T Nation

Mkral's Log


Seems like a good idea to start one. So far I have a simple spreadsheet doc that started in Jan (When I first started an actual program, 5/3/1). Even that simple history to look at has been a great help, and is easily referenced. It also does some math for me, such as 1RM estimations, days since I last did a certain accessory, etc. Anyways, a bit about where I am at and where I am going:

I lifted like a jackass on and off since 2005. Had some success with Bench Press (325 @ 200 body weight or so). Didn't squat more than a month at a time. Never deadlifted. Never really had a clue or bothered to obtain a clue, about how to build a good long term program. Then I joined this site, and instantly got recommended 5/3/1.

I then spent a couple months starting Jan 2011 easing in to squats and deads, working on form more than anything. I got comfortable with where my form and my 1RM estimates were and dove into 5/3/1. I have had some good success with it, my current (estimated) 1RM's:

Squat: 455 (Half squat at best. Best full squat would be around 350 Id guess)
Bench: 375 (estimated, best at this time 350)
Deadlift: 475 (estimated, best at this time 405 or 425)

Now, for my goals. For the short term (6-12 months), I want to basically just work at adding strength. I don't care what my body weight does (currently sitting at a fat 230-240, 5'9"). I don't care about other athletic goals (yet). The shortest term goal I have is probly to hit a 405 bench raw. Speaking of, I have never used equipment and I most likely won't, unless I progress further into competing than I foresee.

My long term goal is a little more vague. I don't really know at the moment, but I know I want to not be a scrawny bastard, but I also want to be healthy. Athletically, I might putz around with MMA/Football/Rugby, time will tell. I just turned 25. For now, just gonna see where powerlifting takes me.

Edit: updating some goals, and keeping a gym PR record on this post.

Short term goals: July meet, going for +100 pounds from October meet = 1265 total
Long term goals: Weight: 198. Squat: 500. Bench: 405. Deadlift: 600. Military: 275. All raw. I still have no interest in geared lifting.

PR Track (This will include 1 rep PR's and my highest estimated maxes by my own formula: Weight/0.978^Reps)

Squat: 405x2 (1-23-12)

Bench: 375x1 (1-29-12)
Bench: 360x2 (1-29-12)
Bench: 315x8 (12-19-11)

Deadlift: 475x1 (6-30-11)
Deadlift: 415x7 (6-10-11)

Military: 225x1 (6-10-11)
Military: 205x3 (6-21-11)

Might update this with other things if I get bored again, I dunno.


5/18: Chest/Tri

Bench Press
350x2 (A third rep went up, slowly. The guy spotting me denied taking anything off, but I think he gave me some help, definately was stuck for a second)

DB press
100x5 four sets (I forgot the term, plyometric or something? 4 count lowering the weights, then exploding up)

superset with Kroc rows
100x20 four sets

Reverse Grip Bench Press

Never done reverse grip, figured I'd give it a shot, seems like a nice replacement for dips, which I used to love, but can't do anymore, they make me feel like my sternum is gonna shoot out of my chest, even unweighted.


5/19 Legs

Back Squat


Calf Raises (on a leg press machine)
430x30 four sets

superset with

Leg Extensions (machine)
14x5 four sets

I don't have a training partner at all, and I can't seem to gauge for myself if I'm going deep enough on squats. At this time I probly have to assume I'm not. One of the ways I've tried to gauge my depth is to go down to a certain pinhole on the squat rack with the bar, so I can keep my eyes forward (head up). This has led to my knees floating out in front of my feet, so I am going that low with the weight, but it's not parallel, and terrible for my knees, I'm told. Gonna have to do some research and form tweaking here.


5/21 Shoulders

Standing Military

Never done these before, I've always stuck to seated dumbbells and smith machine stuff. This is a good thing, as my puny estimated 191 max can only go one way now.

superset with 4 sets of pull-ups

Seated Dumbbell Overhead Press

superset with 4 sets of preacher curls

Wanted to do more than this, but I had some time constraints and tomorrow is gonna be a big day: first time ever doing heavy singles on deadlift. My estimated max there is 485, but I don't think I have the hamstrings for that yet, shooting for at least 455.


5/22 Deads

455x1 (straps)
put on a belt and failed 480 twice

Leg Curls

Plate pinches
45# hold for 30 seconds, rest for 30 seconds x 4

455 felt nice and easy, but slower and a little bit of shake in my hamstrings. 480 stuck just below the knees twice, it's irritating because I know I can get it, but didn't today. I'm fairly sure my hamstrings are the weak link at the moment, and obviously my grip, which I'm workin on.

Anyways, this is my first max attempt ever for deadlift so I can't be too pissed.

  1. Yes, I used straps, my grip blows.

Other than that, any comments/critiques are welcome. Would like to know if this would pass in a comp.


5/24 Chest/tris

365x1 PR
380 failed

DB press

superset with 4 sets of chin ups

rope pull downs
4 sets of 10

365 was easy, felt good for 1-2 more. On the 380 attempt, my hamstring cramped up. Lower back and hammys are still fried from the last workout. At any rate, that 365 sets a new PR.


Turned an ear infection into a week long deload. Back at it tomorrow.


6/1 Legs

Back Squats

My goal coming in today was to overcheck my form, I don't think I've ever squatted to parallel before. I set my sights on 50 total reps at good depth, which I met. The weights felt like damn feathers once I was out of the hole, as my half squat was around 500. I expect fast gains here, going forward with 5/3/1 with a 350 training max.

I jumped the gun by a day or two coming back as well, was definately still sick. Blew my nose and just about passed out from lightheaded-ness. Also short on sleep, and didn't eat today yet, and excuses aside, my full squat is not strong.

That said, I'll take what I can get here.


Decided on a first competition to take a shot at, its just BP and DL, no squat, and is late October. Planning to push 400+ and pull 550+ at 220.

Vid for my horrendous squats:

I can already point out a few things I need to work on. Again any comments are welcome on how to make this better.


6/2 Shoulders

Standing Overhead

superset with pull-ups 4 sets of 10

Incline barbell press

Kinda in the same boat with SOHP, I don't want to jump into 5/3/1 until I have a useful max. on the 210, I had a little wobble in my back/hips, I was focused on not locking my knees or pushing off with them. The shoulder strength is way, way in front of my core/stability for this exercise. I wanted some more volume, but I wasn't feeling the greatest yet, and someone else wanted the rack.


Well, my gym is closed and I saw some interesting progress graphs in another thread. And I'm kindof a nerd. Gonna turn my log into a place to rant some crap for a minute.

I tallied up my PRs based on Jims 1RM estimation formula, and graphed the results. Its pen and paper, so no visual, but the results were quite clear. I eyeballed a "line of best fit" for my deadlift and bench. I don't have useful data for squat due to form change, or OHP cuz I just started it. Also the meet I have planned is only a push/pull.

The results show, over 120 days, I've added 0.58 pounds per day to my deadlift, and 0.23 pounds per day to my bench.

Couple disclaimers, though: First off, I'm still seeing beginner gains in deadlift, I'd never done em until Jan 2011. Second, my bench PR's might be happening partially to me not being as much of a lazy bastard, and actually attempting rep PR's instead of just grinding away the same reps/weight.

Anywho, extrapolating those numbers, Ill be pressing 423, and pulling 566 by that meet, which meets my goals.


6/5 Deads


Leg Curls
2 sets

That last Deadlift set gassed me out, had I known one more rep woulda put my estimated max over 500, I might have squeezed it out. But, I need a beer.


You really need to learn how to sit back and use your hips, i.e. your knees are coming way to far forward and its slacking the stronger muscle groups.

Some cues are tapping to a low box to get used to getting back onto the box a bit, without doing a full on box squat, or putting a board in front of your feet so if you come too far forward your knee will push it over.

I've even used my hand in front of peoples knee's and say when your knee touches my hand, push your hips back and keep your chest up.

Good luck and I think if you experiment and find your sweet spot, your squat will jump up about 100lbs overnight.


I may try the board in front of my feet thing, and this is definitely one of the things that I saw for myself once I looked at the video. While I was doing this set, I thought my biggest problem was hitting depth consistently, which it is, I think I hit parallel maybe 3/5 on that vid. But, I noticed my knees still pushing way too far forward. I know I need to sit back more, but I feel like I'm barely keeping balance, like I will topple over backwards if I adjust it too far.

Something I need to work on with lighter weights until I get a feel, I imagine. Thank you for the input, I truly appreciate it.


6/6 Chest/Tris



Pretty light day. I wanted to rep out 295 for 10-12 but I was pretty hungover and in between two work shifts. I'm pretty happy with 295x6 on a bad day. Didn't do any pulling today, I'm thinkin I might add in a back/bi day tomorrow.


6/8 Legs

Back Squat

Chest Supported Rows

Again focusing on my form for squats, but I wanted some higher weights this time, too see if it was consistent. The best looking rep all day was at 315. Did some catch up work with rows instead of leg accessories.


315: this was probly the best rep of the day

365: heaviest I went, still better than last week


6/9 shoulders/chest

Standing Overhead Press
225x1 (very ugly)
225x1 (a little less ugly)


Im going to post vids for the two singles at 225, so I have evidence of just how damn ugly they were. I have to quit being lazy and work on my core.

I wanted to squeeze some bench in, because I'm off on vacation for a week tomorrow, and just took a week off only 9 days ago.


The ugly bastard:

The not quite as ugly bastard. Tried a different angle, that didn't work out so well either

Note: weighed 224. Im eating whatever I want, and not doing any conditioning/cardio, and my weight keeps dropping. Might be competing at 198 in October after all.