YNEPF - Winter Open - Program Review

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Thought I’d do a little write up on how my programming went for my last competition. I added 32.5kg to my total, 15kg to my Squat, 7.5kg to my Bench, and 10kg to my Deadlift.

This particular program lasted for 8 weeks. For me it was the perfect amount of time needed, and it was by far the best competition prep I’ve had.

After having Mike Tuchscherer over to Supreme Training gym for a seminar in November, I was very keen to put together a program based on everything I’d learnt, whilst throwing in some technical tweaks given to me by Stephen Manuel, and Brett Gibbs (also at seminars held at Supreme Training).

So here we have it. I liked the idea of performing heavy singles- after all isn’t that why we all Powerlift? Doing so also helps replicate the same skill required to perform a competition max.

I liked adding in more variations, especially exercises like: Good Mornings, Military Press, Using pins on both Squats and Bench. So as you can see from the program below, I trained four days per week, and on each training session I performed a variation, or something very closely related to my weak points in the three lifts.

At first I was worried I wasn’t training hard enough, as I didn’t particularly ache, or feel fatigued from each session. The workload is spread out throughout the week so that you can get all your work done with good form, and manage your recovery. So I was performing some kind of squat four times per week, and never once got that ‘LEG DAY’ feeling of not being able to walk.

So it’s at this point it’s a good idea to remind everyone that a good training program isn’t just about making you sore, and feeling tired; they are also designed to give you the optimal amount of recovery, so you can get the best out of each training session.

With the variations of the lifts, I like to alter them after three weeks. I find that for me, and lifters I coach, any longer performing the variations and they just become good at that lift, and the crossover to the main competition lift fades. It’s happened to me a few times, especially with pause squats. I would run them so long, I could pause squat my competition lift, but the benefit of doing the variation had faded.

This was my first program of understanding the RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion) scale enough to feel confident to use it. So I ran it alongside a percentage based training program, and they matched up pretty well. Even Mike would suggest not diving straight in to RPE based training, give it some time, and make sure you understand it.

One of the biggest things that resonated with me, is that I needed to stop thinking emotionally about lifts, e.g. un-racking a squat or bench, and immediately thinking, ‘SHIT…. THIS IS HEAVY’! I truly believe this is the biggest factor in why the RPE system didn’t work for me in the past. Since taking out that emotional response, and focusing on the mechanics of the lift, I’ve progressed so much more. If I still thought that way through this program, training over the Christmas period would have been disastrous, because when you're so bloated,  your knee sleeves, and belt, just do not fit, and are digging in to you every minute of every session, I’d have left the gym straight away each time, and wasted a crucial weeks training.

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Below is my 8-week training program. Remember this worked for me, because it was designed for my weaknesses, and my lifts. I am not saying follow this and become average like me, I am saying follow the principles of the program to design your own!

Previous Competition Best:
Squat – 205kg
Bench – 137.5kg
Deadlift – 255kg
Best Competition Total: 592.5kg

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New Competition PB's:
Squat - 220kg
Bench - 145kg
Deadlift - 260kg
Competition Total - 625kg