3/3/3+ Week, Better Squats, But Not So With The Bench Press

Photo credit: Bodybuilding.com

Well, I made it to the gym today but I didn’t cover myself in glory, much as I wanted to. I kept thinking about my 160 lbs PR for the bench press and how I just barely did a single. Frankly, I wasn’t looking forward to trying that again.

I took a couple of days off from work to do other projects, so yesterday I didn’t make it to the gym until around 6:30 a.m. Saw one of the regulars leaving just as I was walking in and he seemed a bit disappointed that I’d been so lax.

It was just a cardio and core day yesterday, but I can tell my oxygen uptake has fallen off a bit. That’s what happens when you neglect cardio. It’s the first thing to go when you stop working out (I looked it up).

Strength is next to go. I haven’t been neglecting that, but I guess we’ll see how I’m doing there by the by.

Here’s the start of my Wednesday morning.


Main Lifts

Back Squat in Squat Rack

10x 45lbs/20.4117kg (warm up)
5x 95lbs/43.0913kg (warm up)
3x 125lbs/56.699kg
3x 135lbs/61.235kg
5x 145lbs/65.7709kg (3+)
3x 155lbs/70.3068kg (joker)
3x 165lbs/74.8427kg (joker)
3x 175lbs/79.3787kg (joker) PR

Barbell Bench Press

10x 45lbs/20.4117kg (warm up)
5x 95lbs/43.0913kg (warm up)
3x 105lbs/47.6272kg
3x 125lbs/56.699kg
3x 135lbs/61.235kg (3+)
2x 145lbs/65.7709kg (joker)
1x 150lbs/68.0389kg (joker)
1x 150lbs/68.0389kg (joker)

Assistance Lifts

reverse grip row
Photo: Bodybuilding.com

Barbell Bent Over Row (5×10) 120lbs/54.4311kg

10x 120lbs/54.4311kg
10x 120lbs/54.4311kg
10x 120lbs/54.4311kg
10x 120lbs/54.4311kg
10x 120lbs/54.4311kg

Barbell Bench Press (5×10)

10x 110lbs/49.8952kg
10x 110lbs/49.8952kg
10x 100lbs/45.3592kg
10x 100lbs/45.3592kg
10x 100lbs/45.3592kg

Core Work

Leg Back Raises
Lx10, Rx10

Leg Side Raises
Lx10, Rx10

Alternating Arm/Leg Raises (Bird Dog)
10x each side

Standing on One Foot
30 seconds each side

When I got to the gym, I was the first one in the weight room, but I knew that was going to change. I felt OK doing squats. Sure, the warm ups hurt, but not as much as they used to. I felt pretty comfortable doing 5 reps with a 145 pound barbell for my 3+ set. After that, I kept incrementing the weight by 10 pounds a set and kept going, doing 3 reps per. Yes, I grunted and groaned, but I was doing well.

Then I saw bent over guy walk in and claim one of the bench press stations. If shaved head guy and his daughter came in and got the other one, my routine was done.

I could have upped the weight to 180 or maybe more for additional joker sets, but I needed to get that other bench press station, so I stopped at 3. After all, I set a new PR by 5 more pounds, so there was a minor victory to be had. There’s always next time to go further.

bench press
Photo credit: returnofkings.com

The bench press was another story. The warm up with the empty barbell was fine, but even the second warm up felt a tad heavy. 105 and 125 pounds were OK for 3 reps per set, but I didn’t feel I could do more than 3 reps for my 3+ set with a 135 pound barbell. Even a single at 160 pounds was out of the question.

So I did 2 reps at 145 and then just a couple of singles at 150, which seemed the absolute limit of my abilities this morning. I was disappointed but who knows? Maybe I’m just tired or having an off day. Technically, I’m done when I finish the 3+ set, but I look forward to the jokers. This time, they didn’t pay off with a new PR or anything near the old one.

By now, the weight room was packed. I should say that the minute I vacated the squat rack, bent over guy grabbed his gear and headed straight for it. I guess I did him a favor, especially since he was doing squats in there, then shrugs, and then calf raises. Glad I got to it first.

I’ve mentioned before that he’s pretty strong and he knows what he’s doing. He pulled a bench in the rack, just like I do, only his weights were amazing. He topped out at 285 pounds doing singles. It is clear that I have a long way to go.

By the way, shaved head guy and his daughter did come in but it was biceps/triceps day for them, so they didn’t go near the other bench press station. In fact, no one did for my entire time in the free weight room, so I probably could have done that fourth joker for my back squat. Who knew?

I kept “boring but big” bent over rows the way I planned at 120 pounds, 5 sets at 10 reps per set. But when I was considering dumbbell bench presses, I saw that 3 out of 4 of the benches were taken. On a whim, and since no one was using the other bench press station (thus no one was waiting to use mine), I decided on barbell bench presses for my last assistance lift.

I managed the first 2 sets using a 110 pound barbell, but my triceps were complaining all the way, so I lowered the weight to an even 100 pounds for the last 3 sets. Even then, the last 2 or 3 reps of each set were really hard. This is just not my day for bench presses.

As I was waiting between sets, I saw bent over guy had finally surrendered the squat rack, but someone had taken his place, a woman.

I’m not trying to be sexist and I believe everyone should lift, men and women alike, but it was the first time ever that I’d seen a woman in the squat rack at my little suburban gym.

I’ve seen this woman before. She’s rather short and round, not the body type you normally associate with lifting barbells. She always comes to the gym with a really tall and really thin woman. I believe the tall one served in the Army in Iraq.

the clean
Photo: crossfittidalwave.com

Anyway, their body types are polar opposites, which is why I first noticed them. I also saw that she was practicing the Clean (brief YouTube video). She rested the barbell on the lower supports of the squat rack, the ones I use for rack pulls, gripped it, pulled it up to her chest, and then lowered it.

At first she used just the barbell to warm up, but her weights never got above 70 or 75 pounds. I’d love to know her back story, because she’s the only person I’ve ever seen in this gym do anything like olympic weightlifting. Her partner (or whoever she is) doesn’t.

Only one more day in 3/3/3+ week. Tomorrow (unless I wimp out, then it’ll be Friday), main lifts are the overhead press and rack pull. My relation to the overhead press is a lot like the one I have for the bench press, but I’m hoping for a new PR with the rack pull.

Last week, I did a single for the last joker set using a 275 pound barbell. Interestingly enough, last Monday, I did my final joker set for deadlifts at 255 pounds for a new PR, only 20 pounds lighter. Is 300 pounds out of the question?

A champion is someone who gets up when they can’t.

Jack Dempsey


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