The End of Cycle Four of 5/3/1 Training

Woman doing squats
Photo credit:

So ends the fourth cycle in my 5/3/1 program, and I’m still feeling stuck…well kind of.

I’ve been lazy this week and have only done one cardio and core session, which was on Monday. Yesterday, I just wasn’t feeling it and spent an extra 30 minutes in bed before getting up and just puttering around the house until it was time to go to work. Maybe the fact that my wife is out of town on a brief vacation has something to do with it.

But I was looking forward to finishing up cycle four in my program this morning. I wasn’t sure how I’d do.

Up to now, my back squat PR has been 1x 195lbs/88.4505kg and for my overhead press, the PR is 1x 100lbs/45.3592kg. I was hoping I could at least match them if not exceed each one by 5 pounds or so.

Didn’t quite work out that way.


Main Lifts

Back Squat in Squat Rack

10x 45lbs/20.4117kg (warm up)
8x 95lbs/43.0913kg (warm up)
5x 130lbs/58.967kg
3x 145lbs/65.7709kg
3x 165lbs /74.8427kg
2x 175lbs/79.3787kg (joker)
1x 185lbs/83.9146kg (joker)
1x 195lbs/88.4505kg (joker)

Overhead Press in Squat Rack

10x 45lbs/20.4117kg (warm up)
5x 65lbs/29.4835kg
3x 75lbs/34.0194kg
2x 85lbs/38.5554kg
2x 90lbs/40.8233kg (joker)
1x 95lbs/43.0913kg (joker)
0x 100lbs/45.3592kg (joker) failed rep
2x 95lbs/43.0913kg (joker)

Assistance Lift

bench press
Proto credit:

Barbell Bench Press (5×10)

10x 95lbs/43.0913kg
10x 95lbs/43.0913kg
10x 95lbs/43.0913kg
10x 95lbs/43.0913kg
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

I pulled into the gym parking lot just a few minutes before the place opened. I scanned the various cars and vans present and saw that strong, bent over guy was there. Darn. He is a heavy lifter, and even though he favors the Smith machine over the squat rack, he still might want/need to use it.

He and Joe waited with me at the front door of the gym until the lights popped on, and fighting my selfishness, I held the door open for them so they could go in first.

My worries were for naught. Bent over guy started out with deadlifts so the squat rack was all mine.

squat to seat

As usual, I pulled a bench in and started with warm ups, which went well. But even the working sets hit the outside of my thighs causing them to burn and ache. I still managed 3 reps on my 1+ set. I was conservative in the first 2 jokers, only doing 2 reps and then 1 rep respectively.

Then I increased the weight on the barbell to 195 pounds, which is my current PR and after resting, pulled off a single, but something happened. It’s like the muscle on the outside of my left thigh is bruised. It still aches but only on the left leg.

I don’t know what I did, but it surprised me, and I decided against trying another joker at 200 pounds. Oh well, at least I didn’t go backward.

After last week’s failure with my overhead press due to tired triceps, I felt I had rested them enough to try again for a 100 pound joker set and maybe even a little more.

Again, warm ups were fine but by the time I got to my 1+ set, 85 pounds was feeling plenty heavy, and I only managed 2 reps. Again, I played it conservatively as I started my jokers, doing only 2 reps at 90 pounds and a single at 95. Now on to 100.

That didn’t work. I got the barbell only part of the way up, lowered it, and then tried again. But even pushing as hard as I could, I wasn’t able to complete the lift.

I unloaded the barbell and was ready to move on to an assistance lift, but I was so frustrated, that I loaded the barbell up to 95 pounds again and did 2 reps, just for spite.

Then, I was ready to leave the power rack.

All of the benches were taken, so dumbbell work was out of the question. Good thing I didn’t have my heart set on doing tate presses for my lagging triceps.

I settled on some lighter bench presses instead, since both bench press stations were open.

why women squat

By now, the weight room was packed. Big Daddy and Hit Girl were there, but it was triceps/biceps day for them. Tall, formerly broken foot guy was also present, but he was doing dumbbell chest presses with a pair of 80 pounders.

I did see a new face, a woman, walk into the squat rack. She was a living example of how squats make for a “fine booty”. She squatted pretty light, but her form was good, so I figured she knew what she was doing.

Really ladies, there’s no reason why you can’t squat or do bench presses, deadlifts, and overhead presses. What works for guys, works for gals.

After I finished my “boring but big” assistance lifts, I moved on to the Kasey the Killer Chiropractor core work. I can stand on each foot for 30 seconds or so as long as my eyes are open and I’m focused on a nearby object, but when I close my eyes, as Kasey suggests, I fall over in 3 to 4 seconds.

Is that what’s wrong with my squats?

That’s it. cycle four is over.

I looked back at 5/3/1 day in the prior cycle and didn’t see much difference in my performance. I went back to cycle two, and over the past 6 weeks, I have made some minor strength gains.

My PR 6 weeks ago for my back squat was 2x 180lbs/81.6466kg and I failed a rep at 185. Today, I did 1x 185 and 1x 195. For the overhead press in cycle two, my PR was 2x 90lbs/40.8233kg, and today, I did a single at 95 pounds, and after my failure with a 100 pound barbell, I did 2 more reps at 95.

I decided to check my progress on the bench press and deadlifts.

I’m still stuck at 1x 160lbs/72.5748kg at my bench, and although I previously did a single deadlift at 280lbs/127.006kg, last weekend, I could only do 1x 270lbs/122.47kg after failing a rep at 280.

Over the past 6 weeks, there has been absolutely no improvement in my bench press. My best was 160 pounds for a single rep then, and that’s all I can do now.

For the deadlift, 6 weeks ago, my PR was 1x 260lbs/117.934kg, and my rack pull was 1x 290lbs/131.542kg, so I’d say I’ve made a bit of progress here.

dark gym
Photo credit:

Except for my bench press, I’ve made some strength gains, not a lot, but it’s measurable. I suppose the reduced lifting schedule has helped, but the only way to see if that progress will continue over time is to take it into the next cycle which starts this weekend.

I have to say that except for the soreness of the outer thigh of my left leg, I’ve been injury free, which is the best possible news. I’m helping my son with his yard work tomorrow as he gets ready to sell his house, but other than that, I should be able to rest up fairly well in preparation of cycle five.

The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.

Ayn Rand


2 thoughts on “The End of Cycle Four of 5/3/1 Training

  1. it seems to me you are making good progress. 5/3/1 for the win, because the interwebz says so. 🙂 kee pushing it. also, don’t sweat the lack of a new PR. as long as you follow the program PRs will come.


    1. Thanks. I appreciate the encouragement. Today, the DOMS feel very real, especially when I stand up after sitting for a while. Hope your arm heals soon.


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