Oddly, the weight room at my gym was packed last night at 10pm. Even more curious: both squat cages were taken and there were a couple people waiting. Rather than wait, I decided to start off with bench press. Big mistake.
When I was in college, the campus gym had more pundits than CNN and these “experts” often debated the merits of things like cardio or lifting first? High intensity intervals or long duration cardio? Lat pull-down in front of you or behind your neck? Full body workouts or endless curls? Pyramid or drop-sets? But one thing I often heard that actually made a lot of sense was that working your legs first helps your bench press. Something about your legs being a large muscle group and they release more testosterone, therefore you can lift more. Scouring the Interwebs for more information, I found that there are even more pundits and that these “experts” are still debating the merits of this vs. that. There’s tons of (mis)information and (un)informed ramblings out there, especially pertaining to exercise and weight loss – surely not this blog, right? 😛
And my largely uninformed, citation lacking opinion is this: doing squats–or another leg exercise–first in your workout makes a huge difference. Unless you have a massive barrel chest or are Mighty Mouse, you probably have more muscles in your legs than your pecs, so working out your legs would naturally release more testosterone, which will fuel you for everything else. Squats are even better because they engage your core as well as your legs. And not to mention, all the adrenaline that is released when you’re standing underneath a potentially crushing weight as in my workout a week ago. And last night’s workout either supports my hypothesis or I was really tired.
Bench Press: 135 5×5 – I tried to start off with 165lbs, but even lifting it off was challenging and I was only able to get in 3 reps before I felt like I was going to get pinned. I moved down to 155 and felt no difference. Only when I moved down to 135 did it feel manageable.
Squats: 190 5×5 – these felt great however, so perhaps I need to warm-up next time
Reverse Crunches: 3 x 12
Inverted Rows: 8/8/8
So the keys for next time: warm-up and wait for the squat cage.