Figuring out my 5/3/1 system

Franco Columbu

Franco Columbu (courtesy Wikipedia)

I’ve done my first six workouts using Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 as a guide and it’s beginning to make sense. The basic framework is workouts built around four lifts: squat, deadlift, shoulder press and bench press with a different exercise as the main focus of each workout. The framework includes doing 3 sets of 5 reps of that exercise plus a PR set each workout in stage 1. Stage 2 is 3 sets of 3 reps plus the PR set. The workouts also include a warm up and assistance exercises. According to the author, one should be able to be in and out of the weight room in 30 to 35 minutes.  The workout can be structured for 2, 3 or 4 days per week. The basic set is followed by one PR set where you go for as many reps as you can. Following this are assistance exercises. I’ve been adding three different exercises for three sets but I suspect that I should be doing about 5 of these exercises. Also this plan calls for maintaining some level of aerobic fitness outside of the weight room. Both the New Rules of Lifting for Women and the Female Body Breakthrough were more designed to use the resistance exercise as Interval Training and counseled against maintaining an aerobic regime in addition to the lifting.

I will need someone to spot my bench presses eventually which makes this less convenient for me as someone who typically works out alone or I will have to modify the routines to incorporate some other kind of chest workout. And while I like the freedom to do the assistance exercises I feel like doing in a particular workout I am also concerned that it may not force me outside of my comfort zone. In New Rules of Lifting there were some exercises I really didn’t like. Of course typically I don’t like an exercise because I don’t do it very well which is because I need to work harder at it. So my challenge with 5/3/1 will be choosing assistance exercises other than my favorites.

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My New Rules of Lifting for Women Level 4

M27, The Dumbbell Nebula

M27, The Dumbbell Nebula (Photo credit: lightclad)

As I’ve noted before, I started New Rules of Lifting for Women in 2010 and then blew out my arm not by working out. So this is actually as far as I have ever progressed on this series of workouts.

After changing jobs a little over a month ago I am finally getting back into a groove with respect to working out. For me three times per week is great for making progress but it’s hard to fit in around work and civic pursuits.  Two times per week is sufficient to progress at a more moderate clip. Once per week is just not enough and I get very sore after lifting. I’ve been doing pretty well lately with workout frequency.

Today’s workout: Stage 4 Workout B

Wide-grip deadlift from box 3 sets 8 reps 87.75 lbs

Bulgarian split squat 3 sets 8 reps 18+lbs

Underhand grip lat pulldown 3 sets 8 reps 55 lbs

Reverse lunge from box 3 sets 8 reps 10 x 2 lbs

Dumbbell prone Cuban Snatch 3 sets 8 reps; 1 set 2 x 5 lbs; 2 sets 2 x 8 lbs

Swiss ball crunch Bodyweight 2 sets x 8 reps

Reverse crunch Bodyweight 2 sets x 8 reps

Oblique twist (my modification) Bodyweight 2 sets 8 reps

Prone cobra 1 set 40 seconds

I need to kick it up a notch with the Prone Cobra and the Plank. The durations expected and what I can do right now are pretty far apart. It’s totally normal to shy away from what comes with difficulty and that’s the case here.

Straightening out My Thinking

Mashed rutabaga

Explain to me how mashed rutabaga was a recommended photo for this post

I  am a recovered person with “issues” about food. And by “issues” I mean things that cause one to eat for reasons other than being hungry. Like everyone else, I lived what I learned. I grew up around people who had problems with food–used it to meet emotional as well as as dietary needs– and it took a while being out of that environment to stop having them myself.

I started my first diet at about 14 years old and I have watched my mom struggle with her weight over many years. I used to feel like if I didn’t pay attention I might suddenly balloon to great proportions though I know that doesn’t actually make sense.

My spouse of nearly 25 years has a healthy relationship with food and also is has been our primary cook and food inventory manager in recent years. Observing him and just doing what he did over the years helped me to adjust my relationship with food so that it grew simpler over time.

Also helpful has been using my body to do things I like including lifting weights. I can’t say I am there totally, but now I think about what I eat with respect to the goals I have and what’s best for me to put into my body.  Working to transform my body with weight lifting and diet provides a good demonstration of cause and effect. I now understand that you can’t train enough to make up for a poor diet and I anticipate that over time I will be able to come closer and closer to a diet that is optimal for me and for the achievement of my fitness goals. And I can proudly say that now my poor decisions about food stem from lack of self-discipline or commitment to goals and not from any lingering emotional weirdness. Oh happy day.