And Now For Something Completely Different

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Yesterday, I wrote about the idea of early morning eating right before my 5 a.m. weightlifting workout to see if that would improve my performance. Today, I found my answer, at least provisionally.

I was in and out of sleep from about 2 a.m. onward and finally got out of bed at 3:30. Great. 90 minutes until the gym opens. Plenty of time to toss something down my throat and have it be digested before I start my warm up sets of hack squats.

But what to eat?

I didn’t open yesterday’s blog post to review the material, so all I had in my head was that I needed some protein and some carbs.

I thought about downing a protein drink, but the powder is loaded with sugar and I remember reading that sugar is better after lifting, so I decided on a 7 ounce can of tuna in water. Now for the carbs. I didn’t think about a banana, but I did spy some flour tortillas in the fridge. I tossed one on the gas stove burner to “crispy” it up, and then ate it plain.

The funny thing is, that early in the morning, I don’t feel hungry, so I had this kind of bloated feeling after eating (not to mention that it’s a weird food combination).

I also had my usual glass of water and cup of coffee, but with food on my stomach, I didn’t get that “acidy” feeling in the pit of my gut. I also didn’t get a hint of the “hungries” as I drove to the gym.

I decided that unless I really felt rested sooner between sets, I’d make 120 seconds my default rest period, or longer if I needed it. Maybe the food and additional rest would help me out.

Here’s the result:

Barbell Hack Squat

5x 145lbs/65.77kg (warm up)
5x 145lbs/65.77kg (warm up)
5x 205lbs/92.98kg
5x 205lbs/92.98kg
5x 205lbs/92.98kg
5x 205lbs/92.98kg
5x 205lbs/92.98kg

Barbell Close Grip Bench Press

8x 115lbs/52.16kg (warm up)
8x 125lbs/56.69kg
8x 125lbs/56.69kg
8x 125lbs/56.69kg

wide stance deadlift
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Barbell Bent Leg Deadlift

5x 145lbs/65.77kg (warm up)
5x 175lbs/79.37kg (warm up)
5x 185lbs/83.91kg (warm up)
5x 205lbs/92.98kg (warm up)
5x 225lbs/102.05kg

Overhead Barbell Press

5x 45lbs/20.41kg (warm up)
5x 70lbs/31.75kg
5x 70lbs/31.75kg
5x 70lbs/31.75kg
5x 70lbs/31.75kg
5x 70lbs/31.75kg

Barbell Standing Curls

8x 45lbs/20.41kg (warm up)
8x 75lbs/34.01kg
8x 75lbs/34.01kg
8x 75lbs/34.01kg

Overhand Grip Body Hang w/Shoulders Engaged

x25 seconds

Dead Hang

x10 seconds

The numbers all look good, but they don’t always tell the tale.

I felt I had a better grip (marginally on occasion) on the barbell during hack squats, but getting the bar off the floor at the working weight still felt very difficult. Some sets seemed to go better than others and I did notice on the last set, that I didn’t feel completely crushed by the end of it.

However, even though I had previously considered doing a bonus set at a heavier weight of maybe 1 to 3 reps, I still felt tired enough to not actually do it. The idea of 210 pounds next week seems more than daunting, but I’ll talk about that in a bit.

I felt pretty good on the close grip presses. I had to take care since I still have a tendency to flare my elbows out as I lift, and I made myself tuck my arms in as close to my torso as I could at the bottom of the lift.

sumo deadlift
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The deadlifts went relatively well through the first three sets, and once I got the weight off the floor at 205 pounds, the actual lifts themselves were OK. For the working set, I pulled 225 pounds off the floor and stood up, which was the hardest part. The reps were still challenging, but I felt I had control.

I also had planned a bonus set for deadlifts, but after my three, big, heavy barbell lifts, I didn’t have that much left in me. I decided not to tempt fate.

The overhead presses actually felt harder than when I did them on Monday, and in the fourth set, I almost didn’t make 5 reps. I momentarily doubted that I’d get through the fifth and final set, but I barely managed it…just barely.

In contrast, the barbell curls were at the expected degree of difficulty, which is to say tough but “doable”.

I’m dripping sweat and almost exhausted but not trembling like I am sometimes at this point in my workout.

I did the body hang with shoulders engaged intending on performing a full 30 seconds, but only made it to 25. After that, I just let myself hang limp for another 10 seconds and called it good.

I know I’ve only tried eating before lifting once, but given how hard it is to get the weight off the floor for hack squats and deadlifts, I feel like I’ve hit some sort of functional wall. It’s probably not a permanent wall, but I don’t know that going heavier at this point is such a hot idea.

On the other hand, just staying where I am and repeating the process week over week at the same weight will only accustom my body to work at that weight and never get stronger.

What do to?

You may have noticed the Monty Python reference in the title of this blog post (and if you didn’t shame on you), which leads me into announcing a decision I’ve made.

I know I intended to do a full 12 weeks of this 5×5 routine, but this being the end of the sixth week, I am faced with making some changes.

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I’ll post another blog in a day or so giving the details, but in reviewing Hugh Jackman’s workout routine when he was training for the 2013 film The Wolverine, I recalled that his trainer David Kingsbury put Jackman first in a very heavy weightlifting routine to stimulate myofibril hypertrophy, and then a lighter set of lifts at more reps to encourage sarcoplasmic hypertrophy.

In other words, you can get really strong and also really buff.

What that will mean for next Monday, now that I’ve had six weeks of lifting heavy, is that I’ll go lighter and do the same lifts as 4x10s or 4 sets of 10 reps per set.

It’ll be interesting. I’ll tell you more about it in another post.

Two things define you: Your patience when you have nothing, and your attitude when you have everything.

Arnold Schwarzenegger


2 thoughts on “And Now For Something Completely Different

  1. Wow James, thank you for the info! I am very interested in knowing how you are feeling in the next days with this new cycle. Please keep sharing the info, and thanks again!


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