Ending Cycle Nine of 5/3/1 Strength Training

That’s “dragons,” not “DragonballZ”

I’m a day late getting this out because I was busy putting the finishing touches on the children’s fantasy short story I wrote for my grandson. Go ahead. Click the link and have a read. It’ll take about 15 minutes, but in my humble opinion, if you like dragons, magic, and hanging out with the grandkids, it’s worth it. If not, pass it along to someone who’s into those things.

That said, before I did almost anything yesterday morning, I did go to the gym to lift. In fact, knowing I was scheduled to lift was just about the only thing that got me out of bed at 4 in the morning. I’ve been really tired lately. Even this morning, I almost skipped out on cardio because it was so hard to drag my butt out of bed.

But I made myself do it anyway and I’m glad I did.

I was determined to lift heavier for both my bench press and deadlift yesterday, but it didn’t help that I was still feeling a little fuzzy when I arrived at the gym. Just a few of the regulars were around and no competition for a bench press station. I did have to set up the proper weight plates in the correct locations on the bench. A lot of people at the gym are lazy about leaving a bench in good shape.

Once the maintenance work was done, I was able to get to work.

Here’s what happened on the last day of cycle 9 in my 5/3/1 strength training program.

5/3/1+ Main Lifts

Barbell Bench Press

10x 45lbs/20.4117kg (warm up)
10x 65lbs/29.4835kg (warm up)
5x 105lbs/47.6272kg
3x 120lbs/54.4311kg
3x 130lbs/58.967kg
2x 135lbs/61.235kg (joker)
2x 140lbs/63.5029kg (joker)
2x 145lbs/65.7709kg (joker)

Photo credit: trvlsqd.com

Barbell Bent Leg Deadlift

10x 135lbs/61.235kg (warm up)
10x 155lbs/70.3068kg (warm up)
5x 205lbs/92.9864kg
3x 230lbs/104.326kg
3x 255lbs/115.666kg
2x 260lbs/117.934kg (joker)
2x 265lbs/120.202kg (joker)
1x 270lbs/122.47kg (joker)

That front left delt was still sore but not as much as it has been historically. Maybe that means those muscles are getting stronger and able to support the weight.

Even my first working set felt heavy, at least over 5 reps. I pushed through the 1+ set doing 3 reps. Glad I had reduced the weight a bit, though.

The first two jokers this week were exactly like the last two joker sets last week: 2 reps at 135 and 140 pounds respectively. For the last joker, I took the weight up 5 more pounds and expected to do a single rep. I did a double instead. Next week, I’ll try 150 pounds as the final joker.

So far so good.

As I was doing all this, I saw the man I call bicycle guy in the Smith machine. He’s young and strong, maybe mid-30s. He pulled a bench in the Smith machine with him and proceeded to do squats, something I almost never see him do.

The bench didn’t let him get his buns down low enough so his thighs weren’t parallel to the floor when he was down in the hole. I was kind of surprised, since I expected him to be pretty capable physically.

Anyway, I set up for deadlifts and did a couple of warm up sets to loosen everything up.

bent leg deadlifts
Photo credit: pixgood.com

For some reason, that first working set felt heavy and I got kind of worried. 205 pounds isn’t all that heavy for deadlifts. 255 pounds was my first joker last week and my 1+ set this week. Both times I did 3 reps. Did 2 reps with a 260 pound barbell last week and yesterday. However, I did 2 reps at 265 yesterday and only 1 rep at the same weight last week.

Final joker yesterday was 270 pounds. I didn’t trust myself with 275. Not yesterday at least. I did manage a single for the final joker, heaviest I’ve done since getting back to the gym. Same for the bench press.

It’s coming back slowly, but it’s coming back.

I went back in my calendar to my last 5/3/1+ week before getting sick and having surgery. That was June 8th. That was 11 weeks ago. Back then, my working sets for the bench press were:

5x 120lbs/54.4311kg
3x 135lbs/61.235kg
1x 150lbs/68.0389kg

My final joker for the bench press was a single at 160 pounds, and my PR for this lift is a single at 165. It’s clear that I still have a long way to go.

For the deadlift 11 weeks ago, my working sets were:

5x 210lbs/95.2544kg
3x 230lbs/104.326kg
3x 250lbs/113.398kg

I’m actually pretty close to target and in fact, yesterday’s 1+ set was 5 pounds heavier.

The jokers tell another tale, though. 11 weeks ago, I did a single at 280 pounds and another single at 285 after failing the rep at 295, which is my PR. Not up to snuff there either.

Photo credit: Askmen.com

Today, this being the end of the week, I just did 35 minutes of cardio, some ab work, and the usual stretches. I’m sore in all the expected places given yesterday’s main lifts.

Yesterday, after finishing deads, I didn’t have much left in me, so I just stretched and went home. Surprisingly, I’d spent the full hour at the gym. I found I needed a lot of rest between sets, especially as the weight got heavier.

As I was waiting for the gym to open up this morning, I was talking to a couple of the regulars, a married couple in their early 70s. I think I’m kind of an inspiration to them as the oldest person, at least in the morning, who does barbell work in the weight room.

We older folks workout just to remind ourselves that we can still move and do physical stuff. 62 isn’t that old, but it’s old enough to have peers who are inactive, physically weak, fat, and on all kinds of medication.

Most of the people I see at the gym in the mornings do the same routine day in and day out. In fact, I think a lot of the older people lift too frequently and don’t give themselves enough recovery time. They’ll never get any stronger than they are right now, but at least they’re not getting any weaker.

I want to keep getting stronger, but I also want to stay off of medications as long as possible. Once you start popping pills every day, you are bound to start going down hill. Once you’ve lost that much of your health, it will be difficult or even impossible to get it back.

I won’t last forever, especially at my current level of health, but I want to keep it as long as possible. My grandson is seven and my granddaughter is 14 months. I want to be able to keep up with them as they get older.

The one grandparent I had a relationship with was my Mom’s Dad. I was 16 years old when he died. I loved him very much. I have a lot of good memories of being with him.

Photo: parentingcounts.org

My parents are in their 80s and still alive, so I’m fortunate they got to see their grandkids grow up and to see their great-grandkids.

I’d love to see my own grandchildren grow up, too. That’s why I do this.

It’s supposed to feel heavy. You’re supposed to be scared. If you’re not, you’re not living.

Paul Horn


2 thoughts on “Ending Cycle Nine of 5/3/1 Strength Training

  1. Sure good goals,seeing great grandchildren. My Mom got to see my 3 grandchildren. You sure look like Mark Rippitoe in that photo.


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