Strength Friday (w/ Bonus Jelly Legs)

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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 stuff and work on skills.

Apricot, if you must know.

My favorite jelly flavor: apricot. Not that I eat jelly anymore, but my legs are jelly-fied from squats this morning, so I keep accidentally thinking of apricot jelly. My quads are pleasantly jammy. Jelly-fied. Spent. Wrecked. Beat. You get the idea.

But damn it! Now I’m hungry for peanut butter toast with apricot jelly. And very element of that snack is verboten. But a girl can daydream.

You know what wasn’t a dream? Heavy squats.

If you’re new to strength training, here’s a great overview of what all the lingo means.

5:00 treadmill: started at 3mph and increased speed every minute t0 4 mph

2 rounds:
11 jumping jacks
11 air squats
11 rotations
11 deep squat to hamstring stretch
static squat hold & ankle stretch
quad stretch


Back Squat
5 @ 65% of max =105#
5 @ 75% of max = 120#
max reps @ 90% of max = 135# – I did 7 — with my butt to a medicine ball.
max reps @ 65% of max = 105# – I did 11.
2 X 13 front squat @ 75#

Bench Press
5 @ 65% of max =80#
5 @ 75% of max = 90#
max reps @ 90% of max = 100# – I did 5.
max reps @ 65% of max = 80# – I did 10.


2 X 7 deadhang pullups with a band, unbroken (Hate! Hate! HATE!)


We worked on the heart chakra today, which always means lots of holding our arms — for extended periods of time — in very uncomfortable positions. For example, we held out arms out to the sides at shoulder height, with our upturned palms making little cups, while doing breath of fire… for 3 minutes. Then later, we held our right arm out to the front at a 60-degree angle and our left arm behind us with our palm turned up while breathing long and deeply… for 9 MINUTES. If you want to amuse yourself — and by “amuse yourself,” I mean torture yourself — try holding your arms still in the air for nine freaking minutes. Oh, how I love being comfortable with being uncomfortable.

What’s your favorite jelly flavor?

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  • NJ Paleo says:

    Nice job on the Wendler workout! Not easy to do those “true” butt-to-ball squats! My daughter does ballet — I don’t mean cute little tutu ballet, but real hard-core advanced pointe ballet for a couple of hours several times a week. Their arms are always out/up/in awkward positions. Kid can do more pullups than I can. So I don’t think I’d go anywhere near 9 minutes of arms being out in the air….but my daughter does it on a regular basis. Hmmm…maybe I should…..

  • sam says:

    I just did walking dumbbell lunges and pull ups…. My arms are jelly!! My favorite US raspberry 🙂

  • I get jellies from St. Dalfour, They don’t sell on the site anymore, but I can get them at Whole Foods and even a local place called Ocean State Job Lot (where it’s *much* cheaper). Anyway, they sweeten with fruit juice, not sugar.

  • Heather A. says:

    I grew up on the west coast and my favorite jam is blackberry! I now live in ND, and my favorite that I could make is rhubarb.

  • I can relate to the jelly legs. 14 miles today and going out tonight in heels! wish me luck.

  • Vermonster says:

    May I post a gripe session? PINTEREST!!! Ugh!!! I have your cook book and love it (especially the chocolate chili which I make every week), but sometimes in the essence of a little variety in my life or just to *inspire* me, I try to search Pinterest for some cool new Paleo idea. Do you know what I get every time? Recipes claiming to be Paleo, but aren’t even close! I’m sorry but vegan and gluten-free are NOT interchangeable with Paleo. I like Pinterest, because it is easy to browse quickly for something eye catching, but its a goddamn group of liars and posers out there!

    • Mel says:

      I agree! People are less than forthcoming in their recipe titles and/or ingredients. We all just have to be super vigilant.

  • Suzi Q says:

    Um… I’m new to the whole “lift heavy things” universe. When you put the # after a number (eg, 135#), is that the number of pounds you used?? Like, what does this complicated looking formula under back squat mean: 5 @ 75% of max = 120#

    I got jelly legs from my exercise class today (on my b-day no less). It was “leg death” day. Robin Shean (you can see her on youtube) is the torture mistress… uh, I mean instructor.

    My favorite jelly is strawberry preserves or jam with the hunks of fruit in it. Mmmm…

  • Sophie O says:

    When I’m feeling jammy I make raspberry preserves (just the fruit, maybe some lemon zest and pectin) on homemade pastries I make from coconut flour and almond or hazelnut meal. NOM! If you mix the flours, add some applesauce (just boil down apples with cider and spices), nanners, and eggs and you got yourself some Sunday morning pastry love! Throw some almond or cashew butter on top and craving be gone.

  • Petra says:

    Hey Mel,

    I love that you post your workouts! It’s so refreshing to find info on the web by and for strong women. I’ve been working on Starting Strength’s 5×5 workouts and have been stuck at 125# for months! Maybe I should play with Wendler.

    My grandma used to make this zucchini-pineapple marmalade that was AMAZING. If only I could make that one paleo…

    • Mel says:

      Glad you like my workout posts… YAY! It’s funny: I’ve been wondering if I should be doing a 5X5 program instead 🙂 Grass is always greener.

      If you send me the zucchini-pineapple marmalade recipe, I’ll see if I can figure out how to paleoize it!

      • Petra says:

        YESSS. Well, I emailed it to you. Grandma has some awesome food that I can no longer eat. If you come up with a paleo chicken and dumpings, I will buy TEN of your next cookbooks! But, that would be tough, because she used to put beer in the dumplings. Yum yum.