Day 38. When to Press On and When to Change?

Fitness and diet plans require constant reevaluation to determine what’s working and what isn’t. But too often I find myself reevaluating too much. Many times I change my diet or workout simply because I’m bored or I need to make it easier/more convenient.

38 days have past since I started this blog and I’ve changed my diet twice and my workout plan three times. For the most part I feel these changes have helped, but not so much because they’ve made a huge difference but mostly because they allow me to be more consistent. And this is the key. Dropping 100 calories/day, increasing protein by 10 grams/day or switching to 3 sets of squats instead of five is not going to suddenly transform me into Mr. Olympia but it might make things a little easier to manage which in turn will keep me consistent and deter me from quitting.

2015-04-29 07.33.44Today I find myself contemplating another change to my workout. I hit 3 PRs today:

  • Squat: 195 x 4, 195 x 5, 195 x 4
  • Overhead Press: 95 x 5 x 3
  • Deadlift: 245 x 5 x 1

But I’ve failed to get 3 x 5 on the bench press twice in a row (primarily due to shoulder problems) and today I failed to get 3 x 5 on my squats. I think part of this is due to my recovery time. My hips and legs are still sore from Monday.

The other problem is that squats are taking a long time to finish. 10 minutes to stretch and warm up and another 15 minutes to do 3 work sets with rest. On days when I have to do bench and barbell rows there’s just not enough time and going back to finish at lunch isn’t always an option.

So I’m considering going back to a split, but the other voice I’m hearing in my head is telling me to suck it up and deal with it. Failure is normal and there’s no reason why I can’t keep squatting 3x/week. I will need to deload the weight but I can at least keep the frequency the same.

For better or worse I have 4 days to think about it since I won’t be able to go to the gym on Friday.

In other news, here are yesterdays macros. The numbers seem to jive this time.



Day 1, Gym

I spent most of the train ride trying to decide if/how to tweak my workout routine. I blogged earlier that I was going to switch from Big 3 to an RPT split, but then started second guessing my decision.

There’s a definition of “beginner” that relates to weight training and it’s not necessarily how heavy you can lift, but moreover how quickly you recover from lifting. After a few months of Big 3 and StrongLifts I can still make progress doing the same 3 lifts 3x/week. The only major issue is the lower back soreness that comes from doing deadlifts. When that started to happen, I switched the programming to 3×5 instead of 5×5. So there’s an argument for me to remain classified as a beginner and stick with the simple Big 3 routine.

The argument for switching to a split routine is time and variety. The ultimate success of a program isn’t about the minor changes made to a lifting routine or a diet, but the ability to stay motivated and not abandon the program prematurely. Doing the Big 3 routine is fun for the first 2 months, especially when you start loading big plates on to the bar. But it’s an exhausting workout. And even though I have a full 50 minutes to dedicate to lifting if I go in the morning, there are times when that isn’t enough. Squat racks are very popular at my gym and sometimes it’s 10 or 15 minutes until I can start my first work set. The potential stress of getting to the gym on time and being able to complete the workout directly affects my motivation.

But variety is a big motivator as well. Striving to increase weight and maintain good form for all 3 big lifts 3x/week is taxing, but only having one big lift per workout could be a boost to my ability to focus.

2015-03-23 07.00.24I walked over to the weight room area still undecided, but the crowded conditions quickly helped me to decide. My gym is linked to a university, and despite this week being spring break the weight room was packed and all 3 squat racks were occupied. So instead of waiting around, I decided to go right to a deadlifts/chins routine.

After a few warm ups, I did 185 x 5 x 5 with 2 mins rest in between. And despite my lingering lower back soreness, the sets got easier as I progressed. From there I 3 sets of reverse grip seated pull-downs (since I’m too weak for body weight chin-ups) using RPT (6×140, 8×120, 10×100). And with 10 minutes to spare I finished up with some much needed foam rolling and a couple of sun salutations.

Meshuggah-DestroyEraseToday’s workout soundtrack was “Destroy Erase Improve” by Meshuggah. I’m hoping to find some time before Wednesday to make some custom playlists, but there will always be certain albums that are good to workout with from start to finish. This being one of them.

So I think I’m going to stick with a 3 day split using classic 5 x 5 programming for the big lifts and RPT for the ancillary exercises (basically chins and push ups) .

Now, with all that out of the way, I can focus on eating. Today is a carb day and I’m soooo ready for it!!