Why am I so weak ?

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Why am I so weak ?

Postby VeganGraham » Wed Jan 13, 2010 3:36 am

I've been weight training for a couple of years now, although not as consistently as I should, and I don't seem to be making much progress. I'm nowhere near as strong as I think I should be for my size. Take a look at the strength table to see what I mean.

I tried a periodisation programme, but I didn't stick at it properly because it didn't take in to account that I can't squat heavy the day after a 12 hour mountain bike race, so I would miss out sessions or lift much lighter weights than it called for and I could never catch up again.

I've got some protein powder and a load of creatine, but again I have never got in the habit of using them regularly.

I don't seem to have any fast twitch muscles.
I rode a 50km mountain bike race a couple of weeks ago after having hardly ridden a bike for a few weeks beforehand and found it easy enough. I can just jump on a bike and ride hard for three hours without any preparation.
I can clean & jerk 57.5kg for three sets of five, but I can't C&J 60kg for more than two reps.
Same with all lifts. I can regularly do multiple reps at 90%, but after weeks of trying I still can't get to one rep at 105%.

Where am I going wrong ?

Should I just HTFU and stick at a periodisation programme regardless ?
Which one ? There's dozens to choose from.
What about the protein and creatine ? I'm eating better now than I ever have in my life, proper home cooked meals almost every day.
How can I increase my 1RM ability without losing my endurance ?
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Postby patvirt » Wed Jan 13, 2010 4:30 am

wow.

From what I know, and that isn't very much. I'd say the fact that you haven't been working out consistently is the key. You have to have a good program and STICK TO IT to get good gains.
You have actually addressed all the problems you have with strenth.

The only thing that I would think someone like JP would be able to advise you on is the contrast between endurance racing and 1rm excercises.

I reckon HTFU, get a good program. I love the stronglifts program with a few added exercises. Take the protein and rotate the creatine.

Hope that helps.
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Postby the crazyest vegan » Wed Jan 13, 2010 5:30 am

From my experiance, edurance bike riding and heavy weight lifting dont go hand in hand.

you also might be one of those people who have more slow twitch than fast twitch, i have more fast than low twitch, that means after a week or two off the bike i can still outsprint the same people, but cant keep up with them on a 3/4 hour ride.

but consistent training is the key!
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Postby JP » Wed Jan 13, 2010 11:08 am

i cant advice for shit!

But, clearly you love two totally opposite style sports.

I wouldnt stress about it, as long as your main one, the moutain biking i presume, doesnt suffer from your weight training, even if your weight training suffers from the cardio work a bit.

As long as you enjoy yourself.

For what its worth, i dont think you are "weak", i think your numbers are ok. Of course they would be "weak" if you would say you have been stuck in same numbers for ages and not making progress. But at the same time you have made progress with your moutain biking - and got a bit older as well ;)

If i was you i would try to learn to handle near maximal weights more. You clearly can bang out reps anyway anytime anywhere.

maybe get the best of both worlds by building up to (after warm ups) heavy(ish) single, and then do few rep sets on the way back down.

On C&Js you could do something like:
5x40
5x40
2x50
1x55
1x60
1x62.5
5x55
5x55

and on a good day go heavier, on a bad day lighter.

Complex ;)
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Postby patvirt » Wed Jan 13, 2010 11:14 am

JP wrote:i cant advice for shit!



Clearly what you wrote was better advice than mine haha :D
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Postby ninearms » Wed Jan 13, 2010 11:48 am

As JP said, you have one problem in that you have 2 competing goals, and as others have mentioned your other problem is lack of consistency. As I see it this can be solved by:

a) Knocking one on the head for the sake of the other.

Seeing as it sounds like you don't want to do this, then your solution is:

b) Finding a program that will allow you to still hit the bike hard and not have too much impact on recovery for either; and
c) Sticking with said program for a sustained period of time.

Given that you obviously want to continue riding well, the best option, I think, would be to lift twice a week and no more.

Without wanting to sound like a fanboy (although I clearly am), I think the perfect solution is Jim Wendler's 5/3/1. This will allow you to hit the squat, bench, deadlift and press hard without having too much impact on your cycling, and should allow you to make good lifting progress even with the added cycling. Wendler sets out a 2 day a week schedule that has you alternating A and B workouts.

A) Squat + assistance - weeks 1, 3 and 5; Deadlift + assistance - weeks 2, 4 and 6.
B) Strict press + assistance - weeks 1, 3 and 5; Bench press + assistance - weeks 2, 4 and 6.

I've got a spreadsheet that lays everything out, including numbers, if that sounds like a route you want to go down. Plus I'm happy to answer any questions about 5/3/1. It's a very simple approach to training once you understand the principles behind it.

I'd agree with JP that it might be worth doing a couple of heavy singles more often too. Maybe something like every 3rd week where you do your planned lifting for the day and then quickly work up to a heavy single (not max, just heavy).

As an aside, jerks for anything more than 3 reps won't really get you anywhere. Stick to doubles.
“Begin at the beginning,” the King said gravely, “and go on till you come to the end. Then stop.”
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Postby aliquis » Wed Jan 13, 2010 4:04 pm

I assume the issue is not lifting consistent enough and not lifting heavy enough when you lift.

Try the starting strength or bill starr 5x5 madcow2 or 5,3,1 or the recent dan john 5,3,1 on t-nation or something such.

Anything with periodisation, heavy lifts and basic exercises. And get it done.[/list][/i]
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Postby baldy » Wed Jan 13, 2010 4:39 pm

hmm I feel your pain, I would like to do more endurance training.
I tell myself I will do weights for a couple years to build up strength, learn technique and hopefully injury proof myself.

Then when I live somewhere more sunny and have money to spend on nice bikes etc will get back into endurance stuff (I have complete an IronMan and Comrades Ultra Marathon on my bucket list).

When I was doing 5x5 I found the gap between 5x5 and 1RM too big. For me any squat over 100kg feels totally different to 5 at 85kg.
That is the advantage that other programs have over a 5x5, you can do heavy singles, doubles, triples etc.

5/3/1 is cool if you like spreadsheets and the like, but is not the only solution by far, you are a unique snow flake and need a training program that matches your needs.

Do you know you are eating enough? You might think you are, but you might not be. Eat like crazy for a month and see what happens? Might unleash the giant within.

Also your not weak by a long shot, is this just fishing for compliments?
Reality check, you are the 2nd strongest cyclist on the Olympic table http://www.veganfitness.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=20394
the other "strength" table is irrelevant but you are in the top 2/3.

Last thing, when last did you have someone slapping or shouting at you when you are training?
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Postby VeganGraham » Wed Jan 13, 2010 8:53 pm

Thanks for the replies, it looks like 5/3/1 is the way to go then.
I wanted to try a periodisation plan now because, apart from a few 3 hour trailquests, there's no long mountain bike races coming up soon, so I've got more chance of sticking at it.

On C&Js you could do something like:
5x40
5x40
2x50
1x55
1x60
1x62.5
5x55
5x55


That's not all that different to what I am doing for all lifts. I tend to warm up with an empty bar, work up to my maximum, then take 5kg off the bar and go to failure and repeat. Maybe I could try increasing in singles rather than sets like you suggest.

Whatever happens, I want to carry on mountain bike racing and weightlifting. Maybe I could just lift twice a week when the racing starts, but I'm OK lifting three or four times a week for the next couple of months or so.
I've done a quick google search for 5/3/1 and there's talk of spreadsheets, but no actual spreadsheets to download.
Any links to one and the instructions on how to use it ?

hmm I feel your pain, I would like to do more endurance training.

The only advice I can give here is to ride longer.
I was quite concerned that I wouldn't last the distance when I entered my first 50km race, I had never ridden that far before.
Having now done a few 10 - 12 hour races, riding 3 hours is easy.

I really don't think I could eat much more than I do now. I take sandwiches to work and often have one or more left over for the next day because I can't eat any more. Usually a huge tea in the evening and a big bowl of muesli for breakfast.
The only thing I don't do is eat big straight after training. Maybe I should get in the habit of packing peanut butter sandwiches in with my gym kit to eat afterwards.

Last thing, when last did you have someone slapping or shouting at you when you are training?

There must be over a hundred people I see occasionally or regularly in the free weights area at JJB. Apart from me, I think I have seen about 3 people doing full depth squats, 1 person lifting an olympic bar overhead, and nobody deadlifting more then their bodyweight.
I generally try to avoid contact with anyone else there.
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Postby ninearms » Wed Jan 13, 2010 9:38 pm

PMed you some info.

Save the slapping for S&M clubs. Anyone who slaps me before a lift is getting a fist to the guts.
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Postby baldy » Wed Jan 13, 2010 9:43 pm

ninearms wrote:PMed you some info.

Save the slapping for S&M clubs. Anyone who slaps me before a lift is getting a fist to the guts.

Not even a little ammonia and a tickle? :)
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Postby VeganGraham » Sat Jan 16, 2010 10:06 am

Thanks for the PM, ninearms and the offer of further help.

Just a couple of things I'm not entirely sure about.
There's talk of 2, 3 or 4 day per week programmes with one or two major exercises per day.
I take it there's a fair deal of flexibility allowed as long as there's about 7 days before repeating a lift.
So...

Monday, Squat
Wednesday, Military press
Friday, Bench press & deadlift

or;

Monday, Squat
Wednesday, Military press
Friday, Bench press
Sunday, deadlift
Tuesday, Squat again etc. making an 8 day week.

...would both work, as would any similar variation, but..

Monday, Squat & Military press
Wednesday, Bench press & Deadlift
Friday, Squat & Military press etc. making a 4 day week wouldn't

I'm surprised that the assistance lifts are done on the same day as the main lift. For example, following bench press with dumbbell bench press sounds odd to me. That's just an observation, not a question.
I like the sound of Boring but Big though. I'm not very imaginitive with either food or exercise. I'm happy doing the same thing over and over again.
I like the idea of doing the last set to (almost) failure too.

I'm not sure about the warm ups. If I put in 100kg as my 1RM for squat, my first set on the first day is 5x57.5kg, yet the warm ups work up to 3x60kg. Warming up with more weight than the working set doesn't sound right. I guess I can just warm up with whatever weight and reps it takes me to feel like I'm ready to go.
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Postby ninearms » Sat Jan 16, 2010 12:40 pm

As far as scheduling goes, it is pretty flexible. The main difference between the 2, 3 and 4 day a week versions is the length of a cycle. Training 4 days a week means a cycle takes 4 weeks, whereas training 3 days a week means a cycle takes 6 weeks. Training 2 days a week you have the option of a 4 or 6 week cycle depending on whether you use option 1 or 2 in the spreadsheet. I actually use option 1 myself, squatting and pressing on Monday and deadlifting and floor pressing on Thursday. That leaves Sunday and Wednesday free for me to focus on C&J or snatch. The important thing is to alternate between upper body and lower body lifts if you're not doing option 1. So yes, your first 2 option would work, and the 3rd wouldn't.

I like Boring But Big too, and did nothing else for the first 6 or 7 cycles. It works, and it makes your legs bigger.

As far as warmups go, the only thing I can think of is that you used your actual max to get that 60kg rather than your adjusted 5/3/1 max. But really how you warmup before the first proper set is up to you - I don't use the percentages in the book as they're really just a guide if you're unsure what to do. Some lifts I do a lot of light stuff before, some I can take big jumps (deadlifts the other day I did 60x5x2 and 100x5 before my first work set which was 125x3). Even the jumps between the first and last set aren't fixed in stone, but Jim's found 10% jumps to work best.

I assume how the spreadsheet works made sense and you get how to adjust the numbers each new cycle?

Edit: These 2 threads on T-Nation are useful:

One.

Two.
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Postby VeganGraham » Sat Jan 16, 2010 6:20 pm

Yes, I got it wrong. I was taking the 60% warm up from my true 100kg 1RM, not the 90kg used for this system. I'm sure it won't do any harm to make that bit up as I go along anyway, rather than follow some numbers exactly, all depending on whether I've cycled, walked, run or driven to the gym.

Interesting that you do C&J and snatch on non 5/3/1 days.
There's no mention in the book about doing other lifts on other days. I wanted to carry on training C&J or push press and was thinking about using them as an assistance lift on military press days. I guess it would be OK to do them as an in between days exercise as long as it doesn't interfere with the main programme.
I'll carry on with swimming and rowing on the other in between days too.

Going back to Baldy's comment, I wasn't fishing for compliments.
I know I can do well in mountain bike races, overall and in age group, but you've only got to look at the bodyweight column on the strength table and it stands out a mile. What's that big heavy guy doing down near the bottom of the table way behind all those other guys who are 20kg lighter ?
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Postby JP » Sat Jan 16, 2010 6:50 pm

Big Good Wolf wrote:What's that big heavy guy doing down near the bottom of the table way behind all those other guys who are 20kg lighter ?


that is the same question i ask myself when training with many of the guys that i train these days :lol:
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