Barbarian Book Club: Weightlifting


The majority of posts on this blog are dedicated to reading and writing, but the intellectual element is only one area of interest. Fitness has always been an important part of my life, my day job depends on it, and I enjoy both the physical challenge and the mental aspect of weightlifting and endurance training. The Barbarian Book Club needs to be about reading heavy and lifting heavier. 20180110_1805241222776908.jpg

I despise the emasculated, limp-wristed, greasy, unhealthy, basement dwelling image that has come to be identified with artists and writers. Just because one enjoys spending long hours reading, writing, and creating does not mean that looking like a Dorito stained bag of mashed potatoes is acceptable.

With my first child on the way, the urge to challenge myself and attain the highest level of strength, fitness and physical health has greatly increased. So I’m going to use this blog space, not only to track my reading and writing but also my ongoing fitness routine.

Like I mentioned in previous posts, a few years ago I hurt my back. It was pretty bad and I kept on reinjuring myself everytime I tried to get back into weightlifting. Sometime midsummer I went to see a Physical Therapist and he told me that I most likely have disk herniations and I should avoid barbell work indefinitely. I called bullshit on that.

I picked up a copy of Foundation: Redefine Your Core and spent most of the Fall working on core strength and base building with bodyweight exercises and kettlebells. Finally, after about Thanksgiving, I decided it was time to get back to lifting heavy weights.  But, I decided to go back to basics, to the very beginning and start with an LP program.

LP stands for Linear Progression, a type of weightlifting program made popular by Mark Rippetoe in his famous book Starting Strength, which is pretty much the bible of barbell weightlifting. This stuff is simple and effective. You do basic barbell exercises with heavy weights and linearly progress each time by adding a small amount of weight each session. So lift heavier and heavier each week until you can’t lift, then drop 10% and get back to lifting.

20180108_131711534140803.jpgFor my own lifting, I decided against Starting Strength and went with what I think is the best variation of Linear Progression, Grayskull LP. Grayskull is simple, doesn’t have such a huge focus on daily squatting(I have really big legs already) and adds an awesome hypertrophy element.

The Grayskull LP Base:

Week 1

Workout 1: Bench Press (2×5, 1×5+) Squat (2×5, 1×5+)

Workout 2: Overhead Press (2×5, 1×5+) Deadlift (1×5+)

Workout 3: Bench Press (2×5, 1×5+) Squat (2×5, 1×5+)

Week 2

Workout 1: Overhead Press  (2×5, 1×5+) Squat (2×5, 1×5+)

Workout 2: Bench Press (2×5, 1×5+) Deadlift (1×5+)

Workout 3: Overhead Press (2×5, 1×5+) Squat (2×5, 1×5+)

Continue alternating Week 1 and 2 indefinitely.

The critical elements are the Linear Progression and the + sets. Linear Progression is achieved by going up 2.5lbs for the upper body and 5lbs for the lower body each workout. The 1×5+ means AMRAP(as many reps as possible). During that last set you knock out as many reps as you can, the idea is to get to right before failure. If you make it in the 5-10 rep you will go up in weight next session. If you can’t make 5 reps, next session you will de-load 10% and keep going. The idea is that you get a good bit of hypertrophy and self-regulate.

In order to do this program, you have to have a set of microplates that weight 1.25lbs for upper body progression. I ordered mine on Amazon because every gym I’ve been to only has 2.5lbs as the low end.

The cool thing is that you can add all sorts of accessory work after you hit the base lifts. what I’ve been doing is pull-up pyramids every workout, and 100 Kettlebell swing progression on the squat days and really heavy farmer carries on the deadlift day. I’m going to start adding some bicep curls and delt work because I want bigger looking arms and shoulders.20180108_131808643693235.jpg

I started the progression much lower than recommended due to fear of re-injury, so I do every exercise with extra focus and work on having the best form possible. Because of that, I’m currently doing 4×5, 1×5+ sets on all lifts, but I’m quickly approaching the time to get back to the recommended set and rep range.

My lifts as of today:

Bench Press: 147.5lb 5×5

Squat: 175lbs 5×5

OHP: 95lbs 5×5

Deadlift: 185lbs 5×5

Nothing impressive, but outstanding for me when you consider that last summer I would be in excruciating back pain every morning when I got up out of bed.

My near future goals are as follows:

Bench Press: 190lb 5×5

Squat: 240lbs 5×5

OHP: 120lbs 5×5

Deadlift: 300lbs 5×5

I should hit the above numbers in the next few months then I will readjust and make some new goals.

Tell me about your weightlifting and fitness goals.




13 thoughts on “Barbarian Book Club: Weightlifting

  1. Love the intersection of two seemingly distinct worlds 🙂 Sounds like a good program, I tend to follow LP for interval sprints (because it’s so easy), but I’m terrible at keeping a record of what I’m lifting. This would be a great place to start!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m horrible at keeping track of what I lift also. Recently I started carrying around a small notebook due to having so many meetings at work. I write my weights in it and back it up by taking a picture of it with my phone.


  2. I have such a problem with LP because of the record keeping. I’m in a weird place with my training now. The weak spot for me is diet. I can avoid junk and beer, but I have a hard time eating enough good stuff. In the last few months I’ve shed 35 pounds, but I’ve seen my lifts go down, specifically squats.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve really gotten into the whole journal/log thing, I carry one around all the time. Mostly to keep track of all the crazy stuff I have at work but I also log all my workouts. It helps me focus.

      I’m the same, my problem is that I eat well for a few days then slip into trash for a day and just sort of bounce back and forth. If I focused my diet I would be in much better shape.


  3. I haven’t hit the gym since Christmas. I need to get back on top of things. I read/write/sleep/work much better when I’m regularly lifting. I’m a big fan of Starting Strength, 5×5, pretty much any program that uses heavy weights and non-machine lifts. My eventual goals are to bench my body weight and deadlift & squat twice my body weight. I’ve got a lot of fat to work off before those become reasonable, though.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love Starting Strength, I just think it focuses a bit too much on Squatting making it better for younger skinny guys that need to gain mass. That’s why I’m doing the grayskull LP which cuts out one squat and only deadlifts once a week. I also go up 2.5lb upper body, which makes it a lot more manageable.

      Those goals are absolutely attainable.



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