What is Strength? Remembering Our Honored Dead on Memorial Day

into the gymFelt like I got plenty of sleep. Woke up at 6 a.m. Had 2 whole hours before I had to hit the weights. The missus didn’t come with me to the gym because she’s on some sort of diet where you can’t work out. She and my son David are trying to talk me into it, but it would just about kill me not to lift.

Anyway, pulled into the gym parking lot at about 5 til. Bryce was true to form and got there a minute after 8. Oh well.

A young gal came running up to the door as I was walking in. She looked about 17 or 18 and was wearing the shortest pair of shorts I’ve ever seen anyone workout in. Not sure if they were comfortable or not, but they sure attracted attention.

Got to my favorite bench press station and for once it was in pretty good shape. Decided to go for broke and try to match my PR in the bench press (165 pounds for a single rep) and chase the ever-elusive one-rep 300 pound deadlift.

Well, I didn’t quite make it.

Cycle Six, Week Two, Day One, 3/3/3+

Main Lifts

Barbell Bench Press

10x 45lbs/20.4117kg(warm up)
10x 65lbs/29.4835kg (warm up)
10x 95lbs/43.0913kg (warm up)
3x 115lbs/52.1631kg
3x 125lbs/56.699kg
4x 135lbs/61.235kg
2x 145lbs/65.7709kg (joker)
1x 155lbs/70.3068kg (joker)
0x 165lbs/74.8427kg (joker) -partial rep-

Photo: menshealth.com

Bent Leg Deadlift

10x 135lbs/61.235kg (warm up)
10x 165lbs/74.8427kg (warm up)
3x 205lbs/92.9864kg
3x 215lbs/97.5224kg
5x 235lbs/106.594kg
3x 255lbs/115.666kg (joker)
2x 275lbs/124.738kg (joker)
0x 290lbs/131.542kg (joker) -failed rep-
1x 280lbs/127.006kg (joker)

Assistance Lift

Bodyweight Bench Dips w/legs ext.
x10, x10, x10, x10, x10

Mobility Work

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

Quad stretch 30 seconds x2

You may remember from last Tuesday that my previous week in this cycle absolutely sucked. I failed a second rep at 145 pounds doing bench presses and could barely do a single rep deadlift at 260 pounds. My PR for DLs is one rep at 295 pounds.

Today, it was better, but still not the best.

For my 3+ rep at the bench press, I did 4 reps with a 135 pound barbell, but I’ve done up to 5 before. I was still pretty confident I could match my PR. Did 2 reps at 145 and a single at 155, but what the heck. I could do 10 pounds more.


Oh, I tried. Got the barbell right down to my chest for that last joker, and then I pushed up.

Got about halfway. I tried and tried, but no go. I was lucky to rack the bar on the pins second from the top. A guess a partial rep is better than nothing.

Deadlifts felt fine through my working sets, but the first joker felt heavier than it should have at 255. I thought I could do 3 reps at 275 but only managed to pull out 2.

Figured I’d do a single at 290 and then try for 300.

Except that 290 didn’t work. I got the weight up 2 or 3 inches and totally stalled.

bench press
Photo credit: bodyworks24.com

I was getting pretty frustrated, so rather than quit, I reduced the weight to 280. I’d been resting 2 1/2 to 3 minutes between sets just to make sure I was recovered. This time, I probably rested maybe a minute and said, “to heck with it.”

I pulled and managed a single. Guess that’s the best I had in me.

All through this, I had the weight room almost to myself.

The girl in the purple short shorts came in, which surprised me, and started working with the hack squat machine. No incredible weights, but she was getting down to parallel.

Liz, a Sunday regular, also came in and did her usual routine.

But that was it.

After hack squats, purple shorts went out to the main gym area and used a machine for reverse flies, and then did some cardio after that.

Liz works out a long time on Sundays, so she was still there when I left.

After deadlifts, I figured I’d work on those long-lagging triceps by doing bench dips. After that, I was all in, even though I had the time to stay longer. Did my mobility work and called it a day.

Right now, I’m tired and sore in all the expected places. Still no tweaks. I have to remind myself that 5 months ago, 250 pounds was my absolute limit for a single rep deadlift, and even then, I was doing them wrong and hurting my back.

So I’m stronger and safer than I was last December. Still, this super slow non-linear progress is maddening.

I’ll try again next Wednesday or Thursday. Meanwhile, I’ve got to get back on the cardio train. I’ve been blowing it off lately and overeating to boot.

Tomorrow’s Memorial Day as you probably know, the day when we are to remember our honored dead, those military personnel who died in the service of our nation. I saw that some jerks defaced the Vietnam War Veteran’s Memorial in Venice, California.

memorial day
Image: mentalfloss.com

American citizens used to be better than that. Guess it’s up to those few of us left to do the right thing and remember those who died to protect freedom.

Regardless if you can deadlift 300 pounds or are the proverbial 98-pound weakling getting sand kicked in his face at the beach. It’s not your muscles that make you strong, it’s integrity and honor.

Memorial Day isn’t just about honoring veterans, it’s honoring those who lost their lives. Veterans had the fortune of coming home. For us, that’s a reminder of when we come home we still have a responsibility to serve. It’s a continuation of service that honors our country and those who fell defending it.

Pete Hegseth


2 thoughts on “What is Strength? Remembering Our Honored Dead on Memorial Day

  1. It sure is a shame when idiots do things like that. I don’t know,how it was during ww1 and two, but from what I have read for the most part people here supported the war effort.
    I,do remember when I was a teen and they had the yippies protesting here in NY. It was the first time I realized that we had people here that thought differently then the way I was raised .
    As for lifting, I know there are days I feel beat up, and wonder if it’s all worth it. But I do believe it is benificial as we get older. I am waiting for a book that should be out soon by Jonathan Sullivan a Dr. who is a Starting Strength coach. It will be devoted to training for elder lifters. Enjoy the rest of the holiday weekend.


    1. I think most people supported our military during WWII, but I have read there were still anti-war protestors. America was heavily isolationist up until Pearl Harbor, so it was quite a turnaround for most U.S. citizens.

      I’ve read some stuff written by Dr. Sullivan and had a look at his gym’s website. Nice to see someone specializing in folks our age and older.


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