Sunday, February 16, 2014

Training Plan & Review: Last Month and Next Month

Over the last four weeks I have been training a little differently than I usually do. I decided to take a step away from the higher volume Tier 1 programming that I had been doing in the previous months and instead focus on building my capacities in the Tier 2 range. (This post last month has my four week training cycle; it is near the bottom of the page.) 

The manner in which I did this is fairly simple. I set my Goal Weight at 415 pounds, just five pounds less than my best squat- which I had hit a week or so prior. My first goal was to squat 415 for multiple reps. Secondary to that was to take 80% of my Goal Weight, or 330 pounds, and be able to get three sets of ten reps after I had attempted my 415 pound rep out. For my bench I programmed in the same way and wanted to get 295 pounds, my bench Goal Weight, for more than two reps which was the most I had done it for prior. Secondary to that was to take 80% of my Goal Weight, or 235 pounds, and like my squat get it for three sets of ten reps after my attempted rep out of 295 pounds. 

If you want more details from the last month you can see training footage on my YouTube channel and my workout logs on, but to get to the point, both my squat and bench goals were met... sort of. 
Here's a picture of a deliciously American steak for 
no other reason but to break up the length of this novella. 

On my bench test day I got 295x4, almost five reps. Immediately after that I got 235x10x2 and on my final set got 11 reps. Not bad. Both bench goals accomplished, if not destroyed. I had doubled my capacity at 295 pounds and then set an all-time 10 rep max with 235 pounds... which I did for sets. 

Now for my squat test day I had a mission to do for work so I was sent to another base. Not one to be bothered with something as trivial as location to determine whether or not I train as planned, I ended up squatting 415x3. Then in a stunning display of stupidity I failed to load the bar with 330 pounds. Instead I loaded it with 325... damn 2.5 pounders got me. It wasn't until after the second set of ten that I realized my error. Upset with myself over such a dumb mistake, I went for a 325 pound rep out and got it for 14 reps. 

My best squat ever was 420 pounds only about five weeks prior. Previously I had squatted 405 for five reps, but never anything for reps above 405. Only singles. Also, my best 10+ rep out is 335 pounds for 13 reps which was done with a belt and after two sets of five reps of the same weight. The fact that I got 325x14 without a belt, and after much more work both in terms of volume and intensity, I think is a testament that these last four weeks resulted in a massively successful rep test for both lifts. 

Modeling a kickass shirt a buddy sent me out here
in Afgainzistan.

Moving ahead I'm gong to to be a little more adventurous than I ever have been before. I've been training for powerlifting for almost three years and I've always had my days be focused on a single movement or laid out much like an upper/lower body split. 

The majority has been laid out like this: 

Monday- Squat (T1, T2, & T3)
Tuesday- Bench (T1, T2, & T3)
Wednesday- Deadlift or Squat (T1, T2, & T3)
Thursday- Bench or Strict Press (T1, T2, & T3)
Friday- Squat (T1, T2, & T3)
Saturday- Bench (Optional) (T1, T2, & T3)

The next four weeks is laid out like this: 

Monday- T1 Squat then T2 Bench
Tuesday- T1 SlingShot Bench then T2 Sumo Deadlift
Wednesday- T1 Front Squat then T2 Incline Bench
Thursday- T1 Bench then T2 Squat
Friday- T1 Sumo Deadlift off 4" blocks then T2 Bench using a percentage from my SlingShot weight
Saturday- T1 Incline Bench then T2 Front Squat

(All T3 work is un-written, but will be done to reflect the T1 movement of that day.)

It is completely unlike anything I have ever done before. An upper and lower movement everyday six days a week. 

How it looks: 

A screenshot of the 4-week training block.
Yes, I cannot Excel enough to round those numbers 
to the nearest 0 or 5, deal with it.

Now for the finer details:

The T1 movements (seen in red) start somewhere around 90% or so of my Goal Weight. All my Goal Weights are set at a weight I know I could hit for one rep, any day of the week. This is slightly heavier than what I typically program off of as I normally use my everyday two rep max. Over the course of the four weeks I will creep up to a rep out of my Goal Weight. 

Day to day I will first do a heavy triple or double for a single set. Triple on weeks 1 & 3, doubles on weeks 2 & 4. Then do some back off sets which start around 85% of that T1 weight (except week one which starts slightly less) then in 2.5% jumps increase up to 92.5% by week four. As the weeks progress the volume goes down as the intensity goes up, nothing crazy there, just tried and true. The only slight difference is the undulation of the T1 weight along with its reps per set. 

After that T1 work I will then move to the T2 movement for the day which are laid out in this fashion: 

Week 1: 65%
Week 2: 75%
Week 3: 70%
Week 4: 80%

Like my heaviest T1 sets my T2 work (seen in green) will undulate in intensity. The weights used are programmed using the most recent Tier 1 set for that movement. So for example using the image above, cell number O5 is 65% of C3, O14 is 75% of C12. However unlike my T1 sets my T2 volume will remain consistent, as well as in its undulation. 

The T2 work capacity I spent building these last four weeks is going to pay off well here. My speed at T2 weights is very fast these days, as well as my ability to handle a great amount of stress in those intensities. (Stress being defined as reps per set.) The stress level across the next four weeks, in both the T1 and T2 range is very low, which I hope will mean that my reps remain very fast. I'm doing no more than five reps at a time in my T2 or T1 intensity range and many of my reps will be either three or less. My first and second tier volume will be accomplished across many sets. 

And I will very much try to make those T2 sets done in an Every Minute on the Minute (EMOM) fashion in order to maintain a semblance of conditioning. If I could damn near do that with 330x3 for ten sets I'm pretty sure lighter weights will be significantly easier. 

But what about the work done in the Third Tier? Well, as I briefly mentioned above it will essentially be based around whatever movement is done for the T1 movement that day. The reps per set scheme will be somewhere around 8-12 for around 30 or so total reps. The first two weeks will probably have two T3 movements per day, the third week only one T3 movement, and the last week probably none at all. So, as the cycle progresses the T3 work will decline, as per the norm with traditional programming. 

Here's a picture of an explosion. Why?
Because explosions are cool.

On a given day my workout might look something like:

              Squat: 405x3x1 (T1)
                         345x5x3 (T1)
             Bench: 225x3x7 (T2)
         Leg Curl: 15x10x4 (T3, super set)
Leg Extension: 15x10x4 (T3, super set)

In fact, that is tomorrow for me. Sounds like a good time. 

What is the point of all this? One, I would like to get a 535 pound sumo deadlift for at least one rep, more than one would be excellent. This is going to happen on week four. That will match my best sumo pull ever locked out, but red lighted in competition. Secondary to that goal I would like to best my current one or two rep maxes on the other lifts. Primarily turn my 420x1 into a two or three rep max and turn my 300x2 bench into three or four rep max. Next to that would be besting what I believe to be my best incline and best clean front squat. (I think I've done 275 ugly as sin.) Lastly, besting my 340x2 slingshot set. 

All in all I'm excited for a step outside of my comfort zone and a personal experiment to test my abilities to train similar movements on consecutive days. Should I fail, which I am not in the slightest concerned about, no worries... I'll have tried something harder than expected and will last until I am laid to waste. 

If Bolt Thrower doesn't fill you with desire conquer everything around you
then you're probably a pacifist who benches less than their own bodyweight.

So there it is... probably more confusing than a sign language reading of Finnegans Wake by a dude with a wicked case of polydactly. 

The dude was most certainly high on 
while writing this.

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