Bench Press and Deadlift PRs

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The weather’s been lousy lately, but that’s winter in Southwestern Idaho. It snowed all day yesterday, but this morning, things warmed up just enough (36 degrees F) that the snow and ice started to melt. We’re expecting rain later today.

What’s left on the roads is a bunch of slippery slush.

I’ve only gotten in one cardio session this week. I meant to go again yesterday, but my almost 18-month-old granddaughter kept waking up and crying through the night, so when 4 a.m. rolled around, I was bushed (no, we didn’t ignore her, her Dad took care of her).

Today, I determined there would be no excuses, including the condition of the roads. I set my alarm for the appropriate time but got out of bed before it went off.

I got water and coffee but I didn’t feel much like eating so decided to lift fasted.

I was determined to make new PRs this morning. I was actually pretty confident I could deadlift 305 pounds for a single rep, but was unsure how heavy I could go on the bench press.

Only one way to find out.

I pulled into the gym’s parking lot at 5 until 5, but the lights were already on and people were walking in including Bicycle Guy who I know bench presses. I needed just one bench press station (the weight room only has two if you don’t count the incline bench press station) for my lifts today.

Fortunately, I got one. Liz actually took the other, and Bicycle Guy started out doing chest work with dumbbells.

On Sunday, it looked like almost all of the 35 pound plates had gone missing except for those at the flat and incline bench press benches. I think they’ve returned but it’s a mystery where they would have gone.

Anyway, I got my bench straightened up with the correct combination of weight plates. Here’s how 5/5/5+ week of cycle 14 ended.

Main Lifts 5/5/5+ week

bench press
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Barbell Bench Press

10x 45lbs/20.4117kg (warm up)
10x 65lbs/29.4835kg (warm up)
5x 110lbs/49.8952kg
5x 125lbs/56.699kg
6x 130lbs/58.967kg
2x 145lbs/65.7709kg (joker)
2x 155lbs/70.3068kg (joker)
1x 165lbs/74.8427kg (joker)
1x 175lbs/79.3787kg (joker) PR!

Barbell Bent Leg Deadlift

10x 135lbs/61.235kg (warm up)
10x 165lbs/74.8427kg (warm up)
5x 195lbs/88.4505kg
5x 225lbs/102.058kg
6x 255lbs/115.666kg
3x 280lbs/127.006kg (joker)
2x 295lbs/133.81kg (joker)
1x 305lbs/138.346kg (joker) PR!

Yes, two new PRs but the final joker set for my bench press is iffy.

The working weights felt heavy, including the first set of 5 reps at 110 pounds. I’m always sort of “psyched out” by bench presses, mainly because it’s my weakest lift, and because I’ve been trapped under the bar more than once. I don’t put the locking clamps on the bar anymore in case I have to dump the load, but I still don’t like to fail a rep.

I only did 2 reps at 145 for my first joker. Normally, I can do 3. Not a good sign.

Did 2 at 155 and a single at 165, and then I increased the weight to 175 to attempt a new PR.

It worked, well, sort of.

bench press
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I got the bar down to my chest and pushed up. Really difficult. I managed to get the bar above the top pins and thought I’d have to settle for a partial. Then I pressed the bar against the bench’s two vertical supports to keep it from weaving around, and then managed to push the barbell all the way to the top to complete the rep.

Is that cheating? Probably, but it’s not like the effort was worthless, so I’ll call it a new PR and work on benching 175 pounds without the weave.

Meanwhile, Bicycle Guy got on the other bench (Liz had finished) and was pressing 185 for 8 to 10 reps per set. I admire his strength.

Later on, Big Daddy came in and was benching between 185 and 205. At least he didn’t rip off any of my weight plates this time.

On to deadlifts.

The warm ups went as usual, leaving me out of breath. You might remember from my last blog post that I readjusted my working weights based on my current one rep maximums. I discovered that I’d gone a bit too heavy on my back squat weights and had to make an adjustment downward. I thought I’d made the same mistake on my deadlift weights.

Turns out that’s not the case. When I checked, weights were pretty comparable to the increases I’d been programming in all along, so I changed nothing.

I will admit that the sixth rep in my 5+ set at 255 pounds was challenging. Doable, but challenging.

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I wanted that new PR so I increased the weight drastically set over set for the jokers.

I was really proud of doing 2 reps at 295 pounds, although that second rep was rough and even getting the barbell off the floor for the first rep was hard.

I’d been resting 3 to 3 1/2 minutes between sets but ended up waiting a full 4 minutes or more before attempting the final joker.

305 pounds. I looked at the weight plates on the bar after I’d loaded it to make sure it was the right weight.

Big Daddy, Firefighter Guy, and some other regular guy with a beard and glasses were around. Time was running out as I rested, but I wanted to make sure I could deliver up the maximum effort.

My face was dripping with sweat and my arms were trembling as I sat on the bench.

Finally, it was time. I assumed my stance, took several deep breaths, bent down, gripped the barbell, tightened up, and pulled.

It was about as hard at lifting 300 pounds two weeks ago. I lifted and lifted and I’m pretty sure I called the barbell a F—er under my breath on the way up. I was almost but not quite standing and I kept pulling.

Finally, I was standing upright with 305 pounds in my hands. I waited several seconds savoring the victory, and then I set the barbell back down with a loud BAM!

I unloaded the bar and tried to catch my breath. 305 pound deadlift. I did it. My goal of 315 is only 10 pounds more.

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I put all my toys away back where they belonged, and then did my usual mobility work.

My neck is sore. My shoulders are sore. My arms are sore. My legs are sore. It feels so good.

Satisfaction’s a sweet meal but it’s short-lived. 3/3/3+ week starts on Sunday. Let’s go.

Becoming is better than being.

Dr. Carol S. Dweck
from her book Mindset


4 thoughts on “Bench Press and Deadlift PRs

  1. Awesome James! Tonight Ill have my estimated Max’s on the press and DL. Cycle #1 begins! Mondays and Thursdays! Hope you don’t mind if I ask for some opinions now and then. I’ve been eating like a champ. I’ve decided to suppliment Protien and Creatine, Just not sure about quantity (al
    lot of info out there). Im having trouble finding a qualified trainer in the area, so for now Im videoing myself until I find someone. Got “Starting Strength” as a guide and I have some Crossfit experience with Oly lifting technique.

    Your an Inspiration, Josh


    1. Thanks for that, Josh.

      There’s not a lot of solid information out there about supplements for older lifters. These days, I tend to be somewhat relaxed about protein, maybe consuming a couple of protein shakes on lift says, the first one as soon as I get home from the gym.

      I used Creatine back in the day, but I couldn’t really tell the difference between supplemented and lifting or just lifting without it.

      I just had a piece of chicken for lunch and I’ve got one more protein shake with me here at work that I may or may not consume. Chances are I’ll have some protein for dinner, although last night I mainly had a green salad and about one or two ounces of salmon. Of course, I’d just come back from the dentist’s (had a small cavity filled) and because my lower lip was numb, I kept accidentally biting it.

      If you want more inspiration, search my blog for the word “inspiration” and you should find posts on other older lifters or similar folk who have overcome barriers and have gotten strong.



  2. I am new to your site. I found it when google searching workouts for older guys.

    We are about the same age and weight. I just wonder if you aren’t pre-exhausting yourself during extensive warm ups.

    I bench press dumbbells. Weights listed are per arm.
    Warm ups 50 X 20. 70 X 10
    Working sets (without a spotter) 100 X 10. 100 X 8
    if I have a spotter I might do 120 X 3 or 4 and then 110 X 6, 110 X 6, 110 X 6, 110 X 6

    135 X 10, 225 X 5, 275 X 3, 295 X 1, and then either 305 or 315 X 1
    Deadlifts are tricky. I can’t do the heaviest lifts every week. Usually every three weeks for a 315

    I use an upper/lower split schedule . Leg days I squat on Sunday and deadlift on Thursday.
    Upper body Tuesday and Saturday.

    I’m just thinking you are burning up a lot of energy doing warm ups. Is there a reason for such extensive warming up?

    By the way, I used to have constant shoulder problems benching barbells. But once I switched to dumbbells, and doing internal, external and horizontal rotation exercises, my shoulder problems are gone.


    1. Hi Scuba Dog and welcome.

      It’s possible, although I sometimes vary my warm up routines to check this out.

      I envy you your deadlifts.

      I actually haven’t made it to the gym for a couple of weeks, mainly because the weather and roads are crappy and I don’t want to drive any more than necessary, plus it’s so astonishingly dark in the early morning this time of year, my brain keeps telling my body to sleep.

      Got to get back to it, though. New PRs to conquer.

      Glad to hear about you sorting your shoulder problems. Too many guys our age get hurt and stay that way.


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