Tag Archives: New Rules of Lifting

NROL, Fat Loss I, workout 6B

I’m really banged up. I couldn’t finish my lift.

I did manage to finish deadlifts with zero back pain. It was a miracle. I concentrated on breathing and keeping my back tight. I also did incline bench without much trouble.

Problems came when I tried to do split squats and pulldowns. My hip hurts too much on the split squats. Not even an option when I put my right foot on the ground. During the pulldowns I felt pain in my left shoulder and my left elbow.

It was too much. I had to leave the gym.

I’m going to take a week off from lifting. Maybe more. I don’t know. I love going to the gym but I’m tired of hurting all the time.

I hate to end NROL on a whimper but that’s just how it’s going to be.

Switching to Starting Strength

Last week I ordered the second edition of Starting Strength. It is mostly the same book as the first edition except that it’s geared toward a lifter instead of a coach. I really appreciate the change. There are also a lot of new pictures showing the different lifts so that’s good.

Rippetoe added about 80 pages of brand new material on assistance exercises. That’s where I believe I got my money’s worth. Things like pull ups, dips, front squats, back extensions, etc. Good stuff.

The book is incredibly informative. It’s also incredibly funny. I’ve never laughed so much when reading any other book in my whole life. It’s charming, really. I can’t recommend the book highly enough. I would have bought the second edition even if it was just the same book with a new cover. It means that much to me.

Hat tip to Mehdi over at Strong Lifts for introducing me to this book.


I’ve been doing New Rules of Lifting for over a year now. I’m ready for a change. I can’t think of any other program I’d like to try then the one designed in Starting Strength.

On the surface it seems really simply. Basically three of four lifts a session. All the same it looks like the toughest program I will have ever attempted. It’s all core lifts like squat, bench and the deadlift. The rub is that you squat every time you go to the gym.

This seems like a nightmare but if I’m ever going to get serious about losing weight I think it’s something I need to try. I’ve been drinking the squat kool aid for well over two years now. In my mind, squats = fat loss. You might be able to convince me that the world is flat or that the sky isn’t blue but you will never convince me that squats aren’t the best way to lose fat. It stands to reason that more squats should equal more fat loss.

There are a couple of interesting new things in the program that I’ve been wanting to try. The primary one is the power clean. I’ve been interested in doing these for a while now but never had a program that called for them. I’ve read Rippetoe’s chapter on this subject countless times and I feel like I’m ready to give it a go. It seems difficult but I like new challenges. It’s an explosive lift so I think maybe it will add some excitement to my time at the gym.

I also want to add pull ups to my program. At the present time I can’t do a single pull up. This is ridiculous. I should be able to do this by now. The lat machine and the pull up machine aren’t helping matters. I need to do the real thing. I’m tall enough to grab the bar at the gym flat footed so I’m gonna start out jumping, like Rip suggests, until I get strong enough to do these right.

Eventually, I’d also like to add dips to my program. Maybe at the end of my chin up day. Not sure about that at the moment.

So those are my thoughts. I’m going to finish Fat Loss I on Thursday and think about it some more over the weekend. It’s going to take a real commitment to do something like this and I’ve got to be in the right frame of mind. I’ve got to do this though. I’ve got to get serious about getting stronger in the gym. Otherwise I’m just wasting my time.

NROL, Fat Loss I, workout 6A

Today was one of those days where you learn the difference between being injured and being hurt.

Today I found out that I was just hurt. My right hip has been really bothering me for the last few days. Yesterday I had difficulty walking. It was really sore today and sometimes made a popping noise. For a while, I thought there was something wrong and that I should skip my lift.

I finally decided to do what I always do. I went to the gym to take my shot. If I couldn’t lift I’d turn around and walk home. As It turned out I was good to go. It was actually one of the least painful lifts I’ve had in a long while.

Here are the numbers.

Squat – 10×145, 10×145, 10×145

(I read Starting Strength for about the 15th time over the weekend. It amazes me how many different little things there are to remember and how I keep making the same mistakes.

I did a ton of warm up sets to start. Did 5 bodyweight reps, 5 with 45lbs and 5 with 95. I think that was the difference. I haven’t been diligent in doing all my warm up sets lately. I always show up with barely enough time to finish. That’s just being stupid. As Rippetoe says, “If you don’t have time to warm up, you don’t have time to train!”

Another thing I did was tweak my form. I’ve been looking up at a point above my head which is a no-no. I’ve also been keeping my elbows basically parallel with the bar – another no no.

Today I was able to pick a lower point to focus on. All the racks are facing a mirror but the rack I picked had a bar at about chest level – not ideal but good enough to use as a reference point. I remembered to keep my elbows up as well. This allowed me to drop the bar a little lower on my back.

The reps were all back pain free save the first rep of set 3. That one always hurts for some reason. Maybe I just get too tired by then. The rest were good and I’m happy with my form for the most part. There is definitely room to improve on my depth but considering the hip problems I’m happy.)

Cable seated row – 10×150, 10×150, 10×150

(I went up in weight for the first time here. I had no choice. The previous five lifts were all at 135. That’s embarrassing and unacceptable.)

Supine hip extension – 10xBW, 10xBW, 10xBW

(No biggie here. Just like last time somebody stole my favorite swiss ball. This time it was just a regular gym goer. I can’t win.)

Dumbbell push press – 10×45, 10×45, 10×45

(Knowing that this was the last lift of a phase really gave me the incentive to add weight. Why can’t I be like that all the time? The first two sets were OK. Form on the last set was shaky toward the end.)

Rotational lunge – 10×20, 10×20, 10×20

(Same weight as always. Same struggle as always. Felt like I’d ran for an hour after I was done with these. Form was phenomenal as usual. My knee touched the ground every time. I do not even play on these. I’m thrilled with my form.)

Swiss ball crunch – 10xBW, 10xBW, 10xBW

(Boring.)

NROL, Fat Loss I, workout 5B

Taking a second day of rest is making a world of difference. My legs felt good today and my elbow was a lot better.

Weight was low but form was excellent. Probably the best lift I’ve had in a long while.

Here are the numbers.

Deadlift – 10×135, 10×145, 10×145

(The first set went really well so I felt comfortable adding weight. I’m trying to be really careful with the back but I felt like my form on the last two sets was good. I can handle more weight but I’m going to go up SLOWLY. Not gonna be stupid this time around. I’ll eventually get back to where I want to be.)

Dumbbell incline bench press – 10×50, 10×50, 10×50

(I didn’t really have to give everything I had. Don’t know. I’m just used to missing reps here so I wanted to go through the whole thing without failing for once.)

Bulgarian split squat – 10xBW, 10xBW, 10xBW

(My form was flat out awesome today. I was literally scraping my knee on the ground on every rep. Still had the same issues with balance though. My left leg is perfect. I can drop my right knee, hit the ground and pop back up. I was able to bang out 10 every time with no problems. When I switched to my right leg I kept losing balance. I constantly had to either grab a nearby bar or bring my back leg off the bench to keep from hitting the floor. Not sure what the deal is there. Even with the problem I still had great form. Just had to take a lot of shots at it.)

Mixed grip lat pulldown – 10×135, 10×135, 10×135

(Felt a little twinge in my elbow but I still should have gone up in weight.)

Romanian deadlift – 10×65, 10×75, 10×75

(Same deal as deadlifts. First set went good so I went up in weight. Amazingly, I got through it relatively pain free. I still felt some pain but nothing like it usually is. Really had to concentrate on keeping my chest up and air in my stomach. Form must have been pretty good.)

Swiss ball lateral roll – 10×15, 10×15, 10×15

(I actually felt like I did these right this time. I kept my balance on the ball the whole time. No issues at all really. Maybe I’ve finally got it.)

NROL, Fat Loss I, workout 5A

My legs didn’t feel too sore today so I decided to go to the gym. I actually went a little early so the place was a lot more busy. As a result, I dealt with things that I don’t normally see when it’s just me and a couple of other guys.

Rather then think about my back issues and how horrible my lifts were I got to see an obnoxious trainer, an insanely attractive girl and a pack of ogling guys. Thinking about how much other people suck is a lot better then spending an hour thinking about how much I suck.

Here are the numbers.

Squat – 10×135, 10×145, 10×145

(I tried to think of nothing else but bracing my abs today. I got by the first set without back pain for the most part. I felt a little guilty about going so low so I added 10 pounds on the second set. A little more back pain on that one but overall it wasn’t too much of a problem. On the third set I had major back issues going down on the very first rep. I racked it and thought about what I was doing. I’m knew I wasn’t going to hurt myself with 145 freaking pounds. I eventually got back under the bar and got all the reps.

I’m gonna need to drop the reps soon. Even this many felt like too much. Too many chances to hurt myself. I’ve thought about doing something like a 5×3 program. Maybe it would help me mentally get past all my back worries.

Either that or I can stop being a pussy and start acting like a man. This is getting ridiculous. I’m wasting my time.)

Cable seated row – 10×135, 10×135, 10×135

(That weird pain/soreness thing in the back of my left shoulder came back today. I don’t know what muscle it is.)

Supine hip extension – 10xBW, 10xBW, 10xBW

(I used the bigger swiss ball for the first two sets. Makes it a little tougher. As I walked over to do my third set some trainer guy was sitting on it! He saw me using it during my first two sets! What an ass. Couldn’t really interrupt him because he was in the middle of working with a client when I walked over. I had to grab a smaller one.

Here’s the thing about personal trainers. In the two years I’ve been going regularly to the gym I’ve never seen a male personal trainer who looked like he was a personal trainer. I’ve seen plenty of women who looked the part. The guys, though, have all been either fat or scrawny with nothing in between. This guy was fatter then me! New rule – if you’re fatter then me you can’t be a personal trainer. Isn’t there already a rule that says you have to be in good shape to do that job? Guess not.)

Dumbbell push press – 10×40, 10×40, 10×40

(Stuck with the 40’s because of the shoulder thing. I did them pretty fast and now my elbow hurts. WTF? Gotta go up in weight here.)

Rotational lunge – 10×20, 10×20, 10×20

(I regret not going with the 25’s. These were tough and I couldn’t do them consecutively but I need to go up in weight since I don’t have any pain on this one.)

Swiss ball crunch – 10xBW, 10xBW, 10xBW

(No biggie but I did have a weird experience. After I finished my first set I looked up and I’m standing directly in front a gorgeous girl using a machine about 10 feet away. She was an absolute knockout. The crazy thing is that she was modestly dressed. Never seen that in a gym before. It didn’t matter what she wore, though, she was going to be noticed.

For my last two sets she was still there doing her thing. I turned around and did my reps with my back to her. When I got up I was facing the rest of the weight room and saw about 10 guys staring past me. It was the creepiest damned thing I’ve ever seen in my life. It wasn’t that guys were looking it was just the sheer numbers and the fact that nobody was even pretending to be sneaky about it.

I remember thinking that she’s probably never going to come back to our gym. Then I thought that she’s probably going to get that no matter where she goes. There were other attractive women around who were dressed much more provocatively. This is just her cross to bear, I guess. It’s one thing to show up in some skimpy outfit. It’s another to just wear a t-shirt and shorts and still get gawked at. Must be tough.)

NROL, Fat Loss I, workout 4B

MUCH better lift today. I wasn’t really sore at all so that helps. Today I took care of my back but found out that I might be a little asymmetrical.

Here are the numbers.

Deadlift – 12×135, 12×135, 12×135

( I knew from the first few reps that this was going to be a good day. No problems using my legs to get down to the bar. I got to see the veins in my forearms again after doing these so that was sweet. In addition I think I noticed an actual back muscle for the first time today. I notice new muscles all the time now but that one was especially cool. It’s in the middle of my back and it sticks out pretty far when I flex it. Maybe I’ll get the same deal with my lower back one day. I need all the protection I can get.)

Dumbbell incline bench press – 12×50, 8×45, 12×45

(Bit off more then I could chew here. The 50’s felt incredibly heavy on the first set. I failed on the second set. Pushing the 45’s on the last set for all the reps took everything I had.)

Bulgarian split squat – 12xBW, 12xBW, 12xBW

(Here’s where I learned about the asymmetrical thing. I noticed today that I can balance myself pretty easily on my left leg. I can’t do that with my right leg. I couldn’t do a single set on my right leg with my back leg on the bench the entire time. I had to take it off to catch myself every once in a while.

You might wonder why I’m just noticing this. Today was probably the first day that I actually treated these like squats with proper squat form instead of just randomly dropping my back leg. Amazingly, I was able to drop my back knee virtually to the ground when I did this. My form was awesome if I don’t say so myself. Maybe I’ll be able to graduate soon to the body bar that the girls use in their aerobics class. I think I’m going to try bodyweight at least one more time, though, just to make sure that my form is good.)

Mixed grip lat pulldown – 12×135, 12×135, 12×135

(For some reason I’m stronger when my left hand is in the chin up position then the other way around. I had no troubles with the former and had to fight hard in the latter.)

Romanian deadlift – 12×65, 12×65, 12×65

(My form is getting better. It’s hard to concentrate on form when the weight is so low but I need to do this. I’ve got to work on my breathing here. I think I’ve got it down. I take a deep breath before I go down and then I let air out when I come back up. Also need to keep concentrating on bracing my abs. When I do those things properly my back doesn’t hurt. When I forget them – well, pain city.)

Swiss ball lateral roll – 12×15, 12×15, 12×15

(Still stupid. I don’t want to do them. They don’t hurt so I’m probably doing them wrong.)

NROL, Fat Loss I, workout 4A

A week off from lifting probably did me some good. My left shoulder is still aching for some reason but it didn’t affect my squats today.

Here are the numbers.

Squat – 12×135, 12×135, 12×135

( My form was not up to my standards today. Midway through the second set I thought my form was acceptable. Every other rep wasn’t good enough. Even so, I’m proud to have finished these because my back was aching throughout. I thought seriously about bailing on the last set but managed to do it anyway.

Pain isn’t a problem, really. It’s the fear of the pain that usually gets me. When I feel a tweak in my back, the thought of hurting it is all I can think of when I drop. I need to get over this if I’m ever going to progress.)

Cable seated row – 12×135, 12×135, 12×135

(Nothing to report.)

Supine hip extension – 12xBW, 12xBW, 12xBW

(These got pretty tough today. Back issues hampered me a little but nothing I couldn’t stand.)

Dumbbell push press – 12×35, 12×40, 12×40

(Progress! I added weight here to make this lift an actual success.)

Rotational lunge – 12×20, 12×20, 12×20

(Tough! I still haven’t found a way to do all the reps consecutively. I had to stand for a few seconds every once in a while. Whenever I did as many as six in a row my muscles started aching like mad.)

Swiss ball crunch – 12xBW, 12xBW, 12xBW

(Tough. I’m getting a huge range of motion so I guess that’s why.)