Out of Gas Yet Again

Bench Press
Bench Press

Lousy workout today. I had a feeling it would be even before I left for the gym this morning. Maybe my attitude is what resulted in my poor performance, or maybe my mind/body was telling me something.

These long, dark, cold mornings are getting to me, plus I got to sleep in four days in a row last Friday through Monday. It’s tough to get up early enough to get to the gym.

Actually, I woke up at about a quarter after three. Couldn’t sleep and maybe that contributed to all this.

Anyway, I had coffee, water, and a little yogurt since I was feeling a little “peckish.” Got my gym togs on and found myself in the gym parking lot about five until six. The lights were already on and it looked like everyone had filed in.

I got inside and saw Liz on one of the two bench press stations. I took the other, stashed my hoodie, straightened out the weight plates and hoped for the best. This is how cycle 14 and 5/3/1+ week ended. I didn’t exactly cover myself with glory.

Main Lifts 5/3/1+

Barbell Bench Press

10x 45lbs/20.4117kg (warm up)
10x 65lbs/29.4835kg (warm up)
5x 125lbs/56.699kg
3x 145lbs/65.7709kg
2x 155lbs/70.3068kg
1x 165lbs/74.8427kg (joker)
0x 170lbs/77.1107kg (joker) -failed rep-

Barbell Bent Leg Deadlift

10x 135lbs/61.235kg (warm up)
10x 165lbs/74.8427kg (warm up)
5x 225lbs/102.058kg
3x 255lbs/115.666kg
2x 285lbs/129.274kg
0x 290lbs/131.542kg (joker) -failed rep-

Assistance Lift

Rack Pulls in Squat Rack

3x 225lbs/102.058kg

300 pound deadlift
Yeah, that’s me doing a 300 pound single rep deadlift. Hah!

I swear I’m getting weaker.

Last week, I managed a single rep bench press at 175 pounds, and this week I failed at 170. Not only that, but I couldn’t get the barbell off my chest, and for the first time ever, I had to dump the weights.

Boy, that’s a loud noise, especially with bare metal plates.

In humiliation. I put the empty bar on its pins and picked up the plates. Then I loaded the bar and set it on the floor to get ready for deadlift warm ups.

Warm ups were good but the working weights felt heavy. Oh, I could do 5 reps with a 225 pound barbell, but I barely managed 2 reps at 285.

What really surprised me though it that I couldn’t even do a single at 290. I got it off the floor, and for a second, I thought I was going to pull it up, but gravity reached out and yanked it back down.

I didn’t have the heart for another try.

Since a had a little extra time, I thought maybe I’d do some Rack Pulls for assistance work. Because I can lift heavier on rack pulls than deadlifts, and since I was already warmed up, I started at 225 pounds. I hoped I’d be able to redeem  myself.

No, I didn’t tweak my back, but it felt, really, really tired. I did 3 reps and called it quits. My body was done lifting for the day.

As I was pondering all this while licking my wounds, I recalled something that Mark Rippetoe wrote once, either on his website or in one of his books. In fact I think it was here.

He said that the beginner strength trainer will make all sorts of PRs pretty consistently at first because they’re not anywhere close to their limits. They just keep going up and up and up.

However, once they become more experienced and approach their functional limits, those new PRs become really hard to achieve.

I wonder if this means I’m past the beginner’s stage and I’ve hit my current functional limitations?

I’m trying to figure out where to go from here. Today was a huge disappointment. I could only bench 10 pounds under my current PR, and only deadlift 20 pounds under my current PR. Yikes.

The irony in all this is my muscles still feel tired, like I worked out really hard.

rack pull form
Image: redcappedbandit’s YouTube channel

Of course if you look at the main lifts, I made my goals, so technically I didn’t fail.

It just feels like I did.

I looked back in my log to 5/3/1+ week of the previous cycle and I managed a single rep bench press at 170 pounds and a single rep deadlift at 300.

I’ll probably deload next week, but I’m not sure exactly how I’ll set up the program yet.

Guess I’ll take it one day at a time and keep plugging away. It’s all I know how to do.

Life is not easy for any of us. But what of it? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves.

Marie Curie


4 thoughts on “Out of Gas Yet Again

  1. Hey there and sorry you had a bad day at the gym, but it happens. Moreover, it seems like with each passing year, hell sometimes it seems like with each passing day, “bad gym days” happen with increasing frequency. I hope you don’t mind my commenting but I couldn’t help noticing your workout included deadlifts, which as I’m sure you know is considered by most authorities as the most taxing lift on the whole body, followed by rack pulls on the same day. Like you, at 60, I fall into the “Old Man’s Gym” category and have found that sticking to the “one exercise” per body region, e.g. one push, one pull and one leg exercise, per workout helps keeps me fresher. I also incorporate an “instinctive training” component, meaning when I’m feeling “peckish,” wake up extra early like us older guys seem to do with increasing frequency or just feel bad overall, I listen to my body and take a “back off” workout. In a back off workout my max weight for the day is in the 80-90 percent range of my max and I do progressively heavier weights in sets of five for a total 25 reps for each exercise. Doing that gives the targeted muscles some work but not too much and often seems to give my body the rest it needs to come back in two or three days raring to go for a good, hard workout. Just some thoughts. Hope you’re back in fine fettle soon and get back to achieving your goals in the gym.


    1. Hi Rick,

      I love comments.

      I did the rack pulls mainly out of frustration and yes, it was a bad idea.

      I’ve been doing single rep deadlifts between 300 and 305 pounds for the past several weeks, so it’s frustrating to slip backward. Part of the reason I maintain this blog is to “blow off steam” when things don’t go right.

      I probably will do a deload week next week to back off the weight and let my body recover. It just seems like for every step forward, I’m taking two steps back.

      On the other hand, I can remember when picking up 285 pounds from the floor was only a dream, so I’m slowly becoming stronger. Still, like I said in the body of this blog post, sooner or later, I’m going to hit a functional impasse and that’ll be it. I just hope I haven’t gotten there yet.

      Thanks for commenting Rick, and feel free to let me know what you think about my other missives.


  2. Well, at 48 I don’t know if I qualify for “Old Man’s Gym” or not, but seeing as I haven’t exercised in a long time, I sometimes feel like an old man. I think we all have those bad days, gym related or not.

    My bad day was Wednesday, two days ago. It was bad in the sense that I started back at a gym. Well, I don’t know if you can call Planet Fitness a gym or not, but regardless of your feelings about PF, it’s a start. I met with a personal trainer who went through a series of questions about what I wanted to accomplish, both short term and long. He set up a routine for me to follow for a month and then wants to meet again and follow up. Monday, Wednesday and Saturday is 15 minutes of cardio then strength training. Tuesday, Thursday and Friday is cardio (at home, work, or where ever). Sunday is rest day. I’m not ashamed to say that after last Wednesday, I still cannot completely straighten out my arms nor can I stretch my arms out to stretch my chest. But I’m working on it. Heck, it’s the first real exercise I’ve done since I got married (23 years ago). But, it’s a start and at almost 280 pounds with high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes, I think it’s a good start. Just gotta stay with it.

    Glad I found this site. Something to keep us all motivated.


    1. Welcome to my virtual gym, Lee.

      The Old Man’s Gym isn’t just for geezers like me. It’s for anyone who doesn’t fit the stereotype of young, fit, buff dude or dudette. It’s for women who don’t want to be told that they can’t lift heavy. It’s for people who want to get in shape but don’t know what to do first. It’s for anyone facing a challenge who wants to overcome it, no matter what it is, so Lee, you are perfectly welcome here.

      A word about trainers. Check out their backgrounds and if you can, talk with others they’ve trained. Not all trainers are created equal and some can actually do more harm than good.

      I was fortunately last year to hired a trainer who works at my local gym. He’s a young guy, but his creds checked out, and I’d been watching him teach classes and individuals. We met for six, one-hour sessions with the specific goals of improving my bench press, overhead press, back squat, and deadlift, as well as overcoming those pesky lower back injuries I kept encountering. He was terrific. Based on those six hours, I’ve improved tremendously since last year.

      Due to age and a variety of other factors, I’ve also got my physical concerns and challenges, but most don’t affect lifting or cardio. The one that could, spinal arthritis, almost never acts up. I take a natural turmeric supplement that keeps the inflammation down, so I’ve only had a couple of times when my mid-back was a problem.

      The holidays have taken their toll and my weight’s crept up again past 210. I like it under 200 and my mythical goal weight is 185 pounds of lean muscle. I probably won’t get that far, but I’ve got to start crushing my gut again.

      It doesn’t matter so much where you workout as long as you’re in motion and challenging yourself. Right now, in the beginning, just exercising is challenging, but you’ll get to a point to where what you do now won’t be enough. It’ll take time, and believe, progress is painfully slow and non-linear, but it happens. The only real enemy you have is quitting. Never stop. Start off slow and easy but the last thing any of us need to do is quit working out.

      I’m proud that you’ve taken this step and you have my full support and encouragement going forward. Cheers, mate.

      Liked by 1 person

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