Starting Week Four in Strength Training

coffee mug
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Wow! What a morning. Actually, it began at around midnight when I woke up after four hours and couldn’t get back to sleep. Didn’t help that the missus was snoring like a chainsaw. I went out to the sofa in the living room but basically tossed and turned with a little dozing here and there until just before 4 a.m. Then it was too late. Time to wake up.

Surprisingly, after a glass of water and a cup of coffee, I felt pretty good. Good enough to take on the gym. This is also another progressive overload day and I planned to up the weight on hack squats, close grip bench press, deadlifts, and the overhead press. Given the challenge that attempting to curl 75 pounds for three sets at 8 reps per set has presented, I decided to knock everything down by 5 pounds to see if that would help.

For everything but hack squats and deadlifts, I rested ~60-90 seconds between sets, but for those last few sets on those two exercises, I needed up to 2 minutes to get my breath back and tackle the increased weight.

Here’s what I did:

Barbell Hack Squat

5x 135lbs/61.23kg (warm up)
5x 195lbs/88.45kg
5x 195lbs/88.45kg
5x 195lbs/88.45kg
5x 195lbs/88.45kg
5x 195lbs/88.45kg

Barbell Close Grip Bench Press

8x 115lbs/52.16kg (warm up)
5x 140lbs/63.5kg
5x 140lbs/63.5kg
5x 140lbs/63.5kg

Barbell Bent Leg Deadlift

6x 135lbs/61.23kg (warm up)
6x 155lbs/70.3kg (warm up)
5x 185lbs/83.91kg (warm up)
5x 205lbs/92.98kg (warm up)
5x 220lbs/99.79kg

overhead press
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Overhead Press

5x 45lbs/20.41kg (warm up)
5x 65lbs/29.48kg
5x 65lbs/29.48kg
5x 65lbs/29.48kg
4x 65lbs/29.48kg
4x 65lbs/29.48kg

Straight Bar Curl

8x 50lbs/22.67kg (warm up)
8x 70lbs/31.75kg
8x 70lbs/31.75kg
8x 70lbs/31.75kg

Underhand Body Hang w/shoulders engaged

x30 seconds

As I’ve already mentioned, I increased the weight on my hack squats by 10 pounds from last Friday and it’s amazing what a difference that makes (I’m sure I’ve said this in the past). And yet, I was able to do the required number of reps and sets.

One of the biggest problems was my grip. I felt like I was going to lose my grip on the bar, particularly with my right hand. When starting a new set, I had to make sure I had a firm grip on the bar before standing, otherwise, it was pretty awkward to get through the 5 reps.

The other problem was the predicted “oof” it took at the bottom of the squat to start going upward again.

This is just a pound or two over my official body weight as of this morning, so it represents, for me anyway, a significant milestone.

But the best is yet to come.

close grip bench press
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Since last Wednesday, which was my last workout B day, I upped the working weight for close grip bench presses 5 pounds to 140 pounds. I can do anywhere from 5 to 8 reps per set, and chose the minimum 5 reps just for safety’s sake. My next workout B day is Friday and I’ll probably up the number of reps for this exercise and not increase the weight until the following week.

Barbell bent leg deadlifts. I decided to go for a new personal best on this one today. I did the usual sequence of warm up sets, progressively increasing the weight after each set was completed. The last warm up was 205 pounds which still seems heavy at 5 reps but more “doable” than I remember it being even a week ago.

I set the working weight at 220 pounds and although it was a challenge, I made it through 5 reps, making a minor scrape on my left shin in the process (war wound).

My son David was in the weight room watching me at the time. I couldn’t read the expression on his face and thought he might be getting ready to criticize my form, but now I think he was just amazed that I’ve improved so much on this exercise in such a short time. I know I’m amazed. Okay, so plenty of guys can deadlift a lot more weight than this, but it’s the first time I’ve lifted over 25 pounds heavier than my body weight.

I did my first early morning workout B a little over three weeks ago. Back then, my hack squat working weight was 145 pounds and my deadlift working weight was 175 pounds. The weight for my close grip press was all over the place as I was still trying to establish a baseline.

But that means I’ve increased my hack squat weight by 50 pounds and my deadlift weight by 45 pounds in that short amount of time. I’m feeling pretty good about it all.

I increased the working weight on my overhead presses by 5 pounds over last week and didn’t do as well as I’d hoped. I could tell in the first 3 sets that I was really struggling under the weight to make 5 reps per set. For the last 2 sets, I only did 4 out of 5 reps for each set. I’ll have to work on this next Friday.

I backed off the weight on my curls, both for the warm up set and the 3 working sets and did 8 reps on all sets. I’m kind of disappointed though. In a little over 3 weeks, I’ve made significant increases in weight on my hack squats and deadlifts, but only a 5 pound increase on curls and 10 pound increase on the overhead press. I can’t say it’s a 15 pound increase on the press until I can do 5 reps for all 5 sets at 65 pounds.

hanging around
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I topped my routine off with 30 seconds at the hanging exercise with an underhand grip.

With that over, I was beat.

The workout took almost the entire hour to get through and I was really ready to leave the gym. Still, in spite of my short comings, I’m proud of my performance today, especially on limited sleep. Hopefully, I’ll rest better tonight and by Wednesday, be ready to tackle workout plan A.

Tomorrow, abs and cardio.

Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.

Arnold Schwarzenegger


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