Going the Extra Set

55 yr old man deadlifts 315 lbs
Photo credit: Youtube.com

You’ve probably heard the expression “going the extra mile.” The title of today’s blog post is a play on those words (but you probably figured that out). Anyway, that’s what I did or tried to do, add an extra or bonus set to each lift.

This being Labor Day, a major national holiday in America, I don’t have to go to work. Also, the gym didn’t open until 7 a.m., 2 hours later than it normally opens on a weekday. Good thing, because I didn’t wake up until after 5. Dragged myself out of bed and slowly re-engaged my brain. Then I had coffee, water, and a banana for the carbs.

My lower right back still felt sore pre-gym, but I figured I could handle it. The outside temp was around 44 degrees F (or about 6.66667 C), so I put on a light sweatshirt in addition to my usual gym attire.

It was just getting light on the eastern horizon as I drove to the gym. I got their 5 minutes early but the young gal at the counter had already opened the place up. Very few cars in the parking lot and only one regular present, someone who doesn’t use the squat rack or weight bench.

I couldn’t have been happier.

In fact, except for a couple of guys who periodically came into the weight room to do lat pulldowns or cable triceps pushdowns, I had the place to myself…

…which (selfish me) is just how I like it.

No work today and almost no one in the weight room (plenty of people using the LifeFitness weight and cardio machines). A perfect recipe for taking my time between sets and doing bonus sets.

Here’s what my workout looked like. Remember I’m doing week 3 of round 2 all over again because of my “back tweak” last week. Today, it’s Workout B. I rested 120 seconds or more between sets.

Back Squat in Squat Rack

5x 150lbs/68.0389kg
5x 165lbs/74.8427kg
5x 195lbs/88.4505kg
5x 195lbs/88.4505kg
4x 205lbs/92.9864kg (Bonus)

Close Grip Bench Press

5x 100lbs/45.3592kg
5x 120lbs/54.4311kg
5x 135lbs/61.235kg
5x 135lbs/61.235kg
4x 145lbs/65.7709kg (Bonus)

Bent Leg Deadlift

5x 165lbs/74.8427kg
5x 190lbs/86.1826kg
5x 220lbs/99.7903kg
5x 220lbs/99.7903kg
5x 230lbs/104.326kg (Bonus)

Overhead Barbell Press in Squat Rack

8x 60lbs/27.2155kg
6x 65lbs/29.4835kg
5x 70lbs/31.7515kg
5x 70lbs/31.7515kg
4x 75lbs/34.0194kg (Bonus)

barbell curls
Photo credit: muscleandfitness.com

Standing Curls with Fixed Weight Barbells

8x 60lbs/27.2155kg
8x 70lbs/31.7515kg
5x 80lbs/36.2874kg
5x 80lbs/36.2874kg
3x 90lbs/40.8233kg (Bonus)

Zercher Squat (Bonus)

3x 185lbs/83.9146kg

Body Hang w/Shoulders Engaged (Bodyweight)

x35 seconds

Dead Hang (Bodyweight)

x20 seconds

Bodyweight Upon Awakening

191.1 lbs / 86.681502 kg / 13.65 stone

I was a little disappointed with my bonus set of back squats. I wanted to do a full 5 reps at 205 lbs, especially since my working weight for squats next week in heavier than that. However, on the fourth rep, I didn’t feel I was completely steady so decided to play it safe. I’m doing squats two more times this week, so I’ll have a chance to up my game, so to speak, before week 4.

I felt the same way about my close grip press bonus set. I really wanted to squeeze out that last rep but it wouldn’t come, or at least it wouldn’t without the risk of not being able to get the barbell back up on the pegs (and I don’t want to get stuck under the bar yet again).

Deadlifts on the other hand, were fabulous. I admit that I was a little nervous approaching the barbell on the floor. This is how I injured myself last week, and as I mentioned, my back was carrying its usual soreness in just that one spot. Warm up sets 1 and 2 went fine as I knew they would, but what about the workings sets?

With a groan, I muscled 220 pounds of barbell off of the floor and stood up in my starting position. Back’s feeling OK so far. Then I knock out my first working set of 5 reps and slam the barbell onto the floor. Back’s still doing OK. The second working set went like the first, although I felt slightly light-headed at the end of the set.

mutant strength.
Photo credit: Bodybuilding.com

Feeling confident, I decided to add 5…no, make that 10 extra pounds, which also put the weight at over 100 kilos. Since I hadn’t been able to do a heavier bonus set for 5 full reps in my two previous lifting exercises, I wasn’t sure what was going to happen, but decided to give it a shot.

Getting the weight up off the floor was a struggle but not quite as difficult as I anticipated. Then I did all 5 reps, just the way I wanted to.

For Week 3 of Round 1, my max working weight for 5 reps was 205 pounds. I finished Week 4 of Round 1 doing deadlifts at 225 pounds for 4 reps for my working sets, and a bonus set at 235 pounds or about 106.59 kilos for 3 reps.

And today, I did 230 pounds at 5 reps. Yep, I’m getting stronger and I didn’t pull my back all out of shape.

Since there was no one in the weight room, I decided to do my overhead barbell presses in the squat rack. They went pretty much as expected. I decided to push it and do a bonus set here too, but only made 4 reps at 75 pounds. Looking back, for Week 1 of Round 4, the round I’ll be doing next week, my bonus set was identical, so at Week 3 of Round 2, my overhead press is the same as it was for a more advanced week. More strength there, and this is one of my weakest lifts.

I probably went too far on the barbell curls. Since all the weights ended in zero, I decided to use the fixed weight barbells. The 2 warm up sets went fine and even the working sets were manageable without more than the expected strain. I debated switching to a variable weight barbell and curling 85 pounds for my bonus set, but figured “what the heck” and tried 90.


I barely managed 3 reps and called it good. Guess I haven’t gotten that far yet. Still, for Round 1, Week 4, my bonus set was 4 reps at 85 pounds, so still, not bad.

At this point I’ve been working (and resting between sets) in the weight room for 75 to 80 minutes, but I had time to burn, so I thought I’d get in some Zercher Squats. I did Z-Squats at 195 pounds last week, so I thought I could go over 200 to maybe 205 or even heavier this time around.

Boy was I wrong.

I positioned the barbell in the squat rack at the appropriate height, but before loading the weight on, I tucked the bar inside my elbows to test my grip. That’s when I noticed I was bleeding.

I must have nicked a small scab on my right wrist or something. It looked a lot worse than it was and I decided to ignore it.

Maybe something inside my head wasn’t ignoring it or it could have been that, nearly 90 minutes into my workout, I was exhausted, but when I tried to lift that 185 pound barbell out of the pegs for my “warm up” set, I was shocked at how heavy it felt.

I did my walk back straining against the weight and only managed 3 reps before replacing the barbell in the rack.

I was done…well done. I had spent everything my body had to give in weightlifting.

I decided to do my body hanging exercises anyway, but they were pretty puny. I forced myself to do an engaged hang for a full 35 seconds, although in those last 5 seconds, I almost didn’t make it, followed by a 20 second dead hang before I couldn’t keep my grip any longer.

Photo credit: wordswithlisbeth.com

I visited the men’s room to wash the blood off my wrist and rinse out the part of my shirt that got blood on it with cold water. I must have really been tired because I completely forgot about my sweatshirt hanging on the clothes hook in the hall. I walked right past it. Looking out at the other folks in the gym, no one seemed to be straining or even hardly sweating.

While weightlifting doesn’t pull the sweat out of me that cardio does, I still felt like a limp, wet noodle as I walked out of the gym. I also felt victorious knowing that I worked as hard (and as safely) as I could.

I went the extra mile or, if you prefer, the extra set. I’ve torn myself down. Time to build myself back up.

To change your life, you have to change your priorities.



2 thoughts on “Going the Extra Set

    1. Thanks, Jerry. Unfortunately, the end of Labor Day, attending a wedding and reception, sort of undid any calorie burn. Seems I’ve picked up a pound between yesterday and this morning.


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