Friday, August 5, 2016

Wendler's 5/3/1 Program to Reach Strength Targets | Operation 健康アップ

Nowadays, my workout programs at Genesis Gym aren't actually confined to 4 weeks. Sometimes they take longer, sometimes they take shorter so I'll change the format of my personal training program updates a bit and just share on each program after I finish them (☆▽☆)

Gym Workouts
So since I'm considered relatively lean now, I wanted to place more emphasis on improving on my strength to deadlift at least 2x my body weight and squat at least 1x my body weight, as well as get even leaner to 15% body fat.

Now, in fitness training, these are actually 2 opposing goals as gaining lots of muscle and strength is generally antithetical to the goal of getting lean. For most people, picking one goal and then optimising training and diet towards that goal generally works better than trying to do all things at once. Jen told me that there comes a point where I will have to choose between being leaner or being stronger, but for now, I still can get gains both ways and we will work towards that (/^▽^)/

He helped me to plan a 4-day rotation workout program using Wendler's 5/3/1 training to improve on my core lifts - the deadlift and squat. I did it for my previous workout program as well {which I didn't update on the blog, sorry!} so was familiar with it.

Basically you set a 1 repetition max {1RM} for those lifts. It can be your actual 1RM if you know and tested for it, or can be your assumed 1RM based on what you've done in the past. Then you use 90% of that as your "1RM for the 5/3/1 training" & start a cycle of lifts starting from 65% and work up to 95% of that 1RM. At the end, you should be able to break your personal records multiple time at a comfortable, progressive rate. Read more on Wendler's 5/3/1 training program here.

A video posted by Ai Sakura  (@aisakuraharuka) on

Workout A with the latest/ heaviest weights I lifted:
A1. Barbell Back Squat, 3 sets, 5/3/1 reps -  67kg
B1. Barbell Back Squat, 10 sets, 10 reps - 62kg
C1. Lying Cable Crunch, 4 sets, 12 reps - 75lb {34kg}
C2. Hack Slide, 4 sets, 12 reps - 16kg
D. Burpees with Push-up & Jump Tabata - 5mins

I think since I first started doing BB squats in May, my form has improved and I don't use the elevated heel board anymore. However, I still can't find my "sweet spot" in regards to my stance and find myself shifting my feet a tad too often for my liking. It's like when I'm comfortable at the top, I'm not that comfortable / stable at the bottom. Hmm.. I prefer to squat without any shoes and use my Nike Studio Wraps more often if I can. However, I've also started wearing my Reebok MetCon shoes when squatting too for extra support and comfort. Maybe that might help?

The Hack Slide exercise was supposed to be Reverse Lunges on a board with a band at my hips but I found myself spending too much effort trying to balance and it kind of caused my knees to ache a bit so Boon changed that exercise to Hack Slide with the heels touching and standing just on the balls of your feet.

Workout B with the latest/ heaviest weights I lifted:
A1. Deadlift, 3 sets, 5/3/1 reps -  91kg
B1. Front Squats, 4 sets, 8 reps - 42kg
C1. Pull-ups, 5-6 sets, 1 more rep than prev. session - 32 
C2. Lying Hamstring Curl, 4 sets, 8 reps - 8kg
D. Abs Crunch at Dips Bar, 4 sets AMRAP - 15 reps
D. Battling Ropes Tabata - 5mins

I like doing Deadlifts but my grip is really quite weak, especially for my left hand. I'm trying not to use any straps when doing the deadlifts, even for the heavier weights, and am working on getting my grip strength up by doing barbell grip training finishers twice a week. 

For this workout I had to change exercises from the original plan a number of times due to the exercise not working for me, or because of my body aching too badly from it. For example, the Barbell Front Squat was initially the Deficit Deadlift but as the weight got heavier, my back started to ache pretty bad so we changed that. Battling Ropes Tabata was supposed to be American Kettlebell Swing and since we didn't want to aggravate my back further, we changed that too. 


Workout C with the latest/ heaviest weights I lifted:
A1. Pull-Ups, 8 sets, 2 reps - 1kg
A2. Standing Barbell Shoulder Press, 8 sets, 2 reps - 33kg
B1. Pronated Lat Pull-down, 4 sets, 10 reps - 110lb {50kg}
B2. Standing Dumbbell Shoulder Press, 4 sets, 10 reps - 13.5kg
C1. Push-ups {Triceps emphasis}, 3 sets, AMRAP - 30 reps
C2. Standing Dumbbell Hammer Curl, 3 sets, 15 reps - 8.5kg
C3. EZ Bar Triceps Extension, 3 sets, 15 reps - 16kg
D. Explosive V-ups Tabata - 5 mins

I was rather happy to be doing Barbell Shoulder Presses as I was learning, in theory, how to do them properly for the CrossFit Level 1 Trainer course. It's a relatively easy exercise, but actually gripping the bar properly and efficiently doing the first rep after taking it off the rack is kinda hard for me. Need to practise on it more.

Another new exercise I learnt during this program was the EZ Bar Triceps Extension. Previously I did Dumb-bell Triceps Extension and the EZ Bar made it easier to extend the arms equally, without moving the elbows too much. 

Workout D with the latest/ heaviest weights I lifted:
A1. Pull-ups, 5-6 sets, 1 more rep than prev. session - 32
B1. Barbell Back Squat, 4 sets, 10 reps - 58kg
B2. Barbell RDL, 4 sets, 10 reps - 61kg
B3. Lying Hamstring Curl, 4 sets, 15 reps - 4.5kg
B4. Walking Lunges, 4 sets, 15 each leg - 10kg
B5. Prowler Sprint, 4 sets, 40m - 30kg

This was by far the most gruelling workout I had I reckon. Many a times, it left me feeling breathless and rather pukish. There was once I even broke down and cried because I just felt like I couldn't breathe, was very weak and pretty emo about my arms' injury {more on that below}.

I really have to hand it to my PTs {especially Superman} for being able to guide and encourage me through this difficult workout. Everyone is very eager to post and see the success from fitness training, but not many can understand that hard work goes into whatever results you see not just from me, but from everyone else too. It takes time. It hurts. And it requires a lot of willpower. The most important thing is to not give up, even when something heavy tries to keep us down.

Food Nutrition
When I started this program I weighed 58.7kg and had a body fat percentage of 17.01% and lean body mass of 48.72kg.To get to 15%, Jen reminded me that I really had to be more thorough with my food intake and calories tracking. My daily calorie intake was still supposed to be 1,500 calories daily, and a slight carb-loading on Sundays when I can eat up to 1,650 calories.

Unfortunately, I didn't track faithfully this round again due to many reasons.. mainly laziness. However, since I've been on a fitness journey for 1 year plus, I'm on "auto-pilot" for a lot of health-related things {food, included} and can roughly guesstimate and control my food portions.

So thankfully when I had my measurements on Wednesday morning, I weighed 61.1kg but my body fat percentage dropped to 16.7% and lean body mass increased to 50.9kg. Phew!

For the next program cycle, I will really endeavour to track my macros and calories properly again. Hopefully will reach 15% by the end of that!

Thoughts of the Weeks
About 1-2 weeks after this program started, my arms started to ache. It started off with my right forearm aching.. which is quite normal and I attribute that to my constant mobile use. However, soon enough, both my whole arms started to be in pain. Like throbbing, debilitating pain that kept me up from sleeping. Sobs. It got so bad I had to take panadol as a painkiller which kinda helped for a while but of course, the pain didn't go away completely.

I tried many things like increasing my intake of BCAA, fish oil, voodoo-flossing, barbell massaging, taking pull-ups out from my workouts completely for a while and eventually after 2+ weeks, I recovered completely but it left my grip strength pretty sh*tty (x╭╮x)

Now, I'm slowly trying to regain the strength in my arms without aggravating it again so I've been doing pronated and supinated grip pull-ups at a lower volume and not to failure.

This workout program has been very draining not just physically, but mentally too. It's not that I didn't like it, but it's just that I had been injured {not just my arms, but with back and knee aches too..} and so weak for most part of it that it pretty much sucked. I understand that bad workouts are all part and parcel of fitness training, but when you have a series of non-stop bad workouts.. it can be pretty demoralising going into the gym.

Oh well. I was so glad when I started deloading this week and am very excited to start the new workout program tomorrow! Can't wait to see what Jen has planned next!! ( ᐛ )و


One-on-On Personal Training Updates:

Genesis Gym Personal Training Updates:
The Beginning - Signing Up for Personal Training



14 comments:

3 Wheelingtots said...

Wow, you are really a great motivation to me!
It's time for me to bring out my running shoes again!

Stacy said...


The pics looks painful especially in black n white... sorry I'm a wuss.

I like the food pic.

Theresa Mahoney said...

Sorry to hear of your pains. That's one downfall of fitness. I remember I couldn't walk for 2 days (seriously, I was paralyzed with pain in my thighs) after starting a strenuous fitness routine last summer.

Sounds like you are doing really well with your routines!

Michelle Hon said...

This all sounds so technical and restricting calories intake doesn't sound fun at all. Kudos for keeping this up and getting to where you are today. Hope your arms are recovering well.

Michelle @ The Chill Mom

MummyEd said...

Wow you are really such an inspiration! Jia you!!!

Katong Kids Inc said...

You go babe! You are reaching your goal of 15%, hang on.. Can't imagine the pain,popping Panadol with sleepless nights. Speedy recovery.

Katherine Sng said...

I think it takes a lot to keep this kinda regime but jia you!

mail4rosey said...

I just want to squat (no weights involved) and be able to get back up without help, hahhaa It's nice that you're moving forward and always increasing your goals!

Lil Bookworm said...

I am simply amazed at yr fat %. You are so lean. I am so envious, haha.

Mumsand Babies said...

You are really strong to bear the pain and still so determined.

simplylambchops said...

Wow, I am encouraged by your determination to do this fitness training. It sounds very very tough, and your 'Thoughts of the Week' will come in handy for people who wanna try out this program. In years to come, you will look back at all these posts and feel proud that you have done it. Jia you!

- Mary

Jacqualine Chan said...

My eyes grew wider and wider as I read through this post! Kudos to you for being so determined and disciplined! Can't wait to marvel at your new body soon hehehe

Cascia Talbert said...

Good for you! You look fantastic!

alissa apel said...

You are getting so strong! You're like a superhero.