Starting Cycle Nine in 5/3/1 Training


I stayed up a little late last night but I got to sleep in past six this morning, so it all worked out. I noticed my lower back, especially on the left side was a little sore, which I attributed to picking weeds yesterday. Also, my left calf was sore, but that’s because of a leg cramp I had sometime during the night.

I figured coffee, water, a banana, and slowly waking up would help before I hit the gym and started my ninth round of 5/3/1 strength training.

I finished my recovery cycle last week and recalculated my weights based on the heaviest I was able to lift. Just hoping I wasn’t being too ambitious. I was out of the gym for over four weeks, and I’ve been back for three, well, starting the fourth week. How much did I get back and how far do I have to go?

I pulled into the parking lot of the gym at about five until eight. Bryce, the guy who normally opens up, is usually a couple of minutes late.

I saw a guy doing some sort of body weight work near the gym, probably killing time until the place opened. As I got closer, I noticed he had prosthetic legs.

I tried not to look too long. Bet he gets that a lot.

At three to the hour, I got out of my car and greeted the guy.

Turns out he lives in Denver but is here with his wife visiting his in-laws. Comes here so often, he got a gym membership. Normally, he doesn’t work out at this time of day, but he wanted to get some exercise in before church.

Surprisingly, Bryce pulled into the parking lot right at eight and ran to open up the door. I bid my brief companion a hasty good-bye and headed for the squat rack. Had to wait a minute or two for Bryce to turn on the lights. Then I had to straighten out the rack a bit.

And then finally, I was ready to work. I saw the guy, too bad I didn’t get his name, doing some upper body work, which is pretty much what I expected. He was going to surprise me a little later on.

Anyway, here’s how my Sunday morning and my week got started.

Main Lifts

squat rack
Photo credit:

Back Squat in Squat Rack (raw)

10x 45lbs/20.4117kg (warm up)
10x 65lbs/29.4835kg (warm up)
5x 105lbs/47.6272kg
5x 120lbs/54.4311kg
6x 135lbs/61.235kg
5x 145lbs/65.7709kg (joker)
3x 155lbs/70.3068kg (joker)
2x 165lbs/74.8427kg (joker)

Overhead Press in Squat Rack

10x 45lbs/20.4117kg (warm up)
5x 60lbs/27.2155kg
5x 70lbs/31.7515kg
5x 80lbs/36.2874kg
3x 85lbs/38.5554kg (joker)
2x 90lbs/40.8233kg (joker)
1x 95lbs/43.0913kg (joker) -failed 2nd rep-

Core Work

Kneeling Cable Ab Crunch

20x 100lbs/45.3592kg
20x 130lbs/58.967kg
10x 150lbs/68.0389kg
10x 150lbs/68.0389jg
10x 150lbs/68.0389kg

Mobility Work

I was a tad dubious at doing 5+ reps at 135 since I’m just coming out of recovery mode, but the worse that could happen is I wouldn’t make all my reps.

overhead press
Photo credit:

Actually, I did pretty well. Hit the jokers, increasing the weight ten pounds set over set.

Part way through squats, the guy from Denver stepped into the Smith machine, which I didn’t expect. At first I thought he was going to do shrugs, but he started doing what looked a lot like rack pulls. Maybe he would have used the squat rack if I wasn’t already standing in it.

Hey, why not? Works your whole back, so more power to him.

We did have to make sure not to get in each other’s way since the squat rack and Smith machine are too close together. Loading and unloading weight plates at the same time is a pain.

On my final joker for squats, I did two reps but might have done three if the guy hadn’t chosen that moment to change the weights on his machine directly on my right. I was distracted and afraid I might hit him with the barbell.

Anyway, two reps at 165 pounds worked out fine. Not super-duper heavy, but the heaviest I’ve done squats since my recovery, so it’s still good.

Overhead press was another story. I did well until the 5+ set at 80 pounds. Oh, I got five reps in OK, but not a sixth. 80 pounds felt heavy and five was all I could manage.

It’s still within program specs, though.

I did kind of what I figured I’d do for the first two jokers. For the third at 95 pounds, I expected to be able to do only a single, which I did, but I felt like maybe I could get a second rep in.

I nearly did, but stalled halfway up. It’s good though that I felt I had enough gas in the tank to give it a try.

After I finished with my main lifts, I thought about doing dips but decided on gut work instead. Usually, I do mat leg lifts for my abs, but I saw a regular at the gym doing kneeling cable ab crunches last week, and since I used to do them as well, I thought I’d give them a shot.

After that, I pondered another sort of lift, but figured I had enough for the day. I did my usual quad and ham stretches and left the gym at almost the top of the hour.

Liz, who was the only other person in the weight room this morning besides me and Mr. Denver, took off a few minutes after I did. The guy from Denver was still going at it when we left.

small SuperboyThe missus had 2 1/2 hours of weeding in the sun scheduled for me after I got home, sucked down protein, and rested for a bit, so I can’t tell what’s making me sore right now. Probably a combination of all of the above.

As the illustration of the fellow with the prosthetic legs should have let you know, whatever barriers you think you have preventing you from doing some sort of physical exercise, you can find a workaround.

As far as my progress goes, I’m doing heavier on squats week over week, but may have already hit a plateau with my overhead press at 95 pounds.

We’ll see how it goes.

I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it.

―Maya Angelou


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