Progress Report and a Question About Protein Powder Shakes

Figured I should check in since I wrote my Back in the Saddle Again blog post way back on the 12th.

The good news is that I’m in the middle of my third week (5/3/1 week) in my first cycle in my 5/3/1 program for the older guy. Yes, I’m getting stronger week over week, but that’s expected since, at the beginning (or reboot) of the program, when you’re relatively weak, you make progress every time you show up and lift.

old man's workout
Photo credit: earlytorise.com

The tough part comes later when you start hitting plateaus.

I’m nowhere near my PRs from the end of 2016, nowhere near at all.

On the other hand, I’ve been doing a lot of Assistance Lifts focusing on my triceps which historically have limited my overhead press and bench press. Of all four of my main lifts, my bench press still absolutely sucks.

On the other hand, since I lift on Sundays and Thursdays, and since last Thursday was (the American) Thanksgiving, I had the whole day off, so I got to spend plenty of time at the gym. Same for last Sunday since my wife and I didn’t have the grandkids, I got to spend a ton of time after my main lifts doing assistance and core work.

It hurts, but it’s a good hurt.

Cardio has always been less motivating for me, so after back squats on Sunday, my legs are sore and weak and I don’t feel like pushing a cardio machine around on Monday. However today is Tuesday, so I’m planning on showing up at the gym at five this morning to get back to that. Still only doing cardio two or three times a week. Ideally, I want to get back up to four, if only because I desperately need to improve my endurance.

Sleep is another matter. It’s getting marginally better, but I still tend to wake up a few times a night. On Monday morning, I had to force myself out of bed since all I wanted to do was sleep and this morning, I woke up early and couldn’t get back to sleep, so I just got up at three. I have to be at the gym in a couple of hours anyway (coffee don’t fail me now).

I could use a little advice and admittedly, I haven’t done more than a minute or so of research using Google up to this point. My wife reads and reads all these books about health and older people and she says my protein powder is terrible for me, filled with all kinds of junk.

I told her that all of the conventional wisdom I’ve read about lifting and increasing muscle mass includes an influx of protein as soon after lifting as possible, ideally in a fast digesting form.

She suggested eating an egg.

Are there any viable alternatives to protein powder shakes? If there’s a better way to do this, one that the missus won’t take a dim view to, I’d be interested.

Now I suppose you want to know what I’ve been lifting. Well prepare to not be impressed.

Cycle One, 3/3/3+ Week, Day One

Main Lifts
Back Squat in Squat Rack (raw)
10x 45lbs/20.4117kg (warm up)
3x 100lbs/45.3592kg
3x 115lbs/52.1631kg
5x 130lbs/58.967kg
4x 140lbs/63.5029kg (joker)
4x 150lbs/68.0389kg (joker)
2x 160lbs/72.5748kg (joker)

Overhead Press in Squat Rack
10x 45lbs/20.4117kg (warm up)
3x 55lbs/24.9476kg
3x 65lbs/29.4835kg
5x 70lbs/31.7515kg
4x 75lbs/34.0194kg (joker)
3x 80lbs/36.2874kg (joker)
1x 85lbs/38.5554 (joker)

Assistance Lifts
Standing cable triceps ext w/rope
10x 50lbs/22.6796kg
10x 55lbs/24.9476kg
10x 55lbs/24.9476kg
10x 50lbs/22.6796kg
10x 45lbs/20.4117kg

Cycle One, 3/3/3+ Week, Day Two

Main Lifts
Barbell Bench Press
10x 45lbs/20.4117kg (warm up)
3x 90lbs/40.8233kg
3x 100lbs/45.3592kg
4x 110lbs/49.8952kg
3x 115lbs/52.1631kg (joker)
1x 125lbs/56.699kg (joker)
partialx 130lbs/58.967kg (joker)
2x 115lbs/52.1631kg (joker)
2x 120lbs/54.4311kg (joker)

Barbell Bent Leg Deadlift
10x 135lbs/61.235kg (warm up)
3x 175lbs/79.3787kg
3x 200lbs/90.7185kg
4x 225lbs/102.058kg
3x 240lbs/108.862kg (joker)
2x 250lbs/113.398kg (joker)
1x 260lbs/117.934kg (joker)

Assistance Lift
Overhead cable pull tri ext w/rope
10x 45lbs/20.4117kg
10x 50lbs/22.6796kg
10x 55lbs/24.9476kg
10x 60lbs/27.2155kg
10x 50lbs/22.6796kg

Cycle One, 5/3/1+ Week, Day One

Main Lifts
Back Squat in Squat Rack (raw)
10x 45lbs/20.4117kg (warm up)
5x 105lbs/47.6272kg
3x 125lbs/56.699kg
4x 135lbs/61.235kg
4x 145lbs/65.7709kg (joker)
3x 160lbs/72.5748kg (joker)
1x 175lbs/79.3787kg (joker)
1x 185lbs/83.9146kg (joker)

Overhead Press in Squat Rack
10x 45lbs/20.4117kg (warm up)
5x 60lbs/27.2155kg
3x 70lbs/31.7515kg
4x 75lbs/34.0194kg
3x 80lbs/36.2874kg (joker)
3x 85lbs/38.5554kg (joker)
1x 95lbs/43.0913kg (joker)

triceps extensions
Photo credit: insidefitnessmag.com

Assistance Lifts and Core Work
Overhead cable Tri Ext w/Rope
10x 50lbs/22.6796kg
10x 55lbs/24.9476kg
10x 60lbs/27.2155kg
10x 60lbs/27.2155kg
10x 55lbs/24.9476kg

Bodyweight Roman Chair Back Ext
x12, x12, x12

Lightweight Barbell Bench Press
10x 45lbs/20.4117kg (warm up)
10x 65lbs/29.4835kg
10x 75lbs/34.0194kg
10x 80lbs/36.2874kg
6x 75lbs/34.0194kg
8x 65lbs/29.4835kg
8x 65lbs/29.4835kg

Bodyweight Reclining Mat Leg Lifts for Abs
x15, x12, x10

Progress, yes. Impressive? No.

The regulars seem to have adjusted to my having returned to the gym. Turkey day was particularly interesting since in the beginning, I had the entire weight room to myself, but as time went on, it became really crowded. I guess the eight o’clock weekday people, who I never usually see, descended upon the place along with everyone else that wanted to get an early workout in before gobbling down a big meal.

The young guys were a problem since they don’t tend to respect your “bubble,” especially as you’re getting ready to lift something heavy off the floor. They walk way too close to me and ignore me with their little ear buds planted in their brains. The young gals are a distraction in a different way relative to form fitting yoga pants.

As you can see by a quick scan of the numbers, I seem to be improving, but the most impressive lift (and it always will be I suppose) is my deadlift. My PR is 305 pounds, so I’ve got a long way to go, but I achieved that only after about 13 or 14 consecutive 5/3/1 cycles and pushing through a lot of very difficult plateaus. Right now, I’m just approaching the tail end of cycle one.

But that made me curious. My original cycle one was back in January of 2016. What was that like?

I had hired a trainer named Chase at my gym at the end of 2015 because I was doing it all wrong, particularly my back squats and deadlifts. I saw him for six one-hour sessions and he really straightened me out. Here’s 5/3/1 week, Cycle One after training:

Main Lifts, Day One

Back Squat in Squat Rack

8x 45lbs/20.4117kg (warm up)
5x 95lbs/43.0913kg (warm up)
5x 130lbs/58.967kg
3x 145lbs/65.7709kg
3x 160lbs/72.5748kg (1+)
3x 185lbs/83.9146kg (joker)
2x 205lbs/92.9864kg (joker)
1x 215lbs/97.5224kg (joker)

Barbell Bench Press

10x 45lbs/20.4117kg (warm up)
5x 95lbs/43.0913kg (warm up)
5x 110lbs/49.8952kg
3x 125lbs/56.699kg
3x 135lbs/61.235kg (1+)
2x 145lbs/65.7709kg (joker)
1x 155lbs/70.3068kg (joker)
1x 155lbs/70.3068kg (joker)

Assistance Lifts (5×10)

Barbell Bent Over Rows

10x 125lbs/56.699kg
10x 125lbs/56.699kg
10x 125lbs/56.699kg
10x 120lbs/54.4311kg
10x 115lbs/52.1631kg

Dumbbell Bench Press

10x 50lbs/22.6796kg
10x 50lbs/22.6796kg
10x 50lbs/22.6796kg
10x 50lbs/22.6796kg
10x 50lbs/22.6796kg

5/3/1+

Main Lifts, Day Two

Overhead Press in Squat Rack

6x 45lbs/20.4117kg (warm up)
5x 55lbs/24.9476kg
3x 60lbs/27.2155kg
4x 65lbs/29.4835kg (1+)
2x 70lbs/31.7515kg (joker)
1x 75lbs/34.0194kg (joker)
2x 80lbs/36.2874kg (joker) PR

Bent Leg Deadlift

5x 115lbs/52.1631lbs (warm up)
5x 115lbs/52.1631lbs
3x 135lbs/61.235kg
5x 145lbs/65.7709kg (1+)
3x 160lbs/72.5748kg (joker)
3x 185lbs/83.9146kg (joker)
3x 205lbs/92.9864kg (joker)
2x 215lbs/97.5224kg (joker) PR

Assistance Lifts

Rack Pull in Squat Rack

10x 155lbs/70.3068kg
10x 155lbs/70.3068kg
10x 155lbs/70.3068kg
10x 155lbs/70.3068kg
10x 165lbs/74.8427kg

Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press

10x 25lbs/11.3398kg
10x 25lbs/11.3398kg
10x 25lbs/11.3398kg
10x 25lbs/11.3398kg
10x 22.5lbs/10.20583kg

sumo deadlift
Photo credit: bodybuilding.com

I’d forgotten that back then, I was still lifting four days a week instead of two. I reduced after hitting some nasty plateaus and eventually taking good advice about how it takes us older guys longer to recover after lifting.

Still, while my back squat and bench press were better then than they are now, I was lagging on my overhead press and deadlifts compared to today. Interesting to say the least.

Anyway, that’s what I’m up to as of this morning. Still have to get to Thursday to finish cycle one and then analyze the results and program cycle two.

I’ll get there. Oh, don’t forget to give me whatever imput you have on substitutes for protein drinks after lifting. Thanks.

Courage does not always roar. Sometimes it is a quiet voice at the end of the day saying I will try again tomorrow.

Anonymous

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6 thoughts on “Progress Report and a Question About Protein Powder Shakes

  1. I am a fan of Greek yogurt since it has twice the protein of regular yogurt. A typical plain Chobani has 15g protein and 90 calories. I am not a stickler about artificial flavoring depending on how it tastes, so I can eat a few different flavored brands like Yoplait 100 cal, Chobani 100 Cal, or Dannon 90 cal. I don’t like Oikos, though. The benefit of Greek yogurt is that you get some quick digesting whey in there (that clear liquid you sometimes see on the top is whey separating out) and then the casein protein, which is a slower digesting protein.

    I have to say that I am regular user of NutraBio unflavored 100% whey protein isolate. It is nothing but whey isolate, no flavors, no nothing else. I also use Creatine from NutraBio. I am impressed with their production standards. I resisted using protein powders for a very long time and didn’t start using them until I was in my 60s. But I did notice two benefits rather quickly.
    1. The amino acids gave me a noticeable recovery post workout. I did not have that post-workout slump.
    2. My appetite was diminished so that my craving for food also decreased. I lost over 60 pounds of fat but retained my strength and most of my muscle mass during the diet.

    I am now just as strong or stronger while weighing 50 pounds less than I did before my diet. I have increased muscle mass, especially on my chest and back.

    I then decided to try Creatine after reading about its benefits, particularly for older folks. Without a doubt, the very first lift to pick up was my bench press. In fact, the literature predicted this would probably be the case.

    I am still taking Creatine and protein powders and have gone from training upper/lower split four days a week to a push/pull/legs split six days a week. I take One-a-Day men’s 50+ vitamins, triple strength fish oil and CoQ10 from Sam’s Club.

    The first lift to suffer when I diet or take a layoff is my bench press, so don’t feel like the Lone Ranger there.

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    1. Have to do more research when I have the time. The missus buys this plain yogurt (no sugar) which I eat on occasion but maybe I’ll have to consider for my after weightlifting meal. Focusing on building back my tolerance to lift and do cardio, then I’ll worry about the fat. Cheers.

      Like

  2. First post for me. I’m 62. Workout at home for over 30 years now.

    Eat 2-3 whole eggs, cooked , organic peanut butter on Ezekiel toast or equal (if you don’t have a peanut allergy) and drink 12 oz milk after your workouts. And you have at least a 4 hour window after your workout for this meal.

    Even the most expensive protein powder that claims the be pure typically isn’t and causes many people gastric problems plus, a couple dozen eggs, loaf of bread and gallon of milk is much cheaper and satisfying.

    Closer grip bench presses with hand spacing 12” -14” between thumbs will do more to increase your pressing strength in my opinion.

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    1. Greetings MTH and thanks for the advice. I think a closer grip tends to work more the triceps than the chest and both spacings are strategies I’ve used in the past. I just finished off the last of the protein powder. Bench press is getting marginally better thanks to the extra triceps work I’ve been doing. No where to go now but up. Cheers.

      Like

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