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 Post subject: very, very confused
PostPosted: Mon Jun 04, 2012 12:46 pm 
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Hey! I'm wondering if anyone can help me out. I'm 36 and have been working out for about a year and a half (I'm 5'7" and weigh 158 lbs.). I've never been physically active before and, over the past months, have enjoyed working out and feeling myself looking and feeling better. I also recognize that in early middle age I'm probably not going to get as big as some of the 20somethings I see in the gym. Frankly, being physically fit and stronger are just as important goals for me in weightlifting as are the cosmetic ones, maybe even more so. The problem is that I have no idea what I'm doing. I've found routines in books or on the Internet that I've followed w/ middling results. It's very frustrating and haphazard, and, on my fixed income, I can't afford a personal trainer at my gym. I can't deny that there haven't been results (I was extremely flabby and weak when I started), but if I'm honest I have to own up to the fact that they've been fairly random b/c my methods have been random and ill-informed. There's just so much info coming at you these days of varying quality (I don't even bother looking at magazines... they're so overwhelming and just seem to have glossy advertisements for supplements). Any advice how to develop a program that will help me achieve my goals quicker and more efficiently -- to be bigger, stronger, and healthier?


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 Post subject: Re: very, very confused
PostPosted: Mon Jun 04, 2012 1:39 pm 
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I get excited when I see people your age start getting into fitness. You're old enough to understand that this is important for reasons other than aethetics, and young enough that you can make significant progress before the natural aging process has done too much damage.

There are several good books that are useful, Starting Strength and the New Rules of Lifting are probably good places to start. The thing all good programs have in common is that they are built around basic compound movements, like squats, deadlifts, presses and pulls. This is explained very well in those two books. Starting Strength has an additional feature of having some very good explanations of the major exercises. That's all available online but neither book is very expensive and worth the investment.

Take a look at the programs here: viewtopic.php?f=2&t=3817

In general, the simpler you can make your program, the better it will be, so don't try to make it too complicated and stay away from the "6 hours to bigger biceps" type articles.

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Stu Ward
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Let thy food be thy medicine, and thy medicine be thy food.~Hippocrates
Strength is the adaptation that leads to all other adaptations that you really care about - Charles Staley
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 Post subject: Re: very, very confused
PostPosted: Mon Jun 04, 2012 1:58 pm 
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Thanks for the words of encouragement. Funny that you should mention Starting Strength and New Rules of Lifting. I started to read SS and, frankly, found it too detailed and complicated. I found New Rules of Lifting and enjoyed it. It seemed to be almost a Cliffs Notes version of SS -- much of the same info but written in a more popular style w/ more clear-cut guidance for programs. Probably a bit too one-size-fits-all but I'm not looking to enter a bodybuilding competition any time soon (a younger cousin of mine is and I wouldn't want to look like him -- so big and bloated). Anyway, I've been using ideas from NRFL for the past 5 months and haven't really been too successful. I have to admit that I'm under lots of stress right now which certainly affects my performance at the gym, but I'm on the 2nd fat loss program and don't seem to be losing fat; if anything I might be slightly flabbier. When I hold my stomach in and wear a shirt, it's fine -- but I know it's there, and I'm really doing this for myself rather than looking good for others. I'll check out some of the programs on the thread you linked.


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 Post subject: Re: very, very confused
PostPosted: Mon Jun 04, 2012 2:57 pm 
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Instead of the NROL fat loss program, try the strength program and add in some intense cardio, either right after or in the off days. That should support your fat loss and strength gains at the same time. Also, pay attention to diet. You have to restrict calories somewhat to lose fat. Cycling back and forth between overfeeding and underfeeding seems to work best at building muscle and losing fat at the same time. We talked about it here: viewtopic.php?f=17&t=4179
That post was 5 years ago but the concepts haven't changed much.

Some of the links have changed. Here's the Zig Zag diet: http://drsquat.com/content/knowledge-base/zigzag-diet
May be one of the mods can update the original post. It's locked.

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Stu Ward
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Let thy food be thy medicine, and thy medicine be thy food.~Hippocrates
Strength is the adaptation that leads to all other adaptations that you really care about - Charles Staley
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Thanks TimD


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 Post subject: Re: very, very confused
PostPosted: Mon Jun 04, 2012 6:38 pm 
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polish eagle wrote:
Hey! I'm wondering if anyone can help me out.


Welcome! Are you actually Polish? My best man was 2nd gen Polish American, but I'm getting distracted already here...

polish eagle wrote:
I'm 36 and have been working out for about a year and a half (I'm 5'7" and weigh 158 lbs.). I've never been physically active before and, over the past months, have enjoyed working out and feeling myself looking and feeling better.


Not a problem. I started at 44, others here have started later than that.

polish eagle wrote:
Frankly, being physically fit and stronger are just as important goals for me in weightlifting as are the cosmetic ones, maybe even more so. The problem is that I have no idea what I'm doing. I've found routines in books or on the Internet that I've followed w/ middling results. It's very frustrating and haphazard


Brother, come and cry in my soup, that was my story exactly for my first 6 months.

polish eagle wrote:
...to be bigger, stronger, and healthier?


I got a very good foundation from the Stronglifts (http://www.stronglifts.com) program. Many lifters here have either done it or are familiar with it and can offer advice as you go.

I'm going to list the cons first, which basically come down to the author encouraging you to stay on the program as long as possible, and he tends to cite success stories that are probably not reasonable for most of us. He talks about guys squatting over 300 for 5x5 on the program, but I left it when I was squatting 205 for 5x5. Most of us won't be squatting 300 for 5x5 anytime soon.

Another con, it is a "beginner" program. If doing a "beginner" program is a problem call it a "foundation" program. It's all the same in the end.

With that out of the way:

PRO: eliminates the variables, so it clears up confusion. Simple, simple, simple.

PRO: good for getting bigger and stronger

PRO: bigger and stronger is a foundation for healthier, though of course there is a lot more to it

PRO: website has lots of instructions

PRO: Did I mention simple?

PRO: Very easy to gain a foundation of confidence, confusion continues to fade away as the weeks go by and you see results. This is the start of your BS detector, making it easier to avoid getting confused later on.

Hope this helps. Cheers.

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Vague goals beget vague methods


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 Post subject: Re: very, very confused
PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2012 7:21 am 
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You cannot go wrong if you base all of your training around the squat, deadlift, rows, chin variations, bench and and overhead press. How you work these into your training is variable. You can do them all on one day and do one or two sets a piece. You can do and upper body and lower body split. You can do a push/pull split. For the most part it all works. I guarantee (moneyback so you'll get back what you paid me for this advice) that if you base your training around these lifts, you'll get bigger and stronger than anything else you do.

If you know the technique of lifting the above lifts, you don't need a trainer. If you don't, get with the strongest guy/girl at your gym and ask him/her for help.

As you advance, you'll need to change things up a bit, but keep with these and you'll succeed.

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 Post subject: Re: very, very confused
PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2012 8:41 pm 
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polish eagle wrote:
Frankly, being physically fit and stronger are just as important goals for me in weightlifting as are the cosmetic ones, maybe even more so.

I'll add my "welcome"! I'm one of the ones who started later--I was in my early 50s.

I'd say sharpen your focus even more. The quoted sentence makes it clear that you haven't really decided what your primary goal is. Maybe "cosmetic" goals are still important, but you think maybe "fitness" (whatever that is) or strength may be more important. I'm not telling you what your goal should be, but suggesting that you pick one of the above and really focus on it. If it is "fitness" you need to then define what that is for you, because there in no universally-accepted definition of that. If it is strength, then make the decisions about your training based on strength. If you decide that aesthetics really are important to you, then pick a body-building oriented training program, and get together with your bloated nephew and go for it!

All of the information can be confusing. Many people, including people who write training programs and make fitness web sites assume that you want to be just like them, and all of their advice is tailored to people who do. Don't be afraid to pick and choose, all the way from "that sounds like pure nonsense" to "that may be good for some, but it's not for me" to "this sounds like something I should try". After a while you will develop a sense for who is being rational about training, and who is just selling something. Eventually you will find a few sources of information that you are comfortable with. Just keep learning and trying. If you learn the basics of good technique (I don't mean to imply that that is easy), then you can safely just try things, and decide what works for you.

Our very own Exalted Seer once said, "Endless analysis is a poor substitute for actually rolling up your sleeves and doing the work. It has appeal to people who like to procrastinate. Experience is the best teacher." (Stephen Johnson) That doesn't mean that analysis is unimportant, but at some point you should feel free to just try things and work out for yourself what's best for you.

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Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding at things in life that don't really matter.--Francis Chan


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 Post subject: Re: very, very confused
PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2012 10:36 am 
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Yeah, thanks a lot. You've given me some good reading to do, and I'll probably be back w/ questions (don't always have access to Internet, unfortunately). I'm big into simple in all aspects of my life. That's what I found so overwhelming about certain webpages and books... exact opposite of simple. I guess if I really had to pick a goal I'd say strength. I'm unusually weak for some reason. True, I have a sedentary job, but it's a little embarassing. To answer your question, I'm of Polish descent on both parents' sides, although 3 out of 4 of my grandparents were born in the US.


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 Post subject: Re: very, very confused
PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2012 9:21 pm 
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I'd suggest, like Doc says, picking one goal and sticking to it. Don't try to chase two rabbits, you won't catch either.

I'd also suggest following one of the programs you're reading as written. You said you've used "ideas" from NROL and it's not working. Did you try the program as it is written out, or swap out a lot of things or just mix and match? Not that changing a program is bad, but if you're not sure what you're doing, it's probably better to pick one program (even it's not perfect) and work hard at it than to try to generate your own.

Also, you're very concerned with fat loss even if you're thinking strength first. Diet is going to be critical here. I'd suggest you start reading everything you can over on Precision Nutrition (http://www.precisionnutrition.com/) and then start expanding your reading from there. Even if you end up going "get strong, then get lean" you'll be happy if you have an idea of what "get lean" will take.

Hope that helps,

Peter

Don't worry about starting

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 Post subject: Re: very, very confused
PostPosted: Thu Jun 07, 2012 3:50 pm 
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No, I haven't been mixing and matching. I've been too afraid to and trying to follow a program religiously. Thanks for the link to the Precision Nutrition. Eating kind of is a concern for me. Pretty much spent years eating whatever I wanted, so I definitely need some guidance to watch my diet more carefully. Right now I eat relatively sparingly and try to avoid processed food, sweets, alcohol, etc. but I'm realizing that's not enough.


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