Week 1 – 5/3/1 – Day 3

Cycle #1

Treadmill 5min. walk + Agile 8  Managed to work up a sweat again.  The tennis ball butt rolling felt a bit more painful today.  I felt especially tight the first time I did the Agile 8 the previous workout, especially on the mountain climbers and groiners, but, already, today, I’m feeling a bit looser.

Bench Press:  5xBar, 5×75, 5×85 + 5×100, 5×115, 5×135

Not bad, I felt a bit weak though.  I think I need to do some CNS exercises on my upper body before heading into the exercises.  I felt like my muscles hadn’t “woken up” yet by the time I was pressing the 3rd set.

Boring But Big 50%

Press:  5x10x50 + DB Row:  5x10x35 

I was really spent after the second set, but I realized I wasn’t resting enough between sets.  The superset definitely became much easier when I allotted a few extra minutes to resting.  But, on the contrary, I really shouldn’t be exerting much effort on these.  I think I might lower the poundage on the DB Row or rest more.

Curls:  3x10x40 + Tricep pushdown:  3x10x30 + Face pull:  3x10x20

The curls got me gassed fairly quickly, but, again, I rested more between sets and managed to have an easier time.  I still might lower the curl weight; I really don’t want to be drained by the end of the workout from doing assistance work.  I think doing so would only hinder my performance the following workout day, especially if it’s a back-to-back.

Treadmill 1mile walk

Incorporating these after each workout as a way for me to warm down.

Week 1 – 5/3/1 – Day 2

Cycle #1

Today’s workout was grueling.  I decided that since I just started a new routine and the weights are relatively light to what I’ve been working on that I would forgo using supplements until the lifts get a bit heavier.  I felt pretty exhausted by the end of the Boring But Big 5x10x135 squats.  I got lightheaded for the first time in a very very long time.  The squats themselves were easy, but I definitely don’t think my body was acclimated

Agile 8  I was curious to see what type of dynamic stretching and/or warm-up I should be performing seeing as how I no longer squat at the beginning of every workout session.  Going straight into lifting deadlifts without proper warm-up or stretching, in my opinion, would be a very poor choice and prone to getting one injured.  I managed to find the “Agile 8” warm-up/stretch routine.  I was quite happy about performing the stretches- it’s always fun to learn and do something new.  Managed to work up a good sweat doing the stretches.  The glute/piriformis myofacial release didn’t seem to do much for me even though it’s probably one of the more painful stretches of the eight.  The groiners were a pretty good way of gauging my flexibliity.

Deadlift:  5×190, 5×215, 5×245

Used alternating grip on the last set.  Weight is still relatively light, but it was a bit challenging.  Lower back was hurting a bit afterwards.

Assistance:

Squat: 5x10x135 – These were pretty brutal.  The actual lifting action wasn’t bad at all.  I had good depth and squatted somewhat explosively from the hole.  However, after each set, I was very fatigued and out of breath.  These sets felt more like high intensity cardio if anything.  One thing I noticed that bothered me quite a bit was my low-bar bar positioning.  I had never noticed it before, but I think this may be why I’m having slight muscle imbalances in my upper back and arms.  After thinking about it for a while, I came to the realization that my left side wasn’t being fully engaged in a low bar position.  It seems as though I continually shift the bar ever so slightly until the bar ends up resting on my left trap while my right side is still somewhat engaged in the low bar position.  This, of course, can also attribute to why I feel like my torso is twisting when I go down.  I think what I’m going to do for the next squat workout is to lower the bar’s starting pin height so I can really dig the bar low on my upper back.  I need to make sure I focus on keeping the upper back tight to avoid having the bar shift up.

Ab Wheel:  10/6/5/5/5 – These are hard as hell.  In addition to having to keep a tight core, my arms ended up being worked pretty hard as well.

Week 1 – 5/3/1 – Day 1

Cycle #1

So, today was pretty awkward for me since it was a Press day.  I really wanted to do some squats so I did 5 reps of 135, 3 reps of 185, 3 reps of 225 and a 315 squat lockout.  It’s definitely a nice change not having to squat every workout, but I’m starting to miss them already.

Press:  5×65, 5×75, 5×80

Still pretty easy.  My right rotator cuff felt it was about to pop out my shoulder at anytime.

Assistance:

Bench Press: 5x10x75  Right shoulder was working harder than usual.  Squeezing the shoulder blades together makes the lift awkward.  Elbows naturally get tucked near lats instead of flaring out.

Chin-ups:  6/4/3/2/3 – Wendler mentions that if I can’t perform at least 10 that I should be performing lat pull downs instead.  I’ll go ahead and do that for bench press day.

Curls:  10×50, 7×50, 5×50 – Going to lower the weight on this.  I was struggling on the second set already.  Assistance should be fairly light and not hinder core lifts.

Tricep pushdown:  10×30, 10×40, 8×40:  Going to stay at 30 lbs for the next pressing day.

Madcow5x5 to Wendler’s 5/3/1

So after some thinking, I decided to cut my Madcow routine short.  The reason being that I feel like I’ve hit a plateau on weight progression on my lifts.  The final stats I’ve achieved from this Madcow cycle is pretty close to what I finished with on my 6 month SL5x5 cycle.

Squat:  275 -> 275
Bench:  165 -> 155 
Press:  90 -> 95
Deadlift:  290 -> 285

As far as gains of raw poundage, well…it looks as if I didn’t improve much at all.  But, on the flipside, Madcow is also considerably more volume compared to when I was doing SL1x5 near the end of my SL cycle.  I definitely think diet also played a significant part in me getting stuck at these poundages for a long time.  My body weight has been steady at 180 lbs for the last 3 months.  I would also say my body fat has been at roughly around the same 11-13%- maybe a bit higher.  I may start incorporating more milk into my diet again to get my caloric intake up to par with training intensity.

So after some deliberation with myself, I decided that the best course of action to get me the biggest gains possible is to hop on Wendler’s 5/3/1 periodized strength routine.  This program is designed to be executed in “cycles”.  Each cycle is comprised of 4 weeks.  The set/rep scheme for each week is as follows

Week 1:  5 x 65%, 5 x 75%, 5 x 85%
Week 2:  3 x 70%, 3 x 80%, 3 x 90%
Week 3:  5 x 75%, 3 x 85%, 1 x 95%
Week 4:  Deload – 5 x 40%, 5 x 50%, 5 x 60%

Each week is broken down into 4 days of work outs.

Monday:  Press
Tuesday:  Squat
Thursday:  Bench Press
Friday:  Deadlift

After the 5/3/1 core lifts are performed, a variety of light assistance exercises can then be performed to supplement.  I made a mistake today of going a bit too overkill on the assistance.  This week will be my time to familiarize myself with assistance exercise intensity and to make sure I record poundages on these exercises to ensure that I don’t go overboard for the following weeks.  What I like about this program is in my ability to change these assistance exercises to allow me to accommodate weak points in my core lifts.

Assistance exercises:

Monday:  Superset (5×10 Bench @ 50% TM + 5×10 Chin-ups/Lat Pulldowns), 3×10 Curls, 3×10 Tricep Pulldowns
Tuesday:  5×10 Squat @ 50% TM, Ab Wheel 5×10-20
Thursday:  Superset (5×10 Press @ 50% TM + 5×10 DB Rows), 3×10 Curls, 3×10 Tricep Pulldowns
Friday:  5×10 Deadlift @ 50% TM, 5×10 Hanging Leg Raise

Week 11 – Madcow5x5 – Day 30B

Squat:

5 x 135
5 x 160
5 x 190
5 x 190

Lockout:

225 x 20 seconds
315 x 20 seconds

I really wanted to know what 315 lbs felt like.  I did lockouts a while back when I first started my SL5x5 routine.  Being able to feel 225 lbs was definitely helpful I think in training my CNS to getting familiar with the load on my body.  I did the same thing with 315 lbs yesterday.

Press:

5 x 65
5 x 75
5 x 85
5 x 95

Got stuck halfway on the last rep of the last set.  Lockouts definitely got my shoulders tired.

Deadlift:

5 x 185
5 x 215
5 x 245
5 x 285

Chalked my shins pretty well.  Definitely felt like I didn’t use as much lower back.  Kept the bar close to my body.  The mental cue that helped a lot was to pull the bar against my body and imagine pushing my feet through the ground.

Assistance:

Chin-ups:  6/3/4 x BW – Not bad.  Previous lifts definitely left me without much gas left.

Week 11 – Madcow5x5 – Day 29A

Squat:

5 x 135
5 x 160
5 x 190
5 x 225
5 x 260 (+belt)

Took ample rest before heavy top set.  Wasn’t bad at all.

Bench:

5 x 75
5 x 95
5 x 115
5 x 135
5 x 150

Pretty easy.  Took a good amount of rest time before the last set.  PL arched and it was pretty easy.  Also made sure to shrug up.

Row:

5 x 75
5 x 95
5 x 115
5 x 135
5 x 150

Pretty hard, but not freezing at sticking point yet so I’m going to keep adding poundage.

Accessories:

Weighted Sit-ups – 34xBW/22xBW/16×10/12×15

Week 10 – Madcow5x5 – Day 28C

Squat:

5 x 135
5 x 160
5 x 190
5 x 225
3 x 260
8 x 190

Not bad at all.  Got plenty of rest time before the heavy triple.

Bench:

3 x Bar
5 x 75
5 x 95
5 x 115
5 x 135
3 x 150
8 x 115

PL arched on the triple and it was really easy.  One thing I noticed when I don’t PL arch is that my traps and upper right shoulder always loses tightness when lowering the weight down almost as if my right shoulder is slipping.  I think this may be happening because I’m not engaging my lats properly.  PL arching allows me to put myself in a position where the lats are fully engaged.

Rows:

5 x 75
5 x 95
5 x 115
5 x 135
3 x 150
8 x 115

Triple was definitely pretty heavy.  Definitely jerking the weight.

Accessories:

Dips – 14/8/5:  Difficult was a bit more “uniform” across all reps.  Before I would gas out fairly quickly, but today’s felt like a more gradual progression of fatiguing from rep to rep until the very end of each set.

Barbell Curls – 8×50/8×55/6×60:  Pretty difficult.  Again, my right arm felt like it was doing a bit more work than the left.

Tricep Extensions – 8×50/8×55/6×60:  Not bad.  I rocked my upper arm backwards a bit on the negative.  I guess this uses a bit of shoulder.  I made sure to get ample rest between sets.