Practice Day Three After Training and Still Adjusting 5/3/1

rack pull

As I mentioned yesterday, I’m resetting my 5/3/1 program this week, starting over with week one now that I have some idea of what I’m doing (I still need a lot more work, though).

But since I technically started the reset last Friday when my main lifts were the Deadlift and Overhead Press, today is my second effort at those lifts. I wanted to see if I could push the envelope a little bit. I may have pushed it just a hair too far, as you’ll soon discover.

Here we go. This is what I did this morning.

Reps for week 1 repeat: 5/5/5+, 90% of 65/75/85

Assistance Lift: Barbell Rack Pull in Squat Rack

5x 135lbs/61.235kg
5x 185lbs/83.9146kg
5x 205lbs/92.9864kg
5x 225lbs/102.058kg
5x 245lbs/111.13kg
3x 260lbs/117.934kg (PR)

Main Lift: Barbell Overhead Press in Squat Rack

5x 45lbs/20.4117kg (warm up)
5x 45lbs/20.4117kg (warm up)
5x 45lbs/20.4117kg
5x 50lbs/22.6796kg
7x 55lbs/24.9476kg (5+)
6x 60lbs/27.2155kg (joker)
5x 65lbs/29.4835kg (joker)

Main Lift: Bent Leg Deadlift

5x 135lbs/61.235kg (warm up)
5x 155lbs/70.3068kg
5x 175lbs/79.3787kg
5x 195lbs/88.4505kg (5+)
5x 205lbs/92.9864kg (joker)
3x 215lbs/97.5224kg (joker)
3x 225lbs/102.058kg (joker)

Photo credit:

Assistance Lift: Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press (5×10)

10x 20lbs/9.07185kg
10x 20lbs/9.07185kg
10x 20lbs/9.07185kg
10x 20lbs/9.07185kg
10x 20lbs/9.07185kg

The first thing you’ll notice is I started out with an assistance lift. I suppose this is forbidden in the 5/3/1 program, but I did it anyway because I wanted to make sure I had access to the one and only squat rack in the gym. I don’t really need it for the overhead press, but it does help, so I thought I’d do the two lifts back to back.

I started out the progression of weights on the rack pull the same as I did on Friday, well for the first 4 sets anyway. Rather than going for 255 pounds on my fifth set, I did 10 pounds lighter, but performed 5 reps instead of 3. Then, I decided to go for a new PR and put 260 pounds on the bar. For this, I managed 3 reps rather than 5, mainly because my form was getting a tad sloppy. Still, it’s nice to move some respectable weight (for me) first thing in the morning.

When all was said and done, I noticed a bit of blood on the bar. Must have nicked one of my scabs. Fortunately, I had water and a rag so I could wash it off. I wonder if I should invest in a pair of shin guards? Of course, according to Stronglifts, if I’m getting bloody shins during rack pulls and deadlifts, I’m doing it wrong.

Anyway, as I mentioned, since I was already in the squat rack, I moved on to the overhead press. I decided to only do 2 warm up lifts at 45 pounds to see if I could do more on my working lifts and perhaps jokers if my arms weren’t so fatigued.

It seemed to work. I moved through my 3 working sets as expected, performing 7 reps on the last 5+ set, then did 2 jokers, one at 60 pounds for 6 reps and then, on a whim, I tried 65 pounds and did 5 reps, which is much better than last time.

Of course, on week 5 of my last “mutant strength” circuit (end of October), I moved 80 pounds for 2 sets at 3 reps per set, and managed to lift 85 pounds for a single rep. For week 3 in the same circuit, I lifted 70 pounds for 5 reps in the first working set and then for 6 reps in the second. On the other hand, including warm ups, I did a total of 7 sets of overhead presses today, so maybe that makes up for it.

Now for the deadlifts.

I only did one warm up set. This was an accident, since I meant to put the bar at 140 and then 145 pounds for 2 more warm up sets, but instead loaded it up to 155…the weight for my first working set. I was a little worried about how things were going to turn out since I’d already lifted heavy in rack pulls. Would I be too tired to equal and perhaps even exceed last Friday’s performance?

The 3 working sets were the minimums, and I didn’t do extra reps for the 5+ set. However, I did a joker at 205 pounds, doing 5 reps instead of 4 like last time. Then I put the weight up to 215 pounds and tried again, managing 3 reps. It felt heavy, especially attempting to maintain good form, but I thought I could do 225.

Photo credit:

That was probably a mistake since I pretty much stopped paying attention to establishing and holding a neutral spine, and just lifted the barbell with everything I had.

I must admit that post-deadlifts, I could feel a sort of “tweak” in my lower right lumbar area. It’s not bad, but it’s more than just being sore. I’ll monitor it today and see how things go. Oh, and I nailed not only one shin again but my thigh as well. No blood, but the scrapes were really annoying for a while.

I plan to lift tomorrow, doing squats and the bench press as my main lifts, but after that, I’ll rest Wednesday and then do my training session with Chase on Thursday. That means no deadlifts again until at least Friday, if I keep my proposed schedule.

I was grateful at this point to leave the barbell behind and do some rather tame seated dumbbell shoulder presses at a mere 20 pounds. I know that sounds light, but this was for 5x10s and I was having to put some significant effort into it by the fourth and fifth sets. The last 2 reps for the final set were killers. I was glad the weight room was empty by then, so no one had to look at all the faces I made.

I wasn’t too worried about the time, since I’m commuting into work alone these days. I’d gotten to the gym a minute or so before it opened at 5 and when I was finally finished with my dumbbell presses, it was about a minute after 6. I toyed with the idea of getting in some ab work or maybe even a short cardio session, but I was pretty worn out and decided to call it a day.

As I left the gym, I reminded myself to text Chase (my trainer) later in the day. I got a $60 charge on my credit card for our one session, but the ad on the gym’s board says a 5-session training package costs $150 and for 10 sessions, you pay $275. $60 a session seems a little steep.

I’ve since texted him and he got back to me pretty quick. Turns out a session is 30 minutes (who knew?), so I confirmed with him (and I’m keeping the texts to prove it), that we’ll do 10 sessions or 5 full hours for the $275 price.

personal training
Photo: Eagle Fitness Idaho

I’d assumed that a session was one hour, which is on me, but this is a good reminder for anyone reading this to nail down the details of anything you buy before getting started. A less than honest trainer or gym could really mess you over.

Since this is the holiday season and since there’s a ton of “forbidden” food around, I haven’t been paying a lot of attention to the number of calories I’ve been eating. I haven’t stepped on my bathroom scale in a week. I can tell my pants waist is a little snug (we had my grandson over last Friday, and we had pizza and ice cream and popcorn).

I’m not overly concerned since for the present, my primary goal is to learn how to do my lifts correctly and to minimize or eliminate the chance of injury. I also want to incorporate good form and a neutral spine into lifting progressively heavier, which is easiest right now on deadlifts and rack pulls.

Of course, the time will come, probably fairly soon, when I’ll have to revisit my calorie counter and my scale and make adjustments in my eating. I do still keep an eye on putting a fair amount of protein into my body to support muscle growth. Ultimately, in the battle between muscle and fat, muscle must win.

It’s simple, if it jiggles, it’s fat.

Arnold Schwarzenegger


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