First Practice Lifts After Training Day


So I decided to lift the day after training day anyway. I wanted to practice some of what Chase taught me as soon as possible and I felt physically up to the challenge. I also don’t want to completely let go of my 5/3/1 program.

Since I did squats and bench presses as my main lifts on Monday with bent over rows as one of my assistance lifts, I decided to do deadlifts and the overhead press today.

I’m sure my deadlift form was off. I tried to keep my head up and back as far as possible and my butt low and shoved behind me. I grabbed the bar and set my position…and then I pulled. Let’s have a look at how things worked out.

Reps for week two: 5/5/5+, 90% of 65/75/85

Main Lifts

Bent Leg Deadlift

5x 135lbs/61.235kg (warm up)
5x 135lbs/61.235kg (warm up)
5x 145lbs/65.7709kg (warm up)
5x 155lbs/70.3068kg
5x 175lbs/79.3787kg
6x 195lbs/88.4505kg (5+)
4x 205lbs/92.9864kg (joker)

Barbell Overhead Press in Squat Rack

5x 45lbs/20.4117kg (warm up)
5x 45lbs/20.4117kg (warm up)
5x 45lbs/20.4117kg (warm up)
5x 45lbs/20.4117kg
5x 50lbs/22.6796kg
6x 55lbs/24.9476kg (5+)
5x 60lbs/27.2155kg (joker)

Assistance Lifts

rack pullBarbell Rack Pull in Squat Rack

5x 135lbs/61.235kg
5x 185lbs/83.9146kg
5x 205lbs/92.9864kg
5x 225lbs/102.058kg
3x 255lbs/115.666kg (PR)

Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press

10x 22.5lbs/10.20583kg
10x 22.5lbs/10.20583kg
10x 22.5lbs/10.20583kg
10x 20lbs/9.07185kg
10x 20lbs/9.07185kg

As you may recall from yesterday, 135 pounds was the weight Chase had me practicing my deadlifts with, and it was an incredible challenge to keep a perfectly neutral spine. I’m sure I wasn’t perfect today, but I think I was better. But that also made deadlifts both easier and harder.

Let me explain.

It was easier in that I wasn’t putting the usual strain on my lower lumbar region because of my improved form. It was harder in that, by not “cheating,” I felt more limited in how much weight I could lift for so many reps while keeping a (somewhat) neutral spine.

Yes, after warm ups, I made my expected work lifts and even pulled an additional rep on my 5+ set. And yes, I even did a joker, 205 pounds, but only for 4 reps. I could feel my form slip because of the added weight, which is why I stopped at 4 reps. It’s a limitation for now, until I progress further in my training.

All of the time I was deadlifting, I was living in fear of someone taking over the squat rack. Fortunately it was still unoccupied when I was done with deadlifts, so I headed into the rack and proceeded with my overhead press.

squat rackGood thing the weights were relatively light, since I haven’t had the chance to practice this lift with Chase yet. My first working set was only the bar, but having nothing lighter to use, I also did my warm ups at that weight. Going up to 50 and then 55 pounds felt fine, and I even got in an additional rep on my 5+ set. The joker at 60 pounds was no joke. I barely made the fifth and last rep and my form degraded as I tried to muscle bar all the way over my head.

Since I was in the squat rack anyway, I decided to do rack pulls. I call them an “assistance lift,” but I didn’t treat them that way. I had the need to lift something pretty heavy (for me), so I set up the bar and decided to see how far I could go.

I have to admit, after learning better deadlift form, rack pulls almost seemed a breeze, at least at lighter weights. I started to generate real effort at 205 pounds and again at 225 pounds. The most I’ve ever pulled, either in deadlifts or rack pulls, is 250 pounds or a hair over 113 kilos. This time, I wanted to do better, so I set the weight up to 255.

Chase was working with his class on machines right next to the squat rack and I’ll have to ask him next Thursday if he was watching what I was doing.

Anyway, I bent over and set myself up just as I would with a deadlift, except, of course, I didn’t have to go down quite as far. Up until this point, I was using an overhand or prone grip on the bar for both hands, but for 255 pounds, I switched my right hand to a supine or underhanded grip to make sure I could lift the weight.

And then I pulled. Yikes!

Yes, the weight came up, and no I didn’t get hurt, and yes, it was heavy.

I wanted to do 5 reps but, just like my deadlift joker, I could feel and see my form go all to hell, so I limited myself to 3 reps and called it good. I know you aren’t supposed to have PRs in an assistance lift, but I’m counting this one anyway. I lifted a full 60 pounds over my body weight (adding another 37.5 pounds to the bar for a total of 292.5 pounds/nearly 133 kilos would be 1 1/2 times my bodyweight…a goal?). Not bad for an old guy without much experience in strength training or powerlifting.

seated dumbbell shoulder press

I had considered doing 5x10s with the overhead press using a 40 pound fixed weight barbell, but decided to do the safer seated dumbbell shoulder press instead. I figured 22.5 pounds would be about right, and it was…until the third set. I barely got the dumbbells, especially the one in my left hand, up over my head for those last couple of sets. I could tell I wasn’t going to make 10 reps on the 2 remaining sets.

So I switched to two 20 pound dumbbells and completed the routine, and it was still hard. Really, I have no idea what I need to do to make my delts and associated muscles handle more weight. It seems like I’ve been stuck at this level forever.

I checked my last “mutant strength” week 5 workout, and I lifted an 80 pound barbell over my head for 2 sets at 3 reps per set. Then, I went back to week 3 in the same cycle, and I lifted 70 pounds for 5 reps and then 70 pounds for 6 reps.

Of course, I had only done 4 sets total, so maybe all of the warm up sets today made my muscles more fatigued.

Still, I’m obviously not getting better here. Well, that’s what training with Chase is for…to help me make improvements so I can push past plateaus. I’m looking forward to it.

Today, I didn’t suffer from any light-headedness or excessive fatigue the way I did during training yesterday, even though I was moving a lot more weight. Maybe it was because I wasn’t using quite as good a form as I was when Chase was coaching me, but I don’t think that was it.

I think that yesterday, I was just off my game. I hadn’t slept well, I’ve been eating like crap, I didn’t know what to expect, and someone else was in charge of what I was doing with my body.

I got more sleep last night, still ate crap, but I was more physically and mentally prepared to lift today. I also had control of what I was doing, how long I rested, how much weight I pushed/pulled, and when I could stop.

enter gym exit strongerI was surprised when I realized today’s workout took nearly a whole hour. My son’s schedule has changed so we don’t commute to and from work together anymore (I miss him already), which means I have a lot more control of when I go to the gym and how long I stay, but one hour seems to be about right. I think I remember reading that anything over an hour, especially for heavy, strenuous work, yields diminishing returns and can actually be damaging.

Today, I had a good workout. I felt fine when I left the gym. Yes, the collar of my t-shirt was soaked with sweat and I felt tired (and I didn’t bleed on anything), but it was a “good” tired, if you take my meaning.

And I didn’t get hurt. Yay!

Our chief want in life is somebody who shall make us do what we can.

Ralph Waldo Emerson


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