Strength Tuesday 2/5/13 (w/ Bonus Bear)

photo –

In my quest for lean superhero-ness, I’m following the Wendler 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.

Grin Grimace and Bear It

Not this bear:


Or this bear:bearsfootball

Or this bear:

Nope. I mean a bear like this:bear

I mean the deadly Bear Complex. In case you’re not familiar, it’s a workout made up of 5 rounds of a barbell series (a.k.a., “complex”) that includes 7 reps of the following:

power clean — front squat — push press — back squat — push press

You do that SEVEN times to make up one round — and you do five rounds. If you’re doing it as RX’d.

It’s tough, man! It’s a… well, it’s a bear.

And I love it.

Here’s a video so show you how it looks in action:

So that was my cashout on Tuesday. Exactly two hours after my workout, my abs started to complain, and yesterday, I felt like I’d been hit by a truck. In the very best way possible, but hit by a truck, nonetheless.

Yesterday was a 12-hour writing day, and I took breaks every hour to do yoga breathing and lie on the floor, stretching my various sore muscles and being grateful I could shuffle around in yoga pants, Ravens sweatshirt, and barefoot shoes.

Here’s some free advice from me to you: Don’t neglect your cleans because when you finally make your way back to them, as we all should, it can be painful business.

(I should also mention that it was totally badass to throw around the barbell that way. I didn’t do the Bear Complex as RX’d because I was using it as a cashout, and I might have rested more than prescribed, but it still kicked my ass. Just as a bear should.)

5:00 treadmill: started at 3mph and increased speed every minute til I was jogging

2 rounds with PVC:
11 jumping jacks
11 air squats
11 rotations
11 good mornings

static squat hold/ankle stretch
hip and shoulder mobility


5 @ 65% of max =125#
5 @ 75% of max = 145#
max reps @ 85% of max = 165# – I did 7.
Oh, my! These are getting heavy. We call this Serious Weight when we’re at the craptastic.

Overhead Press:
5 @ 65% of max =60#
5 @ 75% of max = 65#
max reps @ 85% of max = 75# – I did 4.
Only four reps at 75# was kind of disappointing. I’ve been doing a set of band pullups at the end of my warmup, and I think I need to move them all to the cashout because I think those 7 assisted pullups tanked my OH press. LAME!


For time but not really:
3 rounds of Bear Complex: Without putting the bar down, but rest between rounds as necessary: power clean + front squat + push press + back squat + push press. Do that sequence 7 times to make one round. (Note: RX’d is 5 rounds with an increase in weight on each round.)

My weights:
7 reps @ 50# (rested until I stopped gasping)
7 reps @ 60# (rested until my vision cleared 😉
7 reps @ 60#
My time: 10:31
I had fun with this one: sometimes I did a full squat clean instead of a power clean, and on some reps, I combined the front squat and push press into a thruster. (‘Cause you doesn’t love thrusters? Oh, right! I don’t.)

2 X 7 deadhang pullups with a band
handstand hold at the wall, lots of jiggling my feet away from the wall but still no true, free-standing handstand. Yet

Tuesday evenings are my time to go to Kundalini Yoga, and usually it’s a mostly relaxing, meditative experience. But this week, Harmanjeet decided we needed to “break through blocks,” which turned out to be code for “shit-tons of poses that work the core.”

Have you ever done the Bear Complex? Wanna try it? Let us know in comments.

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  • Melinda says:

    Woah, that is hardcore and you are definitely hitting the Serious Weight category. I find the OP is my one lift that does not respond as quickly as the others. I think it’s a girl thing.

    • Mel says:

      The OH press definitely uses smaller muscles, which makes it harder to get big PRs.

      In the Wendler program, dudes get to increase their lower body weights by 10# every month and upper body by 5#… but we chicks are only supposed to increase by 5# on lower body and 2.5# on upper. LAME! But I’ve been doing that and seeing consistent strength gains, so I’m sticking with it. But I did whine yesterday that being a girl is no fair. Very adult of me.

  • Stacey says:

    I’m with y’all. OH is my hardest to make any gains on. I’ve been doing the Stronglifts 5×5 and have made steady progress on everything else.

    Going to have to try that complex – holy moly it looks mind numbingly awesome!

  • Jessica says:

    Love Bear! We do it the first Monday of every month – definitely seeing some improvements on my PR!

    Also in the midst of a deadlift and shoulder press Wendler! In the past it’s really helped me increase my 1RM.

  • Maria says:

    Definitely love the look of those lifting bears, although the workout sounds brutal in a not fun way. I will probably try and convince my lifting friends to try it.

    I’m interested in starting these cash outs after my workouts. Right now, I’m following the strong lifts program and seeing some noticeable gains (squatting 130 and deadlifting 200), but I’m starting to sense the approach of boredom.

  • KC Jones says:

    Wow. Just… wow. That video was inspiring. I have to start doing power cleans. I will to admit, though, the hand position has always looked strange to me. Do you have to get use to it or does it look a lot worse than it feels?

  • Tom R. says:

    The Bear. Awesome. It’s been awhile since I’ve had The Bear attack me. However, I threw a few cleans for on Tuesday myself (a whole 75# – woot) for the first time since July. Slowly but surely.

    Enjoyed the post.

    • Mel says:

      I’m so glad you’re back in the game. Good on you! Hope you’re feeling good!

      We’re back at the gym tomorrow for heavy back squats and bench press. I LOVE bench, but back squats? Tolerated at best. I like that my butt isn’t overly squishy, but man! They are hard to do. Whew!

  • Kaye says:

    I did the Bear for the first time a few weeks ago and it rocked! It’s one of my favorites now.

  • NJ Paleo says:

    I am SOOOO going to try that Bear thing — I’ve never seen it before! OMG! I might only get thru 2 or 3 rounds, but that looks super cool! Great job on your workout too! I think in the Wendler 5-3-1 he suggests doing pullups between reps….but I might have that wrong. I don’t do them that way because I do my lifting in my garage and the pullup bar isn’t in the garage.