Turning Up Gravity For The Start Of Week Five

squat rackLast Friday, I finished week 4 of my first 5 week round like a boss, and this morning the start of week 5 wasn’t so bad either.

I did wake up a couple of times last night but still managed to get sufficient sleep…I think. Anyway, I got up about a quarter to 4, ate a banana for the carbs, and after my usual glass of water and cup of coffee, found myself facing the squat rack a few seconds after 5 a.m.

Here’s what happened. I rested the usual 60-120+ seconds between sets depending.

Barbell Back Squats in Squat Rack

3x 170lbs/77.11kg
3x 195lbs/88.45kg
3x 215lbs/97.52kg
3x 215lbs/97.52kg

Barbell Bench Press

5x 135lbs/61.23kg
4x 155lbs/70.3kg
3x 170lbs/77.11kg
3x 170lbs/77.11kg
2x 170lbs/77.11kg (Bonus)

Barbell Bent Over Rows

5x 135lbs/61.23kg
4x 155lbs/70.3kg
3x 170lbs/77.11kg
3x 170lbs/77.11kg

Cable Triceps Extension w/Rope

8x 70lbs/31.75kg
6x 80lbs/36.28kg
4x 90lbs/40.82kg
4x 90lbs/40.82kg

Pull ups (Bodyweight)


buff dudes zercher squat
Photo credit: buffdudes.us

Barbell Zercher Squats in Squat Rack

4x 145lbs/65.77kg
4x 145lbs/65.77kg

Body Weight Upon Awakening:

190.4 lbs/86.36 kg/13.6 stone


6′ 2 3/4″ or 74.75 inches/1.89865 meters or 189.865 cm

About three times a year, my employer hosts a Friday afternoon of bowling at our local bowling alley. Two free games along with two free beers or soft drinks, and all the greasy, fattening food we can eat.

Naturally, I chose to make this my “cheat day” and indulged myself. The proof of this showed up the next morning on the bathroom scales. Fortunately, Saturday’s cardio session plus yard work over the weekend took my weight back down to what’s been normal for me these past several weeks.

I was a little intimidated by the working weight of my squats this morning. Last week, I tried for a bonus set of squats at 215 pounds and wasn’t able to successfully get the barbell off the pins. This was probably because it was the end of my morning workout and I was pretty tired, but still, today would I be able to lift that much weight and balance it on my traps, even for 2 sets of 3 reps per set?

Happily, the answer was yes, although I got my thighs not quite to parallel to the floor during each rep. I’ve still got Wednesday and Friday to work with this weight, so we’ll see how it goes.

My bench press was mildly interesting. I could do more than 3 reps on my 2 practice sets, but a working weight of 170 pounds really challenged me for the next several sets. I tried for a bonus set but only felt comfortable with doing 2 reps. This weight is definitely my current limit for 3 sets.

bench press
Photo credit: bodyworks24.com

Interestingly enough, that means my current 1 rep max for the bench press is 180 pounds. I need to work on that.

Bent over rows are the mirror image of my bench press and I decided wisely not to go for any more bonus sets today. I’ll give them a whirl at the end of the week and see how I do then.

The triceps extensions require more reps because I’m working with smaller muscles and an isolation-type move. Still, after 8 reps for the first practice set and 6 for the second, pulling 90 pounds, I was only able to do 4 reps for each working set.

I feel like I’ve lagged behind on my pull ups. Last week, I could do 3 sets of 5 reps each…well, barely 5 on that last set. But by the time I got myself up on that fifth rep during the second set, I knew I was too tired to make all 5 reps for set 3.

Maybe it was the heavier weight for bent over rows or just that lifting heavier this morning wore me down faster, but that fifth rep in set 3 wouldn’t come.

I had time left after pull ups (and completely forgot about my “hanging” exercises) so I decided to have a go at a couple of sets of zercher squats. I took the weight up 10 more pounds than I did last week and knocked out 4 reps per set. I’m able to squat lower with the lighter weight and my center of gravity being lower as well, so my quads, hams, and glutes got a good workout in addition to what I did for my usual back squats.

The bruise on my right bicep got bigger, so I must be holding the barbell in such a way that targets that one area. Oh well.

Two more lifting days at these heavy weights and then, starting a week from today, back to lighter weights for week 1, round 2 of my weightlifting circuit, though not quite as light as day 1 of week 1.

Photo credit: t-nation.com

Just so you don’t think it’s all about me, I read an article called Taking a Load Off Between Sets at Flex Online I want to share.

Typically, between sets, I’m standing and walking (or grabbing a rack and hanging on for dear life while I try to catch my breath), with the exception of bench presses where I’m usually sitting on the bench. It’s either that, of I’m actively changing weight plates on the bar during my “rest” period.

But this article suggests that I’d get more bang for my buck, or more power from each set, if I were to sit or lay down between sets.

That kind of goes against my grain, but the article’s author Bryan Haycock, M.SC may have a point.

  1. Subjects who sat or lay down between sets were able to perform more work compared with subjects who stood or kept moving.
  2. Not sitting after exhausting sets can prolong the sense of fatigue.
  3. Active rest between sets may not allow complete myoglobin reoxygenation and/or phosphocreatine resynthesis.
  4. Sitting allows for faster recovery of heart rate than standing.

The article says “Research shows more complete physiological recovery between sets when sitting or lying supine compared with active rest or staying on your feet,” but doesn’t cite the actual study or studies supporting that conclusion.

I’ve heard of this before, and it could indeed have merit, but there’s also something to be said for not completely ceasing activity between sets in order to stimulate increased calorie burn.

rest day
Photo credit: Fitness Exercises

To be sure, they are competing goals, but then again, if you can lift more weight or lift the same weight for more sets, that’s burning calories, too.

To check on this, I looked at a few other sources. The folks commenting at the Bodybuilding.com forums don’t think much of the idea, and in fact, say it actually reduces your gains. Some of them also don’t like lengthy rest periods between sets.

Of course, these are a bunch of random guys, so I also consulted The Movement Fix and Men’s Health.

The Movement Fix had 5 reasons NOT to sit between sets, but they didn’t cite any research or rationale for their conclusions.

Men’s Health had the opposite opinion, agreeing with the Flex Online article and citing a research study out of the University of Utah.

When the exercisers laid or sat between sets, they worked 7% harder in subsequent sets. Those methods also lowered the participants’ heart and breathing rates to a greater degree.

“Walking requires more energy than sitting or lying down,” says Timothy A. Brusseau Jr., Ph.D., and study co-author. “Sitting or lying down lessens the burden of one’s own body weight, which may allow your body to focus all its energy on recovery, better preparing you for your next round of exercise.”

So is that the final word? According to Dr. Brusseau, it depends on your goals for lifting:

During any workout that you’d like to increase your fitness level or perform at your best, Brusseau says that sitting during rest periods is the best option.

In any workout where you want to burn as many calories as possible, consider standing and pacing the gym during rest, says Brusseau. That keeps your heart rate elevated, which helps you burn more calories.

rogue gym
Photo credit: bodybuilding.com

I didn’t try completely resting today, except for sitting between my two working sets of bench presses, but maybe I’ll have to give it a try. I seem to recall watching a fellow who occasionally visits the weight room actually sitting down between sets of heavy back squats, and for a duration that was about 3 minutes or more.

But do I want to perform my best or burn more calories? Is it too much to ask for both?

It’s not how bad you want it; it’s about how hard you’re willing to work for it.



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