Today was one of the first days in my current program when i came out of the gym feeling really trashed! As regular readers know, I have been following the Stronglifts 5X5 beginners strength training program for the past 6 weeks. Today was the beginning of the 7th week, and boy, did it feel that the real work has begun!
First off were 5X5 squats at 95 kg. This is uncharted territory for me, as my old squat workouts never went over 90kg, and that was often for just one set of 6 to 8 without breaking parallel.
I warmed up with hurdle stretches and squats with the empty bar, then loaded the bar, making sure that the weights were correct (to prevent a repeat of the last time, hehe). I then placed myself under the bar, unracked it, and got 5 reps to below parallel with considerable effort. I figured I was still feeling a bit tight (especially with my left hip), so I started doing a few more stretches (lateral squats) in the two minutes I planned between sets. Then under the bar again, focused on keeping my core tight, and got another 5 reps. Though my hips started feeling looser, it was requiring more and more effort as each set went on. I had to increase the rest periods up to 3 minutes before the last set. On the last set, there were a few times when I almost got “stuck” halfway up, and I felt my knees were starting to wobble, but I was able to control it and complete the 5 reps! I have to admit that before my workout, I was bracing myself for the possibility that I might stall, but I’m so glad I that I was able to complete the exercise.
Next up were barbell bench presses at 65 kg. I had to wait almost 10 minutes before I got hold of a bench, so while waiting I just did some more shoulder dislocations to warm up my chest and shoulders. The wait also gave me some time to recover from those squats! Thankfully, the bench press wasn’t as challenging today as the squats; I was able to complete the the 5 sets of 5 while focusing on keeping my shoulders and scapulae retracted. With the bench press too, I am already at the limit of of loading on my old workouts. Going beyond 65 kg with bench presses is something that I’ve only done once by myself, as I still have some fear that I might injure my wrist or shoulder again as I did before when benched pressed willy-nilly. This time, I feel more confident to go beyond 65 kg as I have been making some improvements in my bench press form. I hope this confidence holds the next time I bench!
After that, I had hang cleans, 5X5 at 50kg. Like the previous exercises, I haven’t done hang cleans at this weight before. I did sometimes do power cleans and OH press at this weight before, but I feel it’s a bit easier to do the pull from the ground compared to from a hang. There were some reps in the 5 sets when I was just able to clean the bar to my shoulders; I need to maintain the power over the five sets. Also, I was still feeling the effects of the squats on my legs, and hands were feeling the weight of the bar already when returning the bar from the clean to the hang position. I was glad to be able to complete the 5 sets!
Finally, I did 3X5 pushups with 20 kg added weight put into my backpack. It was a bit of a challenge to put the backpack on with that weight (and I was afraid for the straps), so I did not take off the backpack until I completed the three sets, instead opting to rest the bag on a window sill. It was even more of a challenge getting the backpack off, as I had to tighten the straps so that the bag rested high on my back and not on the curve of the spine.
To complete the session, I did three core exercises following the Flatten Your Abs program, followed by some foam rolling to hopefully help my muscles recover from the beating they took today.
Eating was all according to plan. However, I did reward myself for my efforts today with a single dark chocolate square as dessert after dinner.
Eat clean, train hard, and expect success!