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1st workout of the new regime.

Yesterday I wrote about what I planned to do with my training. Unfortunately because I’m the world’s slowest typist and the student house I rent out is slowly falling to bits I didn’t get enough time to train. To be honest I don’t know how you regular people out there manage to find the time to train at all. If I didn’t actually own a gym I don’t know how I would juggle kids, houses, wife, job, various other responsibilities and find the time to fit in 4-5 good workouts a week.

Anyway, as it seemed that there was a conspiracy to prevent me from training yesterday I need to be able to unleash hell and fury today or I will become quite unhinged.

Start ’em young

Today is squat day which is always a good day. Even before the brutal carnage of ladder training my squat workouts recently have been lowish weight and highish reps. I happen to think that high rep training for the legs is the best way to go if what you want is bigger, more muscular legs. High rep leg training is also great for mental toughness as there are few things as grueling as sets of 20, or more, squats.

But this is 5/3/1 and 5/3/1 is all about getting stronger.

As I mentioned yesterday I’m going to be using relatively light weights for today’s session. This is done so that I can take a really long run up to my maximum lifts and that, while the weights are light, I can focus on technique.

The type of squat I’ll be doing, and there as many different types of squat as there are fish in the sea, is the box squat. This is a firm favourite of the powerlifting brotherhood and one of the best technique improving movements at your disposal.

To do it you have to follow some key points:

  • Have the bar in quite a low position and squeeze the shit out of your shoulder blades to keep your lats and rhomboids tight and together.
  • Grip the bar hard and pull it down across your shoulders.
  • Lift your chest up and arch your lower back hard.
  • Have your legs wide apart and your toes pointing out.
  • Take a deep breath and push your abs out into your belt.
  • Hold your breath for the entire rep.
  • Start the squat by pushing your hips way, way back. If your using a box or a bench try to sit as far back on it as possible.
  • As you squat down push your knees out.
  • Once you touch down on the bench keep very tight throughout your entire body but let the bench take all your weight.
  • Pause briefly and then explode upwards driving your hips forward.
  • At the top of the rep lock out your knees and fully extend your hips.

This is what I did on Tuesday:
5 min cycle

1km run

Goblet squats with a dumbbell done for several sets to loosen up the ol’ hips.

Squats – several warm up sets and then 1 set of 5 reps @ 95kg. 1 set of 5 reps @ 110kg. 1 set of 5 reps @ 125kg.

The weird thing about box squats is that they all feel crushingly brutal so even though 125kg doesn’t represent a particularly heavy weight for me it still had me scarlet in the face and sweating bullets.

As I was teaching a kettlebell class later on that evening I thought I’d join in and do my cardio that way. This was a stupid mistake as it damn near killed me. If I hadn’t been taking the class I would have probably given up after 10 mins and called it a good workout. Unfortuately the guys in the class are hardened iron warriors and want a full hour of abuse so I had to man up, shut up and try to keep up. It turns out kettlebells are quite hard. Who knew?


Bench press day. You’ve gotta love a bench press day. For years benching used to aggrevate the crap out of my shoulders. Three things have fixed that so now I get no pain whatsoever. Firstly I changed my grip on the bar to being an inch or so inside the power ring you find on Olympic bars. I previously used to hold the bar much wider in the mistaken belief that it would target my chest better. Secondly I now tuck my elbows in as I pull the bar down to my lower chest. All that having your elbows flared and bringing the bar down to your upper chest will do is destroy your shoulder joint. Finally I do tons and tons of upper back work  – I cannot overstate how important having thick, strong and rugged lats, rhomboids and traps are to having healthy shoulders and a massive bench are. What I do is superset a back movement between every set of chest work. This is on top of doing regular back work on my pull day. Make sure that all your back work done on a bench press day is done in the horizontal plane – ie; rows, inverse chins, face pulls and similar.

5 mins of cycling.

1km run.

Bench press – I did 3 sets just with the bar to really work on my bridge position and then a few more sets with weight to get warmed up. My working sets were; 5 x 80kg, 5 x 95kg and 5 x 110kg.

After that I did a few sets of close grip bench press and some interval training back on the treadmill.

I’ll take tomorrow as a day off and spend it trawling Cardiff’s various plumbing supply venues for toilets, sinks and showers. Ah. . . The glamour, the thrilling joyride of it all.

Copper pipes and silicone sealant,
Dave Carter.

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