Progressive Overload 101

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You may recall that I wrote a few days ago how I was going to rearrange the order of my exercises to alternate those that work the upper body with those that hit my lower back and legs. Today I did that and it worked out pretty well.

I also actively increased the weight on all my lifts employing progressive overload (for me) which should start to reprogram my nervous system to respond to a continuously increasing load. Although some of what I did was a struggle, I met my goals for each part of my workout.

Took 54 minutes to do it all, though. That’s kind of pushing it since I’ve got 60 minutes tops to do everything.

Before continuing, let’s go over today’s workout. As always, I rested ~60-90 seconds between sets.

Barbell Hack Squat 5×5

10x 135lbs/61.23kg (warm up)
5x 165lbs/74.84kg
5x 165lbs/74.84kg
5x 165lbs/74.84kg
5x 165lbs/74.84kg
5x 165lbs/74.84kg

Close Grip Bench Press 3×5-8

10x 115lbs/52.16kg (warm up)
6x 125lbs/56.69kg
6x 125lbs/56.69kg
6x 125lbs/56.69kg

Barbell Bent Leg Deadlift 1×5

10x 135lbs/61.23kg (warm up)
8x 155lbs/70.3kg (warm up)
6x 165lbs/74.84kg (warm up)
5x 185lbs/83.91kg (warm up)
5x 205lbs/92.98kg

Barbell Overhead Press 5×5

10x 45lbs/20.41kg (warm up)
5x 55lbs/24.94kg
5x 55lbs/24.94kg
5x 55lbs/24.94kg
5x 55lbs/24.94kg
5x 55lbs/24.94kg

Straight Bar Curl 3×8

12x 55lbs/24.94kg (warm up)
8x 70lbs/31.75kg
8x 70lbs/31.75kg
8x 70lbs/31.75kg

All of my workouts from now on will start with hack squats. I did my usual warm up weight of 135lbs and then upped the working weight 10 pounds from what I did last Wednesday to 165lbs. I tried to keep an eye on my reflection to make sure I was still using good or at least acceptable form with the increased weight. I know it’s only 10 pounds but for me it really makes a difference.

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In reviewing my original 5×5 plan at for the close grip bench press, I discovered it’s not a 5×5 exercise. The target is to do 3 sets of between 5 and 8 reps. No wonder I was so messed up on this particular lift.

I did my warm up weight at 115lbs and then my working weight at 125, which seemed to okay for 3 sets of 6 reps per set. I’ll have to see if I can do a full 8 reps for all three sets on Friday, the next Plan B day, and if I can, increase the weight after that.

Next came the deadlifts. My legs and back had a good rest while I was on the bench, so I thought I’d see how high I could push (or in this case, pull) the weight. I kept increasing the weight over the four “warm up” sets and then did a full working set at 205lbs, which was my personal best for deadlifts before starting the 5×5 program.

When I did deadlifts at 205lbs before, it was the only dumbbell exercise of the day, it was a Saturday, so I started out at the gym at 8 a.m. rather than five, and I was completely fresh.

This isn’t to say that it was easy today. I kept looking in the mirror trying to make sure I wasn’t curving my back and I really felt the weight.

But after all, it was only one set of five reps, so I managed. Plus it was the last big barbell exercise of the day, at least that worked my lower body significantly. I really feel like I’m starting to accomplish a little something.

Afterward, I hit the power rack for my upper body exercises. The overhead press still kicks my fanny. I warmed up just with the bar (45lbs) and then added just 10 more pounds to do my five working sets. Of course I did all five sets at 55lbs, which isn’t true for the last time I did a plan B day, so it’s an improvement.

I also increased the weight for the barbell curls. Fortunately, this is only for 3 sets of 8 reps each and I completed all of them as planned.

Then it was over and I realized I made it. I’d finished and didn’t have to back down on any of the weights or reps.

I did feel particularly tired, though, even after showering and getting dressed.

It’s several hours later and I feel more or less recovered. I didn’t sleep well last night and actually got up about half an hour early, and that could have sabotaged my workout, but it didn’t seem to. I’m sure it’ll sabotage the rest of the day and I’ll be sucking down coffee like I suck down air when lifting.

bench press
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Another huffing puffing, dripping sweat on my t-shirt and on the weight room floor workout but I succeeded.

I could feel the pull in my lower back, but it’s what I expected for each exercise and I can’t say I felt any pain. I was a little worried since I spent a fair amount of Sunday bent over pulling weeds in the back yard. Guess my back’s getting strong enough so that it doesn’t bother me like it used to.

That’s one of the reasons I do this, to get stronger, to feel better.

If you believe breaking is possible, believe fixing is possible.

Rebbe Nachman of Breslov


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