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Low expectations

Posted: Mon Feb 07, 2011 5:09 pm
by Oscar_Actuary
As an obese weakling, I'm making it a goal to either (1) gain strength or (2) lose weight and stay as strong. By "Strong" I mean based on the 3x5 sets across on the big lifts.

I think I've learned a few things reading:

In my condition it's probable to lose weight and be able to lift more, for a while.
Eventually it will be hard without precise diet/training to get stronger w/o gaining weight
Right now, I'm worknig towards a 5RM, as I started really light on all lifts, so "Stronger" has really not been determined. Eventaully I'll hit a sticky point on a lift(s).

I have not lost weight these last 3 weeks, but have been putting more weight on the bar.
I guess I want "permission" to not worry too much about the body weight while I'm trying to start my first real weight training program. Eating a lot especially protein helps me recover (right?) and once I'm pushing more weight / have mroe muscle, the fat will burn easier, ya ?
Or should I just watch calories (especially the bad carbs) and worry about strength gain after I slim down a bit.

In other words, at 270lbs, 6' 3" and maybe a 150 lb bench 5RM, would you work to get stronger or leaner ?

thanks for your consideration

Posted: Mon Feb 07, 2011 5:41 pm
by Velcropop
Permission granted.
Oscar_Actuary wrote:I have not lost weight these last 3 weeks, but have been putting more weight on the bar.
This can very easily happen to me +/- 1 kg of b/w. I usually only experience noticeable weightloss in short periods of time (i.e. 3 weeks) if I am super strict about my diet or I run myself ragged with HIIT or eduro-cardio in addition to lifting. This kind of activity for me, however, is unsustainable long term, so unless I have some burning desire to lose weight (and mean weight in general, the "flab" still stays; spot reduction is a myth), getting stronger makes me happy.

I guess it depends on what stage of your lifting career your in. If you're new to lifting you'll probably make strength gains for quite some time before losing a substantial amount of weight becomes a viable proposition. With me it always seems that my metabolism plays "catch up" relative to my present strength. Thus I might "lose" 3 kilos in the space of two weeks even though I haven't really "lost" any weight for one or two months. The benefit, it seems, is that it's unlikely that I'm going to put the weight back on any time soon (unless, of course, I change my diet). This is real weight loss AFAIC, none of that fanciful informercial crap.

Posted: Mon Feb 07, 2011 5:42 pm
by Jebus
Get stronger.

Posted: Mon Feb 07, 2011 8:45 pm
by bam
I with Jebus on this... get stronger first.

Then when you've reached your strength goals, switch to barbell complexes.

Posted: Tue Feb 08, 2011 6:06 am
by Wouter
I'd say try to get stronger for a few weeks until you stall, then lose fat.
At first, do some strength work and finish with complexes and drop your calorie intake.
After a month (or 2), do bodycomp blitz and get ready for the summer.
When summer's over, gain strength and mass.

EDIT: read this and this

Posted: Tue Feb 08, 2011 6:42 am
by RobertB
I have been at it a year now and if I was to advise anyone in the 3-4 month zone I would say don't worry about weight/fat for now - keep those newbie gains nice and strong and work on the foundation (which you correctly refer to as progress on 5rm across the big lifts).

I did a little dip after 6 months to see if I could speed up a little definition but I regret it really... get starting strength done until you hit the stage where it becomes too much to recover from, then consider your options, at 260 you could likely afford to loose some poundage so yea... the above barbell complexes sound like a great idea.

It would also throw your routine a big curve ball and probably end up making you gain a reasonable amount on your 5rms when you go back to them

Posted: Tue Feb 08, 2011 8:55 am
by robertscott
i would personally think that maybe you could increase the reps, and time your rest periods. You'd still strive to get stronger in the rep range, so you'll still get strength gains, and the timed rests'll be more metabolically taxing so you'll burn fat.

just my opinion but higher reps especially on squats could be the way to go

Posted: Tue Feb 08, 2011 12:43 pm
by TimD
Oscar, Robert Scott just hit on something. I'll get to it after answering your first question. Get strong first, but no reason not to mix in a little quick paced stuff in with it. As a beginner, just try and clean up your diet, get strong, and everything should take care of itself, up to a point.
Now, the point RS hit on, is the high rep squats. Starr was a big believer in a ramped 5X5, big 3 with a couple of high rep auxilliaries thrown in. One day a week, however, for squats, on what he designated a light day, he would do 5 sets of 10, with just enough rest to catch your breath between sets. Used this more towards conditioning, and used the other sessions for strength building. Might fit in nicely with your goals in mind.

Posted: Tue Feb 08, 2011 3:35 pm
by Oscar_Actuary
Wouter wrote:EDIT: read this and this
Thank for all the replies so far.

I have read at least that first one. I learned a lot but when implementing, felt I was not ready for the program (circuits 2x week, heavy lifts + accessory the other 2, and some ss and hiit thrown in) and seemed more suited to a person who had better conditioning and strength already. Also at the time, I did not have my gym, and was more limited with options. I have "favorited" it for future use though.

I am a bit surprised, that I am unanimously being told to get strong, and a few lose weight too's thrown in.
I figured I was being lazy to not focus on both given my current state. Hence the "low expectations" title.

Right now, I have a program than spans 4 week cycle, where I lift 4 days a week. In 4 weeks,
Squat 10x
DeadLift 6x
BOR 5x
Bench 5x
PullUps (or pull downs cables for now) 5x
OH Press 5x

and do Pallof / Plank/ or TGU each day

I do 3X6 across (except Deads), with 3 warm up ramped sets, 8/5/3 reps
I loosen up with 7 min treadmill or jumping rope, and maybe a specific activatino move, like leg swings, split squats, db press, but really light.
I finish with run for distance 7 minutes (fast as can), or Tabata Burpees/Mt Climbers, or Heavy DB Carries for laps, or Heavy Duffle Bag Carry

Part of problem now is still sleep and stress that and discipline to hit each session

Armed with what I read here, I will continue to keep cleaning up the diet but focus mostly on not missing workouts and adding weight to the bar. And getting lots of protein.

If I do the plan I wrote, consistantly, and cut more of the sugar, I probably succeed both goals. Just want to at first, focus on one if it would be ok.

Please continue the feedback!

Posted: Wed Feb 09, 2011 6:09 am
by Wouter
I think you'd succeed in achieving both mass gain and fat loss at the same time.
But I also think that you'd be better of going for 1 goal first and then going for the other.

You probably want to look good nekkid in the summer?
This leaves you 20 weeks to look the best you can.
If you want to gain strength first, do starting strength. Seriously this is a good program for beginners.
You can also add 1 extra exercise for whatever muscle you want to get bigger (go for shoulder/arms) every workout.
And eat clean. Don't do GOMAD, it's not for you.

Do this until you stall.
Let's say this takes you 8 weeks.
You still got 12 more weeks after that.
Then you slowly decrease your calorie intake and increase your calorie burning activities:
up your non-exercise physical activity (more walking, less time sitting etc.),
do cardio (start with 15 min every other day, up this until you do 40+ min every other day) do complexes or train heavy and end the workout with some EDT or Tabata.
Do this for 6-8 weeks.
Then assault the fat with everything you got: get a good diet (I've heard good things about cheat your way thin) and do something like bodycomp blitz.

Oh yeah: you shouldn't don't jog/run/sprint, it's only for guys who are already in good shape (sorry for being harsh, but I hate seeing guys run at 3mph and with bad technique and end up completely destroying their joints)

Posted: Wed Feb 09, 2011 6:14 am
by Wouter
And go outside.
Vitamin D is good for you!

+ getting a tan makes you look better.

Posted: Wed Feb 09, 2011 9:41 am
by kab3261
Oscar_Actuary wrote: Part of problem now is still sleep and stress that and discipline to hit each session
Oscar, what are you doing to address your stress? It can wreak havoc on the body. Having lived a very stressful life, I did a lot of reading on the subject. (I divorced my biggest stressor about 10 years ago)
The way our body reacts to stress is actually the fight or flight response. One of those responses is that our body makes sure we hold onto the fat in our body, should we be unable to eat during the "battle." A number of other physiological responses occur that if utilized physically (during a fight or flight) work to our advantage. These modern days in which we all live more sedentary lives doesn't allow us to "burn off' the things that our bodies provide us with. If I can locate the book I read this from I can give you more info if you'd like.
If I am wrong on this, <b>please</b> correct me!
Also, if you stay up till 2am looking for SPAM, you are not getting enough sleep! Turn off the computer and go to bed!

Posted: Wed Feb 09, 2011 10:16 am
by KPj
I got asked this from my GP a few months ago, not in these exact words but, same question, really...
kab3261 wrote: what are you doing to address your stress?
My answer was: Deadlifts :smile:

Anyway. I have no point, it was just a proud moment for me, back to the discussion.


my bout with anxiety and depression-esque

Posted: Wed Feb 09, 2011 1:58 pm
by Oscar_Actuary
My life is really not all that stressful. I'm just wired up to be more anxious. Not having given it a ton of thought, I’d say my stress compensation techniques have gone from staying in a well protected emotionally safe environment, to seeking pleasure from easy women, to “suffering” the loss of the greatest girl I will ever meet (due to my lack of faithfulness) – my coping then was reading over all the old letters and writing new 15 page ones weekly, that were mostly never sent.

That’s when the constant eating began. Love me some sunflower seeds/pistachios/cashews/taco bell. Then the grads fell apart and disappointing my family left separation there. I dropped out of university and worked 360 days a year, usually 50+ hours. Then at age 21 to 24 drank A LOT and heavy duty stuff. I’m now dumber for it. So, I guess that the eating and drinking excessively (worked in restaurants) we anxiety coping techniques.

Finally, before getting married, I quit the excessive drinking and got back in school and graduated with BS at age 30. Landed a good job. Then the real anxiety started. “OH MY GOSH, I am responsible for two people now. I no longer can just ‘pick up shifts’ to make more money. This is a career. Even owning a home brought irrational stress. I was a property manager in my eyes, not a property owner. It was not fun. The job sucked, too. Training and development? Heh. I had more bartender training than Actuarial training while employed with a major Insurance company. In addition the Actuarial Exams add a good bit of stress to anyone.

Five years into that place (yeah, I’m kinda afraid of change) my mom got lung cancer and died 18 months later. We had long since patched up the relationship. During her illness my anxiety was morphing into just plain depression. It felt like survival mode, to many years of inability to take a deep breath without coughing do to constant anxiety. Gone were the antacid pills, now I just sat around and slept late and called in to work “sick” sometimes. In the past 6 years I had worked past 10:00 pm several days, I had no rationality for work hours, just anxiousness about getting assignments done. And frustration no one was helping me (either to get faster / understand more / or relieve some of the work ) Heck, if I was willing to do it, boss’ were happy to let me.

After mom died, it was all about online poker. 2 years heavy. Wife would cry a lot, I would yell a lot and keep playing. I would go to work, keep up the lawn and the bills, mostly, but that was it. I found that I was excited about playing and not “depressed” anymore. Until I realized I would play even when it wasn’t fun. Just play till 7:00 in the morning, be late for work, and be online all day at work discussing poker. I was a shell of my former potential. But at least now I ‘cared less’ and had some me time.

Then I got to a point where I said “either I muster up the strength to get another job, or I fall deeper into this pit. I did. That was a huge start. That was 2007. Since then, online poker is a thing of the past. The wife and I are still together and actually, her depression is the concern. We do not just eat out to cope anymore, but plan these nights. I do still work too much and care too much for someone at my relatively low level. It’s getting better there. Drinking is occasional and moderate when it occurs. And I actually do more than just the lawn and pay bills around the home. Speaking of, I actually love this home and do not spend all day worrying about it. Finances have never been a problem except to the extent wasting money on eating out a lot caused buyers remorse and less savings.

Now I find that when uptight with work, I work. Staying up late is much a function of upbringing. Mom and I would hang out a talk until 4:00 am when I was living at home and going to university. Working in restaurants, I’ve always been a late night person. I can sleep till 9:00 am, If I went to bed by 1:30 am, I’d be fine. Lately its 5:00 am. I went to be at 6:30 am today, having finished lifting and shower at 3:30 am.

What I have learned is I can do something to lower the stress levels in my life. Either through changing the environment or more likely, changing my response. From sleeping around, to alcohol, to never taking days off, to constant panic, to overeating, to online poker, to depression, to exercise; I’ve learned there are many ways to cope and some are much healthier than others.

Boy that was therapeutic. May actually answer the original question, but either way, it was good. (for me)

You know too, now as a happier person, I rarely dwell on “why was I anxious then depressed for so long” Who cares, except to the extent we want to avoid it. Getting up and moving and ‘producing’ is a great feedback loop for the mind.

Posted: Wed Feb 09, 2011 4:00 pm
by Jungledoc
Thanks for telling us all that. Obviously, no one "knows how you feel" exactly, but there are others who have had struggles. There are no simple answers, but you are working on doing things better, and that's a big step. Keep it up.

The sleep thing is a vicious circle. Stress and depression make it harder to sleep, but lack of sleep makes stress and depression worse. Lack of sleep also makes weight loss more difficult. Many have observed that when they just sleep more they lose weight (Dan John has written about this.)

Keep moving ahead.