It is my opinion that, as an athlete, you need four ingredients to achieve a high level of success: supportive gym/community, superb coaching, an iron will to succeed, and food.
The last couple months has been packed with travels to compete, and compete we have. If you have kept up with any of our social media, then you know that our girls power lifting has gone straight to the top in under a year (headed to Worlds!!), our strongman competitor is getting stronger and stronger, and our weightlifting team is starting to blossom. These ladies and gents have absolutely killed it, and continue to train hard in preparation for future competitions. However, in all the travelling and pushing them to succeed, I have made an error on my part. I have been so caught up in pushing them that I have forgotten to really thank them or the gym that has helped develop this team into what it is today.
So, thank you!
Thank you to the girls and guys on our teams that go out and rep PHP with all of their hard work and continue to support our ever growing gym.
Thank you to all the athletes that come into the gym and make the atmosphere that allows for good times to be had while training and pushing through.
And thank you to all of my individual clients that continue to train with me and work around my schedule so that I may travel with my team and support and coach them on the platform.
All of this to say, that over the next couple weeks I will make it a goal to spend more time developing the other training programs in the gym in order to make sure we keep that “spark” in the atmosphere alive and kicking!
So you made it to this point, the point at which you have gotten through a couple weeks of volume and up till now a couple of changes have been made:
Volume squats are still terrible, but not as bad as they once were
You have learned a new method to sitting (or falling) on a toilet, that old way of normal sitting was for the birds
You may have lost a couple of friends due to your slow walking pace and the inability to actually function as a normal human
But fear not, we are on to bigger and better things (remember, everything is relative)!
Note: You might be one of the very lucky individuals that does not have a competition for quite some time, so guess what, that probably means 1-2 more cycles of volume (can I get a hell ya? [Insert crickets and low key sobs])
Either way (5, 10, or 15 weeks) it is time to take the volume down and come up with the intensity a little bit, and we can rejoice! Although, we are not quite to that 300kg RM back squat, we can be assured that we will have some heavier weights loading our joints and we are moving toward our actual competition lifts which means, if you are a power lifters, you wont have to argue that the marks on your neck are from the bar and not from somewhere else….
So, let’s talk about a couple of ideas to keep in mind as you program the next 5-10 weeks:
Now is the time to slide in to the rep ranges of 5-8, which again means no more barbell marathons or losing all hope when your coworker says “let’s take the stairs”.
The idea is simple; we have built a strong foundation of muscle, hopefully gaining a little bit in the process of the hypertrophy phase, now our goal is to increase the strength of said muscle in order to use it to our advantage (ultimately increasing our RM in whatever lift we need it in).
The 5-8 rep range will help us taper from that super high volume into a more reasonable volume, 5’s, in order to make that next transition into our competition/intensity phase. It also helps us still get a decent amount of volume to continue that muscle growth since you should still be a ways out from that faithful day (when we send all the weights to heaven).
If you guessed that volume going down meant intensity increasing, then you would be right! Last cycle we were working anywhere from 60-75% (75% being a very heavy load for the rep ranges, but do able for some). This cycle we will focus in the 70-85% ranges (again, with 85% being a very high load, but again, it is do able for those well trained and advanced in their lifting careers).
The idea here would be to start drifting more toward the competition style movements. What I like to do is use this time frame to throw in pauses, complexes, and continue to work short comings that we established from the last competition:
Use pause squats to help gain confidence out of the whole and maintain proper torso position.
Use pause dead lifts to establish you torso position and to rely on pushing your hips through.
Complexes for weightlifters are a great way to build confidence under fatigue and help correct certain issues (different complexes used to address different issues).
The main goal is to look at starting to develop our competition lifts and make sure we get rid if or at least work on the holes in our game.
They are still very important and should be maintained through this phase, although not to the extent that they were in the hypertrophy phase. The worst thing imaginable would be to drop them to focus on your main lifts and have something that was corrected in the hypertrophy phase come back during our strength phase, only setting us back even further!
Moral: if you had an imbalance and you corrected it, make sure you still make time to keep it corrected (this game is a marathon, not a sprint)!
This is when we fade away from those muscle body soreness into the “why do my joints hurt” soreness. You have decreased volume to a certain amount and are now putting more load through those joints, which means although you might not lose as much range of motion (since it might not feel like a hammy is going to explode every time you bend over) we still need to make sure we maintain ROM in our joint to keep them fluid and moving properly.
So, same as before: lots of rest, good food intake, salt baths are everything that is good in this world, mobilize, get worked on (chiropractic, massage, ect.), and if you are in to it, get your yoga on (or ROMWOD, 2 weeks free at this link).
Last, but not least, would be the thing every strength athletes dreads: steady state cardio…. however, this would be the best time to start to incorporate it. 2-4 sessions per week at 20-40 min. will help us maintain or, if you need to, cut weight in order to fit into your weight class. The best thing about steady state is that it does not take a lot of energy to do (more time than anything) and it is relatively low impact, which means it will not affect our recovery process (in comparison to sprints, which would effect the next days training session).
All-in all, remember, this is a strength journey, and although it can be tough sometimes and easy to get into the mind set of just coming in banging out what is on your program and leaving, this mind set will leave us coming up short in the end and leave us with a bad taste for sport and training.
Learn to enjoy the process. Learn to have fun with lifting. Try and remember what drew you in to the sport in the first place and make sure you let this drive you to the top, not competition or the thought of conquering, but instead the ability to come together with like minded individuals under one roof that struggle together to make the best possible version of themselves!