The Five Biggest Contradictions in Fitness
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The Five Biggest Contradictions in Fitness

Its no secret that when people contradict themselves, it has the effect of making the flaws in their actions or statements seem glaringly obvious. But what about when WE ourselves get caught contradicting ourselves by someone else?

By: Nick Tumminello Added: January 6th, 2014
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  1. #1
    Constantly Improving Decent's Avatar
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    Tips for the Beginners, and Questions for Intermediates

    Quick background:

    I used to be overweight (6'0" / 220lbs chubby). 5 years ago, I decided to start working out and I lost 50+ lbs by doing cardio. As you might imagine, this did very little to improve my body composition, as the weight loss included a lot of lbm. I felt a lot better, but I still wasn't in good shape. In 2006, I got a real weight bench that doubles as a mini-squat rack, and began to lift weights in a real manner for the first time in my life.

    In 2008, I came across Stronglift's 5x5 for Beginners Routine and Sensei's Squat RX videos, and they pretty much changed my life. By squatting 3 times a week with proper form, I went from 170 to 190 lbs, my body looked "solid" for the first time, my clothes fit better, and I felt a lot stronger than I did just doing cardio.

    After a year, progress came to a halt. My bench press was stuck at 190-200lbs, my squat stayed at 270-300, and my physique stopped improving in appearance. I made the mistake of training for body composition, instead of training for strength first. I've read a million times that it's better to put on muscle first, because it's easier to burn fat later on. But as a former fatty, I was paranoid about ballooning up. My goal was to "slow bulk" and gain as much strength as possible on a maintenance diet.

    A few months ago, I just said "**** it" and got lazy with my training and diet. By lazy, I mean I cut out all of my lifts except the big three, and weighted chin-ups, and I ate with no regard to my maintenance diet (no fast food or junk though). My thinking was, why bust my ass so hard every day if I'm making no progress whatsoever? I can relax and get the same lack of results. Eventually I ballooned up without realizing it. My squat went up to 335 lbs, my bench press went up 5 lbs a week and is currently 235 (I was so happy when I benched 225 for the first time in my life-- not a lot of weight I know, but a goal that alluded me for years). I currently weigh around 210 lbs, and even though I put on some fat, my body composition doesn't look all that different than it did at 190. I'm just "bigger." For the first time in my life people are asking me if I lift weights. It took 5 years, but I'm here.

    By reducing my goals, it was easier to reach them.


    Tips for Beginners

    1. Train for strength first. You've read it plenty of times, but you have to believe it. Set specific strength goals, not just body composition goals. That will follow.
    2. Squat deep and often.
    3. Plateaus can be broken in the kitchen, not just the gym.



    Transition from Beginner to Intermediate

    After a certain point, you can't progress in your lifts every week, and have to start training to progress over time. I've read this, but even with plateaus, I never felt like my 6 day routine was too much to recover from. A few weeks ago, I tried to squat heavy two days after working my core (dragon flags), and my midsection gave out on me. My body folded up, 335lbs came crashing down, and the barbell slammed against the back of my head before landing in front of me. I'm okay, but lesson learned. The following week, I was able to squat the 335 for a few reps, and then the week after that, I was too weak to. Yesterday I made it. Apparently I've reached a point where I need longer than a week to recover from the heavy squat.

    I'd like to introduce a day for front squats, so I can use a lighter weight to help recovery. Plus, I would like to practice my front squat technique. I'm thinking that maybe I need to try an 8 or 9 day routine, and mix things up a bit.

    Current Routine

    Day 1:
    Back Squat 5 x 5
    Deadlift 1 x 2

    Day 2:
    rest

    Day 3:
    Bench Press 5 x 3
    Weighted Dips 3 x failure
    Push-Ups 3 x failure

    Day 4:
    Weighted Chin-Ups 5 x 5
    Bent Over Rows 3 x 8

    Day 5 and 6:
    rest




    Questions

    1. How should I stretch this routine out to add a day for front squats with lighter weight?
    2. I haven't done an overhead press in months. I miss them, my shoulders miss them. What's a good day to re-introduce those? I used to do them on Day 1, between squat and deadlift, but my squats leave me far too exhausted.
    3. How can I add dragon flags to my routine without affecting my squat? The last time I tried them was on Day 4, and my abs were sore for almost week.


    Thanks for the help, and thanks to this forum for the years of great advice and motivation. I probably wouldn't have made it this far without it.
    "To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing."
    - Timothy Ferriss

    "Trying to get everyone to like you is a sign of mediocrity."
    - Colin Powell

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  3. #2
    Senior Member sbirgel's Avatar
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    why not do shoulder press on the day you do chins and rows?
    Age: 20
    Height: 5'11"
    Weight: 175

    B: 255x1 DL: 375x1 SQ: work in progress

    Goals: B-275 D-400 S-275 Weight- 180

  4. #3
    Constantly Improving Decent's Avatar
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    I'll give that a try. I never thought of it before since my tri's are usually somewhat sore that day. We'll see.
    Last edited by Decent; 06-25-2010 at 06:25 PM.
    "To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing."
    - Timothy Ferriss

    "Trying to get everyone to like you is a sign of mediocrity."
    - Colin Powell

  5. #4
    Moderator Off Road's Avatar
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    First off...nice post. I'm glad you came around to the effectiveness of abbreviated training.

    If it were me, I'd skip the push-ups and finish up with the ab work on that day. I'm not sure you need push-ups after bench and dips and that would place your ab work far enough away from your next squat session.
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  6. #5
    Constantly Improving Decent's Avatar
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    ^ Today was Day 3 for me, so I just tried your suggestion (did abs instead of push-ups). I'll let you know how it goes.


    I'm more interested in finding the best way to introduce front squats into my routine though. I'd like to squat heavy and light effectively, instead of having one good heavy week and one bad heavy week.
    "To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing."
    - Timothy Ferriss

    "Trying to get everyone to like you is a sign of mediocrity."
    - Colin Powell

  7. #6
    Wannabebig Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by sbirgel View Post
    why not do shoulder press on the day you do chins and rows?
    I was sort of thinking the same thing, except wouldn't it be better if he did Clean and Press + Squats on Day 1, and moved the heavy deadlift to Day 4 which seems to be his back and biceps day??

    Quote Originally Posted by Decent View Post
    I'm more interested in finding the best way to introduce front squats into my routine though. I'd like to squat heavy and light effectively, instead of having one good heavy week and one bad heavy week.
    Front Squats are more core intensive, but they're still squats. I would do them on my leg day... Your Day 1 I guess...

  8. #7
    Constantly Improving Decent's Avatar
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    Okay, for the past week and change, I've done abs on my Day 3. So far, so good. Thanks Off Road.

    OH Press on Day 4 is not going to cut it. My triceps are still tight from yesterday's chest/tri workout. I'll have to shake things up a bit.
    "To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing."
    - Timothy Ferriss

    "Trying to get everyone to like you is a sign of mediocrity."
    - Colin Powell

  9. #8
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    Feel your pain

    I feel your pain, I have been in the gym consistently m-w-f for about 3 3 and a half months now. I have not seen any mass gains at all. I have gained a total of maybe 5 lbs since starting to work out. My strengh gains are great however, a quick glimpse:

    started squatting 90lbs for 5 sets of 5 I am now at 300 lbs for 5 sets of 5 then I finsh off with 2 sets of 8.
    DLs started about 100 obs for 5 sets of 5 I am now doing 225 at 5 sets of 5
    Bench started at 110 for 5 sets of 5 I am now doing 180 at 5 sets of 5.

    I am eating protein like crazy, I take 2 shakes a day at 64 grams of protein a piece and then I make sure I have a lot of protein in my diet. I just don't get it, no mass at all, lots of strenght tho compared to what I was at. I was thinking of switching my reps up to 8 on all my lifts? Any suggestions? I was also thinking of saying screw it with the diet and eating whatever.

  10. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by ernie8306 View Post
    I feel your pain, I have been in the gym consistently m-w-f for about 3 3 and a half months now. I have not seen any mass gains at all. I have gained a total of maybe 5 lbs since starting to work out. My strengh gains are great however, a quick glimpse:

    started squatting 90lbs for 5 sets of 5 I am now at 300 lbs for 5 sets of 5 then I finsh off with 2 sets of 8.
    DLs started about 100 obs for 5 sets of 5 I am now doing 225 at 5 sets of 5
    Bench started at 110 for 5 sets of 5 I am now doing 180 at 5 sets of 5.

    I am eating protein like crazy, I take 2 shakes a day at 64 grams of protein a piece and then I make sure I have a lot of protein in my diet. I just don't get it, no mass at all, lots of strenght tho compared to what I was at. I was thinking of switching my reps up to 8 on all my lifts? Any suggestions? I was also thinking of saying screw it with the diet and eating whatever.
    Could it be that you're just recompositioning (trading fat for muscle)?

    It's not solely about protein. Some other variables:
    Are you on a proscribed routine or are you winging it?
    What is your total calorie intake?
    What is your body weight?
    Do you do some other exercise (run, bike, martial arts, manual labor, etc)?
    What other supplements are you taking?

    On top of those questions, everyone responds to stimuli differently. You may not see the same results as the guy standing next to you eating the same diet and doing the same routine.

    Slightly off topic, your squat seems unusually high compared to your deadlift...

  11. #10
    Constantly Improving Decent's Avatar
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    What's your height and weight?

    Definitely don't eat "whatever," but if you aren't gaining mass, then you should be eating more than what you are now.

  12. #11
    Small guy depotman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Decent View Post
    What's your height and weight?

    Definitely don't eat "whatever," but if you aren't gaining mass, then you should be eating more than what you are now.
    Agreed, you need to make sure you are gettting a calorie surplus. Start tracking what you eat at Fitday.com.

    It's pretty easy to do once you start doing it. This will allow you to post up what you are eating for people to give advice and critque.

    Eating a lot of protein is finem but if you are not eating more calories then you burn, you are not going to put on the weight you are looking for.

  13. #12
    Constantly Improving Decent's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wags View Post
    Slightly off topic, your squat seems unusually high compared to your deadlift...
    You're right. If he's squatting almost 100 lbs more than his DL, I'd like to see the form on those squats.

    ernie8306, make sure you check out Sensei's Squat RX series, to prevent injury and promote overall growth (in all of your lifts).
    "To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing."
    - Timothy Ferriss

    "Trying to get everyone to like you is a sign of mediocrity."
    - Colin Powell

  14. #13
    Wannabebig Member
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    Calories

    Quote Originally Posted by Decent View Post
    You're right. If he's squatting almost 100 lbs more than his DL, I'd like to see the form on those squats.

    ernie8306, make sure you check out Sensei's Squat RX series, to prevent injury and promote overall growth (in all of your lifts).
    I haven't been tracking my calories as I should, I know bad on me. As far as the weight diff between my squats and DL, I take it easy on DL's because I had a previous back injury and I am very fearful that I might reinjure my back. As far as form I have a trainer who is an ex powerlifter training me on a program he designed. He has supervised all of my lifts and made sure they are correct in form. i also started very light to master my form before lifting heavier. I also have another friend who is a bodybuilder (He is a certified personal trainer and has owned three gyms) who supervises my lifts at times. I know, everyone is thinking why don't you just ask them lol, I get the same answer from both, it just takes time, but I figured I would see something by now so it's a little disappointing and I wanted to see if anyone has experienced anything like this. The fat to muscle transfer may be what is happening then, but my wieght really hasn't changed at all? Also bear in mind that I have never listed weights in my entire life, I used to be a straight cardio person (martial arts). Now I do very little cardio.

    My squat has gone up 20 lbs per week and my DL has gone up 10-15 lbs per week. I figured this was about average. My grip strengh plays a role in my lower DL's as well, it took a while to develop enough to hold the heavier weights. THe weights I have listed aren't my 1 RM, just what I do on a daily basis. My DL day is Friday this week and I will probably do 235-240 that day depending on how I feel. My weight is 189-190 and I am 5'11. I have pretty much been an ecto my entire life, but since I have been in my thirties I have noticed I have been able to gain weight a lot easier.

    I took a week off recently and came back to the gym much stronger, I went from squatting 240 to squatting 280 which is a good increase.

    I have gained a lot of strengh so I will just be satisfied with that. My goal was to get all of my lifts to 300, my

    squats are there, DLs are just behind it, then bench to follow. I have also read that some folks are just better at squatting, or DLing , or benching. I have seen a lot of guys at my gym that can bench a lot, but they can't squat worth a damn and won't go near DL's. I have a long history of martial arts training that focused primarily on leg strenght, I just figured this is why my squats were higher, my upper body has always been pretty weak.
    Last edited by ernie8306; 07-07-2010 at 07:53 AM.

  15. #14
    Constantly Improving Decent's Avatar
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    Since making this thread, my bench went up another 15 lbs. I'm now at 250 for 5 sets of doubles. Deadlift is stuck at 415 x 2, and my squat is still sporadic. Last month, I got up to 335 (5 x 5), a week later 345, and the week after that I couldn't do them at all. wtf This week I tried 345 again. I'm new to being "intermediate," but apparently progress is no longer linear and I need more recovery for my squat than my upper body.

    I've been doing a lot of reading this week on Bill Starr's 5 x 5, Texas Method, HCT-12, Madcow, 20 Breathing Squats, Stronglifts Advanced, and a couple others. I've decided to use the Texas Method with my current lifts. I also want to use this pull-up routine to perfect my dead hang pull-up form. JC posted a Texas Method routine that incorporates it here, but I don't know how well it worked for him.

    I think I'll try this out for a few months and see how it goes.

    Monday [High Volume/Moderate Intensity]
    Squat 5 x 5
    Bench Press 5 x 5
    Dumbbell Rows: 12 x 2
    Dragon Flags 3 x 3

    Wednesday [Low Volume/Low Intensity]
    Squat 2 x 5 (~75-80% 5RM)
    OHP 3 x 5

    Friday [Low Volume/High Intensity]
    Squat 1 x 3
    Bench Press 1 x 3
    Deadlift 1 x 2
    Chin-Up Singles x 25

    I've never done 12 sets of doubles for any lift. That should be interesting. I'm looking forward to squatting 3x a week again and benching twice a week. If I decide to add a lift or some cardio, Wednesday has plenty of time open. I'll stick with chin-ups until I get maximal contraction between shoulder blades, move onto pull-ups, and eventually back to weighted.
    "To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing."
    - Timothy Ferriss

    "Trying to get everyone to like you is a sign of mediocrity."
    - Colin Powell

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