Coming Out Of Hibernation: Back Squat and Overhead Press

Well that went worse than I thought…getting back to lifting I mean.

About four weeks ago, I tried to get back into lifting after a three-week absence. It wasn’t horrible, but it wasn’t great either. The two things I noticed the most were I couldn’t lift anywhere near as heavy as I used to, and my stamina was shot.

My brain told me to lift as heavy as I could.

squat and squat complex

The next day, my body told me I was a moron.

So yesterday, I deliberately set my weights to be light so I could manage 5 reps per set. I’m doing all this just to see what I can and can’t do and where I need to reset my program.

Here’s Sunday morning’s efforts:

5/5/5+ Main Lifts

Back Squat in Squat Rack (raw)

10x 45lbs/20.4117kg (warm up)
10x 65lbs/29.4835kg (warm up)
5x 115lbs/52.1631kg
5x 125lbs/56.699kg
6x 135lbs/61.235kg
3x 145lbs/65.7709kg (joker)
3x 150lbs/68.0389kg (joker)

Overhead Press in Squat Rack

10x 45lbs/20.4117kg (warm up)
3x 70lbs/31.7515kg
5x 50lbs/22.6796kg
5x 55lbs/24.9476kg
6x 60lbs/27.2155kg
4x 65lbs/29.4835kg (joker)
3x 70lbs/31.7515kg (joker)

I know, right? Pretty lightweight, but at least I managed.

It actually felt good to get under a barbell and squat again, but then, squatting wasn’t a problem. I’d estimated the weights just about right.

Overhead presses, on the other hand, were a big problem.

I’d originally set my working weights at 70, 75, and 80 pounds. Not that heavy, I thought.


I was really surprised when I could only lift a 70 pound barbell over my head three times instead of the expected 5.

overhead press
Photo credit:

So I lightened everything up, humiliatingly so.

Except for Liz, I had the weight room to myself, that is, until big, buff Asian guy and his little blonde girlfriend came in. He was coaching her through a bunch of bench presses, and I was lifting like a little kid.

Well, maybe not that bad, but when you knock off going to the gym for a while and then go back, you have to put your ego out of the picture and just do the work.

It seems I’ve put myself months, and months behind on what I had previously achieved. I think I can get my squats in good order in a month or so, but my overhead press has really degraded.

Took today off from the gym to rest my legs (and boy do they feel like they need a rest) but will try to return tomorrow for cardio and do bench presses and deadlifts on Thursday.

The weather isn’t an excuse anymore, and I’ve got to get this buggy back on the road.

Healing takes courage, and we all have courage, even if we have to dig a little to find it.

Tori Amos


4 thoughts on “Coming Out Of Hibernation: Back Squat and Overhead Press

  1. I’m glad to see you’re back in the gym. I sometimes feel less than enthusiastic about going to the gym. I might find the prospect of crawling under a lot of weight (200) without a spotter for the bench press kind of like going to work at a job I don’t like. But I know that once I get those heavy bench press sets out of the way, I can relax and enjoy the rest of my work out. When I have my spotter I feel much less intimidated and actually look forward to doing sets with 240 and 220.

    I also look forward to deadlift Thursday (295 – 315 depending on the cycle).This is because if I fail at deadlifts the worst that can happen is I don’t make the lift.

    Squat Sunday I make interesting by not knowing what kind of squats I’ll be doing. My gym has one squat rack, two squat cages, and two Smith machines. But there always seems to be somebody using one of those stations at all times. So I just take the first station that becomes available. I can go well below parallel on Smith squats, but have to settle for about two inches above parallel on standard back squats. I can do more weight on standard back squats (250) than the Smith machine (220), but it is always an adventure, specially without a spotter. So that makes it interesting.

    When I am less than enthusiastic about going to the gym, I make a mental deal with myself to “Just Show Up” and do something, even if it is less than my optimal. Sometimes I surprise myself and have a great set of lifts that day in spite of my gloomy outlook on the way to the gym.

    I have read about the concept of “active rest” where doing less than a max effort is a form of recovery training and is certainly better than staying home. At this point, we just have to get in the gym and work.


    1. What has been daunting for me is even days after doing squats, my quads are still amazingly sore. Got some good sleep last night so I’m headed for the gym this morning.

      My bench presses, even at their best, are lousy. I’ve been caught under the bar before and since I don’t have a spotter, I leave the collars off the bar. If I get trapped, I just dump the weights. Humiliating, but it beats the alternative.

      My gym has one squat rack and one smith machine, and I never use the smith machine. That means I’m at the gym on Sunday right when it opens so I’m sure to get to the squat rack first.

      Found out yesterday that my Mom feel, cracked one vertebrae and has a compressed disc. Also, my Dad, who’s been fighting cancer, has lost his appetite and lost a ton of weight. They’re both in their 80s and I fear for the worst. The gym is one place where I can work off some of that stress.


  2. Sorry to hear about your parents health issues. I went through that with both my parents and my wife. I should have tried to keep up with lifting, but at that it was the last thing on my mind. Well winters, almost all of the. A little easier to get out to the gym, good luck with your training.


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