Weightlifting

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I developed a casual interest in weightlifting a few years ago. My first set of gear was a cheap bench press and some free dumbbells. Because I generally work out alone, I eventually ended up buying a proper power rack so I could work out safely.

Currently I lift only casually, but I have followed programs such as Stronglifts and┬áMark Rippetoe’s 3×5. I’ve also had a bit of fun with the occasional bulking diet (4000 kJ shakes just before bed etc.), with interesting and mixed results.

Gear

Original bench press and current (mostly set up) power rack.

power_rack_jan_2012

Stronglifts

I ran the Stronglifts program properly for a period of 3 months. Starting as a pretty novice lifter, I achieved (for me) good strength gains, but by the end of the program, the prospect of going to failure multiple times during each workout just became a little too brutal. Near the end I had to drop to 3×5 after repeated failures. Below you can see the raw diary I kept (bit hard to interpret) and a cleaned up spreadsheet version. I did one hour long cardio session each week.

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Diary in .pdf format

Lift Progressions

Note these are 3×5 or 1×5 max lifts, one rep max lifts are given next.

Lift Start Final Improvement
Bench Press 70 kg 90 kg +20 kg
Squat 60kg 107.5kg +47.5 kg
Deadlift 85kg 127.5kg +42.5 kg
Barbell (Yates) Row 50kg 90kg +40 kg
Overhead Press 30kg 57.5kg +27.5 kg

Final One Rep Maxes

  • Bench Press: 100 kg (2 plates each side, 225 lb)

Approximate 1 rep max estimates using Eryx 1 rep max calculator:

  • Squat: 122 kg
  • Overhead press: 64 kg
  • Deadlift: 148 kg (3 plates each side, 326 lb)
  • Yates Row: 105 kg

Bulking and Cutting Experiments

More for fun than any serious scientific interest, I’ve tried bulking and cutting a couple of times. My “stable” weight for the past 15 years has varied between 70 and 84 kg, at 178 cm tall (5’10”).

Bulking Approach

  • Minimal long duration cardio
  • Stronglifts 3 times a week
  • Generally increased carb, protein and fat intake
  • Protein shakes after each weights workout
  • 3000-4000 kJ shake just before bed each night

Bro-Science Results

The first time I tried to bulk, my weight stayed steady for a few months as I stuffed my face with as much food as I could reasonably stomach. Then my weight suddenly started going up, as if my body had taken a while to catch on. I pulled the plug a few weeks after that as the weight gain was so dramatic.

Cutting / Weight Loss Approach

Eat slightly less. Do everything else the same.

Weight loss was slow and steady. I’ve dropped from ~80kg to ~71 kg twice using this “method”.

However, whereas in my late teens and early 20s, 71 kg seemed to be a stable weight, to keep that now in my 30s I would have need to actually try in terms of moderating diet and maintaining exercise.