The Long Road Back: Week Two, Day Two

oxygen uptake

So far, I’ve been having the best week ever since returning to the gym. I did my first lift day last Sunday along with some ab work, and Monday through Wednesday, I did light cardio and mobility work.

Today was my second day of lifting in Week 2. The working weights are still ridiculously light, but then again, I’ve lost a lot that I need to get back (if I can).

I’ve noticed that my oxygen uptake is still suffering. I’m not working that hard and my highest HR is in the low 150 range. My recovery is getting better, though. After a five-minute “cooldown,” my HR gets down to the high 120s. Not bad.

Today, my son has the day off so he watches his kids. No day care. That means “grandpa” got to go to the gym and stay a full hour.

I’ll admit that I really didn’t want to get up. I looked at the clock when it said 3:30-something a.m. and was tempted to stay in bed. But as it got to be around 10 until 4, I forced myself to get up.

I had the usual water, coffee, and banana to get me started, then at a quarter til, I headed out to the gym. I got there just as the receptionist gal was getting out of her car. She’s been opening up the gym a couple of minutes early lately, so I wanted to be through the doors the second she unlocked them.

I made it in right after Joe, a fellow in his 70s who is always at the gym at 5 a.m. Monday through Thursday, week after week (what’s your excuse).

I got into the weight room and it was all mine, at least until bicycle guy came in, but he only did a little dumbbell work, some fixed weight barbell curls, and decline bench presses using the Smith machine.

I spent the first few minutes setting up the bench press station. I swear, they must have had a pack of chimps exercising the last hour or so before closing the previous night, because there was misplaced equipment everywhere.

Anyway, inside my head, I called them what they are, and then got to work. Here’s how day two, week two of my big return went.

Main Lifts 3/3/3+

bench pressBarbell Bench Press

10x 45lbs/20.4117kg(warm up)
10x 65lbs/29.4835kg (warm up)
3x 90lbs/40.8233kg
3x 95lbs/43.0913kg
5x 105lbs/47.6272kg
3x 115lbs/52.1631kg (joker)
3x 125lbs/56.699kg (joker)
1x 135lbs/61.235kg (joker)

Barbell Bent Leg Deadlift

10x 135lbs/61.235kg (warm up)
3x 150lbs/68.0389kg
3x 170lbs/77.1107kg
7x 190lbs/86.1826kg
5x 210lbs/95.2544kg (joker)
3x 230lbs/104.326kg (joker)
1x 250lbs/113.398kg (joker)
1x 265lbs/120.202kg (joker)

That left front delt was still bothering me, even on my warm up sets of bench presses, but what the heck. I got through the working sets, even though they felt heavy. A couple of weeks ago, when I had my false start in my return to lifting, my last joker set was a single rep using a 135 pound barbell. Last week, I kept it down to 125, but today, I pushed a little harder and got up to 135 again.

Of course, my PR is in the neighborhood of 160 to 165, so I’m still 30 pounds light.

Since the barbell had 135 pounds on it anyway, I carried it to the floor and used that for my deadlift warm ups.

sumo deadlift
Photo credit:

Working sets were really manageable, though even 190 pounds did feel kind of “weighty”.

I added some weight for each joker set over what I used last time, and figured I’d finish my third and final joker doing a single at 250, ten pounds more than last week. But I felt I still had something left in me, threw caution out the window, and increased the weight to 265.

As George Takei might say, “Oh my!” Man that was heavy. There was a point during the lift when I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it or not.

I must have inadvertently been pulling up with one of my arms, because in the mirror, I saw the barbell wasn’t parallel to the floor.

I managed the rep and held it there for a few seconds before lowering the barbell to the floor.


It wasn’t the hardest deadlift I’ve ever completed but it felt close.

On my best day doing deadlifts, which wasn’t that long ago, I pulled a single at 295. Granted that every time I’ve tried it since, I’ve failed and seem to be able to do 280 to 285 more consistently, well, before I got since, anyway.

But that means I’m still operating 20 to 30 pounds below previous efforts in my deadlift.

Just like everything else, I’m getting better, but I’ve got a long way to go.

In contrast, my son David gets up every weekday morning (except today when insomnia kicked his butt) at 4, goes to the school playground behind our house, and does body weight work…and his arms are getting huge.

True, he is 30 years younger and has testosterone to burn, lucky duck.

After my main lifts, I just did some ab and mobility work, and by the time I walked out of the gym, an hour had passed. Just like old times.

As far as aftereffects go, I do feel the strain in my lower lumbar, no tweaking, but my back isn’t as strong as it was. Have to watch that.

come with me if you want to lift

I’m still able to stand up after sitting for a long time and walk normally with no unusual DOMS. Yeah, things ache here and there, but it’s a lot better than that Sunday before last when I pushed too hard and my body pushed back big time.

Gotta remember, “Train, don’t strain.” Yeah. Well, I’m not strong enough yet to strain much. One more day of cardio tomorrow unless I wimp out, then rest on Saturday, and start 5/3/1 recovery week either Sunday or Monday, give or take grandkids.

The pain of discipline is nothing like the pain of disappointment.

Justin Langer


2 thoughts on “The Long Road Back: Week Two, Day Two

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