts: 3,763B-Class
    yun may journal ka rin!
  • CoreCore Posts: 2,509B-Class
    Are you using OBs on BB-oriented exercises?
  • nrg500nrg500 Posts: 1,233B-Class
    @ Core

    Sir, what do you mean with OB ?

    Olympic Barbell ?

    Yes, I use an Olympic Bar. I weighed it in the gym's weighing scale, it weighs 32 lbs. I believe its a non-standard olympic bar. If I'm not mistaken, Olympic Bars weigh 45 lbs

    All the weights in my training log includes the weigh of the Olympic Bar
  • CoreCore Posts: 2,509B-Class
    How 'bout Back Squats > High Bar or Low Bar?
  • nrg500nrg500 Posts: 1,233B-Class
    I use low bar in Back Squat. Why, Sir ?
  • Big DawgBig Dawg Posts: 645
    Based on everything you said, it appears to me that you are/was severely overtrained OR not resting enough OR both. You weighed 150 when you first started training 5 years ago and now you weigh 156. That should tell you something is VERY wrong with your 1) training 2) diet 3) rest, or combo of any of the 3. First thing that jumps out at me is the consistent low reps always. Using weights always thats so heavy that limits you to only 3-6 reps takes a hell of a toll on the CNS and leads to overtraining fast. I don't know if you're a meso, ecto, or endo,or what your goals are. However, at your stage of development there is no rocket science needed to get you growing. If you want to post the exact routine and diet that has apparently NOT been working, I can give you more input to help reach your goals if you like dude. Just holla if so. :)
  • CoreCore Posts: 2,509B-Class
    nrg500 wrote:
    I use low bar in Back Squat. Why, Sir ?

    Considering your current program, better!
    Ilang reps[size=x-small]x[/size]sets every exercise? %1RM?
    Big Dawg wrote:
    Using weights always thats so heavy that limits you to only 3-6 reps takes a hell of a toll on the CNS and leads to overtraining fast.

    BD. For this reason, I take a week of no workout every 7-10th week of a strength program.
  • nrg500nrg500 Posts: 1,233B-Class
    @ Core
    Considering your current program, better!
    Ilang repsxsets every exercise? %1RM?

    For Back Squat, Conventional Deadlift, and Push Press

    1st working set - 5 reps
    2nd working set - 6 reps but load reduced by ~10%
    3rd working set - 7 reps but load is reduced again by ~10%

    For Flat Barbell Bench Press

    1st working set - 6 reps
    2nd working set - 7 reps but load reduced by ~10%
    3rd working set - 8 reps but load is reduced again by ~10%

    Before the deload, my predicted 1RM for Bench Press is 165 lbs (based from 142 lbs @ 6 reps)

    When I started the deload, I only lifted 122 lbs @ 6 reps in the bench press. For the conventional dead lift, I was more conservative. I started with 117 lbs @ 5 reps

    I'm slowly working my way up to my previous personal records. I hope I can break my plateau

    By the way, how much forward lean is acceptable in the back squat ?

    I never took a week off. My only "week off" is when I get sick. I didn't realize I was getting sick frequently because of overtraining. My sleep and sex drive were also affected

    @ Big Dawg

    Sir, thanks for the inputs.

    Yes, I trained to failure in the 3 to 6 rep range. I sometimes hit 7 reps. But the 2 or 3 last reps were slow grinders. My form was probably bad in those last reps. I thought I can go on as long as I try to work harder. After my 1st working set, I feel so exhausted. The 2nd working set still felt so very heavy even if I cut the weight by 20%. The rest of the story is in my first post

    I have deloaded and relearning the back squat and conventional deadlift. I now train submaximally. I leave a rep or two in me during my first set but I still make sure I'm giving my best efforts in all reps performed

    Still can't say if I'm on the right track right now. I'll know once I break the 170 lbs @ 3 reps in conventional deadlift
  • CoreCore Posts: 2,509B-Class
    nrg500 wrote:
    By the way, how much forward lean is acceptable in the back squat ?

    Depends where you place the bar. For back squats, the bar is align in the middle of your foot(side view) at all times.
  • badass_vinchbadass_vinch Posts: 4,471A-Class
    mga sir, im just curious... whats next after strength training? say for example you were able to lift the heaviest weight (PR) at the end of the program, will you try another strength program or repeat? coz in my experience (although i only invented my own program) strength isn't accurate and unpredictable. there are times when you are strong and times when you feel weak. you can factor in whatever reason you have (overtraining, diet,stress, etc.) but our body is simply weird. dont get me wrong, im not against strength training but im just wondering why some lifters think that our body can keep moving forward without hitting a wall.

    if your body cant go forward for now, dont force it. it would be better to be good first at a certain poundage until it feels light (for a few weeks) before adding weight instead of piling the plates just for the sake of having some "gains". breaking your records doesnt always mean you're getting better. if you cant keep it, its not a "gain".

    big dawg is right! in 5 years, you could have become more.


  • JettieJettie Posts: 3,763B-Class
    ^for me, depending on which tool he may use like if he still continue to cut, maintain strength when bulk, increase strength.

    Well sir vinch you are correct on what you are posted on my journal with regards to the aspects of strength, we do not only practice strength as power but the endurance, speed, etc.

    There are times like we are hitting the wall, just don't stress it and continue lifting, tho increase caloric intake and rest more.

    Well again, my take not as good as sir vinch and BD's experience. Noob gym rat pa rin ako hehe still learning
  • Nrg500

    Kamusta na sir? I remember 2010 na you shared to me yung ebook ni sean n. Nagprogress din ako but hit a plateau and injury as well.

    Seems we had the same path and nagdeload din ako 4months ago by following different workout routine and mentally challenging talaga sa umpisa but i am personally happy with my gains currently. Yet im still very far from my goals and parang start from scratch na naman.

    Keep safe and good luck.
  • nrg500nrg500 Posts: 1,233B-Class
    @ sevenstring

    yep, but the difference is you were smarter than me

    Sean Nalewanyj recommends taking a rest for a week or 2 after every 8 weeks

    I didn't take a rest because there were still gains in the 9th week etc...

    @ badass_vinch

    yeah, I have wasted too many years. it's frustrating

    but i think it's still not too late to fix itAugust 05, 2013

    Back Squat
    1st set - 117 lbs @ 5 reps
    2nd set - 107 lbs @ 5 reps
    3rd set - did not attempt anymore due to failed 2nd set

    ^ I failed to complete 6 reps in the 2nd set. I also noticed I was only going just a bit above parallel. I'm having a hard time maintaining ab tightness and focus at the same time. Will reduce the load further next week to 82 lbs to master going parallel while being able to maintain ab tightness and focus

    Flat Barbell Bench Press
    1st set - 134.5 lbs @ 6 reps
    2nd set - 122 lbs @ 7 reps
    3rd set - 107 lbs @ 8 reps

    Chin Up (supinated grip)
    1st set - BW + 15 lbs @ 3 reps
    2nd set - BW @ 5 reps
  • badass_vinchbadass_vinch Posts: 4,471A-Class
    yeah that's it bro! it's about getting back up :)bro, is this all the exercises you're doing? how long does it take you to finish the workout?


  • emon02emon02 Posts: 700
    yown may journal ka nadin sir. its kind of frustrating nga to hear your story, but as you said its never to late to fix it.

    based on your journal, it seems that you front squat more than your back squat? care to share what had happen?
  • nrg500nrg500 Posts: 1,233B-Class
    ^ I thought I can work around my weak and sh*tty Back Squat by doing Front Squats. It was just a stupid excuse not to do Back Squats because I can't do them properly

    I dropped Front Squats and Sumo Deadlifts for now. I will focus on mastering the Big 4 first
  • allen101allen101 Posts: 5,102
    Just reading your first page made me felt I am overtrained as well.
    Hehehe. Kiddin.

    Ang suggestion ko, take a week off or two.
    Calm yourself para makapag-isip.
    Rest for a few days, then check everything else after makalma ng isip mo.
    Check mo yung goal mo, malinaw pa din ba?
    Are you getting there? Or getting away with your goal?
    Kelangan mo ba mag change ng program or style of training?
    Fix your diet? Your rest days?

    Imagine a boxer or a fighter na dehado sa mga unang rounds then the break came in, calmed himself, listened to his coach, then completely dominated the succeeding rounds.

    Yan lang muna sakin. :)
  • badass_vinchbadass_vinch Posts: 4,471A-Class
    Standby ako sa progress mo bro :) goodluck!Baka makatulong din sayo ang pre workout supps ngayon. Ewan ko ba kung bakit pumapangit ang reputation ng supps ngayon. Malaking tulong sila no matter how expensive or placebo lang. Para sakin whatever it takes for me to improve gagawin ko. Bayaan lang yung mga newbies na dependent sa supps, matututo din sila hehe


  • Big DawgBig Dawg Posts: 645
    It's going to take more than just a few days off. Like I said before, to gain only 6 lbs in 5 years proves something is VERY wrong with training, diet or both. I could take most n00bs at 5'10 and 150 and after 5 years of training have them at 175 solid MINIMUM. Hell that's only 5 lbs a year. Post your exact routine and diet that you have been doing if you want to fix the situation dude.
  • badass_vinchbadass_vinch Posts: 4,471A-Class
    @nrg500: bro, baka gusto mo try power bodybuilding ni mike ohearn. medyo similar kayo ni emon ng routine e. atleast minor adjustment na lang from your current routine. i think it will make you happy hehehe :)


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