Planning for the Lighter Side of Restarting 5/3/1


So I’ve been trying to figure out what I can do to strengthen my core while protecting my tender lower back.

It’s not easy.

Of course, I tried “Googling” the problem but surprisingly, not a lot of useful search results were returned. The page was basically useless. seems better but there is a lot of clutter to work through.

Interestingly enough, The Mayo Clinic’s relevant page seems the most promising, but I don’t think I’ll do all of the exercises suggested. In fact, I’m going to have to try these out before I can determine which ones are “do-able” let alone helpful.

If my personal trainer Chase is right, my core is a very neglected part of my body and I need to start paying more attention to it. I suppose I can do more ab work on cardio day, or what the heck, I can do most core exercises at home. I don’t need a gym for this.

Like I said, I’ll have to try out a bunch of different core exercises to see what works and what doesn’t.

In the meantime, I’m tentatively returning to the 5/3/1 “powerlifting” program again, but the word “power” doesn’t, at this level, really apply.

Given my recent lifts and limitations, I ran the calculations again using this scale and for tomorrow, a repeat of day one of week one, I came up with the following for main lifts:


Back Squat in Squat Rack


squat rack
Photo credit:

Barbell Bench Press


I know those seem like ridiculously easy weights and they are. In fact, they’re a lot lighter than what I’ve been lifting recently. But the 5/3/1 program is supposed to start light and work up to heavier weights slowly. Also, I’m trying to strengthen my core and avoid reinjuring myself while, at the same time, continuing to practice good form and a neutral spine, and that’s easier to do using lighter weights.

Besides, think of all the 5+ lifts and jokers I can perform at this level. OK, I’d better not overdo it.

Tomorrow, being Christmas Eve, means the gym’s only open from 8 in the morning to 1 in the afternoon. Friday, naturally, it’s closed, so no love there.

My next opportunity to lift won’t be until I go to the gym on Sunday. Here’s the flip side of the coin for main lifts:


Overhead Press

40lbs/18.1437kg (fixed weight barbell)

Barbell Rack Pull in Squat Rack



Bent Leg Deadlift


overhead press
Photo credit:

I’ve been neglecting the overhead press lately, so this is long overdue, even if it is less than I’ve lifted previously. I figure I can use either a rack pull or deadlift for the main lift. I’m strongly leaning toward the deadlift and since I’d be using plates smaller than the 45 pound plate, I’d have to rest my barbell on a couple of plates on either side to lift the bar sufficiently away from the floor, just as Chase had me do today.

These are only the week one weights for 5/5/5+. They go up for the second week (3/3/3+) and third week (5/3/1+), but not insanely so. I’m hoping shooting for such modest targets will help me get back on board with the program, while at the same time letting me practice good form while avoiding injury.

I managed everything today without too much discomfort except for the aforementioned ab exercises. Like I said, I’ll have to work on those.

I’m writing this second blog post today mainly so I can have some place to “park” this information and not lose track of it.

I’ll keep you posted on developments.

The soul’s joy lies in doing.

Percy Bysshe Shelley


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