3/3/3+ Week of My Strength Training Reboot and All is Well (So Far)

eagle fitness
Eagle Fitness

For once, I was more or less ready to get up this morning. It was only a couple of minutes before 4 when I opened my eyes, and I hate the sound of my alarm (which is why I use it), so I quickly turned it off and got out of bed.

I was looking forward to seeing what I could do with my main lifts today. If I only have to do 3 reps per set, how much weight could I manage?

Thighs and lower back were at their typical level of tiredness/soreness so I didn’t feel particularly worried. I’m getting used to that being the norm. Went through my usual wake up routine of coffee and the online comic strips. Ate a small apple for the carbs. Got my workout log set up and finally it was time to head out the door for the gym.

I got there just a couple of minutes before opening. Saw some cars and trucks I didn’t recognize in the parking lot and instantly became possessive of the squat rack, hoping no other free weight lifters were going to compete for it once 5 a.m. hit.

Fortunately, this wasn’t the case and I stepped inside the rack about a minute after the gym doors were unlocked.

Rest times between sets were the usual. Here’s what happened this morning.


Main Lifts

Overhead Press in Squat Rack

8x 45lbs/20.4117kg (warm up)
3x 50lbs/22.6796kg
3x 55lbs/24.9476kg
5x 60lbs/27.2155kg (3+)
3x 65lbs/29.4835kg (joker)
3x 70lbs/31.7515kg (joker)
1x 75lbs/34.0194kg (joker)

Photo credit: Rebootedbody.com

Bent Leg Deadlift

5x 100lbs/45.3592kg (warm up)
3x 110lbs/49.8952kg
3x 120lbs/54.4311kg
6x 135lbs/61.235kg (3+)
3x 150lbs/68.0389kg (joker)
3x 175lbs/79.3787kg (joker)
3x 185lbs/83.9146kg (joker)
3x 195lbs/88.4505 (joker)
2x 200lbs/90.7185kg (joker)

Assistance Lifts (5×10)

Rack Pulls in Squat Rack

10x 145lbs/65.7709kg
10x 145lbs/65.7709kg
10x 145lbs/65.7709kg
10x 145lbs/65.7709kg
10x 150lbs/68.0389kg

Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press

10x 22.5lbs/10.20583kg
10x 22.5lbs/10.20583kg
10x 22.5lbs/10.20583kg
10x 22.5lbs/10.20583kg
10x 22.5lbs/10.20583kg

As always, during my warm up, even a 45 pound barbell feels heavy, but I knocked out 8 reps to loosen up, then hit my working sets which frankly, aren’t all that challenging at low reps.

overhead press
Photo credit: buffdudes.us/

The jokers, however, are a different story. I did 3 reps at 65 pounds and another 3 at 70, my “nemesis” weight. I decided to try for 75 and barely managed a single rep. Still, that’s a new post-personal training PR (I lifted 85 pre-training), so I took it with a modicum of pride.

By the time I was ready for my deadlifts, a father (shaved head guy) and daughter team had occupied both bench press stations, leaving me with the incline bench press station to work with. That particular bench is in an awkward area near the squat rack and smith machine, but beggars can’t be choosers, so I set things up by putting a couple of 45 pound weight plates on either side of where I’d set my light-weight barbell down, and started with 100 pounds for my warm up set.

I wanted to be able to see my reflection while doing deadlifts because I can now tell the difference between a good lift and when I round my back. Where I was working was in an area where the mirrors changed angles, and facing toward the east wall, I could only see my reflection from the side. I solved the problem about midway through my routine by changing the position of the barbell to face the angled mirror.

I saw that not all of my reps were picture perfect, especially as the weight went up. I still was locking my traps and keeping my arms straight (rather than trying to lift the barbell with my arms), and attempting to stand straight-up, but I still tended to hunch forward a bit during the initial part of the lift.

Fortunately, none of my “bad” reps resulted in any undue strain on my lower back. Once I got past my final working set at 135 pounds, I just kept on adding weight and having another go at it.

wide stance deadlift
Photo credit: t-nation.com

It started to feel actually heavy at 175 pounds, but still “doable” as long as I kept my form as correct as I was able. I was happy to be able to deadlift 185 and then 195 pounds. I was anxious to get back into the squat rack before someone else nabbed it and do my “boring but big” rack pulls, but figured “what the heck,” and did a final joker set at an even 200. I would have done 3 reps, but I caught the reflection of a guy behind me and let myself become distracted. I wanted full concentration at 200 pounds so I could make sure my back was protected.

OK, so I still set a new post-personal training PR of 200, even for just 2 reps, so I can be happy.

The guy who unwittingly distracted me was the tall, strong guy who just got past a broken foot. He was doing deadlifts right beside me (shaved head guy and his daughter had moved on by this time), but at 225 and then 235 pounds for 5 reps per set. I took a look at his form and for a tall guy, his butt seemed to be higher than where I like to have mine for deadlifts, and he seemed to be ratcheting up the weight with his back more than his legs.

He was wearing a weight belt, but from what I’ve read, they don’t provide that much protection. Still, he didn’t seem to be suffering any, apart from the effort of lifting such a heavy barbell, so I guess he knows what he’s doing.

In the meantime, I got back to the squat rack and set up for my rack pulls. The last time I did this for an assistance lift, I had the weight of the barbell at 125 pounds, except for the last set which I increased to 135. However, last Thursday, I did deadlifts for my assistance lifts, and performed 5 sets at 10 reps per set using a 135 pound barbell. I figured I could do more weight with rack pulls but didn’t want to exhaust myself, so only increased the weight on the bar to 145.

I finally broke a real sweat when doing deadlifts, so I was getting pretty tired between sets of rack pulls. Still for the last set, I increased the barbell weight a little to 150 pounds and went through the final 10 reps.

dumbbell shoulder press musclesMy dumbbell shoulder presses have been pretty inconsistent, with me moving back and forth between using 20, 22.5, and 25 pound dumbbells. I split the difference this time and did all 5 sets using a pair of 22.5s. This actually worked really well. Sure, I was huffing and puffing between sets and sweating like the proverbial pig, and that last set was murder, but I made it.

I’d been keeping an eye on the clock and it was just a hair before 6 a.m. when I finished my last assistance lift. It had taken me a whole hour just to make it through my basic 3/3/3+ routine for the day. That was it. I was satisfied with my accomplishments and figured I’d hit any core and ancillary work tomorrow on cardio day.

I also don’t think I’ll use next Friday for more squat practice. I need to get in more cardio, core, and flexibility work and I’ll use Tuesday and Friday for that sort of thing. I figure I can just drag a bench into the rack with me every time I do squats and use it as a target, at least until I become proficient at getting my rear end low consistently, particularly as I increase the weight.

Never rely on your friends for money, or on your money for friends.

Mardy Grothe


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