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Ben Byram 11-21-2010 12:41 PM

Ben's strength log

Not browsed this forum long, but there seems to be some knowledgeable people on here, so I thought I'd start a training log to hopefully get some constructive criticism to help me hit my training goals as quickly as possible. Maybe someone may benefit from my mistakes too...

I am training for strength with a little easy cardio thrown in for health and recovery purposes. My background is probably 10 years of useless training with too much general activity and too little food for any muscular growth (5 years at 11st 4lbs) until I found some decent resources online and started training and eating better about 3 years ago. Started with the KBs via Pavel, then did Starting Strength, Texas Method and this year 5/3/1. Gains have been slowed somewhat by my training being interspersed with preparing for snowboarding holidays and playing around with Ross Enamait influenced concurrent programmes.

My short-term goals are to match my previous modest strength bests whilst keeping my weight below 14st (196lbs). I set this limit as I'm a gangly ectomorph and realistically I'm carrying too much ballast heavier than this. Not bothered about being the next Arnold, just want to get strong without dedicating my life to training and being chubby. I went up to 14st 9lbs at my strongest, but my conditioning level was poor and in retrospect was far too fat. I'm now crawling back to that level slowly.

Best lifts. (All in kg).
Squat 140x2
Bench 100x3 (shite).
Press 80x1
Deadlift 200x1
Power clean 92.5x1

Long-term goals.
Press BW.
Power clean 100kg.
Bench press 1.5xBW.
Squat 2xBW. (Miles off this).
Deadlift 2.5xBW.

I won't record it on here, but all training is preceded by foam rolling, 10 mobility/stability drills with a couple of static stretches, most from Cressey/Robertson's Magnificent Mobility and about 4' on the C2.

My current programme started as 5/3/1, now it just uses the percentages mostly. I like the 5/3/1 session on week 3, so I haven't changed that. I also will max out on the heavy set on week 3 only. I spent months trying to get it 5/3/1 to work unsuccessfully. AMRAP at high reps did nothing for my strength base and I just treaded water. In the end I just ditched the AMRAP and went for steady improvements with lower reps. I also prefer to do the heavy set first, then do the other work sets afterwards, done in reverse pyramid fashion a la Martin Berkhan's suggestion on leangains. Extra back-off sets have been added for volume as I don't get stronger otherwise.

So basically, it's a 3 day per week, full-body session influenced by 5/3/1, Texas Method (fluctuating loads on pushes, pulls and squat) with some assistance work done reverse pyramid or straight sets.

I'm running this plan until it stops working, then I'm probably going to do a specialization routine using Pavel's Russian Squat Routine and something on bench press (Russian Bear?).


Squat (heavy)
Narrow-grip bench press
Loosening deadlift (more of a stretch).

C2 (20' @120-140HR)

Squat (light)
Bench press (light)
Deadlift / RDL
Ab roller
Barbell curl
One-arm DB farmers walk


Power clean
Bench press (heavy - for me)
Squat (speed-sets)
10' KB finished (alternating TGU and Renegade Row)

C2 20' @ 120-140 HR

I've not included all the fine detail as this already reads like the Dead Sea Scrolls, but I'll happily elaborate if anyone is interested.

34 yrs old.
13st 11lbs (193lbs)

Ben Byram 11-23-2010 01:48 PM

Tuesday 23rd November

This is week 3 of a 4 week cycle as in 5/3/1.
Realised somewhere along the line I'd forgotten about staying tight in the eccentric part of the rep. Focused on this today and whole workout was easier than the last few weeks have been as a result.

105x5, 120x3, 135x2 RPE 10, 92.5x15 RPE 10.
Progress, so happy. Didn't drive my traps sufficiently into the bar on the 1st rep of the heaviest set and almost bailed forwards - managed to pull it back.

RPE's are based on an old Mike T. article. RPE 8 being 2-4 spare reps, RPE 9 being one rep saved, and RPE 10 balls out. Book on my Christmas list if I can find it UK based.

60x5, 67.5x3, 75x1.
I don't push for extra reps on week 3 on the press, just increasing through each cycle. Focus is my nemesis - the bench press.

20x4, 10x6, BWx9.
PB for weighted chins.

Narrow-grip bench press:
Added this last week, to try and shift my bench press having seen a recent video by Ed Coan suggesting varying grips. Figured I'd try it.

Loosening deadlift:
Performed in the privacy of my own home. As I've got stronger in the past, my lower back has spasmed after getting progressing tighter. This has kept my back feeling better. Done with a KB whilst stood on a step for extra ROM. Taken from Pavel's BB book, and Kono's idea orginally.

Ben Byram 11-24-2010 11:32 AM

Wednesday 24th November
20'@120-140 HR, 2:16.4s/500m average.
Conditioning pretty poor currently, due to skipping the rower because of a persistent cold. Session is dull, but does the job.

Ben Byram 11-25-2010 01:31 PM

Thursday 25th November
Technique felt good, slowed down the negative aspect, still focusing on tightness even on light sets.

Bench press:
Felt about right.

5 rep PB or should I say PR, I dunno... Very happy with this, has taken a year to get my pulls sorted out since I stopped the Texas Method and got distracted with other stuff. Last year 175x5 was followed 2 weeks later by a 3RM, 2 weeks later pulled 200kg. Will keep alternating a heavy set of 3 (RPE 9 ish) fortnightly with a full bore set of 5 until it stops working, then will probably introduce 5 heavy singles. Deadlift sessions alternated with RDL's seem suited to my spider/orangutan build.

Ab roller:

Forgot barbell curls. Annoying, but they are only curls.

One-arm DB farmers walk:
34x3 laps (approx 20m).
I find this hard. Obvious I work in an office when it comes to carrying.

Followed by curry. The feeding secret of champions!

Ben Byram 11-25-2010 11:51 PM

Friday 26th November
13st 10.2lbs / 87kg.
Have lost a pound this week as the missus has been dieting and I eat what she serves, bless her. Strength up, weight down. Happy days!
Training on Fridays is illegal.

Ben Byram 11-27-2010 01:28 PM

Saturday 27th November
Power clean:
82.5x5, 77.5x3x3.
Probably a bit dubious calling the first 5 reps a set as missed the 5th rep and had to do it again. Wasn't pulling my back into extension properly on the heavy set, addressed this is the last few sets and seemed to rectify itself.

Bench press:
75x5, 85x3, 95x3, 65x12.
Created a bit more of an arch in my back and made sure my eyes were the right side of the bar. Felt better.

Squat (speed-sets):
75x2x8 on the '.

32.5x4, 20x6, 10x7.

TGU 20x3 / Renegade row 20x6:
Was planning to do these for 10', but my shoulders felt like toast pretty quickly. The KB's were added for a little extra conditioning and the KB's are fun, but I'm questioning whether I'd be better binning this finisher now...

Having blatantly forgotten the real purpose of assistance work, time to evaluate my weaknesses and make necessary alterations next week... if required.

Deload week now, sweeeeeeeeeeet..............

Ben Byram 11-28-2010 10:50 AM

Sunday 28th November
Indoor snowboarding 90'.

Making a couple of tweaks to the assistance work to address the following hopefully...

Added barbell row to strengthen upper back which I hope will benefit all lifts, and in particular give me a more stable base when benching. Dropped curls in exchange...

Changed dips for explosive bench press as I think I am lacking speed and will benefit from more benching. Plus my dips have improved quite a lot recently whilst my bench is still crap. Can't be that beneficial?

Dropped the loosening deadlift in favour of back extensions to strengthen the lower back, particularly for the pulls and to a lesser extent the squat.

Chins stay because I like them and I'm trying to beat my mate at them. Ab roller and farmers walk stay because they've made my trunk feel solid when pressing and coming out of the hole on the squat. Plus I need the grip work for my little girlie office hands.

My analysis of weaknesses is complete amateur hour, so we'll see how it goes.

Now my week looks like -


Squat (heavy)
Bench press (explosive)
Back extensions


Squat (light)
Bench press (light)
Deadlift / RDL
Ab roller
Barbell row


Power clean
Bench press (heavy)
Squat (speed-sets)
Narrow-grip bench press
X-trainer (added because the KB's tempt me to work too hard and affect recovery - conditioning needs improving)


The circle is complete.

Ben Byram 11-30-2010 02:01 PM

Tuesday 30th November (week 4 - deload)
Deload week using 50%x5,60%x5,65%x5 on the bench, press and squat. Any lighter than this and I detrain and struggle through the first week of the next cycle. Percentages based on training 1RM's for the current cycle, not estimated or actual 1RM.

Nice and easy on the other stuff, generally dropping a work set. Stopping with 4-6 reps left probably.

70x5, 85x5, 92.5x5.
I felt a bit tight in the hamstrings and focused on hitting proper depth. I used to go rock bottom, but started to get loose before I came up. Cut the depth a little short to remedy it, but now it seems I can sometimes go a smidgen high if I don't consciously bounce a little. Weird.

40x5, 47.5x5, 52.5x5.
Shoulders still fatigued from Saturday. Feel vindicated on binning TGU's. I figure my shoulders need less work and my triceps need more...


Bench press (explosive):
Just a tester. Surprised how taxing this felt, hopefully this means plenty of scope for improvement. I want to be doing sets of 5+ with 100kg on the heavy day before I die of old age. Determined to improve my less than impressive benching.

Back extensions:
Nice steady set to re-introduce the exercise. Was up to 25x20 last year. Going to use a 25kg plate and work up to high reps. Using 2 plates is awkward.

Enjoying an easy week, always battered by week 4. Thinking about sleeping a lot.

Ben Byram 12-01-2010 11:46 AM

Wednesday 1st December
Interval 1 - 2:13.4 / 500m average.
Interval 2 - 2:16.6 / 500m average.

Doing longer duration cardio on deload week whilst strength training takes a break. Keeping the intensity nice and low, so recovery takes precedent still. Have done 140-150HR on previous cycles, cardiovascular endurance improved, but strength didn't.

HR was actually higher in the 2nd interval which illustrates my lack of endurance. Not a priority, but would prefer to see these more even, especially as my average HR was lower in the first interval.

Ben Byram 12-02-2010 12:54 PM

Thursday 2nd December
Continuing the deload, just coasting through. Found myself being annoyed by the ridiculous training going on all around me. Doing obscure movements with plastic logs weighing 5-10kg is the latest. I reckon some of the women would be better swinging their handbag around a bit, it probably weighs more...

70x5, 85x5, 92.5x5.
Concentrating on depth and now a little concerned I'll struggle hitting my weights on the next cycle. We'll see....

Bench press:
50x5, 60x5, 65x5.

Much harder than they should be because I didn't take chalk.

Ab roller:

Chest-supported row (or what Keiser call 'Upper back'):
45x8 (who knows what units these are?).
I guess one machine won't kill me. Decided to do this instead of barbell rows, mainly because Cressey advocates them and he knows about shoulders and stuff. Secondly my lower back is getting plenty of training already and they will be done after heavy deads twice a month. Performed with a stretch before starting and a 1s hold at the end of the pull with scaps retracted.

One-arm farmers walk:
Again grip a lot harder without chalk in my sweaty mitts.

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