Cycle Thirteen, 3/3/3+ Week, Day One and Two New PRs!

snatch deadlift
Photo credit:

We have the grandkids this weekend, so when my wife decides to go on a walk early on Sunday morning, I’m never sure when I’ll get to the gym.

As it turns out, she ended her walk early and I found myself getting into the weight room at about 20 minutes past eight. Fortunately, the squat rack was free and in pretty good shape. Only took a few minutes to fix it up.

It has only been two days since my last workout and making both a PR and personal goal in my deadlift: 300 pounds! I’m still stoked.

But the next morning when I got out of bed, ouch. No, not a back tweak, but it’s definitely sore and worn. Needs lots of recovery, which it didn’t get this morning. I wondered how it would affect my workout. I wasn’t holding out for any PRs today.

That said, I was willing to push myself. Increased the working weights for both the squat and overhead press from last cycle. Here goes nothing…or something.

3/3/3+ Main Lifts

Back Squat in Squat Rack (raw)

10x 45lbs/20.4117kg (warm up)
10x 75lbs/34.0194kg (warm up)
3x 135lbs/61.235kg
3x 155lbs/70.3068kg
4x 165lbs/74.8427kg
3x 185lbs/83.9146kg (joker)
2x 205lbs/92.9864kg (joker)
1x 225lbs/102.058kg (joker) PR!

overhead press
Photo credit:

Overhead Press in Squat Rack

10x 45lbs/20.4117kg (warm up)
5x 55lbs/24.9476kg (warm up)
3x 75lbs/34.0194kg
3x 85lbs/38.5554kg
4x 95lbs/43.0913kg
2x 105lbs/47.6272kg (joker)
1x 110lbs/49.8952 (joker)
0x 115lbs/52.1631kg (joker) -failed rep-
1x 115lbs/52.1631kg (joker) PR!

Yes, two new PRs!

Admittedly, they’re PRs by only five pounds each, but that still counts.

I felt pretty strong on my back squat. Made it through the working sets okay. Back soreness was only slightly annoying. Decided just to do three jokers, so the weight went up dramatically between each set. I figured 225 for the final joker was just five more pounds than my PR, but last week, I only felt confident doing 215 last week.

I put the weight on my back, did the lift out and felt the barbell settling in, did the walk back, set my spine and feet, and went down into the hole.

Oh, it felt heavy. I went down, down, down. Got to parallel and pushed up and started to move. I was gritting my teeth, my face got red, my legs and lower back ached. But I completed the rep.


That took me to the overhead press. I looked around to see if anyone seemed like they might want to squat. Big Daddy was the only one present who looked like he could, but almost never does. He was doing curls with a 135 pound barbell instead.

overhead press
Photo credit:

I did two warm ups for the overhead press hoping it would make a positive difference. Although the weight felt somewhat heavy, I powered through my working sets, and surprised myself at actually being able to do four reps at 95 pounds. Last week, I did two reps and failed the third, and typically, my rep limit for that weight is three.

I did two reps at 105 for the first joker, which is the usual. Managed one for the second joker set at 110. Could I finally make 115 for a new PR today?

I could have put a pair of 35 pound plates, one on either side of the bar, but I was concerned I’d be “psyched” by their size, and instead used a pair of 25s and a pair of 10s. Adds up the same way. Maybe since the load on the bar looked smaller, my brain would think it really was.

Except it didn’t. Stalled halfway up, lowered the bar, tried again…nothing.

I deloaded the barbell, racked my weight plates and called it.

Did my usual stretches, but I decided in the middle of that routine that if the squat rack were still empty when I was finished, I’d try 115 pounds one more time. You never know.

Well, it was, so I walked back into the weight room and set the barbell up for 115 pounds again. If I made it, I made it, and if I didn’t, I didn’t.

Maybe it was the extra rest, but I pushed up halfway, felt a lot of resistance, but kept pushing and pushing until the barbell was over my head.

It was a near thing.

I did my best to control the descent and re-rack the bar.

squatDid it!

Two new PRs which were also two personal goals. The only goal I haven’t made is with the bench press, and maybe 185 pounds is too high to shoot for right now. The current PR is 170. Should I make my goal 175 and go from there?

Three new PRs within two days of each other. Now I get to rest until Thursday. I need the recovery time.

Since next Thursday is Thanksgiving, the gym won’t open until 8 a.m. so I’ll get a bit of extra sleep. How far will I be able to take my bench press and deadlift before going home and firing up the Weber charcoal barbecue to cook the turkey?

I came. I saw. I conquered.

Julius Caesar


2 thoughts on “Cycle Thirteen, 3/3/3+ Week, Day One and Two New PRs!

  1. Glued to your posts James,. Living vicariously Congrats! I’m in the gym figuring my max reps for 5/3/1. 2 days a week sounds/feels right to me. Accessory work is a little confusing to me but I don’t think I’m going to add that in the first cycle till I feel my weights are right. Being that I’m 2 days a week, have you felt comfortable skipping deload every other cycle? Any advice appreciated.


    1. Greetings Josh,

      If by Accessory work you mean assistance lifts, yeah, they’re not absolutely necessary. Often I don’t have time to add them in or am too exhausted from the main lifts to give them a go.

      That said, they can help augment weak areas which for me are my triceps. If I’ve got the time, I’ll do some dips or cable pushdowns to work my tris. There are all kinds of ways to implement assistance lifts and you’re right, it can get downright confusing. I usually choose to do what Jim Wendler calls “boring but big.” That’s taking a lift and doing 5 sets at 10 reps per set.

      Deloads are controversial depending on who you listen to. Unless I feel really beaten up, I won’t take a deload week and will just power through into the next cycle. That said, as the weights have gotten heavier, I found that I need to deload more often. I just check in with myself at the end of 5/3/1+ week and see how I’m feeling. No particular frequency to it. It’s just based on how I feel.

      There’s an argument against a strict deload regimen that says making yourself deload on a schedule might be robbing you of opportunities to advance. What if on a deload week, you’re feeling like a gorilla and are in condition to power through?

      Of course, that was written by a young guy who isn’t even imagining his first gray hair yet.

      Best course of action is that it’s best to be conservative and avoid injury rather than too aggressive and lay yourself up. Of course, I’m not always that smart.

      Hope this helps.


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