Ending Week One in My 5/3/1 and Needing More Training

sleep induction mat
Photo credit: shaktimat.co.uk

Didn’t sleep well at all last night and seriously considered not going to the gym this morning. On the other hand, that would mean hitting this last (repeat) day in week one of my new 5/3/1 program tomorrow, the day before my second training day. I’d rather lift today and have tomorrow rest before training.

I felt tired and unsettled as I drove to the gym. Also, the minor tweak I inflicted on my lower right lumbar region yesterday was bothering me, not all the time, just when I twisted a certain way. Otherwise, I didn’t notice it.

I was hoping I wouldn’t notice it during squats. Things didn’t work out that way.

Thanks to a road closure caused by an auto accident, I made it to the gym about 5 minutes after it opened. Fortunately, no one had claimed the squat rack so I was all clear to start my routine. I’d spent much of a semi-sleepless night imagining myself performing increasingly heavier lifts, insanely heavier, actually.

Imagining yourself lifting is a good strategy for mentally preparing yourself to perform lifts with heavier weights and setting new PRs. Although I knew my body and mind weren’t at a place where I could drastically exceed my current levels, I thought maybe I could do a little more than I did on Monday. As you’ll see, the results are something of a mixed bag.

5x5x5 / 90% of 65/75/85

Main Lifts

Barbell Back Squat in Squat Rack

10x 45lbs/20.4117kg (warm up)
5x 85lbs/38.5554kg (warm up)
5x 100lbs/45.3592kg (warm up)
5x 120lbs/54.4311kg
5x 140lbs/63.5029kg
4x 160lbs/72.5748kg (5+)

bench press
Proto credit: bizzfortune.com

Barbell Bench Press (bar to chest)

10x 45lbs/20.4117kg (warm up)
5x 95lbs/43.0913kg (warm up)
5x 105lbs/47.6272kg (warm up)
5x 115lbs/52.1631kg
5x 120lbs/54.4311kg
5x 125lbs/56.699kg
4x 130lbs/58.967kg (joker)
3x 135lbs/61.235kg (joker)
3x 140lbs/63.5029kg (joker)

Assistance Lifts

Cable Low Rows (5×10)

10x 100lbs/45.3592kg
10x 115lbs/52.1631kg
10x 115lbs/52.1631kg
10x 115lbs/52.1631kg
10x 115lbs/52.1631kg

Dumbbell Bench Press (5×10)

10x 35lbs/15.8757kg
10x 35lbs/15.8757kg
10x 35lbs/15.8757kg
10x 35lbs/15.8757kg
10x 40lbs/18.1437kg

Spine Supported Ab Crunch (Bodyweight)


My squats sucked.

I felt fine with the bar, of course, and for my warm ups, although I chose lighter warm up weights than I used on Monday. My first working set at 120 pounds and going low into parallel told me that I shouldn’t get too ambitious. There are muscles that need more training with the new routine, especially my new posture for squats. They aren’t ready to handle respectable weights.

back squat position
Mark Rippetoe, Credit: reddit.com

At 140 pounds I found the sore spot in my lower right back, and at 160, I had to quit at 4 reps rather than doing the minimum of 5. I thought about pushing through and I suppose I could have, but I kept thinking about training day 2 days from now. If I really hurt myself, I’ll screw up being able to perform while being coached by Chase. I decided to play it smart and safe for once, stopping at 4 reps and not going for any jokers.

The bench press was a different story.

I actually chose heavier warm up weights than I did last Monday, although of course, they’re still pretty light.

Having surrendered the squat rack, I saw what appeared to be a father and two teenage kids, a boy and a girl, taking over that area including the squat rack. I wasn’t sure if I was being judged for using light weights for my bench press. Probably I was just self-conscious. I did notice the two kids squatting at over what I was able to manage today, but using the neck pad velcroed around the bar (which I’ve learned has something of a stigma attached).

I don’t like to be judged, so I tried to ignore it and moved on to my working sets for the bench.

I have to admit that at the working weights and above, the bar comes quite close to my chest without actually touching. I also have learned to leave the collars off the bar when I’m doing working sets, just in case I get stuck (I know…pathetic) under the weight of the barbell and need to dump the weights.

I managed the working weights well, though I know I couldn’t have done much heavier. I also did 3 jokers, pushing up to 5 pounds more on the last set than I performed on Monday. 3 reps at 140 pounds felt kind of “if-y”, but I was able to get through it. I didn’t chance a fourth joker.

cable low rows
Photo credit: gymper.com

Instead of barbell bent over rows, I chose the cable low row for my first assistance lift, both to protect my back more and because I wanted to include some “boring but big” 5x10s. I figured the weight about right because I was starting to really tire by the fifth set.

But for my second assistance lift routine, I probably used a too light weight for the dumbbell bench press. I could do sets of 10 reps fairly well and on the fifth and last set, moved up to 40 pound dumbbells. I might try 40s for all 4 sets next time, or even 45s depending how I feel.

I kept looking at the squat rack. It was empty by the time I finished with the assistance lifts, and I wanted to somehow make up for my deficit in my main lift squats. I didn’t have enough time to do 5x10s, which in any case, would probably be tempting fate. The same for plugging in one final set at a heavier weight. I bagged the idea and, having a tendency to ignore my gut work, decided on spine-supported ab crunches instead.

This put me on the floor (on a mat) in proximity to Chase’s class, but we ignored one another. I was surprised to find my abs getting tired at fewer reps than in the past. I really must be ignoring them.

Or, running on little sleep, I was just worn out.

When I was doing squats in the squat rack, I started sweating and momentarily felt light-headed, not as bad as last week’s training day, but I suspect what happened today and what happened to me last week are related, as I wasn’t well rested for my training session, either.

I did have a banana today, about an hour before getting to the gym, but wonder if I need to carb up a little more before lifting.

I usually only have a whey protein shake after getting home from a lift day, but this morning, since I had time, I had the shake and then made myself a couple of eggs with a bit of Israeli feta cheese (from Trader Joe’s…it’s to die for).

look down
Now I get why where I look is so important when squatting. Credit: getthisstrength.com

Like I said, tomorrow will be a rest day, so good sleep or bad, I don’t have to push myself out of bed before 4 a.m. Also, on Thursday, I don’t meet Chase at the gym until 6 a.m., so I have room for a slow wake up and maybe a small meal beforehand.

Actually, Thursday can’t come soon enough. I found it difficult to remember all of the details regarding squats, and probably still have form problems. I’m going to need some refresher work so that my spinal mechanics become more of a habit than they are right now. The only way I’ll eventually get stronger and be able to use the heavier weights I imagine myself lifting is to learn to do it right on these lighter weights first.

Oh. I happened to see the box that Chase had me using for box squats last week. It’s only 12 inches tall. Yikes. No wonder coming back up out of the squat was tough.

If you have always done it that way, it is probably wrong.

Charles Kettering


3 thoughts on “Ending Week One in My 5/3/1 and Needing More Training

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