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Gaining Weight and Strength Training

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Posted (edited)

I started lifting 2 months ago, inspired mostly by wanting to gain weight, and a couple of my friends showed some interest in starting weight lifting.

September 6, naked, empty stomach, I stepped onto a scale, 115 lbs. I'm 5' 10''. It's frustrating being skinny, especially when even your 9 year old niece laughs at your arms for being so small, strangers have joked about my size, I've had people laugh at me when I took my shirt off, literally point at my midsection and note how skinny I am. I don't think people realize skinny people feel just as insecure about their weight as overweight people. One of my friends who is lifting with me expressed the same things when I talked about it to him. He thought he was the only one that felt bad for being small.

After reading a little, I started out with Mark Rippetoe's 'Starting Strength' program and read some of his book. I did that for a month, but as I read more, I wanted to do something else.

Right now I'm doing ABA/BAB week 1/week 2. 5x5 for each exercise, with progressively heavier sets. So for example yesterday on the bench I did a set of 45, 65, 85, 105, and 115 (yes I know that's incredibly weak, but I started with 80 lbs on the bench in September as my max working set of 5).

workout A:

- deadlift

- military press

- bent-over rows

workout B:

- squat

- bench press

- 3x pullups to failure

I enjoy this routine, so I'll stick with it for a while, then move onto something more advanced.

In October, I injured my non-dominant rotator cuff slightly from doing the bench press poorly (my grip was too wide, I wasn't pulling the bar out of rack with my lats, and in general my shoulders are weak). My deadlift and squat form still feels a bit awkward 2 months later. I don't have a coach, just relying on the internet.

These really helped me out, all of elitefts' work is awesome. The only thing I can do is watch these guys do the exercises, take notes, then attempt to emulate it at the gym, but I know I still don't have great form.

I have no problems with motivation. The biggest reason why I didn't start weight lifting earlier was because I felt insecure about walking into a gym and getting in the way of the V-man hero with massive bionic arms moving a mountain of metal as a warm-up set. But the truth is, nobody cares if you're weak in the gym... or fat or skinny or ugly, if someone actually did, that's a failing of their character, none of your own. That individual is probably vain, so I'm not envious. Once I got into a habit, and my exercise journal started building up some entries, I would feel bad if I missed a workout. Concrete numbers and concrete progress is very motivating. I don't see much difference when I stand naked in front of a mirror yet, I don't think I'll see anything major for at least another 4-6 months I'd say, judging from other people's progress. However I weighed in at 130 lbs recently, so that's good. 15 lbs in 2 months... Could be better, but I'll take it.

Diet... I try to eat a minimum of 3500 calories every day. I don't meticulously watch my diet, this is perhaps something I could work on. I basically cut out all junk food, cheating whenever it's convenient, then just try to eat all kinds of things and eating more fruits/veggies than I was (0). I also drink half a gallon of whole milk every day. Post-workout I include some whey powder.

It's hard for me to eat, for a while I thought I had some kind of eating disorder or something. Sometimes when I'm "hungry" my stomach might be rumbling, that familiar uncomfortable feeling when you're hungry, but then when I put food in my mouth, it's like my brain, my mouth, and my esophagus don't want it and my stomach rapidly feels full. I never went to a doctor or a psychiatrist or whatever I need since it didn't happen too often. It's strange, and may be the reason why I'm small.

I've been using cannabis every day to help me eat, just a few puffs is enough to stimulate a search for food. It gives me that ravenous feeling when you're really hungry and you start shoveling food into your mouth and you feel like you can't stop. It makes 'me' want the food, not just my stomach. There's no way I could consume 4000+ calories in a day without that. It sounds expensive, but simply by restraining myself from eating out, not eating 'unnecessary' things (no junk), and minimizing pre-packaged goods, I've been able to keep my food bill really low.

My sleep has also improved, a few tokes before bed to help me sleep like a baby. That's where the gains are coming in anyway.

My goals for this month:

140 lb

1x5 - 185 deadlift

1x5 - 135 bench

Deadlifts are my favorite exercise, I hope I'm moving 200+ before the new year. :)

I started stretching a lot, inflexibility (especially tight hamstrings) is causing me bad form on bent-over rows in particular, I'm forced to bend my knees more, which makes it more awkward to move the bar straight up and down. This happens when I do deadlifts as well, at least from floor position.

Edited by Michio

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Posted

Squats and deadlifts are great exercises that give the whole body a workout (although a lot of muscles used will only be trained as stabilisers, as opposed to dynamic movers). Squats had a bad rep for years, but the myths about them are getting put to rest.

Regarding squat form, there are many variations of the squat (and they will not work your muscles in the same way), but for the sake of safety, remember to keep the natural curvature in your back as you do them, don't bounce at the bottom, keep your heels on the floor, and keep your knees in line with your feet. Stuff like, "keep your back vertical," "don't let your knees go past your toes," "Don't go deeper than having your thighs parallel to the floor," and, "keep your shins vertical [WTF! Yes, I actually heard a qualified personal trainer say that once]" is a load of cobblers. When I teach people how to squat (or when I used to, since I haven't done that for years), I give them a broomstick, tell them where to hold it, and then tell them to make like they're sitting on the toilet.

Your workout seems to be that of a powerlifter, which is great, I think, because it's functional in that it gets you a lot of strength gain, though not as much mass/size as you would if you were doing a bodybuilder's workout. Bodybuilders tend to be bigger than powerlifters and olympic lifters, but they typically have much lower relative strength (I.E. how strong they are for their mass). Bodybuilders typically work in the 6-12 rep range, and this is usually best for maximum size increases, but there are exceptions to the rule, and nutrition and recuperation is a very important (and often overlooked) factor.

Regarding flexibility, weight training whilst moving through your full range of motion (which is the range of motion you can safely and comfortably move through, not what you would be able to move through if you were very flexible) is the best way to develop long-term, functional flexibility.

Also, try to include complex carbs after a workout, not just before.

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Posted (edited)

Thanks for the reply.

"Don't go deeper than having your thighs parallel to the floor"

Except the knees are strongest when deeper than parallel. ;)

And yeah, even though I obviously expressed interest in simply appearing bigger, I like the challenge of building strength and would rather do compound lifts with the barbell. And I've never seen the technique that Dave teaches in the above video where you're utilizing everything down to your heels. When I attempted this at the gym, I immediately added 10 lbs comfortably to my last set of 5 simply through technical changes. Previously I basically just laid there and my lower body was very loose.

Wait, you're not Dave Tate (DaveT) are you? lol

Edited by Michio

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Well, I used that as a very basic analogy. I like to tell them to sit on the toilet, watch them do it, then go through finer points.

If you try the olympic lifts (great fun, but the squatting is very different to the powerlifter squats in the above video; OLs will target your quads more than your glutes, and there'll be a greater knee torque, but less hip torque) then you'll find that technique makes a massive difference in how much you can lift. In fact, with lots of things (including arm wrestling), you can become much stronger just by perfecting your technique.

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The comments reminded me of something I saw a few months ago, having to do with a guy who is training power lifters, and a great predictor of their success is the mastery of the "Third World Squat." http://www.t-nation....hirdworld_squat

#518

I attempted this, discovered I couldn't do it well or for a very long time, so I've been doing this a little every day lol. Also it made me discover spreading my stance on the squat just a little bit helped significantly in keeping the weight on the middle of my foot to my heels.

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I work out alot too....being a girl, it is very wierd going into a gym and lifting weights....I have a special secret routine, and I haven't been able to go as much since I started working but I dance tons of calories off from food I eat, and I am a martial artist. In my martial arts PE class in school, we did weight lifting every second day, so I kinda stuck with it after the class ended. Deadlifts are hard for me because my mobility in my left hand is next to nothing, from car accidents and stuff. I wish you luck thoug! I am trying to lose weight right now because a girl who is 5 foot 2 inches should not weigh in at 168 lbs. >_> My goal is 140, because I went up from 138 to 168. D:

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I did work out occasionally, but not that often. I do Ballet, and Lyrical Dance classes. Not exactly weight lifting but good for flexibility, and you do build up a fair amount of strength.

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Posted (edited)

Deadlift went from 170 -> 180 this morning, but I only did 3x3, not 5x5. I'm gonna keep the volume low on deads because they're so CNS taxing, I'll plateau more if I try to do 25 reps.

I did

95 x3

135 x3

180 x3

I'm having a lot of trouble with squat. Really weak hamstrings, hip flexibility problems, so I'm gonna work on form and my supplementary work on Fridays for a while. I weigh 136.6 at the gym, I can gain 4 pounds in 2 weeks. No prob.

Still amazed at how weak I am, but I've made a lot of progress since I started, so just as long as I keep making progress, 6-10 months from now, I'm gonna look in the mirror and look in my journal, and look at this thread, gain some self-esteem, and see all the other changes that people tell me are going to happen... and I'm going to realize why I started lifting, and thank myself for not procrastinating any longer. I see guys only a little bigger than me moving 300+ lbs, so I can do it too, just gonna be while.

Also girls that lift weights, real sexy. Saw this girl on another website. <ahttp://www.galilean-library.org/site/uploads/emoticons/default_icon_smile.gif' alt=':)'> Having muscles will not turn you into a man. You shouldn't feel out of place when doing serious lifts just because you're a female. EFTS has female members, with a variety of goals. See their training logs.

Edited by Michio
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Posted (edited)

Just a little update I guess since it's now December. I've started doing sumo deadlifts by the recommendation of someone I met at the gym which feels much better on my back. And through the full motion of the lift, it feels like my legs synergize much better with my back. He also coached me on the squat, real gymbros.

If I do DLs with a narrow stance, I'm tempted to use too much of my back (part of it is my hip inflexibility, which is constantly getting better so it's okay).

And after doing 3 months of these lifts, it fixed my posture. I actually kind of feel uncomfortable when I slouch. It doesn't feel right, so now I sit upright and stand upright with my chest out more. I'm not trying to showoff, it just feels more natural to do that. And I basically just feel stronger in general, even when I just walk, my step feels just a little more sure. If there's one thing I've learned these past 3 months, it's all in the hips baby. Every day I look in the mirror I look just a little bit different. :) It's encouraging.

I recently stopped smoking green which interrupted me a little bit. I felt really shitty on days 2,3 of stopping and I hardly ate (I still went the gym which I shouldn't have) which dropped my weight a surprising amount, so I'm not going to go to the gym anymore unless I'm definitely going to eat sufficiently that day. I feel a lot better today and I actually ate breakfast and what-not.

So ya I only weighed in at 137 lb this morning after I lifted.

I'm not really taking any supplements. I eat a little before workout + drink a scoop of creatine in water. Post-workout, eat obviously, drink whey protein. Also multivitamin and fish oil every day.

My shake recipe for a post-breakfast snack:

- whole milk, banana, peanut butter, nutella, golden flax seed

Put all that in a blender, drink, GET STRONG.

Edited by Michio

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Hope you don't get allergic reactions to any of that :) Sounds like an epinephrin pen should be in your future.

Good work on the rest!

-Scott

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I have no problems with motivation. The biggest reason why I didn't start weight lifting earlier was because I felt insecure about walking into a gym and getting in the way of the V-man hero with massive bionic arms moving a mountain of metal as a warm-up set. But the truth is, nobody cares if you're weak in the gym... or fat or skinny or ugly, if someone actually did, that's a failing of their character, none of your own. That individual is probably vain, so I'm not envious. Once I got into a habit, and my exercise journal started building up some entries, I would feel bad if I missed a workout. Concrete numbers and concrete progress is very motivating. I don't see much difference when I stand naked in front of a mirror yet, I don't think I'll see anything major for at least another 4-6 months I'd say, judging from other people's progress. However I weighed in at 130 lbs recently, so that's good. 15 lbs in 2 months... Could be better, but I'll take it.

I've been a gym rat for many a year and I have to agree with this. The only thing that ever bugged me (and still does) about newbs in the gym is how some of them are proudly ignorant of gym etiquette. If you come in and do what you can, great. If you don't know what you're doing, ask or be receptive to people that offer you advice. Don't act like a giant self-important douche. I'm most annoyed when you see 3-5 guys commandeering a wide swath of the bench area, all chatting and none lifting (or lifting essentially warmup weight when they do). [/end rant]

Keep up the good work with the lifts though! Be sure to keep pushing the rep limit as well as upping the weight.

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You may just be someone not destined to put on a lot of weight. It happens. Gaining muscles mass can take years (if done naturally). Nothing wrong with being slim. Just look at Bruce Lee. Never held him back.

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You may just be someone not destined to put on a lot of weight. It happens. Gaining muscles mass can take years (if done naturally). Nothing wrong with being slim. Just look at Bruce Lee. Never held him back.

I'm not going to let someone with twice the genetics but only half the resolve beat me. If I ever have children one day, I will pass on a relatively weak body, but I hope they will learn how to adapt, survive, and excel in whatever they choose, it's the most human thing to do.

There's nothing wrong with being weak and slim, but excellence is unique and selfish--something I need to remind myself more often. It's lonely at the top, I shouldn't expect any support past getting started, other than my own.

Recently, I've been hitting plateaus in my lifts and my weight and my overall willpower when I'm under the bar. I can feel it, I can feel myself giving up, I admit I've had thoughts such as, "Well, I'll go easy today, because my hips are kinda sore, because I slept 30 minutes less than usual, because I overslept, because I've got a case of the Mondays, the Tuesdays, because it's rainy today, because it's too hot today, because it's snowing outside, because I didn't quite eat as well as I could have, because I'm not wearing my favorite shorts, because I forgot my iPod at home, because I'm at a new gym and I don't like it, because the gym is too far, because I didn't take my creatine today, because I have work today, because I'm lifting at a weird time, because I've been a little stressed out lately, because it's 'just one of those days', because I'm insecure about what other people in the gym will think if I fail a rep or start screaming and shuddering under a weight someone directly beside me could easily lift...

but tomorrow, tomorrow... we ride! TOMORROW! But for now let's just chill and be mediocre."

Fuck that... I hate those thoughts, and I need to get angry and annihilate them, otherwise I'm going to keep doing 1 rep less than I can, 5 lbs less than I can, then 2 reps less than I can, then 10 lbs less than I can. Then eventually I'm going to wonder why I even keep going to the gym, and it's going to destroy my self-esteem, and every time I shortchange myself, it gets easier and easier to give up, and I know that what I do in the gym is both a reflection of how I live my daily life and a habit that carries into everything else I do.

Lately, I've realized I've been letting scum around me define who I am and pigeonhole me into roles. That's what losers do, they accept people walking on them without a fight, they allow themselves to fail under the bar when they've got 2 inches of ROM left to complete the rep and get satisfied that it was 'close enough'.

I must accept that if I'm ever going to set a goal so far out that nobody is going to be standing there with me, I have to make sacrifices. True greatness is unbalanced, and a bit crazy. At least it looks crazy in the making, it might even piss some people off but who cares? I've been told I'm weird because I carry around a 4 lb jar of peanut butter and a spoon with me. But whatever, give me another year of training and 50 lbs of weight and we'll see how weird I am then.

As long as you have a safety net you act without commitment. You'll go back to your old habits once you meet a little resistance. You need the samurai's desperateness and his insanity.

Burn the bridge. Nuke the foundation. Back yourself up against a wall. Have an opinion one way or the other, get off the fence and rip it up. Cut yourself off so there is no going back. Once you're committed the truth will come out. You ask about security? What you need is uncertainty. What you need is confusion; something that forces you to reinvent yourself, a whip to drive you harder.

Edited by Michio

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