Wow! I’ve just completed the first two weeks of my first round in my 5/3/1 reboot. Only one more week to go before I either decide to do a second three-week round or elect to do a deload week. I will eventually do deloads, but I’ve seen where there’s an option to do them after each three-week circuit or to go through two full circuits and then deload. Guess we’ll see what I feel like at the end of next week.
I must admit that I woke up less than inspired. In fact, for some reason, I felt a little nervous about lifting this morning. I still don’t know why. Maybe I thought I wouldn’t get to the squat rack fast enough. Both of my main lifts today required the squat rack, so if someone beat me to it when the gym opened, I’d be pretty much out of luck.
Fortunately, that didn’t happen.
I got to the gym about a minute before the doors were unlocked, gave my member number to the gal at the front desk once I got inside (I like it when they actually memorize the number), ditched my hoodie, and got to the (fortunately unoccupied) squat rack. In fact, for the duration of my workout, the weight room only had two or three other people using it.
As it turns out, whatever I was nervous about didn’t happen and I had a great workout. I started out resting between sets around 60 to 90 seconds but after rack pulls, that increased to 2 minutes, and eventually, just a tad longer.
Here’s my morning thus far.
Overhead Press in Squat Rack
5x 45lbs/20.4117kg (warm up)
6x 60lbs/27.2155kg (3+)
3x 65lbs/29.4835kg (joker)
3x 70lbs/31.7515kg (joker)
3x 75lbs/34.0194kg (joker)
2x 80lbs/36.2874kg (joker)
Rack Pull in Squat Rack
5x 135lbs/61.235kg (warm up)
6x 185lbs/83.9146kg (3+)
3x 205lbs/92.9864kg (joker)
3x 225lbs/102.058kg (joker)
2x 235lbs/106.594 (joker)
Bent Leg Deadlifts (5×10) 145lbs/65.7709kg
Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press (5×10) 22.5lbs/10.20583kg
I checked back more than a month in my exercise log and discovered that today’s final joker for the overhead press is a new post-personal training PR. I managed 70 and 75 pounds for 3 reps each pretty well and thought I could do another 3 at 80. I did the first 2 but when I tried for the third, I stalled halfway up and decided to call it good.
I have to say that I think I’m getting better at this lift. Looking way back to the end of October when I was still doing my mutant strength training, I only managed a single rep at 85 pounds. I’m hoping to match or beat that next week in my final joker set.
With the overhead press done, I moved on to rack pulls. Everything felt pretty easy until I hit 185 pounds. Then I started experiencing what “heavy” felt like, particularly for 6 reps (my 3+ set). After that, I just kept upping the weight. Last week, my heaviest rack pull for the final joker was 215 pounds, so I nudged it up to 225 and went through 3 reps this time around.
I’d been in the squat rack for about 30 minutes at this point, and very conscious that someone else might want to use it (as it turns out, no one else did while I was at the gym), but I felt I had enough in me for one more joker. I increased the weight on the barbell to 235 pounds, got into position, and lifted. The barbell came up, but somewhere in there, I suddenly became aware that I hadn’t changed the grip of my right hand from overhand to underhand, which I usually do once I go over 200 pound.
My grip was still fine, which probably means it’s getting stronger, but the thought distracted me enough to limit me to 2 reps instead of 3. The last time I was similarly distracted, I hurt my back, and I really wanted to avoid a repeat performance.
That was it. I think my old PR pre-personal training was 260 pounds for rack pulls, but post-personal training, 235 is a new PR, so I let that be good enough. Besides, I still had “boring but big” deadlifts to consider, and I was increasing the weight this week from 135 to 145 for a full 50 reps spread across 5 sets.
The good thing about doing so many reps for deadlifts is that it gives me plenty of practice with my form. In fact, about halfway through my routine, I realized that I wasn’t squatting down low enough, and was still pulling the weight up as much with my lower back as I was with my legs. Squatting lower to the floor engages my legs more and once I started doing that, I really felt the difference.
I’d started sweating and breathing heavy during rack pulls and that all continued with deadlifts. I looked in the mirror and saw how the sweat dripping from my face and neck was soaking the collar of my t-shirt. I only felt slightly light-headed at one point, which is a good sign, but I still needed a full 2 minutes rest between sets and maybe a little more between sets 4 and 5.
But it worked. While I could feel some aching in my lower back, there was no tweak, no actual pain, and no inhibition in my workout.
This was all taking up a lot of time and I doubted I’d get through my final assistance lifts before 6 a.m. That’s not actually a problem, but I don’t like to dawdle if I don’t have to.
I should mention that this being Friday, Chase (the guy I did personal training with) was teaching his usual morning group. He was at the other side of the gym but still had line of sight into the free weight room, and I found myself wondering if he was assessing my deadlifts on the sly.
But with those done, all I had left were dumbbell shoulder presses.
I had programmed this exercise to use a pair of 22.5 pound dumbbells, but I thought I’d start out with a couple of 25s just to see how far I could go. For a while, I thought I’d be able to do all 5 sets at the increased weight, but I only managed 3. For the final 2, even the 22.5 pounders felt heavy, and those last 2 reps of the final set were murder, especially for my left arm.
After the final set was over, I noticed my surroundings and realized I’d been alone in the weight room for quite some time. It was just past 6 a.m. and I was all in. No core or ancillary work for me. Time to head on home and get ready for work.
I’m continuing to have really successful post-personal training workouts. I haven’t been paying so much attention to my meals or my body weight, which I do need to start working on, but I feel like my progression and my lifting form are, if not spot on, substantially improved, enough for me to go through morning after morning of lifting and not get hurt.
As a semi-humorous aside, the only other distraction besides the ones I mentioned was my t-shirt, at least for the overhead press.
While getting dressed for the gym, I grabbed a bland, gray t-shirt out of the closet without thinking too much about it, but when I lifted my arms over my head for the barbell overhead press, the bottom of the shirt came up exposing my midriff. I suppose if I was totally ripped and had an awesome six-pack, that wouldn’t have been an issue, but while I don’t have a “gut”, I don’t have defined abs either.
I guess it’s not as bad as those guys who bend over at the gym and show off “plumber’s crack,” but I still prefer longer t-shirts.
I’ve been looking at my performance over the past two weeks and projecting into next week (5/3/1+ week). My primary 3 sets of my main lifts are all within the “doable” range for the number of reps per set required, which makes me wonder if I set up those weights too light when mapping out my routine. On the other hand, the program requires that you start light, probably lighter than you can really do, so you have room to progress upward. That, plus the fact that joker sets let you challenge yourself, are the saving grace.
I have to admit that not only am I getting a sense of accomplishment out of this program, I’m also have a lot of fun. Now I need to let enough time pass to see if this is really going to change my body for the better. So far so good.
How do I feel now that several hours have passed since I lifted? I had a really good full-body workout. Apart from my pecs and my gut, everything feels sore and tired, not hurt sore, but “I-lifted-weights” sore. My next mission is to suck down sufficient protein throughout the day to help my muscles repair and grow stronger, as well as to replace the carbs I burned.
Rest tomorrow, then hit the third and final week in the first (rebooted) 5/3/1 cycle hard (but safe).
Talk to you again afterward.
The man who can drive himself further once the effort gets painful is the man who will win.