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Middle Age Log - Strength (5/3/1), Cardio and Health

Goals are to get a bit stronger, a bit faster, and a bit healthier fighting off the aging process

The basic stats January 2021:
Height: 6’4"
Weight: 210
Age: 44

The basic strength lifts I’m using for 5/3/1 cycle 1 started in December 2020
Deadlift- 260x5
Incline Press 175x5
Safety Squat 165x5
No overhead barbell press (I’m too tall and ceilings are too low).

Short term goals over the next few months
Deadlift 305x5
Incline Press 200x5
Safety Squat 225x5


The background…

I’ve trained plenty over the years in bits and spurts, but with young kids I had really made it less a priority until last year. I had ballooned up to over 240 lbs at one point, and my health was pretty terrible, so I began walking and running about 3 years ago, and then last year I started getting slowly back in to lifting, while getting my diet under control. I was able to get pretty lean (12% at 200 lbs) and reach some strength goals.

With the strength training this past year, I first started just doing trap bar deadlifts, pushups and pullups. Came in to things super weak, with my max trap bar high handle deadlift being 230 pounds, and 2 pullups. By September I had improved the trap bar lift to 335, and my pullups to 16, at a bodyweight of 200 lbs losing over 25 lbs through consistent diet, and work in the weight room and cardio.

Balance is my goal at this age. At the moment I want to get a bit stronger while maintaining a body weight in that 205-210 range. I workout 6 days a week, 3 days of strength training, and 3 days of moderate cardio work.

I did SS in the past, but got attracted to 5/3/1 because the amount of flexibility in the programing, and working with sub-maximal weights seemed like a good thing at my age. Right now I am doing a small variation of 5/3/1 program for beginners. Beginner because I haven’t squatted in almost 6 years, and that lift is really weak. Haven’t done a barbell bench press or deadlift in equally as long, but at least had been training those patterns some in the past year.

I put some shorter term goals I’d like to hit before I turn 45 this year.

Summary of 1st cycle 5/3/1

I followed a beginner routine found on /r fitness that prescribes FSL 5x5 after main work. I did a variety of assistance work, mostly bodyweight stuff (pullups, pushups, planks, etc).
Training maxes to start this round were:

  • Deadlift 273 lb
  • Incline Press 183.7 lb
  • Safety Bar Squat 183.7 lb

And just to summarize the first cycle, I’ll put the max lifts for each ‘plus’ set during

  • Week 1 – Squat 155x7, Deadlift 230x8, Incline Press 155x9
  • Week 2 – Squat 165x8, Deadlift 245x7, Incline Press 165x8
  • Week 3 – Squat 175x6, Deadlift 260x6, Incline Press 175x7

Overall very pleased with round 1. Each of these lifts improved over the original test (if you use an estimated 1RM).

5/3/1 - Cycle 2 - Started 1/8/2021

Training Maxes for this cycle

  • Deadlift - 283
  • Incline BP - 189
  • Squat - 194

65% 5, 75% 5, 85% 5+ for Week 1…

Summary of Workout #1 - 1/8/2021

Squat - 125x5, 145x5, 165x9 , 5 sets @ 125x5
Incline BP- 122.5x5, 142.5x5, 160x8 , 5 sets @ 122.5x5
Assistance, Pullups *8,8,7,7,6, plank 60s holds, and back extensions

Summary of Workout 2 - 1/10/2021
Deadlift 185x5, 210x5, 240x9, 5 sets @ 185x5
Assistance: KB clean and press, Incline sit ups

Now I’m all caught up, next lifting session is tomorrow.

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Cycle 2 - Week 1 - Workout 3

Squat - 125x5,145x5,165x10
- 125x5 5 sets

Assistance work , all body weight, Speed Skaters, Pushups and chin-ups.

The 165x10 is a PR since I got back to doing squats. Looking back at my old training logs, the last time I really squatted was 2013 at age 36 with Starting Strength. I was 30 lbs heavier, and not in a good way back then. I see 245x5, 250x5 in my log before I stopped doing squats because of shoulder issues. Still a long ways off from those numbers, and taking a different path this time around.

Cardio/Conditioning - I have a pretty set schedule of row/bike 2x a week, and run 1x a week.
Yesterday’s conditioning work was a 3.5 mile run with an average 11:37 pace.

This is my typical conditioning work on the days I don’t lift:

Row/Stationary Bike 30-60 min 2x a week. I typically do some rowing intervals after getting warmed up. Typically 500m x 1 min rest, or 60/60. I follow this up with lots of slow cardio. I test a 2000m row every few months and have an intermediate goal of getting my time under 7:20 (my best is a 7:30).

I run once a week 30-60 min when the weather cooperates. Not working on much improvement here at the moment. I’ve found running more than once a week along with the weightlifting burns me out, or requires me to take a too much weight off the bar to make any actual progress. I tend to keep most of these runs pretty slow, but will occasionally throw in some shorter bursts of speed (fartleks) if I’m feeling good. Along the same lines as the rowing, I test a 5K run every few months, and my current goal is to get it under 27 minutes.

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Cycle 2 - Workout 4 - Squat - Incline Press

  • Squat - 135x3,155x3,175x7
    • 5 sets of 135x5
  • Incline Bench Press - 135x3, 150x3, 170x8
    • 5 sets of 135x5

Assistance: 10 x 5 Pullups, Planks

The 170x8 on the incline press was another PR. The squat is not moving like I though it would, I keep anticipating the weight to feel lighter than it is. I have a bit of hip pain/discomfort when I internally rotate my hips, and at the bottom of the squat. This has popped up in the past before, may necessitate more rest nsaids… I do plenty of mobility work in the hips already, but might want to leave it alone for a couple days.

Cycle 2 - Workout 5 - Deadlift

  • Deadlift: 205x3,225x3, 255x7, Joker: 275x3

    • 3 sets of 205x5
  • Kb Overhead Press 3 sets of 6 @ 45lb, 1 set of 4 @ 55 lb

Assistance: Leg Raises, Calf Raises, Back Extensions, Incline Situps

Hip felt really good, and generally felt great during the deadlifts. The 255x7 is another small PR over the prior week. My grip seemed to be the limiting factor on that set of deadlifts. I then did a joker set for the first time, adding 20 pounds to the lift for 3 reps. That felt heavy, but I didn’t think I had anything past that set, so went back to FSL. For the presses, instead of clean and presses , I just did straight kettlebell presses. Assistance work was mostly trunk work.

Conditioning prior day. 4x500m/1:00 on the rower, avg 1:51.3. Then ~4000m low HR on the rower, and 10 min on the bike low HR.

Cycle 2 - Workout 6 - Incline Press

Incline Press 135x3,155x3, 170x9

  • Jokers: 180x3, 190x3, 200x3
  • 5 Sets of 135x5

Assistance - Chins and Pull ups 10 sets of 5 , Rollouts, 4x12

I decided not to squat today. My hip was feeling okay, but think I need to give it a good few more days of rest before diving back in to the squats. Gave me the opportunity to really go for it on the incline press today and hit a new PR. I did joker sets and tried some heavier work since I had the extra time , ended with 200x3, and 210x1.

Hey, looks like you’re going down a familiar road! Good luck, and don’t let the setbacks derail you.

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Conditioning work the last few workouts has been primarily on the rower:

1/19 60/60 Intervals x8. Avg 289m, 1:46.6 + 20 minutes moderate pace row

1/21 10k row moderate pace 45:59

Cycle 2 - workout 7
Squat - 145x5, 165x3, Stopped because of hip pain
Bench - 5 sets of 142.5x5

Assistance : Pullups - 8x6 (8 sets of 6), Incline Sit-ups - 4x15, Back Extensions 4x15

So squatting is going to be a no go for a bit. I probably should have slowed down a week ago, so now I am waiting for the hip pain to go away completely. This may also mean that I will likely not deadlift this week either. Both squat and deadlift seem to exacerbate the pain. I didn’t mark it down, but I did a few sets of lunges and felt zero hip pain, so I think I can sub that out without causing any issues with recovery.

As far as deadlift, I may be able to RDLs without causing any hip issues, but need to test this a bit. I’ll keep moving the bench press forward, with the same 5/3/1 strength protocol, but it may be a week or two till I can squat with zero pain again.

Rather then looking at this as a setback , looking this as an opportunity to get better at some single leg work which has been missing from my programming.