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“Liquid” Mesocycle 3 Review

My “Phase 2” intermediate lifting program during this revision is now by the nickname “Liquid”, so updating the title to reflect that.

I know this is a lot of mumbo-jumbo for a title for my workout log, but my “Phase 2.0” plan got a review and cleanup after the last mesocycle, so now my exercise plan is what I simply call “Phase 2.1”. Below will be my breakdown of how the workouts went, and what I learned and the changes I’m implementing to the plan due to the observations made.

In general, I felt pretty good about Mesocycle 3 although it shows the least improvement in my bench pressing skills. I feel like I learned what I need though, and I’m excited to start Mesocycle 4.

Current Status

Okay Mesocycle 3 lasted from August 17th to Sept 28th. A solid 6 weeks, so felt like the training went on schedule. My only real problem is that my cardio training is suffering lately as you’ll see near the end of my mesocycle. My running was very consistent on the start of my training but near the end, I’ve fallen off a lot due to work sucking up my time and energy.

Having an outside thing like work take your focus off your workouts definitely has an effect on training that should always be considered. If only I were independently wealthy, I’d have the time for all the training I’d ever want. Maybe if I was smart and did this training back when I was young, that’d be the case today… but anyways, enough rumination and whining, time to get to how things went!

Cycle 1: Conditioning

Period: August 17th to 24th
Rest Days: 3

The first thing I noticed was I revised my front squat training max (which will become less important later) in my very first training week just because I felt off with the figure I moved up to. This is a great example of why conditioning week is a good way to start this periodized workout routine because it’s got a good way to basically test if my training estimates were correct before I get too deep into the more specialized periodized workout weeks to follow. For my dev day this week I did overhead pressing, which I felt was pretty good and was the first time I had done overhead pressing in a while, so I used the opportunity to test my strength range a bit.

Cardio wise, I had a pretty intense week it was a 7 mile run out by the Highland Park Reservoir, a hike on the weekend then the short but intense Electrodash. So really only one of those rest days was a legitimate sit and rest day, which is almost an ideal exercise week honestly.

Cycle 2: Hypertrophy

Period: August 25th to 30th
Rest Days: 1

Work starts to get more demanding here, which is a background narrative to how the workouts will proceed going forward. I was a big fan of the volume changes to this week and it’s placement, so I enjoyed it. For dev day I worked on my chest with decline bench pressing and cable flys, which was appropriate as I had to cut my bench press day short this week due to time constraints.

For cardio I did a great 7.15 mile run in Frick Park, and that evening I took 2 hours out to go bouldering at the Climbing Wall gym. I count Bouldering as a unique workout so I did not count this day as a rest day. Busy and great week here.

Cycle 3: Stability & Control

Period: August 31st to Sept 7th
Rest Days: 3

This training cycle was pretty consistent, a lot of rest days due to work and being busy. I did strain my right glute during a bad lift on my front squat day, which affected me, but I took care to treat it right, gave myself an extra rest day and was cautious in the gym. Dev day was back and core, staying away from the strained glute to further facilitate recovery.

For cardio I had a good 5.09 mile run at the park and a street run of 6 miles that turned out to be a pretty challenging run given it was after the strained glute and it was uphill (unintentional, but I felt the run was needed).

So far all the plan changes to the program have felt very appropriate and I’ve enjoyed the greatly.

Cycle 4: Conditioning & Speed

Period: Sept 8th to 14th
Rest Days: 3

Still affected by the strained glute, I proceeded cautiously, but sometime during this cycle it finishes healing up. I felt good about the increased heavy workload on these speed days, and did a good job picking accessories. I noticed something that seems like a recurring problem, increased issue with front squat form. This time it was depth, but a lot of that is a function of back stability.

For cardio this week, I got a training run in at Monroeville Community Park. It was a little muggy and hot, but I got 6 miles in and felt productive, but at a fairly poor pace. This probably marks my decline in my cardio conditioning, where I stop finding good time to run more than once a week for a while. This is bad going into the Great Race at the end of this mesocycle, but I’ll get to that later.

Cycle 5: Heavy Weight Acclimation

Period: Sept 15th to 21st
Rest Days: 3

The first thing I noticed about this was I felt the rep ranges were poor after doing one day, and normally I follow those instincts to revise my plan accordingly. After making a revision, the other days went very good and I was very happy with this cycle. This has me having heavier weights in my hands, which I think really helps me psychologically going into my final week of strenght testing.

During front squatting I noticed a lot of form breakdown. A lot of forward tilt in particular. For some time I’ve been thinking about revising the workout plan to switch to high bar back squats instead of front squats, under the mentality that the higher weight levels will let me progressively overload my squatting faster and better as I won’t be limited to lower weights due to issues like tilt or back strength. Better overload, the better my leg strength translates to my deadlifts getting better which is honestly the lift I care about the most. It also is the lift that would translate directly to a powerlifting competitive lift (I simply don’t see myself being an olympic lifter any day soon, but someday getting into a powerlifting meet would be realistic).

This was further reinforced when around this time I also watched a video by Jonnie Candito explaining why he thinks the high bar back squat translates better to strength gain than the front squat, and I felt this reasoning was very sound…


Any good strength program needs focus, and I agree that the ability to progressively overload the high bar back squat is best.

The final points he makes, regarding carry over and the options you can use with fatigue and back strength, I think really drove home some of the feelings I’ve been developing about the front squat. I was intending to switch prior to this video, but this video I felt really convinced me I had made the right call.

While I feel front squatting is absolutely essential to understand, I understand it could be limiting my overall strength development, and that’s always a sign that change is needed. So it was around here I became convinced the next major program change would be swapping out the front squat with the high bar back squat.

Dev day was nice, an at home workout which was a great change of pace. Always nice to switch things up from time to time.

As for cardio, I took a 6 mile run at Monroeville Community Park. Work is getting more hectic at this point, and it’s taxing on me. I could’ve run more or started cycle 6 faster because I knocked out most of my workouts quick in this week cycle, but I decided instead to just take a couple days to clear my head and focus.

Cycle 6: Strength Testing

Period: September 22nd to 28th
Rest Days: 3

The final cycle here is my testing, and let me explain how it went. First was deadlifting, I hit four strong singles at 93.9% of my training max. I felt real good about that and decided it could definitely be a good increase for my deadlift max. Next up, bench pressing. No clear signs of improvement with a single rep at 92.1% of my training max. I decided I really need to focus on form and be cautious here as not to reaggrevate my old shoulder impingement, and I plan to do this by being more cognizant of my grip. I want my primary movers, the pecs, to get involved more so I’m going to do more close grip bench pressing and only widen it as I get up in weight levels. Lastly on my front squat, while I was much better on my form I did 4 singles at 92.3% of my training max then set a new real max at 190lbs. While the form was dodgy, I felt like it was good enough to count it.

For cardio this week, I got in one 4.37 mile run then on the day after dev day I finally ran the Great Race. I had respectable performance, finishing the race at an 8:40 mile, definitely better than expectation given the falling off of my cardio training progressively throughout the training cycle. It was nice though, to run the full 10K at something I felt was competitive.

Conclusions & Progression Updates

So, the point of all this work is to revise the plan, update the training updates and digest some goals for the next mesocycle. It was interesting, fun and a welcome diversion from the increasing stresses coming from work (currently closing my store, and there is ups and downs associated with running on minimal crew). New training max numbers for the next mesocycle…

Deadlift: 340lbs (previously 330, tested one rep max is still 315)
Stated Goal: 400lbs verified one rep max

High Bar Back Squat: 200lbs (new lift to replace the front squat, noting that I got a new one rep max on my front squat before converting to the new lift of 190lbs)
Stated Goal: 315lbs verified one rep max

Bench Press: 190lbs (no change, focusing on form development, tested one rep max is 175lbs and I re-verified that this training cycle)
Stated Goal: 225lbs verified one rep max

The new layout will give me time to more safely progress on my bench press, the high bar back squat switch will I hope translate to more gains across the board. No major program changes made besides the minor ones I noted.

As for cardio, it’s okay for it to fall off a little bit but I need to try to have at least one respectably long run and a few shorter ones in each week. I may just do a few 1-2 mile runs just to keep things on track.

Work is a serious distraction at this point, but an end is in sight soon and by the end of my next mesocycle, I should feel a lot more stable with my workplace situation. So we’ll see how this all goes… wish me luck!


Some of my favorite pics during this training cycle… click the left/right arrows to click through

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