T Nation

5 Cycles Report & Questions


#1

Hello Jim and the other members.

I’ve completed a 5 forward cycle and wanted to give you a big thank you for your program and advises. Optionally, maybe some hindsight can help someone on this forum.

I started this 5 forward cycle after completing the prowler challenge. Actually that was a sled challenge, but the progression was the same. Wanted to push my strength a little more and reset my training maxes.

Background:
I’m a 28yo office worker, not an athlete. I have just completed my 14th cycle of 5/3/1. So I have been training for about 2 years.
I would love to play rugby but just don’t have the availability. I like to pretend I’m training in a year-long off-season.

The plan was: 3 cycles of 1000% awesome, 2 cycles of beach body challenge.
The logic behind it was:
My bench press was feeling uncomfortable at “heavy” weights, so 5x5@85% seemed like the sweet spot to practice with decent volume at a relatively heavy weight. And the same for the squat couldn’t hurt.
By the end of it, my bench was feeling much better. But my press still had that uneasy feeling. So focusing on it seemed like a good idea. And I really wanted to try hang cleans, so the beach body challenge template was a no-brainer.

Diet & recovery:
I just made sure to eat a lot of meat and eggs, and to sleep well. (Sleep is the most crucial point for me, notably because I train in the morning.)
Stretching before going to bed. (A mix of Agile 8 and yoga movements)
A multivitamin and fish oil helped, at least psychologically.
The work is stressing, but the consistency keeps this stress manageable. Or maybe I had to make the stress manageable. I don’t know which way it is. But honestly, sometimes breaking two PRs in the morning helps when you take a blow during the day.
I don’t weight myself but I think I started at 90kg and ended at 92.5kg.

Conditioning:
Nothing spectacular, the conditioning was consistency-based. Sled, bodyweight circuit, rucking and sledgehammer swings depending on the cycles.

Now for the interesting part. The progression:
• Squat 3x180kg --> 5x200kg
• Deadlift 3x190kg --> 5x200kg
• Bench 2x100kg --> 5x102.5kg
• Press 1x60kg --> 5x60kg (This may be ridiculously weak compared to my squat and DL. But I still consider this as my biggest achievement.)
• Hang clean 5x65kg --> 6x72.5kg
My reps are much more controlled and I am confident that I can still progress a lot at this slow pace.

Observations:
• The 1000% awesome template with some good assistance exercises was great for technique and getting overall stronger. I’m pretty sure I’ve overdone it by adding FSL 3x8 (then 3x5) and the 3rd cycle felt hard. Retrospectively, the FSL sets were not useful for the squat and bench. Still, I had to try it to figure it out. If you feel like doing this template, do not bother doing FSL for the squat and bench. Or to make it simpler: listen to Jim...
• …which I did for the beach body challenge. I really think the beach body challenge name is not doing it justice. Because this template is less about vanity than it is about performance. Hammer a few lifts that matter and get stronger in multiple rep ranges. The philosophy is deceptively simple and brutal. I loved it. And nailing 21 squat reps at 70% your TM makes you feel awesome. I highly recommend this template if you just want to feel great.
• Heavy squats and deadlift the same day feels rough, but it is very doable. The biggest challenge in it was my apprehension.
• Maybe it’s a good idea to scale back your TM a little before doing the beach body challenge. I mean that breaking PRs at 100% your TM is going be tough if 5 reps at this TM feel hard. Or maybe it is the point of the challenge?
• But yeah, I look good by the end of it. I’ve had some compliments, telling me that I look leaner and more impressive. Okay, the challenge may have been about vanity.

Questions:
• I’m about to take those 3 steps back and reset my TM at 85% my 1RM. (Or actually take 3 steps back for the squat, so lower than 85%)
So I’m willing to give the building the monolith template a go. But I already can do a 20-reps squat set at 70% my TM without killing myself. Is starting at a higher percentage than 45% an option for this template?
• If I'm going back to 1000% awesome instead (still unsure about it), is it okay to altenate bench and press ? (Example : W1D1: Squat & Bench / W1D2: DL & Press / W1D3 : Squat & Bench / W2D1: Squat & Press / W2D2: DL & Bench / W2D3: Squat & Press...)
• And this is all I can think about now for the questions. Let me know if I can add anything to make this report useful.

Thanks again!


#2

So I’m willing to give the building the monolith template a go. But I already can do a 20-reps squat set at 70% my TM without killing myself. Is starting at a higher percentage than 45% an option for this template?

For you, yes. Just understand that the point in the early part isn't to run you down so don't kill yourself in the beginning of the program - understand?

If I'm going back to 1000% awesome instead (still unsure about it), is it okay to altenate bench and press ? (Example : W1D1: Squat & Bench / W1D2: DL & Press / W1D3 : Squat & Bench / W2D1: Squat & Press / W2D2: DL & Bench / W2D3: Squat & Press...)•

Yes, for you. Remember that a lot of the options that include alternating the bench press/press can be usually done either/or - I always choose the press because it's a much better exercise (I used the Rate-a-Lift meter and found it to be far superior - it's similar to a Geiger counter) and 100% of gym goers do a dis-proportionate amount of bench pressing to pressing.

Thank you for the write up - it is much appreciated and I'm genuinely happy to be a small part of your success. This is what the end goal is for me - to make people better. And not bore people.


#3

By the way, the Beach Body Challenge name is a joke- bigger/stronger traps, shoulders and legs are usually the opposite of what people would consider "beach muscles".


#4

Just understand that the point in the early part isn't to run you down so don't kill yourself in the beginning of the program - understand?

I hear you. I value staying fresh enough for the next session, and optionally for the rest of my day.

Thank you also for the clarification about the bench/press choice.

Thank you for the write up - it is much appreciated and I'm genuinely happy to be a small part of your success. This is what the end goal is for me - to make people better. And not bore people.

You are doing some great work here and I'm glad that I can give something back.


#5

Will the Awesome 1000 be in your new book? Just can't swing the monthly fee right now, so I must sit & wait patiently.