Practicing the Lighter Side of 5/3/1: Day Two

into the gymBusy day yesterday and today. We’re having our carpets cleaned today, so we had to do a bunch of other cleaning and moving stuff yesterday just to get prepared.

But before all that, I got to go to the gym with the missus on Sunday and practice my overhead presses and deadlifts using the more correct form taught to me by my personal trainer Chase.

About three or four days ago, I did day one of practicing the lighter side of 5/3/1. Yesterday morning was day two.

It hasn’t snowed since I last went to the gym, but it’s been darn cold, with highs around 21 to 25 degrees F (it was around 17 degrees when we left home for the gym). So at a quarter of 8, the side streets in our neighborhood were covered in ice. Slow going until we hit the main roads which were completely clear.

My wife and I arrived at the gym right at 8 but the place was still dark. There was only one other car in the parking lot, another regular. The receptionist guy got there about 30 seconds later and let us in. For once, I wore sweat pants over my shorts because of the weather, and after struggling to get them off, it was time to hit the squat rack.

Here’s what happened.


Main Lifts

Overhead Press in Squat Rack

5x 45lbs/20.4117kg (warm up)
5x 45lbs/20.4117kg
5x 50lbs/22.6796kg
7x 55lbs/24.9476kg (5+)
5x 60lbs/27.2155kg (joker)
5x 65lbs/29.4835kg (joker)
1x 70lbs/31.7515kg (joker)

sumo deadlift
Photo credit:

Bent Leg Deadlift

5x 95lbs/43.0913kg (warm up)
5x 100lbs/45.3592kg
5x 115lbs/52.1631kg
8x 135lbs/61.235kg (5+)
5x 155lbs/70.3068kg (joker)
5x 165lbs/74.8427kg (joker)

Assistance Lifts

Rack Pull in Squat Rack (5×10)

10x 115lbs/52.1631kg
10x 115lbs/52.1631kg
10x 115lbs/52.1631kg
10x 125lbs/56.699kg
10x 125lbs/56.699kg

Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press (5×10)

10x 25lbs/11.3398kg
10x 20lbs/9.07185kg
10x 20lbs/9.07185kg
10x 20lbs/9.07185kg
10x 20lbs/9.07185kg

Core Work

Spine Supported Ab Crunches



Roman Chair
Roman Chair

Roman Chair Back Ext (lowest setting)


Bodyweight Lunges Over Mat



Crunches with Feet Braced


I had planned to go lighter on the overhead press, but the empty barbell is 45 pounds so it was kind of pointless if I was going to use the squat rack. I actually did pretty well. When I got into my joker sets, I extended one leg behind me so that if I had to bend back to get the barbell up, my leg would take the strain instead of my back (a “Chase” tip and trick).

I was feeling pretty strong until that last joker. I barely got a 70 pound barbell up over my head once and decided not to push it.

Next were the deadlifts. I put two 45 pound plates on the floor on either side where I’d set down my barbell for my warm up. This held the bar a little higher off the floor, simulating where it would be if I put two 45s, one loaded on either side of the bar.

Even the working weight was lighter than what I was doing in my training with Chase, but this is how the numbers came out of the 1RM calculator for the required percentages. Remember though, I’m practicing keeping my butt low, setting my lats, making everything tight, and then pushing up with my legs (not ratcheting the weight up with my back), and it’s easier to get it right starting on the lighter side. This is just practice. The real work comes after I finish training.

Even my two jokers were pretty light for deadlifts, and the only reason I stopped at 165 pounds was that I started to get a little light-headed. I took this as a sign to back off for now.

Thing is, aside from some minor soreness, my back felt fine throughout my main lifts. Really good news. Even today, it’s only slightly sore.

squat rack
Photo credit:

There were a few other guys who came into the weight room by the time I finished deadlifts, and fearing I might lose access to the squat rack, I went in and set up for rack pulls as my first assistance lift. Yeah, I know. Right after deadlifts. But at 115 pounds, I figured I’d be OK as long as I remembered to keep a neutral spine.

After the first three sets, I knocked the weight up to 125 pounds just for giggles and completed the final two sets.

I couldn’t remember what weight I used for seated dumbbell shoulder presses the last time I did them for an assistance lift, so I started with a pair of 25s. I completed the ten reps, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to use that weight and complete four more sets at ten reps per set.

So I moved the weight down to two 20 pound barbells and watched the young guy a few feet away from me do standing dumbbell shoulder presses using a couple of 35 pounders, performing three sets at 11 or 12 reps per set. Yeah, I had shoulder press envy, although my delts and related muscles were already tired from my main lift overhead presses.

Technically, that was it, but I still had time and wanted to work on my weak core.

I started out with my old standard, spine supported ab crunches, and decided, for the sake of Chase, to superset my roman chair back extensions with my lunges. I hate lunges, but the next time Chase asks me if I’ve practiced them, I want to be able to say “yes”. At least I didn’t trip over the mat as much as I did last time.

The missus was still doing some work, so I decided to pull another of Chase’s recommendations out of my hat (metaphorically speaking), slipped my feet under a piece of equipment, and did more ab crunches. My back didn’t bother me nearly so much as it did last Wednesday when I tried the same move, so I’m betting that’s a good thing.

When I finished, so had the missus, so we decided to call it. I looked at the clock and we’d been at the gym about 75 minutes. A pretty respectable amount of time to workout.

Photo credit:

I have a feeling I’m going to be pretty busy around the house today and maybe Tuesday as well, so I don’t know if I’ll have a chance to do any more practicing before my next and last training session with Chase on Wednesday.

So far things seem to be workout out well. Let’s hope it keeps going this way.

Note: I wanted to publish this when I was finished writing yesterday but WordPress was having issues. I couldn’t generate a preview from the draft, but this morning I got it sorted.

Who is the happier man, he who has braved the storm of life and lived or he who has stayed securely on shore and merely existed?

Hunter S. Thompson


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