Friday, April 12, 2013

RPS Powerlifting meet.. and beyond

So one week after my SPF meet, I also did the RPS Powerlifting meet at Ocean State Fitness in Johnston RI. Yep, most would call me crazy. Two meets in two weeks at 40 years old. Well, I had something to prove to myself.. namely I simply wanted to total in both meets without bombing out due to squat depth.

Mission accomplished.

I opened real light. Probably the lightest i could get to depth in my Titan Super Centurion suit.. 475lbs. Made one mistake - I tried something new on meet day. I tried a dip at the "Up" command to try and get even deeper. I ended doing a bounce up and down. Red light, no lift because I went up and down.

2nd attempt -  same 475, no dip - green light.

Waived 3rd attempt. I wasn't really interested in hitting anything heavier at this point. just conserving energy and wanted to make it thru my meet.

Bench - opened w/425 - green light. (This was my second attempt from the SPF meet)
2nd attempt - 450 - made the lift but the grind at the top ended up being a reverse direction red light call. I'll make this weight next time.
3rd attempt - 450 - i was smoked at this time. couldn't lock it.

Deadlift- 1 attempt - 500 - green light. Wrapped up the meet with 1400.
I was happy to make it thru 2 meets in 2 weeks with totals and no injury.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

SPF Powerlifting Meet - Boston Barbell 3/17/2013

Sunday was my SPF Powerlifting meet.. below is the write up..

I went into this meet a little unsure about my squat depth in the Titan Super Centurion squat suit. We have been working for the last 6 weeks on getting to depth, and I am just about there. The main focus in my mind was hitting my opening squat. I set my opener to 475 which is very light for me, I figured I'd go with something that was very light, but heavy enough to get depth in. Then the plan was to go to 525 for 2nd attempt and 550 for 3rd attempt. The 475 Opener get 2 out of 3 white lights.. Good lift! Now the pressure of bombing out was off. I went for 525 for both 2nd and 3rd attempts and could not achieve depth with it. Oh well, something to work on for next meet.. at least I'm in the meet!

As far as benching, Derek my partner did a great job getting my Titan Super Katana bench shirt on, and I set 2 meet PRs.. I went 405 opener, then 425 (PR) for a 2nd attempt, then hit 440 for a strong 3rd attempt! I think I actually had another 10-15lbs in the tank!

Last came deadlift, I opened with a confident 500lbs which went up fast.. then went to 530 which went up good, but was a little grinder at the lock out.. after that I didn't want to push it so I called it quits rather than battling 550lbs.

All in all, I'm happy with the results at 1445 total.. and I know there is another 75-125lbs in there once I figure out the technique better in my suit! Next weekend is my RPS meet, where I'll try to beat my totals by 10lbs on each lift.

Video below

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Bench Press w/Slingshot

Last night we worked with the Slingshot from Mark Bell.. if you haven't read my earlier posts, its an elastic band which allows you to overload the mid/top of your bench press by giving you rebound off the bottom.. link below-

The slingshot give gives you about 10% over your 1RM max, but what I found is it actually works better (For me anyway) when I use it NOT to bench heavier weights, but rather to increase the rep range of weights I can already do.. here's an example-

Raw, I can Bench 315lbs for about 4 clean Reps... when I use the Slingshot, I can bench 315 for 8-10 reps.. I've found this more effective than using it to hit a higher 1RM..

Right now my raw 1RM is 350lbs.. with the slingshot its 385.. but I don't train it that way.

Worked up to 315x2 Raw as a warm up
345x5 (Slingshot)
365x3 (Slingshot)
315x8 (Slingshot)
315x8 (Slingshot)

then we followed up with some hi-rep Tricep pushdown work for 20-25 reps.. and some high, mid-grip seated back rows to the upper chest to build a strong, big upper back.

Next wednesday, I'll be back in my shirt for some heavy doubles to a 1/2 board.. looking to do:

...we'll see how it works out!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Reverse Band Squats to 700x2

Today we did reverse band squatting with the straps down to build confidence in the bottom of the squat, while still overloading the top. We attach the bands to the top of the rack, so that as you descend into the squat, the bands deload the bar by about 100lbs.

This is my 5th session in my Titan Super Centurion Squat Suit, and I am finally approaching depth.. Still not quite there.. But getting closer!

135x2 raw

225x2 raw

315x2 raw

405x2 raw

495x2 suit, straps down, added bands

585x2 suit, straps down

635x2 suit, straps down

700x2 suit, straps down

Friday, January 18, 2013

How to Design Strength Training Programs using Prilepin’s Table


Hristo Hristov2005.02.10

During the sixties and seventies of the 20th century, Soviet sports scientist A.S.Prilepin col-lected data from the training logs of more than 1000 World, Olympic, National and Europeanweightlifting champions. Prilepin synthesized his findings in a very simple table named after him-self. Prilepin’s table gives time tested workout guidelines as to how did elite weightlifters train.Now, I am talking about training guidelines for pure maximal strength. Here’s the table:

Have in mind, that this table is based on a study of weightlifters. However, it is quite applica-ble to powerlifting and strength training. Prilepin’s guidelines are widely used in the powerliftingcircles, and that’s simply because they work. If you are looking for ways to refine your strengthtraining workouts, Prilepin’s table is the answer. Let’s first define intensity. Intensity is defined asthe % of the maximal weight one can do for one rep (1RM). If you can lift 100 pounds one time for agiven exercise, then lifting 70 pounds is defined as 70% intensity. Upon initial examination of the ta-ble, you will notice, that sets of more than 6 reps are not performed. They induce too much fatigue,and obviously are counter-productive for strength gains, especially in super technical lifts such asthe Olympic lifts. To understand the table, consider designing a workout, where you will lift 75% ofyour 1RM. The table suggests that when training with 75% of your 1RM (Intensity Zone 70%-80%):

1.You perform sets of 3 to 6 reps2.The total reps should be in the range of 12-243.The optimal total is 18 reps4.If you do less than 12 total reps, the training stimulus would be too weak to elicit positive strength adaptation

5.If you perform more than 24 reps, you are going to slow down, and fatigue too much

There is one major problem with the table. It gives guidelines for a specific intensity zone. Ifyou want to use 65%, 70%, 75%, and 80% of your 1RM in one workout, these weights fall into threedifferent intensity zones. The rep ranges still rule, but what about the total number of lifts? If youadd the guidelines for each intensity zone, you will end up with a grossly overestimated numberof lifts (in this case, the optimal number of lifts will be 24+18+15=57 lifts!). You will either tireyourself out, or more probably, won’t be able to finish the workout at all.

In this article, I propose a way to get over this shortcoming. I’ll give you a strategy to findthe optimal number of lifts when designing strength training routines using weights from differentintensity zones. My first idea is to introduce, what I will call the Prilepin Number of Lifts Score(PNLS). PNLS is a measure of how the performed repetitions in a given intensity zone, relate torepetitions performed in the other intensity zones. Let’s assign a PNLS of 1, to the upper range ofnumber of lifts for each intensity zone. Look at this table:

Intensity %1RM

Rep Range

Reps Total

Optimal Reps

















When you perform the upper limit of reps in a given intensity zone, this yields a PNLS of 1.

The PNLS for a given zone, will be calculated as Number Of Performed Lifts in Zone . If you doUpper Total Limit

2 sets of 6 reps = 12 total reps with 60%1RM, the PNLS for these two sets is 12 = 0.4 (12 reps30over 30 upper limit reps). Now if you target a PNLS of 1 for the whole workout, you can add moresets in a different intensity zone. If you add 5 sets of 3 reps = 15 total with 75% 1RM, the PNLSof these 5 sets will be 15 = 0.625 So if your workout is like this: Bench Press - 2x6x60%, 5x3x75%

24 12 15The total PNLS for the Bench Press will be 30 + 24 = 1.025. A PNLS of 1 is the upper limit according to Prilepin’s table. For most intensity zones, the optimal PNLS falls between 0.7 and 0.8.Remember, that PNLS is exercise specific, so if your workout consists of 5 different exercises, eachexercise will have its own PNLS. This was my first idea of measuring the relation between intensityand the number of lifts. I quickly discovered a problem in this scheme. Consider these two workouts:

6 sets x 4 reps = 24 reps at 72%1RM (ZONE 70-80%)6 sets x 4 reps = 24 reps at 77%1RM (ZONE 70-80%)

Both workouts have a PNLS of 24 = 1, but workout #2 is harder. Now we need to devise a24

formula that further refines the correlation between the number of lifts and intensity. The formulashould also fall within Prilepin’s table guidelines.

I created a table that includes for each intensity of 60%, 70%, 80%, 90%, the upper limit numberof lifts (NOL) according to the Prilepin’s table and the sum of the two. Here’s what I came up with:

Now you see that if we sum the intensity and the number of lifts (the upper NOL limit fromPrilepin’s table), we end with a number of around 100.

Here’s how I created my modified PNLS formula. Because the formula gives a relation betweenthe Intensity(weight) and the number of lifts(NOL), I will call it INOL.

INOL of a set = Number of Lifts(NOL) at a given intensity100 - intensity

If we run the formula with the previous examples we get:



Upper NOL

Intensity + NOL













1.Bench Press - 2x6x60%, 5x3x75%2.INOL(Bench Press) = 2x6 +

5x3 = 12 + 15 = 0.3 +(100-60) (100-75) 40 25

0.6 = 0.91.Workout #1: 6 sets x 4 reps = 24 reps at 72%1RM

2.INOL(#1) = 24 = 0.86(100-72)

3.Workout #2: 6 sets x 4 reps = 24 reps at 77%1RM

4.INOL(#2) = 24 = 1.04(100-77

The INOL formula favors a greater number of lifts at a lower intensity, and a smaller number of lifts at a higher intensity. This is good, because, very heavy lifts (above 90%1RM) fry the CentralNervous System and induce a lot of fatigue. At the same time trainees are able to perform moretotal lifts than the Prilepin’s table guidelines at lower intensities. Prilepin’s guidelines for Reps perSet remain rock-solid. INOL will only influence the total number of lifts.

Now, what is the difference between 5x2x80% and 2x5x80%? They both have INOL of 10 =20

0.5. But if you calculate the INOL as the sum of the INOLs for each set, you will get an idea ofwhich is tougher:5setsx2repsx80%INOL=5x 2 =0.1+0.1+0.1+0.1+0.1

2setsx5repsx80%INOL=2x 5 =0.25+0.2520

In the first case, each set gave a 0.1 INOL (fatigue), while in the second case each set added a0.25 INOL (fatigue). In the first example, the workout was easier because the total fatigue(INOL)was fragmented into smaller parts. Now you can design your workouts, by both looking at thetotal INOL, and the INOL distribution among the sets. INOL is a good measure of fatigue, thattakes into account the weight(intensity) and the number of reps performed. When you designstrength training workouts, using mixed intensity zones, you can calculate the INOL for eachexercise and follow these guidelines. You can track and modify them to suit your body for bestresults. By spreading the INOL among more weekly sessions you will be less fatigued, comparedto concentrating all work sets in less sessions. It is my view, that very frequent workouts, withworkout INOLs of 0.6-1 work best for most people. The only problem is that for most people it istoo impractical to lift very frequently.

Total WEEKLY INOL of a single exercise:

Weekly INOL Guidelines:

Single Workout INOL of a single exercise:

Workout INOL Guidelines

20page3image8528 page3image8612


easy, doable, good to do after more tiring weeks and prepeaking


tough but doable, good for loading phases between


brutal, lots of fatigue, good for a limited time and shock microcycles


Are you out of your mind?


too few reps, not enough stimulus?


fresh, quite doable and optimal if you are not accumulating fatigue


tough, but good for loading phases





Mixing it up today with some band squats

Today would normally be a 50% dynamic squat day for 10 sets of 2. We decided to change it up and go with about 35% straight weight and 135lbs of band tension for 5 sets of 6 reps.

Sometimes it's good to break off your regular routine and mix things up. We will go back to a 55% dynamic squat for 10x2.



Monday, January 14, 2013

Rack pulls Deadlifts off 4" Blocks

Today we did a lot of rep work, pulling off a 4" rack pull (well below knees) to really work the lock out and hip push-through..

Warmed up with some Cable pull-throughs for 4 sets of 15.. then:

Rack Pulls:
315x3 (Nick)  315x1 (Derek)
365x3 (Nick)  365x1 (Derek)
405x1 (Nick)  365x1 (Derek)
455x1 (Nick)  365x1 (Derek)
495x1 (Nick)  315x10 (Derek)
495x1 (Nick)  275x10 (Derek)
545x1 (Nick) Lost Grip

After this, we supersetted some weighted back raises and roman chairs for sets of 15-20.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Dynamic Benching w/Hanging Plates

Today we worked on building stabilizer muscles and staying tight on the bench by working 8 sets of 3 at approximately 40-45% of 1RM using plates hanging from bands from the bar..


These hanging plates force you to keep the bar in line and tight, as the swinging plates want to move the bar all over your bar path. The faster you bench, the more the plates move - the tighter you have to stay. Usually we work heavy accessories on our speed bench days, but today we went for high reps, as we wanted to have a little bench deload. We are about 10 weeks out of our next meet, and we want to hit our raw bench hard this Wednesday.

For accessories today, we worked tricep push downs with a football bar for high reps - 20-25 reps, and dumbbell shoulder presses for 15-20 reps. We didn't do back accessories today because we wanted today to be a light day to prepare for a real heavy Wednesday of overload benching.


Thursday, January 10, 2013

Upcoming schedule revised again!

I decided 3 weeks at a time was too much on my body to be in the shirt.. I am better when I am fresh.. So I switched things up to be one week in-one week out...



Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Squat depth analysis


Titan Super Centurion Squat Suit Break-in

Ok.. last night I worked on implementing a few things to help me get to depth in my new Titan Super Centurion Squat Suit..

a. Wrap the Knees
b. Work Rep Sets
c. Increase my speed on the way down
d. Worked straps down

To anyone who hasn't been following this, I'm not looking to start a thread debating on my squat height. We are all aware I'm not at parallel yet. These threads are about my working in my new squat suit trying to get down to parallel.

Started the night, warmed up to 405 for proper depth raw without a problem.
Went 455 for a single rep just to start things off (in video) .. It was maybe a little better than last week's but not much progress.

Over the next 2 hours (yes.. it lasted two hours.. it was a ton of trial and error).. we experimented with different body positions and speeds and such... until we finally hit on what was happening. And when I tell you, it will seem ridiculously simple.

I was wearing my belt too low. 

By wearing my belt low, it was binding up my hips, and keeping me from sitting back properly. This in turn acted like a lever, and when I tried to go lower, all I would do is drop my chest, and my butt would come up.. think of a "see-saw" on a playground. Thats what was happening.

So we raised the belt up an inch or two so I could get my hips in better position, and things went MUCH better. Unfortunately we didn't figure this out until about an hour and a half in the squat session and by that time I was exhausted.

This video shows my last squat set.. 455 for a set of 4. (I was doing 5's all night, but I was cooked at this point).. if you watch my rep #3.. I think it was the best of the night and huge progress over last week.

If you are wondering why I put a bench under my squat for the 2nd video, I put it there to help gauge depth. When I sit on that bench, I am parallel.

I feel confident with everyones help and any additional comments/critique, I can get proper depth next week when I am fresh..

This Week's Squat Session:

Last Week's Squat Session:

Sunday, January 6, 2013

11 Weeks out from meet



1/6 Speed Bench plus 5 boards

Today we worked some speed benching with "Fat Grips" .. These rubber grips fit over the barbell grip to make the bar simulate a "fat bar"... Using a fat bar causes more muscles to activate while benching than a standard grip..


8 sets of 165x3


Followed up with some heavy 5 boards to work the tricep lockout..

365x3, 405x3, 455x2, 455x2


The "right" mentality and how to make it work for you


Mentality: The forgotten element!

I once read someone (I think it was Doug Furnas) saying that Powerlifting is 10% physical and 90% mental. At the time that statement was summarily dismissed from my repertoire of training information as stupid and completely inaccurate. Goes to show you the folly of youth and a perfect example of why I have been down so many false highways. I will admit, with some shame, to having fallen into the trap of “a little knowledge is dangerous” type of mentality. I thought that those Muscle Mags really were reporting the newest and greatest type of training regimens. Well, those days are gone (thankfully!!) and I am now on the better pathways of smart training ;-). Over the course of the last 4-5 years I have made a concerted effort to re-align my mental aspect to training. The results have been rewarding. I don’t think it is a highly publicized facet of training and it IS highly subjective and individualistic. This month, since I am not getting any better ideas, I am going to touch on some of the factors that IMO can really make or break your training.

Ego: This is your nemesis! I have fallen into so many dead end lifting tracts that I can contribute to this one asinine trait. This is also a mainstay in some of the bad image that has surrounded weight lifters for many years. The solution for circumventing ego traps is really simple in theory but, extremely difficult in reality. I know, I know, you get some upstart in the gym who is boasting about how he can squat 600# and then he knee bends them about 3-4 inches and gets his hindside licked by his cronies. So in an effort to show this guy how a real strength athlete does a 600# squat you proceed to blast off a set. Great, you can truly squat 600# to legal depth and do so on call. The problem is, was it called for in your training regimen? How much did you just tax your system showing up this guy? Did you just throw off your peak for your next meet? There are going to be repercussions for deviating so far from your carefully laid plans. Granted they may be minor or not even noticeable BUT, what did you really prove by it? Was it worth risking a strain or the energy of your current workout just to prove a point? That scenario could be played out with a multitude of lifts but, the point is still the same. Don’t get sucked into the gym competitions. Even if the idiot is making some kind of subtle hints to you...the reason they do that is because they know! They know you are stronger and in an effort to one-up the “big” guy they are trying to challenge you. Take it as a compliment. Congratulate him on his lift and continue with YOUR training. Are you there to prove something to some gym idiot OR, are you there to get strong as hell! I know this is sounding a little like a rant but, this is a situation that I am confident many have either seen or participated in at some point. The one-up game is, simply put, a complete waste of your time and energy. Lift for yourself and do what you can do. Even if the above scenario has some guy who is just stronger than you and wants to rub it in your face. So what...with that kind of attitude they will be sucking on your fumes in the near future because you now have extra motivation. I guarantee you will make better gains if you focus your mental energy on YOUR training and not on what the other guy is doing. Don’t play their game...the gym competition is there element and many are quite skilled at winning in this arena. If you get a real persistent one then simple announce you will be at such and such meet and that is where you make your max attempts. He is welcome to go and compete and show how strong he is in front of all the judges and spectators and you would be happy to engage in a friendly match there. 99% of the time they will shy away because they know the organized competition is not where they shine. Don’t engage in their arena...move it to your home turf. That is an age old rule of engagement. Your best bet is to just bypass the whole situation and get on with your training.

The whole point of my above scenario is to stress the point of focusing your mental energy (and energy is a proper description) on YOUR training. To do anything less is not giving you entire effort to your training. That scenario is a little on the extreme but, pretty prevalent when you get a lot of egos in one room. Okay, the second point on ego is how you self talk and what are your honest capabilities. This is where I was a B-I-G sucker. Be brutally honest with yourself about how much weight you should be using. Don’t sacrifice your form for a little extra weight. This is just your ego telling you that your strength is higher than what it is. You WILL progress faster and more consistently when you tax your system with a proper amount of stress. Overtaxing won’t make you stronger...on the contrary you will get weaker. Sometimes less is better. Err on the side of too little and don’t try to run right on the edge of your recuperative ability. Outside factors in your life can tax your system too and if you run right on the ragged edge then you are headed for a fall. Life throws you too many curve balls to take that chance. Keep a little in your reserve tank for emergencies and you'll see better gains. If you need an example of someone who does this look at Eddy Coan. He says he leaves the gym with 1-2 reps left in him. Eddy very rarely misses a lift and he is strong (if ya’ didn’t know ;-0) The point is work at where you are capable and not at where you want to be capable of. This is much harder to do than to say...I am sure quite a few have fallen into this type of trap in some form or another. As long as you can identify it and learn from it then you are going in the right direction.

Focus: This kind of goes along with the ego thing. If your ego is getting the better of you then you aren't really focusing. To get the maximum return on your lifting you need to be focused on what it is you are doing. This is hard to do outside of limit attempts but, the more focused you are the better your body works in conjunction with itself (muscular interplay) and the better you can stress your musculature. Example: Do a set of Deadlifts with 70% and try to talk to your partner. You can probably do it but they will suck and you will work that much harder. You focus on what you are doing and they fly. This is an obvious principle but, I think it gets forgotten in the whole mix of socialization in the gyms and the dreaded “gympetitions.” Ultimately you want to get yourself into the same zone you do on limit attempts. That place that you don’t hear the crowd, your partners, your own grunts and groans, and before you realize it the lift is over and you really don’t remember the details of the motion. That is focus...your body is shutting off your conscious thought and putting all its energy into that physical motion. Ever heard the phrase “let your body do it.” Your conscious thought is distracting and once you start to think about the motion you start to second guess your body. Why train then? Let your body do what it is you are training it to do. Our culture has emphasized rationale and thinking as the end all answer to achievement, science if you will. While it has its place I don’t believe it is the only answer. Nature has instilled a powerful tool upon us in our mind and we don’t use but a portion of it. Unlearning conscious thought is a hard thing to do but, the benefits can reward the effort.

Now, focusing is NOT bashing your head against a locker and screaming for 10 minutes to get your adrenaline flowing. Adrenaline is a great momentary booster but, it also exacts a pretty heavy toll on your system. Think about times when your “fight or flight” response has been triggered. You are going for a while but, afterwards you get real tired. Adrenaline kind of supercharges your system but, it also burns off a lot of energy. Point is it may help you with that immediate lift but, the next one just suffered. In addition to taxing your system a heap of adrenaline will start to inhibit complex motor skills. Not too deathly important for Powerlifting but, too much and fine motor skills start to go too. Unless you are training constantly in this state you are going to throw off your timing and firing sequence your muscles have learned over the last umpteen months. Your muscle memory dictates you play how you practice. Utilize the same “psyche” that you do for the gym. This insures you stay in your grooves and that you don’t have to calm a little just before a lift because you are so wound up your body is jerking all over the place. A calm powerful focus will win out over adrenaline rushes in the long run. A lot of the greats just walk up to the bar, get set, and lift the weight. That is all there is to it. Why make it any more complex or give it any more thought than that? Now I am not advocating a monk like approach either...I give a good bellow at the bar before my biggest limit attempts. Not for a psyche factor but, it gets me ready to make my lift. Kind of a ritual announcing to my body that it is going to be stressed to the limit and I need to go to my happy place. Once I get a hold of the bar my mind starts to blank and I start to think again after the lift is completed. Some guys/gals may stomp around and yell and really it is a ritual that gets their minds focused. I couldn’t say and only the individual can really know what is going on in their heads. Whatever it is that gets you to that powerfully focused place where it is only you and the bar is what you want to do. If your ritual is show then you may want to reconsider so you can maximize your training and performance.