So, I have recently started back into the arena of powerlifting, after a nearly twenty-year military-enforced hiatus.  No, the U.S. military doesn’t ban powerlifting; I am just not genetically gifted enough to train in powerlifting and do my daily military PT.

In trying to break back in (at the age of 45, now), I first turned to what had worked for me before.  In high school and college, I successfully trained to State-champion (in my then very-low weight class, at least) using Coach Shepard’s “Bigger, Faster, Stronger” system.  I like the concept quite a lot, but it is somewhat difficult in this age of “Planet Fitness” zombie “workouts” to find a gym outside of an academic setting which caters to things like “four-way neck machines”, “box squats”, and “towel bench presses”.  While none of those things are strictly mandatory, I thought I would look at other, more recent programs to see if I could find something better.

My next stop was Wendler’s “5/3/1” program.  I liked this for similar set-rep scheme to BFS, and in fact its four-a-week training is more similare to how BFS was done in the 80’s than the current version of BFS is.  However, as Wendler notes, his is not a program for beginners–nor 45 year-old rehabilitees.  However, his books regularly mention Mark Rippetoe and the “Starting Strength” program, so I was off to my next trial.

“Starting Strength” and its sequel, “Practical Programming for Strength Training”, really are phenomenal introductions to strength training.  Unfortunately for me, it assumes that strength training is all you are doing.  While it has sections for scalability to “special populations” (such as quatragenarians like myself), it is also made clear that if you are doing other training, or not doing exactly the training in the book, you are NOT doing “Starting Strength”.  And Starting Strength requires you to do, in addition to other exercises, eight sets of back squats every workout.  This would have wiped me out as a fifteen-year-old on summer break, let alone as a forty-five-year-old with military training requirements and a martial arts career.

Even in the Starting Strength fora, the usual response is, “Just drop your other activities for a few months and do Starting Strength.  You’ll come back even better because of your stronger body!”  Be that as it may, “Sorry, Sir, I can’t PT with the Company any more; I’m doing Starting Strength” is not an option.  So, I have taken a lesson from BFS and alternate days of regular back squatting (on my bench press days) with days of front squats.  This is an “acceptable squat variation” from BFS, and mixing it in allows me to train without destroying my body metabolically.  I also did two sets of ten of each exercise, as per the BFS “Readiness Program”, instead of three sets of five.

I have recently met all of the standards for graduation from the BFS “Readiness program”, and I consider this a good place to transition from a true novice program to an “advanced-novice” program.  I am using the Onus-Wunsler template from Starting Strength, including the three-sets-of-five scheme, but with two substitutions: I am still alternating back-squat and front-squat days, and I am doing stiff-legged deadlifts in place of back extensions.  This is another old favorite from BFS which is mechanically similar to back extensions.  It places greater stress on the gluteals and hamstrings rather than the lower back emphasis of back extensions, but more importantly it does not require a special piece of equipment to which I do not have access.

My warm-up for every weightlifting workout is five sets of strict push-ups; I finish with either wrestler’s bridges or a Captains of Crush grip trainer.  On off-days, I do sets of sit-ups and a thirty-minute treadmill run.

Published by Little-Known Blogger

I spent the first years of my life in a trailer park outside of a tiny town in rural Missouri. I grew up to be a long-haired, gun-hating, military-hating, Presbyterian super-liberal. Well, perhaps the “growing up” happened later. While in high school, I was on the cross-country and wrestling teams, and actually won my weight-class in a State powerlifting competition. I went on to attend college on a Bright Flight scholarship, where I promptly became an atheist. I trained for a few years in Shotokan karate and Cheng-system taijiquan before training in my first real martial art, Hwarang-Do, under the late Franklin Fowlkes (later the Founder and Grandmaster of the Five Elements Martial Arts System). I married an older Taiwanese woman my junior year, got divorced in short order, and dropped out of college. After completing my AA in Psychology, I decided I needed a complete change of scenery and joined the U.S. Marine Corps (having early been assured that there was no way that a skinny liberal like me would ever survive Boot Camp). Contrary to what the Hipster Zombies will tell you, this did not “brainwash me into being a Conservative”. Instead, it made me a very unhappy, short-haired liberal, surrounded by guns and the military. However, I spent my whole contract (after schools) on the island of Okinawa, where I was exposed to points of view not dominated by the American liberal media. During this time, I taught ESL classes as a side-job, trained under some of the highest-ranking masters of karate on Okinawa, and discovered the practice of Buddhism. I also spent some time in Korea, where I got to train in hapkido. It was during this period that I came gradually to realize how stupid and evil American liberalism actually is. This was partly due to my Military Police command sending me to Small Arms Instructor school, which gave me more exposure to guns than I could ever have imagined—thus negating my idiotic liberal distaste for them. After the active-duty portion of my Marine Corps contract was over, I worked several jobs, from security contracts to operating a forklift in a warehouse. In 2002, however, when the invasion of Iraq was getting under way, I signed up with the Missouri Army National Guard, and have remained with them since, continuing as a Military Policeman. I am also full-time corrections officer, a member of the Anglican Church, and at one time was an Instructor Candidate in Dekiti-Tirsia Serradas Kali (until my instructor moved away). My hobbies (beyond blogging) include strength training, shooting sports, martial arts, creating digital art, and being a huge science and science-fiction geek.

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