The New and Improved Back Day

bent over rows
Photo credit:

I’m continuing to be successful with my initial change in how I incorporate my barbell work into my overall weight training routine. I guess I should say weight training and strength training, since I’m using 5x5s (5 sets of 5 reps each) for my barbell lifts.

I actually changed the order of my workout on the fly today because three guys who are all known to make heavy use of the barbells walked into the free weight room the same time I did. I usually save my barbell work for dead last, but this time, I pushed it up in the list. I was afraid that if I waited, all the barbells would be occupied and, given that I’ve only got an hour to do everything, I’d be out of luck in testing my new system.

Here’s what I did. I rested ~60-90 seconds between sets:

Cable Low Rows

  1. 15x 140lbs/63.5kg
  2. 13x 140lbs/63.5kg
  3. 11x 140lbs/63.5kg

Barbell Bent Over Rows

  1. 5x 120lbs/54.4kg
  2. 5x 120lbs/54.4kg
  3. 5x 120lbs/54.4kg
  4. 5x 120lbs/54.4kg
  5. 5x 120lbs/54.4kg

Barbell Bent Leg Deadlifts

  1. 5x 140lbs/63.5kg
  2. 5x 140lbs/63.5kg
  3. 5x 140lbs/63.5kg
  4. 6x 140lbs/63.5kg
  5. 6x 140lbs/63.5kg

Bent Over Dumbbell Rows

  1. 13x 50lbs/22.76kg
  2. 11x 55lbs/24.94kg
  3. 8x 60lbs/27.21kg

Lat Pulldowns

  1. 12x 140lbs/63.5kg
  2. 11x 130lbs/58.96kg
  3. 8x 130lbs/58.96kg

After this, I barely had enough time to do a 25 minute cardio session on the Elliptical machine before my 6 a.m. deadline.

I found myself resting between sets closer to 60 seconds (and occasionally even a little less) rather than waiting the full 90. That may change as I add more weight to the barbell lifts, but what I was doing as chronicled above seemed pretty manageable for 5 reps per set. In fact, as you probably noticed, for the last 2 sets of my deadlifts, I increased the reps to 6 each because 5 didn’t seem challenging enough.

bent leg deadlifts
Photo credit:

Now it’s one thing to have the muscular strength and endurance and another thing to get hurt anyway. I’m going to increase weight rather slowly to see how I respond as opposed to “tweaking” my lower back and taking myself out of the game.

I went a little lighter on the cable low rows than usual because I didn’t want to exhaust myself before getting to the barbell work. As it turns out, although lifting the weighted barbell off the rack and putting it on the floor caused me to grunt a bit, the actual reps and sets, while not easy, were still quite “do-able”. I was momentarily out of breath after each set, but recovered much more quickly than if I had attempted 10, 12, or 15 reps.

After the deadlifts, I decided to go a bit light on the dumbbell rows, but 50lbs seemed a little too light, so I added the progression to 55lbs and then to 60lbs. But by the time I got to the pulldowns, I had to reduce the weight a bit because my back and biceps were getting tired.

I consider this another success of testing my new routine and am confident that my future plans to at least temporarily switch to strength training will work out.

I did feel more tired today by the time I got to the cardio portion of my morning, but managed to do well. However, the real challenge is yet to come: dreaded leg day.

I’ll post tomorrow how I managed.

If you fail to prepare, you are preparing to fail.

Benjamin Franklin


4 thoughts on “The New and Improved Back Day

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