Starting the Final Week of Cycle Four in 5/3/1 Training a Day Early

bench press
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My wife’s schedule is turned around for the next week or two, so instead of going to the gym with her tomorrow morning, we went this morning. That means I’m starting week three of my fourth 5/3/1 cycle a day early. Good thing I ended week two on Wednesday instead of Thursday. Gave me one more day to recover.

We got to the gym a few minutes after it opened. Didn’t recognize the receptionist guy. There was only one other fellow using a cardio machine and the free weight room was deserted.

It took me a few minutes to get my bench press station set up properly. I swear, some of the people at the gym don’t think about the person who’ll be coming after them, and leave everything a scattered and mixed up mess.

I finally got all of the necessary weight plates gathered and dispensed with the redundant ones and got ready for my bench press.

I was actually glad to be alone, because if I decided to push it and got caught under the barbell, there’d be no witnesses to me having to dump the plates on the floor in order to get loose.

How did I do on that fine Saturday morning? Let me show you.


Main Lifts

Barbell Bench Press

10x 45lbs/20.4117kg (warm up)
8x 95lbs/43.0913kg (warm up)
5x 110lbs/49.8952kg
3x 125lbs/56.699kg
3x 140lbs/63.5029kg
1x 150lbs/68.0389kg (joker)
1x 155lbs/70.3068kg (joker)
1x 160lbs/72.5748kg (joker)

2013 Open workout descriptions with Julie Foucher
Photo: 2013 Open workout descriptions with Julie Foucher

Bent Leg Deadlift

10x 135lbs/61.235kg (warm up)
5x 190lbs/86.1826kg
3x 215lbs/97.5224kg
5x 235lbs/106.594kg
3x 250lbs/113.398kg (joker)
1x 265lbs/120.202kg (joker)
0x 280lbs/127.006kg (joker) -failed rep-
1x 270lbs/122.47kg (joker)

Assistance Lifts

Overhead Cable Triceps Ext w/rope

3x 100lbs/45.3592kg
10x 85lbs/38.5554kg
10x 70lbs/31.7515kg
10x 70lbs/31.7515kg
10x 70lbs/31.7515kg
10x 70lbs/31.7515kg

Box Squats in Squat Rack

10x 45lbs/20.4117kg
10x 55lbs/24.9476kg
10x 65lbs/29.4835kg
10x 80lbs/36.2874kg
10x 95lbs/43.0913kg

Core Work

Balancing on one foot
30 seconds each side

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

The bench press warm ups and working sets went pretty well, though my last working set felt heavy doing three reps with a 140 pound barbell.

On to the jokers.

I think I even dreamed of benching 165 pounds for a new PR last night. At least it seemed that way. Maybe I was daydreaming. Anyway, I increased the weight to 150 pounds and did a disappointing single rep. Same with the second joker at 155. I grudgingly increased the weight to 160…and just barely made the single. It still felt heavy, and it was still my triceps that are the weak link in the chain.

weak-linkI have to say though, that as I was about to attempt my last joker, someone else walked into the weight room and right past my head, so I let myself get distracted. I don’t know if that had anything to do with it or not, but it does require a lot of concentration to do a heavy (for me) lift.

That was that for the bench press. No new PR, but I don’t think I’m losing (much) ground, either.

I set up for my warm up deadlifts and snapped off an easy 10 reps with a 135 pound barbell. The guy in the red hoodie (that’s what I’m calling him) was doing a combination of chest, back, and triceps work. Typical bodybuilder routine.

I quickly moved through my three working sets, pulling off 5 reps in the 1+ set at 235 pounds. I could feel the weight definitely, but it was hardly insurmountable.

I could do 3 reps at 250 pounds but only managed a single at 265.

I decided to just match my PR of last week and increased the weight on the bar to 280 pounds.

I’d been resting over 2 minutes between sets. I had all the time in the world, this being the weekend. I got ready. More people were coming into the weight room now, including what I’d call a typical “old strength” guy with pure white hair and a sleeveless shirt.

I set my stance at the barbell, tightened everything up, took a firm grip and several deep breaths. But I could barely raise the weight a few inches off the ground.

Not to be deterred, I reduced the weight on the bar by 10 pounds and immediately tried again. This time, I was successful at slowly but completely lifting 270 pounds off of the floor and assuming a standing position.

Good but not great. A 270 pound deadlift is respectable in my book, but I still lagged 10 pounds behind last week’s PR.

I had intended to do the Tate Press for my triceps as an assistance lift, but I’d forgotten to look up the info on how to do it before leaving home, and I didn’t remember the procedure.

So I settled on overhead cable triceps extensions as a reasonable alternative. After that, I still had time, so since no one had gone anywhere near the squat rack, I got the 12 inch high box and did some “boring but big” box squats. Nothing spectacular, but I was able to do 10 reps in the final set at 95 pounds. Hopefully, that’ll translate into better performance when I do squats as my main lift next week.

I'll be backI checked, and my wife was still working out, so I had time for my Kasey the Killer Chiropractor core work. I can stand on one foot for 30 seconds reasonably well, but when I close my eyes, I fall over after about 3 or 4 seconds. I don’t know how to conquer this one.

Leaving the gym, I felt totally beaten up. I guess deadlifts and squats, even with the latter being a lightweight assistance lift, really took something out of me.

I could go for either a nap or another cup of coffee, but given the way this day is going, I’m not going to get either. What I’m hoping for is some rest and recovery. If I don’t lift again until Wednesday or Thursday, that gives my body and nervous system 4 or 5 days to build back up. I hope they build well.

All we are not stares back at what we are.

W.H. Auden


2 thoughts on “Starting the Final Week of Cycle Four in 5/3/1 Training a Day Early

  1. Nice work James. I tried the sqt and DL once a week alternating weeks . I got so sore a few days after sqts last Monday I could barely walk up the steps in my house. I am going to try the program from Ripps book Practical Programing. There is a routine for oldsters where you sqt twice a week one heavy day and a lite day when you also DL. The other lifts are pull downs benches and press . I hope cutting out the accessory lifts will up my weights on the main lifts.


    1. So far, I think my body is adapting reasonably well to lifting only twice a week. My legs feel sore for days after squats and deadlifts, but I do each only once per week now. My biggest problem is my weak triceps are inhibiting my bench press and overhead press, so I’m concentrating my assistance lifts in that area.


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