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  • Overdoing it or adapting?

    My wife’s concern prompted me to ask this, and I’m hoping you guys can help me suss out the difference between…
    • pushing myself harder than I ever have and talking about it too much at home vs.
    • …pushing myself too hard.

    I’m 230lbs, 45yo, training in a serious way for the first time maybe ever after last 15 years of sedentary desk work. I was struggling with chronic low-back tightness and frequent pain, but I believed that it was mainly due to being fat, mostly sedentary, and anxious. I have not been under a bar except to bench press the few times I’ve fooled around with lifting over the years. I haven't tested a 1rm in anything yet, but latest working sets of 3x5 are as follows… SQ=230, OHP=120, DL=250, BP=175, ROW=185

    Among other things, I can also now get out of bed by sitting up rather than rolling to my side for fear of tweaking my back, and get up off the floor without grunting. Awesome.

    I started very slow & light, trying to get the hang of the lifts - I’ve been working on it nearly 3 months, but started so light I’ve probably only been in LP for half that. Committing to moving was 75% of what my back needed, even at the very low weights. Anyway, I’ve slowly built up to these weights above, and have had a couple of failed reps/sets (in OP & BP), mainly due to pain or technique issues. Both those lifts have progressed well (if not easily) since the issues. I'm adding weight to the bar, struggling, hitting my reps.

    I’ve taken each issue as a problem to either figure out or push through. That’s a new attitude for me, but it’s a huge part of what I’m learning from the larger barbell community. But I've still got years of "don't overdo it" in my head, as does the Missus.

    Issue examples...
    • left bicep tendinopathy impacting BP (resolved, and a great excuse to do some curls – ha HA!)
    • shoulder mobility particularly impacting squat grip (working with better warmup, grip mod & mob exercises)
    • hip flexor tightness (working with stretching)
    • Minor knee soreness (possibly related to the hip flexor tightness?)
    • forearm soreness (probably just fatigue/overwork, seems to be resolving, but slowly over several weeks)
    • shoulder soreness (feels like muscle, probably just normal)
    • Cramping usually calves, trunk, neck/jaw in that order of frequency (this is my latest complaint)
    • Mild right wrist pain (yesterday)

    I train after work, and 2-out-of-3 times get home beat and sore. Like last night. Couldn’t run due to calf cramps, tried to roll/stretch the calf cramp so I could run, but comically got a dang ab cramp in the process. Gave up on running, got home and in another unintentional attempt at comedy got a neck/jaw cramp while trying to wolf down a banana.

    BUT... a protein shake, a meal, 400mg of Vitamin "I", and 15 minutes with a lacrosse ball had me feeling human again in time to help my kid study for AP World History and then go to bed without undue pain. Today, minor shoulder soreness, still the hip tightness, little tight in calves but no cramping, otherwise no complaints.

    So, I got some issues. But I’m fat, over 40, and still pretty out of shape.

    For my wife’s sake, is any of this surprising or concerning? Do any of you older guys have experience working though laundry lists like this? (make no mistake – I’ve got four limbs, pretty good joints, no major injury/surgical history – I’m grateful)

    For my sake, is there a kind of macro adaptation going on (through my own mobility work plus an adaptation to training in general) that’s going to make the post-workout aches and such less acute (aside from muscle fatigue, obviously), or should I, for my wife’s sake, just talk about it less? Or is the adaptation more of mindset, that there will always be something to work out, and that’s part of the process? And talk about it less.

    Thanks in advance to anyone who reads this epic!
    Last edited by roostabunny; 09-20-2018, 06:15 PM.

  • #2
    Originally posted by roostabunny View Post
    My wife’s concern prompted me to ask this, and I’m hoping you guys can help me suss out the difference between…
    • pushing myself harder than I ever have and talking about it too much at home vs.
    • …pushing myself too hard
    Thanks for starting this thread. Congrats on starting the journey to making some life changes and taking care of yourself. If I am understanding your training history correctly, you have been consistent for the past 3 months?

    The cramping and aches you are experiencing may be related to load management and recovery but I'd need to dive into your training history more to give accurate advice. The mobility work and stretching you are referencing, although may seem as though it is helping - tends to be wasted time and effort. I wrote a rather lengthy discussion on the topic here: https://www.barbellmedicine.com/mobility-explained/

    Happy to discuss.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Michael Ray View Post

      Thanks for starting this thread. Congrats on starting the journey to making some life changes and taking care of yourself. If I am understanding your training history correctly, you have been consistent for the past 3 months?

      The cramping and aches you are experiencing may be related to load management and recovery but I'd need to dive into your training history more to give accurate advice. The mobility work and stretching you are referencing, although may seem as though it is helping - tends to be wasted time and effort. I wrote a rather lengthy discussion on the topic here: https://www.barbellmedicine.com/mobility-explained/

      Happy to discuss.
      Thanks, and great article, Doc!

      I chuckled about the perfectionism/injury correlation. I tend toward perfectionism and catastrophizing, which you might know is a nightmare combination for someone who's self/internet-coached. I wake up from nightmares where Rip and Kelly Starrett are bo staff fighting with olympic barbells over my head, sparks flying off with each mighty clash, while I cower on the floor wimpering, "I just wanna squat 1-1/2 times my body weight, please..."

      But I digress. I've been consistent for three months, though as I mentioned I started overly light on my squat because I was afraid of messing up the form and injuring my back. Same light start with the other lifts, though I did make a couple of 10lb jumps during the first few weeks because the over-light weights started to feel ridiculous. I consider my real LP to have started around 6 weeks ago.

      So it's getting hard, particularly on BP and OP, but I'm adding 5lbs to the bar on every lift, M-W-F for 3x5 on either SQ/BP/ROW or SQ/OP/DL (1x5 deadlift). FWIW, I'm taking creatine monohydrate, though I don't know if that has an effect on actual muscle recovery or just perceived recovery (i.e. soreness).

      The cramping is new, and mostly annoying because the calf cramps curtail my conditioning. Stretching hasn't done a dang thing. Friday I unscientifically did the following: Potassium loaded (ate a half dozen dried apricots in the afternoon), tried to drink more water during the day, sipped some BCAA thing from the gym cooler mostly for additional hydration, slowed the treadmill down and ramped up the incline for the comfort of my calves. At least that way I got my 25min of cardio, and nothing else cramped, but my calves were (and are) still tight.

      I'm not discounting options, but I agree that the mobility stuff carries an awful lot of woo-woo.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by roostabunny View Post

        Thanks, and great article, Doc!

        I chuckled about the perfectionism/injury correlation. I tend toward perfectionism and catastrophizing, which you might know is a nightmare combination for someone who's self/internet-coached. I wake up from nightmares where Rip and Kelly Starrett are bo staff fighting with olympic barbells over my head, sparks flying off with each mighty clash, while I cower on the floor wimpering, "I just wanna squat 1-1/2 times my body weight, please..."

        But I digress. I've been consistent for three months, though as I mentioned I started overly light on my squat because I was afraid of messing up the form and injuring my back. Same light start with the other lifts, though I did make a couple of 10lb jumps during the first few weeks because the over-light weights started to feel ridiculous. I consider my real LP to have started around 6 weeks ago.

        So it's getting hard, particularly on BP and OP, but I'm adding 5lbs to the bar on every lift, M-W-F for 3x5 on either SQ/BP/ROW or SQ/OP/DL (1x5 deadlift). FWIW, I'm taking creatine monohydrate, though I don't know if that has an effect on actual muscle recovery or just perceived recovery (i.e. soreness).

        The cramping is new, and mostly annoying because the calf cramps curtail my conditioning. Stretching hasn't done a dang thing. Friday I unscientifically did the following: Potassium loaded (ate a half dozen dried apricots in the afternoon), tried to drink more water during the day, sipped some BCAA thing from the gym cooler mostly for additional hydration, slowed the treadmill down and ramped up the incline for the comfort of my calves. At least that way I got my 25min of cardio, and nothing else cramped, but my calves were (and are) still tight.

        I'm not discounting options, but I agree that the mobility stuff carries an awful lot of woo-woo.
        Excellent story regarding Rip and Starrett, hahahaha. Are you using Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) at all? RPE is a great way to regulate training based on your subjective perception of the difficulty/fatigue of exercise. RPE is classified as an internal intensity measurement. This helps minimize chasing a particular hard-line load being prescribed and helps with adjusting training based on recovery and life.

        You may also benefit from a nutrition consult with one of our staff members (I do not handle these). Cramps are a topic that we don't have a large amount of information on what is highly correlated to their occurrence, but rather more evidence of what doesn't appear to be highly correlated. The good news typically a cramp is self-resolving. Anecdotally, I try to take a close examination at training and recovery of athletes who are regularly experiencing cramps, ensuring we are managing fatigue appropriately.
        To my knowledge, little evidence exists in support of supplementation with standalone BCAAs for the usually supplied narratives as it relates to exercise. Happy to discuss further.
        Last edited by Michael Ray; 09-24-2018, 06:17 PM.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Michael Ray View Post

          Excellent story regarding Rip and Starrett, hahahaha. Are you using Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) at all? RPE is a great way to regulate training based on your subjective perception of the difficulty/fatigue of exercise. RPE is classified as an internal intensity measurement. This helps minimize chasing a particular hard-line load being prescribed and helps with adjusting training based on recovery and life.

          You may also benefit from a nutrition consult with one of our staff members (I do not handle these). Cramps are a topic that we don't have a large amount of information on what is highly correlated to their occurrence, but rather more evidence of what doesn't appear to be highly correlated. The good news typically a cramp is self-resolving. Anecdotally, I try to take a close examination at training and recovery of athletes who are regularly experiencing cramps, ensuring we are managing fatigue appropriately.
          To my knowledge, little evidence exists in support of supplementation with standalone BCAAs for the usually supplied narratives as it relates to exercise. Happy to discuss further.
          I'm interested in RPE, but have not tried to implement it yet. I was going to try to get it mentally figured out/calibrated and then maybe try to a 'the bridge' template once my LP ran out. At the moment, I'd call my last set of squats (of 255x3x5) on Monday a 7, maybe an 8, meaning I think I could have done 2 maybe 3 more reps. That seems objectively low, but I'm thinking so hard about form still, and trying to break in a 10mm belt (with these tender fat rolls lol), the RPE feels right on. Honestly, the regimented nature of an SSLP was one of the big selling points as I tend to believe at least 51% of my struggles are mental/emotional. I think/hope I'm loosening up as I go.

          I didn't mean to confuse things by mentioning BCAA's. I don't think they had anything to do with the reduction in cramping, I was mainly thinking of the hydration. That BCAA juice box was just the only thing they had that didn't have added caffeine.

          Calves are improving, and for the last two workouts it's been more of tightness than actual cramps. In fact, it's toned down enough that I'm noticing some mild knee soreness and thinking it might be time to re-evaluate my squat form. I don't do it every time, but I'm regularly coming up out of the squat feeling the weight on my toes, sometimes even lifting my heels at the top. Anyway, my new theory is that in trying to hip hinge more, I "dove" forward slightly with the bar instead of just hinging. I get good depth, maybe too much, and I'm wondering if my knees track forward and the weight goes on toes. Sounds like a recipe for knee soreness and maybe... excess calf fatigue.

          I found a great use for the 4ft long foam roll at the gym. Today I'll set it on end an inch in front of a toe like Rip's TUBOW for my warm-up sets and see if I'm drifting (or diving) forward. Anyway, I'll try to video a work set and maybe submit for a form check on the forum, too.

          The forearm soreness is improving as well. I think in the same week I combined trying to get the hang (no pun intended) of my deadlift grip with trying out chins on an assist machine (gravitron-type thing) with a rather large diameter padded bar. I backed off the chins with the forearm soreness, but kept up the DL's and ROW's, so I think forearms have just taken a while to recover. I may go to dips first till the forearm soreness is gone, then try again with the chins.

          I think I'm partly answering my own question - that I've got a lot of adaptation to do just getting into my first serious training since high school and first serious resistance training ever, plus learning barbells and programming etc. All after years of letting anxiety and sitting shape my body. I know you can't really say "go for it, you'll be fine!" just listening to me complain over the internet, but I really appreciate the dialog, perspective, and ideas!

          I'll try to post another couple of updates on here hopefully for the encouragement of future freaked out middle-aged fat guys with worried wives.

          Comment


          • #6
            Side note - that 4' foam roll was not a good substitute for a TUBOW - I don't know now I didn't foresee how that long thing would get in the way of unracking and walking out. I'll try it again with a short foam roll, if that's too short I'll smuggle in a 2x4.

            Also, my mild knee soreness is around what I read is the superior pole the patella, so consistent with mild (and common) quadriceps tendinopathy. I read that squatting too deep or sliding forward are also common causes so evaluating squat form is really at the top of that list as well.

            Lastly, forearm soreness was getting better, but in feeling a bit better I think I rushed to deadlift (I had considered skipping it for one workout to rest my forearms), try dips, and do some biceps therapy (i.e. straight bar curls).

            Today I'm going to do a light-ish diagnostic squat day, work bench, and probably skip ROWs (and DL on Wed) to give the forerams some extra recovery time and see if that changes how they feel.
            Last edited by roostabunny; 10-01-2018, 05:31 PM.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by roostabunny View Post
              Side note - that 4' foam roll was not a good substitute for a TUBOW - I don't know now I didn't foresee how that long thing would get in the way of unracking and walking out. I'll try it again with a short foam roll, if that's too short I'll smuggle in a 2x4.

              Also, my mild knee soreness is around what I read is the superior pole the patella, so consistent with mild (and common) quadriceps tendinopathy. I read that squatting too deep or sliding forward are also common causes so evaluating squat form is really at the top of that list as well.

              Lastly, forearm soreness was getting better, but in feeling a bit better I think I rushed to deadlift (I had considered skipping it for one workout to rest my forearms), try dips, and do some biceps therapy (i.e. straight bar curls).

              Today I'm going to do a light-ish diagnostic squat day, work bench, and probably skip ROWs (and DL on Wed) to give the forerams some extra recovery time and see if that changes how they feel.
              Thanks for the update. Sounds like you are progressing well overall. The multiple areas of soreness you are describing is likely more to do with load management (manipulation of volume and intensity) than form. If you are noticing several areas having increased soreness then it is highly likely you are not recovering in time from training session to training session. Otherwise, keep at it. Consistency over time will help with small wins that will progress you towards your goals.

              Comment


              • #8
                I took the load management tip to heart even though I didn't respond. These two changes seem to have made the most difference.

                1.) Some extra rest.

                I went about a week without pulling (no DL or ROW). This seemed to give my forearms a fighting chance, and now that I'm pulling again the discomfort has downgraded from pain and weakness to more diffused soreness, and comfortable while training. I also started chalking my hands a bit on DL which makes the bar easier to hang on to. I'll give it another week or two, then try to start up chins again.

                I've also transitioned to light squat days on Wednesday of my M-W-F schedule. My knees approve this message.

                2.) Better hydration.

                What seemed to make the difference on cramping was making myself a little desk tracker to make sure I drank 6 x 24oz bottles of water during the day. I drink another with some electrolytes while I'm changing to go to the gym, then about 2 more with electrolytes while I'm training (I just refile/dilute as I go). The cramps got better and even the calves calmed down. Yesterday, however, I shorted the day-long water (1-2x instead of 6x), and was rewarded with a side stitch tying my shoes and a threat (but no full spasm) from my left calf after squats, so I take that as a successful experiment and reminder to DRINK!

                There's also some more macro adaptation going on IMO - getting used to training. Four months in - main thing I notice recently is that I still feel beat up after training, but after a protein shake and an hour I feel human again. Used to sometimes take all evening or till next morning.

                3x5 three weeks ago … SQ=230, OHP=120, DL=250, BP=175, ROW=185
                3x5 planned tomorrow … SQ=275, OHP=135, DL=250, BP=200, ROW=190 (still 230 BW)
                My app reset me on ROW and DL because I skipped them multiple times, but I'll take a couple 10lb jumps here coming up. Meanwhile SQ, BP, and OHP progressing... linear-ly.

                Comment


                • #9
                  3x5 three weeks ago … SQ=230, OHP=120, DL=250, BP=175, ROW=185
                  3x5 Actual on 17 OCT … SQ=275 (challenging), OHP=135 (failed final rep, still felt OK), DL=255 (bumped up by 10lbs, grip challenge, but otherwise fine), BP=200 (felt fine), ROW=190 (still 230 BW)

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    3x5 three weeks ago … SQ=275, OHP=135, DL=255, BP=200, ROW=190
                    3x5 Actual week of 7-9 NOV … SQ=300, OHP=120 (reset & switch to 3x3), DL=285, BP=220, ROW=200, (229 BW)

                    Keeping cramping at bay for the most part, it's not slowing down training.

                    I internet-diagnosed my right forearm pain as tennis elbow, that I might have caused by overdoing it trying to get some chin-ups. At least, that's when I noticed it, but it may also be related to using a mouse. I'm working on desk ergonomics, doing some massage/stretching, and also puzzling through whether I'm allowing it to heal by skipping chins but continuing to Row and Deadlift. I'm double overhanding 285lb for 5's, and it hurts my hands some, but my grip's OK, at least not painfully weak at the moment.

                    Funny that my GP mis-diagnosed my left bicep tendonopathy as tennis elbow, because after some reading and testing my right arm, THIS is what tennis elbow is supposed to feel like, lol.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by roostabunny View Post
                      3x5 three weeks ago … SQ=275, OHP=135, DL=255, BP=200, ROW=190
                      3x5 Actual week of 7-9 NOV … SQ=300, OHP=120 (reset & switch to 3x3), DL=285, BP=220, ROW=200, (229 BW)

                      Keeping cramping at bay for the most part, it's not slowing down training.

                      I internet-diagnosed my right forearm pain as tennis elbow, that I might have caused by overdoing it trying to get some chin-ups. At least, that's when I noticed it, but it may also be related to using a mouse. I'm working on desk ergonomics, doing some massage/stretching, and also puzzling through whether I'm allowing it to heal by skipping chins but continuing to Row and Deadlift. I'm double overhanding 285lb for 5's, and it hurts my hands some, but my grip's OK, at least not painfully weak at the moment.

                      Funny that my GP mis-diagnosed my left bicep tendonopathy as tennis elbow, because after some reading and testing my right arm, THIS is what tennis elbow is supposed to feel like, lol.
                      Hey,

                      Sounds like you making some progress, which is good. You may benefit from a consultation with us so we can help with the process from an education and exercise prescription standpoint. Regarding tennis elbow, this is typically a load management issue as well (addressing daily activities such as work as well as training). The massage/stretching is likely unnecessary given no tissue alterations or meaningful change beyond perception is occurring. Skipping exercises isn't always necessary but instead adjusting volume and intensity of exercises. If you are interested in a consult: https://www.barbellmedicine.com/consults-and-contact/. Happy to help.

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