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Thread: Justin Roehm's Starting Strength Journal

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    Justin Roehm's Starting Strength Journal

    Hello everyone. My name is Justin. I am 25 years old and I have decided to do the starting strength workout to get my strength back.
    Over a year ago I was in pretty good shape. I was 6’1” and about 200 lbs lean. I could bench 200 lbs, squat 315 lbs, and deadlift 405 lbs. Now I am 235 lbs and much less strong. I have kept much of my muscle, but I am no where near as strong as before (which I don’t think was super-strong to begin with).
    My goal is to get all of my lost strength back and then some, if possible. After that, I may make the decision to bodybuild or powerlift, or a little of both. I also like MMA, which I will hold off on until I get my base strength.
    Oddly enough, the routine I used to build strength and mass was similar to Rippetoe’s method. I would work out 3 days a week and do multi-joint exercises: Squats, deadlifts, bench presses, shoulder presses, pull-ups, chin-ups, dips, rows, and powercleans.
    Here we go:

    September 1, 2010:
    Squat: 95 lbs X 5 reps X 3 sets
    Bench Press: 75 lbs X 5 reps X 3 sets
    Deadlift: 135 lbs X 5 reps X 1 set
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    September 3, 2010

    Squat: 105 lbs X 5 reps X 3 sets
    Press: 45 lbs X 5 reps X 3 sets
    Power Clean: 45 lbs- I just worked on getting the form down with the bar. I did a few sets of several reps
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    I had a nasty cold for over a week so unfortunately, I had to stop working out. Also, I figured since I did not get that far in my progress that I should probably just reboot fresh.

    September 13, 2010:
    Squat: 95 lbs X 5 reps X 3 sets
    Bench Press: 75 lbs X 5 reps X 3 sets
    Deadlift: 135 lbs X 5 reps X 1 set

    I don’t know if it is because my muscles are adjusting because of the muscle memory factor, or if I have actually gotten stronger from what little I have done so far, but the weight today felt pathetically easy. I am going to keep jumping the weight up in steady increments though, and hopefully I should feel a slight challenge again pretty soon.

    By the way, I changed up my diet. I eat three plates of food a day, and “snack” on milk, nuts, and fruit between plates. My first plate consists of 3 eggs smothered in cheese, sour cream, and salsa; a third of a can of beans; a third of a bag of cooked mixed veggies; a table spoon of flax seed oil, and a glass of milk. My second plate consists of a pack of tuna or salmon, a third of a can of beans, and a third a bag of cooked veggies, with a glass of milk. My final plate consists of grilled chicken, tilapia, or salmon, and the rest of the beans and veggies, with milk. I drink a big protein shake of milk and protein powder after workouts. On Saturdays and Sundays, I make sure to eat what I want, including enough carbs to make me sick of them until the next weekend.
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    September 15, 2010:
    Squat: 115 lbs X 5 reps X 3 sets
    Press: 50 lbs X 5 reps X 3 sets
    Power Clean: 55 lbs X 3 reps X 5sets

    Today felt much more closer to where I needed to be. My reps were slower, but still doable with proper form.
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    September 17, 2010:
    Squat: 125 lbs X 5 reps X 3 sets
    Bench Press: 80 lbs X 5 reps X 3 sets
    Deadlift: 155 lbs X 5 reps X 1 set
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    September 20, 2010:
    Squat: 135 lbs X 5 reps X 3 sets
    Press: 55 lbs X 5 reps X 3 sets
    Power Clean: 65 lbs X 3 reps X 5sets

    September 22, 2010:
    Squat: 145 lbs X 5 reps X 3 sets
    Bench Press: 85 lbs X 5 reps X 3 sets
    Deadlift: 175 lbs X 5 reps X 1 set
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    September 24, 2010:
    Squat: 155 lbs X 5 reps X 3 sets
    Press: 60 lbs X 5 reps X 3 sets
    Power Clean: 75 lbs X 3 reps X 5 sets

    During Friday’s workout the squats felt tough, so I decided to go up only 5 lbs for the next workout. I have really been focusing on keeping a great form while I squat too. I am used to doing high bar squats, so it felt a little weird doing low bar squats but I think I am getting it. I put the bar right below my traps but right above me posterior delts. I keep my head straight and lean forward a bit (while keepin my lumbar natural) while going down. I push my knees out and go just below parallel but not too far. Then I drive my hips upward instead of focus on straightening my back. Even though it felt weird at first, I can see how it is easier to squat more weight.

    Also, I keep jumping my powercleans up by 10 lbs because they are still too light (although I am working out the form). Hopefully, they get just enough that I need to jump soon while still maintaining good form. All my other exercises seem on the light side still, but I don’t want to move up too quickly.

    I had to push my Monday workout to Tuesday because the gym had a power outage.

    September 28, 2010:
    Squat: 160 lbs X 5 reps X 3 sets
    Bench Press: 90 lbs X 5 reps X 3 reps
    Deadlift: 195 lbs X 5 reps X 1 set
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    September 30, 2010:
    Squat: 165 lbs X 5 reps X 3 sets
    Press: 65 lbs X 5 reps X 3 sets
    Power Clean: 85 lbs X 3 reps X 5 sets

    I am still trying to get the form of these low squats down. I am watching the starting Strength DVD, and saw all of Mark’s Cross Fit training videos. (That is awesome stuff if anyone hasn’t watched those). I am used to high-squats, so it is a challenge to adapt to the different back position. It would help if my forearms weren’t so long and my shoulders were more flexible. But I will stretch them out and do my best. I also think I go to low in the squat (to flex my lumbar a bit and give that butt wink). I think if I cut it off at parallel and bounce back up while driving my hips, then that will allow me to squat higher loads more easily.

    On the flip-side power cleans still feel too easy. I haven’t really needed the jump to force the load up (although I do incorporate the jump to get the form down). Hopefully, by next week the weight will just be too heavy for me not to jump. That is what I am shooting for.

    The gym being closed turned my workout week into a bi-week instead of a tri-week. Unfortunately, I could find the time to fit in a workout today. No worries. I will continue the tri-week on Monday. 3 days off didn’t hurt my progress before and it should do it now either.
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    October 4, 2010:
    Squat: 170 lbs X 5 reps X 3 sets
    Bench Press: 95 lbs X 5 reps X 3 sets
    Deadlift: 215 lbs X 5 reps X 1 set

    I think I finally found the optimal position for the bar on my back for low-squats. The bear is right under my bone and held tight by my forearms. I cannot really grip the bar with my hands like this so I just hold the bar in place with my forearms and throw my hands over the bar (some guy did this in the Starting Strength DVD). The load felt really heavy today (maybe because I am still getting the mechanics down of the low squat). I hope I can get the form down completely without having to reset.

    On the other hand, the bench and deadlifts felt fine. I am making good steady progress on both of these lifts. I finally got my deadlift over 200 and it still feels like I could go much heavier.
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  10. #10
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    Good luck with your goals man, keep it on track.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CoCoa View Post
    Good luck with your goals man, keep it on track.
    Thanks!

    October 6, 2010:
    Squat: 175 lbs X 5 reps X 3 sets
    Press: 70 lbs X 5 reps X 3 sets
    Power Clean: 95 lbs X 3 X 5 reps

    My power cleans caught up with my bench today. They are starting to feel a little harder. Next time I will most definitely need the jump to rack them onto my shoulders.
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  12. #12
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    doing really well with the progression, keep at it
    "Its not the will to win that matters, everyone has that. Its the will to prepare to win that matters." Bear Bryant
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    Quote Originally Posted by StLRPh View Post
    doing really well with the progression, keep at it
    Thanks.

    October 9, 2010:
    Squat: 180 lbs X 5 reps X 3 sets
    Bench Press: 100 lbs X 5 reps X 3 sets
    Deadlift: 235 lbs X 5 reps X 1 set

    Today, I finally pulled my body weight with my deadlifts. I felt it too. The bar was hard to pull so I will start to use the alternate grip. Also, I have a little soreness in my lats and traps, so I guess they are feeling the stress now too. I am going to go down to 10 lbs added a workout now, which will keep it 55 lbs above squats for a while. It seems my ratios are pretty good. My squats are around 75% the weight of my deadlifts, and the bench is slightly under 50% of the deadlifts. I just cannot weight until I can bench my bodyweight, squat 150% of my bodyweight, and deadlift twice my bodyweight. Hopefully I can do it by years end or the end of January at the latest.
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    October 11, 2010:
    Squat: Up to 1 set of 135 lbs X 5 reps
    Press: Up to 3 sets of 65 lbs X 3 reps
    Power Clean: Practiced form on bar for few minutes

    You may notice my lack of performance in my workout today. My back felt like ****. I guess what happened is that I pulled an upper back muscle from the last workout. My theory is that I didn’t warm up enough during my deadlifts and pulled a cold muscle. I feel it right on top of my right shoulder blade. Also, when I woke up this morning I seemed to have irritated or pulled a lower back muscle. In other words, my whole back felt irritated and too sore for a normal workout.

    I figured I could either pussy out at home or go for a light workout, so I chose the latter. I warmed up really well on the elliptical and did a decent amount of light sets before doing any lifts. The squat weight was light so it didn’t irritate my back any more, but when I was doing my presses I couldn’t use my back to effectively stabilize myself to allow me to lift as well as I could last week. I just practiced power clean form with the bar, as I didn’t want to pull another muscle from an “explosive power movement.”

    As I am writing this my back feels a little less stiff and sore now. Hopefully, by Wednesday it feels good enough to continue regular lifting. I’ll be making sure to do much more warm up sets for my deadlift from now on (I think I only did 2 last time. Duh!)

    Also, after much consideration, I think I am going to raise my bench press up by 10 lbs for the next 2 or 3 workouts (or until it feels “heavy”). Right now, all of my other lifts feel “heavy” or “slower” but my bench feels really light. I moved my squats and deadlifts up to Rip’s highest recommended raise (10 lbs/workout for squats and 20 lbs/workout for deads), but kept my bench from progressing as quickly (only 5 lbs instead of 10 lbs). I figure once my bench is at about 50% of my deadlift, then it will probably feel about right. Right now, my bench is 100 lbs where 115-120 lbs would seem closer to where it should be. I’ll just raise it 10 lbs per workout until it feels “heavy” or “slow” like the other lifts, and then I will take it back to the 5 lb jump. I may need to buy fractional plates soon, so I can progress my presses and power clean when I cannot do 5 lb jumps anymore.
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    October 15, 2010:
    Squat: 185 lbs X 5 reps X 3 sets
    Bench Press: 110 lbs X 5 reps X 3 sets
    Deadlift: 245 lbs X 5 reps X 1 set

    October 18, 2010:
    Squat: 190 lbs X 5 reps X 3 sets
    Press: 75 lbs X 5 reps X 3 sets
    Power Clean: 105 lbs X 3 reps X 5 sets

    I didn’t workout on the 13th because my back seemed to get sorer from that Monday’s light workout. I just rested up and continued my workout where I left off last Friday. The power clean seems like it is where it needs to be right now. Hopefully, I can jump my bench to where it needs to be pretty soon. It still didn’t feel “slow” enough last workout. Everything else is progressing smoothly, and I am making sure to warm up plenty before the first work set of each exercise.
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    October 20, 2010:
    Squat: 195 lbs X 5 reps X 3 sets
    Bench Press: 120 lbs X 5 reps X 3 sets
    Deadlift: 255 lbs X 5 reps X 1 set
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  17. #17
    Senior Member SCmmaFAN's Avatar
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    I wanted to drop in and say "welcome aboard". Also, good job on the weight progression so far!

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    Quote Originally Posted by SCmmaFAN View Post
    I wanted to drop in and say "welcome aboard". Also, good job on the weight progression so far!
    Thanks!
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    October 22, 2010:
    Squat: 200 lbs X 5 reps X 3 sets
    Press: 80 lbs X 5 reps X 3 sets
    Power Clean: 110 lbs X 3 reps X 1 set

    October 25, 2010:
    Squat: 205 lbs X 5 reps X 3 sets
    Bench Press: 130 lbs X 5 reps X 3 sets
    Deadlift: 265 lbs X 5 reps X 1 set

    Last Friday sucked. I made a mistake of eating a big, greasy, spicy meal shortly before working out. Since I have acid reflux disease my stomach felt like it was going to explode. Friday was a good reminder of how it is a very stupid idea to move around hundreds of pounds when your stomach feels like exploding. I thought I was going to barf after each reps of my squats. Somehow I managed to get through them and my sets of presses. The power clean had way too much movement though. I didn’t vomit, but had I subjected myself to one more work set I most certainly would have. The weight didn’t feel too heavy though so I will give 115 lbs a go for my next power clean workout.

    Today I got through my workout pretty easily except for the fact that my lower back was sore during squatting. Looking back I think this may be because I was hyperextending my lower back to show my new workout partner how to keep his back in extension. (He has the problem of rounding his back during squats and deadlifts). I’ll just try not to overexaggerate it next time and keep my abs tight. My lower back feels fine right now so I guess no harm no foul. My bench also finally seems to be a challenge. The 5th rep of the 3rd set felt a bit tough. I’ll go back to 5 lb jumps next time. As for my deadlift I had to do the work set twice. I used a double overhand grip the first time and lost the bar midway in the 3rd rep. I decided to switch to the alternate grip and managed to get 5 reps out without any grip problems. I guess that means I did 7 ½ reps of my work set weight for my deadlift today.
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    October 27, 2010:
    Squat: 210 lbs X 5 reps X 3 sets
    Press: 85 lbs X 5 reps X 3 sets
    Power Clean: 115 lbs X 3 reps X 5 sets

    Everything felt fine today. I kept my stomach tight during the squats so my lower back never felt too sore. I completed my presses alright, even though I thought I felt a muscle pull on the second set, but now my shoulder feels completely fine. I’m not complaining. I did my five sets of power cleans alright, even though last week I could not do 5 sets because of my acid reflux. All in all it was a pretty decent workout.
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    October 29, 2010:
    Squat: 215 lbs X 5 reps X 3 sets
    Bench Press: 135 lbs X 5 reps X 3 sets
    Deadlift: 275 lbs X 5 reps X 1 set

    Today’s workout was pretty good. For some reason I went through my first 2 squat sets really quickly and easily. Once I started doing my 3rd set though it felt really hard, and I barely made it through the last rep. I probably should’ve taken a longer break between sets. No biggie. I went back to a 5 lb jump for my bench. The weight felt challenging but it was doable. The deadlift felt fine with the alternate grip on the workset. No problems.
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    November 1, 2010:
    Squat: 220 lbs X 5 reps X 3 sets
    Press: 90 lbs X 5 reps X 3 sets
    Power Clean: 120 lbs X 3 reps X 5 sets

    Today’s workout was fine. I noticed when I started to do my squats that I had the wrong shoes on. I had on cushy-bottomed sneakers instead of my usual old pair of converse all-stars (nice hard flat thin soles great for lifting). I still got all the reps out even though the 5th rep felt tougher than usual. The presses and cleans were both challenging but doable.
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  23. #23
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    building some good momentum Justin, keep it up
    "Its not the will to win that matters, everyone has that. Its the will to prepare to win that matters." Bear Bryant
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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by StLRPh View Post
    building some good momentum Justin, keep it up
    Thanks, man. I want it to last as long as possible.

    November 3, 2010:
    Squat: 225 lbs X 5 reps X 3 sets
    Bench Press: 140 lbs X 5 reps X 3 sets
    Deadlift: 285 lbs X 5 reps X 1 set

    Oh my, today’s workout was a bitch. My squats have been getting progressively harder the last few workouts. Today, they were REALLY tough. It was very hard getting the 5th rep on all 3 sets. I feel like I was coming close to my 5 rep max. After my 3 sets of squats, I felt really fatigued the rest of my workout. Thank God for my good work ethic. I managed to get through the bench presses and deadlifts, which felt challenging enough without all of the fatigue on me from the squat session. I just hope I can get a few more pounds of progression in my squats before I have to deload. It’s funny because I would have thought my bench and press would both need to be reset first. Huh…
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    November 5, 2010:
    Squat: 230 lbs X 5 reps X 3 sets
    Press: 95 lbs X 5 reps X 3 sets
    Power Clean: 125 lbs X 3 reps X 5 sets

    Today’s workout felt like a bitch after squats too. I studied a bit, and thought that maybe I needed to take longer breaks in between sets. I did that, and I got through my 3 sets of squats. However, the last rep was a bitch on all three sets. I must be really close to my current 5 RM. After the squats were done, my lower back felt really sore. It made it hard to concentrate on the presses and cleans, but I made it through. Although my thighs and butt feel like they are being pushed hard, I feel like my lower back is the weak link (I do the Valsalva maneuver, and make sure my abs are tight). I might try to get a lifting belt to bust out of this plateau. Also, I am going to concentrate on the bounce at the bottom of each rep because it seems like I come out of the bottom a bit too slow sometimes.

    Although I felt exhausted from the squats, and my back felt REALLY tight, I got through the presses alright (though they felt reasonably challenging). As for the cleans, the first set I did was a bust. I got one rep knocked out but was too pooped to pull the other two. I rested a couple more minutes, and then pushed myself through 5 sets of 3 (with adequate rest between each set). The weight itself was challenging, but manageable.
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