The Day the Barbells Won

back squat
Photo credit: Tribe Sports

OK, so I may be overstating it a bit, but I didn’t have an optimal morning at the gym today. That’s especially disappointing since this is the last weightlifting day of week 5 of my first 5 week circuit. On Monday, the weights get lighter and the reps go back up to 10 per set.

Here’s what happened to me this morning. As usual, I rested between 60 to 120+ seconds between sets and I’m beginning to think that those times I rest for shorter periods need to be extended.

Barbell Back Squats in Squat Rack

3x 170lbs/77.11kg
3x 195lbs/88.45kg
3x 215lbs/97.52kg
2x 215lbs/97.52kg
3x 215lbs/97.52kg

Barbell Bench Press

6x 135lbs/61.23kg
4x 155lbs/70.3kg
3x 170lbs/77.11kg
0x 170lbs/77.11kg
5x 160lbs/72.57kg

Barbell Bent Over Rows

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

Cable Triceps Extension w/Rope

8x 70lbs/31.75kg
8x 80lbs/36.28kg
5x 90lbs/40.82kg
5x 90lbs/40.82kg

Barbell Zercher Squats in Squat Rack

5x 155lbs/70.3kg
5x 155lbs/70.3kg

zercher squat
Photo credit:

Pull ups (Bodyweight)


Body Hang with Shoulders Engaged (Bodyweight)

x30 seconds

Dead Hang (Bodyweight)

x10 seconds

Body Weight Upon Awakening:

190 lbs/86.18 kg/13.57 stone

Height (for reference):

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

As you can see, I had trouble right from the beginning. My squats started out well. I did my 2 warm up sets and then my first working set, but as I finished rep 2 on the second working set and was squatting down for the third, the little training group blew into the weight room making all kinds of chatty noise.

Long story short, I let myself be momentarily distracted and lost control of the bar. I was over halfway up from the squat when I had to slam the barbell into the pegs. Unfortunately, it was too low and after composing myself, I bent down to lift it to its usual resting position I need for back squats.

After that, I lifted it out of the pegs again and did a fifth set for 3 reps just to make sure I was good and finished.

By this time, the class grabbed whatever they needed out of the weight room and moved to a different part of the gym.

Then there were bench presses. Again, everything seemed to be going OK. I did my 2 warm up sets and then my first working set, trying to get the bar as close to my chest as possible to experience full range of motion.

bench press
Proto credit:

And that’s what got me in trouble when I started my second working set. I lifted the bar off of the pegs and lowered it…lowered it…oops.

I got the bar too low, below the lowest set of pegs on the rack, and I couldn’t push it back up.

Yup. This happened to me once before. I had to lower the bar onto my chest and started to roll it down my torso. I was able to finally sit up with the bar on my thighs. Fortunately, the one other guy in the weight room came over and helped me get the barbell to the floor.

Boy, that was embarrassing. I think I overextended myself by doing too many reps for my warm up sets. Also, since the bench press doesn’t take as much out of me as squatting or deadlifts, I don’t rest as long, and the combination may have been my downfall.

Grudgingly, I took the barbell down 10 pounds and knocked out 1 more set of 5 reps, just out of spite.

After that, things went more or less normally. Bent over rows went as predicted and I even managed to improve my triceps extensions by increasing the reps for both my warm up and working sets.

By the time I was finished though, someone else had gotten to the pull up bars, so I decided to kill time doing a couple of sets of zercher squats. I increased the weight 10 more pounds from what I did the other day and did 5 reps per set.

Since I was tired already, that really knocked the stamina out of me.

I managed to pull myself together and get in a good 3 sets of pull ups when the bars became free, then do my body hanging exercises, but only for the minimum time. I was whipped.

burning dumbbell
Image credit: shutterstock

In fact I still am. I can feel how tired my arms are right now just keyboarding. My traps are sore, and my pecs are sore, and my triceps are sore, and my quads are sore, and…

…well, you get the idea. It was a powerful workout and for a while, I didn’t think I was being effective.

I had a banana for carbs before I hit the gym, so hopefully that was enough and my poor performance wasn’t because of a carb deficit. I had my usual protein shake after I got home and was starving by the time I got to work. Had another banana with my water and coffee. I wonder if I need to eat more specific meals rather than just grazing most of the day?

Speaking of food (and getting off of the topic of “me”), a few days ago I came across an article at Men’s Health called The Truth Behind 5 Food Myths.

As it turns out (at least according to the article’s author Alan Aragon, M.S.):

  1. High protein intake won’t kill your kidneys.
  2. There’s no real nutritional difference between sweet potatoes and white potatoes.
  3. Red meat doesn’t cause cancer.
  4. High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) isn’t more fattening than regular table sugar.
  5. Salt doesn’t cause high blood pressure.

This isn’t an excuse to abuse the intake of any of those foods, but Aragon does shed some scientific light on some long-held and nearly “sacred” beliefs we’ve clung to about these substances.

I’m encouraged about the news regarding protein and red meat, since I need protein to build up my muscles, and frankly, I love a good steak along with a baked potato.

Read the article and see if you agree with Aragon’s rationale and conclusions.

Of course, the comments section of the write-up contains a lively debate on the right and wrong about the information Aragon brings to light. Alexey Sunly (real name?) just posted a link from Badass U (No, I don’t make this stuff up) called 100 Scientific Reasons to NOT Eat Meat.

eat steak
Photo credit:

I guess the science isn’t “settled” on the value of red meat, at least.

So ends week 5 of my first round of mutant strength training. Next Monday, I start my second 5-week circuit. At the end of this week, I seem to have hit my functional limits as far as strength and weightlifting ability. It will be interesting to compare this circuit with my performance on the next one to see if all this is working and if I can really become stronger round over round.

Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


5 thoughts on “The Day the Barbells Won

    1. That’s true, Billy. I still finished most of what I started and tried to make up for what I didn’t. If my muscles are sore and tired, something must be working. Now to rest, recover, and grow.

      Liked by 1 person

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