2015 Starting Strength Pro Raw Challenge Week 5 – The Middle and Lessons Learned

2015 Starting Strength Pro Raw Challenge Week 5 – The Middle and Lessons Learned

Jan 26, 2015

So before we get all knee deep in this week…..

Those of you following along at home will remember that I ended last week asleep on my couch.  Sunday morning I could barely swallow and my fever had gone up so my husband offered to take me to emergency care.  Partly because he loves me but mostly because dead bodies on the couch are inconvenient and I’m kind of a pain in the ass when I’m sick.  So the sooner I got the good drugs and was on the mend, the better it is for everyone.

And there were good drugs.  Within a day of starting the antibiotics, the fever was gone and I was back on my feet.   Lesson #1:  When they give you codeine so you can swallow well enough to actually eat and drink, don’t take it and then forget to eat. My appetite has been a little off with being sick and I kind of got distracted puttering around the house taking care of stuff and just kind of…..  forgot.  Until the dizziness and nausea hit.  Then I got to spend a little more time on the couch, clutching a pack of saltines, making unreasonable promises to any deity that might be listening if I could just not lose the already meager contents of my stomach.

But once I was through all that, I was feeling pretty good.


Having Monday off for the holiday meant that Tuesday doubled down on the awesome and caused me to be almost an hour late getting to the gym.  And that just added fuel to the foul mood I was in.  Getting to the gym (finally) does have a way of turning things around though.  I like the people I train with and lifting nearly always makes me feel better.  Just a small, acceptable way to get the frustration out.  So by the time I’d walked to the back of the gym, saying hi to people as I went, to put my stuff down and get changed, I was starting to feel less grumpy.  And then I saw it.  Some strange guy in my power rack (yeah, yeah….  I know it isn’t mine but I think I spend more time there then pretty much anyone else so I feel a tiny bit territorial)……  Lesson 2:  It’s generally not OK to look at your now beardless training partner and say “Dude! What happened to your face?”  What can I say?  The brain to mouth filter doesn’t always work as well as you would hope.  Thankfully, everyone has a sense of humor.

So with all that out of the way, I got on with the squatting.  Since this was a speed day, it was pretty easy.  Just 6 x 2 starting at 280 and working up with the goal of everything being fast except maybe like the last rep.  That meant I could safely make some decent sized jumps so my working sets ended up being 280, 305, 330, 350, 370 and then 385.  Then on to the paused squats and stiff leg deficit deadlifts because I have a special level of self hate.

My rack.  And paused squats that are light and still suck.

My rack. And paused squats that are light and still suck.



Lesson 3:  Do not walk down the hall 15 minutes before you’re supposed to be leaving work to find out what everyone is laughing at.  You’ll probably be amused.  But you’ll also be sucked into whatever it is they’re doing and will therefore not leave work on time.  So, shocker, I was late getting to the gym again.

Luckily there wasn’t too much to do.  Front squats were a 3 x 5 at 205.  These are finally getting to a weight where I need something between 135 and my working sets so that means they take a tiny bit longer.  Interestingly, I really struggled to keep my upper back tight and my chest up.  I can’t think of a good reason for it so we’ll just see how they go next week.

Deadlifts for the week were 6 x 1 at 401.5.   I’ve never pulled anything over 400 for more than a double (I checked), so these continue to make me nervous.  Like even though I’m done with them and it’s over (they went fine by the way), thinking about it makes my palms all sweaty.  We did notice though that as I start to fatigue, my left side is twisting out a bit.  I think it’s because that’s the side that I hold underhand and I’m not keeping something on that side as tight.  It isn’t the first time we’ve seen it and for all that it shouldn’t be happening, it doesn’t seem to be hurting anything so for now we’re just keeping an eye out for it.

Fractional plates on a deadlift seem silly

Fractional plates on a deadlift seem silly


Hooray for bench day!!  There was a rumor that the weather was going to suck and that the gym might not be open on Saturday.  That would have meant not being able to bench 2 weeks in a row.  And that would have been bad.  But Mother Nature decided to cut me a break and we just had to deal with a little rain and some cold.

Lesson 4:  Don’t just assume you remember your working weights.  You will get them wrong (eventually).  This will get you fussed at.  I could have sworn I was supposed to be benching 185 for a set of 6+.  I got 8 and was pretty satisfied.  Then I opened my programming and realized I was supposed to be at 180.  Whoops.  Still, I’m pretty satisfied with the fact that I still got a legitimate plus set even though it was heavier than it should have been.  Even though I shouldn’t have done it.

Then me moved on to some close grip bench.  I don’t know what the hell is wrong with these but I just can’t seem to get them to really progress.  This week at least, some of it might be that I moved my hands in a little more to avoid being mocked for my not-really-close-grip set-up (because while it’s much closer than my competition bench, it’s probably still pretty wide comparatively.)  So I’m going to blame that and move on.

Lesson 4:  Jumping right back into heavy (110lbs) press after missing a week suuucccckkkkkssss.  I got through them all but I’d be lying if I said they felt good or that I was happy with the way they went.


Yoga.  Lesson 5:  Staying out until 2am singing karaoke and drinking and then getting up and going to yoga on about 5 hours of sleep is not a good plan.  At some point, it appears I got too old for this shit.  I don’t know when that happened but I am none too happy about it.


It hurts a tiny bit less when I remember that bar hopping in Baltimore tends to also involve cupcakes.




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