Love Thib’s articles. Seem very credible, logical and useful.
Sorry for the long post. Perhaps others similar to me can get some good advice too.
Just did 5 months on Madcow 5x5 intermediate, then started customizing for recovery and improving weak points for another 5 months. This follows 1 year of various BB style lifting work and jogging. Had some general gym going over last 15 years, but nothing consistent or serious. Did some Fred Hatfield programs 20 years ago, squatted 405, DL 465 with back-injuring form, weak ass bench, at 175 bw, but didn’t keep at it. Lost it all over the intervening years except perhaps some vague muscle memory I’ve tried to keep alive with random stints of working out. Never take anabolics or t-replacement, just creatine, BCCA’s, protein, fish oil, multivitamins, and magnesium.
Bottom line, I’m 10 months in to a more or less serious program. Current training PR’s:
- Squat: 285x5 (was 310x5 a few months ago, but decided to focus on front squats and DL for a bit).
- Deadlift: 390x1 (was strong, max prob 405).
- Bench: 280x1
Again, my goal is to get strong and still fit in my 36’ waist pants. I recently hit 220 lbs BW (at 5’10") and had to suck it in to fit in my 36” pants, and said goodbye to my size large t-shirts (now I’m XL). 3 weeks ago, I cut carbs, increased protein/fat and now my pants and XL t-shirts fit fine and I want to keep it that way while getting stronger. Not really looking to lose weight/size, but assume improving body composition will be a side benefit.
I’m looking for advice, next steps in programming/progression, and reality checks like ‘dude what are you thinking’.
My limitations: 3 days per week training (MWF). 1 hour training sessions. Work and family obligations take priority over training (getting real here). I appreciate that others have more flexibility or different priorities and can dedicate more time to their training, but I can only follow any advice offered that fits these limitations. But hey, it makes for an interesting challenge no?
Weaknesses: My quads. My front squat is weak compared to my squat, and my squat is weak compared to my deadlift (obviously). I have very small anterior delts (at the tie in to the pec) and my mid bench to lockout is weak compared to off the chest. My chest has always been pretty strong, but not my anterior delts. I have a very hard time hitting them. Odd, I know, but true.
Here’s my most recent (complete) week and program plan, excluding warm up:
- Bench: 5x5 at 215 (77%), pausing rep 1 all sets. Last rep of last set RPE 9.
- Incline BB Bench, wide grip: 3x3 at 185. To work anterior delts and pecs.
- Isometric bench limit hold (against safety bars in rack) at 8”. 3 sets for 6 seconds at max effort. Reason is that I failed the lockout of a PR bench attempt at 285 a couple weeks ago.
- Planks, 2 @ 1 min - leaning forward to activate anterior delts. Experimenting with ways to work anterior delts because most methods don’t work for me.
- Front Squat: 3x5 at 205. (3 set of 5 reps). Out of time - 1 hour limit reached.
- Deadlift: 3x3 at 370. Opposing grip. 3” belt.
- Reverse Grip BB rows: 4x5 at 200. Superset last set chest supported row 100x8
- Preacher Curl, vertical: 4x5 at 100. Superset 35 lb dumbells x 6 reps, then 25’s hammer curls
- Calves (various)
- Squats: 3x5 at 285. RPE 9.
- Military Press: 3x5 at 152.5. RPE 9.5
- Bench partials: 4x3 at 232.5. From 3” to lockout. RPE 9. Weak area work, emphasizes anterior delts, triceps.
- Incline Bench, wide grip: 185x3,5.
- Close grip bench: 3x5 at 197.5. Superset 145x8
- Dumb bell skull crushers, decline bench: 2x5 @105
- Bench, Press, Assistance: Change intensity over 4 week cycle. 5x5 at 75% w/ pauses, 5x5 at 80%, 5 sets x 3 reps at 85%, 5x2 at 90%. Alternate volume and intensity between exercises. Goal is progress an average of 1 lb/week - hey, that’s 52 lbs a year!
- Deadlift: See The Simple Deadlift Program. Wednesday above is week 14. No goal, just seeing what I can do at the end of the cycle.
- Squat: Just trying to maintain, while emphasizing front squat a bit. Reserving nervous system and recovery capacity to finish deadlift progression. Then I’ll switch to emphasizing squat. Goal will be to increase by 5 lbs/week - I have more potential for increases here than on bench/press.
Idea is to progress on either deadlift or squat in a given cycle, while always bringing up bench/press and weak areas.
So, whaddya think?