Finished Week One, Cycle Three of 5/3/1 and Everything Feels Heavy

leg cramp cat
Image: debaucherysoup.com

I didn’t want to get out of bed again this morning. I felt beat. I even thought of taking another rest day and lifting tomorrow. Maybe I should have.

The leg cramp that hit me when I tried to get out of bed might have been a bad omen. I shook it off pretty fast, though.

Went through my morning routine, but still was feeling kind of loggy. Started coming a little more alive as I was driving to the gym. Got inside when the place opened up and headed for the power rack. I wasn’t feeling enthusiastic, but I can’t tell if it was attitude or just being physically tired that was making me dread my workout.

Here’s how I ended week one of cycle three of my program.

5/5/5+

Main Lifts

Overhead Press in Squat Rack

10x 45lbs/20.4117kg (warm up)
5x 55lbs/24.9476kg
5x 65lbs/29.4835kg
6x 70lbs/31.7515kg (5+)
4x 75lbs/34.0194kg (joker)
3x 80lbs/36.2874kg (joker)
1x 85lbs/38.5554kg (joker)

Rack Pull in Squat Rack

5x 155lbs/70.3068kg (warm up)
5x 175lbs/79.3787kg
5x 205lbs/92.9864kg
8x 220lbs/99.7903kg (5+)
5x 235lbs/106.594kg (joker)
3x 260lbs/117.934kg (joker)
1x 280lbs/127.006kg (joker)
0x 295lbs/133.81kg (joker)

Assistance Lifts

seated dumbbell shoulder press
Photo: bodybuilding.com

Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press (5×10) 30lbs/13.6078kg

10x 30lbs/13.6078kg
10x 30lbs/13.6078kg
10x 25lbs/11.3398kg
10x 25lbs/11.3398kg
10x 25lbs/11.3398kg

Core Work (3×10)

Leg Back Raises
Lx10, Rx10
Lx10, Rx10
Lx10, Rx10

Leg Side Raises
Lx10, Rx10
Lx10, Rx10
Lx10, Rx10

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

Standing on One Foot
30 seconds each side

Warm ups for the overhead press always hurt, but even my working sets felt harder than they should have. My second working set was really difficult, and I had to power through all 5 reps. It felt like a joker set. So did my 5+ set, but I squeezed a sixth rep in there anyway.

I was feeling a little more confident when I did 4 reps in my first joker and 3 for the second, but I could only manage a single with an 85 pound barbell. I wanted at least a single at 90, but I didn’t feel up to it.

As I was switching my set up to do rack pulls, I noticed shaved head guy’s daughter come into the weight room and claim one of the 2 bench press stations. A few minutes later, shaved head guy came in and got the other one. I suppose they think they’re the only 2 people in the gym who might want to bench press.

I’m paying more attention to this for reasons I’ll explain in a minute.

Rack pulls were great, mostly anyway. I was feeling really strong and did 8 reps for my 5+ set. Last week, I did a PR of 290 pounds/131.542 kilos for 1 rep and I thought about aiming for 295 today.

I was cranking away pretty well through my jokers and after a single with a 280 pound barbell, I figured what the heck. 295, here I come.

rack pulls
Photo: nailsworthstrengthandfitness.co.uk

I added the required weight plates to the barbell and then rested for more than 2 minutes. I approached the barbell, assumed the position, tightened everything up, took several deep breaths…and pulled.

Nothing happened. I refocused my attention and tried again. This time for sure. The barbell budged a little, but my body was telling me that it wasn’t in the mood for this sort of weight today. Maybe next week.

I sighed and started unloading the barbell.

45 minutes had passed since I entered the gym and I had to make a decision about which assistance lift to perform. Since my overhead press continues to lag, I settled on seated dumbbell shoulder presses and got to it.

I did the first 2 sets with a pair of 30 pounders, but I was tiring fast, so I switched to a couple of 25 pound dumbbells for the last 3 sets. Even that was a chore for the last several reps of each set.

I was fried, but I still couldn’t neglect my Kasey the Chiropractor core work.

I did my “balancing act” first, mainly because there’s a digital clock in the weight room and I can see when 30 seconds pass without cheating. It’s still really difficult and I wobble a lot, which means I have to lightly touch a rack to keep from falling. I forced myself to do the rest of the core exercises and then left the gym.

Joe, who is probably in his mid to late 70s left at the same time and he seemed relieved. He works out Monday through Thursday, doing pretty much the same thing each day. He was glad he was done doing the same thing for the week. I was glad I survived continually pushing myself, but disappointed that I’m not seeing better results.

Which brings me to why I’m paying attention to when shaved head guy and his daughter have chest day(s).

I’m considering changing from lifting 4 days a week to 3 after I finish the current three-week 5/3/1 cycle. Jerry, one of my readers, suggested that I might not be giving myself enough recovery time, and maybe he’s right.

I’ve felt pretty worn down several days this week and overworking myself is one likely reason. Sadly, older people do take longer to recover than younger lifters.

But, on the bright side, if I lift 3 days a week, I can do cardio the other 3, so that could be a win-win, as long as the cardio doesn’t wear my legs down too much.

Here’s what I’m thinking of:

Sunday:
Squat
Overhead Press
Bench Press

bench press anatomyTuesday:
Squat
Overhead Press
Deadlifts

Thursday:
Squat
Rack Pulls
Bench Press

I’ll have to switch out bench presses for something else on Thursday, since shaved head guy and his daughter also bench that day. If I did squats and rack pulls first, I’d never get to a bench press station in time.

Yes, I’ll be squatting every day I lift. I can’t remember where I read it, but it was a recommendation for one sort of strength training routine or another. I can always make adjustments if it doesn’t work out.

Main lifts stay the same, I just have to do 3 instead of 2 each day I lift. Maybe I’ll do something like:

Sunday:
Squat
Overhead Press
Bench Press

Tuesday:
Squat
Bench Press
Deadlifts

Thursday:
Squat
Overhead Press
Rack Pulls

On Sundays, I know shaved head guy and his daughter either don’t come in to the gym or come in after I leave (I saw them arriving one Sunday morning as the missus and I were walking out the door after our workout). I just don’t remember if their other chest day is Monday or Tuesday.

It might be Monday, since I recall on several occasions having to use the incline bench press station for deadlifts since the flat benches were occupied, and I always deadlift on Mondays. I’ll have to pay more attention next week.

That’s it for week one of my third cycle of 5/3/1 strength training. Compared to week one of the last cycle, my overhead press hasn’t gotten any better. My bench press PR for 3 weeks ago was 150 pounds for a single, and I’ve managed to occasionally beat that, but 150 to 155 pounds still seems plenty heavy.

deadpoolMy back squat is a little better. My PR for week one of cycle two was 165 pounds for 3 reps, and since then, I’ve increased the weight to 180. Deadlifts and rack pulls have both improved, so I can’t complain there.

They say “slow and steady wins the race.” Yeah, I’m progressing in most areas, but it is really slow, or it seems that way to me. Maybe my expectations are unrealistic.

I’ll take it easy for the next couple of days. Planning on taking the day off of work and going to see Deadpool tomorrow afternoon with my son David.

Then on Sunday, we’ll see what we can see when week two of the cycle begins.

I hope 2 days rest is enough. Right now my body feels like it’s made of lead.

The best things in life aren’t things.

Art Buchwald

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7 thoughts on “Finished Week One, Cycle Three of 5/3/1 and Everything Feels Heavy

  1. Here is a a link to a thread I started a while ago on the Starting Strength forum concerning training programs designed for elderly,http://startingstrength.com/resources/forum/the-elderly/58992-page-233-ppst3.html It seems even if you are in your 40’s you may have to adjust your program to take into account the slower recovery ability .
    I worked out Monday doing a full body WO consisting of safety bar sqts, DB bench press, pull downs, shrugs and EZB curls, two sets of each exercise. I planned to repeat the WO yesterday but when I went to sqt I got a cramp in my right hamstring. So I didn’t sqt,just did incline benches, v handle pull downs and DB shrugs. My upper body,arms are a little sore today and
    I sure don’t feel lifting today. I know in another day or so I will feel better and be itching to get back to lifting. Let me know what you think about this. You can read some good info on the site in the forums Elderly section. Plenty of people our age are still hitting some good numbers,but most seem to WO less often.

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    1. Elderly? I feel like I’m old since I’m turning 62 this summer, but my Dad is elderly (he turns 84 in a couple of months). Of course, as you say, people have to start making adjustments in their workout routine once they hit their 40s (whatever happened to 60 being the new 40?).

      I’m going to take the link you provided along with other links I found in that discussion forum, and turn the info into another blog post, probably for tomorrow, as I process how I’m going to “reinvent” my workout based on that collection of wisdom.

      Like

  2. Why not switch to strength training just twice per week (more recovery time) with a couple light cardio says for active rest?

    Peace ~ Bear

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    1. You’re reading my mind. I’m writing a blog post right now that I’ll publish tomorrow morning answering that very question. I’m still hesitant to lift only twice a week, especially if I only squat 1x during the first week and then only deadlift 1x on the alternate week. I understand the need for recovery time, but will squatting and deadlifting only once every 14 days be enough?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Squat, OHP on Monday and Deadlift, BP on Thurday followed by light pumping stuff. Cardio/mobility on Tues and Fri. 🙂

        Like

      2. Nice! Two heavy strength days and two lighter kettlebell/HIIT days with some walking like five or six days days per week is all I can take. I feel too beat up when I try to lift like I did even in my 40s. I will turn 60 soon.

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