5×5 Workout Routine Day One

bench press
Proto credit: bizzfortune.com

Finally yesterday, I was able to get to workout A of my 5×5 workout routine. When changing my plan, I relied on the information located at LeanItUp.com, although I made a few adaptations. In fact, even from what I wrote about a few days ago, I changed things again on the fly at the gym. As you probably know, there’s a difference between the plan and the execution, which is exactly what I discovered when I got into motion.

Here’s what happened at the gym on Saturday morning. As always, I rested between 60 to 90 seconds between sets.

Barbell Bench Press 5 sets, 5 reps
Warm up at 115 lbs/52.16 kg (the bar plus 2 35lbs weights)
Working sets at 135lbs/ 61.23 kg (the bar plus 2 45lbs weights)

10x 115lbs/52.16kg (warm up)
5x 135lbs/61.23kg
5x 135lbs/61.23kg
5x 135lbs/61.23kg
5x 135lbs/61.23kg
5x 135lbs/61.23kg

bent over rows
Photo credit: sportsscience.co

Barbell Bent Over Rows 5 x 5
Warm up at 115 lbs/ 52.16kg (the bar plus 2 35lbs weights)
Working sets at 145lbs/65.77kg (the bar plus 2 45s and 2 5s)

10x 115lbs/52.16kg (warm up)
5x 145lbs/65.77kg
5x 135lbs/61.23kg
5x 135lbs/61.23kg
5x 135lbs/61.23kg
5x 135lbs/61.23kg

Barbell Hack Squat 5 x 5
Warm up at 135lbs/61.23kg (the bar plus 2 45lbs weights)
Working sets at 165lbs/74.84kg (the bar plus 2 45s, 2 10s, and 2 5s)

8x 135lbs/61.23kg (warm up)
5x 155lbs/70.3kg
5x 155lbs/70.3kg
5x 155lbs/70.3kg
5x 155lbs/70.3kg
5x 155lbs/70.3kg

Chin-ups (body weight) 3 sets of 5-8 reps


barbell hack squat
Photo credit: workoutplan.com

Overhead Cable Triceps Extensions 5 sets 8 reps

8x 60lbs/27.21kg
7x 100lbs/45.32kg
8x 85lbs/38.55kg
8x 85lbs/38.55kg
8x 85lbs/38.55kg

As you can see, the bench presses went off as planned. 135lbs is the max I can do for 5 reps over 5 sets. In fact, the fourth and fifth set were particularly challenging and on those last few reps on the fifth set, I was questioning my wisdom in setting the weight quite that high. Fortunately, it worked out.

I originally was going to perform hack squats next, but given the relative weights involved and the chore of changing the appropriate plates on the bar, I decided to do bent over rows and then hack squats.

I found that I was being a little ambitious in expecting to row 145lbs for 5 reps over a full 5 sets. In my previous barbell work, I had always worked up to my 5 rep max weight, actually lifting it only the last 1 or 2 sets. After the first set of rows, I knew I’d better take it down by 10lbs if I expected to get through all 5 sets correctly.

I took a cue from that lesson and applied it to my hack squats as well, especially after doing my warm up and performing only 8 out of the intended 10 reps. Although I’ve previously lifted 165lbs for 5 reps, it was only for 1 set. Again, I took the weight down 10lbs and concentrated on improving my form and getting down into the squat where my thighs were completely parallel to the floor.

Photo credit: confitdent.com

Chin-ups are my absolute nemesis. All I had to do was do 3 sets of 5 reps, but I couldn’t even manage that. During the second set, I tried to do a fifth rep, but didn’t make full range of motion. For the third and final set, I concentrated on doing just 4 reps with a full range of motion and correct form. This is something I’ll have to work up to.

Obviously, I wasn’t alone in the weight room, and this being Saturday, a day I don’t normally do a lot of lifting, the guys there were strangers. There were a couple of guys working out together and they tended to lift and then to do a lot of talking. I was concerned that they’d dominate the only chin-up bar in the weight room, but fortunately, they moved on just in time.

However, for the cable triceps extensions, I wasn’t quite so lucky.

On a piece of equipment LifeFitness called a Multi-Jungle Stack (see the accompanying image below), I was supposed to do the overhead cable triceps extension with rope attachment. If you click the link I just provided, you can see how this exercise is done using a portion of the aforementioned “jungle stack”. Problem is, someone was using one of the ends and the other had quite a bit of extra tension on the cable (making it unusable to me), so I was forced to employ one of the cables in the middle, in the space between the two jungle stack machines.

The next problem was that there’s a bar going over the top, and as I extended my arms up, my hands collided right into the bar, keeping me from fully straightening my arms. This was one time being tall didn’t work out. If I’d been shorter, it might not have been a big deal (see the bottom photo as to why).

jungle rack
Photo credit: LifeFitness.com

The kid using the end I needed was doing the exact same exercise, so act least I could check and see how he was doing it and maybe pick up some pointers. For 4 of the 5 sets, I had to hold back, but he finished his triceps workout in time for me to switch to his part of the machine for the fifth and final set, experiencing what it was like to do the exercise correctly.

I also had a heck of a time figuring out the right weight. Like a gym-rat version of Goldilocks, I went too light, and then too heavy before, on the third try, finding just the correct weight to be challenging but not impossible for 8 reps.

I consider this a sort of “shake down cruise” of workout plan A to figure out all the flaws. I still think I got in a pretty good workout, but time will tell how effective it will be in increasing my strength and helping shed unwanted, unsightly fat.

I was a little worried at first that this routine wouldn’t give me the intensity I desired. After I was finished with my bench presses, I knew it was difficult, but I don’t think I had broken a sweat. Then the barbell bent over rows changed all that. I started sweating and huffing and puffing between sets. The hack squats sealed the deal and I was dripping sweat on the floor by the time I finished the barbell portion of my workout.

After the triceps extensions, I decided I had time to get in 35 minutes of cardio on the elliptical machine. I figured I could use it since I’d spent most of the week away from the gym and I need to get rid of the few extra pounds that crept back on board recently.

triceps extSunday’s a rest day and Monday, since I don’t have to go to work, I can implement workout plan B (scroll down), taking time to get used to everything, and not having the pressure of rushing through my routine in an hour.

Actually, workout A took about 40 minutes or so (not counting cardio), so I think time-wise, the 5x5s will work out just fine. I can just do abs and cardio on the off days.

Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear.

George Addair


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