Bob’s Transformation – Week 5

Bob's Transformation

Week 5 Day 1 – Legs and Abs


A new microcycle tonight. The workouts are split a bit more working individual muscles. 3 sets. Supersets. with 60 – 90 second rest in between sets.

Squats, 8-12 Reps
Straight Leg Deadlifts, 8-12 Reps

I remember writing that I was looking forward to the new microcycle. Then supersets happened! I had to use the smith machine again today for this superset. A pain when it came to the deadlifts to be honest. I prefer hogging the squat rack. It would have been so beneficial for this session. After the first set I was blowing and sweating. I thought maybe I was lifting too heavy. It was a 2.5 increase on my last 8-12 rep range session. But I persevered and finished the first 2 sets. The 3rd was very difficult, I just made 8 before failure! Although I didn’t lift the same weights for both the squats and deadlifts, so a quick change over of weights on the bar before doing the dead-lifts. I would have preferred 2 Olympic bars to crack on with.

I wouldn’t advise deadlifts on a smith machine if you can help it. I know people do do it, but it’s going to change the biomechanics of the movement and possibly put pressure on your back. I’d say drop the deads if the smith machine is the only option and perhaps use dumbbells instead.

Good effort with giving it a go though, just be careful. We don’t want an injury!

Deadlifts, 8-12 Reps
Front Squats, 8-12 Reps

Still on the smith machine; this was okay for the normal deadlifts but the front squats were awkward. The bar kept knocking the notches as it lifted and lowered and it made it difficult to concentrate on the move. That on top of the fatigue from the first exercise this was very, very difficult. Good burn though so got out of the exercise what I wanted to. This exercise I reached failure very quickly. As low as 7 for front squats. I will put it down to the intensity I was keeping on these sets. Or I was lifting too heavy. I did lower the weight on the 3 rd set this felt too light.

As far as I’m concerned, normal deadlifts on a smith machine aren’t ideal. I know it’s possible, but if you can, try to grab a bar. The smith machine is there for safety, but for deads the bar can just be dropped to the floor so it’s kind of obsolete.

Fronts wise, the smith machine will change the biomechanics ever so slightly, so again, not ideal. Well done for efforts thought. It sounds like you worked hard, so keep it up.

Leg Extensions, 12-15 Reps
Leg Curls, 12-12 Reps

These were very much the same as the last session. I kept the weight the same. As it is more of an isolated exercise I think I reached the limit for these for now. Kept to the tempo and I really felt these sets. I was walking a bit funny by now on the way to the pulley machine for the ab sets.

Well done Bob. Top work. The funny walk is a good indication. Keep to the weights as you have and aim to slide them up at some point if you can.

Weighted Ab Curls, 8-12 Reps
Incline Reverse Crunch, 8-12 Reps

Today these were great. I felt proper contraction of the abs on both exercises. Finally felt the incline reverse crunches working properly every rep. As for the weighted ab curls. I loved these. A fluid movement. With proper breathing technique this is a cheeky ab workout.

Sounds like you are nailing them now. As you mention; the breathing is imperative to this working correctly. Without the breathing often the abs don’t contract properly and the abs don’t really feel it. Very pleased here Bob.

Seated Olympic Bar Twists, 8-12 Reps
Olympic Bar Side Bends, 8-12 Reps

I was so glad to finish. But first I had to do the farmers walk for 40m. A good tour of the gym floor later. I was finished. I sat in my car after the session and actually wondered what had just happened.

Hahaha! A sign of a good workout: the aftershock. Brilliant Bob, keep this intensity up. You’ve set a bench mark, keep it there.

Day 2 – Pull Day


I tried keeping to the 60 second rest to keep the  intensity up. Something I found difficult when it came to the incline biceps.

Chin Ups, 8-12 Reps
Barbell Curls, 12-15 Reps

I had to increase the supporting weight slightly for the chin ups. But not as much as I thought I would have to because of the rep range. Straight onto the barbell curls. I enjoy the isolated exercises especially biceps they are my favorite arm workouts. 2nd set of bicep curls 8-12 was getting tough. Due to the chin ups of course.

Sensible to have a little more help on the chins with the biceps straight after. Hopefully you can slip this down over the weeks.

3rd set of Chin ups I really wish I had upped the supporting weight more I just couldn’t finish them with failure at 10. My forearms were burning and my back was on fire. The barbell curls were a relief from the chin ups although a struggle to finish the last set. Finished though with all reps. I will try an increase next session but if it felt anything like today’s. It’ll have to wait!

Maybe leave the chins weight where it is but if (by the sounds of it) all your biceps were full sets, choose the next bar up and give it a go. You can always drop down again.

Straight Arm Pull down, 8-12 Reps
Inverted Rows, 8-12 Reps

I haven’t done straight arm pulldowns before. So this was new to me. I found a good weight to start with. After the chin ups and my back was burning anyway. It was a bit tough but finished the first set. Straight onto the TRX machine which is always free… I wonder why?! This was difficult; I had to dig deep to finish even the first set. I kept nice and low to the ground. My forearms were now no good to anyone. The second set of straight arm pulldowns was successful. I upped the weight to see if I could, bad idea but I finished again, my shoulders kept coming up when I pulled. I concentrated on keeping them down.

Well done Bob. This sounds like a great bit of effort. I always find it’s my grip and forearms that take the biggest beating on supersets for back and arms, so no surprise there. 

Considering you’ve not done the straight arm pulldown before, it sounds like you’ve got the idea. As you said: “shoulders down and back”, so good technique yourself by the sounds of it.

The TRX machine did me in second set. I didn’t feel confident that I could support my weight on this by now so I walked my way down parallel to the floor (I have already fallen over when using the TRX when it slipped along the pole it is suspended from, landing on my bum in front of a few people). I managed 12 reps but I was getting weaker. I managed to do all set for the straight arm pulldowns but failed on 11 on TRX. I did the last few reps when I had got my breath back. Just for the sake of it.

Brilliant – and we all fall over in the gym at some point. But who cares?! You reap the benefits from working harder than anyone else and putting yourself out there to fail. 

Really impressed by the work here yet again.

Pull Up, 8-12 Reps
Wide Grip Lat Pull Downs, 8-12 Reps

Pull ups were not great. I was heavily fatigued and failed every set.

The gym is where we fail. Without failure, we cannot progress. This is positive, well done.

Wide grip lat pull-downs were more successful. Though tough I managed finished all the sets for this.

Well done. 

Incline dumbbell Hammer Curls, 12-15 Reps
Incline Bicep Curl, 12-15 Reps

The incline hammer curls were great at first. I found a good weight to start with. The first set was good not easy but good. Then the incline bicep curl. This proved more difficult. My biceps were pumped and fatigued. The second sets were worse. Really difficult to finish but I persevered and finished the reps. I didn’t look pretty at this point…or any point for that matter. Failed 3rd set 13 for Hammer curls and 8 miserably for bicep curls. I didn’t want to put the dumbbells down because I’d have to pick them up again.

Brilliant effort. Great reps and again: failure, which we want!!

I feel you with having to pick the weights up again, especially when the grip is destroyed. 

And in terms of looking pretty at the gym, don’t! In my book, people who look pretty at the gym deserve little respect, those that look like a sweaty mess deserve respect. By the sounds of it, you did!

Close Grip Pull Downs, 8-12 Reps
Reverse Grip Curls, 12-15 Reps

Close grip pull downs. I really enjoyed these it felt like it really finished my back off. Every pull was slow and controlled. All sets were good finished all of them but it got tougher and tougher. If I thought that was bad the reverse grip curls were worse. I finished these sets thankfully. Forearms in bits.

I’m a big fan of close grip pulldowns, as you say, they really do the job on the back. Good work here to keep them going. The reverse grip curls are awful, especially if the grip is struggling. Just don’t try to wash your hair in the shower after this session!

Bicep Cable Curl, 12-15 Reps
Bicep Rope Hammer Curls, 12-15 Reps

Nearly finished now just one more superset. Bicep cable curls were great. I felt odd pulling though from a cable though. I kept lifting with my whole arm and curling at shoulder height instead of just the bicep. I will need to keep an eye on that.

Yes, probably fatigue. Best to keep the elbow into the hip. Maybe drop the weight if you struggle to keep the arm still.

The hammer curls I found easier to grip with both hands and lift. I’m not sure if this right. I kept form for the best I could. The last two sets finished me completely.

Again, probably too fatigued, but yes; ideally keep hands apart rather than together. I appreciate this was the first time through and you’re fatigued so well done for just completing it all.

I had forgotten my banana luckily the gym sell fresh fruit, too tempting for a latte so I got out as quick as I could. Again I sat in my car wondering what had just happened.

Hahaha! Good effort Bob. Really pleased with your efforts again. You’re smashing this.

Day 3


Rest day.

Well needed I imagine!

Day 4 Legs and Abs


1a) Squats, 8-12 Reps
1b) Straight Leg Deadlifts, 8-12 Reps

The squats felt comfortable today. I kept it the same weight as Monday though as the last session shook my confidence. The straight leg deadlifts felt the same. It has become my least favourite exercise. But I finished the sets on the same weight as Monday. I haven’t made much progress with this. But it will come. I will persevere. Nearly failed on 3rd set but dug deep and finished. It was on the squat rack this time so a smoother motion, with deadlifts just behind the rack. Causing less rest time changing the weights. It worked of course. Sweating heavily by the time I finished these sets. Keeping to the 60 second rest period.

Much better. I feel happier with this now – better than the smith.

Yes, as you say, persevere and it will come. Keep going; it’s a marathon not a sprint.

2a) Deadlifts, 8-12 Reps
2b) Front Squats, 8-12 Reps

Deadlifts still in the same place. I have kept these as the same weight. I may lower the weight next time as I failed early second set.
Front squats again. This exercise comes round too quickly… I can see why nobody in the gym is doing them!! I upped 2kg I felt the difference though. Finished the first 2 sets and failed 3rd set rep 10.

Keep at it Bob. If you are getting 2 of the sets within rep range with the deads, stick with it. Don’t lower unless you’re failing the 2nd and 3rd sets.

Fronts are evil, but as long as you are sitting back and keeping the shoulders up, they are great for legs, abs and CV. Pleased you are sticking with it. Keep it up.

3a) Leg Extension, 12-15 Reps
3b) Leg curls, 12-15 Reps

I upped this over the recommended 2-2.5. My confidence has grown a lot in these two exercises. I can feel the difference from the first time I did these.

Superb!! Great that you progressed. Big smile on my face as you said you thought you might be at your limit, yet you went for it. Brilliant.

4a) Weighted Ab Curls, 8-12 Reps
4b) Incline Reverse Crunch, 8-12 Reps

Weighted ab curls were better today I have upped the weight quite a bit. Still cheeky and I could feel the burn after the first set. The Incline reverse crunch curls did the job. There was no bench spare so in the interest of intensity I lay flat on the ground holding the pulley machine pulling my knees in towards my chest, I took the last few reps on 3rd set slower just increasing the tempo so I didn’t fail.

Good adaptation, I do it like that sometimes too – almost like a dragon flag come reverse crunch.

As long as the abs burn you know it’s working!

5a) Seated Olympic bar Twist, 8-12 Reps
5b) Olympic Bar Side Bends, 8-12 Reps

These exercises are frustrating me. I can’t feel the benefit. But I will keep trying and work on it.

Let’s drop them. They can be a pain and don’t work for everyone. Don’t be afraid to leave them out. The preceding ones are working for you which I’m really happy with.

Farmers Walk, 40m

On the treadmill. Not seen anyone do this.

I’ve not seen anyone do that either! Good plan, I like your adaptations and ability to think outside the box! Very #BeMoreCommando.

Day 5 – Push Day


1a) Incline Dumbell Press, 8-12 Reps
1b) Bench Press, 8-12 Reps

I lowered the weight for the bench press after the 2nd set. I reached failure at 7. But only scraped 8 on the 3rd. Incline dumbbell press was a lot better than it has been so far. I was able to reach maximum reps.

Well done. You didn’t let ego get the better of you, I’m impressed Bob.

2a) Over Head Press, 8-12 Reps
2b) Lateral Raise, 8-12 Reps

Kept the Overhead Press at the same weight. Failing 3rd set with maximum effort to even finish the last rep.

Superb. Well done Bob.

Lateral raises are something I haven’t done in a long time. I found a good weight, although I am sure if it was the first exercise I have done I would have been able to do more. I felt a bit fatigued by now. Failed epically at 9.

Lateral raise is a hard exercise, I never go too heavy as I can’t get the squeeze. With the shoulder press beforehand, I bet you fatigued quickly, so just go with it. It will progress each time I’m sure.

3a) Dips, 8-12 Reps
3b) Wide Grip Bench Press, 8-12 Reps

Dips were great very difficult supported though.

Just try to lower the support amount as and when you can; again, it will build slowly but surely.

Wide grip bench press on the smiths machine as its right next to the dips machine. I initially went quite heavy but failed 2nd set on 4! So I lowered and finished the set. After the 60 seconds rest I failed on the 3rd set of dips. Going down but not coming up.

Hahaha! I’m not surprised you failed quick with dips before hand. Again, well done for not giving up or letting ego get the best of you. You’re working incredibly hard Bob, keep it going and you’ll get some great results.

4a) Arnold Press, 8-12 Reps
4b) Close Grip Bench Press, 8-12 Reps

Arnold Press is another exercise I have not done in a long time. But one I really like. A good weight to start with.

It is good. Well done on weight selection by the sounds of it; seems like you are getting a good feel for you own body and what it can/can’t do. Really promising for life long fitness.

Close grip Bench press. I had to lower the weight quite a lot, my arms were jelly by now and I didn’t have a lot of strength left. It was quite embarrassing.

Don’t be embarrassed. I bet no-one else in the gym was working as hard.

5a) Seated Dumbell Shoulder Press, 8-12 Reps
5b) Prone Incline Reverse Flyes, 8-12 Reps

The shoulder press was really tough. Failing 3rd set at 8.

A lot of presses already performed so not surprising.

Reverse flyes were even worse. Every set getting worse. I was unsure as to what weight I could lift. I think I found the right weight but it wasn’t a great deal.

My advice with this is to go light: – 2-4kg. Anymore and its hard to get the squeeze, especially if part of a superset.

6a) Standing Tricep Rope Extension, 12-15 Reps
6b) Overhead Tricep Extension, 12-15 Reps

I used the rope for the tricep extensions I had more strength in my triceps than I thought considering I had failed miserably at the close grip bench press. Overhead extensions were a good end to a good session. My arms were wobbling a lot by now and I was happy to finish. Finishing all the sets.

Good to know the triceps weren’t too bad at the beginning of this but wobbling at the end. You gritted the teeth and got though it all by the sounds of it. I suspect these sessions feel long, but hopefully we are getting the desired changes from the body.

Another good effort Bob, very pleased.


Day 6 – HIIT


5x60m sprints, 5x40m sprints

I warmed up on the bike for 10 minutes. I could feel a bit of pressure in my lower back doing the slow jog to warm up. I used the same technique on the treadmill as last week but I upped the incline to 2.

If the back is feeling it, we may need ensure the deadlifts and front squats are okay form wise.

Well done on the sprints! How do you find these? Do you enjoy them or dread them? Let me know next week.

Bob Manser - Author

I am currently doing a 12 week transformation with the help of Sean Lerwill. I’m 27, overweight and overworked. Trying to change the fact that my hair is thinning more than my waist line.