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Beginner level weight lifting ... what do you recommend?

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  • Beginner level weight lifting ... what do you recommend?

    Hello. This is my first post so I thought I'd jump right in.

    I am going to start incorporating lifting weights into my fitness routine. I am a beginner and 39 years old. I've been on the diet portion of the PB for about 3 months. After some setbacks and lackadaisical effort I am now on track. I've dropped from 216 to 203. My goal is a fit lean body. I originally thought I mainly needed just fat loss to look good but I'm not happy with my level of muscle either. So I am going to begin concentrating on the physical side of things now that I've got the eating side under control.

    I have a fairly thick bone structure but honestly, I'm not sure if that's the right target weight for me. I was thinking about 175 when I began but now I'm not sure.

    In my research I've found basically two good programs for beginners. Starting Strength and Strong Lifts. Anyone on here with any experience using these methods. I also have had 3 hernias in my life so I am concerned with that as well, I certainly don't want to injure myself.

    Any recommendations on anything at all to do with the PB fitness methods or any advice on the two methods above would be appreciated.

  • #2
    IMO, StrongLifts 5x5 is the best beginner weightlifting program, and it's one that I used to get myself back into the gym. The key to any weightlifting -- and especially full-body lifts like Squats, Deadlifts, etc. -- is correct form. So make sure that when you do start with StrongLifts or Starting Strength that you really study the form (StrongLifts has tons of great videos) and begin with a light amount of weight, maybe even the bar only for Day 1.

    You really won't believe the kind of transformation your body will undergo after starting StrongLifts.

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    • #3
      I've heard they are both good programs and very similar. I will mostly be working out at home without the benefit of a spotter. So form is going to be paramount for me. As I mentioned, I've had some abdominal surgeries, so I definitely don't want to injure myself.

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      • #4
        Cromap,

        Starting strength is a great plan. If you can't get a session with a coach I'd recommend videotaping yourself and posting it for critique. Not everyone will be an expert but I've found some great help online. There are a lot of experienced lifters and coaches you can learn from for free!

        Good luck! Jim

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        • #5
          Starting Strength is a fantastic program. Simple, straightforward and very effective. I have been using it since Oct 2011, taking last summer mostly off for paddling, then resuming this October. I am 56, I lift two or three times each week, and my musculature is almost where it was 25 years ago when I was working out 12+ hours each week. (Body fat is still too high, but I'm nearly 30 lbs down from my all-time high). As a somewhat "old" lifter the 5x5 program would be a bit too much. But the 3x5 protocol seems to have worked out fantastic so far - my Deadlift is now at 320 and I just squatted 305. My bench press still lags due to an old rotator cuff injury, but I can still do sets at 180. And the program has supported my conditioning activities - after not doing any Tabatas (CII Rowing machine) in awhile I did a full set at full effort last week that almost felt easy (ish).

          I agree 100% with the previous advice regarding correct form. That will save you a lot of trouble. And by the way, I have had three hernias repaired and have had no issues with lifting.

          One word of warning - getting under the iron can become addictive. Even though my lifts are really mediocre compared to some of the people posting on the Starting Strength forum, it's kind of a rush getting under some fairly significant weights.

          Kevin

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          • #6
            I started Strong Lifts about a month ago and I really like it. Definitely can tell I'm getting stronger. And, since you start so low and build up, it's not intimidating. My only complaint is that the spreadsheet they give you to fill out doesn't calculate for weights lower than the 45-pound bar. And I'm a girl, so there's no way I'm starting overhead presses at 45. Silly.

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            • #7
              Sounds like both programs are really solid. I watched this video online and will video tape myself . I do have a YMCA membership so I will seek out a coach to instruct me on my form. Looking forward to doing this as part of my MAP (Male action plan).

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              • #8
                I'd also recommend starting strength - but be sure not to follow his nutritional recommendations. If you do starting strength, definitely purchase Rippetoe's book - it's available on amazon and will explain - in-depth - the proper technique for each lift. You can then supplement this information with technical YouTube videos.
                Travel, eat well, and learn about life - three things I love to do

                Curious about what YOU should pack next time you're on the road? Check out my Definitive Guide to Backpacking Nutrition

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by paul119 View Post
                  I'd also recommend starting strength - but be sure not to follow his nutritional recommendations.
                  What nutritional recommendations would you make for someone doing Starting Strength that will work but are not in line with Rippetoe's? GOMAD is not a requirement, it just works really well for skinny young men.

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                  • #10
                    I'm starting StrongLifts. Seems very straightforward... I like that!

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by quikky View Post
                      What nutritional recommendations would you make for someone doing Starting Strength that will work but are not in line with Rippetoe's? GOMAD is not a requirement, it just works really well for skinny young men.
                      Truth. Eat enough primal food so that you don't prematurely stall on your progression, and otherwise buy the book and follow Starting Strength to the letter.
                      The Champagne of Beards

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                      • #12
                        I've only read the most recent edition of SS and maybe the earlier editions are less clear, but he makes it quite clear in the newest version that GOMAD is a temporary mass gaining strategy for young males.

                        Having done Stronglifts and SS, I stuck with SS mostly because I found I stalled a lot on the 4th and 5th sets doing Stronglifts, and didn't see the point in continuing to increase the weight less often. But both are good programs.

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                        • #13
                          Well my thighs are one fire from doing just the bar today on squats...good grief I'm weak.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by KatieCHI View Post
                            And I'm a girl, so there's no way I'm starting overhead presses at 45. Silly.
                            This is sillyness! I started overhead presses at 45 and I'm a girl. It sucked but I could power through, and I bet you could too. Give yourself a little credit!

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                            • #15
                              If you go to the Starting Strength forum there's a sub-forum on nutrition. The guy who answers all the questions, Jordan, is very much for eating paleo or similar and doesn't push the GOMAD as much as Rip does, especially if you are trying to go from fat to muscular. The whole GOMAD thing is for young weaklings trying to go out for high school football.

                              And the 45lb bar is too much for some women, especially with the whole warm-up scheme you are supposed to do. Not everyone can raise 45lbs over their head with no experience. Even after lifting since October I can still only get about 55lbs over my head.
                              Female, 5'3", 50, Max squat: 202.5lbs. Max deadlift: 225 x 3.

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