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Its been a month and a half since I started following SL 5*5 after a gap of around 6 months from the gym.

Having started from the empty bar, I have reached:

Squat - 110 lbs BP - 75 lbs Row - 80 lbs OHP - 55 lbs DL - 165 lbs

As you can see the barbell row and the OHP are lagging behind - for the row, everytime at the gym some trainer comes and ask what are you doing, this will ruin your back etc, so it has demoralized me a bit and made me conscious to check my form (I shot a video, but form looked OK).

And these days, squats are a bit challenging which leave me which less energy for remaining two exercises.

So my question is, is it time to leave this workout and switch to some conventional routine like doing machine rows, lat pulldown etc? If yes, then please help me build one. If not, then how do I progress with SL? Or should I just mix the two?

My current weight is 56 kg, height 180 cm. The gym has all standard machines and equipments.

Thanks.

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Squat - 110 lbs BP - 75 lbs Row - 80 lbs OHP - 55 lbs DL - 165 lbs

As you can see the barbell row and the OHP are lagging behind.

Your row is stronger than your bench press which is actually really good, I think your numbers look terrific to be honest. Just keep on the program.

The overhead press is probably one of the toughest lifts out there. People avoid it because it's so damn hard: don't be worried. As an example, being able to overhead press your body weight is considered very strong.

For the row, everytime at the gym some trainer comes and ask what are you doing, this will ruin your back etc, so it has demoralized me a bit and made me conscious to check my form (I shot a video, but form looked OK).

I've seen gym trainers do some pretty terrible things to clients. There are good trainers, but the typical 23 year old "trainer" has no experience working with advanced trainees who are really interested in athletics. Post your video on here for some good feedback.

And these days, squats are a bit challenging which leave me which less energy for remaining two exercises.

That's pretty normal, which is why you start them in the beginning. Squats (and deadlifts) use a lot of force. You may want to add in a few minutes after your squats and before your next lift. Also, make sure you're eating enough. You're pretty light (body weight), so I imagine you might need be packing away 3,000 calories a day. That might not be your number, but as you get stronger your body needs more calories for maintenance, progress, and repair. "Eat big to lift big", as the bro-science expression goes.

Is it time to leave this workout and switch to some conventional routine like doing machine rows, lat pulldown etc? If yes, then please help me build one. If not, then how do I progress with SL? Or should I just mix the two?

Stick with strong lifts. If you're not recovering enough, make sure you're getting enough sleep, eating enough (especially protein), and consider hopping on some creatine. Eventually you'll max out on your daily progress and need to switch to an intermediate program (5x5, Texas, 5/3/1, etc), but that's normally after ~9 months of novice programming (which is what strong lifts is).

My current weight is 56 kg, height 180 cm. The gym has all standard machines and equipments.

When your squat gets up around 175lb (1.5x your body weight), that's another sign that you're in intermediate territory.

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  • My row might be stronger just by a little bit now, but I certainly feel bench to be much easier than the row, and the margin is closing up real fast. Will stick with SL for now and hopefully for upcoming months. Will post videos for all 5 exercises here soon. Thanks for such a detailed explanation to my concerns, really appreciated. :) – Prakash Wadhwani Jul 15 '15 at 17:01
  • Hey Eric, please see my form, fitness.stackexchange.com/questions/25584/… – Prakash Wadhwani Jul 22 '15 at 19:48
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As long as your form is good, then you are more unlikely to injure yourself.

For rows, some 'body English' is fine to help drive progressions, especially since it is not a competitive movement, so being strict with momentum isn't inherently necessary.

If doing Pendlay rows (as advocated by Mehdi), you can have a bit of thoracic extension to aid with getting the bar off the ground. Controlling the eccentric portion (the decent) of the lift will help with strength gains as well.

Glenn Pendlay Teaches the Pendlay Row

Alan Thrall's "How To" Barbell Row

For normal bent-over-rows, since you don't reset the bar between reps, there will be more emphasis on the eccentric portion of the lift and you can make use of a stretch reflex at the bottom of the eccentric which will help following reps.

Scott Herman's How To: Barbell Bent-Over-Row

As for presses, those are a bit more technical (more-so than a lot of beginners believe initially). Improving form on the press can usually help with progressing again, but not always. You also have to consider that the press utilizes a smaller set of muscles than the other common compound movements. It is very common to see slow progression with the press. For instance, it recently took my about a month and a half to put only 10 lbs on my press.

Presses can also benefit from a variety in the rep ranges that you use to train it. One training session may involve a max effort 3x5 barbell press, and then the next session may involve a 3x8 dumbbell press for hypertrophy. It may take some time to find what works well for you.

Brett Contreras: How to Military Press

Don't worry about the trainers, as long as your form is correct. Proper nutrition, rest, and technique will all help you progress in the gym.

Squats are literally a full body exercise; they involve a lot of muscles. It is very common for them to feel taxing, which is why eventually a lot of people transition to squatting with less frequency per week (which you don't need to worry about just yet). However, if you are finding recovery too difficulty with 5 straight sets, you can try squatting 3x5 instead (which is actually done in Starting Strength). But you need to be honest with yourself and not go that route simply because it seems easier, but because you're having issues with recovery. I'd recommend sticking with the program until you plateau 2-3 times on either your squat or deadlift and then move to a more intermediate program.

It's hard to say without more information, but you may also find an increase in caloric intake to be helpful. A caloric surplus will help with building muscle, which in turn will help with your strength gains.

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  • Excellent videos there! Thanks for your time for this great detailed explanation. Will post my form videos and seek further improvement. – Prakash Wadhwani Jul 15 '15 at 17:24
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Make sure to eat enough, you're very light for that height, thin people often have a hard time eating enough to add weight, but when they do, they tend to add lean mass and strength.

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  • I know right! I am trying my best to eat more, but I don't know why I can't eat a lot in one meal, I just get the feeling of throwing up. I am trying to eat some fruits or nuts in between meals. I am up for more suggestions though. – Prakash Wadhwani Jul 15 '15 at 17:26
  • Genetics probably, I don't know why I can not not eat more myself! :) You will adapt to eating more, it'll be easier because you adapt to it. Try to find opportunities to eat more calories, and foods that you can eat that add a a lot. – Mårten Jul 16 '15 at 5:40
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If you are seeing changes in your body and gaining strength you should stick to your routine in spite the coaches or the people say about it, where I train the free weights exercises are kind of odd for most people but let me tell you those exercises are the best because they involved a lot of muscles. But you have to keep a good form in order to keep away from injuries.

And it is a good idea to mix the compound exercises with machines but the compounds lift MUST be your principal objective.

About your OHP and ROW it is OK everybody has better lifts than others in my case my OHP is not as strong as my DL or BP so keep gaining strength :)

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  • I am definitely gaining strength, but the squat kind of feels heavy these days, and my legs are sore more often, plus the other day I was having some tingling sensation in my knees. So by all means are these exercises safe? Secondly, how to decide which machine exercise to include? e.g I would really love to do that lat pulldown with SL. – Prakash Wadhwani Jul 14 '15 at 17:59
  • Yes! the strength programas are heavy and it is OK to feel heavy some lifts they are safe? of course but you have to keep to good form about the machines is up to you you will decide which one are the best for you. – Very23 Jul 14 '15 at 18:13

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