Preparing the Week

I spend much of my work weekend sitting alone, thinking about training stuff.

This coming week should be the first week that I’m back on a 5-day Nuckols-Bulgarian schedule. First time with Pressing, second or third go-round with Squats.

Daily Minimums

These are weights that I should be able to work up to and successfully complete a rep of every workout, no matter how shitty I feel (assuming I can still train at all, that is.)

  • Press = 70lbs.
  • Squat = 135lbs.
  • Assisted Chin = 90lbs.
  • Pendlay Row = 85lbs.
  • Bench Press = 80lbs.
  • Bent Over Row = 55lbs.
  • Deadlift = 95lbs. (keeping in mind I Deadlift immediately after Squatting)

Single Targets

These weights are what I’m hoping to start with and progress from on Monday. If I can go beyond them, great, but having re-read Nuckols’ manual I realize I’ve been training at too high at % of my 1RM.

I’ve converted the percentage recommendations to RIR guidelines to keep things easier for me to remember, so beneath each intensity level is also a performance with reps in reserve guideline if I don’t want to do singles.

  • 1 @ 3-4 RIR
  • 2 @ 2-3
  • 3 @ 1-3 (I have been doing 3 @ 2 RIR in my higher volume stuff)

I’ll be tinkering with my spreadsheet calculations throughout the week.

  • Press = 90lbs.
  • Squat = 170lbs
  • Assisted Chins = 120lbs.*
  • Pendlay Rows = 110lbs.
  • Bench = 105lbs.
  • Row = 75lbs.
  • Deadlift = n/a, while I’ll probably try to test higher on Monday, I’m way more interested in deadlift technique.

*Since the weight can vary based on how my bodyweight fluctuates, if the total weight is lessened at a given offset, I’ll go for an additional rep compared to the previous session.

Exercise Selection

  1. Press
  2. Squat
  3. ???
  4. ???

I definitely want a third exercise every day. The way things have been going, three exercises have meant about an hour in the gym.

If I do switch from my prior volume focus to doing a single top set, I’ll have a lot more time for doing another exercise. I do have plenty of extra time usually to just do all four exercises if I want.

3 and 4 Priorities

In descending order of importance:

  1. Bench
  2. Deadlift
  3. Pendlay Rows
  4. Bent Over Rows
  5. Chin-ups

I think if I only did one exercise after the key two I’m focusing on, it’d definitely be the Chin-Up, as it relates the most to my Press progress and my overall aesthetic goals.

However, I have started to find that simply balancing the vertical push with a vertical pull is causing imbalances in my back. Experimenting with the Bent Over Row to balance out my back development really seemed to sort things out better than all the bandwork I’ve been attempting to resolve the issue, particularly the “somebody punch me back there PLEASE” feeling I’ve been having.

I decided to try the Bent Over Row rathe than the Pendlay I know and am familiar with, because in investigating the exercise I thought it would have the greatest potential to learn a helpful mind-muscle connection. I also had some recovery concerns with Pendlay rows because, while it has no eccentric, the rattling of the bar when it contacts the floor has been agitating on my elbows in the past. I didn’t want that rattling coming up into my shoulders, either.

Deadlifting is probably my favorite lift on the list, but I don’t think I will be able to recover from doing it every day. Not this week anyway. Maybe I could do two sessions this week (up from my usual 1) if I try to keep them light technique sessions as I mentioned earlier.

That still leaves me with three days to figure out whatever else to do. I’m thinking that if I pretend deadlifting is a horizontal row, then I could do two chinning sessions to balance that, and then reintroduce the bench press for the remaining session.

  • Monday = Deadlift. I’m just used to deadlifting on Monday, and I like the idea that the systematic fatigue might be limiting me the rest of the week. High frequency demands self-awareness, and this DL session has always gotten my mind back into game-mode.
  • Tuesday = Chin
  • Wednesday = Bench. I was considering putting this on Friday since it’s technically introducing a new lift, but Wednesday is also the most likely day for me to fuck up and miss in the coming week. Since I’ll miss Benching the least, I’ll put it here.
  • Thursday / Friday = Deadlift or Row, in either order. I can think of arguments either way. Row second to see if I’m really keeping the Deadlift light enough. If Deadlift is second maybe I’ll know I’m replenishing myself after the Row session well enough.

I’ve often thought about getting back into doing carb cycling diets (I’m not going to this week) and what kind of lift would be a good final-depletion exercise before the heavy session of deadlifts. I still don’t have an answer I’m satisfied with, I need more exposure to the B.O. Row first, but deadlifting it to set up is giving it a lot of brownie points so far.

Pendlay Rows seem like a good pick because of being an explosive pull from the floor with low technique requirements, though if I could get my shit together and do Cleans on low carbs, that would probably be the ideal. Romanian Deadlifts (not part of my current program at all) would probably also be necessary.


As much as I like tinkering with things in advance, a lot of my training sessions take organic turns as I go through them. This week coming up has a lot of queer elements in my personal condition: I’m still sick, I’m taking antibiotics, I feel a little creaky.

I’m just so inbetween discrete stages of recovery that it’s hard to tell what I will feel up to doing. The heavy singles while I was at max sickness were fun, but the volume work from the two weeks leading into that were probably where I made my actual gains.

I needed more mass to get through my sticking point.

What will probably be the case is that I will push along with a top-set-only program until I’ve tapped out the neuromuscular efficiency gains on the new mass I’ve developed.

Incidentally, I’ve put about 2 inches onto my shoulder circumference since I started specialization on the Press. There’s some additional mass going on there, and I’m hoping it’s not all bloat.

Most of the ratcheting up in volume in the weeks I was doing 10×3 was to give me a higher work capacity, also. If I equated then to now, I would need to do 6×3 for five days in a row. It’s the same weekly volume but somehow it seems less recoverable than 10×3 with rest days.

So I’m splitting the difference and getting 1×1-3 top sets and no drop sets, for at least this week, until I get a better feeling for what my recovery needs really are.