Feeling Intimidated When Lifting Heavy (for me) Weights

Photo: menshealth.com

While lying in bed this morning before getting up, I mentally rehearsed my lifting routine, even fantasizing about making new PRs in both main lifts, if only by a little. Unfortunately, fantasy and reality are two different things.

I stayed in bed until almost seven this morning. My wife is out of town, so I have total control of how I organize my time. I still got up soon enough to drink coffee, water, and to eat a banana, as well as read the Sunday online funnies to get my brain to come back to life.

Still, I barely got to the gym a couple of minutes before Bryce arrived to open up the doors. Don was there with his girlfriend/wife, but fortunately, he hits the incline bench first thing on Sundays. No one else was in the free weight room right then, so I grabbed my favorite bench press station, and for once, it only needed a little straightening out.

Since Bryce doesn’t arrive early to do his “prep” work, he didn’t turn on the lights in the weight room until a few minutes after I got inside, so I really couldn’t start lifting until I could see.

This is day one of week one of the fifth circuit in my 5/3/1 strength training routine. It would be nice if I could actually accomplish something.

Here’s Sunday morning of what turned out to be a beautiful spring day in Southwestern Idaho.


Main Lifts

Barbell Bench Press

10x 45lbs/20.4117kg (warm up)
5x 95lbs/43.0913kg
5x 110lbs/49.8952kg
6x 125lbs/56.699kg
4x 135lbs/61.235kg (joker)
2x 145lbs/65.7709kg (joker)
1x 155lbs/70.3068kg (joker)

Photo credit: westcoasttribe.com

Bent Leg Deadlifts

10x 135lbs/61.235kg (warm up)
5x 165lbs/74.8427kg
5x 195lbs/88.4505kg
8x 215lbs/97.5224kg
5x 235lbs/106.594kg (joker)
3x 250lbs/113.398kg (joker)
1x 265lbs/120.202kg (joker)
1x 275lbs/124.738kg (joker)

Assistance Lifts

Triceps Cable Pushdown w/rope

10x 85lbs/38.5554kg
10x 100lbs/45.3592kg
10x 110lbs/49.8952kg
10x 110lbs/49.8952kg
10x 110lbs/49.8952kg
10x 110lbs/49.8952kg
10x 110lbs/49.8952kg

Barbell Bench Press

10x 85lbs/38.5554kg
10x 85lbs/38.5554kg
10x 85lbs/38.5554kg
10x 90lbs/40.8233kg
10x 95lbs/43.0913kg

If anything, I didn’t perform as well as I have in the past doing bench presses. For my first joker, I only intended to do 3 reps with a 135 pound barbell, but I did 4, which I hoped was a good sign. It wasn’t.

I barely managed the second rep in the next joker set, and could only do a single with the third and final joker. I considered adding 5 more pounds and trying for a single at 160 to at least match my current PR, but I figured I wouldn’t push it.

However, I thought I’d do better at deadlifts.

The warm up set was pretty easy, though even with just a 135 pound barbell, 10 reps does leave me panting.

I did well for my working sets, doing 8 reps on the 5+ set at 215 pounds.

I did as predicted in my jokers and noticed by the fourth joker set, I had the weight up to 275 pounds, just 5 pounds below my current PR. Here again, I thought about adding another 5 and trying to match the PR, and again, I passed on it. I just wasn’t “feeling it” today for some reason.

Photo: perbellumweightlifting.blogspot.com

I also noticed a couple of times I felt a sudden, sharp pain in my right knee, just to the left of my knee cap. Not sure what it meant, but I didn’t like it. Hope it’s not a sign of bad things to come.

My whole back, not just the lower lumbar area, was aching, so I guess it was a good workout, in spite of no new PRs and not even matching my previous levels.

I decided to concentrate on those frustrating triceps that completely refuse to get stronger. I was going to do the usual 5 sets of “boring but big” cable pushdowns, but I didn’t get the right weight until after the first 2 sets, so I ended up doing 7 sets or 70 reps for the whole routine.

Since the missus wasn’t there, I had time to burn, so I went back to the bench press station and did “boring but big” bench presses. I sure hope all this concentrated work starts producing results. Guess I’ll see on Wednesday or Thursday when I do my overhead press.

The usual Sunday crew was drifting in and out of the weight room, as well as a couple of guys I hadn’t seen before. I can’t say I covered myself with glory, but I was tired enough to tell the workout wasn’t a complete waste of time, either.

I mentioned above that this is a really beautiful day, which means, of course, yard work. I finished my routine in just about an hour and decided for once to completely blow off the Kasey the Chiropractor core work, and headed home instead. My arms were actually trembling by the time I called it quits.

I got more exercise later mowing, edging, and straightening up an outside that’s been more or less ignored since last fall.

Well, not really ignored. I’ve been doing a lot of pruning in preparation for spring, but there was still a lot of debris that needed to be cleared off the front and back patios. Everyone in my neighborhood did this yesterday, since most of them are church goers, but I cleaned inside yesterday and reserved the outside work for Sunday.

After doing some running around, I finally got a moment to sit down at the computer. Still sore and aching, but doing OK.

I decided to go back in my workout log two full cycles and see what my 5/5/5+ week was like 6 weeks ago.

Bench Press
Bench Press

Back then, I was lifting 4 days a week instead of two, and for my bench presses, my joker sets maxed out between 140 and 150 pounds for 1 rep sets. However, my working sets were heavier at 100 lbs, 120 lbs, and 130 lbs respectively. I lightened them up when I re-calculated my weight percentages based on my 1RM. Maybe I should take my working weights for this lift back up.

For my deadlift 6 weeks ago, I set a new PR doing 1 rep with a 270 pound barbell, so I guess I’m doing better now. I also noticed my working sets were 155 lbs, 180 lbs, and 195 lbs, and my first joker was 215 and I was able to do 5 reps. Today, my last working set was 215 pounds and I did 8 reps.

At least I can look at my deadlifts and say I’ve gotten stronger. I can pretty routinely do a single rep at 270 to 275 pounds, so let’s hope I can nudge my body to do DLs even heavier.

That’s pretty much that. I’m continuing to feel intimidated when I get to heavier weights when doing bench presses, and after a few failed reps doing deadlifts, that feeling is happening when I get close to my PR as well.

Better keep the following quote in mind. Hope you do, too.

Your mind will quit a thousand times before your body will. Feel the fear and do it anyway.



2 thoughts on “Feeling Intimidated When Lifting Heavy (for me) Weights

    1. You’re probably right, Jerry. Technically, since I’m successful with my working sets, I’m not really lagging, but it still feels good when I can exceed my previous limits. I feel kind of achy and beat up this morning, but still hitting the gym for a cardio session.


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