Author Topic: New to Strength Training  (Read 4035 times)

Offline DeusVult

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New to Strength Training
« on: September 28, 2011, 01:49:18 PM »
This is only my second post, on the Caveman forum; my first was just introducing myself.  My family and I are definitely not 100% paleo, perhaps maybe 75%?  I don't know how to figure it.  We are more on a natural food program, something like Weston Price style.  Even so, I have read a number of threads here, and found much useful information so far.  I have some questions about strength training, and since there seem to be some knowledgeable people here, who also reject the low(er?) fat diet routines often advocated in the fitness industry, I thought I would pose my questions here.

I have never done any real strength training, but did have a gym membership about 9 years ago.  I did lift weights on the Nautilus machines and also ran on the treadmills probably 2 or 3 times a week.  I realize this is NOT strength training.  My previous experience was supposedly about losing a little weight, general fitness, I guess.

My wife has been doing cardio (treadmill) and what she says is "weights" probably three times a week for the past several months.  She did aerobics for a while before that.  She has lost a few pounds, but I really don't see much progress.  We  have a family membership, so I have good access to a fully outfitted weight room.  There are some real weights and weightlifters at this gym. 

I am not in terrible shape, nor especially weak, but I get very little exercise.  Most exercise I get is just mowing the grass, general home repair, moving furniture, you know the routine.  I do not exercise aerobically at all.  I am 43 years old, not obese, about 195 lbs on my 6' frame.  I would say I have a medium build. Not flabby, except for a little around my mid section.  My wife is 33 years old, 5'11", probably 150-155 lbs (she doesn't like to talk about it  ;)).  She definitely does not look fat, though she is concerned about her hips/thighs/butt.  She does not have a lot of muscle tone, and I think she could benefit from some real strength training.  But, I would have to know something about it to convince her, I think.  She'd run for hours if she could stand it, but I just don't think it's doing much good.  And her knees have started to bother her too.

I have read up on the Starting Strength program of Mark Rippetoe, and believe I have a fairly good idea about how it is supposed to work.  Basically, as I understand it, one does 3 sets of 5 reps on five or six  basic compound lifts, divided between alternating days, three days a week, with an additional rest period of two days between weekly cycles.

A basic program might be as illustrated below:

Workout A
3x5 Squat
3x5 Bench Press
1x5 Deadlift

Workout B
3x5 Squat
3x5 Standing military press
3x5 Power cleans

Week 1:
Monday - Workout A
Wednesday - Workout B
Friday - Workout A

Sat/Sun - rest

Week 2:
Monday - Workout B
Wednesday - Workout A
Friday - Workout B

So, I have some questions about this, for anyone willing to weigh in.
  • How many here have done strength training in this way and what were your experiences?
  • I have read comments in the affirmative, but is this an effective program for women as well?  Any modifications?
  • Does it matter when I would work out?  For me, early morning would be best, probably 6 am or earlier, basically as soon as I can get up and get to the gym.  During the day, lunchtime, and nights will not work well for me due to schedules but anything is possible if one is dedicated.
  • If I work out that early, do I have to eat beforehand?
  • After I work out, should be sure to have some protein, like a eggs/bacon?
  • Does it matter if I work out the same time every day?  It seems that if the workout was late one day and the next (two days later) was early, I wouldn't have the full benefit of the recovery period.
  • How do I determine how much weight to start with?  I know I must learn proper technique for each lift and also that the program includes probably 4 warm-up sets of 5 reps on the empty bar, and successively higher weights, ending with a weight perhaps 15% less than the work sets.  I just don't know where to start.  I wouldn't mind wasting a workout or two figuring it out, but I don't want to spend three weeks lifting weights that are too light until I find the weight that I can do 3X5.
My goals are pretty simple.  While I am currently strong enough to do the physical work that I need to do, I would like to be stronger.  I also would like increased endurance for hard physical labor.  I would like to lose my spare tire as well.  I work in an office/lab, so I don't really perform much physical labor at my job.  I do all my own home repairs though.  I think that strength training would improve my sense of wellbeing, general health (which is not currently bad), and reduce vulnerability to illness and injury as I age, not to mention avoiding degenerative diseases.  I wouldn't mind being "ripped" as they say, but it's not a primary goal.  My wife would like it though, as I would for her. :D Thanks to anyone who read this long post!

Offline arthurb999

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Re: New to Strength Training
« Reply #1 on: October 06, 2011, 01:31:23 PM »
I'd recommend you get the book and the DVD that goes with it.
It's great if you both do the program.

I wouldn't worry too much about workout times and such... just workout and eat right.


Offline Il Capo

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Re: New to Strength Training
« Reply #2 on: October 06, 2011, 05:28:30 PM »
I did Starting Strength for a while and it did work well. In the post my results and in previous pages the progress:

http://cavemanforum.com/workout-journals/il-capo's-workouts/msg46447/#msg46447

I started late in life (age 34 vs the 16-18 age that Rippetoe says is the best for most gains) and did not eat as much as recommended. I also had to skip a few sessions here and there and reset a couple of times. Even with all the above caveats, I gained muscle and improved my benchmarks a lot.

I was quite untrained before starting, though.

Offline staralfur

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Re: New to Strength Training
« Reply #3 on: October 07, 2011, 01:23:26 AM »
I strength train 4 days a week, more for shape than size. SOmething along the lines of:

Monday: Back/legs
Tuesday: Chest/shoulders
Wednesday: Legs/abs
Thursday: Biceps/triceps

I switch the order of days and exercises each week, and vary the exercises as well to keep my body guessing. I started this last year from scratch and went along the lines of doing 6 reps over 3 sets with the max weight I could manage, then going to 8 x 3 the following week, then 10 x 3, then 12 by 3, and then going up to the next weight. These days I tend to go for 6, 8 and then 10 and dont worry about 12 reps before moving on. It's worked quite well for me, and I love it.
I also throw in various cardio, and if things get a little samey I do a month of meltdown training instead, now THAT gets your heart pumping.

Offline PaleoRainy

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Re: New to Strength Training
« Reply #4 on: October 25, 2011, 04:02:21 AM »
1.How many here have done strength training in this way and what were your experiences?
When I started doing strenght training I did more or less the same you state, I think I did one or two months like that, more or less, then I discovered that crossfit was more fun for me and I switched.

2.I have read comments in the affirmative, but is this an effective program for women as well?  Any modifications?
I do not support "female programs" and "male programs". As a fit female I find that those labelled as "female programs" are boring slow little workouts, more I train for preparedness and functionality, if the tree you have to lift to free your child is, say, 200lbs, it's going to be 200lbs both for the child's father and the mother, and daddy may not be present.

3.Does it matter when I would work out?  For me, early morning would be best, probably 6 am or earlier, basically as soon as I can get up and get to the gym.  During the day, lunchtime, and nights will not work well for me due to schedules but anything is possible if one is dedicated.
I workout only based on my schedule, some people do well early, some late, I do not believe it changes. It probabily makes a difference how much you need to stress out to fit in your workout in your schedule, the less the better.

4.If I work out that early, do I have to eat beforehand?
Not necessarily, if I eat before workouts I vomit, so I have been training on an empty stomach in the last three years and it has not affected me.

5.After I work out, should be sure to have some protein, like a eggs/bacon?
I don't think so, but it's a personal opinion. Anyways I do not even think eggs / bacon will hurt you! Personally I would say eat when hungry.

6.Does it matter if I work out the same time every day?  It seems that if the workout was late one day and the next (two days later) was early, I wouldn't have the full benefit of the recovery period.
A bunch of Neanderthals go out on a hunt, it's 5 am and they are damn lucky to find bisons almost immediately, run, fight, get one, drag it to the camp, butcher. Day after they go out again, but luck has turned this time and it takes them till the afternoon to find the bisons, they must have scared them out the day before. Their "workout" is then postponed and it's a perfectly believable scenario. Summing it up, I do not think you need to do it at the same time everyday.

7.How do I determine how much weight to start with?  I know I must learn proper technique for each lift and also that the program includes probably 4 warm-up sets of 5 reps on the empty bar, and successively higher weights, ending with a weight perhaps 15% less than the work sets.  I just don't know where to start.  I wouldn't mind wasting a workout or two figuring it out, but I don't want to spend three weeks lifting weights that are too light until I find the weight that I can do 3X5.
Take one day and use minimum weights, learn the technique. Then add weight.
First time I try a move my barbell is unloaded. Learn, add weight, find the limit. Work on it, add more. Don't be afraid to do a little more than your 3x5, like, load the dumbells/barbells/whatever, try one rep, it's not enough. Add more weight. If it's too light you should just add weight, not consider that a rep. Sorry but if it's too light it's pointless to go on for 3 weeks!!