I didn’t think I was going to make it this morning. Oh, I’d gotten enough rest so I could get out of bed by 4 a.m., but everything else seemed to be going against me.
I got my usual water and coffee plus ate the last piece of leftover Quiche to get something in my stomach, but the other end of my digestive system kept wanting to create “toilet atrocities” (sorry if that’s a bit graphic).
Also, I had a steady drip, drip, drip from my sinuses down into my throat which kept me hacking and coughing. In fact I was coughing so much that I almost lost part of breakfast, which was pretty nasty tasting coming back up.
I thought my body was conspiring against my desire to lift this morning.
I forced myself to stop coughing, thought I’d emptied myself sufficiently, got into my car and drove to the gym.
The lights popped on just as I was getting out of the car and I dashed inside. Actually, Liz beat me in by a few seconds, but no worries there.
I got to my favorite bench press station and it was a mess. Took a while to straighten it out, but once I did, I was ready to work, or I hoped I was.
It’s Thursday and the end of 3/3/3+ week in cycle 12 of my 5/3/1 strength training. It’s also the end of October and mornings are cold and dark. Here’s what I did to end the week and start the day.
3/3/3+ Main Lifts
Barbell Bench Press
10x 45lbs/20.4117kg (warm up)
10x 65lbs/29.4835kg (warm up)
2x 145lbs/65.7709kg (joker)
2x 155lbs/70.3068kg (joker)
1x 165lbs/74.8427kg (joker)
1x 170lbs/77.1107kg (joker) PR!
Barbell Bent Leg Deadlift
10x 135lbs/61.235kg (warm up)
10x 165lbs/74.8427kg (warm up)
3x 270lbs/122.47kg (joker)
1x 280lbs/127.006kg (joker)
1x 290lbs/131.542kg (joker)
Bench press warm ups went as well as they usually do, but my first set at 115 pounds felt heavy. So did the second and third working sets. Fortunately, I was able to do four reps at 135 pounds, but Bicycle Guy was benching next to me and did 10 reps at the same weight.
Of course he’s in his 30s and I’m nearly twice his age, but it’s still a tad daunting.
I was disappointed at the first joker when I could only do 2 reps at 145 and hoped it didn’t mean I’d be ending the week with lousy performance. Did 2 reps at 155 and managed a single at 165, which is my old PR.
I decided to try 5 pounds more, upping the weight to 170, and hoped for the best.
It was a near thing. I almost dumped the lift about three-quarters of the way up, but I kept on pushing and got the barbell all the way to the top. New PR! Woot!
I’m thinking maybe my improvement on the overhead press is toughening up my lagging triceps making this possible. Maybe this stuff works after all.
I set the plates on the bar to 135 and put it on the floor to get ready for deadlifts.
Bicycle Guy was doing some sort of circuit involving bench presses, light weight front squats, and some dumbbell work. Good thing no one else in the gym wanted to squat.
He moved on eventually and Big Daddy took the bench press station next to me, easily benching weights for 10 reps that I couldn’t do for 3.
I got into my deadlifts. Warm ups went fine as did the first working set, but things got heavy at 235 pounds. I managed 4 reps at 255 for my 3+ set and got ready for jokers.
I decided not to play around. I’d start at 270 and just keep increasing the weight by 10 pounds each set until I conquered 290, just 5 pounds under my PR, or failed.
Between bench presses and deadlifts, I took an uncharacteristic break to refill my water bottle and to make absolutely sure my nether regions were completely empty. When you do deads, everything is tight and if you aren’t empty in that manner, it might just come out.
Yeah, I know. Ew.
I managed 3 reps for the first joker at 270 and a single at 280. Now for the hard part.
I’ve failed a single rep at 290 before and haven’t done 295 since May 15th, which was cycle six, 5/3/1+ week, day one. That’s over five months ago.
Looking at my deadlift numbers for that period, 295 was a total fluke, which is why I haven’t been able to duplicate it since. The week prior to it, also a 3/3/3+ week, I did a single at 290, but nothing closer than 285 since I made that last PR.
So as far as deadlifts go, I’m about as strong as I was at the beginning of last May. I’ve made PRs in every other lift in the past few weeks. Deadlifts are next. The only thing that spoiled the moment was when I was putting the weights back on the rack, I saw Big Daddy had “borrowed” my 35 pound plates. Good thing I didn’t need them. He did put them back and sarcastically I said “thanks”. He gave me a thumbs up and moved on. Jerk.
Topic change, well sort of.
Jonathon Sullivan MD, PhD, SSC, in addition to being an Emergency Room M.D., runs a gym called Greysteel Strength and Conditioning, which trains its patrons using Mark Rippetoe’s Starting Strength model.
The unique thing about this gym is that is specializes in teaching strength training to people age 50 and older, a lot older.
The folks he and his staff train are living proof that old people can squat, deadlift, do overhead presses and bench presses and become stronger.
About a month ago, Sullivan wrote an article called I Take Iron for Back Pain, and by that he means barbells.
The idea is that you can avoid back pain most of the time by making your back stronger. It’s true that especially back squats and deadlifts put a tremendous strain on your spine, but I can tell you from personal experience that my squats and deads got a lot better when I learned proper form and when I made my back stronger.
That’s exactly what my trainer Chase helped me with almost a year ago. I’d been tweaking my lumbar, especially doing deads, because I didn’t know what I was doing and because my back was weak.
He actually helped me to make my back stronger by lifting. The stronger your back is, the less likely you are to hurt it, even if you goof up your form once in a while.
I think that’s part of what makes my increasing the weight for my deadlifts possible. I’ve recovered sufficiently from my forced break from the gym to handle serious (for me) weights again.
I did a single DL with a 290 pound barbell this morning. If my back wasn’t strong enough, that probably wouldn’t have happened. I can still feel the ache, but it’s soreness, not a tweak.
Sullivan, at age 56, says he occasionally takes NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories) and acetaminophen to manage his back pain. I almost never take anything for discomfort, and the only thing I take to handle inflammation is Curcumin2K Formula with Black Pepper, and I seem to be doing okay.
Strength training may not make you bullet proof or enable you to leap over tall buildings with a single bound, but it will indeed make you stronger and harder to hurt.
Man, I’m glad I’m doing this. Give it a whirl. It might work for you, too.
Never give up on a dream because of the time it will take to accomplish it; the time will pass anyway.