5×3 Bench Cycle – Week 3 – Heavy Bench Day

Bench Press:  10xBar + 10×65 + 5×95 + 5x5x125
DB Bench Press:  3x10x30
BB Rows:  3x5x115
Chinups:  3/1.5/1.5
Seated DB Press:  3x10x35
Seated DB Curls:  10×25 + 8×25 + 4×25

Tried to keep rest times to a minimum, at most being 30 seconds.  Bench press was difficult, right arm was working harder.  DB bench press was pretty easy, kept the negative phase slow to avoid straining the rotator cuffs.  BB Rows were a little hard.  I haven’t performed them in a while.  First set of chinups were really easy.  Going to shoot for increasing by 1 rep for the following session.  Seated DB presses at 30lbs were really easy so I went up to 35.  35s were still fairly easy, will start with 35 then go to 40 next session.  Biceps fatigued really quickly after first set on the db curls.

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Week13 – Day37B – Slow Down

Weight: 186.0 lbs 
Duration:  11:35am – 1:25pm ~ 1:50 min.

Well, it’s about that time.  Initial strength gains are slowing down quite a bit.  Taking quite a bit more rest time between sets on the core lifts.  I’m assessing whether or not I want to continue with SL or move on.  Madcow has been on my mind which would move me from workout-to-workout progressions to weekly progressions.  With weekly progressions, I can aim to break PRs on the 4th week of the cycle.  I can back off on my current weights and perhaps drop the current volume down by 15-20%.  This would give me some perhaps needed rest period before I start hitting 80%+ RM weights again.

Squats:  3x5xBar + 5×135 + 3×155 + 2x175 + 1×195 + 3x5x215

Last rep was a grinder.

Seated Plate Raises:  3x10x25
Seated Lateral Raise: 3x10x12
Seated DB Shrug + Clean + Half Press:  3x10x12

Squat definitely affected my ability to get through these.  They were a bit more difficult than the previous sessions’ workout.

Deadlift:  5×135 + 3×155 + 2×185 + 1×215 + 1×245 + 5×275

Definitely felt bad form on these.  I was lifting with my back once I got the bar up to my knee.  I felt disgusted doing the 5 reps because I completely knew my form was not good.  This is all coming off very negative, but knowing you actually have a problem is a great first step to figuring how to solve the problem.

Accessories:
Preacher BB Curls:  15×50
Incline DB Press:  10×45
Standing EZ Bar Curls:  12×40
Dips:  14/4/4
Seated DB Curls:  10×30
Pushups:  15/8/6

Dips were improved, but most likely due to it being B day a.k.a. no bench press.  Pushups were also improved for the first set, narrow arm positions.

Week13 – Day36A – Consistency

Weight:  186.4 lbs
Duration:  12:35pm – 1:50pm ~ 1hr. 15min.

Simplicity and minimalism.  Some people scoff at the notion of having to experience, generally, the same thing over and over again.  I’ll agree to a point- I get bored pretty easily too.   Sometimes, things can get seemingly monotonous and we decide to seek change.  However, in the realm of strength training, personal experience has shown me that consistency from beginning to end is king.  Sustaining a periodized program to leverage linear progression is the only way I know how to get stronger and it has yet to fail me.

“Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own.”

Squats:  3x5xBar +5×115 + 3×145 + 2×165 + 1×185 + 3x5x210

Felt strong on these, especially on the first 2-3 sets.  I made sure not to round the back even when I was grinding out the last 2 reps.  I rested about 3 minutes before the 4th and 5th sets.

Bench:  3x10xBar +10×75 + 10×95 + 1×115 + 5/5/4/5/4 x 130

Stalled on the bench, yeouch.  I was trying to rest at most 30 seconds between sets.  Fatigue got the best of me.

Rows:  5×85 + 3×105 + 1×125 + 5x5x145

At this point, I think I need to record myself and judge whether or not I’m totally butchering form.  I do know that I’m jerking quite a bit with my upper body which certainly takes away training for strength.

Accessories:
Preacher Curls: 14×50
Incline DB Bench: 10×45
Standing EZ Bar Curls: 10×40
Dips:  10/4.5/4.5
Seated DB Curls: 8×30

Week13 – Day35B – Beefmode

Weight: 185 lbs ??
Duration:  11:45am – 1:02pm ~ 1hr. 17min.

Time recorded is from when I started the pre-workout stretches until I started my post-workout stretches.  The Shoulder Shocker felt hugely improved, weights felt light for the first 2 sets.  Usually, I’m dying at the end of the second set.  Weight on the scale was at 187 this morning!  Getting into freshly washed and dried jeans was pretty tough, haha.  Legs are getting too beefy from all this squatting.

Squats:  3x5xBar + 5×115 + 3×145 + 2x165 + 1×185 + 3x5x205

Went down pretty slow to control the bar and prevent tweaking the back.  This makes it quite a bit harder since I’m increasing time under the bar.  These are getting pretty heavy.  Getting close to the magical 225, 2-plate squat.  I think I may incorporate some back off sets, very similar to Madcow’s heavy day scheme or Wendler’s Boring But Big accessory.

Seated Plate Raises:  3x10x25
Seated Lateral Raise: 3x10x12
Seated DB Shrug + Clean + Half Press:  3x10x12

Able to get to the end of the second set without feeling dead.  Felt a huge improvement here.  Doing the cleaning movement, I’m using a more explosive pull to clean the dumbbells up instead just using all shoulders.  It is a clean after all.

Deadlift:  5×135 + 3×165 + 2×185 + 1×215 + 1×240 + 5×265

Supinated left, regular right.  Pretty heavy, kept the bar glued to my shins.  Not sure if I was rounding, but my low back wasn’t killing me afterwards.

Accessories:
Preacher BB Curls:  14×50
Incline DB Press:  10×50
Standing EZ Bar Curls:  10×40
Dips:  12/4/4
Seated DB Curls:  10×30
Pushups:  10/10/8

Cranked out some extra reps on the 50lb preacher.  I think once I get to 18+ reps on the 50, I’m going to jump up.  Went up to 50lbs on the incline db press.  These were pretty difficult, so definitely sticking to 50s for a while.  Dips are still improving, both in strength and endurance.  Pushups felt improved today as well.  Going to for 3 sets of 10 reps across next time.

Core:
Elbow Planks: 1min.

Burn, baby, burn.

Week13 – Day34A – Dirty

Weight:  185 lbs
Duration:  11:35am – 12:40pm ~ 1hr 5min

Had some not so wonderful food post workout.  I believe the term coined in the bodybuilding community is “dirty bulk”.  I’ve been pretty aggressive on the face stuffing for the last week and a half or so.  The “see food” diet.  I’m a firm believer in simple calories in/calories out, BUT, I also like to believe in putting good quality calories in 90% of the time.  My current weight is roughly where I was floating around at the peak of my strength some 1.5 to 2 years ago.  My lift poundages, however…are no where near what I was lifting a littler over 2 years ago (Fall 2012).

Squats:  3x5xBar +5×115 + 3×135 + 2×155 + 1×175 + 3x5x200

Shoes off, was heavy, but made sure to avoid going too deep into the hole to avoid rounding the back.  I felt a bit more forward lean, but I tried to keep my neck in line with my spine.  Other than that, it wasn’t too bad.  Mentally, I think, knowing that I’ve cut out the 4th and 5th sets, I have a bit more confidence in avoiding injury so I can squat without any hesitation.

Bench:  3x10xBar + 5×65 + 5×85 + 3×105 + 5x5x125

The first 3 sets of the work weight felt pretty light.  Last 2 sets, there were a few small grinders, mainly lockout of the bar.

Rows:  5×85 + 3×105 + 1×120 + 5x5x140

Damn heavy.  Strict Pendalay was out the window, I was definitely jerking upwards.  The one thing I tried to pay attention to is to control the bar on the negative.

Accessories:
Preacher Curls: 12x50
Incline DB Bench: 10×45
Standing EZ Bar Curls: 10x45
Dips:  11/5/2.5
Seated DB Curls: 8x30
Pushups: 10/10/6

Core:
Elbow Planks:  55 seconds

Week12 – Day33B – Deload

Weight: 183 lbs
Duration:  10:55am – 11:55am ~ 1hr

My neck twinge and low back issues have gone away since they’ve cropped over the last 2 sessions.  I’m making sure to get a good warm-up in, jump-rope to start off, dynamic leg swings and Agile 8 as well as shoulder mobility work with the green band.

Squats:  3x5xBar + 5×115 + 3×135 + 2x155 + 1×175 + 3x5x195

These felt pretty heavy.  Definitely felt a lot of resistance trying to keep the arch in my low back and avoiding it from rounding.  Core strength plays a big part in preventing this.  Decided to knock down the top set scheme to 3×5 from 5×5.  I want to be able to continue progressing on the weight without killing myself.  With this, I can recover better, avoid injuries and technique breakdown.

Seated Plate Raises:  3x10x25
Seated Lateral Raise: 3x10x12
Seated DB Shrug + Clean + Half Press:  3x10x12

These felt a smidge easier than before.  No neck strain this time around.

Deadlift:  5×135 + 4×155 + 3×175 + 2×195 + 1×215 + 1×235 + 5×255

Pronated grip on the left, supinated, palm up, grip on the right.  Definitely felt pretty heavy today.  Of all lifts, I’ve never felt uneasy with the deadlift.

Accessories:
Preacher BB Curls:  10×50
Incline DB Press:  10×45
Standing EZ Bar Curls:  10×40
Dips:  11/4/3
Seated DB Curls:  10×25 (need to go up on these, pretty light now)
Pushups:  12/8/4

Bumped up the incline dumbbell press to 45 lbs.  Not bad, but did feel fairly heavy and struggled a bit on the last rep.  Dips were really strong, managed to crank out 11 reps on the first set, but was spent on the next two.

Core:
Elbow Planks 45 sec.

Week12 – Day32A – Blind Spot

Weight:  183.4 lbs
Duration:  12:15 – 1:20 ~ 1hr 5min.

Driving into work this morning and I turned my head over my left shoulder to check my blind spot and bam.  I felt a sudden twinge in my neck and immediately felt a lot of pressure at the base of my neck on the left side.  Turning my head a bit here and there was very bothersome.  The pressure has subsided over time, but as of writing this right now, some 6 hours later and the neck is still feeling not so great.  Nonetheless, I still went to the gym and made sure to take it easy.  Low back strain is doesn’t feel as aggravated as on Wednesday.  I made sure to invest some more time in the warm-ups to get me loose.  Did additional parts of the Agile 8 hip mobility warm-up routine, specifically, mountain climbers and groiners.  These usually get the heart rate up and allows me to break a slight sweat.  I did these on top of the static hip flexor stretches aka lunges/warrior poses and the fire hydrants.  I also started the warm-up with 3 sets of 30 sec. jump rope to get the blood flowing.

Squats:  3x5xBar + 5×95 + 3×115 + 3×135 + 3x3x155

Did 3 sets of empty bar good mornings before I even did the 3 sets of empty bar squats.  The low back was working a lot during these, not sure why.  I narrowed my stance a bit.  I think too wide a stance is causing me to round the low back in the hole, especially on reps where I go below parallel.  For now, I’m going to try and keep it to squatting to parallel.  The narrow stance was a bit more comfortable for sure.  I didn’t work to my top set of 195 and instead did a 3×3 on the top set to give myself some rest.

Bench:  3x10xBar + 5×65 + 5×85 + 3×100 + 5x5x120

These felt better, but I felt my shoulders were working a bit more than usual.  I shrugged and drove through my feet on the last set as I was pretty fatigued at this point.  Again, I’m not pressing to full extension and instead focused on maintaining the squeeze in my shoulder blades.

Rows:  5×65 + 3×85 + 1×105 + 5x5x135

The top set felt pretty heavy.  I was a bit worried here with my neck strain and all, but the lift didn’t aggravate it anymore, so that was good.  I was definitely jerking a bit on the last few reps.

Accessories:
Preacher Curls: 10×50
Incline BB Bench: 10xBar + 10×65 + 10×85
Standing EZ Bar Curls: 10×40
Tricep Extensions: 10×50
Seated DB Curls: 10×25
Dips: 7/4/2

The EZ bar curls were a lot easier today.  Tricep extensions weren’t bad- definitely felt more comfortable resistance compared to the really light 40lbs.  The dips felt very strong, but I got fatigued very easily.