Finished 10 weeks of 5x5 training last night. I changed my approach since I did 5x5 last year. I did 3 exercises instead of 5, being squat, deadlift and bench press. Goal was to increase strength from last year and I was successful! By the end of the ten weeks I had a best set on deadlift of 405x5, squat of 365x5, and bench press of 245x5 (up 10 pounds on each). Happy with all results, happy that after all the heavy lifting I'm injury free and feeling great about how I look and feel...although I can always shed some more BF so that is going to be the main goal of my next 10 week cycle. I'm going to focus on HIIT for different types of cardio, and weight train with moderate weight, higher reps, and shorter rest periods. That will get the heart-rate up and get me sweating for sure.
I've worked through lots of minor injuries over the last eight years. Last night at the gym I incurred another injury that I hope is minor too. It happened while doing barbell military press, a sudden and intense pain in my right arm, in the front between my elbow and shoulder. It's part of the tricep that I hurt, and today it is stiff and sore, no recurrance of the pain I felt last night. Funny that I should hurt my tricep on a military press, but when I think about what I've been doing lately and how I've felt, I guess it was a possibility.
I've done 5 full-body workouts in the last 12 days, using many compound exercises and going fairly heavy on most. They've been exhausting, and although not getting DOMS like split training, I've just felt overall body soreness and fatigue. It's not stopped me from giving the next workout my all, even though I've probably not been fully recovered from the previous. Could be that this situation caught up with me last night, my tricep just couldn't take the wear and tear. I wanted to try full body workouts for awhile, not having done many since I spent 3 whole months doing them (on machines) when I started at the gym over 8 years ago. Maybe I've taken the wrong approach by using all the compound exercises and by trying to go heavy on many sets.
So, where do I go from here? Rest the arm obviously, hope it's just a strain that will take care of itself after awhile. Should I give up on full body workouts? Do them less often? Switch up the exercises? Go with only moderate weight? If anyone has any comments I'd love to hear them.
I am so fortunate to have good health! But I know it's not just luck. The daily choices I've made over the last 8 years have gotten me to where I am today. That fact has been hammered home to me in a big way over the last couple of weeks. Visiting a sick relative in hospital almost daily, I've had lots of time to people watch. The comments I'm making aren't about the patients, rather it's about many of the staff and visitors to the hospital. I see an alarming number of people, middle-aged and over, with too much body fat - varying from a little pudgy to very obese. Each one of these people have made choices different from mine, and that has brought them to where they are today. They don't seem to realize that. I talked to one visitor who brought up his weight problem - he attributed it to 'genes'. Never mind that he doesn't exercise. What is even more frustrating is that society seems to be so accepting of unhealthy lifestyles in general that individuals don't see any need to be concerned - when they do become concerned and have their eyes opened to reality it is often because of a health crisis that could have been avoided.
I'll get off my soap box now - I hope my frustration at the overall state of health in our society is evident - I just wish it would change.
On a lighter note, last night at the gym, an impromptu spin class was held. The instructor's scheduled class was cancelled due to the women not wanting to work out in the high humidity (according to him). Afterwards, as he was doing weights, he started talking to a group of guys about spin and he offered to do a class for all the guys there who wanted to do it and before you knew it there were six guys plus the instructor on the bikes. Due to the humidity and since it was 3 of the guys first time, the instructor didn't go as hard as usual. I had no problem at all getting through it, which is more than I can say for some of the guys, most of whom were 20-25 years younger than me! Very satisfying to know I am maintaining a good level of cardio-vascular fitness along with my bodybuilding!
Almost 2 months since I've done a blog post, time to catch up. Life's been hectic, both with business and personal stuff. I've managed to get to the gym 3 times a week without fail, occasionally a fourth. Diet has been good, my once a week weigh in showed 198 last week.
After the 5x5 I planned to try a cutting phase, but after a week or so I knew I just wasn't into it mentally. A lower back tweak and some knee soreness didn't help either. Rather than beat myself up about it, I decided to just continue on working hard and staying motivated by doing workouts that I enjoy. I came across an arm workout program that lasted 6 weeks, never did an arm program before, so I went for it. I measured at the start, and after 13 hard arm workouts over 6 weeks, then allowing a week for recovery, my measurements came in at R- 16.5 in., L- 16.25 in, up about 1/2 an inch. Better yet, I can see an improvement in definition and vascularity. A fun and effective program, I'll do it again sometime.
Two weeks ago, before my last arm program workout, I decided to do a little deadlifting. I followed a workout structure I found designed to help break through a plateau. You build up to a 1RM attempt by doing lots of 3 rep and 1 rep sets with low to moderate weight, both conventional and sumo deadlifts. I worked up to a personal best attempt of 450 and I did it! Totally surprised and elated that I did it, finally breaking a plateau of 3 years for my 1RM. Better yet, I still had more in the tank on that lift.
Right then and there I knew what was coming next for me...a deadlift program. I'd already decided to give Mike O'Hearn's Power Bodybuildng a try, the back workouts for sure I'll do once a week, the others I'll play by ear. Don't know if I want to do heavy lifting 3 times a week all summer, the heavy deadlifts sets and other back work might be enough big weight. Did the first back workout last week, did 7 deadlift sets of 2 reps using weight over 75% of 1 RM, worked up to a deadlift set of 405x2. Hard work but felt great, this week I'll work up to try 410x2. After 5 weeks I'll try a new 1RM again using the plateau busting workout. Lots of deadlifting over the next 3 months, I love it! Besides a little recurring delt soreness (which I blame on all the heavy close-grip bench presses I did), physically I feel great. Also I'm doing a cycle of Purple K creatine for 12 weeks to see how that improves my deadlift performance.
I log onto this site just about every day to poke around and see what my friends are up to. Not nearly as much going on as before the launch of the 'upgraded' bodyspace. Lost a couple of good friends from here recently, Al and Steve (ledford). Too bad.
I'll try to post more often, especially with my deadlifting results.
The weightlifting gods sure have a funny sense of humour! Twelve weeks of heavy compound lifting, doing the heaviest sets of squats, deadlifts, bench press and more than I've ever done in my life, and I was injury-free. Some sore, tired and achy muscles towards the end, but no injuries. So what happens to me last week, first week of my cut? I screw up my lower back doing, of all things, a plank! I held it for too long I guess, to the point where my core was quivering. DOMS set in a couple of days later in the lower back, and it progressed by Friday night to pain when I tried to bend over. It hurt to pick up light dumbbells off the rack Friday night. Saturday it was improved, Sunday a little better, and today a lot better. I'm thankful it didn't turn out to be more serious. You can bet your bottom dollar I won't be doing any more planks like that for awhile!
Suffered some withdrawal symptoms this week, as it felt very strange not to be lifting heavy or doing sets of 5! I had four very good workouts though, mostly working in the 12-15 rep range on isolation exercises. Today my plan was to try for a new one rep max on deadlift, but I didn't have prayer. Delts and traps were sore, and abs were VERY sore, from my Friday evening workout. I was very weak on deadlifts, I couldn't even do a 425 single which is usually no problem. I'll have to set up my workout better than this if I'm going to do a heavy lift. I'll try again next Sunday.
Last week a guy at the gym expressed an interest in deadlifting with me. He's not a new lifter, but is new to deadlifting. I gave him some tips, watched his form with low weight, and he has great potential. We were going to get together today, but he got called to work. A little disappointed, but he wants to try again next week. Hope it works out because it's FUN to deadlift with a partner sometimes!
Hope everyone has a great week!
Twelve weeks of 5x5 training wrapped up Sunday afternoon with squat and bench press. No PR's but some good work. My back was just not up to heavy squats, still tired from the deadlifting. Bench press PR attempt at 240, got 4 reps. All good. Here are my max lifts and strength gains during the program:
Bench Press: 235x5, up 15
Deadlift: 395x5, up 50
Military Press: 150x5, up 15
Row: 185x5m up ??
Squat: 355x5, up 40
The gains were well worth the effort! Apart from the gains, this program was very satisfying in that I was able to squat 3 times a week, I had my doubts about that when I started!
A big thank you to Steve who got me interested in trying the program after reading his blog posts. He also helped me get on the right track when I started. This program was just what I needed - a challenge to give me focus and a boost in motivation when the workouts were starting to get a little stale.
So, what now? March will be an off month - not from lifting, but from structure. I'm going to do whatever I feel like doing at the gym - true instinctive training. Hope everyone has a great week!
My deadlift PR set of 395x5 on Thursday night was an achievement I won't soon forget. Not just because I did it, also how I did it. My lower back wasn't 100% going in, yet once I had a good warm-up and started lifting, I felt great. The ramp-up sets of 215, 265 and 315 felt really good which gave me a confidence boost for the PR attempt. I banged out 5 solid reps, they were never in doubt, in fact felt stronger than when I did 385x5 two weeks earlier! As I held the bar at the top of the last rep, I paused for a couple of seconds and shouted 'YES!' Good thing only a couple of fellow gym-rats around.
Succeeding at deadlifting is one of the greatest feelings I get at the gym! Anyone who's followed my blogs might remember I set a goal of a 500 pound deadlift several year ago. I got up to 445 and got stuck there. I've been trying some different kinds of deadlift training for a couple of years, also dealing with rehab of a couple of hip flexor injuries. Going through that has taught me how to train smarter and better. I decided to focus on improving my form and endurance, and in turn my strength, by doing programs that emphasized training for reps at lower weights. I haven't tried a PR single attempt in over a year. I've gotten stronger though on each deadlift program I've worked at...on the 5x5 I went up 50 pounds in 12 weeks.
After Thursday night's result, I SO want to add 10 pounds a go for 5 reps with those 8 plates - most I've ever done with 405 is two reps. So I'll do it sometime in March, but what I want to do even more is try to bust my 445 plateau. Sometime in the next couple of weeks, when the time feels right, I'm going to put 450 on the bar and try me best to lift it. Will getting stronger on lighter deadlift sets translate into being stronger for one rep? You'd think so, and I'll soon know!
First though, time to take care of business, I'll be wrapping up the 5x5 training tomorrow with new PR attempts on bench press and squat. Feeling good today, getting quality rest, hopefully I'll be in a good place to make it happen!
Back is much improved today, so tonight I'm going for it! A new deadlift PR, that is. I'll try 395x5, 10 pounds up from two weeks ago. I'm stretching my last 5x5 week to 4 workouts over 8 days instead of the usual 3 workouts over 5 days. I have no choice with the extra recovery time I've needed for my lower back. So tonight I'll do final deadlifts and bent-over Rows (not sorry to see the last of those for awhile) and Sunday the plan is to try new PR's on bench press of 240x5 and squat of 365x5. I am cautiously optimistic about the bench pressing, however my back has been unpredictable the last couple of weeks so I don't even know if attempting 365 will be possible.
However this week plays out, Sunday will be it for the 5x5. I've done some great things on the program, but 12 weeks is enough, my body and mind need a break. Wish me luck tonight!
For the last 24 hours, my lower back has been as achy/tired/sore as it's ever been. It was tired, but not too bad, from Thursday night's squat set of 355x5. The problem started Saturday, when I ended up doing a lot of lifting and carrying boxes of books and other things while helping at a charity event. Not heavy weight and I didn't notice anything at the time, but it was a lot of lifting. My back started to feel it Saturday night it and was bad as I started my Sunday afternoon workout. Wanted to do my heavy deadlift work for Week 12, but quickly gave up that idea.
I did bench, worked up to a good set of 240x3. Repeated Week 11 row sets but struggled on 185 due to the back. Did the 'light day' squat workout and it was good, only went to 225. After the 5x5 work did some arms and abs. Back is moderately improved today, but it leaves me in a quandry. I have two 5x5 workouts left, I want to try for new PR's in bench, military press, squat and deadlift...I have no idea today if it will be possible. I'll hope for a quick recovery over the next 27 hours before my next planned workout. Keeping my fingers crossed....
First, an update on my new Vibrams. I wore them twice and liked them a lot, but I began to wonder if I had the right size - from what I'd read and heard, they're supposed to fit 'like a glove'. Mine were a little loose in the heel. I went back to the store and tried on the next size down and knew right away they were the ones. I exchanged them and tried the new pair last night. Incredible comfort, hardly knew I had anything on my feet. I'm hooked!
Finished Week 11 last night. Week stared slowly, with a tired and achy hip and back. Second workout I hit a new PR on military press with 150. This was my second attempt on this weight during the program and it was great to get it! Deadlifts that night though were another story. I decided to back off and let the back rest, my top set was 315. That strategy paid off as I was almost back to 100% for my Thursday night workout. On bench press, I was very happy to do 235x5, it was clean with no touch from the spotter. Stronger than 4 weeks ago when I did it but with the spotter contributing a little. Then, did BO Row, top set 185x5. Matched PR but I've decided not to try for more on this one as it doesn't feel particularly good so I'll just work on improving my set with this weight. Finally, time for squats. Felt good (but not great) as I ramped up with sets of 135, 185, 235 and 275. Had no idea if I could do the last set, 355. After a long break and with a spotter watching me, decided to give it my best shot. First 2 reps were solid, 3rd was a little wobbly, 4th was better but hard, 5th was completed somehow through determination and stubborness that I wasn't going to fail being so close.
I have 3 days rest before I start Week 12. Going to try to increase the weight to 395 on deadlift and 365 on squat. Don't know if I can do these but I'll try my best!
Started Week 11 yesterday with a problem - an achy right hip. I'd been feeling it since Friday morning and it didn't improve much over the weekend. What caused this - could have been the 355x3 squat set, the 385x5 deadlift set, or the 'reach for the ceiling' hanging leg raises I did Thursday - or a combination thereof. I've felt this before, from an ab exercise which I don't do anymore.
So, I tentatively started my squat workout. Did sets of 5 at 135, 185, and 225, felt good. Then, did 275 and although not causing extra discomfort, it was not great either. I decided not to push it, so I backed off on the weight and did another set at 225.
Bent-over rows went well, did a good heavy set of 185. Really happy with bench press, heavy set was 230 and I felt strong. Overall, pleased with the workout yesterday.
I have five workouts left in the 5x5, and I want to get some more PR's, but it won't happen on squat and deadlift with the way my hip felt yesterday. I'll take it one workout at a time, and the hip is improved today which is encouraging. Depending on how I'm feeling tomorrow, l may back off on the deadlifts and structure the workouts so that week 11 will be a 'dialed back' week for squats and deads. Hopefully that will put me in a good position to tackle new PR's for both of those in Week 12.
I recently picked up a pair of 'Vibram 5 fingers' footwear to wear at the gym. Tried them for the first time yesterday, and I loved them! On squats and deads good form is to keep your weight on your heels as much as possible. This is difficult with most footwear, as the heels have added support and the back of the foot is raised higher off the floor than the front. I've been deadlifting in stocking feet for years, but couldn't get comfortable doing that for squats. Instead, I'd been using an old pair of joggers that were very worn out so as to be relatively low to the floor on the back - but still not ideal. In recent weeks these joggers have been literally coming apart and I had no choice but to get something else to wear for squats or adapt to stocking feet. I decided to try the Vibrams - no difference in height off the floor for any part of the foot. They are difficult to get on but once you get your toes in the right place and strap them on - wow! I'll try them for deadlifting tomorrow night.
Finished the third and final workout of Week 10 last night - I call this week amazing because I am lifting more than I ever expected when I started the 5x5 ten weeks ago! Bench, miitary press and row have all seen modest progress, it's squat and deadlift I'm so stoked about!
Sunday I squatted 345x5, a new PR. My back wasn't fully recovered from this work when deadlift time arrived on Tuesday. All the same, I as able to lift 385x5, a new PR. Let me tell you about that set. The gym was fairly crowded, lots of new lifters. The area I do deadlifts is in full view of everyone. I took my time getting ready for the final set. I knew it would be tough given how I felt on the ramp-up sets. I must have stood over the bar about five minutes, trying to focus and psyche myself up. I was also distracted by someone doing crunches on a mat right next to me so I was waiting for them to finish. Finally, the time was right. I did the first rep, it was hard. I don't remember a whole lot after that. I went into high gear, all the work I've done allowed my body to just take over and give everything it had to the lifting. All I can remember about the last four reps is making some strange grunting sounds and seeing a lot of heads turn and people stop to watch. When the bar went down for the last rep I was totally spent. It was a few seconds before I stood up straight again. A couple of the guys I know came over and congratulated me on the set. What a great feeling! It took a tole on my back though - I don't know if it's ever felt so tired.
Two nights later and it was time for squats again. Back was much better but still feeling it. Not sure how squats would go. With my weight belt buckled tight and a determination to give it my all, I worked up to my heavy set for the night, 355x3. Got someone to spot me and pushed through with a clean set! This almost felt as great as the deadlift set, given my tired back.
So, I did Week 10 with no missed reps even with the challenge of tired back! On to Week 11, I'll give it my all but I have no idea what I can do.
it was a week of highs and lows! The lows all stemmed from a tired and achy back caused by having to shovel snow. The first workout was the worst so far in the program, I couldn't handle the same load as week 8. Thankfully it was a quick recovery, as the next workout, three days later I found myself feeling great on deadlifts, and I pulled a new PR 375x5 - what a high! Yesterday, the last workout, I had to shovel some snow in the morning and I feared a repeat of the back trouble, especially for squats. It didn't happen though, I repeated the last workout of week 8, highlighted by a 345x3, and it felt good.
So tomorrow I start week 10's workouts, it'll include a PR attempt on squat and row. Feeling great about how I bounced back last week and hope I can stay that way for the next three weeks! I also had 3 unexpected compliments last week. Two different people that I hadn't seen in a few months thought that I'd 'lost weight'. Another that I see often at the gym and who knows I'm on this program said I look 'bigger' than when I started. Leaner and more muscular - music to my ears!
What are the odds I could complete 36 strength training workouts over a 12 week period and not have a bad one? Not good. The odds caught up with me yesterday at the start of Week 9. And I know why.
The last three workouts I also had to shovel snow the same day. Yesterday, 2 hours of clearing snow drifts from my driveway, then my mother-in law and sister in law's houses, meant I had a complete body workout before ever stepping into the gym. I would say my strength was at around 75% of normal as I tried to bench, squat and row. I won't report the horrible numbers, in fact I didn't even attempt the heaviest bench and squat sets for fear of injury.
In a way, it's a relief to get the inevitable bad one out of the way. I have had some great results so far with the 5x5. Now that I've experienced the other end of the spectrum, I appreciate my great workouts, and my overall strength and stamina, all that much more. I'll have a 3 day break before my next workout. With no snow storms in the near future, I should be well rested and back to 100% when I hit the gym again!