Deload Week Day Two And I Miss Heavier Weights

rest day
Photo credit: Fitness Exercises

Slept reasonably well and was clear-headed when I woke up for the most part, so I knew I was ready for day two of my deload week. It’s already killing me not to lift as heavy as I can, and my brain is constantly at war with my testosterone.

Just like yesterday, I didn’t have a deload plan that was carved in granite. I had the bare bones of what I wanted to do written in my workout log, but figured I’d sort of “wing it” and see what happened.

I actually got to the gym about 4 minutes before the hour and had to keep my engine running so I’d get some heat. It was around 28 degrees F (about -2.22222 C) outside and that was a little too cool for me just sitting in my car without the heater going.

The usual crowd showed up and as soon as I could, I got inside, ditched my hoodie, and headed back to the squat rack. When I started working out, the weight room was empty, but alas, it wasn’t going to stay that way.

I’m finding on deload week, I don’t seem to have to rest as long between sets and my general workout goes faster, even though I’m pumping up the volume. I have no idea what that means.

Here’s how I started Monday morning.



Overhead Press in Squat Rack

8x 45lbs/20.4117kg (warm up)
8x 45lbs/20.4117kg
5x 50lbs/22.6796kg
5x 55lbs/24.9476kg
6x 55lbs/24.9476kg
6x 55lbs/24.9476kg

Bent Leg Deadlifts

10x 115lbs/52.1631kg (warm up)
10x 135lbs/61.235kg
10x 135lbs/61.235kg
10x 135lbs/61.235kg
10x 135lbs/61.235kg
10x 135lbs/61.235kg

Rack Pulls in Squat Rack

5x 135lbs/61.235kg (warm up)
5x 185lbs/83.9146kg
5x 185lbs/83.9146kg
5x 185lbs/83.9146kg
5x 185lbs/83.9146kg
5x 185lbs/83.9146kg

seated dumbbell shoulder press

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


60 sec Roman Chair Back and Ham Stretch
30 sec each leg Quad Stretch
60 sec Butterfly Stretch

I kept the weight of my overhead press modest and didn’t stick to a strict 5 reps per set. I did what I more or less felt I could do. When I exceeded my three working sets, I kept the weight the same and just continued lifting.

When I wanted to switch to deadlifts, I noticed that shaved head guy and his daughter had the only two flat bench press stations occupied. No problem. I used the barbell at the incline bench press station.

But I decided rather than some sort of lightweight progression of 5/5/5, I’d treat this like an assistance lift. I still did a warm up set, but then I increased the weight to 135 pounds and pumped out 5 sets at 10 reps per. I’m not sure my form was perfect for each rep, but the weight was light enough and my back’s gotten strong enough to forgive some errors.

As I progressed through my sets, I got faster in my reps and didn’t need to reset my lats each time. This resulted in me being out of breath at the end of each set, but I also recovered in less than 2 minutes.

As I was finishing, tall, formerly broken foot guy came in, and I felt kind of embarrassed because this guy can routinely deadlift 250 pounds for 5 reps per set. I felt really silly moving on to rack pulls at a working weight of 185 pounds, but that weight felt like enough for a deload and after all, this is supposed to be “rest,” right?

Since I was moving pretty fast in my lifts and not resting as long as usual, I was blowing through my routine. I knew I’d have some extra time when my scheduled lifts were done, and I was scrambling inside my head, trying to think of what I’d do afterward.

For my dumbbell shoulder presses, again, I kept the weight at less than I can lift, but it was still enough that for the fourth and fifth set, I had to make my weaker left arm (triceps) work hard to finish each rep.

What can I say? Nothing to write home about. Since I still had 10 minutes or so left before the top of the hour, I decided to work on my much neglected stretches. I hopped onto the roman chair and just let myself hang for full minute, worked on stretching my quads next, and finished up by doing a minute at the butterfly stretch (which is especially difficult for me).

back squat
Photo credit: Tribe Sports

I’ve never been what you’d call limber and loose, even when I was much younger, so I’ll have to get used to incorporating stretches into my usual lifting routine as time allows.

Only day two in my deload week and I’m already looking forward to starting the second cycle in the 5/3/1 strength training routine. That’ll be my 5/5/5 week but in looking at my former weights, there’s a problem, at least with my back squat.

My back squat working weights were:

145lbs/65.7709kg (5+)

However, I know I can’t get my rear all the way to the bench past about 130 to 135 pounds. That means for the third set, I’ll have to do a less than traditional squat…unless I can work on increasing my strength and endurance this week.

Yesterday, I managed 3 sets at 5 reps per set using a 135 pound barbell and getting my buns down to the bench for all of my reps. Next Wednesday, do I attempt to do the same thing, but with a barbell that’s 5 or 10 pounds heavier?

Remember, the plan is to increase the weights over what I did last cycle, even if only by 5 pounds. But that puts my highest working weight at 150 pounds for back squats.

My highest working weight for the bench press last cycle was 125 pounds, which I can do correctly getting the bar down to my chest for each rep. I can do that at 130 pounds as well, so I don’t think it’ll be a problem.

For the overhead press and deadlift, you can’t cheat. I can either press the barbell above my head or not. I can either do a correct deadlift (without a back tweak) or not, regardless of the weight.

Highest working weight for my overhead press on the last 5/5/5 week was 55 pounds and I was pretty successful performing with that weight today. I think 60 pounds will be OK for 5 reps.

For deadlifts, my prior highest working weight for week one of cycle one was 130 pounds, so 135, 140, or even 145 should be OK. I’ve been doing deadlifts as assistance lifts at 145 pounds, so I could even go higher for a 5 rep set if I wanted. I also don’t see increasing the rack pull weight up to 185 pounds or more for 5 reps as a problem.

Deadlifts used to be where I hurt myself most consistently. Now, it seems to be the lift where I’m progressing the fastest.


As far as increasing the weight for the rest of my assistance work, I’ll play that one by ear. I can either lift a particular weight for 5 sets at 10 reps per set or I can’t, so I’ll keep making adjustments and monitoring my performance.

I know the effectiveness of incorporating a deload week is controversial, but rather than relying on the pundits in this field, who often contradict each other, I’ll have to let my experience be the final word. Will deload week let my body rest enough to come back stronger than ever next week?

We’ll find out next week.

In the meantime, with the first two days of deload week done, just about every muscle in my body is sore. Something must be happening.

Our business in life is not to get ahead of other people, but to get ahead of ourselves.

Maltbie Babcock


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