This was a 1+ week of the 5/3/1 program for me, which I like because I like all the weeks in the program equally, in the same way that you love all your children equally, except for deload weeks, which I tend to hate, sort of like how there’s that one child you hate more than the others.

The 1+, of course, means you lift the program’s prescribed weight at least once, ideally a couple more times. It might not be much more than that, though. Every time this week rolls around I think of a mercifully brief conversation I had on Twitter more than a year ago that still disappoints me to this day. (Identity obscured because even though I don’t really use Twitter anymore & I seriously doubt this person will ever see this, I don’t want this person to feel too bad about it just in case.)


I left a polite “haha OK then”-type comment & got out of there.  Years ago I used to think that kind of crap too, though. I know a little better now.

The first obvious faux pas here is giving a shit what some stranger is doing over there, which you should generally not do unless they ask you for your opinion or they’re pinned under an unmoveable heavy object, turning purple & limbs flailing in a desperate signal for aid & succor, in which case you approach cautiously & provide gentle criticism that’s constructive, always. The second thing wrong with this is assuming that lifting something 6 times is not hard enough to be worth rest.  Which it most certainly can be, depending on lots of things, like how much the weight is, how strong the person lifting it is, what percentage of his max that weight is, how tired this person is, or maybe this guy’s injured or got some kind of tissue issue, maybe he’s on a program that requires him to rest for long periods between sets because he’s Doing A Thing, or maybe he’s got one of those deals where he doesn’t know if he has to shit or just fart & is taking a little stroll to test a few theories. Or maybe he’s just an asshole who’s faffing around in the gym, in which case that’s his problem, go reread the beginning of this paragraph again.

The point is that I used to be like that. I’d hear about guys lifting weights 6 times & walking around to rest, & think, Bullshit, that’s not exercising. That can’t be hard. Exercise is difficult & tedious. Shouldn’t you keep going until you’re all sweaty & limp & throwing up in your mouth a little?  How is picking up something 6 times “exercise”? Then I started doing it & realized that actually yes picking up something that’s very heavy for you just 6 times really can be difficult enough to require rest. Not only that, sometimes picking up something heavy twice or even only once is enough to make you have to sit down & collect yourself for a few minutes.  Hence the one-rep max. And hence the 1+ week, where the weights are supposed to be close enough to your max where you might just only get a few reps before you’re done & have to walk around the gym breathing heavily so you don’t pass out. It’s the “a little dab’ll do ya” school of exercise.

It all depends on what “heavy” means. It’s different things for different people.  One thing I like having learned from the running community is that one runner’s fast is another runner’s I’d quit out of embarrassment if I ran that slow. Which is totally fine, unless you’re competing against a field of other people, which I most certainly am not, in any sport — likewise for most people.  Like 90% of people are just marking time, having fun, doing a hobby. The weights I consider heavy for me, there are many millions of people who don’t even bother to warm up with that shit, because I’m quite new & weak. I’ve met a couple of people who are newer, though, & my weights are heavy to them. Different. You don’t know, maybe 6 reps of what looks like fuck-all was a strain for the dude, & saying stuff like Go back to the couch is just unhelpful. Also mean.  Knocking someone down doesn’t elevate you, which I feel confident I first saw in an inspirational-quote-meme with a corny picture of someone jogging into a sunrise or something.

I mean, I wasn’t there & the details are sparse so I don’t know. Maybe it was some buff gymbro doing sets of 6 x a measly 5# bicep curls then strutting around with his pecs doing the Riverdance to impress the gymbabes, which I suppose could be eye-rolling. Again, the deal there is not to care because this hypothetical person isn’t really affecting your workout routine unless you let him.


The week’s log

Tuesday 12/9

  • Deadlift: 5 x 185, 5 x 205, 5 x 225, 5 x 242, 3 x 275, 1+ x 307 (moderate 6), 10 x 207, 10 x 242
  • Press: 10 x 45, 10 x 55, 3 x 65, 5 x 77, 3 x 87, 1+ x 100 (moderate 4)
    Boring But Big: 5 x 5 @ 82# with just 30-45 sec rest between sets

Notes: Wasn’t supposed to lift the 10 x 207 set, but I was watching “Trading Places” in the garage because it’s a great Christmas movie, & I forgot there’s gratuitous toplessness all over the place. So I got distracted & put the wrong plates on.


Wednesday 12/10

8 x 3, supersets

  1. Split jerk (3 x 115, 4 x 125, 1 x 135)
  2. Dumbbell rows @ 75#


Deck of Cards for 12 min
♥ = squat at 125# (28)
♦ = pushups (45)
♣ = kettlebell swing @ 60# (35)
♠ = bar dip (38)

Notes: The split jerks were taken off a rack. Attempted to go 135 the whole time, but couldn’t sustain it.  Worked from 115 back up to 125, then just left it on the bar for the metcon. I like Deck of Cards workouts because they’re easy to set up, fun, you can do anything, & it gets the job done fast.


Saturday 12/13

  • Squat: 5 x 135, 5 x 155, 3 x 185, 5 x 210, 3 x 237, 1+ x 265 (moderate 5), AMRAP @ 210 (just 6)
  • Bench: 10 x 45, 5 x 65, 3 x 95, 5 x 125, 3 x 142, 1+ x 157 (moderate 6)
    Boring But Big, 5 x 5 @ 135

Notes: Not my best squat day, not my worst. Distracted again, but not by tits this time.

I wasn’t able to get in my usual Sunday workout on Sunday 12/7, & 12/14 is probably going to be a bust also. I want to hang Christmas lights on the house — already weeks behind. But even with only 3 workouts I still managed to increase my estimated 1-rep maxes in all 4 lifts:

  • Deadlift: est. 367#
  • Press: est. 116#
  • Squat: est. 311#
  • Bench: est. 190#

I’m happiest about the bench there, because if I can hit that it would mean I finally have a bodyweight bench press, & that would mean I’ve gained another 15# in just a couple of months. That’s also close to 200#, which I’d like to reach soon.  I test my maxes in 3 more weeks, so we’ll see for sure. Until then.