For seven weeks, this was my program:

Heavy = 3-4 exercises per part, 3-4 sets, 8-10 reps

Monday Back, biceps, rear delts, traps
Tuesday Chest, triceps, front & side delts
Wednesday Glutes and hamstrings

Light = giant sets of 6 exercises, 5 sets, 8-10 reps

Thursday Back, biceps, rear delts, traps
Friday Chest, triceps, front & side delts
Saturday Quads – always heavy

I’m pleased with the results I got on that program – gained inches, lost some fat. However, starting around the 4th or 5th week, my back  did not recover from  Monday’s workout before I had to work the back again on Thursday.  There were a couple of weeks when I had to skip the second back workout entirely and just do arms and delts on those days.  Traps stayed sore ALL the time, so I quit working them separately.  I was still not happy with the form on my squats.  I had to skip dead lifts a lot because of a pulled muscle in the back that wasn’t healing fast enough.  And my strength gains leveled off.  Basically, this program beat me up.  It was time to change things up, but I didn’t have anything else I was excited to do.

A fellow blogger, Martha84, wrote about a program she loved and said produced some serious gains for her.  When I read it, I liked it.  At that time, I was 16 weeks out from show.  I needed to finish up the week I was on and plan things out before I started it.  I decided to do it for a couple of weeks to see if I liked it, and if I did, go with it for a month to see what happens.  I don’t need two weeks.  ONE workout and I was hooked.

So last week was my first week on Bill Starr’s Madcow 5 x 5.  (This is for an intermediate lifter – not good for a novice.)

Madcow 5 x 5 = 5 sets, 5 reps

Sunday Squats, bench, barbell rows
Monday Core, calves, cardio
Tuesday Squats, military presses, deadlifts, pullups
Wednesday Core, calves, cardio
Thursday Squats, bench, barbell row
Friday Delts, arms (On the plan, but not supposed to be on this day.)
Saturday rest

This program is a lot more intricate than it seems.  There is a ton of background information, lots of guidelines, and a spreadsheet to download with the weight progressions calculated from 1RM (The max weight a person can lift for 1 rep).

Form has to be perfect, so weights start out light and move up gradually.  I love that.  I love doing squats three times a week.  After the third workout, I recorded my squats and can see my form is improving.  The spreadsheet keeps my ego from loading on too much weight.  It was intellectually stimulating to try and figure out how to add 3 pounds to the bar when the smallest amount I can add is 2.5 pounds to each side.  It was a math puzzle.  The extra lifting on Fridays for delts and arms is not supposed to be an extra workout.  Assistance exercises are allowed after the big lifts.  Because time is tight in the morning and I need to do cardio twice a day, I added this workout and I’ve added extra delt exercises because my shoulders are lagging.
Here is my last set of squats on May 17, 2012.  This was week 1, workout #3 of Madcow 5 x 5.  This was 145 pounds.  Not the heaviest I’ve done, but I haven’t been good at full range of motion.  This felt good, but when I look at the video, I see that I could go a little lower.  (Also not sure why I’m breathing with chipmunk cheeks.)
I am now exactly 14 weeks and 8 minutes away from the start of prejudging for my show.  I am losing weight slowly and I’ve been told by the trainers at the gym (who swear they aren’t bullshitting me) I look leaner.  I see it too, but the mirror always lies to me. (Old fat chick/ new bodybuilder body image issues.)  I’m still 10 pounds heavier than I am supposed to be today, but if the weight loss was too fast, I’d freak out.  That would be muscle loss for sure.  Based on numbers from two months ago, I still have 20 pounds of fat to lose.  I’m making forward progress.  It’s all good.
A date on the calendar isn’t the real goal.
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