Do I Own Squats or Do Squats Own Me?

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I slept fairly well last night (for a change), so I definitely was ready for the gym this morning. However, I slept so well, I really didn’t want to get out of bed. I only had time for a banana as my pre-workout meal, but I think it contained enough carbs to get me going.

My car is in the shop, so I had to borrow my wife’s van to get to the gym. Since she has to leave for work at 6:30, I wanted to make sure I got it back home in plenty of time, so I tried to power through my workout as quickly as reasonably possible. Turns out, that wasn’t a problem, even throwing in three extra sets of hack squats.

Fortunately, Workout A contains some lifts that let me “rest” more than Workout B, including the bench press and triceps extension. While still trying, I’m able to rest only about 60 seconds between sets and have that be sufficient.

I went heavier on my back squats today, with my working sets only 10 pounds lighter than this week’s target, which is still the heaviest I’ve ever done a back squat. My biggest problem besides balance while lifting the bar off the rack was balance and coordination at the bottom of the squat and coming back up.

This impaired my ability to get my thighs quite at parallel to the floor much of the time, but I tried to get as close as I could and still feel safe.

Barbell Back Squat in Squat Rack

8x 135lbs/61.23kg
8x 145lbs/65.77kg
8x 165lbs/74.84kg
8x 165lbs/74.84kg

Barbell Bench Press

8x 95lbs/43.09kg
8x 115lbs/52.16kg
8x 135lbs/61.23kg
8x 135lbs/61.23kg

bent over rows
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Barbell Bent Over Rows

8x 95lbs/43.09kg
8x 115lbs/52.16kg
8x 135lbs/61.23kg
8x 135lbs/61.23kg

Cable Triceps Extension w/Rope

8x 55lbs/24.94kg
8x 60lbs/27.21kg
8x 75lbs/34.01kg
8x 75lbs/34.01kg

Barbell Hack Squats

8x 155lbs/70.3kg
8x 175lbs/79.37kg
8x 175lbs/79.37kg

Pull ups (bodyweight)


When squatting, I can see and feel the bar “tetter-totter” across my traps. No wonder my traps feel so sore right now. Compared to that, my bench press at 135 pounds seemed almost a breeze.

Bent over rows were a little more challenging at my working weight.

My target working weight of 70 pounds for triceps extensions seemed too light, so I upped it 5 pounds to 75, which was a better choice. I could actually see my triceps long head expand in the mirror as I was performing each cable extension.

I was going to do my pull ups next, but there was a couple performing cable crossover pulls right under the pull up bar. The only other pull up assembly is in the squat rack, but the way the grips are placed, the top bar of the rack would block my head, keeping me from pulling myself all the way up.

hack squat
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So I did hack squats instead and was the victim of my own bad timing, since by the time I set the barbell at my warm up weight, they were done with the crossovers.

So I did my one warm up set and then my two working sets at 175 pounds, just to make sure my legs were being properly worked.

Finally, I made it to my pull ups and did reasonably well, particularly on the first two sets.

Later, at home, I could see that my lats were still pumped and I seem to be growing a baby set of “wings”. Also, a long muscle on the insides of my calves continues to expand, at least as I look down on my legs while showering.

After pull ups, fatigue, plus knowing I needed to get my wife’s van back home drove me out of the gym rather than having me perform my usual “hanging” exercises. I felt successful enough in today’s efforts not to fret too much about neglecting my final traditional move in my new routine.

In lifts like back squats and hack squats, as I was mentally counting each rep, and at reps 5 and 6, there was this momentary desire to stop. Then I thought of the next few weeks and how the weight will be heavier, and then I’ll stop at 5 reps, and then 4 the following week, and finally 3 reps per set at week 5.

I don’t know if I have the nerve to balance (or try to balance) 215 pounds across my traps for 2 working sets of 3 reps each of back squats during that final week of this round. Even the starting warm up weight is 170 pounds, which is 5 pounds heavier than I’ve lifted in a squat so far. Heck, the working weight for deadlifts in week 5 is 235 pounds. I’ve had a tough enough time muscling 225 pounds off the floor let alone doing 5 reps in the past.

Well, it’s not like someone is putting a gun to my head and saying “lift or die.” If something feels too dangerous, I’ll take it down a notch and then work up to heavier lifts the following round.

hulk smashI did say that I felt someday I’d hit a functional barrier I couldn’t cross.

I just have to find out where it is and then, male (Hulk smash) ego engaged, see if I can beat it into submission.

Oh, official bodyweight when I first got up this morning was 190.3 pounds, which is about 86.31 kg or 13.59 stone. Just sayin’.

Desire is the key to motivation, but it’s determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal — a commitment to excellence — that will enable you to attain the success you seek.

Mario Andretti


3 thoughts on “Do I Own Squats or Do Squats Own Me?

  1. Your lifts are impressive. I am 65 and have at the age of 50 did some powerlifting. Not anything great. A 300 sqt ,230 bench and a 405 DL in a meet. Have had a long break in training. Started lifting again a few months ago . So far have done 190 x3 saftey bar sqt.. 240×5 DL 160×4 bench and a 107 x3 press. I am doing my own version of Wendlers 5 3 1 training, one main lift a day and one or two accessory lifts, I sure would liketomknow how you get up so early to train. All my working life I was an early riser . Had to be on the job at six am. But can’t seem to want to lift in the early AM. What time to you get to bed in order to get to the gym so early? I like reading your blog, keeps me inspired. Thanks Jerry.


    1. Hi Jerry,

      The lifts you mention certainly knock me out of the ballpark. I can’t even imagine squatting 300 pounds.

      I usually get up around 3:30 or 4 a.m.depending. I don’t always sleep well, and when I’m tossing and turning in the wee hours of the morning, I often finally decide to say “to heck with it” and get up.

      I’m a slow waker, so I read the funnies online, check how the activity on my blogs are doing, and so on while drinking a cup of coffee and a glass of water as well as some sort of small, pre-workout meal.

      I only have an hour, between the time the gym opens at 5 until 6 a.m. to get my workout done. My son and I commute to work together and he has to be at work by 7:30. When he works out with me, we both drive back to my place after the gym and get ready, then head on out. If I didn’t hit the gym at 5, I’d probably never find the motivation to lift at any other time. I’m kind of tired after work in the afternoon, and the gym is usually too crowded for me to gain easy access to the barbells, benches, and squat rack.

      I’m usually in bed between 8 to 9:30 p.m. depending.

      Glad you like my blog and find it inspiring. Keep up the good work and feel free to comment on anything that you find of interest here.



    2. Jerry,
      I think you should just set your alarm clock early in the morning, have a quick workout meal or coffee and start your workout with a 5-10min warmup. Since I started doing my workouts in the early morning I don’t have to search for a time to workout in the evening anymore. It just takes some time to adjust to working out in the morning but I’m glad I do. I get up at 4:30 and do my workout from 5:00 until 6:00 and usually go to bed before 22:00.


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