I thought I'd come back and update this as I've now done 3x 3 week cycles. I didn't deload at the end of the first 6 weeks, as I set my TM quite low, was feeling good, and felt a deload would have killed momentum at a point where everything was just starting to click and feel good. I'm glad I pushed through because it was a point where I'd be tempted to make adjustments or do something daft if I left myself time to plot something new for the next cycle, in a frame of mind where I wanted to be training.
Now that I'm at the end of my 9th week, I am planning to deload. I may not do a full 7 days, as I don't think my current strength levels require that sort of recovery, but I can feel I'm slowing down so I will take at least the next 5 days out of the gym to eat and rest up.
Progress has been excellent, and for the first time in my training, I've made a bit of a paradigm shift - 'drunk the cool-aid' as people round here seem to say. This is an excellent program and I won't be fucking around with it or hopping to something else.
My schedule can be unpredictable, so I've had to make some principles I can stick to and just find a way of getting it done.
5x each week I will do some conditioning. Usually 1 - 2 x 3-5 mile run (always at least 10 hours before lifting), 1-2 x 400/800m intervals, and 1-2x met con (most often immediately after lifting). In my OP I mentioned that my 1.5 mile tested run was at 9:30 nine weeks ago. I tested it yesterday and ran 8:49, my first sub 9 minute 1.5 mile, and I could have gone faster.
In the same time, I've been lifting 4 days/week, doing 1 set of jokers and FSL. This is how I've structured my lifting:
Day 1: Bench (very slight incline as my shoulders prefer it) - 5/3/1 + 1 joker set + FSL. I've been doing the rep PR on the last set (before jokers) and have hit 10/7/5 reps respectively on each 3 week cycle.
I then do 3 sets of SB carry, close grip bench, and some rear delt raises. The SB work I push, the close grip and rear delt stuff I just do some high reps and work the muscles.
Day 2: Squat (bottom up from pins) 5/3/1 + 1 joker set + FSL. I've been doing the rep PR on the last set (before jokers) and have hit 10/7/5 reps respectively on each 3 week cycle.
I then do some SB shoulders, maybe 10 - 15 reps as explosively as I can, some rope climbs, and some curls.
Day 3: OHP 5/3/1 + 1 joker set + FSL. I've been doing the rep PR on the last set (before jokers) and have hit 10/7/5 reps respectively on each 3 week cycle. This is the lift that is slowing down most. I really struggled for my 7/5 reps on my 3+/1+ weeks, and also struggled to get the bar moving on the first rep. I've been slightly calorie restricted the past few weeks, so I'm not surprised, and I am hopeful it will get moving again as I start eating a bit more.
I then do some suitcase carries, some rear delt work, and a high rep set of rollouts.
Day 4: Deadlift 5/3/1 + 1 joker set + FSL. I've been doing the rep PR on the last set (before jokers) and have hit 7/5/3 reps respectively on each 3 week cycle. I find high reps on the deadlift take me a lot more recovering from than other lifts, perhaps also because it is the end of the week, so I've reduced the volume of my top sets slightly. My speed off the floor is better than ever and I think this is progressing best of any of my lifts.
I then do some rope climbing and some curls.
I do neck bridges 3x/ week, and on my days off I shoot for a few hundred pressups and at least a few hundred situps, plus some grip/wrist work - usually for 20 minutes or so before I shower and go to bed.
I realise I've written a lot there, but if there are any adjustments/tweaks anyone would make before I start my next cycle, I'd appreciate the input. The most glaring admission I can see is that I don't have any rows, and I think I should probably swap the curls out for them.
I'm aiming to add the following to my TMs by the end of August:
Squat 35kgs (My current squat TM is a bit lower relative to my level of strength compared to the other 3 lifts, so there is more room for improvement)
It may be optimistic, but that level of improvement would put me at a level I have in mind as being strong for someone who is primarily training to be hard to kill, not necessarily a competitive strength athlete. I think I'm close enough to try to put a date on hitting those numbers.