EES cycle complete with mixed results


Level 6 Valued Member
So I did an 8-week EES cycle. I used the barbell deadlift, dumbbell overhead press and weighted pull-up as my main movements. I also did the ab-wheel and loaded carries.

Weighted Pull-up
Tactical style, overhand thumbless grip with legs straight. Going in to this my max was around 90lbs. My all-time max was 100lbs in 2018. I mostly did bodyweight pullups and lightly weighted ones (10, 15, 25lbs). I very rarely did 45lbs and my highest in training was a 60lbs single. I did a few set of 5 but also a lot of 1234, 4321, 333, 343. Near the end of the 6 week mark, I decided to do 6 singles and see how heavier weights felt. 90lbs went up effortlessly and 105lbs (108 if you count the 3lb dip belt) was pretty darn easy as well! So, I set a new PR here. Very nice. I was shocked and thrilled that I was able to break my record despite never going very heavy at all in training.

Dumbbell Overhead Press
Olympic dumbbell handle with 2.5, 5, and 10lb plates. One side at a time. This one was a bit different. I hadn't really done these before in a strict, standing style. The closest thing I had done was seated shoulder presses with sets of 8-10 in a bodybuilding style. The highest I had done in this style was 40lbs. But since that's quite a different movement, I didn't really have a baseline. My goal is to transition to kettlebell presses once it becomes possible to buy kettlebells again. And eventually barbell military presses. About 7 weeks in, I did the 6 singles and hit 57lbs with my right arm (failed at 62) and 55lbs with my left. I realize that this is very unimpressive here but I've always been a TERRIBLE presser. Being tall (6'2") and lanky (6'4.5" armspan) and fairly skinny (~170lbs), I don't expect to set any world records in this area but it was good to see some improvement. One issue that I had was that it was difficult to find any info about how to properly do heavy standing dumbbell presses, like how it is for kettlebell presses. Most of the info out there is very basic and treats it as a bodybuilding movement rather than a true strength lift. I combined what I read about the side press from PTTP and kettlebell press from ETK and experimented with form until I found what felt "stable" to me. The form wasn't really all that consistent until ~7 weeks in so I'm sure there is still lots of room for growth in this area.

Here, my goal was to overhaul my form. My all-time max was 435lbs but going in it was ~395 or so. However, I didn't bother going heavy at all here. I was purely focused on recovering from previous stupid training programs that had me going all-out all the time. My back was "tweaked" and hadn't felt right for a few weeks going in to this. So I used 135-185lbs the first few weeks and worked my way up to 225lbs. Every set and every rep was recorded and analyzed carefully. I re-read everything I could find on the deadlift from Pavel as well as the deadlift chapter in Rippetoe. Once I was at 225lbs, I stayed there for pretty much the entire time, doing 2x5. On the last week I did a 270lbs with great form but slightly shaky. I couldn't do 315. It was a bit disheartening to see that I was so de-trained despite deadlifting every week-day for the last 8 weeks. But, honestly, it makes sense. I was entirely focused on correcting my form and there was no overload whatsoever above 225lbs. The strength will come back fairly easily, I'm sure. On the plus side, I think I accomplished what I set out to do. My back feels great! My form is so much better and way more consistent now. It's like a new groove has been found almost.

I did my 5 reps of the ab-wheel after the main lifts. I could easily do 20+ so doing 5 almost felt a bit pointless. Halfway through I switched to trying to do the ab-wheel from the standing position. I wasn't really able to do one succesfully (extending arms all the way forward like I do for the knee version) but this will likely take quite a bit of time to develop the calisthenic groove for this movement. Also, being a unilateral below-knee amputee makes this quite a bit harder. I don't have a left ankle so stability on the left side is quite a challange once I start extending farther out.

Loaded Carries
Like the above, I didn't really think too much of these. I mostly did EZ-bar rack carries. Not having a lot of space, I would walk around different paths in my cul-de-sac with 70-90lbs most of the time. I wasn't really trying to challenge myself too much with these, mostly just get them done.

Any thoughts on the above? Did I do something obviously wrong that I missed?

All told, I enjoyed EES quite a bit. I was thrilled to break my weighted pull-up PR. I really liked the relatively short workouts (50min-1hour for me, I tend to rest a lot between sets). I'm taking ~5 days off but want to continue doing this or something similar since there are definitely more gains to be had. I was thinking of perhaps doing a hybrid PTTP/EES program but I'll start another thread on that.

Steve Freides

Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
@dk, add your bodyweight to the extra weight together - that's your 1RM. Your percentages in training were much higher than just the percentages of the added weights.

Your DL would need to be similar, at least roughly, to achieve a similar result.

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