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Next Four Weeks

For the last 6 weeks I was on family leave from work, so other than keeping my infant son alive and my beautiful wife happy, I was actually able to train with regularity and success, largely unhurried.

The results were very positive, at least with regard to my Squat, Bench, and Press.  Never before have I hit these kinds of numbers:

Squat 260x 5 reps x 3 sets

Bench 185x5x3

Press 130x5x3.

And my body weight at 180 is 15 pounds heavier than where I started the year and other than snugger fitting clothes in the butt and shoulders, barely noticeable, as my waist is the same.

My pulls are not that great right now. I’m only using the double overhand grip on the deadlift and reset to ensure better technique. I’ve been going up very slowly on Cleans for a while now too. And chins are still good, but as I weigh more now, they are a little harder. I seem to have difficulty breaking 10 on set 2 and 3 still.

In any case, as I’m now back at work I’m trying to not drive my self into the ground.

My new plan to adjust back to a 40 hour work week is to reduce the frequency and volume of my workouts while still trying to push the intensity higher.

Workout A: 

Squat x5

Press x5

Cleans 3 reps x 5 sets

Weighted Chins (optional) 5×3

Dips (optional) Mx3

Workout B:

Deadlift x5

Bench Press x5

Squats 5x3x80% of Workout A

Chins (optional) Mx3

Weighted Dips (optional) 5×3

Some notes here. I’m a little dubious that this will be enough volume either overall or on the lifts, but we’re going to try.  I’m also going to try to get in the chins and dips as much as I can, because I think they will help not just with aesthetics but also keeping my press and bench press inching upwards. I can’t spend that much time at the gym though, so always a concern. Yesterday (Sunday 4/9) I hit 265×5 on Squat, which is a rep PR, but I also have a suspicion that had I done 2 more sets I’d have done a more productive session.

Sunday 4/9

Squat 45x5x2, 135×5, 175×5, 205×3, 235×2, 265×5

Press 45x5x2, 65×5, 85×3, 105×2, 120×5

Clean 140x3x5

I’ll try this next week and see how 270 goes. If it is obvious this is not enough squatting, I’ll add 2 back off sets at 90% of the top set on Workout A. As in all things, if you add something in, you must take something out.  If I do that, I will likely drop dips from Workout A and chins from Workout B.

Regardless in four weeks we’ll evaluate where we are at. Plan A is to add back a third day of training, in a heavy, light, medium (HLM) set up. That might look like this:

Workout A (Heavy):

Squat 5×3

Bench 5×3

Deadlift – singles, doubles or triples at a heavy weight, 4-6 total, so 3×2, 2×2, 1×5.

Workout B (light):

Squat 5x3x80% of Workout A

Press 5×3

Chins Mx3

Back Extensions 10×5

Workout C (Medium):

Squat 5x3x90% of Workout A

Push Press 3×5

Clean 3×5

If things are still going well in four weeks, but time or recovery is still an issue, I might “run it out” from there, and continue with the original two day template but take those top sets from 5’s to triples, from triples to doubles, and doubles to eventual singles.

If things are just completely in the dump after 4 weeks, I’ll do a hard reset on all lifts and start a true linear progression over again.

Option planning:

Best case – go to HLM after 4 weeks

Null case – stay with two-day template but run it out to max singles.

Worst Case – hard reset for a new linear progression

Last Week

Monday 4/3


  • 45x5x2, 135×5, 175x5x, 205×3, 235×2, 265x5x3

Bench Press

  • 45x5x2, 95×5, 135×3, 165×2, 185x5x3


  • 135×5, 185×3, 225×2, 245×5 – all double overhand.

Wednesday 4/5

  • Squat 45x5x2, 135×5, 160×3, 185×2, 205x5x3
  • Press 45x5x2, 65×5, 85×3, 105×2, 115x5x3
  • Chins 5×3 dead hang nice and easy

Saturday 4/8

Done while my buddy Alex ran 400m repeats

Push-ups 3×10, Chins 3×5, Dips 2×8, easy, relaxed, no stress.


Thursday March 30

Good news/bad news day.

Good news:

Squat B/Wx5x2, 45x5x2, 135×5, 185×3, 225×2, 255x5x3 – PR and good but grindy. Still getting my technical down.

On the other hand – this took forever. Resting 8 minutes between last warm-up and each work set took 45 minutes from the time I put my shoes on.

Bad news

Press 45x5x2, 75×5, 95×3, 115×2, 135×2 – these two were perfect reps but I was done.  I’m not about to drop a barbell on my head, so hung it up here. No pulls.

Tuesday March 28

First major tweak: make squat only go up 2x a week, turn middle workout in to a light day. “Light” in this context is 80% of the previous workout.

250 x 0.8 = 200.

Squat 45x5x2, 95×5, 135×3, 170×2, 200x5x3

Bench 45x5x2, 95×5, 135×3, 165×2, 185×5,5,4 – and SO CLOSE TO 5×3. maybe 3-4 inches. ugh.

Clean 135x3x5

Sunday March 26

Daddy got a new pair of shoes… hehehe


  • 45x5x2, 135×5, 175×3, 215×2
  • 250x5x3 – matches my best set of 5. above this is actually getting stronger.


  • 45x5x2, 65×5, 85×3, 105×2
  • 130x5x3 – PR both for weight and sets across

Chin ups  10, 9, 7

Wednesday March 22

Monday’s session was one of the 10 worst I think I’ve ever had. A bad session, however, does not a program invalidate.

As I am doing the Starting Strength Novice Progression to the best of my ability, I need to stick with the program and do what is necessary to keep moving forward.

What that means is at least exert as much control as you can over these three factors:

  1. Rest between sets. You can not give a maximal effort with out maximal recovery. After 5 minutes you’re 95% recovered, and that’s usually about how long I take between work sets. After 8 minutes, you’re completely recovered.  So that’s what I’ll take.
  2. Food! Eat more than is reasonable and don’t drink anything without calories.  Red meat and whole milk are especially helpful. Really focused on that the past few days.
  3. Sleep – This is the hardest for me to control right now, because of the kiddo.  Still, I’m on parental leave and naps add to the total. I’m still not getting as much as would be best, but I’m getting more than most new dads.


  • B/Wx5x2
  • 45x5x2
  • 135×5
  • 175×3
  • 215×2
  • 245x5x3 – much, much, much better.


  • 45x5x2
  • 105×5
  • 130×3
  • 155×2
  • 180x5x3 – tough but I’m happy how this is still going up


  • 135×5
  • 185×3
  • 225×2
  • 240×5 – I used double overhand for all of these and while these were better than last time (90% of the weight), on subsequent reps the bar is drifting forward, so I have some technical stuff to clean up, and I need to begin working a hook grip as to increase my grip strength.

Monday March 20

Dumpster fire:


  • 45x5x2 Trouble achieving depth
  • 135×5 still funky
  • 185×3 felt like 405×3
  • 225×2 ok, maybe I just needed to get warm
  • 245×5 and this felt like a max. last rep took about 3-4 seconds or felt longer.
  • 220x6x2 – my thinking was to make up the volume (245x5x2 = 2450. 2450/220 = 11 and change, so 12 accounts for it) at 90% of it.  Somedays we just don’t have it


  • 45x5x2
  • 65×5
  • 85×3
  • 105×2 – not fun. should’ve been clear that work sets were going to suck.
  • 130×4 and stalled on the 5th.  This plus the awful squats and being tired/beat down, I just called it a day.

Tuesday March 14


  • B/Wx5x2
  • 45x5x2
  • 95x5x2
  • 135×5
  • 175×3
  • 205×2
  • 235x5x3. First set was icky. Second set a little bit better, third set better still but last rep hard.


  • 45x5x2
  • 65×5
  • 85×3
  • 105×2
  • 125x5x3 – PR and very very tough.


  • 135×5
  • 185×3
  • 225×2
  • 265×5 ugly ugly mixed grip lifts.  easily the worst DL workout I’ve had in a long long time.

A bad workout was bound to happen.  Super stressed even though getting good sleep and food.

Next time I’ll go up only 5 on Deadlifts.  Hopefully 2 full days rest will get that back on track.