Week 7 brings with it the realization that I’ve already surpassed my weight gain goal (115) and am heading past 117 to 118 lbs. The 3000 calories a day meal plan is a heck of lot of food and I’m starting to wonder how much longer I can handle it! Eating to bulk isn’t what some people might think. It’s not like I’m hanging out an all you can eat Chinese buffet all day or eating multiple BigMacs. Bodybuilders all know that meal planning involves prep time and dedication to eating and eating clean. Anyway- the only drawback to the weight gain is that my abs feel a little softer and my belly is a little rounder, and the pictures below and at the end of the post might detail that. I definitely “feel” heavier- and my body weight exercises (those darn chinups!) are getting a little harder. Still, it’s a small sacrifice considering the awesome strength gains I keep making on the program!
Week 7 begins with my favorite kind of day, the 5X5 workout. The first day is an upper body day and to my delight, I’m seeing an improvement in my bench press. Going back to Week 1 on Hybrid, let’s compare some stats for the 5X5 upper body day. I’m going to compare set number 5. On May 8, when I started Hybrid, I was pushing 85 lbs for 5 reps. 6 weeks later; I’m at 115 for 5 reps. That’s an increase of 30 lbs! Yeay! I am seriously hoping I can keep this up! The second part of the day is the deadlift. Comparing set 5 from week 1 to week 7, I only see a 15 lb increase. It’s an increase, but I’m a little disappointed that’s it’s not as big of an increase as with the bench. I’m not sure why- is it possible that I’m not resting my legs or back well enough? It might be considering I like selecting partial rep deads on hypertrophy days and regular deads 6X6 days….I think I love them a little too much.
Day 2 is a lower body 5X5 day- another favorite! Charles Staley, who also blogs on the brinkzone said something really interesting about “mental health secrets” for great workouts, and for me this totally applies to a big squat day. Granted, I’m not training for powerlifting (THAT should be obvious) but I wholeheartedly agree with his statement:
“You should never let your desire to hit a big number interfere with getting to parallel.”
I’m not going to lie to you: barbell back squats are HARD as heck, and they are supposed to be, but it’s aggravating when you aren’t getting as much weight on the bar that you want to! Comparing week 1 with week 7, here are the results for the barbell back squat:
Week 1 Week 7
125 lbs, 5 reps 135, 5 reps
135, 4 reps 135, 5 reps
130, 5 reps 135, 5 reps
130, 5 reps 135, 5 reps
135, 5 reps 145, 5 reps
So really at best, that’s only a 10 lb improvement if we are comparing the final set. It’s OK, but I’m figuring great squat technique is more important than wishing I had more weight on the bar. Plus- I want to do this forever, so no sense in begging for an injury. My advice is to have either a great spotter or make sure your bottom pins are set! Oh and listen to Charles’ advice:
Let Go Of Results And Simply Do The Right Thing
Week 7 concludes with a total body Hybrid HIIT day. It was an exceptionally hot day in town with the temps reaching 100 degrees, and for the first time-ever-(and I rarely back down), the HIIT portion of the routine leaves me spent! I’m quite sure it’s the heat- nothing else is different about my training or eating today, but post HIIT I feel a little nauseous. Instead of trying to be superwoman and tackling the squat/chin/bench circuit, I skip this part and do an easy 20 minute cool down on the treadmill. My hips and glutes are still enjoying a day of serious DOMS thanks to the 5X5 two days ago, so I’m listening to my body on this one!
OK- time to go eat (again!). Please feel free to leave any comments below. Eat right and train hard!
Sumi Singh is an Austin-based personal trainer with nearly 2 decades of experience in fitness. She holds specializations in pre-and post natal fitness, group fitness, and sports nutrition. She’s the author of Stay at Home Strong, a complete workout program for new moms. She’s also an online diet coach, a busy single mom, has set various world, National and state records as a powerlifter, and holds an BSc from Tufts, and a Masters from Duke University.