Day of the Leg Burnout: The Final Training Day

hack squat machine
Photo: Fitastic’s YouTube channel

This morning was my last day with my personal trainer Chase. I knew the two most critical lifts I needed to nail down were back squats and bent leg deadlifts, so I suggested we concentrate on those. When we walked into the weight room, the squat rack was being used, but Chase wanted me to do some warm up exercises anyway, so he started me off by using the hack squat machine with no additional weights (the tension is set at 55 pounds) alternating with bodyweight lunges.

When he asked, I had the pleasure of telling him that I had indeed been practicing my back extensions and lunges. Hooray for me.

Anyway, he threw me right into it. I know the weights aren’t much to talk about, but the sheer repetition and having everything be about my legs really wore me down in the end. Especially today, it seemed all about muscle endurance and recovery and not so much strength. At my age, this is why I appreciate intensity over volume.

Hack Squat Machine alternating with Bodyweight Lunges

Hack Squat Machine

10x 55lbs/24.9476kg
10x 55lbs/24.9476kg
10x 55lbs/24.9476kg
10x 55lbs/24.9476kg

Bodyweight Lunges

x10
x10
x10
x10

Back Squats partially alternating with Bodyweight Squats/Stretches

Woman doing squats
Photo credit: Breakingmuscle.com

Back Squat in Squat Rack

10x 45lbs/20.4117kg
10x 65lbs/29.4835kg
10x 65lbs/29.4835kg
10x 65lbs/29.4835kg
10x 65lbs/29.4835kg
10x 65lbs/29.4835kg
10x 65lbs/29.4835kg
10x 65lbs/29.4835kg

Bodyweight Squats/Stretches

x10
x10
x10
x10
x10

Bent Leg Deadlift

6x 135lbs/61.235kg
6x 135lbs/61.235kg
5x 135lbs/61.235kg
4x 135lbs/61.235kg
4x 135lbs/61.235kg
4x 135lbs/61.235kg
4x 135lbs/61.235kg
4x 135lbs/61.235kg

Just the warm ups using the hack squat machine and switching back and forth between that and lunges not only warmed me up but reminded me that my legs were still sore from last Sunday (amazingly enough). However, the soreness I felt in my back when I woke up this morning had vanished.

Since the squat rack was free after I finished hack squats and lunges, we headed over there. My main weakness is that I tend to let my knees move forward rather than keeping them directly over my ankles and feet. My form has definitely improved but still needed work as every rep wasn’t “perfect.”

bodyweight squat
Photo: breakingmuscle.com

That’s when Chase suggested using my “rest” periods between sets of squats to do bodyweight squats, using the bar of the smith machine (which no one was using) to balance myself.

The trick here was to go down slow and very low, well below my thighs being parallel to the floor, then to move side-by-side stretching myself out. My issues are probably a combination of overcoming bad habits and limited mobility and flexibility. This should help.

One thing I noticed is that doing squats right was working both my quads and my hams, which Chase told me is the desired effect. So something is changing.

I did the drill over and over again until I thought my legs were going to fall off. I was huffing and puffing between sets and my shirt was wet with sweat.

We spent over half an hour just concentrating on squats and by the time it was over, I was a wrung-out wash rag. I didn’t know how I was going to make it through deadlifts.

For expediency’s sake, we settled on a 135 pound barbell, but I told Chase upfront, a long stream of sets at 10 reps per set wasn’t going to happen, so he started me off on 6 reps per set.

That worked for the first two sets, but then I had him reduce it to 5 and then down to 4.

Of all my lifts, deadlifts are the easiest for me to screw up. Butt down low, knees just slightly forward of my ankles, head up, everything tight, set my lats and hold it for a second, and then stand straight up.

I can do it but not all the time, especially as I get more tired. The error that creeps in is that I round out my upper back as I start to stand up, even though my form up to that point is good.

Sometimes I can do it but sometimes I mess up. Chase said it wasn’t horrible, but the goal is to get each set to be right, not just some of them. When I did them right, not only did I feel it in my quads and hams, but in my lats and traps as well, as if my shoulders were being pulled to the floor by the barbell. That’s what it’s supposed to feel like. More than even squats, Chase says deadlifts are a total body workout, and I believe it. My forearms and even my fingers were worn out by the end of this workout.

Unfortunately, by the end of the workout, as I became increasingly exhausted due to the high volume, my form began to slip. On that last set of 4 reps, only 2 of them were perfect and time had run out.

The upside is that I have a much better idea and set of experiences as to what I need to be doing, even though I’m not picture perfect every single time. That’s what I need to carry forward into the following weeks and months.

No lifting for me tomorrow. My legs are shot. Doing both squats and deadlifts on the same day and for the high amount of sets and reps just burned them out. I definitely have that “leg day” feeling when I try to stand and walk. I can only imagine what tomorrow will be like.

leg day meme
Photo credit: troll.me

I still have to sort out how I want to re-enter my 5/3/1 routine. I could count the past week as week one and move on to a 3/3/3+ scheme for the coming week, or repeat week one again “for real” and move on from there.

I’ll rest up and see in a few days.

So to recap, I need to work on:

Squats: Keep knees in line with ankles and go straight down with my butt.

Deadlifts: Keep butt low, knees slightly forward to start, engage lats and wait, then push down with my legs, standing straight up.

Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow. It empties today of its strength.

Corrie Ten Boom

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