Cycle Twelve, 5/5/5+ Week, Day One and Made Two New PRs!

Image: CBC News

It’s been a strange couple of weeks. As you know if you’re a regular reader of this blog, I took a deload week last week because I was feeling pretty beaten up by the weights and hitting some nasty strength plateaus.

Also, last Friday, my wife and I drove all the way down to St. George, Utah to visit my parents, which is a nine-hour trip. This was after dropping my daughter off at the airport so she could fly back home to California.

So the missus and I arrived in St. George on Friday afternoon, stayed all day Saturday, and left really early Sunday morning, like at 5:30 a.m.

We hit a little weather on the way back but still made it into the garage by about 2:30 p.m. I was beat.

Of course that means I didn’t get in my squats and overhead presses Sunday morning like I usually do. I thought about doing those lifts Monday morning instead, but I was just so tired from all the long distance driving, I couldn’t pull myself out of the sack until 5 a.m. or so.

So here we are at Tuesday morning. It was raining outside (still is as I’m writing this) and it’s always tough to get up when it’s dark and raining. The pattern of the rain hitting the roof is so soothing.

But it was no time to be a quitter. Time to haul my ass out of bed and get my game on.

I toyed with the idea of a second deload week, mainly because I hadn’t had the time to figure out my cycle twelve, week one program yet. But then again, while sipping on coffee and water, I looked back at the previous 5/5/5+ week and just added a little more weight to my lifts for the back squat and only increased the weight for the first working set for the overhead press and then called it good.

I gave myself a little extra time to drive to the gym because of the wet roads and arrived maybe a minute before the lights popped on. McKenna was back from wherever she’d been, so I breezed on into the gym, stuck my hoodie in a cubby and got to work.

I had to straighten out the squat rack a bit but it wasn’t too bad. Here’s how day one, week one, of cycle twelve worked out.

5/5/5+ Main Lifts

Barbell Back Squat in Squat Rack

10x 45lbs/20.4117kg (warm up)
10x 70lbs/31.7515kg (warm up)
5x 120lbs/54.4311kg
5x 140lbs/63.5029kg
6x 155lbs/70.3068kg
4x 170lbs/77.1107kg (joker)
3x 185lbs/83.9146kg (joker)
3x 200lbs/90.7185kg (joker)
1x 215lbs/97.5224kg (joker) PR!

overhead press
Photo credit:

Barbell Overhead Press in Squat Rack

10x 45lbs/20.4117kg (warm up)
5x 75lbs/34.0194kg
5x 80lbs/36.2874kg
6x 85lbs/38.5554kg
3x 95lbs/43.0913kg (joker)
2x 105lbs/47.6272kg (joker)
1x 110lbs/49.8952kg (joker) PR!

Warm ups for squats went fine and I was pleased to see myself getting down to parallel or below, but then again, this is very light weight. Increased the weight for the second warm up set slightly just for giggles.

Working sets went pretty well. The 5+ set got me red-faced and sweating a bit but it was more than doable.

For my first joker at 170 pounds, I did 4 reps instead of the planned 3 just because I could. Then I kept ratcheting up the weight for subsequent jokers.

I was a little surprised that I could do 3 reps with a 200 pound barbell, but pleasantly so. Two weeks ago, I did my final joker for a single at 205 pounds. I thought my PR for the squat was 215 so I increased the weight on the barbell to that and went for it.

I went down, down, down into the hole and hoped I could get back up. It was tough, but I made it. Just one rep, but that was enough. Thought I’d matched my previous PR until I checked back in my log and saw that the heaviest I have ever squatted, and that was with a bench under me, was 210 pounds.

So squatting raw, I made a new PR at 215! Yay me!

Now for the overhead press.

By this time, I was pretty worn down so I took it slow.

As I was setting up for my overhead presses, I noticed that Bicycle Guy and Liz were doing their usual thing. Some young Latino guy was doing bench presses, but not quite down to his chest. Curl-in-the-squat-rack guy was there using the hack squat machine. He had to pass close to the squat rack once and he made eye contact with me and smiled a little. Maybe I looked threatening and he was trying to make peace. Who knows?

squat rack
Photo credit:

Firefighter guy came in by the by and did dumbbell work and the guy who once benched 315 for a single rep came in to do more bench presses, but not nearly as heavy.

Overhead press warm ups were okay and although the barbell felt heavy, I was able to do my working sets including 6 reps for the 5+ set at 85 pounds. I had more in me, maybe a lot more. I decided to test that.

My first joker was at 95 pounds and I made the 3 reps pretty well, though I almost blew racking the barbell again. Seems I lead with my left side and if I’m not paying attention, I can miss the right side hook.

I knew for a fact that my PR for the overhead press was 105, so I made that my second joker. I did a respectable first rep and tried for another. I made it, but just barely, but 2 reps at 105 is something I’d never done before.

For the third joker, I went for broke and tried for a new PR. I actually made it. One rep at 110 pounds! Wow! Well, “wow” for me that is.

It was hard getting the barbell up but it wasn’t like I felt I was about to stall. Well, maybe a little, but just for a tiny moment.

I pushed it up and was victorious. Take that, barbell!

Two new PRs. Wow. This deload thing really works. Now I’ve got to see how (or if) my bench press and deadlifts are affected.

The last time I made PRs for the squat and overhead press was June 10th, 5/3/1+ week in cycle seven. That’s a little over four months ago. I would have gotten to this place sooner if I hadn’t gotten sick, had nose surgery, and been out of the gym for a month.

Oh well. I’m here now.

I’ve got goals. Now that I’ve made PRs (finally, finally) for the squat and overhead press, I want to get to the point where I can squat a single at 225, just 10 pounds more than I did today, and overhead press 115 pounds, just 5 pounds more than today’s PR.

They’re close. They’re very, very close.

Photo credit:

Dilemma. Do I lift again on Thursday, which is only two days away or lift Friday, which gives me three days to recover, but only gives me two days between the bench press and deadlift and then squatting and overhead presses again on Sunday?

I’ll figure it out. Time to pour on the juice.

Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.

Edmund Burke


4 thoughts on “Cycle Twelve, 5/5/5+ Week, Day One and Made Two New PRs!

  1. Hi James, nice work as always. I read that at toms you feel a little worn down. I have been getting th same feeling. I have been training twic a week, one day sqts, press and pulldowns, next time Dl, bench and curls . I was working out on Mon and Thursday. Th last few weeks I have at times taken 3 days off between workouts. Seems after 3 days I am itching to hit the weights again, and making slow but steady progress. I have been adding in some walking in between the lifting days. I came across an article by Andy Baker, a contributor to the SS forum and a GM owner and trainer himself . Here is a link to Part 2 of a great article. I may switch over to th plan listed in a few weeks myself, mayb just fo th winter,. You can read paper on by hitting the previous arrow. Again I admire how you get up so early and hit the gym. I have a gym in my garage but can’t seem to get motivated before 10 am..


    1. Hi Jerry,

      I’ll read the article when I get a minute.

      I always hate taking a deload week because I’m anxious to chase after new PRs, but in this case it really worked out well.

      I agree that three days between lifts seems just about the right amount of recovery time. As you’ve mentioned yourself, we older lifters don’t bounce back as fast as younger guys and gals. My quads are sore from yesterday’s workout and I couldn’t be happier about it.

      Wish I had a gym in my garage, but it’s full of too many other things like cars and my kids’ junk. 10 a.m. seems kind of late for me to work out. By necessity when I go to the gym during the work week, I have to be there by 5 a.m. so I can be done at 6, get home, and get ready for work. My first lift day (squats and overhead press) is usually Sunday and the gym doesn’t open until 8 a.m., which for me is the perfect time to lift. I feel I always take a bit of a hit when I’m doing bench presses and deadlifts at 5 a.m. on Thursdays but I don’t have a reasonable workaround.

      Thanks again for the link. I look forward to reading the info.


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