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Asparagus Strength Journey


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I actually began my current strength training with the Stronglifts 5x5 program, gradually cutting down to 1x5 as the weights got heavier. I mostly cut down the sets as my workouts were starting to take too long and I only get a 1-hour lunchbreak to workout. Saw great strength gains through the program, as most beginners do.

 

5/3/1 Cycle 2 Set 3

 

today:

 

5x100 jump rope alternated w/ 5x2 pullups

 

Squats:

5x135 lbs ATG

5x185 ATG

5x225 ATG

5x255 ATG

6x285 parallel

 

Ab wheel: 5x12

Lunges: 5x15

 

Time to buy/make my own jump rope. All the plastic ones at the gym save one have been broken and not replaced. That leaves the choice between a rawhide rope and a plastic one that is just a bit too short and even if I used the rawhide one, it's way too long.

 

Squats were good today. I expected to hit 6 and I did. A good finish to a good cycle. Ab wheel and lunges also went well. I can definitely up the reps on the wheel and start adding weight on the lunges. The wheel was a bit difficult at the end of the sets, but I could probably lunge for quite a few more reps without problem.

 

I'm going to skip the deload week again, as the 65%/75%/85% first set is easy enough. I'll probably continue to skip deloads until hitting 5 reps on the 95% sets becomes difficult and then I'll think about it again.

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5/3/1 Cycle 3 Set 1

 

today:

 

5x100 jump rope alternated w/ 5x2 pullups

 

Military press:

5x45 lbs

5x75

5x95

5x110

7x125

 

pullups: 4x7, 1x4 alternating grips

dips: 6x8

 

steps: 4 sets of 5x28 steps, 2 min rest inbetween

HR right after: 162 BPM

got distracted and didn't take recovery HR

 

Was hoping for 8 on the military press. I made the mistake of pausing on the bottom after the 7th rep and didn't keep tight so I couldn't get it up for a try at 8. 7x125 is less than the 7x130 I did last cycle, but this is the first set of the new cycle so I'm fine with the lower performance today. Pullups were going great, even with a couple pauses near the end of the sets, but when it came time for that last set my arms were shot. I scaled back my planned 5x9 dips sets to 6x8 after falling short on the pullups. I probably could have hit most of the sets at 9 reps, but knew I wouldn't be able to finish out all 5 sets.

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I won't stop until I can at least Military press my bodyweight. That's probably a little while away (currently around 194 lbs)... Of course once I get to that point I probably won't want to stop progressing. I have no idea how far I plan to take this whole strength thing, although I will stick to my original plan of not breaking 200 lbs bodyweight. Hopefully I can replace some of my fat with muscle to keep under that limit and keep gaining strength for a while. That should be possible, as I am probably around 18% BF at the moment. Of course my genetics tend towards carrying a bit of fat so I'll have to wait and see how easy that is.

 

I'm glad everything's cool. I've still got a couple tubs of the stuff myself, as they were on sale right before that message thread came out and I stocked up on it.

 

5/3/1 Cycle 3 Set 1

 

today:

 

2 pullups

5 minutes on treadmill at max incline, brisk walking pace

3 pullups

 

Deadlift:

5x135 lbs

5x205

5x245

5x285

9x325

 

Glute ham raise: 5x12

Leg raise: 5x11

 

My homemade jump rope ended up being a bit too light so I have to use a lot of arm energy to keep it moving. That would probably be fine but I found it challenging to keep the rhythm on the different jumps I do. I'd rather not deal with it so I'll just order one.

 

Experimented with my grip a little on the Deadlifts. Normally I lift double pronated for all my warmups and only do over/under for the final set. I've tried hook grip before but it's quite painful and I usually can't finish the set with it. I read something about over/under grips leading to postural and muscle imbalances, so I thought I'd switch it up a little to balance things out. I usually use left supinated and right pronated, so today I went the other way around. I did the first 4 reps left pronated and right supinated, but then noticed that my shoulders were horribly out of alignment, one side being much more forward than the other at the top of the lift (I don't recall which one). I then switched back to my usual method and my shoulders same much more in line at the top. I finished out the set that way. The bar bounced a little on rep 8 so I had to reset for rep 9. I probably could have hit 10, thinking about it afterwards, but due to the grip issues and resetting a couple times my momentum was lost after #9.

 

I'm going to have to give the grip issue some thought and figure out where to go. I've given the hook grip some thought, but I've read that it can lead to thumb damage so I'm hesitant to try it. I know that you need to "break in" your thumbs so that they get used to the strain, but I'm not sure I want to do that. I just have to figure out which I'm more willing to risk: thumb damage or muscle balance.

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5/3/1 Cycle 3 Set 1

 

today:

 

5 minutes on bike

5x2 pullups alternated w/ 5x2 pushups

 

Bench:

5x45 lbs

5x65

5x105

5x140

5x160

9x180

 

DB Row: 2x10x50 lbs, 20x75

Pullups: 4x3, 1x6 alternating grips

 

Steps: 5 sets of 4x28 steps, 1.5 minutes rest inbetween

HR right after: 168 BPM

25 minutes later: 94 BPM

 

Still no jump rope. Bench went fine. I tried to hit 10 reps but failed. Did a couple reps more on rows than last time.

 

Body weight is up to ~196 lbs.

 

While I was lifting I saw an obviously rookie lifter doing a medley of different dumbbell lifts along with barbell front squats and deadlifts with absolutely horrid form. I gave him some advice on his form so he hopefully won't injure himself. My form isn't perfect on those lifts, but I think it's pretty good, and definitely good enough that I don't hurt at all when lifting heavy. That's my good karma for the week - now I need to go insult some old people or something to balance it out. /JK

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5/3/1 Cycle 3 Set 1

 

today:

 

5 wide grip pullups

5 minutes treadmill

2x5 wide grip pullups

 

Squats, ATG:

5x45 lbs

5x105

5x160

5x200

5x230

9x260

 

short workout - no assistance

 

Went ATG on the final set of squats for the first time. 260 is only 85% of my target this cycle (305) and only 76% of my theoretical parallel squat 1RM (340), so I was sure that I could do at least a few of them. I had to pause each time before the last few reps, but I'm happy that I could bang out so many. I'm curious to see how hard it is later in the cycle when the weights get heavier. Going to stick with it regardless. I did notice that towards the end of the set I was a little forward in my balance, so my hips didn't get as low since my knees poked out a bit farther than usual. I still went down until my hams and calves were squashed together though. I didn't have a lot of time today so I had to skip out on the assistance work.

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Thanks. This cycle has been great so far, I'm really feeling stronger and loving it!

 

5/3/1 Cycle 3 Set 2

 

today:

 

Quick set of 3 pullups then 5 minutes on treadmill

 

Military:

5x45 lbs

5x75

3x105

3x120

7x135

 

Pullups: 5x7 alternating grips

Dips: 5x8

 

Still no jump rope replacements at the gym. I guess I'll have to go ahead and order one for myself. I figured I'd get 6 presses today, but I was feeling great on #6 so I went for it and handily pressed #7. It got really slow about half-way up as usual, I yelled a bit, lockout was super-slow, but I hit it. Finishing the pullups sets was probably easier because I didn't do my usual warmup pullups. I scaled back my programmed dips to 8 reps instead of 9 which turned out to be reasonable as it was difficult to even finish 8 reps each set.

 

I didn't run today because I got a late start at the gym and had to get back to the office. That means no running this week.

 

So far I'm definitely noticing some strength gains on the 5/3/1 program even though it's only been 2.5 months. I've bounced back from my 6 week break quicker than I thought I would, which is probably due to the all out reps on the last set of each workout. I've been hitting decent reps on all my lifts which theoretically translate to 1RM strength gains. I'm probably not going to test my maxes until the end of the year, so I'll stick with the program at least until then. At that point I might switch to Madcow for more emphasis on benching (twice a week) or change up my assistance for more chest and back support.

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Experienced a little soreness in the quads after Tuesday's ATG squats, lasted through today but I didn't feel it anymore by the time I left for the gym.

 

5/3/1 Cycle 3 Set 2

 

today:

 

3 pullups, 5 minutes treadmill, 3 pullups

 

Deadlift:

5x155 lbs

5x225

3x270

3x305

7x345

 

GHR: 4x13, 1x15

Leg raise: 3x12, 2x12

 

I tried the hook grip today, with poor results. It seems that my hook grip is actually weaker than my double overhand. I'm probably doing it wrong, but it's uncomfortable as hell, painful, weak, and just plain doesn't feel right. I used it on my first two sets, which were very light but my grip was crap and it was difficult keeping the bar from slipping down to my fingers. Then I switched back to DOH grip for the next two and they went as normal. I then tried hook grip again on my last set and I could barely get the first rep down to the floor again before my grip gave out. I thought it might have just been bad thumb position so I quickly adjusted and went again, but as soon as the bar left the floor it slipped into my fingers and stayed there for the whole ROM. I gave up on it and switched to over/under but my momentum and concentration were gone. The rest of the lift went like crap - my form was off, my breathing was off, I had to pause twice to balance myself to finish the set whereas normally I'd just bang it all out in one go. I might just be stuck with over/under on my work sets...

 

The stand that I usually do my leg raises on was heavily occupied so I did the first 3 sets on the decline situp bench, holding onto the foot pad handle and raising my legs until they were vertical. This was much harder than the leg raises I have been doing (propped up on forearms, raising legs until feet are at/above eye level). I could barely finish the third set, even with pauses near the end. I switched back to my old style for the last 2 sets and my core was done.

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5/3/1 Cycle 3 Set 2

 

today:

 

4 pullups

5 minutes treadmill

4 pullups

 

Bench:

5x45 lbs

5x95

3x150

3x170

7x190

 

DB row: 2x10x50 lbs, 25Lx75, 24Rx75

Pullups: 4x3, 1x6

 

Hitting 7 reps on bench today was easy. I probably could have muscled out 8, but last bench session I went for that extra rep I felt good about and ended up stuck under the bar. Hit more on the rows than I thought I would, 25 on the left and 24 on the right. My form was a little shitty at the end, but I'm not surprised given that I was able to do 5 more reps than last time.

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5/3/1 Cycle 3 Set 2

 

today:

 

5 pullups

5 mins treadmill

5 pullups

 

Squats:

5x115 lbs

5x165

3x215

3x245

7x275

 

pullups: 3x3

Ab wheel: 5x15

Lunges: 5x15 +20 lbs each leg

 

The weights felt heavy today on squats. I didn't have good concentration on the final set and resulted in poor form and poor depth. The first few went OK, but then I started leaning farther forward and not getting much past parallel on the last few, although I'm sure my knees were well out past my toes so my leg angle was really small. I let my shoulders go slack and the bar sunk down a little low, which is what made me lean forward at the bottom to keep balance. Hopefully I feel a little better going into the squats next set, I'd like to finish out this cycle on a good workout.

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5/3/1 Cycle 3 Set 3

 

today:

 

3 slow pullups

5 minutes treadmill

 

Military

10x45 lbs

5x75

5x110

3x125

5x140

 

Pullups: 8,8,8,6,8 alternating grips

Dips: 6x8

 

The final set on Military is green for technically passing my requirement, but I was shooting for 6 reps on it. I'm a little disappointed but on rep 5 I knew I wouldn't hit 6. It's still a slight increase (2 lbs) on my 1RM calculation from last cycle, so I guess I shouldn't complain. I figured I'd do better than 2 lbs in a month, though. However, at the end of last month I was only hitting 5x6 pullups, so that's a pretty good increase. Dips was an easy 8 reps per set and I probably could have hit 9; I'll go for 5x9 next time.

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Thanks, MF.

 

5/3/1 Cycle 3 Set 3

 

today:

 

5 minutes treadmill

 

Deadlift:

5x135 lbs hook grip

5x225 hook grip

5x285 4 hook grip, 1 DOH

3x325 DOH

6x365 over/under

 

Glute ham raise: 5x15

Leg raise: 5x13

Standing bar hold, 225 lbs double overhand grip: 3x30 seconds, 1 minute rest in between

 

I think I'm going to keep working on the hook grip on my deadlift days and try to do all my warmups with it. Once it failed on the 3rd warmup set I decided to switch to double overhand. I was barely able to hit all 3 at 325 w/ double overhand. My grip was about to fail on the last rep at 365, even with over/under. That last one was a grinder, but it felt great to get it up. I wouldn't have been happy with only 5 reps on this so I made myself do it.

 

I could barely finish out the leg raise. At the end of the last two sets my toes were barely at chest level.

 

For some added grip work, as per VE's suggestions in a separate thread, I added some static holds at the end of the workout. The bar was down in my fingers at the end of the third set. Tried to do a static hang after stretching out and couldn't hold onto the pullup bar at all. My hands are worked!

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I've never used straps, so I don't have a basis for comparison, but I don't plan to use them. I subscribe to the "totally raw" school as far as lifting goes. I like to lift only what my body can do by itself. I'm sure I could lift more with "help" but that's not what I'm after. I've got nothing against anyone who uses straps/belts/etc., as long as they're using them for the right reason (not because they can't be bothered to train properly). I will also probably never enter a competition (although I have a fantasy about getting huge and doing strongman, which will probably never happen because I don't want to get huge).

 

Thanks for the encouragement, guys!

 

5/3/1 Cycle 3 Set 3

 

today:

 

4 slow pullups

5 minutes treadmill

4 slow pullups

 

Bench:

5x45 lbs

5x95

5x135

5x160

3x180

6x200

 

DB rows: 2x10x50 lbs, 19x80

Pullups: 5x4 alternating grips

 

steps

4 sets 5x28 steps, 1.5 minutes rest between sets

HR after: 162 BPM

2 minutes after: 122

15 minutes after: 104

 

I really need to get myself a jump rope. Bench went well. The 6 reps at 200 was actually easy and I made it at least 1/3 the way up on #7. I'm making great progress on my bench press, which I'm super happy about. My DB rows are also progressing really quickly, although while doing stronglifts previously I was able to BB row 5x200 lbs so I'm really just building back up at a good pace.

 

I ran steps again for the first time in a couple weeks, pretty standard performance.

 

I forgot to do static holds today. I'll hopefully remember to add them on Friday.

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5/3/1 Cycle 3 Set 3

 

4 slow pullups

5 minutes treadmill

4 slow pullups

 

Squat, ATG

5x135 lbs

3x165

3x200

5x230

3x260

5x290 *

 

Ab wheel: 5x17

Lunge: 5x15 +30 lbs

Bar holds: 225 lbs, 3x30 seconds double overhand

 

Squats were fine up to the last set. All warmups were done ATG. I started the final set ATG, but I kept letting the bar slide down a little on my back as I dropped so it was difficult to get into proper ATG position. I had to reposition the bar after rep 2, and again after rep 4. However, after rep 4 while getting the bar back up into higher position it started to swing a little and I didn't feel comfortable moving right into the next rep as I felt off and the weight was difficult. I racked, paused for 15 seconds to collect myself and then did 2 more reps to parallel (or maybe a little below, not sure). I could have done 5 if I kept the bar in the right spot during the lift.

 

I'm probably going to drop the ab wheel from my program next cycle. I want to start getting some other weighted assistance into my workouts, and while I can always try to balance a plate on my back as I roll out, I'd like to try some other exercises in my limited time. Lunges really wear me out though, especially with the added weight. Did bar holds again, going to try to do them at the end of each session.

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5/3/1 Cycle 4 Set 1

 

4 slow pullups

5 minutes treadmill

4 slow pullups

 

Military press:

5x45 lbs

5x75

5x100

5x115

7x130 - no improvement

 

Pullups: 8,8,8,6,6

Shrugs: 10x95 lbs, 10x135, 9x225

Bar hold: 225 lbs - 33, 27, 27 seconds

 

Felt good going into the gym today, but lost my focus when it came to the final press set. I let the bar rest on my chest for a split second after the 6th rep and then ended up push-pressing it to start #7. I could have squeezed out all 8 strictly, but wasn't dialed into what I needed to do so I'm calling it at 7 reps. I'm not sure if this affected the rest of my session. I should have been able to hit 5x8 on the pullups. First time doing shrugs so I'm not sure how to rate my performance. I'll give them a couple cycles to fall in line. Bar holds are on par with last week.

 

Maybe I should have done a deload week before this new cycle. I'll definitely do one at the end of this cycle though. I've also dropped a couple lbs over the last few weeks, so that might have something to do with it. Lately I've been passing out at home without eating dinner. I need to make sure I eat something, even if it's a few slices of bread with earth balance.

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Good suggestion. I'm doing leg raises so I've already got some ab work in, although I like the idea of more abdominal support muscle work. I was planning on switching to good mornings for my squat day assistance in lieu of the ab wheel, but maybe I'll try some planks instead.

 

5/3/1 Cycle 4 Set 1

 

3 slow pullups

5 minutes bike

3 slow pullups

 

Deadlift:

5x135 lbs hook grip

5x205 hook

5x255 hook

5x295 hook

9x335 over/under

 

Glute ham raise: 2x15

Leg raise: 2x14

 

Had to catch my breath after rep 8 on deadlift, paused 3 or 4 seconds, then hit #9. I felt a little strain in my lower back muscles, but the bar went up.

 

Had to cut the assistance as I took too long on the deadlift and had to get back to work. No bar holds today either, but at least I had the deadlift as some grip training.

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I completely credit having a strong posterior chain to enable me to have a big deadlift. A couple of nights ago I used the 15kg plates for deficit deads and pulled a comfortable 5PPS ~ I got it on video and I'm putting together a compilation of the weeks' training as I'm down at our PL'ing gym this Sunday.

 

Good work there, strong pulling!

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