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MarkKO's Training Log

I think what makes it hard to find out is that you’ve got to figure out what works for you as well as what works for each lift.

So if higher volume is something that quickly burns you out, bench and squat will probably be harder to grow because they tend to thrive on volume, for example.

I also think you’d be hard pushed to find a better set of foundation principles than 531. A lot of the new stuff Jim puts out seems a little overly generalised for me - but that’s hardly surprising because I get the impression that Jim is focusing more on younger athletes who either or both have little to no experience or are focused on athletic performance. I like the leader/anchor approach, though. I think that is the last piece of the puzzle for me.

I don’t care about my jumps or throws or my dash time. I’m more concerned about my joints working as they should and having enough work capacity to get through my training and do whatever physical tasks I might encounter without sucking wind while getting stronger and having a decent physique. The latter is diet and the first point is basically warming up and stretching properly, so training only needs to take care of strength, work capacity and some size, and strength and size at this stage are pretty much inextricably linked for me so the only addition I need is the work capacity. As far as I can tell doing something once a week that isn’t weighted and leaves me gasping will do the job.

I realise I’m partly guilty of ignoring some of the principles, but I’m comfortable with that. I’m not going to do something just because Jim says I should - especially if it would detract from what I want to achieve.


Trained with Stephen again today. Got through quick, and we pushed each other for reps on pump work.

Today’s training

Lazy lifter plus shoulders

Bench press

25 pull aparts between warmup sets one to three

5x198 lbs, under 6 RPE
3x220 lbs, under 6 RPE
1x247 lbs, 6-7 RPE
1x264 lbs, 7-8 RPE
1x286 lbs, 8-9 RPE
1x302 lbs, 10 RPE - ugly, bounced but I don’t care. Best bench relative to bodyweight so far: 1.47 times bodyweight
0x302 lbs, paused - wanted to see where I fail

Right arm seemed a bit lazy, but no pain. Very pleased with where bench is going right now.

Dips 50 total reps: 20 (pleased AF), 12, 10, 12

Kroc rows 100 lbs 25 L+R - grip wasn’t up to much today

Supersetted Fat Gripz BB shrugs/hammer curls

Shrugs 100 total reps at 154 lbs: 31, 26, 21, 22
Curls 50 total reps at 25 lbs: 20, 16, 20

Couldn’t feel my forearms after this.

10 minutes on the stairmill at level 6


Probably round about now would be a good time to do some kind of year’s end wrap-up. I’m squatting later today, but I’m twiddling my thumbs at work so I figured I’d do something productive.

Let’s start with highlights and lowlights.


  • got engaged
  • got a proper job that I can stay at and be proud of and that lets me provide for my family better
  • I got some Spiritual Beggars albums for the car
  • started using 5/3/1
  • learned how to forward roll
  • finally got my shit together in respect of nutrition and started to get leaner
  • squatted 500 lbs for one, 440 lbs for 10 and 407 lbs for 15 all in sleeves
  • deadlifted 600 lbs for one, 550 lbs for two and 500 lbs for five
  • benched 302 lbs for one three times at successively lower bodyweights
  • military pressed 198 lbs for one
  • hit 30 reps per arm on 100 lbs Kroc rows
  • realised bodybuilding is the way to go for assistance and finally got a bit more muscular
  • found a way to do pull-ups without hurting my elbows


  • went through three months of straight night shifts that made life at home very hard on everyone
  • was a real #$%@ to my other half during a short vacation for no good reason I could fathom
  • strained my left bicep two weeks out from a meet and couldn’t barbell bench for about a month

On balance a very good year indeed.

In terms of an actual wrap-up, I’m stronger, leaner and more muscular than at the beginning of the year. I also have a better understanding of what training and nutrition works for me, which I think is the reason for the results I’ve gotten. My total went up by around 55 lbs and my ability to plan my meets improved.

Time to address next year. I think I have another six months or so of calorie deficit until I reach the body composition I want (basically no love handles and reasonably visible abs. Hopefully 15% will do it). That will probably put me around 195 lbs, so for my next meet in July 2017 I’ll be competing in the 198s and a total anywhere between 1430 lbs and 1450 lbs will be both acceptable and realistic. I’d like 1500 lbs, but I think that milestone (such as it is) will hinge largely on my bench in meet going well over 315 lbs and my deadlift in meet hitting 600 lbs, which will take more than seven months from now to happen. I don’t see myself coming off 531 at any time soon, although I may not go straight back into a leader/anchor approach post meet. I’m still playing with the idea of doing a few months of the Training Maximally approach in the second half of 2017 - in fact what is vaguely coalescing in my mind as an ongoing year-long plan is to run a leader/anchor/peaking approach for six to seven months pre-meet and then a few months of Training Maximally. That would work given I don’t like competing that often at the moment. That will change once I get more competitive, but that itself will likely only come by 2019 or so.

Then will come my set point reset, which I’m guesstimating will take about a year - I’ll have to figure out my calories for that, but I think I’ll start at the low end of my maintenance calories and see how things go and adjust upwards as/if needed. My macro breakdown I don’t see needing to change from what I’m using now (double bodyweight protein, 20% of calories from fat, remaining calories from carbs). The main reason I want to spend a fair while letting my body adjust to being at 15% instead of going straight into gaining is so that when I do start adding calories to gain size my body will be more likely to add more muscle than fat.

There you go, that’s my next year planned out.


A lot more highlights than lowlights!

Congrats on a great year, time to take it up a notch in 2017!!

Merry Christmas!


Thanks mate, and to you and a happy new year as well.

Last official training of 2016 bar what I’ll do on the 27th and some bodyweight work here and there. Wasn’t feeling as chipper as I’d wanted, mostly because yesterday was a solid session I think.

Today’s training

Lazy lifter plus shoulders - I’m getting better at bodyweight squatting


12 TRX fatman pull-ups between first three warmup sets - need to up this to 15, these literally were no effort at all

5x357 lbs, under 6 RPE
3x407 lbs, under 6 RPE
1x451 lbs, 6-7 RPE
1x473 lbs, 8-9 RPE
1x500 lbs, 9-10 RPE - equal sleeve PR, albeit at around 10 lbs lower bodyweight. Briefly considered attempting a second, but sanity prevailed.

BB RFESS 50 total reps at 132 lbs: 12 (bar on back), 12, 10 (both Frankenstein grip, very nice bar the choking), 16 (bar on back)

Elbows hinted that they would appreciate no further bar on back today by this time. We would have used the SSB but it was in use.

90 degree back raise 100 total reps: 35, 40, 30

Supersetted calf raises/leg raises

Calves 100 total reps at 132 lbs: 25, 25, 25, 25
Leg raises 50 total reps, first five reps all shins to bar: 15, 15, 10, 10

At the very least I am not weaker than I was in September, and I’m around 10 lbs lighter and considerably leaner. I’m content with what I have achieved this year, and I definitely have more in me so onwards I shall go and build on all this.

Here’s to a strong and lean 2017.


Speaking to the bodybuilding for assistance…

I like it.
To not waste training time, what do you think, bodybuilding wise, has had the best carryover to strength for you?

I would say Kroc rows (duh), curls (seriously, my bench just seems to feel better when I curl regularly) and probably back raises in terms of making my back happy.

Not that I think all the other things don’t carry over, it’s just those are three that I don’t ever see myself subbing out. T-bar and RFESS rows I haven’t done enough to know, but I think they’ll get on the list as well.

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What’s a RFESS row?

Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat, so not a row. Nasty, but effective. I need to read what I post before posting.

Is it the elevated foot or the front one you feel those in? I tried them like a year ago and they just didn’t feel right but I want to add some single leg work in.

Front one, elevated foot gets a massive hip/groin stretch. Although, I’m noticing that you very quickly adapt to this. First couple of times I did it blew my legs up using 50 lbs DBs. Now with 132 lbs on my back/front it’s just work. I’ve read that though - adaption to single leg is fast, so you rapidly need to increase load.

For me, I think I’ll stick at 132 lbs until I knock out sets of 20 per leg. Then I’ll go up.

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Merry Christmas to one and all. Also happy Festivus. And Chanukah.

General happiness and PRs.


The savoury parts of lunch are done (roast pork shoulder, roast pumpkin and carrot, goat curry, 12 hour slow cooked lamb shank in alcoholic ginger beer, rice, pork mince wrapped in bacon with curry sauce). So far on target with macros and calories - I decided to be that guy, but only to the extent of tracking and trying to stay within my target. Things are going so well I figured it would be worth the effort to do this.

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Now, I know I set out a broad plan for 2017 but I think I also want some arbitrary targets to shoot for along the way, because it makes life a bit interesting. In no particular order:

  • squat 500 lbs in sleeves for five
  • bench 302 lbs for a triple
  • DL 528 lbs for five
  • 10 chest to bar pull-ups/chin-ups
  • military press my bodyweight (that’ll be interesting given I’m not focusing on it as a main lift)

Felt antsy for some kind of work, but equally eager to stick to my no-barbell decision for the holiday period. Went across the road to the outdoor gym at the park.

Today’s training

Lazy lifter

Pull-ups, chest to ‘bar’: 4, 4, 4, 4

Definitely ready for fives next cycle

Dips 50 total reps: 20, 10, 10, 10

Supersetted with

Towel fatman pull-ups, feet elevated by about 6 inches after set one: 15, 10, 10, 10

Among other things I got a pair of Elite FTS normal knee wraps (2.5 m). They remind me a bit of the fabric used for the Reactive Slingshot. I’m now playing around and seeing how many revolutions I get with various degrees of cranking.

No tension, just snug: six - four around and an X
Slight tension: eight - four around, an X and two around
High tension: 10 - four around, an X and four around
Maximal tension: 12 - four around, an X and six around

At every level of tension they are surprisingly comfortable.

From just how it felt without any weight, high tension should be a pretty good sweet spot for stopping power and rebound. Maximal tension feels like it’ll have massive stopping power, not sure about rebound because it feels like the wraps are stretched to their absolute limit.

Either way, I’m happy with these. They’ll be my wraps for weeks one to three of peaking pre meet, and in weeks four and five I’ll move to my red Slingshots and try to get eight revolutions out of them (four around, an X and two around). It may change when I actually use them, but I don’t see how the EFTS normals will give more rebound than the red Slingshots simply because of how stiff the Slingshots are.

Ended up going to the park near the in-laws with munchkin and his cousins. It also has an outdoor gym, so we all ended up mucking around. I did some more pull-ups (I think maybe 12 or so), some dragon flags (some fives), some shins to bar and some dips. To my surprise (and satisfaction) my elbows didn’t say shit.

Then we ended up trying to climb these 4-odd metre high vertical poles around two inches in diameter with a bell at the top. Turns out I can get to the top - twice. Massively pleased.

Congrats on your bench pr man.Even the paused rep moving is a big win imo

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Thanks. I agree, bench is moving in the right direction. Taking a full week away from the bar probably won’t help in the short term, but my body and head are enjoying the break. Doing dips and pull-ups will be enough to maintain things I think. Hope you had a good Xmas.