I squatted yesterday to start week 3 of cycle 4.  It was a good session and I was pleased with the outcome.

After warmups including neck work and all that stuff, I started squatting (bar and then up).  My work sets were:

205 x 5

230 x 3

255 x 1+ (7, belt and sleeves)

205 x 10 (sleeves)

I was very pleased with the 255 for 7.  They moved very well until the last rep.  I probably could have ground out another ugly rep, but I wanted to leave something in the tank.

After squats, I did Romanian deadlifts from a 3″ deficit (standing on two plates and a rubber floor tile).  I did a warmup set of 5 at 135.  Then, it was time for as many reps as possible at 180.  I got 13.  Whew, I felt like I was going to lose my lunch after that.  Fun stuff.

I finished up with 3 sets of 12 hanging leg raises.


This is obviously quite tardy.  Back on Saturday, I got in my training at the gym my father in law lifts at.  I squeezed in deadlifts and overhead press to finish up week 2 of cycle 4.

After warming up, I did my warmup deadlifts from a deficit (standing on a bumper plate).  I have done this the last few deadlift workouts based on an article I read on t-nation.  It presented an interesting idea about using the deficit to prepare for pulling from the floor on your heavier sets.  It seemed worth a try, so that is what I am doing.

Pulls went:215 x 3

250 x 3

280 x 3+ (10, belted)

215 x 15

After deadlifts, I did front squats.  One warm up set, then a set of as many reps as possible at 150.  I got 10 :-/  I guess I was not too bummed about this due to my legs being pretty fatigued from all the deadlifting.

At this point, my father in law had finished squatting, so I got him to leave 225 on the bar.  I then singled 225 and 275 on the squat, just because I wanted to make myself do it when I was exhausted.

This was a pretty long session for me, because next was overhead press.  My shoulder was still really bothering me, so this was not an exceptional pressing day.

95 x 3

110 x 3

120 x 3+ (4)

After overhead press, I did close grip bench (rest pause), barbell curls (rest pause), and pull-ups (rest pause).  I have been doing the curls before my chins and pullups (depending on the day), because that is the way Wendler had it written in the template in the 2nd edition book.  However, I will be changing that up this week.  My pullups sucked because my biceps were exhausted.  I definitely value pullups more highly than curls, and I wish I had thought this through sooner.  But, all I can do is adjust things going forward and learn from my mistakes.

Overall, this was a good session, and I was very pleased with 10 reps at 280 on the deadlift.  If I can get my shoulder healthy, all my lifts seem to be moving along well.

year 2 cycle 4 week 2

On Wednesday, I benched. So, I’m sorry this is a bit delayed. It was a good session, and my bench is getting back to where it was last year, too. My body weight is also up a couple pounds (~171), but that is fine. I’m keeping an eye on my midsection.

Bench went:

140 x 3
160 x 3
180 x 3+ rest pause set (10, 3, 3)

I was very pleased with 10 reps here. It is not a PR, but it is definitely the best my bench has been since I lost weight. This gave me an estimated 1 RM of 240.

After bench, I did dips. After a warm-up set, I did a rest pause set. On the rest pause set, I got 10, then 5, and then 3.

Since I remembered how to edit all the boring parts of the videos, I figured I would share them today. After dips, I hit a rest pause set of chin ups. I managed 9 reps to start, then, 4, and 2. After chins, it was reverse grip barbell curls (rest pause), and I finished with a set of dumbbell rows. I loaded my dumbbell up to 95 pounds, and used straps. My forearms were pretty beat from chins and curls. I managed 17 reps with each arm. As usual, the rows left me gasping and exhausted.

Really good session, and I am looking forward to pulling tomorrow. I am hoping to lift at my father in law’s gym, and I will pack in deadlifts and overhead press tomorrow. Fun times.

Smash weight.

I am at a complete loss for any kind of a creative title today. I squatted yesterday. It was a good session.

After warming up with leg swings, shoulder dislocates, and stuff like that, I did a few light sets of squats up to my work sets. The jokers out there might point out that all of these are light squats. Haha, hilarious. Anyway, here is how it went:

190 x 3
215 x 3
245 x 3+ (8) (belt and knee sleeves)
190 x 13 (sleeves, no belt)

Well, I don’t think I have any question about my depth today.

I looked back through my training journal and spreadsheets after this workout, and 245 x 8 is on up there with some of the best sets I have done in the last year and a half. So, I was very happy about that. I am still weighing in about 10 pounds lighter than I was at my strongest last year, and my squat seems to be back to that level.

After squats, I did Romanian deadlifts from a 3″ deficit. After a warmup set, I did a set of as many reps as possible at 160. I got 14, and I stopped at that point because I felt my form deteriorating rapidly. Plus, I felt like I might hurl. Fun stuff.

I finished up with abs. I still am incapable of doing a full repetition with the ab wheel from a standing position. So, I did 2 sets of 5 standing with the biggest range of motion I could control, then I did 1 set of 15 kneeling.

It does not look like a lot on paper, but I was exhausted at this point. Today, I am going to bench, so I will report back with that later. Smash weight.

Quick update

Posted: May 25, 2013 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

My Internet is out, so I am doing this from my phone. That means this is going to be really short and possibly full of errors.

I pulled yesterday. My top set was 265 for 5+. I got 10, and I went beltless yesterday for whatever reason. I then did a backdown set at my first weight, 200. I got 12 there. Brutal couple of sets. My second lift was front squats. Warmup, then as many reps as possible at 130, which was 12 before my lower back gave out. I finished with 3 sets of 12 hanging leg raises.

Today, I did overhead press. My shoulder is still jacked up and it showed. My top set on press was 115. This was a rest pause set: 7, 2, and 2. Lame. I also did rest pause for close grip bench, pull-ups, and barbell curls. I finished with two sets of shrugs on the trap bar.

I like the rest pause training. I am hopeful that this change of pace will lead to a little mass gain over the next two months. At that point, I will probably test to see where my lifts are at and plan the next few cycles. Also, this stuff is brutal. My muscles are sore, and my body just aches today. Gotta make sure and get my calories and sleep.

Smash weight.

year 2 cycle 4 week 1

Today, I got to do my first bench day with rest pause. It was exhausting, but a lot of fun.


135 x 5
150 x 5
170 x 5+ Rest Pause set

At 170, I got 11 reps, then 5, and then 3. My right shoulder is still killing me. I am not sure what the deal is, but it only hurts at the bottom position on the bench press. Plus, it does not hurt enough to stop me from doing it. So, I do not know why I mentioned it in the first place.

After bench, I did dips. I moved the spot pins on the rack up and laid both of my barbells across them. Voila: homemade dip setup. I actually have video of my rest pause sets of bench and dips. However, I am rusty on imovie and haven’t been able to edit out all the boring deep breaths between mini-sets yet. So, dips went pretty well. After a warmup set of 5, I got 10, 4, and 4.

After dips, I did chins. Chins actually were a little disappointing. I am apparently better at pullups than chin ups now. I did a warmup set of 5. Then, my rest pause set of chins, I got 7, 4, and 2. Based on my weak chinning performance, I think my biceps are holding me back, since I rarely train them. I mean, I can do a set of 10 pullups these days. It is all good. These will improve, too.

Wendler’s rest pause template includes some bicep work, so my previously mentioned problem will get some work. I did a warmup set of 5 with the bar, then did a rest pause set of reverse grip curls with 50 pounds. After the chins, this was tough. 12, 7, and 5 reps here.

I finished the day with one set of dumbbell rows with 95 pounds. I used straps, and got 16 with lefty, 15 with righty.

I was pretty worn out at this point. This is a lot of fun. I think two months of rest pause training are going to be awesome.

Year 2 cycle 4 week 1

Today, I am beginning two cycles of 5/3/1 and rest pause training. I am doing this based on the programming laid out in the 2nd edition of Wendler’s book. Today was squat day. I love squat day, even though my squat is not exceptional. Squats are a mental challenge, and my squat is eventually going to be good.

Squats, 5 day

175 x 5
205 x 5
230 x 5+ (10, belt and knee sleeves)
175 x 15 (sleeves)

I probably could have ground out another rep or two at 230, but 10 was my target. Squats felt really good today. Between the deload week and the adjustment in head position from a couple weeks ago, everything moved really well.

My second exercise was Romanian deadlifts. These were done standing on a plate, and went as follows:

115 x 5
135 x 15 (as many reps as possible set)

Obviously, this was amrap, not rest pause. Wendler says not to do rest pause on big lower body lifts (deadlifts, squats, etc). That is also why I had two amrap squat sets. 15 deficit rdl’s were…fun. I am glad to be trying a new movement and giving good mornings a break.

I finished up with 3 sets of 15 kneeling ab wheel. My lower back and abs were exhausted from the squats and pulls. Fun session. I am going to need to eat a lot to fuel this the next couple months.

The internet has tons of stuff available about training. Some of it is great, some it is free, and some of it is great and free. Also, there is a ton of crap. Unbelievable, mindless crap and lazy people. But, enough about that. This is about the good stuff I have found, read, and believe others should see.

One of the best things I have read is Jim Wendler’s T-nation article, “The Walk On.” Obviously, it is primarily about his experience as a college football walk-on. However, there are great lessons for anyone about dedication, making plans, and working toward our goals. Jim does use some profanity, so if you have delicate sensibilities, you have been warned. Seriously, try and get past that. It is a great read.

“The Walk On” by Jim Wendler at T-nation.com

T-nation has some pretty good stuff, and Jim Wendler writes for them regularly. His blood and chalk series on there is great (I don’t think he has done one in a while, but they are archived). I am obviously a big fan of Jim’s articles, but the rest of the articles on T-nation are hit and miss. They plug their crazy expensive supplements and stupid trap bar all the time, and some of the guys think single leg work and hip bridges are the greatest things since dinosaurs. So, equip your BS detector and find the stuff that is useful.

I just remembered another thing that is bothering me and I want to mention. In the introduction, I mentioned things being “great and free.” Guess what. That does not mean I expect everything to be given to me. I own three of Wendler’s books, among several other training texts. And I mean, I own them as in I paid for them like a decent person. I cannot believe how many times on the internet I see guys wanting a torrent of 5-3-1, or asking questions about 5-3-1 that could be easily and clearly answered by reading the book (or even just searching for a few of the articles that Jim has written himself and shared on the internet). Seriously, the kindle version of his books are $9.99. I just checked amazon. Do not be a scumbag. Pay the 10 freaking dollars and support the man. I do not understand the way people want everything for free and then spoon fed to them.

I’m out of town, so I’m late posting this. Friday, I got to lift at the gym my father in law trains at again. I love my garage gym, but it is also nice to occasionally train in a different environment. Plus, he is stronger than I am, and it never hurts to lift with people stronger than you.

I deadlifted and pressed on Friday. That wrapped up week 3 of cycle 3 in year 2. I’m going to take a deload week now, then I will start a new cycle incorporating rest pause training.

230 x 5
260 x 3
290 x 1
315 x 1
335 x 1

100 x 5
110 x 3
125 x 1
135 x 1

I also hit front squats, neutral grip pull-ups, leg raises, and a set of poundstone curls. It was a good session. Be back at it soon. SFW.

When I wrote up yesterday’s training session, I mentioned that my progress has been slow. I did my first meet about a year ago, and I am currently no stronger than I was then. As a powerlifter, my strength levels are at best novice. Honestly, that might be too kind. This is not discouraging to me. I have been intrigued by strength, weights, and the strength sports since I was a kid. I was not an exceptional athlete. Fortunately, I was very active and my parents did not let me just sit around and play video games or read comic books inside. My childhood was probably right before the real onslaught of the childhood obesity epidemic in this country. The point is, I was not much of an athlete, but at least I knew how to move around.

I started lifting weights a little bit when I was in about the sixth grade. I was a runt of a kid, and I had no idea what I was doing. There were some curls and push-ups and I do not remember what else. When I got closer to high school, I discovered wrestling and I knew that was the sport for me. There were no middle school teams around, so all I could do was wait till freshman year and give it my best shot. Having two brothers (one being a twin slightly bigger than me) at least gave me some experience with grappling. So, I went out for the team, and there happened to be a bit of an opening at 119 pounds. Except for the very first week of the season, I was able to beat the other freshman and sophomores in our challenge matches, and I was our varsity 119 all season.

I was terrible. I think I had like 8 wins and 20 losses that year. Even worse, most of those wins were due to forfeit. Apparently, 119 was a tough weight class to fill. That was a tough year. Practice was the most grueling thing I had ever endured. The wrestling room stayed over 80 degrees, we took no water breaks, and the coach had no interest in explaining the basics to a freshman fish. I dislocated my shoulder in practice early that year, he popped it back in, and my shoulders stayed in a constant state of jacked-up-ness all four years. I constantly worried about making weight despite naturally weighing around 118 pounds at the time. I lived on half cups of white rice and chicken breast that season, constantly dehydrated. My mother hated the sport (due to worrying about me and my twin), but she cooked these alternative meals for me and helped any way she could. The dehydration and fear of gaining water weight were brutal. I would occasionally sneak to the kitchen and have the smallest swallow of apple sauce or a sip of fruit juice. In retrospect, I believe my body needed the nutrients and the coldness was satisfying in lieu of water.

That season was one of the most challenging times in my life. Each time I stepped on the mat, I believed in myself and that I could win this match. In reality, I got destroyed on a regular basis. Between my shoulder and the nosebleeds that never ended, I was a mess. The thing is, I never once thought about quitting. Not when conditioning would have us all near tears. Not when I had only had a half cup of sweet tea and a bite of a roll to eat all day. Not when my nose would begin bleeding yet again, and the trainer would jam half a tampon in there.

I survived that season, and I was immediately looking forward to the next one. Running, dieting, lifting weights; in retrospect, my training was pretty dumb. I did not know what I was doing, but I did it hard.  Mile-runs, power cleans, ugly squats, a terrible bench press.  I never became a great athlete. But, I used my focus and aggression over the next few years to become better. I was always a pretty smart kid, so my proudest moments were not about school or grades. Those just came naturally. As a lifelong runt and “wimp,” I was most proud to be a team captain and all-conference my junior and senior years.

I am not writing this to relive my “glory days”. Our lives go on. If all you have are things you achieved in the past, you are wasting your life. My excitement, my pride are for the things I am working towards. I just wrote this to say I am not discouraged that I am starting as a weak powerlifter. I am not writing this to cry and bemoan the plight of the “hard gainer”. We are all hard gainers in some aspect, and we all face challenges as we work towards our goals.

Nothing worth our desires, our energy, or our passion comes easily.  An achievement takes dedication and work.  It takes sacrifice.  Nothing truly worth it ever comes easily.