Didn’t sleep very well last night but I managed to get a little protein and some carbs in me about an hour before my workout, which probably saved the day.
This is week 3 in my 5 week plan and once again, I increased the weight while decreasing the reps. This is my 5 rep per set week, which means I should be pushing some substantial weight around.
I noticed something interesting. Doing only 2 sets at my working weight and only for 5 reps per set, not only did I not get as fatigued as I had been during my 5×5 routine, but I finished up in about 45 minutes.
Before continuing, let’s have a look at how Monday morning went. I managed to rest on an average of about 90 seconds between sets, even when doing the squats.
Barbell Back Squat in Squat Rack 4×5
Barbell Bench Press 4×5
Barbell Bent Over Rows 4×5
Lat Pulldown (substituting for pull ups)
I don’t think I was ready for that first set of squats. I was still feeling a little loggy from my lack of sleep and I was terrible at balancing the bar across my traps. Even on the lightest set of warm ups, I didn’t go as low into the squat as I wanted. Fortunately, I have two more sessions of squats this week to do better.
On the positive side, by the time I got to my working sets, I felt competent with the weight. I had to go slow to maintain control of the barbell, but I didn’t feel in danger of losing my balance.
The bench press didn’t get challenging until I hit my 2 sets at my working weight. At the bottom of the lift when the bar was closest to my chest, I really had to make a strong effort to get it all the way back up, especially in the last few reps in each set.
Bent over rows were also challenging at the full working weight. I was somewhat comforted however, that a guy doing seated cable rows, and who looked pretty big, was pulling less weight than I was. Of course, he was going for more reps, but it’s not like he had to balance a barbell at the same time he was lifting it. One more advantage to standing compound lifts with barbells.
I debated whether or not to limit myself to 5 reps on the triceps extensions. In my 5×5 routine, even when the reps for the larger moves was 5 per set, usually for triceps extensions and standing curls, it was set for 3 sets of 8 reps, probably because these are smaller muscles and more isolation lifts.
I decided to stick with the 4×5 to see what happened. I really had to focus to keep my elbows in so I could work my triceps more and my delts less. So far it seems to be working out, but in the next week or two, when the reps go down to 4 and then to 3, I may keep these smaller lifts at higher reps. Anyway, it’s a thought.
I really wanted to do my pull ups but there was a guy standing under the pull up bars doing cable crossovers. He got there first, fair and square, so I was out of luck. Decided to substitute lat pulldowns and I figured I’d “warm up” at 160 pounds and then ramp up to 180, which is just 10 or 12 pounds below my body weight.
That didn’t work out well. In fact, after a miserable performance in the third set, I dropped the weight back down to 160 just so I could get some action in.
It’s not that my lats didn’t get a good workout, but I hate deviating from plan. I guess I’m pretty routinized.
It’s been nearly three weeks since I last did Workout A in a 5×5 routine, so I thought I’d compare my performance doing 4 sets of 5 reps each with my previous lifts at 5 sets of 5 reps.
Back then, I was doing hack squats, so after two warm up sessions at 145 pounds, I did 5 sets of 5 reps at 205 pounds. That’s 20 pounds heavier than I squatted today, but I don’t face the same balancing issues with hack squats. The trade-off is that I don’t have to worry about my grip on the bar so much.
With hack squats, if my grip isn’t tight, I won’t be able to lift the barbell off the floor. In the squat rack, since I’m resting the bar on my traps and lifting more with my legs and torso, I only have to grip the bar tight enough to control the balance.
My working weight for the 5×5 bench press was the same as today’s weight: 160 pounds. The only difference is doing a mere 2 working sets today instead of 5. This is the same for bent over rows. Hopefully, I’m not sacrificing the strength gains I made at the beginning of this month.
Of course, by the time I’m at week 5, my weights, even at 4 sets of 3 reps each, will be heavier than anything I did during my six-week experience with 5x5s.
As I mentioned before, I was doing only 3 sets of 8 reps per set of triceps extensions in the 5×5 routine, and my working weight was 75 pounds, as opposed to the 80 pounds I did for my 2 working sets at 5 reps per set.
I can’t really compare lat pulldowns with pull ups as such, and I can only hope my lat strength is at least marginally better than it was almost 21 days ago.
I won’t really know how well this 5 week program is working until I enter the second round, increase my weight over the first round efforts, and see the difference.
Over the weekend, my wife and daughter were out of town, so I indulged in some junk/comfort food. As a result, I picked up a couple of pounds that I now have to crush back into submission. The irony is that these processed foods didn’t even taste as good as I remembered.
Oh well, so much of my “fling” with food.
Success depends upon previous preparation, and without such preparation there is sure to be failure.