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There is a big difference between building strength muscle and building asthetic muscle! What you need to decide on whether you want to be healthy strong or just look like you are!
It has already been said that stronglifts 5x5 are a good way to start out! as you go on and as you learn more about your body and how it works, you can tinker with the programme so it is applicable to you and your goals.
One thing I must stress whilst doing this program is to make sure you do the big three.
This is paramount in any kind of training. Rest is where all the muscle building occurs.
Well, you'd have to grow a foot and gain 100lbs...
But seriously, a lot of the crazy strong people I know don't look like they lift what they do. Hell, I shock people all the time (first when they find out how much I can lift, second when they find out how much I weigh).
“If I didn't define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people's fantasies for me and eaten alive.” --Audre Lorde
Okay then, I want to be you, Owly. Ha ha! The sweet moment I want to have is to shock some big dude with what I can lift. I've done that in the past while backpacking and it's the sweetest snark in the world.
Female, 5'3", 50, Max squat: 202.5lbs. Max deadlift: 225 x 3.
I've been doing SS for the past 2.5 weeks and it's gone well with one major exception: the pinched nerve in my neck is not appreciating the back squats.
Eh, this happened to me. I discovered the secret sauce to back squats and neck pain. Don't look up and don't look down. Keep your head aligned with your torso, puts much less pressure on the neck muscles.
If you can't do back squats, try goblet squats, front squats or even lunges. Though back squats are probably the most general leg strengthening exercise outside of deadlifts. Both front and goblet squats tend to work the quads a bit more, which is fine, as your glutes/hammies will still get stimulation, and will get plenty more from the dealifts.
I've been doing SS for the past 2.5 weeks and it's gone well with one major exception: the pinched nerve in my neck is not appreciating the back squats. [...] I had thought about posting it to the SS forum but you know how that would have gone - "There is no substitute!" I agree, but there's no way I can continue fighting through this as I'm concerned it'll make things worse.
I'd be curious about the advice you'd get. Yes, they certainly would argue that the squat is the most basic of all lifts, and the most important. But, they may say that, if you do them with proper form, your neck should not hurt and should get better. That happened to me: I had chronic pain on my knee and my shoulder (unrelated injuries), and I thought SS would be a problem. Well, no more pain. Form is more important than I ever thought, but it is very difficult to learn it without a coach. I have found the SS DVD very useful, but they have a ton of videos in their YouTube channel. I think, however, that the DVD is worth every penny. It is cheaper than ONE session with a personal trainer. Let me just add that neither your neck nor your arms should be under any stress during the squat (they're probably the only two body parts not used in the squat!). So, it could very well be that your problem is very serious, but, in general, proper form should alleviate this kind of problem, rather than the opposite.