Thursday, December 1, 2011


Squatssss <33333.  On my way to 2x body weight, baby.

After the 20-rep back squats, Mickey and I decided to switch over to 5x5 for six weeks.  Conveniently, the six-week mark was right around Thanksgiving, which made it a perfect time for de-loading.  The 5x5 strength program is very simple: For movement X, do 5 sets of 5, three times a week.  Your starting weight should be your current 5-rep max.  If you make the set, add weight.  One of the reasons why I wanted to try 5x5 is because the program is known cause large increase in muscle mass (therefore increased body weight), in addition to strength.  Hehehehe.

For this strength cycle, we wanted to include the other squats, upper body weight movements, and to go heavyyyyy.  We brainstormed movements, reps, and frequency, came up with a plan, and got feedback from Jason.  This is what we finalized on:

Perform 5 sets of 5 for each movement with 1:30 rest for upper body, and 3min rest for lower body in between each set.

  • Lower Body - Monday / Wednesday / Friday: Back/Front/Overhead Squat, Strict Pull-Up, Deadlift
  • Upper Body - Tuesday / Thursday / Saturday (optional): Ring Dip, Shoulder Press, Bench Press
Initially, I opt-out of bench press since I thought that would turn my upper body build like a dude's, you know rectangular (not going to lie).  However, during the last couple weeks of 5x5, I changed my mind, and had some spare time, so I started bench pressing.

For those of you who like numbers:
  • Duration: 6 weeks (10/06/2011 - 11/17/2011)
  • Starting Bodyweight: ~103 pounds
  • Ending Bodyweight: 105-106 pounds (putting on pounds, yes!)
  • 1RM Back Squat (start/end): 170# (09/21) / 165# for 4
  • 1RM Front Squat (start/end): 135# (09/16) / 145# (11/21)
  • 1RM Overhead Squat (start/end): 103# for 5 (09/10) / unknown
  • 1RM Deadlift (start/end): 183# (09/10) / 193# for 3
  • 1RM Shoulder Press (start/end): 73# (06/10) / unknown, probably the same
  • 1RM Weighted Ring Dip (start/end): 18# (3, 08/16) / 1pood (~35lb) KB (1, 11/23)
  • Max Consecutive Strict Pull-Ups (start/end): 3 (09/16) / 10 (11/16)

Unfortunately, I injured my left hand during this time and hence could not press, front squat, or overhead squat for awhile.  Around mid-way I was able to press again, and towards the end, front squat.  However, my hand did not heal in time for heavy overhead squats.  :(.  Rather than just skipping the lifts as a whole, I would sub in back squats, high rep light presses, and conditioning work.
Below is my 5x5 journal entries.  The protocol for missed reps was: strip off some weight and immediately do 2 x (missed reps).  For ring dips, the drop was down to body weight dips, and for pull-ups, I still completed the reps, but with some assistance from Mickey.  We did not start doing this until around week 3 or so.

RD: 5x5 (5#)
Press: 5-4-4-4-3 (63#)
Ring Dips easy.  Press was hard especially with the rest cap!
BS: 5x5 (145#)
DL: 5x5 (163#)
PU: 2x2, 3x5 (thin band)
Tried to do OHS/FS but thumb is still injured.  Strict pull-ups are hard.  PU done after WOD with pull-ups.
RD: 5x5 (10#)
Could not do press today.  Thumb still injured.
PU: 4-3-3-2-2
BS: 5x5 (150#)
DL: 5x5 (168#)
All legs since thumb is still injured :(
RD: 5-5-5-4-3 (12.5#)
No press, thumb still injured :(.
BS: 4-3-4-3-2 (155#)
PU: 5-3-3-2-1
DL: 5x5 (173#)
No FS today.  Still injured.  Squats: really need to work on shooting that ass back and going down faster & not collapse at the bottom.  5 strict PU PR!!!
RD: 4x5, 4 (12.5#)
Still injured, so no overhead.  Sucks to miss the last rep on RD!  Massively bruised on the inner thigh.
BS: 5x5 (155#)
DL: 5x5 (178#)
PU: 3-3-2-2-1
Skipped Fri bc of OktoberFit. Pull-up grip is hard when hand is still injured.
RD: 5x5 (12.5#)
Still injured, so no overhead. :((((((
BS: 3-1-1-0-0 (160#)
PU: 5-5-4-4-3
Still injured so no FS.  Mentally freaked out today.  Did not do DL bc of heavy DL in today's WOD.
RD: 5-5-4-3-2 (15#)
Still injured, so no press. Ring dips got tiring fast!
BS: 2-1-2-2-0 (160#)
DL: 5x5 (183#)
PU: 4-3-4-3-3
Still injured so no OHS.  BS so dependent on whether or not I push out of my heels.  form flaws come out.  # pull-ups depend on when i do them.  DL 183# (1RM) for 5x5.
BS: 5x5 (160#)
PU: 5x5
DL: 5x5 (188#)
Yayy!!!!  Made all my sets today!!!!!  First time!
RD: 5-5-5-4-3 (15#)
Press: 5x5 (63#)
Hand is slowly recovering!  was able to grip 63# overhead today!
FS: 5-3 (125#)
PU: 3-3-2-2-3 (2.5#)
Tried to do FS today.  Warm-up and 1st set felt fine.. then I took of my cast to get into a better rack position.  bad idea.  So stopped at 3 reps to prevent further injuries.  No DL.  lower back is very sore.
RD: 5x5 (15#)
Press: 2-3-3-3-2 (68#)
:( arms just did not feel strong today.
BS: 3-2-2-1-0 (165#)
PU: 4-4-3-3-2 (2.5#)
Still injured so no OHS.  BS were rough. Mentally freaked out. Did not do DL, time constraints.  No Mickey today.  blah.  nice to have a lifting buddy.
BS: 2-2-1-1-0 (165#)
DL: 0-3 (193#), 4x10 (163#)
PU: 2-2-2-4-3 (2.5#)
Just not feeling strong today.  idk why.  took a rest day yesterday.  Stopped on DL and dropped down to lighter weight since I was losing my back.  Not worth another injury until I can lift that weight without any kink in my back.
RD: 4-4-4-4-3 (17.5#)
Press: 5x3 (63#)
BP: 4-3-3-3-3 (78#)
Full body super sore today, probably bc yesterday was the first time I cleaned in weeks!  Experimenting with adding Bench Press.
FS: 5-5-4-3-3 (125#)
PU: 5-3-3-4-2 (2.5#)
1st time doing FS in a long time. something funny is up with it.. i feel like i forgot how to FS. no DL since heavy DL in WOD at high rep. dont want to deadlift 193# for 5x5 with a rounded back
RD: 4-4-3-3-2 (17.5#)
Press: 5x3 (68#)
:( idk what's been up with me
BS: 4-2-1-1-1 (165#)
PU: 5x3 (2.5#)
Just came back from LA. no sleep, carb-ed and alcohol-ed out. Did not have time to do DL
RD: 5-5-4-4-1 (17.5#)
Press: 4-3-3-3-2 (68#)
lol I don't know what happened to the last set of ring dips.  i just ran out of gas.
FS: 5x5 (125#)
PU: 3-3-3-4-3 (2.5#)
FS: knees out!  Tried to DL 193# a few times and failed.  Alex and Mickey both said it's all in my head.  I was scared shitless, blah. Working on keeping my back perfect so did 5x10 at 163#.
RD: 3-4-3-2-1 (17.5#)
Press: 5x3 (68#)
:( blah beginning to think I should have gone up by 2.5 instead of 5 on press.  ring dips are surprisingly hard.
OHS: 3x5 (83#)
PU: 3-3-4-3-3 (2.5#)
OHS limiting factor is the left hand grip from hand injury.  Had to stop after 3 sets b/c it started to really hurt.  did some high-rep back squats.  no time to DL
BS: 4-1-2-1-0 (165#)
PU: 5-5-3-3-3 (2.5#)
Blah been coming in feeling good but finishing with poor results.  Discouraged.  Working on perfect DL form, not losing my back so did 3x10 at 173#.
RD: 4-4-5-5-3 (17.5#)
Press: 3 (68#), 4x4 (65.5#)
BP: 5-5-4-5-5 (78#)
Dropped press down by 2.5# since I've been doing pretty poorly on it.
FS: 4-5-4-3-3 (130#)
PU: 4-4-4-4-5 (2.5#)
Wahhh, front squat issues.  Hand started hurting again on last set.  Ugh.
RD: 4-4-4-3-2 (17.5#)
Press: 4-3-3-4-4 (65.5#)
BP: 4-5-4-4-3 (83#)
:( blah beginning to think I should have gone up by 2.5 instead of 5 on press.  ring dips are surprisingly hard.
PU: 5x4 (2.5#)
DL: 3x10 (173#)
I actually did OHS today, but I dropped the bar the second my hand started to hurt.  so meh.  DL with a perfect back.
RD: 5x5 (17.5#)
BP: 3-4-3-3-2 (83#)
Press: 5x5 (65.5#)
Probably not a good idea to do bench press immediately after ring dips.  About time I made the ring dip set!

5x5 turned out to be very leg intensive.  It was pretty frustrating, because I was limited to what lifts I could safely do.  It killed me to watch Mickey or the class do movements I could not do.  Therefore, I ended up working my legs almost the entire time.  I did back squats and a lot of conditioning work with the prowler or sled three times a week.  Also because of the injury, I listened to my body more, instead of just going by whatever was written on paper (I did this with 20-rep back squat).  I was also a lot more cautious with form and such.  For example, with the deadlifts, I stopped at around 193# since my back started to round a lot.  Instead, I subbed in high rep sets at a lower weight, where I have a great back.  The last thing I want to do is injure my back, too!  I also started squatting and deadlifting with a lifting belt when going really heavyyyy for the same reason.  Maybe I am paranoid.
The program got very exhausting near the end, since we basically went heavy 5-6 days a week.  Near the end, there were days where I would just hit a wall.  My first couple sets would be 4 or 5 reps, and the last set zero!  Weird how that happens!  Also, the teaser in this program for me were those last two sets.  For some reason, 3 sets of 5 was doable, and I still felt good, but the last two sets, those reps were max effort.
Overall, I am very satisfied with the results I got from 5x5.  I know I definitely got stronger!  I also put on a couple pounds and developed some muscles (hello lats!) while staying lean, which was one of my biggest goals for this program.  In terms of strength, it is hard for me to prove to you I got stronger just by raw numbers.  I am at the point where my PRs are really small... 2.5# or 5#.  10# would be like I won a lottery.  I have not done a 1-rep max day yet to post those numbers, but I can tell you I come within 1-rep max range (or more for deadlifts!) for 5 sets of 5!  I don't think I made much progress with the shoulder press because of the injury so I will focus on that more with 5/3/1.

Action shots:

2. Instead of doing front squats and overhead squats because of my injury, my 5x5 turned into heavy back squats 3 times a week. 165#.

3. Strict pull-ups led to some newly developed lats. 2.5#.

4. My favorite!  17.5#.

I am now on 5/3/1... with some active recovery days reserved for during the week.  Hopefully that goes well! 

Other Strength Programs: Tim Swords'Burgener 10x3Hatch5/3/1 | 20-rep Back Squat
Other Weightlifting Programs: 4-Week Leg Strength Block 1
Related Posts: My First Kipping Bar Muscle Up | 5x5 Deload Week Fun | Sled Pull & Prowler Pushes