This weekend I went to Illinois to visit Vicki for the weekend, leaving my husband behind to do all the chores (sorry Matt!) and watch as much playoff football as possible.
My brother-in-law offered to use his air miles so I could have the luxury of flying instead of the nearly 6 hour drive. Which made me feel like a high roller.
My sister picked me up Friday night from the airport and after swinging by Portillo’s for a chop salad we made it to her apartment and tried to decide what workout to do the next day. When we get together exercise is always on the agenda.
Vic is a member at a really swanky fitness centre. The kind with clean showers and free towels and all the workout equipment that is trendy these days (but maybe not enough squat racks for my liking). They also have a 25m lap pool.
Vicki really got into swimming this year to train for the 2 sprint triathalons that she participated in. I, myself, had a brief (and pathetic) stint on the high school swim team in grade 9, and more recently have been taking to the pool for interval training. In spite of that, neither of us is particularly good at swimming.
I’m slow and sloppy and have poor form and my breaststroke is just as efficient as my freestyle (which means I’m either prodigious at breaststroke or pathetic at freestyle).
So when we decided to try out the 7am Master’s Swim Class (a class for actual good swimmers) to say we were both a bit nervous is an understatement. I crawled out of bed with little enthusiasm at 6:20 and we got dressed and headed over to the gym.
There were more people there than we would have liked, which meant we were sharing a lane with a regular to the class, but luckily his pace was similar to ours so I didn’t feel as inadequate as I expected I would.
The entire hour and a half class was freestyle swimming (lord help me). We did some drills using buoys, paddles, and flutter boards but it was mostly swimming laps at whatever pace the instructor recommended. I’m trying hard to remember but I think this is what we did:
200m warm up
200m pulls with the buoy between our legs
200m pulls with paddles on our hands
200m flutter kicks
4 x 100m negative splits
4 x 100m easy to practice our form
4 x 100m negative splits
3 x 75m pulls with the buoy and paddles
I appreciated that the instructor watched Vicki and I and gave us some tips to correct our form. Apparently my kicking sucks (no surprise there) and I swim with my head up too much (a symptom of my breaststroke preference, perhaps?) so I tried to take her tips and apply them to my stroke.
After an hour and a half and at least 2 kilometres of swimming, I was tired for pretty much the rest of the day.
We did make it into the city to check out The Field Museum–What an awesome place! I’d love to go back and see what we missed.– but by 7pm I was exhausted and ready to crash.
Swimming always takes it out of me.3 Comments
I just finished my first cycle of the 5/3/1 for Women Training Programme which focuses on building strength in the basic multi-joint lifts: squat, deadlift, bench press, and overhead press.
Each cycle is 4 weeks with increasing weight and decreasing reps each week (5 reps/ 3 reps/ 1 rep/ deload, hence the name 5/3/1) and the weight to be used is calculated in advance and is based on 90% of your one rep maximum.
Read more about how it works here: 5/3/1 Training
When I initially did the calculations I was concerned about how light the weight was going to be for the main lifts. At 90% 1RM, the loads that I calculated were weights that I could crank out for 4 to 6 reps already so I used 95% 1RM as my baseline instead.
This 95% figure worked out really well and it got me PRs in both my back squat and push press. Yay!
In Cycle 2 you are to add 10lbs to your 1RM for Squat and Deadlift and 5lb for Bench and Overhead Press to create your new 1RM and then recalculate 90% of this.
But, since the 95% 1RM figure worked well for cycle 1 and I still had some gas in the tank after my lifts, I’m going to continue with use 95% as my baseline figure. If it starts to get progressively more difficult in future cycles then I’ll scale back.
I did a variation of the ‘boring but big’ recommendation for bodybuilding. So each day I lifted
- the Main lift, then
- the Main lift in a different form (eg. squats + front squats, bench press + dumbbell bench press), then
- 3 accessory exercises with a higher rep range (10-15)
I’m going to keep doing what I was doing. I find that I get bored by the 8th rep or so but I really think I need the change from low reps and I want to build up my muscle a bit.
Deload week is mentally challenging because you really want to keep pumping out heavy weight, but you’re supposed to use this week to let your body recover.
I never understood runners who don’t like tapering (running less miles in the weeks before a race) because, to me, a break from all that mileage is more than welcome. But now I think I see where they’re coming from.
Luckily, my deload week coincided quite nicely with both PMS and a crappy cold so I wasn’t really feeling like pushing myself anyway.
If I’m not sick or menstrual in my next deload week I imagine it will be mentally frustrating.
My cardio hit the backburner when I got sick but I was doing a lot of sprints in the pool (since hill sprints and road sprints have been killing my achilles lately).
10 minutes warm up – easy laps
10 minutes of sprints (20s sprint + 20s rest with a break after every 4 cycles)
10 minutes cool down – easy laps or drills
But on Saturday Vicki and I did a Master Swim Classs at which we were only slightly pathetic. It involved an hour and a half and at least 2km of swimming. EXHAUSTING! (I’ll tell you more about it soon)
I plan to add back more running sprints as long as my achilles holds up.2 Comments
It’s time for this month’s Baking Partners Challenge. The theme for this month is PIE!
This time around I had the chance to pick one of the recipe options for the group and I went with a tourtière– a classic French-Canadian meat pie.
I’ve never made a tourtière before and I wanted it to be good, so I searched out a recipe from my favourite French Canadian chef, Martin Picard of Au Pied de Cochon.
I love the hell out of pie.
I don’t make pies as often as I’d like because they’re dangerous in my company but I really, really love them (even if they’re not all that cool).
I’m fond of a flavourful and flaky crust (even if its flakiness sacrifices its appearance) and the filling is just an added bonus.
So for this recipe Picard’s crust was forgone in order to allow me to experiment a bit. I normally make my crusts with butter, but I figured there would be no better time to try a lard crust than in a pork-filled pie.
Lard is known for making very flaky pastry and, since I wanted to get more flakiness without sacrificing the flavour of butter, I split the fat in my pie crust recipe into a ratio of 60% lard to 40% butter. It was fantastic.
The lard crust seemed to me to be slightly harder to work with. As usual, it didn’t look the prettiest but the flakiness was stellar. I still have some lard left over that I would really like to try in a sweet pie next time.
Oh yeah, and about that filling? SO GOOD. This recipe was a huge hit with both Matt and I.
Martin Picard Tourtiere du Shack
I increased the amount of spices slightly from Picard’s original recipe to give it more flavour. The filling makes more than enough for one 9 inch pie, so I used the extra to make pork filled fatayer.
This recipe took me a full day to make but it’s not all hands-on time. If you plan it out properly you can make a lot of the components ahead of time and just pop the pie in the oven right before you want to serve it. I’d like to try freezing a prepared pie to see how that works.
Makes 1 very deep 9 inch pie.
Adapted from Martin Picard
2 1/2 c. all purpose flour
1/4 tsp. sea salt
3/4 c. cold lard cut into 1/2” pieces
1/2 c. cold salted butter cut into 1/2” pieces
8 – 10 Tbsp. ice water
1 1/2 cups low-salt chicken broth
1 1/2 medium onions, chopped, divided
4 garlic cloves, chopped, divided
5 whole black peppercorns plus freshly ground black pepper
5 sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 pounds boneless pork shoulder (Boston butt), cut into 2″ pieces
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
8 medium button mushrooms, stemmed and finely chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 1/4 pounds ground pork
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 cup grated, peeled russet potato
All-purpose flour (for surface)
1 large egg yolk, beaten to blend
Pulse the flour, salt, lard, and butter in a food processor 4 or 5 times until you get large quarter-sized crumbles. (Forget the pea-sized business. You want big chunks here)
Add the water tablespoon at a time, pulsing once between additions until the dough just starts to come together. It will still be pretty crumbly but you should be able to form it into a ball with your hands.
Divide the mixture in half and form each half into a ball. Wrap them in plastic wrap individually and, once wrapped, flatten them into a disc. Refrigerate 1-2 hours before using. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Keep refrigerated.
Preheat oven to 325°. Combine broth, 1/2 chopped onion, 1 chopped garlic clove, whole peppercorns, thyme, and bay leaves in a medium pot. Add pork shoulder; season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer over medium heat.
Cover pot. Transfer to oven; braise until pork shoulder is tender and shreds easily, about 2 hours. Remove from oven; let cool.
Transfer pork shoulder to a work surface. Shred meat with your fingers and transfer to a medium bowl. Strain pan juices through a fine-mesh sieve; add 1/2 cup juices to pork; discard solids in strainer.
Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add remaining 1 chopped onion and 3 chopped garlic cloves; cook, stirring often, until soft, 5–7 minutes. Add mushrooms; cook, stirring often, until almost all liquid is evaporated, 5–7 minutes. Add wine; stir, scraping up browned bits. Bring to a boil; cook, stirring often, until liquid is almost evaporated, about 5 minutes.
Add ground pork, cinnamon, and cloves. Cook, stirring to break up into small pieces, until pork is cooked through, about 5 minutes. Add potato. Cook until potato is soft, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in shredded pork with juices. Season to taste with salt and pepper; let cool slightly. Chill until cold, about 1 hour. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and keep chilled.
Roll out 1 dough disk on a lightly floured surface into a 12″ round. Transfer to a deep 9” pie dish, leaving overhang. Fill with cooled meat mixture. Roll out remaining dough disk into a 10″ round. Place dough over meat filling. Fold overhang over top crust and crimp edges. Brush crust with egg yolk. Cut three 2″ slits in top crust. Chill for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 400°. Bake tourtière for 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 350°; bake until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbling, 40–50 minutes. Let cool for 20 minutes before serving.
If you’re looking for some more savoury pie recipes, here are a few that I’ve made and loved.
Read Part 1, my January to June recap here.
This epic month involved two and a half glorious weeks in Greece, which has been my dream vacation for so long.
We explored the labyrinthine streets of Chania, hiked the gorges of Loutro, visited the Minoan palace of Knossos in Heraklion, saw the blue domed churches and whitewashed buildings of Santorini and took in ancient Greek culture at the archaeological sites of Athens.
Matt and I had our 4th wedding anniversary.
I had my champagne birthday – 27 on the 27th.
And for my birthday Matt and I went to Chicago to experience the best new restaurant in the US, Next, and their Sicily menu– 13 courses including this roasted pork shoulder, the most delicious piece of meat I’ve ever eaten.
I was an extra in a movie.
I’m ready for my close up!
I was inspired by the summer Olympics to start incorporate Olympic Weightlifting (Cleans, Jerks, & Snatches) into my workouts and I’ve been loving them ever since.
And I started a plan to lose 6cm from my waist, which is still in progress right now, but may have stalled a bit over the Christmas holidays. I’m tracking my progress in the right sidebar.
I cooked up a big batch of my favourite soup ever: Fire Roasted Corn Chowder.
My ciabatta bread won second place at the sham show otherwise known as the Harrow Fair. The judges must have taste buds in their eyes since they managed to pick a winner without even tasting the bread.
I kicked off the long and boring football season by going to the Detroit Lions home opener at Ford Field with my dad, his girlfriend Silvia, and Matt. I admit it was an exciting game with the Lions scoring the winning touchdown in the last 10 seconds.
I captained a team in the Run for the Cure for the 7th consecutive year in honour of my mom who passed away from breast cancer in 2006.
I went Apple Picking.
I ran the Hot Chocolate 15K race in downtown Chicago with Vicki and Tina that culminated with a hot chocolate and fondue party in Grant Park.
I got a personal record on my deadlift with a 225lb lift.
I watched Matt coach his football team to their first ever division victory.
I baked these amazing Filipino date & walnut bars appropriately named Food for the Gods.
I did 14 straight days of Moksha Hot Yoga.
I switched up my weightlifting routine to build strength in 2013 with Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 programme.
I finished the year with yet another wonderful Holiday Season where I cooked a lot, got together with my family, watched my stunning cousin marry her perfect match, and ate fondue with friends.
Read Part 1, my January to June recap here.5 Comments
Yes, I’m still recapping my 2012.
It was a good year in that it wasn’t a bad year and sometimes that’s the best we can hope for, right?
You can read Part 2, July through December here.
I start 2012 off with a bang in January by accomplishing my biggest goal for the year: a marathon. I never thought that running a marathon would be so much fun, but Disney knows how to plan an epic event, that’s for sure.
In spite of having a terrible bout of runner’s trots (naturally) and stopping at every mile for photo ops with Disney characters, I managed to finish in 5:15. Not too shabby!
You can read all about it here.
Of course the marathon also meant travel to Orlando where my friend Tina and I hit up Magic Kingdom, and both Universal Studios parks. I finally got to visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, but it was Seuss Landing that really captured my heart.
In February I started learning to play the guitar somewhat spontaneously after years and years of wanting to do it. The hobby stuck with me and I pick up my guitar to practice nearly every day.
I also went to the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago while on a trip to visit my sister Vicki.
I also wrote a post about a poll indicating that Black Women are Heavier and Happier with their Bodies than White Women which got a lot of attention.
“F.A.T. means fabulous and thick, full and tasty, fluffy and tender.” – Mo’nique
I celebrated Easter with my favourite Lebanese foods.
I made my own Homemade Fig Newtons. . . multiple times. And ate them all.
And I wrote about how “Athletic” is a stupid way to describe female body types; my favourite body image post this year.
I started more seriously swapping out my steady state, moderate intensity cardio exercise for more Interval Based Conditioning exercises like Terrible Twenties and Gut Busters and Sled Push Substitutes. Later I also started doing more tabata sprints as well.
Matt and I went on a date to Colasanti’s a greenhouse/petting zoo/amusement park/banquet facility hybrid. (I know, the concept really doesn’t make much sense unless you’re from Essex County).
And I made Homemade Clotted Cream for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee which I thought was a disaster but it actually tasted really good. I consulted Joe Pastry who called it a success, so I stopped worrying about it and enjoyed my tasty butterfat.
Of course I had to make cream scones to go with it.
I went to the Freedom Fest – one of the biggest fireworks displays in the world – which is right on the Detroit River.
And I actually didn’t fuck up a batch of granola for once! I baked this dangerously good granola and didn’t even burn it.
Read Part 2, July through December here 4 Comments
My 2012 posts with the most pageviews were really versatile and included everything from body image to recipes to travel to weightlifting. I’m a veritable Martha Stewart.
Turns out that in 2012 people really liked when I wrote about naked women and baking soda. . . but not necessarily together.
The post where I talk about naked women and how I appreciate the changing room’s token nude.
The more effort we put into covering up our imperfections by hiding our bodies from other women then the less real, unaltered images of female bodies we are exposed to.
The post where I declare Alton Brown’s soft pretzel recipe the best ever and talk a little about baking soda chemistry.
The key to making soft pretzels with a chewy interior and a crispy, deep brown crust is an alkaline bath.
Chania is a beautiful city. It’s old town area has really quaint winding alleys that are great for tourists to explore.
The post with a recipe for a delicious coconut curry with vegetables and dumplings. I’ve made this recipe several times and it is really good! I’m glad it made the top 10.
Oil Down is the national dish of Grenada and is usually made at a big party on the beach, or so I’ve read. I made this in my kitchen, so it’s not quite as fun, but it still tastes awesome.
The post where I offer up a workout plan with 3 strength exercises followed by a circuit of 3 exercises. This wasn’t my favourite routine from 2012, (this Olympic Routine was) but it was pretty popular with readers
With a circuit workout I think I need to change it up more often to keep myself motivated and excited.
The post where I bake Irish Soda Bread. Again I find myself talking about the chemistry of baking soda. Apparently alkalis are popular with the readers.
Matt said that this was the best soda bread he’s had, even though he didn’t like it. And didn’t want to eat it. Not exactly a raving review, but I’ll take it I suppose.
The post where I make a framed collage of my marathon medal, bib, and pictures.
So after a very minimal time commitment and minimal cost I ended up with a sweet homemade collection of my marathon memories. Fun times.
The post where I eat pizza out of the garbage build a wood fired oven in my backyard out of garbage can and a pile of dirt. True story.
Matt called me at the office, to ask me a very important question after spending much of the morning with Zack digging up our crab grass infested lawn:
“Umm… I got a whole bunch of dirt here, you want to make a garbage can pizza oven?”
DO I EVER!
The post where I talk about nudity—again—and how much I like seeing Lena Dunham naked. Although I think most people came to this post looking for Lena Dunham porn.
Lena Dunham isn’t terribly fat. Her body is imperfect, so basically she looks completely normal, like most of the women I know, and not at all like the stereotypical ‘perfect’ Hollywood body that we’re exposed to.
The post where I talk about how ‘inspiring’ images of fit women can be damaging to our body positivity.
Fitspo images aren’t any better for our self esteem than glossy magazine images of dangerously thin models. They’re photoshopped. They’re not attainable. And, quite frankly, they’re not all that healthy either.
Props to Matt and I for getting in 2 date nights in one month! One weekend as a matter of fact. (I guess it was a slow weekend on our social calendar.)
Our October date night didn’t actually happen until November, so we were pressed to have 2 dates in the ever-so-hectic month of December.
These date nights were very low-key and involved staying in and chilling in front of the TV. Sounds like most people’s weeknights, but we don’t really watch TV together so, yes, it was an event.
On a Saturday night we had a movie night where we made popcorn and tea and settled into watching The Dark Knight rises together.
Except The Dark Knight didn’t rise since the version we downloaded was a dud. So instead we watched The Muppets’ Christmas Carol!
I swear I didn’t sabotage the Batman movie. (Really, I didn’t!) But I can’t say I wasn’t thrilled to watch the Muppets instead.
Date night and knocking off an item from my Winter Bucket List? Peeer-fect!
The next day, Matt and I had an afternoon date of a home tailgate party. I cooked up some mini grilled cheese sandwiches, and some baked chicken wings, which Matt loved (yay!). . .and we watched the Lions game.
I’ll reluctantly admit that football is growing on me now that I’m learning more about how the game is played, and who the players are, and which teams are good and which ones are crap. Weeks ago, I even called Minnesota to make the playoffs, which BTW, they did.
I used to not give a shit at all and now I’m mildly interested. But only in the last couple of minutes. And only if the score is close.
You all should be impressed (and by ‘you all’ I mostly mean Matt. . . and maybe my dad).
It’s funny the things you can learn if you actually pay attention when your husband talks about football.
The Lions lost. Surprise, surprise.
It’s nice that we got in our date night in December because now that the playoffs are coming up I’ll be a football widow for the next couple of weekends.
Date of the Month Club
Check out other posts in the Date of the Month club, where Matt and I go on one special date every month of 2012:
January – Bookstore Scavanger Hunt
February – Board Game Night
March – Bowling
April – Detroit Walking Tour
May – Colasanti’s
June – Picnic
July – Next Restaurant
August – Detroit Tigers Baseball Game
September – Detroit Institute of Arts
October – Wine Tasting
21 Books. It might be a new record.
I can’t say they were all hits, but a lot of them were very good.
This was the year of the historical novel for me. I read a book set in almost every decade of the 20th century. I think I’ve discovered my new favourite genre.
It’s a lot of reviews so I’ll keep it brief. Here we go. . .
Women – Charles Bukowski
Pathetic story and a terrible waste of my time. Recap: a sad old man wakes up, gets drunk, has sex with someone, (anyone), passes out, repeats.
Atonement – Ian McEwan
The author manages the impossible: formulating an extremely well written and intriguing story centred around the word CUNT.
Plain Truth – Jodi Picoult
Picoult books. If you’ve read one you’ve read them all.
The Red Wing Sings – Tom Omstead
I read this because it was written by a local author. I appreciated his effort, but the writing was amateurish.
Left Neglected – Lisa Genova
Does the world need yet another clichéd story of the stereotypical ‘overworked’ woman who rediscovers the importance of family after a big accident? No.
Snuff – Chuck Palahniuk
Pro: I did learn a lot of facts about the porn industry. Con: It was so ridiculously over-the-top that I can only describe it by rolling my eyes.
Eating the Dinosaur – Chuck Klosterman
A fabulous series of essays reflecting on such critically important world topics such as the complexities oftime travel and the awesomeness of ABBA.
Moloka’i – Alan Brennert
Life as a Hawaiian leper ain’t so bad after all. I loved this story about how small pleasures make the long life in exile of a young leper worthwhile.
Before I Go to Sleep – S. J. Watson
I should read more great thrillers like this one. I’m now officially terrified of my family manipulating my memory when I develop amnesia. ‘Cause amnesia is super common. Soap operas say so.
The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake – Aimee Bender
Weird. But also totally unique. A girl can taste people’s emotions in the food they cook and her brother has an equally bizarre power.
On the Road – Jack Kerouac
Why is this book so acclaimed? Sal drives all across the country and does stupid things. That’s it. Am I missing something special?
The Given Day – Dennis Lehane
I wouldn’t have picked up this book if it weren’t on sale for $2 when Borders closed. I’m glad I did. Dennis Lehane is a great writer and a good story-teller.
Moonlight Mile – Dennis Lehane
Not as good as The Given Day, but still kept me interested.
The Bonesetter’s Daughter – Amy Tan
This might be my favourite book all year. An American woman discovers the scandalous and intriguing family history of her mother’s life in China in the 30s and 40s.
The Alchemist – Paul Coelho
It’s got a lot of good messages but I won’t give it the rave reviews it’s been getting for years. If I wanted a parable I’d read the Bible.
The Haunting of Hill House – Shirley Jackson
Wasn’t convinced that I liked it until the very end. It’s creepy but not mind-blowing.
The Christmas Wedding – James Patterson
Hated it. It was like reading an author’s brainstorm (ie. incomplete).
Rules of Civility – Amor Towles
Love, love, loved it. Mostly because I feel a strange connection to 1930s New York. Maybe I was there in a past life.
The Casual Vacancy – J.K. Rowling
I liked it more than I was expecting. Now, if only J.K. can rewrite Harry Potter with just as much sex and swearing.
Fall of Giants – Ken Follett
Highly recommended. Well researched and well written historical novel about the first world war. My only complaint is that Follett’s sex writing is boring and dry.
Winter of the World – Ken Follett
This sequel to Fall of Giants didn’t spark me quite as much as book 1.
I ate a lot of food and cooked even more.
Christmas Eve was the main event hosted by my sister and I at my dad’s place. We made sushi, spring rolls, pulled pork sliders, mini grilled cheese sandwiches with shooters of tomato soup, baked brie, and a bunch of other tantalizing appetizers.
Turns out, these Pear, Blue Cheese, and Toasted Walnut Salad Spears? Seriously good.
Lots of Hot Yoga and Weightlifting
I started up my new 5/3/1 weightlifting routine of presses, squats, and deadlifts. It has been keeping me in the gym slightly longer than usual with all the reps on the accessory exercises.
My friend Jasmine got a pass for the hot yoga studio while she’s in town for Christmas so we went together a couple of times and I went without her too. Ahhh… I’m loving yoga.
. . . a tea infusing travel mug from Matt.
It has a lid I can use to rest the mesh insert when my tea is done steeping and better yet, this one is a thermos to keep my hot stuff hot.
I also scored some gift cards to SportChek (I see hiking boots in my future!) and a nice cash-infusion.
I Experienced the Awesomeness of Fondue, again.
My girlfriends and I got together for a FUN-due evening while everyone was home for the holidays. We hit up The Melting Pot for the cheesy, meaty, and chocolatey goodness of fondue.
I love going here for dinner. It’s makes for a nice, long night out where you can chat while your skewers of meat simmer away in the pot.
I saw my cousin get hitched
I went to the bachelorette party last weekend hosted by my cousin’s seriously fun friends and then came the rehearsal on Thursday where I met more of her seriously fun friends, and finally this weekend was the wedding. . . which did not disappoint.
And I’m so happy for my amazing cousin and her new husband, whom I very much adore.
I filled up on cake and a lot of cookies so I couldn’t even try the late night poutine bar (umm. . . how cool is that?!) and then I literally danced for hours.
. . . And it’s not even New Year’s yet!
Oy. What a jam packed holiday.7 Comments
I’ve been working on the same workout programme for about 3 months now, incorporating lots of Olympic style lifts and high intensity, cross-fit style lifting into my daily workouts read more about it here and here. It’s been great so far because my workouts have had a tonne of variety and I’m completely spent after almost every session (all that intensity!). I’ve been noticing more definition in my traps and biceps, and my legs are stronger than ever. All in all, it’s been great.
But I rarely stick with the same programme for more than 3 months. I like to keep a lot of variety in my workouts to keep my body guessing. My focus for the next programme is strength and body building. Normally I put together my own thing but this time I figured I’d try someone else’s programme: Wendler’s 5/3/1
This programme created by powerlifter Jim Wendler uses the basic principles of strength training and has been getting lots a good feedback on the internet for being a great plan for increasing strength. Says Wendler about the programme: “I want be able to do a bunch of different activities and still kick ass in the weight room. I want to be as mobile, flexible, strong, and in as good a condition as I possibly can. That’s how I came up with 5/3/1.”
5/3/1 revolves around the basic multi-joint lifts: squat, deadlift, bench press, and overhead press.
The theory is to start with weights lighter than what you’re doing now which gives you more room to progress slowly and build strength.
I’m concerned that my inflated ego will bust and lifting less than I’m used to might bring me down and psych me out of wanting to lift. But eventually I’ll be hitting will be better than what I’m doing now, so that’s what I’ll have to look forward to.
The plan is based on slow progress. You can’t progress quickly. It just doesn’t happen. I know this.
I had delusions of grandeur in January when I published weight training goals to increase my squat by 70lbs (to 225lbs) and my bench press by at least 50lbs (to my body weight). Umm . . . yeah right, Sam.
So I’m hoping this programme will allow me to progress a little more reasonably while still seeing some motivating improvements.
Here’s how it works:
You can do as many cycles of the programme as you like. You could practically cycle this programme forever.
Each cycle is 4 weeks long and you’re training 4 days per week—one of the major lifts (bench, squat, deadlift, overhead press) each day. The sets and loads used for each of the major lifts are:
Week 1: Warm-up, 65% x 5, 75% x 5, 85% x 5+
Week 2: Warm-up, 70% x 3, 80% x 3, 90% x 3+
Week 3: Warm-up, 75% x 5, 85% x 3, 95% x 1+
Week 4: Warm-up, 60% x 5, 65% x 5, 70% x 5
+On the last set each week means really push for as many reps as you can get.
The base number used in your calculations is actually 90% of your 1RM (one rep max).
So if your 1RM is 100, then you’re calculating based on 90 so 65% would be 58.5lb(=65%*90%*100lb) not 65lbs. I calculated my 1RM from here.
Use this lovely spreadsheet to calculate your daily lifts for 3 cycles of 5/3/1: 5-3-1 Training Calculator
After 4 weeks, you repeat the cycle adding 5lbs to the 1RM for your presses and 10lbs to the 1RM for your deadlift and squat and then recalculate your loads. (again you can use this spreadsheet to calculate your daily lifts: 5-3-1 Training Calculator)
The core lifts aren’t the only thing you work on though. You also do additional exercises that supplement the major lifts and assist with your goals with plans like these:
Boring But Big. Main lift, the main lift again @ 5×10 (50% 1RM), and another accessory exercise for 5 sets.
The Triumvirate. Main lift, and two assistance exercises – 5 sets each.
I’m Not Doing Jack Shit. Main lift, and nothing else.
Periodization Bible by Dave Tate. Main lift, and 3 exercises – 5 x 10-20 reps each.
Bodyweight. Main lift, and 2 bodyweight exercises such as the pull up, sit ups, dips, etc.
For myself I wanted a “bodybuilding” style so I planned:
- Main lift
- Main lift in a different form (eg. squats + front squats, bench press + dumbbell bench press)
- 3 accessory exercises with a higher rep range (10-15)
What I’m digging:
I like the specificity of it. I know exactly what I should be lifting before I even get into the gym (or I should know, otherwise I’ll be hauling a calculator with me to the squat rack every day) and there is clear progress every week.
Lately my progress has been stalling a bit, especially on squat and bench, so I’m excited to see what happens on this programme even if it means starting lighter to get there.
What concerns me:
Wendler seems very specific about using 90% of your 1RM as a base for calculations but I’m not convinced. The loads that I calculated for my last set in week 3 (the one rep set) are weights that I can crank out for 4 to six reps of right now. What’s the point? Even after 12 weeks I won’t hit my current one rep max even once.
So instead I tried calculating my lifts based on my 1RM alone but the result seemed a lot more difficult in the second and third cycle of the programme and I wasn’t convinced I’d be able to hit the numbers.
95% of my one rep max looks like the magic number here. It’s offers the most reasonable progress. I’m going with that as the base of my calculations, at least for cycle 1, and then I’ll reassess from there.
My Variation of the 5/3/1 Plan:
Click the thumbnail for a Workout PDF of my 5/3/1 Variation.
P.S. It prints best as a booklet.
Cycles: At least 3 cycles (ie. 12 weeks) to start with. I’ll reassess from there.
Schedule: Mon: Bench Press, Wed: Push Press, Fri: Squat, Sun: Deadlift
Load Calculations: Base cycle 1 lifts on 95% of my 1RM then reassess the base number for my calculations (maybe I’ll drop to 90% of my new 1RM for cycle 2).
Accessory Lifts:Main lift , main lift in a different form (eg. squats + front squats, bench press + dumbbell bench press, etc.), 3 accessory exercises of the same muscle group with a higher rep range (10-15) varying from week to week.
Cardio: Tue & Thu: HIIT (sprints on the treadmill, spin bike, or in the pool)
I plan to start this week. I’ll keep you updated with my progress after cycle 1. (added: Read my cycle 1 recap here)
P.S. I called this 5/3/1 for Women because I am a woman and I couldn’t find a tonne of info online on women using this programme (here’s one and here’s another). It’s identical to the 5/3/1 plan because the programme isn’t for men only. Women can lift like the best of them.18 Comments
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- Lose 6cm from my waistline
Start (Aug 15): 83cm/ 91cm/ 166.8lb
Aug 31: 82cm /89cm/ 166.8lb
Sep 10: 83cm/ 89cm/ 166.2lb
Sep 20: 83cm/ 89cm/ 166.2lb
Oct 1: 83cm/ 88cm/ 165.6lb
Oct 10: 82cm/ 89cm/ 166.6lb
Oct 31: 81cm/ 88cm/ 166.6lb
Nov 15: 81cm/ 87cm/ 169.4lb
Dec 1: 82cm/ 88cm/ 170.2lb
Jan1: 82cm/ 88cm/ 169.4lb
Feb 1: 84cm/89cm/171.8lb
Mar 15: 83cm/ 88cm/ 170.0lb
Apr 15: 82cm/ 88cm/ 170.0lb