Cycle Six, Week One, Day Two of 5/3/1 Training: Return of the Back Squat

leg pain from squats

I got to bed last night at a halfway reasonable hour but I still didn’t want to get up this morning. I thought my wife told me to wake her at 4 so she could go to the gym with me, but either she forgot or I goofed, because when I roused her, she told me it’s tomorrow she wants to workout with me.

Fortunately, she was pretty good-natured about it.

Haven’t seen Kasey the Chiropractor for a while and I was concerned that with him not having worked on my left leg, I’d have a problem with my squats today. But you never know unless you try, so I pulled into the gym parking lot at a couple of minutes before 5. I was the first one at the door and thus, the first one in the weight room.

The squat rack was in pretty good shape, but I still had to take a few minutes to properly equip the rack with all the required weight plates. Pulled a bench into the rack and got to work with my warm ups.

Here’s what happened next.

Cycle Six, Week One, 5/5/5+

Main Lifts

Back Squat in Squat Rack

10x 45lbs/20.4117kg (warm up)
10x 95lbs/43.0913kg (warm up)
5x 120lbs/54.4311kg
5x 135lbs/61.235kg
6x 155lbs/70.3068kg
3x 165lbs/74.8427kg (joker)
3x 175lbs/79.3787kg (joker)
2x 185lbs/83.9146kg (joker)
1x 195lbs/88.4505kg (joker)

Overhead Press in Squat Rack

10x 45lbs/20.4117kg (warm up)
5x 65lbs/29.4835kg
5x 70lbs/31.7515kg
6x 80lbs/36.2874kg
3x 90lbs/40.8233kg (joker)
1x 95lbs/43.0913kg (joker)
2x 95lbs/43.0913kg (joker)

Assistance Lift

bench dips legs ext
Image: HASfit YouTube channel

Bodyweight Bench Dips (legs extended)
x10, x10, x10

Mobility Work

Hamstring stretch #1 30 seconds x2
Hamstring stretch #2 30 seconds x2

Quad stretch 30 seconds x2

That first warm up set really hurt in all the wrong places. That didn’t stop me of course, but it worried me a little. The second warm up set was better, but I could always feel the burn in those tight hams in my left leg. At heavier weights, I could feel it a little bit in my right leg hams, too.

I managed the working sets OK. I was a tad worried at 155 pounds, since I’ve failed at weights over 165 in the past, but I did 6 reps just fine for my 5+ set.

I increased the weight to 165 pounds for my first joker set, and was surprised and pleased to be able to knock out 3 reps. I’ve been stuck at 1 in the past because of those darn hams, but maybe all that stretching and working out the kinks with my wife’s roller helped out.

Did a triple at 175 and a double at 185. I almost stopped, but I decided to up the weight again to 195 to see if I could match my current PR. I haven’t come close to it in the past 6 weeks.

And I did it. Sure, I could still feel discomfort in my left leg, and some slight burning in my right, but with effort, I did the single. In the previous cycle on 5/5/5+ day, I managed a single at 180 pounds but failed the rep, first at 195, and then at 190.

But 4 jokers is my limit and I thought I’d save trying a single at 200 for another day.

Now for the overhead press.

In the last cycle on 5/5/5+ day, I failed the 5+ set, only completing 3 reps. After that, I did only 2 jokers, 2 reps at 90 pounds and 1 rep at 90.

Today, through the warm up and working sets, I felt pretty strong. For the 5+ set, I performed 6 reps which made me pretty happy.

overhead press
Photo credit:

After that, I did a triple at 90 pounds but only a single at 95. That told me I probably shouldn’t push it and go up to 100 pounds. I wanted to do one more joker, so I kept the weight at 95 pounds and felt strong enough to do a double. Actually, I tried for a third rep, but stalled halfway up.

By this time, there was a lot of activity in the weight room. Bent over strong guy came in right after me and set up for shrugs at one of the bench press stations. Later, he came over to the Smith machine and did heavy squats, making me look like a pathetic weakling.

By the by, some kid came in who looked about 17. Then Big Daddy (without Hit Girl) entered, along with a few of the other regulars.

I deloaded the barbell and put the squat rack back in good shape, and the second I left, the 17-year-old guy hopped in. I’d seen tall, formerly broken foot guy in the main area of the gym, and had a feeling he was waiting for me to get done, but the kid beat him to it.

I decided to try bench dips again, but this time with my legs fully extended outward. Amazingly, that makes a huge difference, and my triceps and delts were begging for mercy after 3 sets of 10.

I didn’t get a chance to see what the kid in the squat rack was doing until I started my mobility work, but then I saw him doing overhead presses at 95 pounds for 3 reps. I’m jealous (well, not really).

I was right, by the way. The second the kid surrendered the squat rack, tall, formerly broken foot guy took it over.

After stretching out my hams and quads, it was nearly 6. I was beat and called it a day. I was resting over 2 minutes between sets trying for maximum recovery and particularly for the squats, it must have worked, but that eats up a lot of time.

Just for giggles, after I got home, I looked 2 cycles back in my log and on 5/5/5+ week, I’d managed a single at 190 for my back squat and set my current PR for the overhead press with a single at 100 pounds.

So I’m either getting stronger or at least holding my own. That’s 7 weeks ago. I need to start pushing upward again.

Topic Change

Photo credit:

I barbecue all year long, not just when the weather is good. Every Thanksgiving, I put a turkey on the Weber and charcoal cook the thing until the meat is so tender and juicy, it’s practically falling off the bones.

I’ve got a gas grill for most of my outdoor cooking, particularly quick cooking chicken and hamburgers.

But according to a study conducted at the University of Glasgow in Scotland that was summarized at, eating too much red meat and not enough fruit and vegetables can contribute to health problems.

Research led by the University of Glasgow and published today in Aging, has found that a moderate increase in serum phosphate levels caused by red meat consumption, combined with a poor overall diet, increases biological age (miles on the clock) in contrast to chronological age (years of age).

I love red meat.

That said, I munch on fruit and veggies all day long. Just finished off a carrot and I had a banana before that.

No, this doesn’t mean red meat is “evil”. It does mean that you need a balanced diet and can’t eat like a starving cougar (the cat type, not the other kind).

It also looks like the serum phosphate levels increase only when eating tons of processed red meat and few or no fruits and veggies, so grass-fed beef is probably fine, not that you want to skip fruit and vegetables, even under those conditions.

Make sure you click on the link I provided above to read the rest of the story. Pretty informative, but if you use “common sense” (which isn’t always common) in your eating, you should be OK.

On Friday, it’s back to rack pulls. Yeah, I’ve worked them into my routine again. Means I’ll be lifting 3 days a week instead of 2, but on the third day, it’s just one lift (might work in an assistance lift depending on time). I’ll still do cardio on that day if my legs will let me.

rack pullNext week? I haven’t even programmed it yet. I wanted to see how this week worked out. So far, it’s worked out fine.

I also agree with you about the whole paralysis by analysis thing. Yes, you have to be smart in your training, and yes, you have to think it through and plan it — but you also have to chalk your hands, grab the bar and lift it. That’s where so many people go wrong.

Brooks Kubik


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