I feel emancipated. I'm free of heart disease, prostate disease, and I can train. Oh, and I don't want to see a guy in scrubs with a knife in his hand ever again! I was whining to a friend of mine about the after-effects of my recent prostate surgery, and he pointed out that after everything heals, I'll have the heart of a much younger man...and the genitalia as well. He said that if I had three wishes, I should give one back. I already had the two most important things a guy my age could ask for.

By my calculations, there are 19 weeks from July 29th to December 7th of this year. That should give me plenty of time (if I don't screw around) to get ready for the IPA NC Iron Challenge. This is the meet in which I broke four world IPA records previously. My goal is to try to break them again. Therefore, I have decided on a course of action and—right or wrong—I'm sticking with it. Years ago during a football practice, I was indecisive on a pass play. I couldn't decide whether to rush the passer or cover a receiver, and I ended up doing neither. As a result, my coach screamed at me, "Do something even if it's wrong!" So I am doing something—even if it's wrong.

A few months ago I asked Jim Wendler (on the elitefts™ Q&A) if I should try his 5/3/1 program even though I could not do standing presses due to my shoulder problems. I had hoped that he would direct me around that one exercise and tell me how to do the program. To my disappointment, however, he told me not to do it and to find another program. Well, I am sure Jim Wendler is stronger and more knowledgeable than me, but I am older...and just as mean, obstinate, and determined to do what I think is best. So I am going to do the damn program—without the standing presses.

Here is how I plan to proceed:

I am lifting reasonably light weights for two weeks (baby steps), and I am doing each of the three lifts each day, three times a week. During each session, I am also increasing the weight for each lift, and I am doing five sets of five reps after I warm up. I am trying my best to hone my technique on each rep of each set. (At least to the extent I can since I am working alone). I am using cues and advice from articles and videos on elitefts™ and trying to get all of you guys to help me get stronger. I am a little beat up and sore after the first two weeks, but I'll survive.

I started the 5/3/1 Program on Monday, August 12, 2013. Due to my my heart surgery, a 1RM is not an appropriate weight for me starting out, and since I should not test for a 1RM at this point in my healing and training, I have arbitrarily picked a number upon which to predicate the program. I have, however, followed Mr. Wendler's advice and made sure the number is quite low.

I plan to use this basic 5/3/1 Program for eight weeks. I'll evaluate my progress at the end of four weeks and make some adjustments if needed. Then, after eight weeks I will test for a 1RM by either actually doing it or by doing reps in the 90- to 95-percent range (and then doing the math). For the final eight weeks, I will do the pre-meet prep eight-week 5/3/1 Program which will bring me to the meet on December 7, 2013. Then we shall see what we shall see. Can this little old man get it back and then some? I hope so.

During these weeks I shall renew my relationship with my mentor Donnie Thompson, attend the elitefts™ Learn To Train Seminar as a helper, and reach out to some of the great lifters here in North Carolina. From all of this, I expect to be a lot smarter. However, to be a lot stronger will be up to me. I am certain that I will learn more at the LTT Seminar than I will teach. In turn, the more I read and the more I study, the more I think I know...and the more I think I know, the more confused I get.

However, 5/3/1 seems straightforward enough for me. But if I get confused, I'll write Jim Wendler again. I do know, though, that to get stronger I must add weight to the bar little by little. These two weeks of training have beat my ass and I love it! So there you have it—my baby steps to get strong(er).