Monday, December 29, 2014

Breaking in the Metal Jack squat suit 12/28

November was a tough month for me, tweaking both my Pec and my Hamstring within a week of each other.. but like I said last month, I got them both out of the way same week :)

Anyhow, if you have been following along you will know I made the best of it - and an important part of training is learning how to adapt and train around your injuries. I spent about 6 weeks working with the Safety Squat Bar in a linear progression with light weights off a low (12") box.. adding bands at the end. 

I was really excited to get back under some heavy weight this morning.. it felt like a meet day.. couldnt even sleep a lot haha! It was going to be especially fun because it would be my first session in my new multi-ply Metal Jack Squat suit. I had purchased a metal multiply suit almost a year ago, as well as a set of briefs - but the timing hasn't been right to actually break them out and train in them until now. Using multiply gear, it is near impossible to walk out a squat safely, so I needed to be able to train on a monolift. Right off the bat when looking at the gear, you can really tell the difference between the Metal multiply stuff and the Titan Super Centurion single ply stuff I have been using the last few years.. the material is much, much thicker. But honestly? The suit is not quite as tight/binding as the single ply. It seems like in order for the single ply to work, it must be skin-hugging tight.. where as with the multiply it relies more on its thickness/stretch to work.

I sized the Metal Jack squat suit with the help of Brian Carroll and Jo Jordan from EliteFTS and went with a 56. Its a little loose in the legs, but I figured it would be just right once I add the metal jack briefs in. (Next cycle, not this one) For this meet cycle, I just want to get the squat suit broken in and make sure I can get to depth. We can add the briefs in later. :)
Under the advice of Brian Carroll, I like to get in my gear early in the warm ups - when the weight is light. Gear makes things different, so you want to be able to get used the gear in weight you can throw around, rather than getting in the gear at near/above maximal weights.

I based my session percentages on a 700lb Training Max. Some critiques are I need to stay tight and upright in the hole with my arch locked in, and not force the depth quite yet. The depth will come as the suit breaks in and the weight goes up.

Squat: (No knee wraps, just sleeves)
315x2 (squat suit, bottoms only no straps)
500x2 x 3 sets    (70%)
565x2 Light Reverse band   (80%)


Rolling Planks:

Band Leg Extensions

In closing, I want to say the 6 weeks I spent rehabbing my Pec/Hamstring by using the Safety Squat bar definitely did not go to waste. Last week, I pulled 500x3 faster than I ever pulled before.. This week, just by watching the vids I can say my squats have gotten faster with improved hip strength. The SSB raw off a low-box is a great tool.. it doesn't teach you to squat - but it makes you stronger to squat..

Stay tuned for Wednesday when I break out the Metal Jack Bench Shirt for the first time.... like a kid on Christmas morning!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Benching with the EliteFTS Swiss Press Bar...

Received a shiny new EliteFTS Swiss Press Bar for Christmas.. and couldn't wait to try it out! :)

Tweaked pec feeling good, but didnt feel good enough to stretch it all the way to the chest quite yet.. Wanted to keep the stress on the tris for now.. This bar is also killer for nose breakers, JM Presses, and barbell rows.

Swiss Press Bar
Bar x 20
95 x 20
135 x 20
185 x 15
225 x 10 x 4

95 x 15 x 4

Hi-Rep Barbell Rows (Wide grip to hit rear Delts..bodybuilder style) with a squeeze!
95 x 25 x 4

Band Flyes
100 Reps - 25x4 No Rest

Friday, December 19, 2014

Some Squat and Accessory Work

Tonight we had a good crew of guys and girls show up here at Lakeville Powerlifting!
Dylan worked some raw squats for doubles and speed pulls with chains, while the rest of us used today as an accessory fluff-and-buff day.

Dumbbell Shoulder Presses
50lbs x 20 x 4 sets

Hammer Curls
40lbs x 20 x 4 sets

Reverse Flyes
12lbs x 20 x 4 sets

Chest Supported Rows
100lbs x 20 x 4 sets

Kettlebell Swings
26lbs x 10 x 4 sets

This was a good bodybuilder-style day as a break from our heavy squat and bench days on monday and wednesday.. looking forward to getting back under our Safety Squat bar on monday for the last time in this cycle!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Louie Simmons on Trophys, PRs, and Progress...

"When I hear someone tell me what place he got in a meet rather than what his numbers were, or if he got a PR, I know his ego will hold him back. The real contest is with yourself. A trophy proves only what you have done, but has no bearing on what will happen next. You must always do better and better. That's the real world. You can be the greatest powerlifter in the world, but the day you retire, you're forgotten. If you quit one time, you're a quitter. You may go for a year or two without progress before coming out of a slump. Powerlifting is a tough sport. No one said it wasn't. As far as training partners go, if you run with the lame, you will develop a limp. Everyone can't be a world champ, but we all can be better." - Louie Simmons

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Offseason Speed deadlifts & Rack pulls

At this point, I'm about 5-6 weeks into a slight hamstring strain rehab cycle. As a refresher, I tweaked my hamstring doing sprints back in the beginning of November. Not a bad strain, but a strain nonetheless.

The biggest problem with people is we try to ignore the fact we injured the body and get back into the heavy stuff too soon- and BAM we re-injure it in this self-destructive cycle.. and keep re-injuring it.

In summary, I got off the heavy stuff and started box squatting, and cycling sumo and conventional pulls for 5x5 sets of light weight. I started at just 225 and worked my way this week up to 315. This week I added in some heavier rack pulls as a finisher, just to see how my hamstrings would hold up. Seems good so far. After the 5x5 Speed pulls, I was pretty cooked - so the rack pulls were a great finisher for my lower back/lockout.

Next week we go back to sumo.

Speed pulls:
315x5 x 5 (Working Sets)

Rackpulls just below/at knee:

Kettlebell swings w/35lb kettlebell
3 sets of 15

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Getting some training in while on vacation..

Up in New Hampshire with the family on vacation.. I was able to get some work in...
Stayed at Nordic Village in Jackson/Conway NH.. They had a pretty nice fitness center.. granted no monolift or bench, but I was surprised to find 120lb dumbbells there! I can make this work...

I decided this was going to be a 2nd pec rehab training session this week, and work on my weakness/opportunity in my tweaked pec, and left lat/delt...

Here's how I adapted what I had to work with-

I started with the 35lb dumbbells, and decided to work all the way up to the 120s, in 10lb increments and superset flat dumbbell presses with strict dumbbell rows for matching reps.

If I pressed 35lb dumbbells for 20, I would row them for 20, and so on and so on.

Flat Dumbbell Press supersetted w/Strict Dumbbell Rows

Everything felt good and fast.. got my work in.. mission accomplished! Back to vacation!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Having some fun with Sled pulls today..

Sun 11/30/2014 - Squats and Deadlifts
Hamstring Rehab.. Week 3

Safety Squat Bar 245 x 5 x 5
Stiff Leg DLs  185 x 10 x 3
5 Trips/Sled - 3 plates
Shrugs 365 x 15 x 3
Rolling Planks 3 sets of 10

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Bench and Power Rack arrive from Texas Strength Systems

Today, the last big key piece arrived for the gym.. the Bench and Power Rack combo from Texas Strength Systems.

 I did a lot of research before buying this setup. Considering that space is fairly limited in the two-car garage training setup, I had to be careful and make wise choices how I used the space. The last thing I wanted was to overcrowd the area, and make it difficult to use. The key was to get right core of high-quality equipment that would allow us to train all the main and accessory lifts.

I knew I needed a bench and a power rack. Originally, I was going to purchase both. Get a high-quality competition bench, and then setup a power rack separately... I knew that would take up a lot of space, but I didn't want to compromise on the quality of the equipment. Then, I found a Power Rack/Drop-in Bench combo from Texas Strength Systems.

At first, this seemed like the answer - they offered a very reasonable price on a 2.25x2.25 Power Rack with 1" hole spacing, and had an option for a drop-in bench with spotters platform. After doing some research, I found some questionable reviews on customer service and weld quality... I emailed the owner Wes, and worked with him and his manager, Eric.. I felt reassured, and made my decision to go with it.. with a few tweaks.

I checked out my federation's rule book for the exact bench specs (Height and Pad Width) because I knew it differed from what I was used to at the YMCA, and the height always threw off my leg setup on meet day. If I was going to do this, I wanted to do it right. I sent the bench specs over to Texas Strength, and also requested to using a non-slip bench covering, as well as a thick competition-style pad... I also requested to make the spotter platforms larger like a regular competition bench. From order to delivery was less than 4 weeks. They always responded to my emails, and sent me tracking numbers when it shipped. I paid half up front, and then the other half when it was ready to ship. I thought this was very fair.

When I received the shipment, it was very well packaged and wrapped in plastic, foam wrap, and peanut wrap. It had to take a couple hours to wrap it the way they did. Again, nice job. Assembly went together smooth. Everything fit well and snug. After the bolting it all together, it is very solid. I'm ultimately going to bolt it down, but honestly we could get away without it. Its that heavy and solid. (About 250lbs with the bench). The spotters platforms are super solid and held my 280lb body no problem, no wiggle. One concern I noticed online was the weld quality. Not anymore.. the welds are super solid and clean. They are even ground/smoothed down on the surface areas. Whoever did this knew what they were doing.

In the end, I can give Texas Strength Systems a positive review, and honestly say it was a great solution to my needs considering my space requirements. I would highly recommend their equipment.

Link to Texas Strength System's rack page:

Monday, November 24, 2014

Some speed squats and sumo work..

I'm still rehabbing my Hamstring.. so I'm working on a 5 week linear progression switching off between Sumo and Conventional deadlifting. From there I'll shoot into a quick 5 week off-season bulk, then a modified 10 week meet prep.

Conventional pulling is my go-to form for meets and max PRs, but whenever I want my squat to shoot up, I know I need to train the sumo. I've found Sumo deadlifting really strengthens the hips.

Lately, we've also been doing a ton of work with the Safety Squat Bar and Sled Drags.. so when combining those two with the sumo work... I should be setting myself nicely for a good meet prep cycle once I jump back in the gear.

Tonight Fred worked the SSB for 245x3x5 for some speed work, and you can really see how the bar moves the weight around on you. The goal is to keep the pads parallel to the ground, which is tough because the weight wants to throw you forward.

I did some speed pulls 315x3x3 Sumo.

Finished this up with 10 Sled Drags

Some reverse flyes sets of 20x3 sets

Quad band extensions 3 sets of 20

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Rehband Knee Sleeve Review

After about 4 years with my old Inzer adjustable knee sleeves.. it became time to get a new pair.. The Inzers come with 3 adjustable straps on each one and served me well. The reason I am replacing them is because the rubber strands are beginning to break/tear, and the seams are beginning to come apart.

If you search online, everyone seems to be buying the Rehbands.. so I figured I'd give them a shot.

First off, the big difference is these Knee Sleeves are neoprene, where as the Inzers are a fabric/rubber weave. Think about a wrist wrap or knee wrap.. thats the kind of material the Inzers are. The Rehbands are a much thicker material than the Inzers.


Why do I wear knee wraps? Not  for carryover. If you are looking for carryover into your squat, go buy knee wraps. I wear sleeves to give my 42 year old knees a bit more stability, and keep them warm during sets. They seem to make my knees feel more confident and tight.

They tell you to measure right over the patella. (Knee Cap) .. my knees are around 37 cm around. Based on the size chart, that puts met right in the middle of a Large. I figured that was about right. I'm 275lbs and 6' tall.. I don't buy many things that aren't at least a Large. In retrospect, I probably should have sized down to a medium. When I put these on, they were snug, but definitely not tight. I'm hoping they don't stretch out much, or they will end up slipping down, or really losing their support. (Support is great right now, just hoping it doesn't stretch....)

I wore them for the first time last night during my squat session, and they felt great. There was a solid feeling of support and stability about my knees. I always felt tight and confident with them. Again, there really is no carryover here. Its about confidence with your knees and stability/warmth. I rate these a 10. I like them better than my old Inzers. (Even when they were new) .. While the Inzers gave me some support, they were nowhere near as thick as these, and the material did not make your knees feel "Warm" like the Neoprene does.

Probably should have sized to a medium, but lets see what happens. Right now - they are working great, and I would highly recommend them.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Getting the new Metal Jack Bench shirt ready...

Although I'm a few weeks away from getting into a shirt again, I can't keep my hands off...

Up until now, I've had the same single-ply bench shirt for 3 years - a Titan Super Katana. It's been a good shirt for me, and my best meet PR was 485 in it, and my best gym PR was a 500... But time has taken its toll on this shirt, and it's lost most of its pop. (It's stretched out) Anything over a year or two out of a shirt is on borrowed time. I've done over 12 meets in this shirt.

So I decided to take that dance with the devil so to speak and step up to a multi-ply Metal Jack shirt. First impressions? What a monster. It makes my Katana feel like toilet paper ... The material on this shirt is a solid 1/8" thick.. The seams are about 1/4" thick. Definitely going to take some breaking-in and adjusting period to make this shirt work. Just from trying it on a few times, it's going to look like a mid 500s shirt just to make a touch. My next meet is at the end of March, so hopefully I'll have this thing tuned up by then.

I've spoken to a few friends who wear Jacks and they all agree it's important to stretch the shirt out properly, and sometimes trim the sleeves.

Here's a YouTube video by Pro Powerlifter, EliteFTS athlete Joey Bench of Nebo Barbell who explains it in detail:

 So now.. Here my shirt sits.. Footballs in sleeves.. Waiting until the time is right to take this thing for a ride..

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Some off-season training updates...

Over the last 5-6 years, I've been pretty fortunate when it comes to injuries. Injuries are part of the game in powerlifting. If you go into every lift worried about an injury, you will never get anywhere. But there are certain things you can to regarding training smart - to minimize them - and get back in the game quickly when they do occur.

A few years back, I strained my Quadratus Lombartum (QL muscle) in my back deadlift.. that was really painful. Put me to my knees. Learned the hard way about not letting it heal long enough too. It put me to my knees a second time, 2 weeks later deadlifting only 225lbs. I went back to the drawing board. Fixed my deadlift form, and rehabbed my back properly. Now, 3 years later, I'm much stronger in the deadlift (about 70-80lbs) and my form is 100 times better.

Last week I had the unfortunate thing of straining both my hamstring and tweaking my pec both in the same week. And the way things work out, I wasn't doing anything stupid.. I was running some sprints, and bam, I felt a sharp pain in my ham.  Being smart, I shut it down for the night and began rehab. A few days later, benching only 265lbs (which is fairly light for me, considering my raw 1RM is around 375lbs), I felt a sharp needle pain in my upper left pec during the 3rd rep. Again, I shut it down.

Kind of a bum situation, both a bad hammy and a pec in the same week huh? Well. I guess I'll get em both out of the way now. haha.

The hamstring has healed pretty fast honestly, I think it was very minor - but I'm still nursing it and working rehab.

Basically how you rehab any type of pull/strain/minor tear is to :

  • RICE it (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) right after the immediate injury
  • Once the pain, or "acute" part of the injury subsides - begin rehab. DON'T TRAIN THRU PAIN. Not this kind of pain. You are setting yourself up for re-injury.
  • Rehab- super light weights or light light bands, for high reps. What we are trying to do is get blood flowing into the muscle. Blood carries nutrients which will heal the injuries.
  • Over time, build the weights, and phase down the reps.
  • How long will it take? Depends on the injury. But usually 6-10 weeks is about right. Any faster and you are risking re-injury. 
I put together a roughly 10 week plan to rehab and train around my injuries, working on a 3 day split as follows:

Mon- Deadlift
Wed- Bench
Fri- Squat

I'll start with Squat first..
I had to get a specialty bar right away - a safety squat bar. This was key with my pec injury. I couldnt be stretching that pec out getting under a bar with that injury nagging. This is one of the best (Worst!) bars I have ever used. It gives your pec and shoulders a break by allowing you to hold the bar in front of you, but also makes the weight sit up higher, and makes the lift WAY more awkward and difficult. I started out with only 225lbs on a 12" box for sets of 5, and my outer hamstrings/quads, glutes, and abs feel more sore today, then they have in a long time. I can't even remember them feeling sore in the areas they are. I am really excited, because I think this training will actually boost my squat by building my weak points.

Full write up on the Safety Squat bar by top ranking Powerlifter Greg Panora here:

 My plan is to follow a 10 week linear progression plan, starting out with around 225lbs on the bar 3 sets of 5, and increase 10lbs each week, up to 325lbs. I am pairing that up with light Stiff Leg Deadlifts starting at 135lbs, increasing 10lbs each week, for 3 sets of 10. Each session will also be paired up with Sled pulls and band pull thrus.. everything working on keeping that posterior chain strong thru rehab, while allowing my injury to heal.

Starting out with dumbbells, in a similar linear progression. Light dumbbells. like 20lbs. 3 sets of 20. Work my way up to about 60s after 4 weeks. Then progress to a barbell at 135, and work my way up to about 205 by week 10. I'll match that up with heavy tricep work and back work, so I keep the rest of my benching support muscles strong during rehab.

My plan is to cycle between Sumo, and Conventional, throwing in Safety Squat Good-mornings.. 3-5 reps... starting around 275lbs and working back up to around 405lbs.

If all goes well, in about 10 weeks, I should be fully rehabbed.

That just so happens to put me 10 weeks out of my next meet, March 28th.. so I'll be jumping into a customized meet-prep cycle as well.. this may prove interesting since I was planning on getting into some brand new Metal Multi-ply powerlifting gear.. this may or may not happen for this meet.. depends on how well/fast it breaks in.. but thats getting ahead of myself hahaha.. lets get thru rehab. :)

Some updates on the gym..

I've been working hard the last few weeks converting my 2 car garage into a powerlifting gym.. its coming along. I installed 3/4" Horse stall mats throughout and just finished building a 3x7.5 deadlift platform.
Still waiting on the combination bench/power rack. Once that comes in, we will be ready to roll.

I've put together some good bars:

  • Texas Power Bar (For squatting and benching)
  • Texas Deadlift Bar
  • McDonald Camber Bar
  • EliteFTS Safety-squat Bar (more on this awesome bar later...)
Some other items:
  • 12" Squat Box + Mats
  • 150lbs Chains
  • Full set of Elite FTS Bands
  • Dumbbells 7.5lbs - 110lbs
  • A couple Kettlebells
  • Rogue Sled
  • 1000lbs+ of plates
I am working on getting a couple more bars - the EliteFTS Swiss bar (see video below) for benching/floor pressing, and a dedicated Iron Wolfe Squat Bar. Need to save up a few bucks.. not easy considering the holidays are right around the corner..

The last big piece I want to get is a commercial-quality Glute Ham Developer. This is a core item for developing a big squat and deadlift. Nothing hits the hams like a GHR.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Coming soon.. New Training Location for Lakeville Powerlifting...

Coming Dec 1st.. The only monolift and strength gym in Southeastern Mass... Stay tuned for more updates as they develop..

Sunday, October 12, 2014

RPS Everett - Meet Writeup 10/12/14

Day After Update:
Woke up this morning with a strained left front delt/trap. I'm wondering at this point if when I fell forward on my 2nd squat I strained my left pec tie-in/delt/trap, and that messed with my bench. As I wrote up below, all my raw bench warmups didn't feel right, and all 3 benches missed on the left side lockout. Its not a bad injury, just a strain I can feel... but definitely enough to screw up my bench I'm thinking.

Well this meet didn't go completely as planned. (Kind of an understatement)

First off let me make a few things clear - first, I'm not going to try and pass off the fact that bombing out on bench doesn't suck. It sucks.

Second, I'm not one of those guys that question any judging. I mean yeah - calls can go one way or the other, and if one call one day doesn't go my way, I probably got a call in my favor last meet or the meet before. It is what it is.

The 10 week pre-meet prep cycle went awesome. I didn't miss any lifts, and I really couldn't have asked for a better prep cycle.

A couple of things didn't go in my favor/worked against me going into this meet, that had more of an impact than I thought..

  • I usually train with one regular partner, who I've trained with for the past 5 years. He knows how to setup my suit and shirt and help cue me where I need. This weekend was his son's birthday, and I couldn't ask him to miss his kid's birthday to come to my meet. (Well, I actually did ask him, but his wife wouldn't let him..) Another good friend of mine stepped up and did a great job wrapping my knees, and helping get my shirt set, but when you don't train with someone every day, you don't have the rhythm of each other, you're not familiar how I like my bench hand-off, and he can't recognize when something is wrong
  • This meet was an hour and a half away, and rules clinic started at 7am. So I had to be up by 5am, and in my car by 5:30am. I probably should have got a hotel room closer so I could have rested a bit more.
Anyhow, I shouldn't have let this stuff effect me, but it did. I'll be better prepared next time.

Warm-ups felt great. Fast. Stable in the monolift. This is a big thing - we don't train on a monolift, so squatting in a monolift can go either way on meet day. I feel I am finally getting really comfortable on the monolift, which definitely makes equipped squatting much easier.

Opener- 560lbs, felt good. Hit depth, A little loose in the hole, but came up strong. I realized the rack height was too high. We dropped it down one notch for the next attempts.

2nd attempt- 600lbs, Came out of the rack strong, felt good on the way down, but on the way up, I let the weight get out in front of me. No lift.

3rd attempt- 600lbs, I had my mind made up I was getting this lift. Strong out of the rack. Stayed tight, dropped to depth (or so I thought, again I'm not questioning any calls it is what it is. I shouldve went deeper), came up strong, stayed back and tight. No lift, depth call.
600 in the hole..

Not getting the 600lbs passed really messed with my head honestly. I probably shouldn't have been so weak minded, and I should have let the rage out on the bench. I also think going up and down with the 600lbs twice had more of an impact on my CNS than I thought. (This was the first time under 600lbs in a meet)

Warmed up raw to 315, didn't really feel fast... but many times my warm-ups feel slow on the bench, and then I crush it on the platform. Not today.

On all 3 attempts I didn't feel like I had my back/lats right, and I didnt feel like I stayed under the bar enough.

Opener- 450lbs.. Rack height was too low. I should've noticed this. Came out, touched too high, no gas to lock it out.

2nd attempt-450lbs.. Corrected the rack. Touched lower. No speed at transition/lockout. Reversed direction about 3 times while locking out.

3rd attempt-450lbs.. can we call one of the 3 misses my best miss? Probably this one. Uneven lockout.

I'm not someone who makes egotistical openers. Or at least I try to think so. I've crushed this 450lbs with commands 1000 times over, and 4 times in meets over the last 2 years. I benched 485lbs in March.

It wasn't there today.

So today is a turning point. Time for a decision. Do I come back in March, and make a point to crush 600lbs in the squat, and 500lbs in the bench better prepared single ply? (My single-ply stuff is 3 years old at this point).. or do I make the transition to multi-ply with the Metal Jack gear I have sitting on the shelf in my closet?

Regardless, I am walking away from this meet with some progress. I'm a lot more comfortable in the monolift, and I know that 600lbs on the squat is definitely within reach.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Pre-Meet Week

Monday I did some mobility work, bodyweight squats, and the mcgill 3.
I've found I respond well to mobility work...staying mobile allows me to stay in the right form when squatting/benching/pulling.

Today(thurs)- some stretching, benched a few sets to 225, squatted a few sets to 225

The weights felt "Right" today. Not necessarily just light, but I mean "right".. when benching i really felt the weight sitting on my scapula and lats, when squatting my back felt nice and tight. i slid my grip out a bit as i would on the monolift, and i went gear wide stance and everything just felt "right."

Plan for tomorrow(friday) is to do the mcgill 3 again, then hit the meet on sunday.

I've made a decision to not kill myself with worrying about the cut or not. i'm water loading now, but im not messing with the food. the reason being is why bother really right now?

I'm not shooting for some all-time records, i'm just looking for my personal prs on the way to my 2000 total .. if i come in at 278 or 279 who really cares?

I'll be happier hitting some prs. but that being said, i'll cut my water for the weigh-in and see what happens.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

10 Days out - 450lb Bench Opener

This morning's bench opener 10 days out.. not as clean as I would like it to be, but it was a good test of reliability of my opener that I can hit it on any given Sunday.
Besides the fact I was half asleep at 8:30am, my handoff was too high, and I let the bar drift too far back off my chest, turning it into a shoulder press. I was able to keep my tri's under it and lock it out...

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

2 Wks out - Opening Squat and Deadlift Attempts

We added 20lbs to the bar when squatting tonight to simulate the 65lb bar used in the warmup room at RPS meets. One big thing I've learned is to train like you compete..  including warm-up rituals.

I like to base my warm-ups on even-plate jumps.

The more variables I can take out of the meet, the better I should perform. I don't want to walk into the meet wondering how I am going to warm up. My warm up lifts need to be mapped out just like the opening attempts.

Bar x 3
155 x 3
245 x 3
335 x 1 (raw w/sleeves)
425 x 1 (straps down, w/sleeves)
475 x 1 (straps up, w/sleeves)
515 x 1 (straps up, w/knee wraps)
560 x 1 (Opener) (it was actually 570x1, my math was bad hahaha)

505x1 (Opener)

I've found with deadlifts, especially after squatting (I'm already warmed up), I don't respond well to a lot of warm-up reps. Some people do, but I don't - I do better saving the energy for the platform.
If I'm deadlifting without squatting first, then I'll take the 135s and 225s x3 reps.

I really like the pre-meet programming which has me taking both the squat and deadlift openers the same day. It makes sense. Thats how you compete - you squat, bench, and deadlift the same day - so you may as well get your body used to the workload - and know where you are at.

How a deadlift feels when you are 100% fresh, is way different than after 3 max effort squats. You don't want to bomb out on deadlifts because the lift you though was "easy" on a fresh training day, was too much after 3 max effort squats and benches on meet day.

Again.. train as you compete.

Video below.. the lifts felt really solid, fast, stable, and strong. The squat walk-out was a little shaky, but I'll be squatting in a monolift at the meet. This should conserve some energy.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Single ply bench attempts to 500lbs

Today was the day to test my attempts.. the plan was to take my opener to a touch, 2nd attempt to a half-board, and 3rd attempt to a 1 board.

Overall, everything went pretty well. I also remembered why its a bad idea to wear my running sneakers (not that I run, hahaha) to bench in.. I usually bench in my flat-soled Nike's (like Chuck Taylors).. but today when benching, when driving my legs, my feet were slipping forward.. the running sneakers just don't provide the same traction as the flat-soled shoes. Lesson learned.

Opening attempt:
450x1 (Touch) - Went great, fast and easy.. but my foot slipped on the re-rack

480x1 (Half-bd) - Best rep of the day... smooth and tight

500x1 (1bd) - This was actually the first time I was able to lock out 500lbs off a 1-bd.. it wasn't real clean, but I was able to get my triceps back under the bar, and lock it out. This lift would have been red-lighted with strict judging at a meet for reverse-direction when pressing..

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

4wks Out- Reverse Band squats to 635

Today I took a field trip up to my buddy's gym, Iron Way Fitness in Rockland, MA to train with Dan Berlin and Craig Kelly.

I don't have a big crew I train with regularly, other than my steady partner Fred Mackinnon - so sometimes when I can't get a spot or team to lift with I need to travel.. and today was one of those days.. It was long overdue anyhow.. Dan Berlin is a good friend of mine, who opened his gym about 2 years ago, and I had never gotten up there to see it..

Dan is a real strong 181 Raw lifter, and his totals have been consistently going up.. with a current PRs of squat in the mid 400's, Bench mid 300's, and a 580 deadlift.

Dan and Craig are running a modified Smolov Squat Peaking routine, so they were hitting 10 sets of 405x3 reps.. talk about fatigue!

My plan was:

405x3 (Bottoms only)
455x1 (Straps up, no wraps)
500x1 (Straps up, wraps)
565x1 (Opening attempt squat)
605x1 (Reverse Band)
635x1 (Reverse Band)

Planned attempts are 560-600-620..

Sunday, September 7, 2014

5wks out - Deload Week- Squats, Bench, DL 70%

This is a deload week.. 5wks out.. Single ply speed squats, straps down.
405x 3 singles (roughly 65%-70% of 620 proj max)

Additional work, no video:

Deadlifts 405x1x3
Bench Press 315x10 w/Slingshot

Friday, September 5, 2014

Elite FTS Walkthrough of how to put on a bench shirt

Below is a great video I found on Elite FTS' website by Jo Jordan and Dave Kirschen outlining how to put on a Metal Jack, Metal Ace, or other open-back bench shirt. Considering that I am moving up from Single ply Titan Super Katana to a Metal Jack after this meet, I found this helpful..

Thursday, September 4, 2014

6 Wks out - Benching to 485lbs

Gotta post the good with the bad right?
Tonight, I barely made it to training, as sometimes real life (3 kids) gets in the way.. but being able to roll with the obstacles real-life throws at you has kept me going at this game for long-term. I can't get to a dedicated powerlifting gym often, so my training is often at the Y. Gotta take what you can get, but as long as I can get there 3 days a week I'm happy. My steady training partner got stuck at work, so we only had about 25 minutes to cram in the 5 sets of shirted benching, but we had to do what we had to do. Needless to say, the sets were rushed without a lot of cool-down.. I guess we can call it powerlifting cardio..
Both sets - I need to continually work on overall tightness
Set 1(455) - Crappy handoff, way too high, my bar-path was off, but I was able to put a clean lift together. (Planned opener is 450)
Set 2(485) - I rushed this set. My upper back got loose at the top, and I overflared at lock-out. (Planned second attempt is 480)
Ready for my deload.. and come back and wrap up the last 4 training weeks..

Monday, September 1, 2014

6wks out.. 605x1 RB with calling depth.

Today's session I learned a lot. Its such a team effort like people say. My first set (no vid) was 560x1, and it was just way off. Didn't feel right, unrack was bad, bad balance, hard to hit depth, just a mess. My main training partner (Fred Mackinnon) noticed I was setting up way too wide in the rack, especially with the bar bending, for a walkout.

Most of my training time is spent in the 500-545 range, so with 605 on the bar there was more bar bend than I was used to as well..

(Part of this probably also because I squatted last week on a monolift..)  I kept hitting the rack when trying to walk it out, and I was losing my upper back tightness. Anyhow, we put it back together, pulled my head out my ass, and put together a much better set at 605.

Big props to Dan Berlin, owner of Iron Way Gym, and Craig Kelly for the assistance!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

7 wks out - Benching to 455x1

Today's training session was :

425lbs x 2 off a 2bd
455lbs x 1 off a 1bd

My planned opener is 450. Attempts right now are looking like 450/480/500.

Overall, I like my speed and strength, but I am working hard to turn my heels out more, and keep my heels and knees out throughout the lift. If you watch closely, I have a tendency to lift my toes while I drive my heels into the ground. Driving my heels is the right thing to do, but I should be driving my whole foot down and forward thru the front of my shoe, rather than lifting my toes.

The weight feels light and fast. Better than last cycle. I'm looking forward to seeing how I do on the platform.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Week 7 Squats/Pulls to 605

7 weeks out now.. back from Vacation. Time to get some work in, and get comfortable back in my squat suit.

Today's training was 555x2, and 605x2 Reverse Band. I drove down to my friend Andy Vale's gym Strength and Health over in Smithfield, RI so I could train on his monolift and with him and his great crew. I've got to say, the Strength and Health guys are a class act. Exactly how powerlifters should be. Although I've known Andy for a couple of years, we haven't trained a ton, and I know a bunch of the crew - but really just from training there a few times over the years, and seeing them at meets... but the minute I walked in it felt like I had trained there forever.

Everyone jumped in, helped wrap my knees, two side-spots, a back spot, and Andy Vale worked the mono. Man, it just felt right. Again, great team of lifters there - and I really appreciate the opportunity to train there..

Back to my training.. my planned attempts are 560, 600, 620 at the meet, so we setup 555 for a double, and it went well. (No video, sorry)

Then we put up 605 as a second attempt with a light reverse band, for another double, and it went good. Video below. Still working on my balance/comfort in the monolift - but it will come. I was a bit high here, but we are going to dial in the depth next week. This week I just wanted to get some heavy weight on my back and get my CNS used to it.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Deload Week.. Trip to Acadia National Park

I worked my training schedule around so that during my deload week, our family vacation would fall.. (I know, I must be dedicated haha)

Anyhow, we went up to Bar Harbor, Maine and did two nice hikes up Mt. Dorr, and Pemetic Mountain. Not huge mountains, each about 1300 feet or so, but what a great deload!

My legs and cardio got a nice workout, and my legs were nicely sore the day after each hike.. felt just right.. so got my training in, and some awesome sights!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

10 Wk out RPS- Bench 75%x3x2

Figuring on a max bench of 500, 75% comes in at 385, but that was a little light for my training, so I upped my working sets to 405.

On my last warm up (first shirted lift) of 385x2, it sure was a wake up call lol of being back in the gear.. first time since march.. I unracked the weight, paused for a second, and all my cues started playing back in my head.. ok.. elbows out..keep the shirt tight.. spread the bar..use the lats..lift the head..dont overflare.

It was like a light switch went on in my head. Anyhow.. speed was really good, weight felt super light. I can still improve my overall tightness, and locking my legs in. I want to try and get my feet further apart, and rotate my knees and heels out.

One thing I have been trying to incorporate are little pauses at the top and bottom of the reps. (more so at the top).. Time under Tension, and staying under control all work to help the overall lift.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

10 weeks out from RPS Everett, MA Meet 10/11

Well its been quite awhile since I updated this blog, so I figured it was as good a time as any to get my ass going again with my posts.

Quick update on whats been going on since my last April '14 post. As you probably know, I've been training following Brian Carroll's 10/20/Life for the last 16 months with great success. April - July '14 has been my "Off Season" training.. where focus strictly on building raw strength, no gear, very little 1 rep maxes, and just overall strength building, bulking up, and enjoying all facets of my life.

The overall program run basically 2-3 weeks at a time, then a 1 wk deload week.. rotating the main lifts between 3-8 rep work, and sometimes even putting all 3 lifts (Sq/Be/DL) into the same day for overall conditioning work. Its been great.

Its August 13th now, and we are 10, actually 9 training weeks out of the meet. I got back into the squat suit last night for the first time since march, (blew off the dust haha) and following Brian Carroll's programming, it was Squat and DL's for 2 sets of 3 reps at 75%.

Figuring on a 620lb Training Max for Squat, I went with a 465x3x2 with the straps down on squat suit, and no knee wraps.. using only knee sleeves.
  • Overall felt great - squats were high, but I don't usually hit depth until I'm north of 500lbs.
  •  I need to make sure I am making my first move into the bar with my shoulders out of the hole, rather than just driving my hips. This will be even further a concern once I put the knee wraps on because they will make my legs shoot up faster. Getting forward on the squat is what caused me to miss by 2nd attempt squat back in March and take a step forward. Based on this I am going to try and get in the knee wraps more often, but its also dependent when I can round up my training partners to wrap my knees.. as self-wrapping with a suit on at 275lb bw is near impossible. (or damn funny anyhow if I pass out)

Figuring on a conservative 575lb deadlift, I went with a 415lb deadlift x3x2.
Deadlifts felt real good all around. I made sure I did full-resets with each rep.
I was happy I kept my back in position and tight, and stayed back on my lifts..
Stay tuned for next session benching .. 

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Goals for Summer/Next meet Oct 2014

So next meet is a good distance away. I figured id share some of my personal goals...

Obviously hitting 1700 is a nice mark to shoot for, but honestly more important to me would be to break solidly into the 600s on the squat and 500s on the bench in the same 3 year old single ply stuff. That would mean I am getting stronger.

If I can pull that off before making the switch to multiply, I think we can see some real nice gains once I do.

My deadlift we will continue to grow and I should be knocking on the door of 600 raw.

I did some more analyzing of my squat, and I realized the difference between my first and second attempts were that we tightened up the straps which I think contributed to throwing me forward. I need to do more training work with the straps tighter.

I always did my training work straps up ... but they were always set real loose. Mistake.

... Just some thoughts for the summer..

Missed Squat 2nd attempt.. lost footing..thrown forward..

My experiences with Brian Carroll, powerlifter and coach..

With the huge number of people out there offering coaching services, I want to share my personal experience with Brian Carroll and his coaching. I reached out to Brian about 10 months ago stuck at a plateau where I was having trouble hitting depth, and putting all my best “gym” lifts together on a platform. I knew I needed some help. At 41 years old, my biggest concern was making progress on my lifts – injury free. The year before, I had suffered a back muscle strain from improperly deadlifting. This had set my training back 6 months at least. My long-term personal goal is to achieve a Pro total – and I also knew if I kept getting injured and set back like this, my “biological timeclock” was going to run out before I hit my goals.

Brian set me up on a 10 week program built around my goals. At first I looked at it, and I was like “Hey, why don’t we do this, or that?” .. and he said “Trust me, let me steer the ship.” .. he was right. If you are going to hook up with Brian, you need to be all-in and trust him – or don’t waste your time and money.

If you are willing to put your trust in him, and WORK HARD, (more on this later..) you will get results. Period. Its not black magic. Its just when you combine your hard work and dedication with his experience and coaching , good things happen. Regarding working hard – here’s the deal. When I saw the first 10 weeks, I said “Brian, I’ve never squatted and deadlifted both on the same day.” .. he said “Well, you have to at a meet, don’t you?” .. Game on. It was not just about getting stronger, but also making sure I could perform my best all on meet day.

The best part of following his programming, is it gives you the lifter one less thing to think about. Don’t worry about what you are going to do at training tonight. Just trust the program, and do your lifts. Regarding working hard – if you think Brian or anyone else is going to magically make you a pro lifter without working hard – stay home. Getting results requires dedicating yourself to your training and making sacrifices where necessary. I have a wife and 5 kids. If I can train 3-4 days a week, so can you. Stop making excuses and hoping for some magic results. Its 3 days before Christmas, get up early and train. Its family vacation during the summer. “Hey babe, its Monday.. I gotta go squat. Take the kids to the pool. I’ll be back in 2 hours.” .. if you bring the hard work and dedication – you will get the results with Brian.

I’d say 70% of the success comes from his adaptive programming, but at least 30% of it comes from Brian’s psychological coaching, and teaching you how to make your openers reliable, pick reasonable attempts, and peak on meet day so you can hit your best lifts. He is always asking questions like “How do you feel? What do you think about this or that?” .. and that’s a HUGE part of the game I’ve found.. come meet day.. its all about making your lifts, not “calculated misses” from an over-stroked ego.

In closing, I’ve done two meets since we hooked up last may, and in October I put 110lbs on my total, and PR’d on all 3 lifts.. and just this weekend, I put another 50lbs on my total, and again PR’d on all 3 lifts.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

3/30/14 RPS NE Revolution Powerlifting Meet

Sunday 3/30 was my powerlifting meet.. and all went as good, or better than expectations..

I headed up on Saturday to help my son and friends compete in the 220 and under classes.. It was great to watch everyone hit good PRs... some highlights were Laura Rinke, totalling 820 at 132lbs, and Dan Berlin deadlifting 580 at only 181lbs..

Onto Sunday..

Opened up with a text book 530lbs.. all went well.
2nd Attempt.. 570lbs.. should have been fairly easy, but I wasn't used to the straps being cranked down, and I got thrown forward a bit and lost my footing. NO LIFT.
3rd Attempt..570lbs.. Good lift (30lbs PR).. still got cranked forward, but caught myself.

Lesson learned: Train in tight straps so I can get used to arching harder into the bar and staying back.

Opened with an easy 430lbs. 3 white lights.
2nd attempt 460lbs.. a bit of a grinder at top.. good lift.
3rd attempt 485lbs (15lbs PR) .. grinder.. GOOD LIFT!
There's a bit of story to this 3rd attempt.. I had told my handler Fred Mackinnon to put in 480, and he kicked me up an extra 5lbs without me knowing it to 485lbs..

Opened with an easy 500lbs to get in the meet at hit a 5 lb overall PR at 1555.
2nd attempt .. PR 545lbs good lift, good speed.. 1600 lb PR Total.

Overall real happy with this 50lb total PR, and PRing in every lift!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

10 Days out - Last Heavy Bench to 435

10 days old.. this is last heavy bench session. Taking my opener to a half-board.
Half-board allows nearly a full-range of motion without all the stress on the CNS of a touch.

I am really happy with this bench tonight.. I was more stable than I ever have been. I took a little while getting to the touch, because I kept my head locked into the bench this time, causing the shirt to remain a bit tighter, and not loosen up in the bottom.

Previously, I would pick up my head as the bar came down, loosening tension, then drive my head back into the bench when I began the press. I am experimenting with keeping it down to improve stability.

Accessory work:
3 sets of 30 Bench Dips
Tricep Band Pressdowns (Crossover) - 50 reps
Band Flyes - 50 Reps

From here on in, its some accessory work on Friday, then rest up for the meet and stay loose!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

2wks out- Last heavy Squat/DL Training 540/500lbs

Today, worked up to opener on Squat (540 x 1)
I got a little over anxious coming out of the hole, lost a bit of control and mis-stepped at the top.

Then, worked up to 500lb Deadlift 500x1

I'll be back in tomorrow to some Core work.. then final heavy bench on Wednesday.

Time to rest, heal, and get mentally prepared for the upcoming meet (3/30)

Friday, March 14, 2014

3 wks out - Accessory work

Speed Squats 50% x 3x3 - 225lbs
Wide lat Pulldowns 3x18 - 140lbs
Barbell Row 3x8 - 225lbs
GHR 3x12
Barbell DOH Shrugs 3x15 - 405lbs
One arm Kettlebell swing - 3x15 - 30lb Kettlebell

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

3 wks out - Floor presses & Tricep work

Floor press 5x1 - 70% Raw - 245lbs
Close Grip Bench 3x10 - 225lbs
Band Fly - 50 reps
Tricep Band Pushdowns - 50 reps

Sunday, March 9, 2014

65% Squats and pulls

405 + 80lbs chains 5x1

365 5x1

Simple day, but a great training session.. about an hour and 30 worth!

Really focused on speed on pulls. I feel I really destroyed these pulls today.. felt good.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Close stance speed squats and accessories

Close stance squatting (50%) 3x8  - 225lbs
Reverse grip Barbell Rows 3x8 - 225lbs
Dumbbell Shrugs 3x20 - 120 lb dumbbells (Biggest we have..)
Lat pull downs to front 3x12 - 140lbs
GHRs 3x12
Weighted Ab Situps 3x12 w/50lbs plates

Alternating Accessory Day for Post meet Training Cycle

After this meet, here's the plan for my Accessory days..
focusing on two points of improvement:

a. Triceps - to improve bench to break 500lb barrier
b. Lower Back/Lock out - to improve deadlift to break 600lb barrier