Thanks for the awesome 5×5 report. I’ve been reading your blog since around Feb of 2010, and in March I started the StrongLifts 5×5 program. I’ve attached a pic from the day I decided to lose weight (July 14, 2009) vs last week. I’m currently at 265lbs, 6’1″, and 37 years old. I went from size 48″ pants to 34″, and size 5x shirts to XL/2XL (depending on cut to accommodate my shoulders).
Worked up to a 405lb squat before developing patellar tendinitis in my knees. Overall, my biggest obstacle is continuing to see gains once I hit the wall, so to speak. My goal is weight loss, and on an 1800-2000 calorie diet, it’s obviously harder to recover from some pretty intense lifting sessions. I set a personal goal of 60 workouts in 12 weeks and once I met it (lifting 3 times a week, cardio 5x), I took a 2 week break from the gym. I lost 157lbs in 1 year, and have been hovering around 160 lost for the last couple of months as I took a break to deal with burnout from strict calorie counting.
Your program is awesome, and I recommend it to everyone I know.
The 3 big things you need to look at when stalling on your lifts are:
- Technique – there is always room for improvement, no matter your level.
- Sleep – look at Jon North who is sleeping 8-9h/night + napping 2x/day.
- Nutrition – are you eating enough food to fuel your workouts?
In your case, 2000kcal/day is really not enough for recovery, especially if you’re doing cardio 5x/week. You may get away with this while the weights are still light when you just start StrongLifts 5×5, but you will not once you break the 200lb mark on your Squat. You will most likely stall and lose motivation.
Keep also in mind that a low calorie diet + excess cardio is one of the biggest fat loss mistakes you could make. Your metabolism will slow down, this will make your fat loss stall, and you risk binging from the extreme hunger pangs (not your fault, just your body that tries to stop you from eating so little).
I recommend you start eating 3000kcal/day. Your recovery will improve, you’ll break your past plateaus, and you’ll thus train harder. A higher training intensity equals more calories burned during/post workout, so more fat loss. Add the muscle gains you’ll achieve by adding pounds to your lifts (muscle size is directly related to strength gains) and you get why your body fat will plummet.
Regarding your knees, my guess is that’s an overuse injury from doing way too much cardio. Indoor cycling is especially rough on the knees, but so is running on a hard surface 5x/week. Drop the cardio and do lots of hip/ankle mobility and soft tissue work to eliminate your knee pain. If you want to add cardio later: 2x/week max, directly after StrongLifts 5×5. Tough, but better for recovery.
This may all sound counter-intuitive, but remember less is more. Great job on the amazing weight loss by the way, I’m sure you feel like a new person.