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A's 5/3/1 Journey For Raw Strength - A Video Log


Hello all!

I am new here, but not new to training or to online forums. I am going to log my journey here. To get things started I used to compete in equipped powerlifting. My best total is 1420 in a meet with a 550 squat, 370 bench, and a 500 deadlift.

I have recently had some big changes in my life and sparing you all the details I will just say that it lead to me losing a lot of weight and strength. I decided I need to build my raw foundation back up for all of my lifts and decided to follow Jim Wendler's 5/3/1 raw powerlifting routine. If you don't know much about it I will describe it here briefly.

The basis for the routine is the squat, deadlift, flat bench, and standing military press. There is a day for each one and all of the days are percentage based. The beauty of this percentage based program is I have it charted out until September 2010. So I have a long term plan working here which is the only thing keeping me sane since I am very small and weak right now. The short term goal is for me to do my first raw meet this coming September. I am hoping to squat 425, bench 265 and deadlift 520.

Since I am training by myself right now I have been shooting vids of all of my workouts so I can see my form and fix things. I will be sure to post the videos here in the log so everyone can follow my progress and offer some advice. Also, right now I am lifting in my garage. It is nothing fancy but I have everything I need to get strong.

Thanks for reading and I hope you all enjoy the ride.


Here are a couple of back workouts to give you guys an idea of what I have been doing.

6-17-09 Squat Night

So tonight was my 5 rep squat night. It breaks down like this:
85%x max reps

Right now my squat is based on a max of 350lbs.

Here is how the workout broke down:

Warm-ups: Light weights, foam roller, KB swings

Goodmornings (no belt):
165x10 (this was the wrong weight
155x10 x 4 sets

45 Degree Hypers:
BWx12 x 5 sets

AB Wheel
A bunch for a few

The squats felt alright tonight. I really need to work on keeping my head up and driving my head/chest up as the first movement out of the hole. I have a lot of work to do if I want to squat well at my meet in September.

Any input you guys have would be much appreciated.

Here is the video from last night:


6-18-2009 5RM Bench Workout

I usually try not to lift two days in a row like this, but I am going to have a very busy day on Friday so I had to bench today instead. Considering this workout was less than 12 hours from my squat workout I was pretty pleased.

Today was the 5RM day on the flat bench. Here is the breakdown:

DB Bench
60x10 x 5 sets

DB Rows
80x10 x 5 sets

Rolling DB Extensions

Cable Pushdowns
60x12 x 3 sets

EZ Bar Curls:

I was not able to video tape this one since I was lifting in a new place. Starting Monday I will be back in the garage and will get a video of the military press workout. Overall, I am pretty pleased with today considering how banged up I am from last nights squat workout.

No video of this workout, but here is a deadlift workout from last week instead.


Strong liftin' man. Good luck w/ your goals. How much do you weigh?


I should have included my weight in the first post. I weigh a hair over 180 right now. That is down from 200 in January. I was much stronger then and am trying to build my way back up. For me 200lbs would be a good weight because I can compete 198 easily and at my height (5'4'') that is some decent mass. I am hoping to slowly add weight over the coming months and get back up to where I was.


3RM Military Press Night

Dynamic Mobility General Warm-up

I know the weight on these is not very high, but I am very new to this movement and am still learning it so this is actually pretty good for me.

Acc Work:
95x4 (I ran out of gas here. It had been a long day and I was hitting this workout at 11PM)

Lat Pulldowns
90x10 x 5 sets ...Super Setted with....
BWx10 x 5 sets

I am not a big fan of super sets, but I had a LONG day and was hitting this workout at 11PM. I just wanted to get through the acc work and get done. This gave me a great pump and had me sweating like crazy at the end. Some times you just have to do what you have to do.

My day was so busy because I was setting up my garage for my power cage that I will be putting in tomorrow night. This will hopefully be my last workout with the old bench. The garage set up should be pretty nice when it is all said and done.

Like I said the Military Press is pretty new to me so any advice you guys have would be great.

HERE IS THE LINK TO THE WORKOUT: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xaD2zOD2E4w


Taking a shot at embedding this video...

It is bigger and the quality is better on the youtube video.


Your form looks good, but you may try going lighter on your last warm up set. The heaviest I usually warm up with is 85lbs. I noticed the heavier I go on warm up sets the more I exhaust my delts, which screws up my entire military pressing day.


Yeah I probably should have only done 1 or 2 with it, but I was so focused on the form I got carried away. I can't wait for deadlifts tomorrow. By tomorrow night I should have the garage all set up the way I want. I will shoot a little "tour" at the end of the video if I have time.



3RM Deadlift Night

Warm-ups: Dynamic stretching and light weights

Stiff Leg Deadlifts
225x10 (4 sets)
225x9 (Couldn't get my 10th rep on the last set)

45 Degree Hyper Extensions:
BodyWeightx12 (5 Sets)
I do these mostly for glute activation as a rehab exercise and really focus on squeezing my glutes at the top.

Ab Wheel with feet elevated:
These are way more challenging with my feet higher
BWx12 (5 sets)

Overall everything felt pretty good tonight. I should not have gone for the 8th rep on the deadlifts, but I was feeling crazy and went for it anyway. I try hard not to miss on this program because it can really tax you and screw things up. This is my first real miss so I am not too worried, I just have to be smarter about it.

On the plus side, I was able to get the platform built for my power cage and will be able to lift in there from now on. I will shoot some more video of my set-up after my bench workout on Saturday.

LINK TO THE VIDEO: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vyQvObL_XsM


6-27-2009: 3RM Bench Night

I was able to get my home gym all set up in the garage. The J hooks are a little high and I have to press the bar out of the rack instead of pull it out so that will be my project for this week. Overall, I am very happy with the way the garage is set right now.

Bench Press:
Warm-up: Dynamic Stretching, Light weights.
200x3 (80%)
210x3 (85%)
225x6 (90%)

Bench Volume sets:
155x10 (4 sets)
155x8 (I took too little rest between sets here and just totally ran out of gas. Thank goodness for the power cage!)

Wide Grip x 8
Wide Grip x 8
Wide Grip x 5
Close Grip x 7
Close Grip x 7

Rolling DB Extensions:

Louis Shrugs:

Overall I am pretty happy with the workout today. I have never been super strong on the bench but I feel like I am making some progress. If I can get some more shallow J Hooks it will make unracking the bar much easier and should save me some energy. I will be looking into that this week.

LINK TO THE VIDEO: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i5iWBnkq2G0
I just uploaded it so hopefully it is live.


Squat Workout:
Warm-up: Dynamic stretching and foam roller.

Squat Down Sets

Ab Wheel (With feel elevated)

Hypers: Once again this is done mostly as a rehab exercise.
BWx12 (5 sets)

HERE IS A LINK TO THE VIDEO: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kP7rLS6_pz0

I was getting to far forward during these squats. I moved my bar placement a little higher to allow myself to remain more upright while I squat. I hope this helps along with learning to drive my head back harder into the bar to help keep my chest up.

I have not been free squatting without the box or powerlifting gear for a while so once I get more practice in I am hoping my squat will take off.


Good work on the squats! Ive never tried any PL suits, but would like to some time in the future, just to see the difference in my numbers. Whup out.


Great work man. Keep the motivation high!


Thanks guys! I have Military Press tonight, which is definitely the weak sister of the big 4 lifts for me. I will post the workout and let you all know how it goes later on.

Thanks for checking in.


Standing Military Press:
Warm-Up: Dynamic stretching and light weights.

More Standing Military Press
95lbsx10reps (5 sets)

Pull-Ups: These were done with a neutral grip using D-Handles from my Blast Straps. These were pretty unstable and a good challenge.
(I got these on video as well)

BWx10 (5 Sets)

Louie Shrugs:

DB Curl:

Overall this workout felt really good. I found out that my dumbbells don't weigh the same amount tonight. I have an adjustable pair that you can throw plates on and I found out they are not the same weight which is a huge pain. So I am going to be on the lookout for a new pair.

I am going to start having more of a focus on pull-ups as a secondary training exercise. I will have a few variations of these that I do to keep the body guessing. By my next upper session I will have my dip/chin belt so I will be able to add weight to these as well.

My effort on the Military Press tonight was just 1 rep off my all time PR which was set while I was 10lbs heavier over the winter so it looks like my strength is starting to come back and hopefully I will be breaking PRs again before long.

LINK TO THE VIDEO: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yZ19tFj4DzM



5/3/1 Deadlift Night

Warm-Up: Dynamic Stretching and Light Weights

Stiff Leg Deadlifts (No Belt)
225x10 (5 sets)

Ab Wheel with knees elevated: (Got these on Video)


I am going to start adding 10lbs to the Hypers for each cycle. I use these mostly as a rehab exercise for a hip/glute issue I have so I don't want to be going too heavy and have sloppy form.

The 395x6 on the deadlift is only 2 reps off my best (395x8). I am finally on my way back to where I was when I was at my strongest. I think with another cycle or two I should be back to breaking all time PRs again.

I have deload coming up this week. I will be posting those workouts, but there probably won't be any videos unless I do a unique accessory exercise I want to show.

HERE IS THE LINK TO THE VIDEO: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Go_C9_NbuAE


Good job on the deads!


Thanks man I am really feeling them today. I am very ready for my deload this coming week. I have a few new accessory exercises I want to try out.


7-8-2009 Deload Bench Day

This is my deload week so I didn't bother to shoot any videos since none of this work is all that impressive. I take some time during this week to go very light on my main lifts and try any new accessory movements I have learned about during the month and could not justify playing with through my normal programming.

Bench Press:
Dynamic Warm-Up and Light Weights
45x12 (2 sets)

Obese bar Bench Press: The Obese bar is something that I made. It is even larger than a normal fat bar with an external diameter of 3.25"
135x10 (5 sets)

These were a lot harder than I thought. I think I am going to use the Obese bar for my Boring But Big sets on my normal program. Those are the sets when I do 5 sets of 10 after the main movement using about 50% of my max.

Pull-Ups: I decided to experiment with some weighted pull-ups as I just got my weight belt from APT last week and did not get a chance to use it yet.
BWx10 (These felt REALLY easy even after all that work because I felt so light!)
Mini Band assisted pull-ups x 12

That was it pretty short and sweet. Nothing really challenging and I am just trying to recover and start hitting it hard again next week. I am going to work with loading the pull-ups on my bench days and will be using the Obese Bar for my accessory benching for at least this next mini cycle.

Sorry no video. They will probably start up again next week.