T Nation

Entering the Fray


I've lurked this forum for a while now and figured I would see if starting a log and writing down everything I do would help me keep track of it all, as well as get some lovely feedback of course!

I'll keep my personal info for the bottom of the post in the meantime here are my stats:

Age: 21
Height: 5'6
Weight: ~165

Squat: 3RM 125lb
Bench: 1RM 110lb
Deadlift: 1RM 215lb

-Keep working on my squat form; especially maintaining it during max effort attempts.
-1 RMs (By April) - Squat: 155 / Bench: 125 / Deadlift: 235. I'm not the best at making goals and I'm not really sure what's realistic here but I thought it's still good to have numbers to reach for!
-Enter a meet! There is a meet in April I am thinking of entering for push/pull...only things holding me back are confidence and the sizeable chunk of money it would cost.

I made a thread a while ago that shows videos of my squat and deadlift form here:


I'm following the 5-3-1 plan, this was my workout from Monday:

80x5, 95x5, 115x5
The last 2 reps on the 115 were a lot harder than I was hoping for, but I think I maintained my form better than usual.

Box Squat:
I'm not sure if I'm rocking too far forward before I come up off the box and I'll be trying to get someone to look at my form on these, but they are pretty fun to do!

Romanian Deadlift:
I'd never done these before so I took it easy with the weight, but I desperately need to work on back strength I figured I'd give them a try.

And tomorrow is bench!

On to personal stuff!

I'm a senior in college, graduating and starting real life this May. I'm getting my personal training cert in about a month and have a job lined up as a personal trainer after I graduate. I've always been interested in general weight lifting but was never very consistent or serious about it until this past May. Powerlifting was always a fanciful thought in the back of my mind until I actually met a couple of people who did it and realized that hey, real people do this! I switched from general weight training to powerlifting specific training in November and absolutely love it.

I also play club Ultimate Frisbee and it sometimes produces some complications, for instance due to a bit of overtraining (a max out week followed by an 8 hour practice weekend) I've strained both of my quads and my right lat. I thought I wouldn't be able to squat yesterday and by all means I shouldn't have but...it felt okay so I did it! In mid February we have our first tournament and after that it all goes downhill - tournament after tournament after tournament! Every other year this has led to me to quit lifting but I'm pretty determined to keep at it this time around. Not to mention I'm in much better shape than the past years so I'm remaining hopeful.

I still haven't decided if I'm going to continue playing Ultimate after I graduate but I do know that I feel much better about my potential in powerlifting than ultimate and would probably pick the former if it came to having to make a choice!

I feel I'm reaching the finish line on my beginner gains and now the real hard work begins. Hoping to share my journey with you all, happy training!




Bench press today, just coming off a deload week:

Warm Up (45,55,65)
1)75lb x 5
2)85 x 5
3)95 x 5

As with the squat I have problems staying tight during the bench. I got some random guy to spot me on the last set, and like every random spot I get it seems, whenever my lift slows down they decide they must assist me even if I can grind it out and say "I got it." So I say I did 5, but it was more like 4.5. I thought I'd be able to get 6 but oh well. I wish I could max out every week!

Cable Rows
3 x 5 x 70lb

Assisted Pull Ups
2 x 5 x 58lb assistance

My goal by the end of the year is to be able to do at least one pull up without assistance! That's actually been a goal of mine for a long time...

I usually get stuck on the bench press after the first couple inches off the chest. I know my back is really weak which is why my assistance has been mostly back work but I think if my weak point is near the chest I need to work on the pectorals? I'd been including tricep pull downs before but I think I would be better served to do back / pec work instead.

I'd be really interested in hearing what bench assistance work anyone else is doing though and why?


hhmm not much advice of the top of my mind...just keep atter....bench seems to be ( for some, me included ) one of those lifts that if you dont keep at it consistently you dont progress as well....
I mostly wanted to come in and say Welcome :slight_smile: look forwards to reading your log :slight_smile:


Dips will be of help. I am also a huge proponent of learning and doing proper BW Pushups to help with the bench. But that is just my opinion for sure.

Oh & welcome to PW


Welcome to PW. I don't bench, so I don't really know about that... I wonder if some focused work on the sticking point part of the ROM might help, though (the way that it can help a squat or a deadlift).


Welcome ! Off the chest is the normal sticking point for raw benchers. I don't train 5/3/1 but Westside. Some suggestions:
Work the lats!! Chest supported rows, pull-ups, seated rows and pulldowns.
You can do a variety of benches to the chest and mix it up with different grips -close/mid/comp and if your shoulders allow it, wide. Floor presses are also a good exercise to do now and then. Some say that overhead pressing is always a good assistance movement for raw lifters, but I don't do much of that due to shoulder issues.

Also be sure your bench form is tight, pull those shoulder blades together, and your *ss should be so tight you could crack a walnut ! ...LOL



I saw your squat and DL videos. For the squats, I like your foot placement with the toes pointed outward and that you didn't rock forward on the toes. Your form actually looks better than most men I see in the gym.

I agree with others that for the squats you should drop the hips back first and follow with the knees on the descent. Always think of dropping the butt first.

It's a motion sort of like sitting in a chair. That is why box squats are helpful in establishing good squat form. Of course, you would perform box squats with a much lighter weight than you do the regular back squats.

Since you are doing 5/3/1 re-read Wendler's advice on the squat. He says it OK to bounce at the bottom and then you want tuck the elbows under the bar especially when driving back up. Others said to imagine you are a piston. Personally I like to imagine I'm a booster rocket launching off the pad and accelerating as fast as possible on the way up.

Take a deep breath at the top BEFORE the descent and hold it in.
Most important is to keep the back tight with shoulder blades pinched together, and keep the glutes and abs tight. Don't let your air out at the bottom and stay tight. Tuck the elbows under the bar and drive up like a rocket. Take a deep breath at the top and go down nice and tight for another.

Your dead lift form ain't that bad either. I like your flat back position and that you didn't round it even when pulling a maximal lift.

For the dead lift starting position, you might want to push the hips back enough to feel a small stretch in the hamstrings, this should place your shoulders directly over the bar. If someone is watching, ask them to que you when you are directly over the bar. It looks to me like you were initiating the lift with the lower back. You should really try to exploded up by thrusting through the quads.

As in the squat, you must start tight with lungs full of air. Tighten the gut as if someone is about to punch you. This will help the quads to get support for the thrust.

As you ascend the bar past the knees, now push the hips forward till your thighs touch the bar. Finish the lift by locking the legs and and pinching the shoulder blades together.

Among other things, I advocate paying particular attention to grip. The arms should be used merely as hooks. The elbows should not have any bends in them when you lift so as to prevent any damage to the bicep tendon. Many lifters used a mixed grip, but pronated (overhand) grip is safest and with practice you will get a strong enough grip to move nearly as much weight as you could with a mixed grip.

Speaking about your desire to do unassisted pull ups, are you doing them on a machine, with bands, or is someone assisting you?

Great job Kid.


Oh a new log! Hi and welcome.


My workout from today. I was kind of stiff / sore from practice yesterday. The first practice I've participated in since my strains so it definitely woke my body up.

Warm Up (45, 135)
3)195 x 5
I maybe could have grinded out 6 looking back on it. I'm kind of disappointed because I did 195x5 3 weeks ago and apparently didn't improve.

2) Powerclean:
Warm Up (45, 65)
To be honest I do these solely because I love them. I'm not sure how much carryover they have into my lifts.

3) Pause Squats
Warm Up(45)
These really really kick my ass and make me feel like such a wimp!

I saw a guy at the gym today I used to be friends with until we had a falling out after he said some pretty cruel things to me last year. He was doing deadlifts and his form SUCKED. I've literally never seen someone with such abhorrent form. He couldn't even come close to my weight and I showed him how to do them correctly. Felt good.

I've been told and read that lats are very important in the bench, and I do back assistance work since I have a weak back. But I never feel my lats when I bench nor are they sore after, if anything I feel effort from my triceps. I've been working on my bench form though so hopefully in the coming weeks I can fix that.

Considering that most of the guys in my gym never reach parallel and squat on their toes, God I hope so!

People tell me to explode out of the bottom but I usually get only a few inches out of the bottom before I feel stuck. Kind of destroys momentum haha. Same with bench and deadlift (as you can definitely see from that video!). The assistance work I'm doing now is meant to help with that, hopefully.

Thank you for your thought-out post, p.s. your name made me laugh.

Thanks everyone else for the warm welcomes and advice!


My body is not happy with me. I really need to eat better if I'm going to keep up everything I'm doing. At least I'm not drinking half as much as I used to. I've managed not to get drunk in 3 weeks! ...Yes that's impressive for me. Blame college.

3 hour practice on Sunday with 6 20's in a row (my time went down 6 seconds since August, that's cool.), 2 full-field (120yrd) suicides, way too many pushups and a 2 hour scrimmage with only 2 subs on each team. Naturally I woke up a bit stiff and sore...plus for some reason I couldn't sleep more than 2 and a half hours last night. All in all, just preparing for a great squat day...


Warm Up (45,65,85)
95 x 5
105 x 5
125 x 4

I should have been able to do 5 of the 125. The last 2 reps I wasn't sticking my chest out and keeping my head up (once again looking at my knees in the mirror as I tend to do for some reason) and it made coming up much harder than it should have. After I racked it I immediately went back under and did 2 more reps remembering those 2 things and they were easy. If anything it was also 1 more rep than I did the last time I was at 125.

2) Box Squat
Warm up (45, 65)

I think my form was better this time. Still should get someone to look at it.

3) Romanian Deadlift
Warm up (45, 95)

I fractured my lower spine my junior year of high school and doing things like stiff legged / romanian deadlifts / good mornings are kind of difficult and can be painful. What started out as a romanian dead kind of just turned into a conventional deadlift half way through the sets, but I figure it's still pretty helpful either way...

Forgot to answer this:

I use an assistance machine. I've tried doing negatives with just my body weight but I even need assistance on that, sadly!

Hope everyone had a lovely weekend! UNC basketball smacked down NC State and Duke got their shit handed to them. Who wouldn't be happy!


I was already guessing you were. Those pull-ups assistance machines also known as Gravitrons are often used to introduce people to chins / pull ups. Sadly though in the long term they lead to greater problems than they help by making major muscles stronger but neglecting the smaller stabilizers that you would be using in real body weight chins.

Looking back at your last post for pull-ups I see you did the cable rows before the chins:

Cable Rows
3 x 5 x 70lb

Assisted Pull Ups
2 x 5 x 58lb assistance

Since the Pull-up is a much more demanding exercise you need to have as much of the fast twitch fibers fresh and ready to recruit for this maximal effort.

I would take one pull-up in exchange for 10 cable rows any day. In fact you might find that even after the pull-up you can still do nearly the same number of rows, but not vise versa.

Here is the fix to get you off that thing and on to the next level of strength.

(1) Watch this video:

If for some reason, you donâ??t have a band or cant use one the next best thing is to have a person you trust push you up by the ankles as you pull, but just enough to do the job. Also, you could use a chair bench or stool to help get up there or to thrust from

(2). Do the body pull-up(s) first with a neutral grip W/O machine. And if you have anything left in you do the rows.

Try these methods to improve in the pull-ups and let me know it goes in the process.

Also, If you had problems in the past with a back injury, I think you are wise to do the RDLâ??s. Just be sure to let the knees bend a bit to take pressure off the lower spine and keep that back arched with shoulder blades pinched together. Reverse hypers should also be in the menu for strengthening the back.

If you are following Wendlers 5/3/1 it appears from what you have thus far posted, that you are on a three days a week plan and following a de-load have just completed the first week of a new cycle.

Before I guess too far and get things wrong, perhaps you could tell me exactly which template you are on?
Since you are an athlete who is already training hard for a sport you may want to consider the two day 5/3/1 plan instead. It would give you adequate recovery time and have less of a burden on you while still giving you the benefits of both.

Great work and keep on keepin on.


Had a pretty mellow practice yesterday, relative to our normal ones anyway. A few 40's, a scrimmage with more subs than I would normally like, a bunch of push ups. Bench press today:

Warm Up(45,55,65)
3)100 x 3

I had a good spot today hooray! I did manage to get out 4 reps but he had to help me some of the last one. Worked on my arch more today, I think I did a decent job and I felt my lats a lot more this time as well as noticed some hip drive, I think! Super excited about maxing out next week.

Dumbbell Rows
Warm Up(30)

2x5, bodyweight

I probably don't go down low enough on these.

Push ups

I suuuuuuuuuuuuck at push ups. I'm by far the worst on my team. So doing these is a bit for my own pride as well as any benefit it might give to me.

That was a very helpful video! That site had a lot of other interesting articles as well. I don't have any bands...I have a friend who does though. I may have to recruit him.

There is an exercise - that I cannot for the life of me remember the name of - where you are laying on the ground in a cage with your arms gripping the barbell above you and you pull yourself up towards it? There was a video about progressing to pull ups that said it was another way to build up to them, what are your thoughts on it? If that description was even adequate..I'm not very good at explaining exercises with words.

You got it, 3 day a week and on the week right before my max out week. I'm getting my weights by using a spreadsheet I got from this thread:

I've thought about doing the 2 day plan...I really don't want to (I probably enjoy going to the gym a bit more than I ought to haha) but if it comes down to it I'll switch to it. It does kind of suck never being at 100% for either lifting or frisbee. Though if not for lifting I wouldn't be nearly as fast as I am for sure.

I appreciate the responses and thanks for all the advice!


There is an exercise - that I cannot for the life of me remember the name of - where you are laying on the ground in a cage with your arms gripping the barbell above you and you pull yourself up towards it?

Inverted rows?

I do these (an easier version with my feet on the floor. will progressively lower the smith bar until its as low as it can go and then start working on elevating my feet).

The version in the vid is a horizontal pull. Dunno about mine. Inclined pull?

I can't do a pull-up but I've been working hard on chin-ups. Tried them with a little jump to get myself up. Tried flexed arm hangs. Tried slow negatives. Tried resistance band assisted. Tried going back to the pull-down machine. Eventually what enabled me to do one was introducing inverted rows (with a chin-up grip). Or maybe I just got generally stronger (finally!)



I'm not sure if this was mentionned but get some bands to help you with those chins and pullups. That's pretty much the only way I managed to eek out a few unnassisted after a while. Same story for others in this forum.

good luck!


Strength training make us stronger by defining our weaknesses. We then improve by working on them. Just Remember that we get stronger at pushups by doing more pushups. It could also be that you are fried from doing bench press prior. Just a suggestion but you could separate the two exercised and do the BPs and PUs on different days as they compliment one another and giving each a better chance will help in the long run.

I'm glad you like Robertsons video http://robertsontrainingsystem...

Remember to do those 20 second holds at the top to work your way up to doing chins and start with parallel grip as it is the easier chin to start with. Also the prone rows shown by Alexus are good too.

Hey, I looked at that excel template for 5/3/1 you posted about but I am not a member and they are not taking any new ones on board at this time, so you think maybe you could email me an attachment of that spread sheet?

My hub is set up so you can do that.


We were hosting a Frisbee tournament on campus this weekend so I've been pretty busy!

I also seem to have lost my notebook that I've written every workout I've done since July down, so that's pretty shitty. We'll see if I remember everything I did since Wednesday.

Practice - 1 mile timed run. Some 40's, scrimmage for 2 hr, strain calf, walk with a limp for 3 days, awesome!

Warm Up (45, 135, 135)
185 x 3
195 x 3
215 x 1

I was supposed to get 215 x 3 but I didn't even come close to getting the second rep. The only improvement since the last time I did 215 (that was the weight in my deadlifting video I linked to in the OP) is that it took like 1/2 the time to get up. I tried it a second time and still only managed one rep. Silver lining I guess but I was still really disappointed. I'm still going for 225 this week though for my 1RM. I'm pretty determined to get those two plates!

Also the RDL's I did Monday really made my back hurt and doing the deadlifts really exacerbated the problem. Injuries suck.

Box Squat
Warm Up (45, 95)

We got some sweet new boxes so I wanted to try them out.

Attempted some power cleans but my back hurt too much.

1 game against a nationally ranked women's club Frisbee team (the level above college), yeah...it was hard. We lost. By a lot. Super fun regardless!

And now Max out week YAY!
Warm Up (45, 65, 85)
95 x 3
125 x 2
135 x 2
145 x 1
155 faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaail

I was feeling good about the squat so I decided to go up to 145, that one didn't feel like my max effort so I tried 155 and failed my first set of squats ever. It was pretty embarrassing! Good news is though, my goal was to get 155 by April and I think I can get it well before then.

Pause Squat
Warm Up (45)

Did my old physical therapy routine for my back since it still hurts a little. It's not a bad core workout so there's that too.

Yes this was exactly what I was thinking of, thank you! Though I never saw people incline their feet for it.

I've always done pull ups with a pronated grip so maybe I'll try with the palms facing eachother first.

Yeah I might just do them outside of practice and lifting. Sent you a link to my template in a PM!


I've always done pull ups with a pronated grip so maybe I'll try with the palms facing eachother first.

There is a handle thing for pronated grip. You could probably put it over the smith bar / bar in a power rack for inverted rowing, too. Hardest variant I've seen is feet inclined on a gym ball with plate on chest lol.

Nice squatting.


I'll add in a better update later (especially since this thread is how I'm keeping track of my workouts since losing my notebook...) but I just wanted to post the deadlift I did today because I'm unduly happy about it. Two plates makes me feel like kind of a legit person!

Tried to get 235 after since 225 was so easy...I didn't get it and was kind of disappointed but not enough to actually get me down.


Nice lift!