An Unanticipated PR

Image: Digital Trends

The good news is I went to the gym Thanksgiving morning to do some cardio and gut work. The bad news is I’ve been overeating and haven’t done cardio since.

Oh well, today was lift day, specifically the start of 5/3/1+ week in cycle 13 of my strength training program. Back squats and overhead presses.

Last week, I made two new PRs, a single rep back squat with a 225 pound barbell and a single rep overhead press at 115. Doing an overhead press at 115 is more or less a miracle since it’s one of my weakest lifts. I had no idea if I could even duplicate that effort this morning. However, I did feel fairly confident I could squat 230 for another new PR.

I was out of bed about a quarter after six. My one son David had already left for work and my other son and my wife were still sleeping. I did my usual slow wake up routine for Sundays including coffee, water, and a little yogurt while I read the Sunday comic strips.

I got all of my stuff together and in the car and left home about a quarter til eight.

I got to the gym parking lot five minutes early knowing that Bryce, the guy who opens up on Sunday’s, is typically about a minute late.

No cars at all in the parking lot except for Liz’s so no competition for the squat rack.


Bryce arrived right on time (for him) and I got back to the squat rack before he turned the lights on.

It was in pretty good shape for once, so it didn’t take me long to get set up.

Here’s how the start of 5/3/1+ week in cycle thirteen went. It had a few surprises.

5/3/1+ Main Lifts

back squat
Photo credit: Tribe Sports

Back Squat in Squat Rack (raw)

10x 45lbs/20.4117kg (warm up)
10x 65lbs/29.4835kg (warm up)
5x 145lbs/65.7709kg
3x 155lbs/70.3068kg
3x 170lbs/77.1107kg
2x 195lbs/88.4505kg (joker)
2x 210lbs/95.2544kg (joker)
1x 225lbs/102.058kg (joker)

Overhead Press in Squat Rack

10x 45lbs/20.4117kg (warm up)
10x 65lbs/29.4835kg (warm up)
5x 90lbs/40.8233kg
3x 100lbs/45.3592kg
1x 105lbs/47.6272
1x 110lbs/49.8952kg (joker)
1x 115lbs/52.1631kg (joker)
1x 120lbs/54.4311kg (joker) PR!

Back squats first.

Warm ups went fine and I was pleased at getting down to parallel and occasionally beneath parallel, although the weight was extremely light.

Even the warm ups took the breath out of me, and I had to rest about two-and-a-half minutes between sets, increasing the length of time as the weight got heavier.

I did okay on the working sets and noticed that third rep in my 1+ set made my face turn red and not with embarrassment.

If I wanted to surpass last week’s PR, I’d have to increase the weight significantly in the jokers set over set.

I was pleased to do two reps at 210. I set the barbell up for 225 preparing to do a single and then increase the weight just five pounds more.

I’d forgotten how incredibly heavy a 225 pound barbell was for me to push back up last week. Today reminded me of that fact, along with noticing that my lumbar region had been aching throughout the squat sets. I decided that 225 was plenty for today given the degree of difficulty involved.

There’s always next week, especially if I remain injury free.

By this time, I was feeling pretty tired and had to rest before even doing my warm ups for the overhead press.

rogue gym
Photo credit:

Along with Liz, I saw another regular in the weight room this morning, Bicycle Guy. He’s probably in his 30s, good looking, bearded, sometimes comes to the gym with his wife who strictly does cardio.

Except Bicycle Guy only comes in during the week. I’ve never seen him work out on a Sunday before. Maybe the Thanksgiving Holiday screwed up his schedule.

Anyway, he was doing some combination of barbell and dumbbell work, so I continued with my routine, grateful that no one else was there who wanted the squat rack.

My working sets were all pretty close in weight to what I normally do in joker sets, so I was wondering how many jokers I had in me.

The first two working sets were hard but “do-able”. It was the 1+ set that got me. I looked over my workout log and saw that normally, I can do two reps at 105 pounds, but for some reason, I only got one rep today.

I did the lift out and walk back, pushed up and couldn’t make the rep. Frustrated, I tried again and barely got the single.

I didn’t like what that meant but was determined to do as much as I could. I set the bar at 110 pounds for my first joker set and waited.

When I finally did the rep, it actually felt a little easier than 105 for some reason. Maybe I rested more. I certainly needed it. Also, I may have had too wide a grip on the bar. Narrowing it a little seems to help.

I set the weight up for 115, my current PR at that moment, rested and waited. When I finally attacked the barbell, 115 pounds went up, not easily, but it went.

I did the insane and increased the weight to 120. At this point, I’d only done two jokers and I normally do three or four. I figured what the heck.

I refilled my water bottle, returned it to the squat rack, and went back to use the john. Normally I don’t need to, but I must have been drinking more in than I was sweating out. This gave me a good long rest period.

I noticed my arms were shaking meaning they were pretty darn tired. C’mon, just one more set.

I got back to the rack and addressed the barbell. Did the lift out and walk back and pushed up. I thought I wasn’t going to make it for a second. It wasn’t the prettiest lift in the world and in fact, it looked really ragged, but then I was looking at myself in the mirror with my arms holding 120 pounds completely over my head.

I did it. A new PR and in one of my weaker lifts.

overhead press

Who knew?

I had been toying with the idea of doing rack pulls since no one seemed to want the squat rack, but I figured I’d been successful in a lift I didn’t think I’d be able to do, so I called it. My lower back had taken enough punishment for one day.

I did my usual mobility work and headed out, having been at the gym a whole hour.

While I was stretching, I saw that Bicycle Guy was in the squat rack. Didn’t see that one coming, even though I know he uses it periodically.

I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I don’t know what he was doing is called. He started with the barbell in his hands but lowered down by his thighs. Then he lifts it to his chest, and then completes an overhead press.

Anyway, he did a bunch of those at what looked like 65 pounds or so. Guess he wanted the squat rack after all. Good thing I didn’t do rack pulls.

Now that I’ve gotten back home, had a proper breakfast (salmon omelet with onion and garlic), and have had a bit of rest, everything feels tired. My arms and legs certainly, but my whole body feels worked. My back isn’t sore anymore, or at least it’s not particularly noticeable.

Good thing I’m not lifting again until Thursday. Now if I can just get back on top of my cardio and calories.

In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity.

Albert Einstein


2 thoughts on “An Unanticipated PR

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s