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Old 10-29-2008, 05:52 PM   #1
Jack Germain
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Strength Problems

I've done some long distance running and just finished a cross country season, and with some experiences I've had (shin and knee problems) along with information on this site about the dangers of long slow running I've decided that it really isn't a great sport to be in.

I have some strength issues I think prevent me from being as good as I could be in other sports, and I'd like to address them. However, I'm having great difficulty increasing weight.

I was doing Starting Strength as prescribed in the book, with a substitution of 2x8 assisted pullups for the power cleans. I had a lot of difficulty with the form of the power cleans and progressing the weight while maintaining good form, even while having someone (I believe) was knowledgeable helping me. I'll definitely try them again, but for now is the substitution of the pullups going to cause any issue?

Because of cross country, I would wake up at 5:30 and work out in the morning, then go school. I was very tired, missing many reps, and rushed for time, often leaving out deadlifting, so now that I can lift in the afternoon I took about 10% off of all my lifts and have ramped back up, working on form.

The problem is I have horrible lifts, especially presses, and I am having great difficulty increasing weight. I'm 5'9'' and weigh 140 lbs, so bodyweight and caloric intake may be an issue. However, I've gone through periods of sitting at home after school and just stuffing my face, and that hasn't really helped add weight to my lifts. I get 8 hours of sleep a night easily, so recovery isn't an issue. Rippetoe talks about adding 5lbs to presses every workout, and that isn't happening at all for me.

The deadlifts, pullups, and squats I'm not as worried about. I'm still adding weight every workout, and I'm quickly eliminating the assistance on the pullups. I deadlift 170, squat 155, and do pullups with a wide overhand grip with no kipping with 25 pounds of assistance for the 2x8. These are very low, but going up quickly.

My presses are just awful, though. On my first attempt at overhead pressing 90 lbs, I got 5/5/4, missing the last rep by just a hair because I wasn't able to lock it out. I think I should be able to get it next time. But while I was working out in the mornings, going from 85 to 90 took 3 workouts, and I know progress is only going to get slower. On the bench today on 120 lbs I got 5/4/1/1 (I really wanted to try again after getting only one rep, so I tried another set). Going from 115 to 120 again 3 workouts in the morning, and then another 1 workout after switching to afternoons. I'm very frustrated.

Based on the results others have gotten, I really think there is something I'm doing wrong. I've tried to explain anything that I'm doing differently that may be a problem, but if you need any more information please ask.
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Old 10-30-2008, 04:15 AM   #2
David Stout
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Re: Strength Problems

What I can see off the bat -

You're going to need fractional plates if you're stalling at 90# on the press. Check this out (WFS) and pick some up: Fractional Plates

At 5'9" and 140 pounds you're alarmingly light. You need to eat and strongly consider the Gallon of Milk a Day (GOMAD) program ASAP. Like yesterday ASAP.

You modded the program to avoid Power Cleans. When you can learn them from somebody qualified, but if you're subbing them out check out the Practical Programming Novice Program as depicted here (WFS): A Compendium of Mark Rippetoe's Novice/Intermediate Program Templates

Question: Are you doing any additional work like metcons on top of the SS workouts? If so you may want to nix that if this (SS) is your priority right now. It may be screwing with your linear progressions.

Hope this helps.

David
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Old 10-30-2008, 05:04 AM   #3
Andrew Christopher Woloszyn
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Re: Strength Problems

Hi Jack

Just some background - I'm 35 now, just under 5'9, and about 155. I've been weight training to different degrees since I was 18, and have always had trouble putting on muscle - which comes down to eating enough. At the moment my press/squat/deadlifts max's are around 130/240/340, which are slowly improving, though my weight stays around 155.

My first suggestion is not to get hung up on the weight you are at the moment. I would disagree with the comment 'you're alarmingly light'. If you ok and that's your weight at the moment, don't beat yourself up - just work at it. For some of us, it can take a lot of time/effort to pack on some pounds, and the thing I've learnt most recently through Crossfit is that it is more important to achieve/be happy with an increase in overall fitness. I've spent years doing varying workouts/diets and wishing I was bigger - but in the end, am excepting that I'm making the best of what I am given the amount I train/eat and rest, make incremental improvements and quit stressing about it. If you want more evidence - read the article from the following link, and check out Brett Marshall's performance - then look at his body weight.

http://library.crossfit.com/free/pdf..._the_Lines.pdf

The second thing you have to consider - How much do you want to be bigger/stronger. David's comment is correct in that it will probably come down to diet - and the GMAD is a simple step towards improving strength/gaining weight - but it's weighing up of effort of this/eating more against amount you want it that is a key step. If you don't eat enough, and reach a plateu that is how it will stay and you either eat more or accept you size/performance. Simple as that. I'd rather not force feed myself and stay around 155.

Third thing - everyone is different, so don't expect that you'll necessarily approach physical appearance/performance as some of the monsters on here. Don't be put off when you read some of the poundages / times some post. Some of us could eat/sleep the same as those guys/girls and never achieve the same numbers/physique because genetics is the other factor that comes into it.

All in all, keep plugging away. The approach that has helped me is:

Follow the WODs - scale as necessary

Look to cover all the main body areas each week wrt strength training if they are not encorporated in the WODs
e.g. If no med-heavy squats come up one week - I'll skip the normal warm-up, just run 1km on the treadmill then do 5X5 on the squats at some point in that week.

Hope the above helps.
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Old 10-30-2008, 05:29 AM   #4
Jack Germain
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Re: Strength Problems

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Stout View Post
What I can see off the bat -

You're going to need fractional plates if you're stalling at 90# on the press. Check this out (WFS) and pick some up: Fractional Plates

At 5'9" and 140 pounds you're alarmingly light. You need to eat and strongly consider the Gallon of Milk a Day (GOMAD) program ASAP. Like yesterday ASAP.

You modded the program to avoid Power Cleans. When you can learn them from somebody qualified, but if you're subbing them out check out the Practical Programming Novice Program as depicted here (WFS): A Compendium of Mark Rippetoe's Novice/Intermediate Program Templates

Question: Are you doing any additional work like metcons on top of the SS workouts? If so you may want to nix that if this (SS) is your priority right now. It may be screwing with your linear progressions.

Hope this helps.

David
I'm not quite stalling yet, but from how heavy the weight feels it's quite possible I'll stall at 95#. Is this at all normal? I feel like it is a much too light weight to be stalling at.

For smaller increments, should 1.25 lb plates (2.5 lb increases) be enough for a while?

I already drink a lot of milk, but I will definitely try to get a full gallon each day.

I'm doing absolutely no additional work.
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Old 10-30-2008, 09:15 AM   #5
David Stout
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Re: Strength Problems

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jack Germain View Post
I'm not quite stalling yet, but from how heavy the weight feels it's quite possible I'll stall at 95#. Is this at all normal? I feel like it is a much too light weight to be stalling at.

For smaller increments, should 1.25 lb plates (2.5 lb increases) be enough for a while?

I already drink a lot of milk, but I will definitely try to get a full gallon each day.

I'm doing absolutely no additional work.
Sent you a PM.

David
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Old 10-30-2008, 11:33 AM   #6
Jacob Cloud
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Re: Strength Problems

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jack Germain View Post
On the bench today on 120 lbs I got 5/4/1/1 (I really wanted to try again after getting only one rep, so I tried another set). Going from 115 to 120 again 3 workouts in the morning, and then another 1 workout after switching to afternoons. I'm very frustrated.

Based on the results others have gotten, I really think there is something I'm doing wrong.
I've tried to explain anything that I'm doing differently that may be a problem, but if you need any more information please ask.
#1: 5/4/1?? You aren't resting enough between sets. Period. Reset the weight 10%, work your way back up, and rest 4-5 minutes between sets. Maybe more on squats.

#2: You are doing something wrong - you aren't following the program. Follow it TO THE LETTER, eat more, and you will progress. Don't skip your deadlifts. If you don't feel good doing PC's, get better at them, don't use excuses. Post vids in digital coaching if you need to. People here are very helpful and friendly. I used to skip them, too, but they're more helpful than you realize. I'm still not great at PCs, but I finally love 'em.

And +1 on microplates, sounds like you're an excellent candidate for them. They should help quite a bit with your frustration at lack of linear progression. Don't worry about the weight on the bar - worry about INCREASING the weight on the bar. There's no shame in pressing 95lbs today - but there should be no excuses as to why you aren't pressing 135+ in a year.
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Old 10-30-2008, 12:26 PM   #7
Robert Callahan
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Re: Strength Problems

shoulder press and bench press gains will slow down much faster because the muscles that you are using are much smaller. This means smaller weight increases. 1.25 plates will be good for a little while but you will probably need .5 or .75 pound plates within a month or so. And as said above, drink a gallon of milk a day, and eat a lot more.

Good luck!

-Robert
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Old 10-30-2008, 03:54 PM   #8
Jack Germain
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Re: Strength Problems

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jacob Cloud View Post
#1: 5/4/1?? You aren't resting enough between sets. Period. Reset the weight 10%, work your way back up, and rest 4-5 minutes between sets. Maybe more on squats.
I made sure I got over 5 minutes of rest, and I still got one rep. My arms were just fried.

I'll grab some lighter plates and drink more milk and see what happens.
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Old 11-05-2008, 03:15 PM   #9
Jack Germain
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Re: Strength Problems

Before I go off and buy the plates I need, is it possible to microload with spring clips?

Mine look like these:
http://img355.imageshack.us/img355/7...ngclipszj9.jpg


Do they weigh nice enough increments to use them to microload? For example, I made my first attempt at 95 lbs on the overhead press today. I got 4/3/3. Would it be possible to load 92.5 lbs onto the barbell using a combination of plates and clips, so I can get a set of 5 next time?
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Old 11-06-2008, 07:40 AM   #10
Jack Germain
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Re: Strength Problems

From some googling it looks like a pair of spring clips weigh very close to a pound. Can anyone with a scale confirm this?
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