Progress marches on…Slowly

Feedback on my workouts has been so good and helpful that I’m going to take advantage of it. I have already incorporated a number of changes and improvements from comments to my last workout post, so why not just keep it going? While my benefit is clear, it just might motivate some of the others out there to up your game. I never imagined that at 49 I would be pushing around the weight I do now, and increasing virtually every week. These are just a few of the main exercises, 1st set only. How many total sets I do  and at what follow on weight shall remain a mystery.

Workout Log, Monday, 5/24/2010, Bodyweight = 180 lbs

Format: Exercise

weight x reps | (+- lbs, +- reps (from last 1st set performance))


Warmup: 135 x 3 then 185 x 3, both conventional style and both easy as shit

255 x 5 (+15 lbs, +0 reps) – Sumo style

Standing Overhead Press – 1 Set

130 x 5 (+0 lbs, +0 reps)

And here’s a bit of a teaser pic to show my progress. Since this was mostly back, here’s a back shot. Click on images for the larger, hi-res version.

Back Shot
Back Shot

Here’s a similar shot from almost a year ago.

About a year ago
About a year ago

And now, a side-by-side.

Side by Side
Side by Side

Since I cropped them at pretty much the same places and made them the same size I’d say that I’ve leaned and that both my lats and arms have increased in size — and obviously, strength.

Wednesday I’ll blog my chest & arms workout. Oh, one other note: The DL was effing hard, man. In the 2nd rep of the 2nd set I had a false start. I pulled, and nothing. I had to stand up, gather myself for a second and then came back filled with hate in my soul and pulled off 4 more reps.

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  1. Zune on May 24, 2010 at 13:13

    Awesome progress! Back looks MUCH better, with more muscle and better definition.

  2. Danny on May 24, 2010 at 15:11

    Dude, you’re an animal! Who’s your consultant? I must know. Judging from your progress, It sounds like it’s non other than Martin Berkhan.

  3. Organic Gabe on May 25, 2010 at 09:50

    Yes, indeed, great progress, Richard!

  4. Austin on May 24, 2010 at 20:13

    Damn! Awesome progress Richard! Looking forward to more updates. This is proof that we can look great at any age.

  5. san fran J on May 24, 2010 at 20:35

    holy cow super mike……….i mean richard nikoley!

  6. Paul C on May 25, 2010 at 08:27


    Great progress, congrats.

    Any thoughts on how paleo nutrition is influencing your progress? Do you have any way to separate the effects of your trainer (who sounds fantastic), your motivation, the program itself, and nutrition influence? Science gets too fuzzy with so many variables, but perhaps your trainer has made observations? Would my coworkers who eat leftover frozen pizza and Hot Pockets for lunch every day get the same results?

    • Richard Nikoley on May 25, 2010 at 08:53


      Paleo might perhaps be giving me a slight edge, especially considering my age. Remember, the young guys typically get ripped in their sleep eating low carb paleo whereas the guys in the gym eating variants of SAD really have to focus on getting lean & ripped, otherwise they just get big, but puffy. But at 49 I realized this just wasn’t going to happen anytime soon for me unless I went on a disciplined regime, which is largely paleo but also involves counting calories.

      Of course, I’m not full paleo here because I include some things like dairy (cottage cheese mostly, decent protein source) and whey shakes.

      As for the Hot Pocket & pizza chowing co-workers, probably depends on a number of factors (such as age, already mentioned). I firmly believe that for all but a fortunate few, getting super lean is almost always going to involve caloric deficit while doing certain things to preserve lean mass, such as heavy lifts and significant protein intake.

      • san fran J on May 25, 2010 at 11:37

        yes indeed it is in fact about the calories paleo or not.

  7. san fran J on May 25, 2010 at 11:41

    I thought you lost4 lbs. since it started and I thought u dropped to 176 lb a while ago. How are you at 180 again with the caloric deficits.

    • Richard Nikoley on May 25, 2010 at 11:44

      It’s not always caloric deficit. That cycles. So does water retention, which a lot of this is.

      All I’m saying, for now.

  8. golooraam on May 25, 2010 at 14:07

    Hi Richard

    I am a little unclear. Are the details a surprise at the end, to be included in a book for purchase, confidentiality agreement with trainer?

    was just curious

    any clue as to how many grams of protein you are taking in each day?

  9. JP on May 25, 2010 at 19:06

    Congrats on your progress.

    it seems that you are doing a body part split training program. I would advise trying a fullbody workout instead. I have had much more results with it. It seems it might be because of the higher hormone release (more muscle worked + high intensity, +short workouts = recipe for success in my book).

    Something along the lines of 1 push movement, 1 pull movement, 1 leg/total body movement and accessory lifts for core.

    Pick a compound exercise for each of the category and have fun.

    Just food for thougths. I hope you keep on progressing, you are inspirational.


    • JP on May 25, 2010 at 19:07

      Forgot to say that this workout would be done 2 or 3 times a week.


    • Richard Nikoley on May 25, 2010 at 19:13


      FYI, I have been doing full body 2x per week for over two years. What’s different about this is insanely big weight, so much so that you have to give each area a 1 week rest minimum. The goal is to increase weight 10-20% each week. I’m beginning to hate it.

      But I love it, really. No, I have no doubt. You want BIG, BIG gains (strength, musculature, leanness — with proper diet & IF)? This is what you do. You have to get to where you fear, loath, and downright hate your workouts. I’m justsa ’bout there.

      • JP on May 26, 2010 at 08:51

        Sorry, I misread!

        I thought you were doing a split program.
        Keep up the good work!

  10. san fran J on May 25, 2010 at 20:52

    I almost wonder if 180 lbs. is your homestatic weight. From here its just recomposing your body to looking like a ripped beast. Especially with hard weighttraining, your body will generally have a slightly higher BMI. Your back looks really developed.

    You probably are not in the Mark Sisson5-10 165 lbs type. but more like a smaller version of KeithNorris or Art Devany, Keith going at about 6’215 and devany 6’1” 195. At 5-10 180 lbs. you will have slightly high BMI but you could look jacked from front to back and as you age a highBMI with a high amountof leanness is a good sign.

    Have u seen Keith Norris, holy cow the dude is a hoss, just an absolute animal in his 40s

    • Richard Nikoley on May 25, 2010 at 21:48

      jay. Exactly where I’m at in my thinking. I’m all about heaving iron right now and the nutrition that makes it happen, but in a leaning context. Weight be damned

    • Skyler Tanner on May 26, 2010 at 05:48

      I put Keith through a workout this weekend and he still looks like he could play linebacker at the college level.

  11. Paul C on May 26, 2010 at 08:01

    The 10% to 20% increase per week will have to slow down at some point, or you will be the Incredible Hulk within a few more months.

    The program I just started is about 5% increase per month (still a huge 60% gain over a year’s time), but because of your results I will try to boost the first few month’s progress.

    • Richard Nikoley on May 26, 2010 at 09:06

      I should clarify, that’s my _personal_ goal for now, until I just can’t advance quickly anymore. That’s not stipulated or anything by my program. I speculate that much of the gains aren’t actually added strength or muscle (some is), but mostly a neuro-muscular thing where I’m training my muscles to keep firing when before, they would have already gone to failure.

  12. Paul C on May 26, 2010 at 10:27

    That matches what I have learned, that much strength gain is training your central nervous system to take full advantage of mass you already have, allowing highly trained guys our size to deadlift well over 400lbs. What wonderful complicated machines we are.

    My main concern is connective tissue of a 40+ year old man not keeping up with a strength program that is taking long strides forward.

    • Richard Nikoley on May 26, 2010 at 11:14

      Well thankfully and amazingly, minor aches & pains are less than ever before — nearly nonexistent. I’m not even getting sore anymore the day or second day after a workout. And I’m working out three instead of two times per week, way less sets & reps, just far more intensity and weight.

  13. Bench Gains, Finally | Free The Animal on May 26, 2010 at 14:09

    […] AttractivenesshomeAboutArchivesOverviewShared ItemsBlogrollFacebookTwitterCommentsSubscribe ← Progress marches on…Slowly Bench Gains, FinallyMay 26th, 2010 · No Comments · Body ConditioningYea, I know. Blog […]

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