Strength Monday 02/27/12

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In my quest for lean superhero-ness, I’m following the 5/3/1 strength training program. Twice a week, Dave and I are hitting the craptastic gym in our Converse to lift heavy and crank through a mini-metcon.

I’m working on a separate post to come clean about what’s going on with my attitude, body image, body comp, and body weight; there’s a lot to talk about there. But it feels important to separate my feelings about how my body looks from what I do at the gym. It’s a mental trick, but it’s a really important distinction. When I’m at home going about my life, I give myself permission to examine my feelings about my body: the little belly I’ve picked up during the last 3 months of not doing any intense workouts, the roundness that I don’t like to see in my cheeks. Note that I sad I can “examine” my feelings, but I’m not being overly critical or beating myself up. My body is where it is right now; the only thing to do about that is move, eat well, and breathe. It’s valid to assess where I am and explore my feelings about it. BUT, at the gym, when I’m facing the barbell, it’s not about that. The barbell is about the breathing and focus required to move the iron from Point A to Point B.

This morning, I shut down the part of my brain that wanted to whine about how I looked a little puffy and instead, I warmed up with extra care and got to work on building up my callouses with deadlifts and overhead press.

2:00 elliptical
1:00 jump rope
slow air squats
slow good mornings
shoulder mobility


5 @ 75% 1RM (120#)
3 @ 85% 1 RM (135#)
max reps @ 95% 1 RM (150#) – I did 8.

Overhead Press:
5 @ 75% 1RM (60#)
3 @ 85% 1 RM (65#)
max reps @ 95% 1 RM (75#) – I did 4.


3 rounds, for time-ish:

11 one-arm rows, 25# DB
11 lat pulldowns, 70#
11 box jumps, 20″ box
1:00 jump rope
11 walking lungs, 10#-plate overhead


1:00 jump rope
1:00 plank

At some point, I should probably put some actual programming science into my metcons, but for now, I’m just glad to be moving fast(ish), working up a good sweat, and re-introducing my body to the idea that it’s going to work hard for at least 10 minutes. Today’s extravaganza took about 13 minutes.

What kind of training mischief are up to today?


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  • Rainbow says:

    Hello! I just discovered your blog and cookbook recently and I love both!
    I wanted to ask you: could you tell us more about the 5/3/1 method and why you are doing it? Thanks so much!

    • Mel says:

      5/3/1 is a strength training program based around deadlifts, overhead press, back squats, and bench press. I like it because it explains exactly what to do each time we go to the gym — you start with your 1 rep max as a guideline, then the program specifies what percentage of that weight to use at each workout. It’s available as an ebook and from Amazon, and I highly recommend it if you’re looking for a balanced, easily accessible program for building strength and getting comfortable with the barbell.

      Let me know if you have specific questions or want more info!

  • Stacy says:

    My gym is in the middle of a 5/3/1! Such an awesome program as I can already see the strength I have gained from it. 🙂

  • Tracey R. says:

    Hi Mel~ I’m new to your site and LOVE it!! I haven’t worked out in a long time. But, today I was off from work and the temp. here in Indiana is 60!!!! So, I did a 3 mile brisk walk, 40 air squats and lifted some weights. Feels really good to get moving again. Thanks for your blog,recipes and motivation…YOU ROCK!!!!! 😉

  • Meredith says:

    Mel, I just wanted to say… I can’t wait for your post you said you were planning. You are one of the only paleo&crossfit bloggers I have found who addresses issues of body image as well. I also find that what I do in the gym is SO dependent on how I am feeling about myself that day, and I’ve had to tune out negative body thoughts in order to perform. Thanks for being so real 🙂

    • Mel says:

      I suspect it will be a tough post to write because I am “dealing with some stuff” right now. And rest assured, it will be very real up in here 🙂

      Thank you for your sweet words.

  • Melissa Hemphill says:

    Hey girl,
    Great job on your program today! I train at CrossFit Fort Walton Beach in Florida. We’re trying to maintain hard workouts while not killing it right before each Open WOD… it’s difficult to balance but I think we’ve got a good system 🙂
    Today we found a snatch max (I’ve been doing olympic lifts for the last 6 years and somehow managed to never find my max… but not anymore!) Next we did a heavy, but very manageable metcon-
    4 rounds of:
    3 power cleans (135#)
    30 double unders (love double unders)
    15 toes to bar

    I like the WODs that you can still stand afterwards… not the case with Open 12.1 🙂 I loved your buck furpees pic!!!

  • Hannah says:

    I remain a Body Combat and boxing addict. What a rush!

  • Tom Denahm says:

    Hi Mel, I’ve fallen in love with kettlebells. Today I did clean and presses, snatches, deadlifts, swings, and goblet squats with kettlebells and added a few bodyweight pullups and pushups for good measure.

  • Jeanye says:

    Looking forward to the real post real soon!

  • Shawn says:

    I’ve used Wendler’s 5-3-1 in the past and gotten great results. In my opinion, 5-3-1 and MC5x5 are the best powerlifting programs out there. They don’t kill you and you gain steady strength at a reasonable rate. The progressions are slow enough that injuries seldom happen and the all around gains keep you motivated. Good luck!