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Sparty's Training Log

I figured it’d be worth it to start more actively/thoroughly logging my sessions. I’m currently doing 5/3/1 and keep track of my main lifts, but not so much on my other work.

I’m currently on my 5th cycle of 5/3/1 for Powerlifting. I started 5/3/1 for the first time in August 2011, but quickly found myself running into problems. Basically I believe I put too much stock in completely busting balls on the last set of every workout, and for someone who needed to nail down proper form first and foremost, it was a recipe for injury. As someone who’d lifted on an off in high school and in college, this was the first time I’d actually gotten serious with training. It should have been a time to start slowly and dial in technique, but I went a little too hard a little to quickly.

After only a few cycles I found myself battling constant lower back issues, and took some time off from squatting and deadlifting in November and December to begin again in January 2012, which is what I did.

I made some personal modifications to prevent the same thing from happening the second time around. Aside from changing to the Powerlifting template (which is sort of a negligible change in the long run), I decided to limit myself on the last set of every day. On 5 days, I limit myself to 7 reps, even if I have more in the tank. On 3 days, I limit myself to 5 reps, and on 1 days, I limit myself to 3 reps. Essentially I created goals of 7, 5, and 3 on each day for the last set, as a way to beat the minimums but keep myself in reasonable rep ranges without form breakdowns due to fatigue.

I’ve just finished the 5/3/1 week of my 5th cycle, and have had no issues making all of the reps with my additional 2 rep system.

Also of note, as I’m preparing for my first powerlifting meet in August, I’ve dropped my deadlift from 5/3/1, and am giving another program a try for that lift. It’s actually a program Andy Bolton published in a T Nation article last summer. I figured he may not be a bad guy to follow.

My current gym PRs are 360 lbs. on the Squat, 355 lbs. Deadlift, 260 lbs. touch and go bench press (255 with a pause), and 180 lbs. on the overhead press. This past week I also hit 355x2 on the squat and called it quits before attempting a PR. Figured I’d finish strong and leave it at that. My body weight hovers right around 180 lbs. give or take a few pounds on a given day. So I was pretty excited this past Thursday when I hit a body weight overhead press, as that had been a goal of time. As a further side note, I’m 24 years old.

My goals for my first meet aren’t anything special, but I’m going to aim for a 1,000 lbs. total in the 181 lbs. division.


My main workouts for the 5/3/1 lifts are generally on Monday (squats), Tuesday (bench), Thursday (deadlift), and Friday (press).

On Saturday I like to do some relatively lighter weight squatting or front squats as a warm up to Power Snatches and Power Cleans. I enjoy practicing the Olympic lifts and feel they’re helpful to supplement my other lifts.

Today I warmed up with front squats:
Bar x 5, 95x5, 135x5, 185x5, 225x3x2, and 275x1

I started with the Power Snatch, doing 95x3x3, 115x3x2, 135x3x2, and 155x3x2.

Afterwards I finished with the Power Clean: 155x3x2, 170x3x2, 185x3x2, and 195x1, which is a PR. It felt pretty good and I probably could have attempted pushing it up a bit higher, but after a good amount of volume I decided to call it quits.

As I’d gone out Friday night to see some friends in New York City, I felt it necessary to pay some time to the cardio gods, so I went for a 60 minute walk at 5 degree incline at 4.1 MPH. Nothing killer, but I needed to work off some beers.

Been reading a lot about Smolov lately and it lines up perfectly with my meet in August…13 weeks out. Anyone have any tips or input for someone thinking about doing Smolov for squats leading up to a meet?

I have no tips or advice to give you cause I’m a perma-n00b, but I think smolov is the bestest/most rewarding program ever!

Hey Sparty,

Smolov is an awesome program; my buddy/ old training partner did it about a year ago leading up to a PL meet in January. I will say, tho, that he made the (I think correct) decision to end the Smolov cycle about 2 months before the meet. The reason for this, and the reason I think this was a good idea, is there’s no way you’d be able to train hard with deadlifts simultaneously with Smolov.

If your deadlift is far-and-away better than your squat (i.e. 25% more), go for it, to bring up the squat. (I think his went from like a 385 to a 415, which doesn’t seem spectacular, but it was the the first time he’d moved from 385 in over 6 months.)

Have you actually scheduled a meet? or did you mean you’d like to get to 1000lbs before you schedule one?

[quote]tareila wrote:
Have you actually scheduled a meet? or did you mean you’d like to get to 1000lbs before you schedule one?

Thanks for the input Tareila. Sorry for lack of clarity above, but yes, I’ve scheduled the meet, and my goal for the meet is a 1,000 lbs. total. That was my one concern regarding trying the Smolov program now, is that it’s exactly 13 weeks out from the meet, so if I finished it entirely, it’d be exactly as planned with the program, but that also fails to account for how beat up I may feel, and how little I’d be able to train my deadlift, which I feel is probably my weakest lift.

With that in mind I think I’m going to hold off on running the whole 13 week cycle until after my meet, when I can 100% focus on it. In the mean time I think I’m going to stick with my current program, but also look into a Westside type split.

I know I have program schizophrenia right now after just starting this log, I’m just trying to get to somewhere that I’m comfortable/confident in before my meet, ideally something I can put a solid 12 weeks in leading up to the meet. Which means, I’d like to have a program set up by next week so I can give it it’s due process before August 11th.

[quote]Spock81 wrote:
I have no tips or advice to give you cause I’m a perma-n00b, but I think smolov is the bestest/most rewarding program ever! [/quote]

Thanks for the reply, that’s how I feel too, Spock, regarding my noob-ness. I plan on running it eventually, but I’m not sure now is the best time. I saw something you said in your log about “it proves to me what I am capable of instead of always feeling like I am not doing enough.”

I think that’s an awesome viewpoint and I look forward to giving the program a try.


Today is the first day of my de-load week on 5/3/1.

I’ve been getting a little antsy lately and didn’t feel like doing a full deload. I did take it pretty easy though.

I was feeling some stiffness in my lower back today, so it took a few extra warm up sets with the bar plus some kettlebell swings to loosen up. I ended up doing the first day of the Smolov Week 1 Intro, just to avoid a full deload, but to also get a little bit of volume at a lower intensity. I’m not sure now is the best time to fully dive into the program, so I think I’ll hold off for now.

My Squat working sets consisted of :

65% - 230x8x3
70% - 250x5
75% - 270x2x2
80% - 285x1

I didn’t do any accessory work as I’d gone heavier than I usually do on a deload. After that I did some light bench speed work to practice my set up and keeping my upperback in position.

I topped out at 3 sets of 3 at 135 (52%) just to keep it light and to groove my bench a little. Following that I just did some foam rolling.

Hey man, I definitely think you’re making the right choice. Good luck with the meet and keep us updated!

Figured I’d add a video or 2 of some recent lifts:

The first is my 5/3/1 squat session from last week. After I’d done my 5/3/1 work I bumped up the weight a little and worked up to 355x2. My 1RM is 360 as of last month, but I feel after hitting 355x2 that I’m closer to 370. This video is 350x2, as I didn’t get the 355x2 on tape.

This video is my 1RM on the overhead press from last Friday. It had been a goal of mine to get a body weight press, and I did it after my 5/3/1 work. I felt I maybe had some left to get 185, but figured I’d pack it up after the first PR. I don’t have any videos of any deadlifts or benches at the moment, but I’ll try to get some after my deload week. If anyone has any critiques or tips (or major overhauls), I’m all ears.

Pardon the music in both videos.


Nice lifts! the squat looked really strong, and the press seemed really stable. Keep it up, man.

[quote]tareila wrote:
Nice lifts! the squat looked really strong, and the press seemed really stable. Keep it up, man.[/quote]

Thanks Tareila, they both felt pretty good. I had some wobble forward on the squat, but it didn’t feel too bad.


Bench Press Deload

I decided to try to work on some speed with my bench, so my working sets consisted of a little over 50% of my 1RM for 10 sets of 3 on minute intervals.


I felt pretty good, like the weights were moving quickly every rep. My set up felt strong as well. I’ve heard some people say that speed training without bands or chains doesn’t amount to much, but I don’t have either right now. Regardless, I felt like it was a productive deload day. I think I probably should look into getting some bands though, I’m sure it wouldn’t be too hard to rig them up with a dumbbell or some plates.

Afterwards I did 4 sets of 10 lying triceps extensions with 65 or 70 lbs. (not sure of the weight of the EZ bar) supersetted with 4 sets of 10 pull ups. Did not feel too strong on the pull ups. I don’t suppose the straight bar had that much to do with it, though.

I finished up with some high rep dumbbell rows (not heavy enough to call Kroc rows). I warmed up with 8 reps on each arm with an 85 lbs. dumbbell and finished with 26 reps on each arm with the same dumbbell. I was happy with the number, I was aiming for 20+, so 26 was nice. Next time I’ll bump up to the 90s.

All in all it was a pretty good, fairly quick session.

I love it when I try to enter stuff in my log and press submit and the screen just reloads with nothing submitted.


Deadlift Deload day, Rack Pulls

Warmed up with squats, topping out with a couple sets of 62.5% or 1RM for 3 reps each

Rack Pulls:
Ramped up to my working sets over about 5 sets, working sets consisted of:

Followed by some light Power Snatches:

I’m trying to build some hamstring strength and wanted to give my low back a rest so I broke the rules of the anti-machine gospel: Lying Hamstring Curls, supersetted with Pallof presses

LHC - 95x8x3
PP - 90x12x3

Finished with Swiss ball hamstring curls:


Overhead Press Deload

Did a few light sets of warm ups and decided to alternate OHP sets with Overhead Squats to try to improve my form and flexibility.

Did sets of 5 OHP followed by sets of 5 OHS, and I tried to sit at the bottom for a few seconds on the last rep of each set


I wanted to keep it light on the OHP and focus on being fast with the weight, and wanted to groove the motion with the OH Squats; 95 lbs. doesn’t feel so stable over your head in a deep squat anyway; need to work on that.

Afterwards did some light bench work; 135x3x3

Pull ups:
Prone Grip x10
Suppine Grip x10
Neutral x10
Very Wide Prone x5

Haven’t felt too strong on pull ups in awhile; checked my body weight to make sure I haven’t gained weight but my weight has held steady, was at 181 lbs. after my workout today with a bunch of water in me.

High Rep DB Rows:
90x5 each arm to warm up
90x25 each arm in a max set; happy with that, as I did 85x26 earlier in the week

Finished up with wide grip rows on the low row machine. Haven’t used that machine in forever so I ramped up to find a weight, did 3 work sets:



Started with front squats:

Followed with Power Snatches:

Power Clean:

OH DB Press:
50x10x3 Each Hand

Weighted Pull Ups:
BW + 45 x 5
BW + 45 x 5
BW + 90 x 2
BW + 90 x 2

First time doing weighted pull ups so I wanted to give them a go. Was fairly happy with BW + 90 for 2 reps for a first try.


Cycle 6, Week 1 - 5/3/1 for Powerlifting. Today is the first day of Cycle 6 for me - Monday: Squats. As I’m doing 5/3/1 for Powerlifting, this week is my “3” week.

Squat Warm-Ups:

“3” Work Sets:

Extra Work Sets:
370x1 - PR

I was feeling good on the extra work following my “3” sets, and after 355x3, I felt beating my old 1RM wouldn’t be too much difficulty. 370 was a stressful single, but I felt I still left some in the tank as well.


Lying Leg Curls supersetted with Pallof presses:
LLC: 95x10x3 (last 2 sets I held it for a 2 count at the top under tension…made them quite difficult after a few reps)
Pallof Press: 95x10x3 per side

Afterwards I did some foam rolling and mobility work and 2 sets of reverse crunches for 15 reps each.


5/3/1 - Cycle 6, Week 1, Day 2

Bench Press
Warm Ups:

Working Sets (3 week)
210x5 (last rep Paused)

Additional Work Sets
225x3 (last rep Paused)
235x2 (Paused)
245x1 (Paused)

A) Lying Triceps Extensions 65x10x3
B) Dumbbell Rows 100x10x3

Face Pulls (alternated with Kayak Rows)

Kayak Rows
60x20 (10 per side, alternating)


5th Week of my deadlift program to replace my deadlift day on 5/3/1. Today called for a heavy triple of rack pulls followed by 3 triples of speed work.

Warmed up with squats, doing two triples with 225 to loosen up.

Rack Pulls - Bar set 2 inches below the bottom of my knee cap:

I finished with 385x3, with the expectation of hitting 395x3 next week and 405x3 the following week. After that I’ll have a deload week and come back pulling heavy off the floor for the last 8 weeks, including my meet in August.

Afterwards I did some speed pulls:

135x3x3 + a EFS Monster Mini Band (the black short band)
185x3 + Monster Mini Short Band

-Alternated Ab Rollouts with loaded Glute Bridges:
Ab Roll Outs - 4 sets of 10

Glute Bridges: