Old Guy Doing 5/3/1

Update for 1/1/2019:

Age: 53 (54 on the 6th)
Height: 5’7"
Weight: 204#
Program: Light weights whole body for a few weeks, then back to 5/3/1, with conditioning bias while at caloric deficit, want to lose weight and see abs again by June 1st for the t-ransformation2019 challenge. After that, I’ll change to a strength bias and try to clean bulk and get strength back up for another strongman competition, and maybe a powerlifting competition, this year.

Best 1RM’s (November 2017):
Squat 425#
Deadlift 455# (did 475# axle wagon wheel deadlift several times in September and October getting ready for a strongman comp I ended up dropping out of due to injury).
Overhead Press 195#
Bench 2x235# December 2017

I’ve had several layoffs of anywhere from 3-5 months over the last 5 years, since I’ve been in Kansas. My most recent layoff was from the middle of October 2018 when I hurt my knee, until January 1st 2019.
End of update.

Okay, I’ve been reading T-Nation articles for a while now, and I finally decided to join up, since this looks like a good place to post my log, and checking out the training logs of strong people is a great motivation to me, to see what’s achievable.

First, a little about me, I’m pretty old (turned 49 in January) and, worse than that, I didn’t really start training to be strong until about 5 years ago. When I was younger, I was more into swimming and running, and only toyed around with weights at best. About 8 years ago a friend got me into Crossfit, and I had a lot of fun with that for a while.

I go balls deep in whatever I’m doing, so I had some great success with Crossfit, got strong(er), got really fit and got ripped to shreds, looked better than I ever did before… I also got injured, over and over. I don’t completely blame Crossfit for my injuries, but rather my tendency to go all-out at whatever I do, combined with my unwillingness to acknowledge that I’m not as young or resilient as I used to be.

Also, not all of the injuries were directly from Crossfit. I also dislocated my left shoulder and broke my right arm snowboarding (2 separate incidents). I decided something needed to change.

The best thing Crossfit did for me, I realized, was introduce me to doing real barbell lifts. Of everything I got out of it, the thing that I valued the most was the improved strength, so I decided to focus on that. I bought Starting Strength, got decent at all the big lifts, and got a little stronger. Then I bought the 5/3/1 e-book, and continued to get stronger, and decided I wanted to compete in powerlifting.

In December 2012 I set a goal, to compete at the California Games in San Diego in July, and started working toward that, following 5/3/1 (at this time I also bought 5/3/1 for Powerlifting, and incorporated that into my work). Then my ego got the better of me again, and I hurt myself trying to test my rep maxxes back in April of 2013, tried to bench 255# without a spotter, and completely detached my left pectoral muscle from my shoulder.

In July, when I should have been competing in my first PL competition, I was instead getting reconstructive surgery on my left shoulder. On the plus side, all the lifting I’ve done over the last few years has apparently done wonders for my bone density - The orthopedic surgeon told me he had to try half a dozen times before he got the staples to penetrate my bone enough to anchor the tendons… so, a win there, I guess?

The doc also told me to wait at least 6 months to get under a bar and bench press, and also told me not to do anything else that would seriously tax the attachment, so I spent a few months just piddling around. Then in December, I started doing some 5x5’s with light weights to get an idea how strong I was and get my muscles used to bearing weight again.

In January I picked a week, some doable weights, and did as many reps as I could comfortably make of each main lift to calculate a starting max, then on 1/27/14 I restarted 5/3/1.

Fast forward 4 months, and I just wrapped up the first week of my 5th cycle of 5/3/1. So far I’ve been successful in keeping my ego in check and following the program, doing the recommended jumps each cycle even though I’m sure my training maxxes are well below what my actual maxxes would be if I tested them. I want to give my joints and connective tissue time to adapt, and I don’t want to go and break myself again and destroy all the progress I’ve made.

I am still going to compete in a PL competition, but now I’m looking at the beginning of next year so I don’t get in a hurry and do something stupid to myself.

So, where I am now: I weighed 194# this morning, down from almost 200# when I started lifting again in January. I was sitting around 185# last April when I hurt myself, and the extra weight I’ve put on since then has obviously not been the good kind. I’m 5’7", and I’m not that worried about what weight class I compete in, so I’m just going to work hard, eat well and see where I land.

So here’s what I’m doing on all my workout days, as a baseline, in addition to the primary lifts:
Press day: 1-arm dumbbell press for my primary assistance, then weighted pull-ups, shrugs and curls.
Deadlift day: Power cleans before the deadlifts. Front squats for primary assistance, then Kroc rows and core work (back extensions, sit-ups, toes to bar and planks, mixed up however I feel for the day).
Bench day: Boring but big bench for primary assistance, then weighted dips and triceps extensions.
Squat day: Power cleans before the squats. Boring but big squats for primary assistance, then leg curls and core work (same as deadlift day).
Conditioning is generally 2-3 days a week, after normal workout. Iâ??ll do farmerâ??s walks, waiter carries, sprints or 400m intervals with 2 minute rests. I also walk from 1-3 miles a day walking my dogs (with a little running thrown in on the walks), and occasionally will do a real LSD run if I leave the older, slow dog at home.

And here’s my work for this last week:
Monday 5-19-14 - 5/3/1 - 5’s week, Press: 12x120#, accessory work. Conditioning: BB waiter carries, DB farmer carries.

Tuesday 5/20/14 - 5/3/1 - 5’s week, deadlift: 11x250#, accessory work. No conditioning, had to cut short to get home in time for dinner with wife.

Thursday 5/22/14 - 5/3/1 - 5’s week bench press: 14x140#, Accessory work. Conditioning: single-shoulder DB carries 60#; 1-arm farmer carries 65#.

Friday 5/23/14 - 5/3/1 - 5’s week squat: 11x220#, accessory work. conditioning: 10x30m sprints.

Currently my bench is really low compared to my press, but that was an intentional choice when I figured my initial training maxxes. I’m currently jumping my max up by 10# on bench each cycle, instead of 5, and I’ll keep doing that until my reps start going down a little. Right now I’m not logging my warmup sets or work-up sets on the main lifts, or the numbers on my assistance work, but once I actually change the weights a bit more I’ll start.

I see you’re from kansas. If it’s the kansas city area I highly recommend checking out Stone and Barbell Club. That gym is the tits.

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I’m not close enough for regular training there, about 90 minutes away, but I’m definitely close enough to make a trip and check it out. Thanks for the recommendation! It looks like there might also be a decent gym in Topeka, which is quite a bit closer to me, but I haven’t gone exploring much yet since I just got off a schedule of 12-hour days 6 days a week, and haven’t had much time for driving anywhere but home, work and the gym.

I’m pretty lucky with what I have, though. I live in a town of under 3000, but the county is pretty well-funded because of the power plant here, so they have a county recreation center that has way more than a small town like this would normally be able to support. It has a full basketball court, a 25m indoor pool, an indoor running track and a weight room with a squat rack (as well as all the normal machines and such, but the squat rack is what I care about), and it’s free to use if you’re a county resident.

Additionally, there is a gym at work that’s not horribly equipped. No squat rack, just a smith machine, but they have 1 bar, so I can do my press and deadlift workouts there. I can clean any weight I can press or front squat, so there’s nothing on those 2 days that I need the rack for.

I eventually plan on equipping a home gym, but I bought an ancient house that I’m rehabbing, and all my home effort (and $) has to be toward fixing the house up, until it’s up to my wife’s standards.

Okay, so the rec center gym was closed yesterday, so I shifted all my workouts for this week by a day… well, mostly. I did run 2 miles yesterday, just to see if I still could hold a sub-10 minute mile pace, and that part of my conditioning still functions, so that’s a good thing.

Anyway, today was 5/3/1 3’s day press.
Press 95x3, 110x3, 125x9. Followed with joker sets 135x3, 145x3, no problem.
Assistance work. Conditioning was BB waiter carry with 115#, 4 carries.

Bought ‘Beyond 5/3/1’ over the weekend. Not going to change too much from what I’m doing, at least not right away. I’ve decided that since my working maxxes are so low right now, I’ll start working in joker sets when I feel up to it. I’m also shifting my order around to 3/5/1 starting next cycle, and I’ll stay away from joker sets on the 5’s week and just go for a volume PR on those days, sort of treat it like a semi-rest week, and go all out on the 1’s and 3’s weeks with the joker sets. One thing I’m NOT planning to do is switch to only doing a rest week every 7 weeks instead of every 4. Working out 4 days a week, and at my age, I think I’m tempting overtraining and injury if I start skimping on rest weeks. After I see how my body handles the addition of joker sets for a few cycles, I’ll decide if I want to do any more tweaks.

Limited time to work out today, too much other stuff to do.

5/28/14 - 5/3/1 3’s day deadlift.
Deadlift 205x3, 235x3, 265x9, Joker sets 285x3, 305x3. No assistance work or conditioning.

Friday 5/30/14 - 5/3/1 3’s week bench
Bench 115x3, 130x3, 150x13, Joker sets 165x3, 175x3
Accessory work; conditioning farmer’s carry 2x70# DB’s, 4 trips.

Saturday 5/31/14 - 5/3/1 3’s week squat
Power Clean 3x135, 3x145, 3x155
Squat 3x180, 3x210, 8x235, Joker set 3x255#

Tweaked my lower back a little on the last rep of the 1st Joker set, sucks because it didn’t feel that heavy. Didn’t do any serious damage and I finished the rep, but it was sore after that so I decided to not push it and really hurt myself, so called it quits. Working on the house for the rest of the day.

Tuesday 6/3/14 - 5/3/1 1’s week press
Press 5x105, 3x120, 5x135, Joker sets 1x145, 1x155, 1x165
Accessory work; conditioning 50# 1 arm DB waiter carries, left hand down length of gym, right hand back, 5 DB swings after each down/back, 3 rounds without ever putting the DB down, was fun and actually had be out of breath.

I was playing this workout by ear, my back felt fine from having tweaked it Saturday, but I was prepared to switch this week to a deload week if it gave me any trouble, but no such problems, felt solid. Press singles felt really strong, probably had another 10# jump in me but decided not to push it today, that’s how I always end up injuring myself. Not sure why my press is getting so much stronger proportionately to my other lifts, especially coming back from shoulder surgery, but I’m only 20# away from a bodyweight press. My previous best before I hurt myself was 1x170#, and I still feel like there’s lots of room for progress. I’m not complaining, but now I need to get all my other lifts to go up like this…

Wednesday 6/4/14 - 5/3/1 1’s week deadlift
Power clean 3x135, 3x145, 3x155
Deadlift 5x220, 3x250, 5x280, Joker sets 1x295, 1x315
Accessory work. No conditioning.

Back up to a 3 plate deadlift, and it was pretty easy. Forcing myself to take it slow and stop without doing another joker set, I have plenty of time to get strong. My back felt okay, but I’m still a little leery of it.

Friday 6/6/14 - 5/3/1 1’s week bench
Bench 5x125, 3x140, 5x155, Joker sets 1x165, 1x175, 1x185.
Accessory work.
Conditioning: 1 arm farmer carries 1x75#, 4 trips down and back, alternating arms.

Saturday 6/7/14 - 5/3/1 1’s week squat
Power Cleans 3x135, 3x145, 3x155
Squat 5x195, 3x220, 5x245, Joker sets 1x265, 1x285. Squats felt much better than last week, I just had to concentrate on staying back on my heels. When I tweaked my back last week I sort of felt myself going forward onto my toes and had to compensate with my back.
Accessory work.
No conditioning, conditioning will be mowing the yard with push mower and weed-eating.

Okay, next week is deload week, so for all intents and purposes this wraps up my 5th cycle since I started back on 5/3/1. Progress is still going awesome, no sign of needing to reset on anything. I’m going to adjust a few small things based on Beyond 5/3/1, but nothing major, since right now everything is working awesomely, and if it ain’t broke…

First, I’m going to switch weeks up, and order it as 3/5/1 - in conjunction with that I’m going to do Joker sets on the 3’s week and 1’s week, and leave the 5’s week for volume. To that end, I’m going to do first set last on 5’s week, as well.

As far as assistance work, not going to change very much.

Press day: Main lift plus joker or FSL; Dumbell press (currently doing 3x10 at 50#); weighted pull-ups (currently 3xmax reps with 25#); shrugs super-setted with curls. Not changing anything here, since my press is getting ridiculously stronger than my other lifts, and honestly stronger than it was before I injured myself.

Deadlift day: Power cleans after warmup 3x3; Main lift plus joker (not going to do FSL on deadlifts); front squat (currently 3x10 at 115#); Kroc rows (currently 25 reps at 60# is the most I’ve done); core work (mixing up situps, back extensions, planks, toes to bar). Not changing anything here since deadlift is still progressing nicely.

Bench day: Main lift plus joker or FSL; BBB Bench (currently 115#); Weighted dips (currently 3x10 with 45#), Tricep extensions ( currently 3x10 w/62.5# of stack of plates), no change here.

Squats day: Power cleans after warmup 3x3; Main lift plus joker or FSL; BBB squats (currently 155#); good mornings (this is a change, was doing leg curls on machine, but the machine is giving me issues, I’m feeling strain in my lower back and I can’t get the machine set to eliminate it; my butt gets pulled forward and strains my lower back, and there’s no way to lock it in. I haven’t done good mornings in a long time, going to start with just the bar and work up from there); core work (same as Deadlift day).

Of course on Press day and Bench day, I’m doing face pulls or rows (on warmup sets) and pullups between working sets and joker sets. Also, I’m sticking with a rest week every cycle, instead of every other, as a nod to my advancing age and reduced recovery ability.

6/10/14 Deload week press/ deadlift
Press 5x55, 5x75, 5x95
Dumbell press 50# 5-5-5
Power Cleans 95# 3-3-3
Deadlift 5x125, 5x155, 5x175
Front squat 85# 5-5-5
No conditioning.

6/13/14 Deload week bench/squat
Power Cleans 95# 3-3-3
Squats 5x105, 5x135, 5x155
Squats 115# 5-5-5
Bench 5x65, 5x85, 5x115
Bench 95# 5-5-5
Conditioning - mowed the yard

6/16/14 5/3/1 cycle 6 day one.

Press 3x100, 3x115, 8x130, Joker sets 3x140, 3x150.
Assistance work.
Conditioning: 3x3 lengths of the gym with 2x70# DB farmer’s carry.

6/17/14 5/3/1 cycle 6 day two.

Power cleans 3x135, 3x155, 3x175
Deadlift 3x210, 3x240, 8x270, Joker sets 3x295, 3x315
Assistance work.
Conditioning: 10x30m sprints.

Okay, 2 really good days.

6/19/14 5/3/1 cycle 6 day 3
Bench 3x125#, 3x140#, 8x160#, Joker sets 3x175#, 3x195#
Assistance work.
Conditioning: 4x115# BB waiter’s carry.

6/20/14 5/3/1 cycle 6 day 4
Power cleans 3x135#, 2x3x155# Didn’t want to overtax my lower back before squats
Squats 3x185#, 3x210#, 8x240#, Joker sets 3x265#, 3x285#
Assistance work.
Conditioning: 5x115m sprints

I was really happy with my bench day, because that was the first time I benched bodyweight since I had my left pec reattached, and I did it for 3 reps pretty easily. It was 11 months to the day since the surgery, and my goal had been to hit bodyweight bench within a year of the surgery, so that’s awesome!

As far as squat day, that’s the first time since I’ve been back that I got under weight that actually scared me a little, since it’s been so long since I moved heavy (for me) weights in the squat, but it wasn’t a problem. Don’t get me wrong, it still felt really heavy to me, but it felt good.

6/23/14 5/3/1 cycle 6 day 5
Press 5x95#, 5x110#, 10x125#, FSL 15x95#
Assistance work.
No conditioning.

I’m thinking the first set last may be adding too much onto the assistance work I’m already doing, because my assistance felt pretty lousy after grinding out 15 reps on the FSL set. Either that, or I’m still feeling the effects of sweating my ass off tearing plaster out of my house in the upstairs rooms with no air conditioning all day Saturday. Whichever, today didn’t feel like a stellar day, but at least I got in there and got the work done.

I think I’m going to stick with just the base work on the 5’s day. The Joker sets didn’t take nearly as much out of me as the FSL seemed to, and I think I may be trying to add too much onto what’s already working. I guess that’s the problem with getting more information, like buying the beyond 5/3/1 book… There are so many good ideas I’d like to incorporate, but I need to just adhere to the K.I.S.S. principle and only change things gradually, as well as take something out when I add something in.

6/24/14 5/3/1 cycle 6 day 6
Power cleans 3x3x135
Deadlift 5x195, 5x225, 10x255
Shortened assistance work.
No conditioning.

Another not so great day. Felt weak from the beginning, but still got through the main lift okay, with 10 reps at the scheduled weight. I was pretty spent after that, so I did 3x10 front squats and then called it a day. This is shaping up to be one of those weeks you just have to get through to get to the other side…

6/26/14 5/3/1 cycle 6 day 7
Bench 5x115, 5x130, 10x150
Assistance work.
Conditioning - 5x 2 hand farmer’s carry, 2x50# DB with fat gripz.

Felt better than I have all week. The 2x50# farmer’s walks weren’t really heavy enough to count as conditioning, but the fat grips wrecked my forearms, so I’m okay with that.