Starting 5/3/1+ Week in Cycle Eleven and Matching a PR

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Yesterday, the missus and I pulled weeds and trimmed plants all morning and half of the afternoon, that is, after I did the usual mowing and stuff. My lower back didn’t like all that sitting on the ground and bending over, and I wondered if it would adversely affect today’s back squats.

I really didn’t want to get out of bed this morning. I enjoyed sleeping in yesterday, and wanted a repeat. Technically, I was still sleeping in since during the week, I get up around 4 a.m., but 6:45 still felt pretty early, especially since it was so dark and cold outside.

But I made myself get out of that nice warm bed. It’s lift day and the start of 5/3/1+ week in cycle eleven. Time to chase PRs.

I had my usual cup of coffee and glass of water plus a small bowl of yogurt to put something on my stomach so I wouldn’t run out of gas halfway through my workout.

Pulled into the gym parking lot at five til the hour and figured I’d have to wait at least six minutes for Bryce.

Lo and behold, he pulled into the parking lot at two till the hour but he wasn’t alone. He was following another black car with an attractive young woman inside. I didn’t know if she was his girlfriend or if she was there to be trained or help out on the front desk (later, I saw her come into the weight room and do some seated dumbbell work, so I guess she’s not working there).

Didn’t care, either. I was the first one in the gym and the first one in the weight room.

When Bryce finally turned the lights on, I saw the place was a mess. Whoever worked out Saturday night hadn’t unloaded the bars on one of the bench press stations and the incline press station, not to mention the Smith machine.

Some people’s children.

I straightened out the squat rack and noticed Liz had slipped in and started working with dumbbells. There were a couple of other guys, one that could have been my age, and some young guy, who came in as well, but they were doing dumbbell and cable work.

I got the rack in good shape and started my warm up routine. Here’s how Sunday morning went for me.

5/3/1+ Main Lifts

back squat legs

Back Squat in Squat Rack (raw)

10x 45lbs/20.4117kg (warm up)
10x 65lbs/29.4835kg (warm up)
5x 135lbs/61.235kg
3x 145lbs/65.7709kg
3x 160lbs/72.5748kg
3x 175lbs/79.3787kg (joker)
2x 190lbs/86.1826kg (joker)
1x 205lbs/92.9864kg (joker)

Overhead Press in Squat Rack

10x 45lbs/20.4117kg (warm up)
5x 85lbs/38.5554kg
3x 90lbs/40.8233kg
2x 95lbs/43.0913kg
1x 100lbs/45.3592kg (joker)
2x 100lbs/45.3592kg (joker)
0x 105lbs/47.6272kg (joker) -failed rep-
1x 105lbs/47.6272kg (joker) -matched PR-

I wasn’t sure I’d squatted 5 reps with a 135 pound barbell before, but looking back in my log I saw that I did in this cycle on 5/5/5+ week. Oh well, thought I did something new.

I was getting good depth on my squats and watching my face turn red when pushing back up. The final working set felt heavy but I wanted to try to surpass last week’s max weight in the last joker for 205. It wasn’t happening.

I could only do two reps at 190 when last week I did two at 195. That last joker set was murder. I wanted to either try for two reps or to increase the weight to 210, which is my prior PR, but no such luck. I made a single rep and called it good.

I’ll have to chase that dream again next week.

I was worried about the working weights for the overhead press. They’re pretty close to my maximum, and last week I only did four reps at 85 pounds. My first working set required me to do five reps at that weight.

overhead press

Fortunately, I did, but even as I was going into the set, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to. I did the required three reps at 90 and another triple for the final working set at 95. Nowhere to go but up.

For the first joker, I managed a single at 100 pounds and decided to keep the weight the same for the next joker set. I was resting well over three minutes since I was worn down both from squats and presses. For the second joker, I actually did two reps with a 100 pound barbell, which I didn’t expect. I don’t think I’ve ever done that before.

I was sure I had 105 down today but guess what? I got it up maybe three-quarters of the way to the top of the rep and failed.

Well, that was that. I actually quit, unloaded the barbell, and did my usual mobility stretches, which is the last thing I do before heading home.

But while I was stretching, I remember last Thursday when the same thing happened with deadlifts. I’d quit, stretched, fumed and fussed, got mad at the weight, went back, and kicked its ass, well, sort of.

I looked back into the weight room. It was fairly crowded by now, but no one was using the squat rack.

Wrong. I was.

I went back in, loaded the barbell up to 105, gripped the bar, did the lift out and walk back, and then I press up.

It went up and easier than I expected, which doesn’t mean it wasn’t hard. But I didn’t have the near stall toward the top. It was heavy, but I was in control, even when I lowered the barbell back to my chest.

It worked. This equals my previous PR, which I made last June 10th. That’s nearly four months ago. I looked further back in my log and saw that I made a PR at 95 pounds on March 3rd, and a PR at 100 pounds on March 17th. That’s about seven months ago.

deadlift chalk

Hopefully this means good things for my overhead press going forward. Now I need to make the same accomplishment, matching prior PRs with current performance, with my other lifts. I’m only five pounds under for the back squat and five pounds under for my bench press. I’m fifteen pounds under for my deadlift, and that’ll require some doing.

It’s been about two-and-a-half months since I returned to the gym after recovering from illness and surgery. Two-and-a-half months of hard work and determination. I’m doing it. Little by little, I’m getting my strength and stamina back.

Now to give myself until Thursday to recover, and then conquer new worlds, or at least old barbells.

One of the greatest experiences in life is achieving personal goals that others said would be impossible to attain. Be proud of your success and share your story with others.

Robert Cheeke


2 thoughts on “Starting 5/3/1+ Week in Cycle Eleven and Matching a PR

  1. “Whoever worked out Saturday night hadn’t unloaded the bars ..”

    Stuff like that pisses me off.


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