Sunday, November 8, 2015

LPL #bullstrong Hoodies now available

We now are offering limited-edition Lakeville Powerlifting #Bullstrong hooded Champion brand sweatshirts for sale! These make great Holiday gifts!
These sweatshirts are available in two fabric weights - a Standard Medium-weight Champion which is what you would find in your typical sports store, and a Heavyweight edition which is a thicker, warmer, heavier Hoodie.
It is rumored the Heavyweight hoodie can stop a 7mm ballistic round... I wouldn't want to test it, but hey if caught in a combat situation.. go for the best.
The front of the sweatshirt features our trademark #Bullstrong logo, and "Lakeville Powerlifting" down the sleeves. There is also a 100lb weight plate on the hood.
The back of the sweatshirt has "The only easy day was yesterday" screenprinted.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Why I do what I do..

Contrary to what you may believe, nothing in your life is truly under your control - except for that moment when you step under the squat bar. At that particular moment in time, it's just you and the bar. You are totally in control. Whether you make the lift or not - it's 100% up to you. Either you stand back up with the bar, or you don't. It's up to you. That defining moment is what makes me do what I do. I live for that 30 seconds of control...

Monday, October 26, 2015

Post meet write-up.. RPS NE Power Challenge TPS Boston 10/17-18/15

Great weekend with the Lakeville Powerlifting team and good friends participating in the 19th Annual RPS Power Challenge.. A ton of great PRs, some great times with friends, and the battle with the iron continuing on for another day. I'll let each lifter tell his own story.. But some highlights were Fred's 600lb squat.. Brian going 9-for-9 in his first meet and totaling over 1500lbs..585-375-575.. Brandon with a big 425 squat, 285 bench, and 475 dl at 165lbs.. I fought a hard battle in the squats chasing depth.. Finally nailing a 640 squat (10lb pr) on my 3rd and final attempt..narrowly escaping a bomb out lol.. Then 505 bench (5lb pr)..and a 555 deadlift (5lb pr) for a 1700lb pr total. Big thank you to Ol Man Fred for working hard all weekend to wrap countless knees for all! And thank you to Dennis for all his wisdom and training assistance over the last 10 weeks... And of course my wife Kellie for putting up with me and my friends training until 10pm in our garage!

This weekend we had Fred lifting on Saturday, and the rest of our team lifting on Sunday so that we could support Fred's coaching needs on Saturday (wrapping knees, etc) and then he could be there for us on Sunday.

Brian and I drove up with Fred on Saturday around 11am to get him ready, as well as for Brian and I to weigh in. We both made weight.. I was pretty close at 274.8 but a win is a win haha.

After Fred was finished, we all drove back home to get some well-needed rest for our day on Sunday.. we got home around 6pm .. we ate like animals then went to bed.

Sunday morning we headed up at 7am, getting to Everett for around 8.. even though Brian and I were in the 3rd flight, I like to get there a bit early so my warmups are not rushed. We camped out in the far corner of the gym and proceeded to loosen up and eat/drink as needed.

Usually what I like to do is get my light warm-ups/mobility work out of the way real early.. about halfway thru 1st flight.. then move into the heavy warmups once 2nd flight gets going.

Squat warmups went smooth, and fast.. a big reason being is our gym equipment is exactly the same as whats on the platform.. we knew what warmups we were going to be taking, and we just followed our plan... but like Mike Tyson said.. "Everyone's got a plan 'til they get punched in the mouth."

Thats where my plan started going sideways.

Brian's squats went smooth, I'll let him do his own write-up, but he went 3-for-3 on the squat, finishing up with 585.

My opener was 605 which was about the lightest I could open up with and still have a shot at depth with my multiply gear.. My first squat was red-lighted high. Not the best way to start out a meet... but if you remember back from an earlier post, I had a plan for that as well.. regardless of what happened with my opener, I was going up. It was champ or chump. I'm not hanging around for a 605 squat (25lbs under my march PR).. originally I was going to go 605-660, but I made a smart decision to go to 640 which was a 10lb PR and a weight I knew I could smoke.. twice if I had to.. and I did...

2nd attempt was fast, but again.. red light for depth.

Now it was shit or get off the pot time. I told Fred, "Don't call me up until either I fall over backwards, or I am definitely deep enough...,.." ... My last squat of 640 again was fast.. and finally.. Good lift!

Now it was time to play it smart.. Obviously an 1800 total was out of reach at this point.. so I made a decision to go for small lift PRs at this time, and at least break 1700 for Total PR.

Bench opener of 480 went smooth.. then 505 went pretty good.. not quite as fast as we've hit in the gym.. but confident. At this point I was going to pass on my third and conserve energy, but I said fuck it, lets go for 520. Everything felt good as I unracked the 520, I just ran out of steam halfway up and just couldn't lock out the last inch or two...

Moving on to deadlifts, my plan is always to get my Total with 2 lifts. The deadlift is a very tiring lift - especially after 3 max effort squats and benches.. and especially after the mental-warfare I went through trying to get my squats passed.. I opened with an easy 520, which gave me a small jump to 555 to lock in the 1700lb total. I felt I quite possibly had 570-580 on this day quite possibly, but it wasn't worth the risk of going for it, then missing it - and being left with a 520 opener, a 1660 total and no PR.

Like Brian Carroll always told me.. Pull for your Total. Pull smart.

In the end, this meet was a huge victory for me in a lot of ways.. first and obviously - it was a 20lb PR total. Not a huge PR to write home about - but a PR is a PR gotta take them when you can... but most importantly this was a HUGE psychological victory.. to be down 0-2 going into your 3rd squat, and needing this lift to just stay in the meet.. after 25 weeks of hard training.. it all came down to one lift.. and to be able to put that lift together, was a big personal triumph.

Then - being a smart and mature enough lifter to make calculated attempts on the next Bench and Deadlifts to be able to lock in individual lift PRs, and still get the 1700... that mental win was more satisfying than you can imagine.

Anyhow.. moving forward, there is a short off-season of about 13 weeks, then we head back into 10 week meet prep for April RPS NE Revolution.. If I put the hard work in, and stay healthy.. hopefully we can take another run at 1800 or better...

Here's my individual lifts:

Saturday, October 10, 2015

8 Days out .. reflecting on Meet prep and next 8 days

Looking back on the last 10 weeks of meet prep, and off-season.. I'm pretty hesitant to say it.. but.. I feel good. Comparing this meet prep to last cycle (March '15 meet).. this cycle things went pretty good.. I hit all my lifts.. made progress.. and gained some confidence in my multiply gear while adding predator briefs in. I remember when I first put these briefs on in June a few months ago, I thought there was going to be a LONG road to get to depth in these things.. thank God they broke in since then lol.

Last cycle was my first meet prep in multiply gear, and squats went ok - but I wasn't able to find my groove in the Metal Jack shirt.. I didn't even have one good clean touch before the meet.. and ended up with a 500lb bench PR. This time around I've gotten good, clean touches - and worked up to 530lbs off a 1 board. Hopefully if all goes well, I'll  grab another bench PR. At this point, its looking like 480-505-520 for attempts.

Regarding squat, I really like how the meet prep cycle we've been running has me hammering the geared squat openers for the most part in weeks 4-5-6.. basically the theory behind the meet prep is make the lifts reliable and confident.. Its not so much about getting stronger during the meet prep (properly peaking - yes.. strength building..not so much).. but rather making sure the lifts will pass on the platform.

6-7 weeks out I was still a few inches high on the squat.. but by weeks 4-5 I was able to get passable depth.. my last opener was last week (3 weeks out) and I feel pretty good about it. Main cues are to make sure I drive my knees out and arch hard in the hole. Bringing my grip in on the bar a little (about one-hand width) has helped me tighten up my back as well. Right now, I'm looking at 605-660-700 for squat attempts. I'm going in with the plan that if anything goes bad on the opening 605, I'm going up no matter what. I PR'd last meet at 630, and I'm not going backwards. Its champ or chump in my mind.  I might drop the 2nd a little (From 660) to maybe 650.. but I'm going all in. Not interested in going backwards at this meet.

As far as the deadlift, we ran a good 12 week cycle of Deadlift work back in late-spring/early summer, and my deadlift feels stronger than ever, with form seeming to be dialed in. I hit a 605 deadlift PR in the gym in July.. my best meet PR is 550.. so anything over 550 will be a win. At this point, I'm thinking 520-560- ?? see how it feels after a long day.

My best total was 1680 back in March, and I'm hoping to break into the 1700s. 1800 would be a gift, and its do-able .. but it requires a perfect day of 700-520-580 to do it.

Time will tell.

This upcoming week, I plan to do some lightweight/bodyweight stuff just to stay loose .. I've been following a good high-protein/low-shit diet (my trademark lol) and my bodyweight was down to 268 this morning.. so weight doesn't seem to be a problem.. any lighter and my gear isnt going to fit!

Last week training plan:

Squat- (Sunday)
A few sets w/225 x 1 or 2
Some foam rolling/hip mobility stretching
Air squats

Bench- (Tuesday)
A few sets w/225 x 1 or 2
More mobility work.. some band flyes/triceps

Deadlift- (Wednesday)
A few sets w/315 x 1
Some reverse hypers/mobility work

Thurs/Fri ... Then rest up for the meet and help support my training partners on Saturday.

We have a bunch of lifters from our team competing on Saturday and Sunday, and everyone's prep seems to have gone well and inline to hit some PRs.. now its a matter of supporting each other, and git-er-done.

Monday, September 21, 2015

4 Weeks out .. Squats and Pulls

Typically 4 weeks out we are taking our 1st and 2nd attempts, and a 3rd to a reverse band. (Geared lifters).. also, we like to Squat and Pull the same day to get used to the meet workload.. that allows us to use Thursday (when we normally deadlift) as an additional Back Accessory day.

For the raw lifters, we stuck to the plan with Brian going 505-530-550 raw  in the squat, then some form pulls to 500 for two singles.

For the gear lifters, we look at today with a little flexibility - if the depth is there on the opener, then we will continue to go up to 2nd and 3rd attempts (RB).. if the depth is questionable, we will just use the day to retake the opener several times  .. (As many times as needed...) until depth is there/better..

After the squats we did some form deadlift pulls up to500lbs, pulling for 2 singles each and focusing on moving the weight fast..

Wrapped up with some light accessories of Reverse Sled drags and GHRs..

Video below:

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Greg Panora and Cory "Swede" Burns Seminar

On Saturday 9/12/15, we were fortunate enough to have two top-level lifters/coaches come down to Lakeville Powerlifting to hold a hands-on workshop/seminar with our team. We capped the attendance at 10 members so that each person would have a personalized experience.

Currently Greg Panora works as a powerlifting coach at Casco Crossfit, in Portland, Maine while Swede operates "Keyhole Barbell" in Apollo, PA. Panora is the current world record holder in the Equipped 242 division with a 2630 Total, and recently also totaled 2105 at 275 in the Raw class. Swede is an EliteFTS sponsored lifter and columnist, and has developed the "5th Set" training program which has been used by many lifters with great success.

Check out Swede's awesome E-book "5th Set" here:  (I bought a copy, and its an excellent refreshing way to train... myself and the whole team look forward to running this program in the coming off-season.)

The first hour or so of the day was dedicated to a classroom-type seminar talking about Powerlifting, programming, and general methods and what it takes to succeed.

After that, we broke off into two squat groups, and worked up to about 80% on our lifts while Swede and Greg critiqued and coached us. We continued onto the bench, and Swede demonstrated his method of setting up on the bench for maximum arch and leg drive.. in summary, over the past week or so - this has lead to some strong bench PRs by our lifters, as well as taking a full 1.25" off my bench stroke. At the end of the day we moved onto deadlifting.. with some great hands on coaching by the team, we had two members actually hit 25lb PRs on the deadlift that day! The rest of us worked up to about 80% again, and just focused on improving form. Greg also decided to work in with us on deadlifts, and worked up to a strong 755lb deadlift gym PR! Strong!

A couple of the biggest things I was able to take away from this seminar was:
  • Benching with a better arch/tuck to take 1.25" off my stroke
  • Bringing my hands in slightly on the squat to increase my back tightness
  • Using the cue of "jumping" to begin the deadlift to maximize speed off the floor
Below is a 9 minute video grabbing some highlights from our 8 hour seminar. These guys are truly experts at their game and well worth your time and money if you get the chance to work with them in person at any time.. I would highly recommend their seminar to anyone looking to improve at the powerlifting game.. but my biggest advice would be make sure you  attend with an open mind to something new and different. It just might be the key to a bigger total.. rather it WILL be the key to a bigger total!


Sunday, August 30, 2015

7 Weeks out - Squats to 92% RB 660

We are now 7 weeks out of the RPS NE Power Challenge in Everett, MA.

Our meet prep cycle started officially 3 weeks ago, but probably the most crucial weeks are these next 5 weeks, as we crank up the weights and get our body/muscles/CNS accustomed to the heavy work.... laid out as below:

Weeks 7/6 - Heavy Squats/Benches to openers..

Week 5 - Deload

Week 4/3 - Heavy Squats/Benches to 2nd attempts.. some reverse band PRs

Then Weeks 2-1 are basically cruise-in weeks to peak for the meet.

Today we worked up to openers for doubles for raw lifters, and 2nd attempts for singles w/reverse band for equipped lifters. We added in knee wraps for all top/working sets.

Fred went back to his old single-ply Centurion squat suit, and seems to have better form with it.
My Inzer Predator briefs are finally breaking in, and depth is getting much closer.. still high.. but now I at least feel it is "attainable" within the next 3 training weeks.. 

Squats -

Brandon worked up to 385 and 405, 2 reps each set
Brian went 485 and 505, 2 reps each set
Fred went 475, 515, and then 565 reverse band
Nick went 600 for 2 reps, then 660 reverse band

Accessory work-

Close stance piston squats 3x6 (205 lbs)
Stiff Leg Dls - 135, 185, 275
Sled Drags - 4 trips
Rolling Planks - 4x10

Tyler Linster's first meet RPS Southern Mass Blast 2

After joining LPL at the beginning of this year, Tyler decided to do a push-pull (bench/deadlift) meet to get some real baseline meet PRs as well as test his training. Being that there was no squatting in the meet, we decided to use a Smolov Jr bench peaking program to get his bench dialed in, and do some real light deadlift work on occasional days.

Going into the program, Tyler's 1 rep PR was a rough 200lbs. Probably wouldn't have passed in a meet... After 720 reps(see other posts for details on the Smolov Jr routine) later, he crushed his old PR with a 30lb gain, and a final bench attempt of 230lbs. For deadlift, his meet PR was 365lbs.. and finished with another 35lb gain.. and a 400lb deadlift...! Nice job Tyler .. hard work pays off!

Video below:

Monday, August 17, 2015

9 Weeks out Meet Prep.. Squats to 75% / 565lbs

Right now we are 9 weeks out of RPS Powerlifting's NE Power Challenge..

Today was 10% more weight than last session.. took Squats to 75%.

Raw lifters had 3 working sets of 3 reps
Equipped lifters had 2 working sets of 2 reps

We worked on sorting out depth for raw lifters, and driving knees out and staying more upright for equipped lifters...

Me personally, I am planning on opening squat around 650lbs.. going to need at least 600+ to get depth.

I'm happy with all our lifters progress.. with every session our form is improving.. we should start hitting openers/2nd attempts in another 2-3 weeks.

The most important things right now is to get brutally honest with depth and form so there are no surprises and disappointments on the platform. This is one of the most important parts of being a quality training team. Blowing smoke up each other's asses about how deep and great their squat is, does no good when sitting in front of 3 judges on a platform. Our job is to make sure everyone's lifts get passed come meet day.

Brian 445 x 3, Brandon 335 x 3, Fred 475 x 2, Nick 565 x 2


Romanian deadlifts 3x10 - No lockout
135 x 10
225 x 10
315 x 10 x 2

GHRs- 80 Reps

Pause Squats 3 x 6 reps
205lbs 3 x 6

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Light deadlift accessory day.. heading into meet prep

Thursday was a super light day for me has we start meet prep with some 70% squats on Sunday. I just wanted to stay loose and get some back/hamstring work in.

A couple of our lifters won't be able to make it on Sunday, so they started their meet prep today.
Fred is lifting in the equipped class, and Chris will be lifting Raw Classic.

First day of Squat Meet prep :

Squats 70% 3x3  (Fred - 425lbs, Chris - 335lbs)
With Fred lifting equipped, we aren't going to see depth on the squats until about 475lbs, each squat was cut about 2" high right now. Chris lifting raw, did a good job on all his reps of hitting depth.

Pause squats - 6 sets x 6 reps
Dumbbell Lunges - 3 sets x 10 reps
Stir-the-pot ab work - 3 sets x 20 reps (10 to the left, 10 to the right)

For my light deadlift assistance day, I kept it really simple..

Back hyperextensions -
135lbs x 10 reps x 3 sets
225lbs x 10 reps x 1 sets

GHRs -
80 reps

Video below-

Monday, July 20, 2015

Wrapping up week 4 of Accommodating Resistance..

Heading into week 4 of Accommodating resistance..
Ultra-wide raw camber bar squats with 275lbs of bar weight plus 145lbs of bands for 8 sets of 2.

135 + bands x 2
225 + bands x 2
275 + bands x 2 x 7 sets
365 + bands x 2

80 reps

Sled Drags - 150lbs - 4 trips for speed wide stance

One hand suitcase carries w/100lb Kettlebell - 2 trips

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Heavy deadlift singles off 3.5" blocks to 605

Tonight was an exciting night for most of the team, taking heavy singles off a 3.5" block.. this would be a good test day for the last 12 weeks of dedicated deadlift training to see what kind of progress we've made.

Being only 13 weeks out of our next meet, RPS NE Power Challenge, we didn't want to max-out off the floor because of the added CNS stress and always-present chance of injury heading into a 10 week meet prep. Typically its about a 15-25lbs difference from a 3.5" block pull to a floor pull.. but its still a good measure of judgement because we all knew where we were before we began out 12 weeks of deadlift focal work.

Speaking for myself, I was working with 500lbs for 5 reps off the 3.5" blocks at the beginning of our cycle, probably coming out to around a 560-570lb 1 rep max off the 3.5" blocks. (About right, considering I pulled 550 from the floor at least meet in March).. That being I hit a nice PR pull tonight of 605lbs.. really excited about this, because thats about 35-40lbs of progress in 12 weeks. Based on this, I'll probably open my 1st deadlift attempt around 520, then 560-570 for 2nd attempt, then 580-600 for 3rd attempt depending how I feel on meet day.

Most everyone else hit real nice PRs as well..

Beginning of Cycle:

Brandon 405lbs off floor
Brian 500lbs off floor
Nick 550lbs off floor

End of 12 weeks:

Brandon 515lbs off 3.5" block
Brian 585lbs off 3.5" block
Nick 605lbs off 3.5" block

.. Thats some good progress!

We are going to wrap up our Bands/Chains this week.. take a short deload and head into meet prep from here!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Some updates, thoughts, and reflections lol prep coming up...

Just some updates and "reflections" lol.. July 15th puts most of our team about 14 weeks out of the RPS New England Power Challenge October 16th/17th.. two of our members are doing a local RPS push-pull (Squat/Deadlift) meet on August 23rd.. so they are about 6 weeks out.

For those who have been following along, I opened my own garage-based powerlifting gym back in November 2014, leaving the YMCA after 5 years.. honestly, I questioned myself occasionally before doing it.. there WERE some positives to training at the Y - such as having other people around for spotting, conversation, etc.. I mean lets face it.. I was unsure how motivating it would be training in a two car garage without anyone else to talk to or look at .. etc.. etc..

Here we are 9 months later, and I can honestly say it was the best thing I ever did for my training.
Most importantly, I consider myself EXTREMELY fortunate to have put together an AWESOME crew of training partners all with similar dedication and training goals. Looking back over the last 9 months, and forward to more growth - I can say without doubt that if it wasn't for the team I am lucky enough to train with, I wouldn't have made the strides I have the last 9 months... now its almost time to hopefully put it all together on the platform.

Looking back over the last 6 months of training, I spent the first 2 months of 2015 in meet prep for my March RPS Power Challenge meet where I was able to put together an 8-for-8 day and a PR total. After that meet I decided I was done "babying" my deadlift.. basically just pulling super small deadlift PRs in fear of my back injury in 2012... but I made up my mind to train smart.

Using George Leeman's information, I put together a 6 week deadlift cycle built around the best deadlift accessories to build my pull. The core lift was a Safety Squat Bar box squat using a narrow conventional deadlift stance to a slightly high box for 3 sets of 10 reps. Then we rotated in 3.5" and 7" block pulls in weekly rotations for 3 sets of 5...each time trying to best the prior same-lift PR from a few weeks back.
For accessory work, we rotated bent-knee Romanian deadlifts with no lockout, Yates Rows, and a shitload of rows.. t-bars close/wide.. kroc rows..

GHRs (600-700 reps per month) and Sled pulling became a staple of every deadlift day. We rarely if ever pulled from the floor.

I'm not one of the people who rave about bullshit that doesn't work or overly optimistic PRs or goals (Hey everyone look at me! I'm going to pull 700 next meet.. haven't cracked 600 yet.. but I'm gonna get 700! Yay!!).... BUT... I gotta say.. we did two 6-week cycles of this deadlift work over the last 3 months.. I actually felt the progress. I literally FELT the pulls getting stronger and faster.

Before I started the deadlift accessory work, I was pulling 500lbs for triples off the 3.5" blocks. After 12 weeks, I was pulling 515 for 5 reps off the 3.5" blocks, and 565 for 5 reps off the 7" blocks. When I started with the SSB box squats/Conv DL stance I was using 295lbs for 10 reps.. 12 weeks later, I finished up with 365lbs for 10 reps/3 sets off a lower box. It really was/is quite motivating to see the actual gains happen. Especially after "plateauing" for so many years. Regarding deadlift, what am I looking to do in October? probably open with 520 then go to 560 for a meet PR, then if all goes well chase that 600 number. But who the fuck knows lol. Its all good in theory. What did Mike Tyson say? Oh yea ... "Everyone's got a plan til they get punched in the mouth."

For our Squat and Bench cycles, we ran (3) 5-week cycles for a total of 15 weeks..
first cycle was high volume work - squatting and benching for 15 reps...
next cycle was low volume work in the 3-5 rep range..
then for the last cycle (wrapping up now) we added in Accomodating Resistance (Bands and Chains) for 8-10 sets of 2 reps each. It was a good variety of work, and I feel we all got stronger, which should translate to PR's on the platform.

Time will tell... In closing.. I'm not just excited about my own progress.. but also its been awesome watching all our team members progress around me.. not just in numbers.. but form and speed improving as well.. As a group we should have at least 6 of us competing in Aug/October.. and it will be great to get some meet PRs on the board!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Deadlift Accessory work.. progress!

We are wrapping up our 2nd 6-week cycle of Deadlift accessory work, and I can really feel progress happening. Last session I was able to work up to 585lbs + 115lbs of Band tension (700lb total weight) for a 40lb PR over 6 weeks ago.

6 weeks ago, I worked up to 545lbs + bands, pulling from the Knee and I was definitely at a near-max.. This is solid progress.

The deadlift accessory work is based around rotating several accessory lifts around the the primary lift of Box Squats, using a very narrow - conventional deadlift stance, using a Safety Squat bar. The safety squat bar is the game changer.. its throws the weight forward and really makes it feel heavy.

I started out about 9-10 weeks ago working up to 265lbs for the narrow SSB box squat, and I'm up to 365lbs now... 100lbs of gain.. solid progress.

This week we added in some Romanian deadlifts with no lockout, GHRs, and Sled pulls.. video below!

(Yes thats some Jimmy buffet playing in the background haha .. it was over 90 degrees in the gym so I guess we were pretending we were on a beach somewhere.......)

Safety Squat Bar squats to box using Conv DL Stance
175 x 5
265 x 5
315 x 5
365 x 8
365 x 8
365 x 8

Romanian Deadlifts no lockout
135 x 10
225 x 10
315 x 10
405 x 10

Dumbbell Rows
110 x 10 x 3 Sets

60 Reps

Sled Pulls
3 Trips at 145lbs

Friday, June 5, 2015

How we cycle our training

We basically train in 5 week rotational blocks as follows:

Week 1-  higher rep range (either 5 or 15 reps depending on cycle)
Week 2- lower rep range (either 3 or 12 reps)
Week 3- Deload everything around 60% for a few singles, light accessory work
Week 4- Beat week 1
Week 5- Beat week 2

When in the Accomodating Resistance block, we use 50% and 55% for weeks 1/2 AND weeks 3/4 but rather than increasing the bar weight, the band or chain weight is increased for the second half of the block. During this block we will usually use variety in our presses/squats such as floor presses w/chain for bench, and camber squat bar w/bands off a box for squat.

Block 1:   Volume work (12-15 Reps)

Block 2:   Low Rep (3-5 Reps)

Block 3:   Low Rep / Accommodating Resistance (2-5 Reps + Bands/Chains)

Each block consists of 5 weeks as described above.. So to complete all 3 blocks of Volume/Low Rep/Acccomodating resistance will take approximately 15 weeks.. Then we will usually move into a 10 week meet prep cycle.

Deadlift work is done in a separate, 6 week cycles as follows:

Deadlift Accessory - Rack pulls against bands

Thurs 6/4/15 - Deadlift Accessory

Real happy with tonights session. 6 weeks ago, I hit a PR of 545 + 115 band tension, and barely completed 5 reps. This cycle I was able to go to 585+115, 700lbs total tension for 5 reps. The last couple reps were tough.. but its great to see progress.

After this deadlift training block is completed, that will finish up 12 weeks of intensive deadlift accessory work.. the training block details can be found further back in my logs, but it basically cycles Safety Squat bar squats using a deadlift stance, block pulls 4", block pulls 8", and Rack pulls against bands.. combined with 5 or 6 solid deadlift accessories such as: Romanian deadlifts, Yates Rows, GHRs, Sled pulls.

Rack pulls at Knee (20) against doubled Bands (115lbs tension)

135+115 x 5
225+115 x 5
315+115 x 5
405+115 x 5
455+115 x 5
495+115 x 5
545+115 x 5
585+115 x 5 (pr)

Yates Rows
225 x 10
275 x 10
315 x 10

315 x 10
365 x 10
405 x 10

4 sets / 20 Reps

Sled Drags - Forward, wide

Friday, May 8, 2015

Deadlift Accessory Night

We're wrapping up week 5 of our focused deadlift accessory work.. for the last 5 weeks we've been following an intense deadlift building cycle based around champion deadlifter George Leeman's recommended training. If you go back a few posts, you can see the details of the cycle.

One of the core training lifts is squatting with the Safety Squat bar using a conventional DL stance off a slightly high box for high reps. (10 reps)

The two key parts to this lift are:

a- using the safety squat bar which really wants to pitch you forward, forcing you to tighten your core and stay back/upright

b- using the conventional DL stance

We've found this to really work the lockout hard.. make sure you sit back on the box, and don't "Squat down" to it.. makes the lift much harder.

Here's a quick video of our training session where we work up to 375lbs x 10 reps on this lift:

Safety Squat bar squats w/Conv DL stance off high box-

Romanian deadlifts no lockout-


120 reps

Sled pulls-

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Friday night Deadlift Accessories 5/1/15

We had a great turnout tonight of lifters! Actually ran two deadlift platforms, one for the guys, one for the gals... everyone put up some nice PRs.

Tonight's main lift was Week 4 of our deadlift accessory work, pulling off a 3.5" block. We will go back to Safety Squat bar squats w/deadlift stance next week off a box, then come back for Week 6 with heavier pulls off of 7" blocks.

Accessory work was Yates rows, T-bar rows, and GHRs.

Fri 5/1/15 - Week 4 Deadlift Accessory work
Block pulls off 3.5" block-

Yates Rows-

T-bar Rows-

100 Reps

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Fri night deadlift focus work...

Had a great turnout of lifters tonight for Friday night training. We had two separate groups going - Fred and Dennis did Bench work, while Tyler, Brian, and myself did our Deadlift focus work.

Bench work consisted of flat benching, swiss bar work, incline dumbbell presses, and some band tricep push downs.

We're about 3 weeks into our deadlift focus work, and I can already feel my hamstrings/posterior chain getting stronger... we're at 510 GHR reps MTD (Working our way to 600 reps for the month).. we've also been alternating reverse sled pulling with forward sled pulling.

Safety Squat Bar box squats w/conv DL stance-

Romanian deadlifts w/no lockout-

1 arm T-bar Kroc rows-

60 reps

Conventional Sled pulls-
4 trips, worked up to 6 plates

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Some updates on GHR/Hamstring Work...

It's well known throughout the powerlifting world that GHRs are one of the best training exercises for building bullet-proof hamstrings... but up until about 4 weeks ago, we didn't have access to a GHR because good ones are over $1000.. if you've been following along, you know I scored a great deal on a used heavy-duty model for a reasonable price, and I wanted to update everyone on what I've found.

First week we did them, they were torture. I mean this was obviously a weak point for me. I BARELY got 10 reps. Probably more like 7 or 8 clean, and my hamstring tie-in near the knee was sore as can be for a few days.. but I stuck with them.. using them as finishing accessory work on all my lower body days.. slowly they got better.

After about a week,  I could get 10 reps clean.. After about 2 weeks, I was getting to 12 reps, but they were "feeling" much better. I could feel them working the hamstrings the way they should.. my speed was improving..

Now about 4 weeks later, I'm up to 20-25-30 reps per set and my hamstrings just "feel strong." When I get on the GHR I can crank out the first 10 reps with a ton of power.. I am very curious to see how this carries over to my heavy squatting and deadlifting this cycle. I've made a personal goal to really focus on the deadlift which I have been "babying" since my back muscle strain in 2012. I don't like to post "what I am going to do, etc etc" but my personal goal is get a 600lb pull in competition by October.

We've setup a monthly training goal of 600 GHR Reps per month... in fact we are all pushing each other to see who can get to 600 reps first. I have a strange feeling that goal is going to be moving up to 800 reps and 1000 reps per month shortly hahahhahha...

According to my friend Andy Vale over at Strength & Health Gym in Smithfield, RI and the old Soviet Training manuals.. 600 reps.. thats just "maintenance work" for them. Ha.

If and when you feel you have built up a strong set of hamstrings, check out this Youtube video below showing a GHR Variation called "Welsh Dragon Curls." One of our team members, Brian Custodio showed me this video the other day, and no - I can't do them.. but I figured I'd share them.. because they are the ultimate Hamstring Destroyer lol..

Monday, April 13, 2015

Heading into Week 2 of Volume work

I really looked forward to this 5 week volume cycle as nice change up from the usual heavy 3-5 rep stuff. Getting under some lighter weights and training somewhat like a bodybuilder (eek) gives my CNS (central nervous system)time to recover from all the heavy meet lifts, but still exhaust my muscles and build strength.

Everything last week was 12 reps.. this week is 15 reps.. and DOMS/Soreness is definitely kicking in with all this volume work.. quite a bit more than I usually feel with the low rep heavy stuff.

We're also doing a ton of GHRs.. trying to work up to 600 reps per month. 

Yesterday we did some 15 rep squats, then some pause work while one of our new team members worked on establishing his 1RM baseline Squat of 500lbs raw no-wraps. Great job! Finished up with some wide stance Good Mornings w/SSB, Leg Extensions against Bands, and Sled Drags (Nice weather!!!).

Thursday will be some 12-15 rep benching, incline work, and then deadlift specialty work on Friday. Like I said in an earlier post I really want to work on my deadlift this cycle and get a meet pull over 600lbs. I've been following George Leeman's "Best Deadlift Assistance" work on Fridays, as outlined in his video below.

He's one of the best pullers in the world, and its worth checking it out. Below is the video, and how I worked it into my training:

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

New addition to the Gym.. and Plans for this off-season/next competition

A couple of updates here.. first, I was real excited to pickup our latest addition to our gym, an Iron Wolfe Squat Bar. A dedicated squat bar is good for a few reasons - first we don't have to rotate the Texas Power Bar through the stations, it can stay on the bench.. and if one group wants to bench while the other squats, we can do that too. But most importantly is the quality of the bar for squatting. The Iron Wolfe squat bar weighs 65lbs and is about an 1 1/2" thick with super-aggressive knurlings to really grip your back, and a center alignment ring to make sure the bar is centered on your back.. its also about a foot longer than a normal power bar, allowing for more plates to be used as well as a better grip for side spotters. This bar is rated to over 1400lbs (more than we will ever need lol) and we loaded it down tonight with 500lbs and it barely bends. When we would load our Power Bar to 500/600lbs it would have a noticable bend to it.

Lastly, its what we use when we compete on the platform - so the idea is to train exactly how you compete to eliminate as many variables as you can on the platform - and there is definitely a difference squatting with a thinner bar vs a thicker bar.. the thicker bar must be held in a slightly different spot on the back (A bit higher), and it has a completely different feel. Enough to throw you off on a max-effort lift on the platform.

I'm deloading (Resting) this week after my meet, but Fred decided to give the bar a test and he hit a real nice 500lb squat PR to legal depth, with straps up and knee wraps... If you are wondering why the "odd number" of plates on the bar its because the Iron Wolfe squat bar weighs 65lbs instead of the normal 45lbs.

Upcoming plans:

  • Fred and Tyler are going to compete at the RPS Southern Mass Blast II push-pull (Bench/Deadlift) meet this August
  • Myself, Fred, Tyler, and Dennis Montembault are going to enter as a team and compete in this October's RPS NE Power Challenge.
There are about 15 weeks until the August meet, and about 25 weeks until the October meet.
We will run about 10 weeks of off-season work, split half into volume work, and the other half into low-rep work, then 5 weeks of prep work for Fred and Tyler for the August meet, while I use some of that time to do some more Gear work and add in my squat briefs.. Then run a 10 week or so meet prep cycle into October.

With the upcoming Easter Holiday, we plan to resume our normal Sunday/Wed/Friday training next week (4/6)... if you are interested in training with us just shoot us an email or inbox us on facebook.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Meet day write-up.. Great day 8-for-8.. 1680 PR total

Meet day went great. Need to appreciate it, and enjoy it when it happens.. because there are plenty of times it doesn't. Everything clicked well and I made every attempt. Now its time to take a few days off and recover before heading into off-season to attack my weaknesses and grow for October.


Squat: 550, 600 (PR), 630 (PR)

Bench: 460, 480, 500 (PR)

Deadlift: 510, 550 (PR), pass


Getting a hotel room close by was such a big help. Got to sleep by 9:30, woke up at 6 refreshed, grabbed breakfast and headed over. No rush.

Usually I make a 1 hour drive on meet day and it really kicks the shit out of you.

Also had a bunch of guys I train with show up and handle. This was key as well. Not just wrapping and stuff, but also helping make smart decisions and keep me on track and reminding me to rest and such.

Huge thanks to my training partners Fred Mackinnon and Tyler Linster. I can honestly say I wouldn't have had this success without them.

Smartest thing I did was open here with a true "last warm-up".. 550 was a joke and really got me feeling good to attack the 600 and 630 pr lifts.

My setup was totally comfortable here. we've been training on a monolift since moving to my garage gym, and it was key to having my setup perfect.

3 big things i needed to remember today was knees out, arch hard, and make sure my first move out of the hole was into the bar, and not rising with my hips and throwing me forward.

Maybe had another 20lbs here to 650 or so, but I'm happy. This was without briefs, and the suit is kinda big since i sized it to work with briefs.

Real surprise here. My pre-meet bench touches went shitty quite honestly. Only 3 successful touches in the meet prep cycle.

What did I focus on?
Bend the bar, keeping it on my lats, being patient on the way down and letting it touch instead of forcing it, and I also kept my head planted. I didn't lift my head. I think that helped keep the shoulders set. All 3 lifts flew up, and I think this lift has the greatest opportunity for gain in the coming month. Finished up with 500, but I think 520/530 is in the near future.

Like Brian Carroll always told me, you gotta know yourself and pull for a total. Here's the deal. I'm 43 years old. I'm a 2 deadlift guy. I just don't have 3 heavy pulls in me right now.

I opened with a light 510 just to get in a total, then went to 550 which was a 5lb pr over last meet. 570 would've given me 1700 but it wasn't there today. I knew it. why risk injury and ruin a good day. 8 for 8.

Here's something strange that happened on deadlift:

In training, I never, ever have a problem with my deadlifts getting out in front of me. I drag that shit up my shins and drive my chest back...

On BOTH deadlifts (the opener 510 more than the 550 because I realized it and tried to fix it).. not sure why..but about mid-shin the bar drifted out front.. I'm wondering if something was pre-exhausted from the squats/benches and causing a weakness somewhere and making me go forward on my pulls.. anyhow.. its something for me to work on.

In the coming off-season I want to really hammer my deadlift, especially now that we have a GHR at the gym. Also, I think I am going to try geared sumo pulls and see how I do. Right now I still pull raw conventional.

October we are chasing 1700/1800 ...

Thursday, March 26, 2015

3 days out.. boring week

Just a few more days til the RPS NE Revolution in Sterling, CT on 3/28-3/29.. I spent this week resting up and eating well. Usually I pretty much take the week before a meet completely off except for some mobility work.. this cycle I did a little super light training on sunday and wednesday.. nothing heavy.. some floor presses 3x6 with 135lbs just to stay loose, then some 80lb dumbbells for sets of 20 .. some band flyes and band tricep pressdowns for sets of 100.

Tomorrow I do some mobility work and foam rolling.

Yep.. this is kinda boring stuff. Stay tuned for Sunday night/Monday morning meet write up! If all goes well, I'll have everything up sunday night.. If the meet goes bad.. well.. monday or tuesday hahahahaha!

I feel good .. attempts are planned and reasonable.. right now looking like:




See y'all on the flip side!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

First reverse sled pulls of the spring season! 7 days out

Todays training session is 7 days out of meet for me, so its was some really light stuff just to stay in the game.

Safety Squat Bar: (to give shoulders a rest)
185 x 3 sets of  6

315 x 3 sets of 3

40 Reps

Reverse Sled Pulls:
4 x 100 Yards

With the sunshine and 30 degree weather, we decided to break out the sled and get some reverse sled drags in.. first time we've been able to do this due to weather since mid-December..  Sled work hits in ways that nothing else really can.. so between the new GHR and being able to sled drags again, I'm excited for the upcoming off-season after this meet.. I'm looking to make some good progress both in raw strength and technique in my new multiply Metal gear.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Our new GHR machine.. The latest equipment addition to "The Dungeon" ...

I've been keeping my eye open for a used Glute Ham Raise machine for our gym since we opened.. its a key training tool in any powerlifting gym. Westside Barbell in Columbus, Ohio has been promoting its use for years.. you don't see many of these in the commercial "Globo Gyms" as most people aren't that dedicated to building their posterior chain and hamstrings in particular. Working hamstrings kinda sucks, is painful, and not real glamorous... but GHRs work.

We plan on including the GHR as after-training accessory work in nearly every squat and deadlift session. Nothing builds your posterior chain and a strong squat and deadlift like a GHR!

To quote Louie Simmons, "600 reps per month on a GHR is just maintenance work".. Here's a photo below, as well as a couple of videos from Westside Barbell and Elite FTS explaining how they work..

10 days out.. Last heavy bench day before 3/29 meet

Like I said in an earlier post, this new Metal Jack gear is taking longer to learn/break in than I originally thought. 10 weeks just isn't enough for meet prep and learning the gear. At this point, this is only my 3rd successful touch in the new shirt, and I've adjusted my opening weight down to something 99% reliable - 460lbs. My planned attempts will be 460-480-500. There is so much more for me to learn in the shirt and technique to refine.. theres a lot more weight to come for october, but its going to take a lot of trial and error and getting better in this shirt. Right now I'm keeping the collar really high so I don't get handcuffed in the shirt, but I may pull it down just a little bit as I move for the final 500lb attempt. We will see how things go on meet day.

Bar x 5
95 x 5
135 x 5
185 x 5
225 x 3
275 x 1
315 x 1
405 x 1 (Shirt, 1 bd)
455 x 1 (Shirt touch)

Flat Dumbbell Press:
80s x 4 sets of 10

Band Flyes : 100 Reps
Band Tricep Push downs: 100 Reps

Fred Mackinnon is not doing this upcoming meet, so he did some reverse band rep work with 405 to build his tricep lockout and condition his CNS for working with the heavier weights.

Monday, March 16, 2015

2 Weeks out - Last heavy squat/DL session

Had a great turnout today of lifters today.. some of us worked on our heavy squats and pulls, while others worked on some close stance squats and good mornings to hit some weaknesses.

Fred hit some nice PRs with some solid Reverse Band squats up to 585.. depth was really good and squats were stable and fast!

I Worked up to last warmups/light openers on Squat and DL. Last heavy session before meet.

315x1 (Straps down)
405x1 (Straps down)
500x1 (Straps up)
550x1 (Straps up, knee wraps)


Friday, March 13, 2015

2 1/2 wks out - Last warmups / light openers

Worked up to last warm ups on both the Squat (550lbs) and Bench (455lbs) tonight. This was the first clean touch and press in my new Metal Jack shirt, so I'm happy with that. Squat was a tad high, but I didn't have anyone to call depth so I came up too soon. I feel good about these weights as confident openers/last warmups for upcoming meet on 3/29.

I was having trouble touching and pressing in the Metal Jack bench shirt.. something seriously different/wrong was going on between the 1 board and the touch... looking back, I was trying to belly up too excessively that last 1 inch or so, and that was unhooking my shoulders and throwing me out of press position. Also, I was trying to touch too high on this particular shirt.. so for this set, I focused on the "Bend the bar" cue to activate my lats and keep that bar out front, and on my lats.. then as I lowered it, I kept riding the bar path towards my feet, and instead of bellying up excessively, I just locked my belly up at the un-rack and rode it patiently down to the touch. I'm real happy with this 455. Felt in control and fast.

My plan at this point is:

This coming Sunday:

  • Squat to 550 again - make sure I have depth
  • Go to 600lbs (2nd attempt) reverse band to feel the weight
  • Deadlift to 500/510 opener

Next wednesday: (Last heavy day before meet)

  • 455lbs again to a touch
  • Take another run at 500lbs if 455 feels good
Then rest up and stay sharp for the next 10 days into the meet.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Some updates and tweaks in meet prep plans.. 3 weeks out...

One thing I've learned over the last few years is to listen to my body and make smart decisions.. that being said here's my self observations-

  1. Making the switch from the single ply Titan Katana/Super Centurion I used for 3 years to this multiply Metal Jack bench shirt and squat suit is going to take a LOT more than 6 or 7 weeks that i've been in it so far.
  2. I've made some good raw strength gains over the last 10/20 cycle
  3. I've hit some decent PRs in the suit and shirt, but they definitely aren't in the "Reliable" range yet. I just don't know my gear enough yet.
  4. My single ply PRs from last year are:  570/485  (talking strictly squat and bench here because i pull raw)
  5. This coming meet, I don't see huge PRs in my future. Not because of strength, but just knowing my gear setup well enough to duplicate it EVERY time. 
  6. I've decided to dial back my openers to real "last warmups" at this point. I'm going to use this meet as "get in the game meet" and really go after it in October.
  7. On a good day, I'm hitting 675 on the squat, but its hit or miss with depth. I've went as high as 540 off a 1 board in the shirt. The 1bd-to-touch transition is giving me trouble
  8. I modified my pre-meet program slightly - I substituted my "2nd and 3rd attempts" for more repeated opener attempts ....    because at this point I'm not chasing big gains, I'm more concerned with making my openers reliable to get in the meet, then go from there.

Here's what I did:
Last squat day, we didn't go past 600, actually did 8 singles between 550-600 just working my depth. I wanted to stay at a weight of about 80% so I could get some volume in.
Doing one or two squats wasn't going to be enough to let me sort out depth..
Here's a video to the last 2 sets of that day:  (I'm feeling good that we got the depth thing sorted out now)
The last set of 600 was my 9th heavy set so it looks like shit, but I was fucking cooked and exhausted. I feel good about this for a 2nd attempt all day long.

Two bench sessions ago, I was following my pre-meet plan... but weights that were flying up off a 1 board were now getting all fucked up off the touch.

One of my multiply partners said I was getting "Handcuffed" by the shirt because the collar was too low on my shoulders.. we changed that up for next session.

Shitty bench session:

Made some tweaks for next bench session, I actually got a touch at 455 which is my last  warmup. I'm considering opening here just to get in the meet. Its 30lbs below my single ply PR but whatever. Its not where you start but where you finish. I'm thinking 500 for 2nd attempt. Anyhow, we raised the collar up a bit and made sure the shirt was pulled back on my tris/delts. Better results here below... I didn't hold it at the end. I know that. But I'll fix it next session. I'm only 2 touches into the shirt so far, and I was just like "Whoa what the fuck get this bar off me"  hahaha

Better bench session w/touch at 455:

Wheres my thinking next 3 weeks of training?
Squat: I just have to make sure I'm attacking the weight and locking that arch in and driving knees out and I'm confident I'll be ok.
Bench: making progress, but I think i've noticed something that fucks me up at the touch ... that last inch I'm trying to belly up "even more" and I think its throwing my setup/shoulder rotation off. I think I just need to lock in my belly up, and just be patient down to the touch then do my thing. Also when I was in my single ply shirt, it was kind of like "belly-belly-belly-straight down into the bubble." .. this metal jack is more like "Belly-belly-belly" all the way down without a "straight down to touch"...

Here's my plan as of now:

Prior single ply PRS
570/485/545 (raw)

Planned 1st and 2nd attempts:
Squat :   550/600/ ???
Bench :  460/500/???
Deadlift: I'll kind of decide where i'm at come meet day. Somewhere around 510/550/???

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Depth work in the Metal Jack squat suit.. 4 wks out

4 weeks out.. squat depth work. I wasn't happy with last weeks Squat session even though we went up to 675lbs. If I can't nail my opener reliably to depth, there will never be a 2nd or 3rd attempt. I am fortunate enough to have a great crew of teammates who came out to help handle and coach me tonight for a long session of 8 sets above 500lbs, working up to 600lbs. Big thanks to my crew for coming out in the cold to help even though they weren't training themselves! (And my wife for running the monolift after a days work!)

All in all, I am really happy with tonights work - and I even surprised myself by working smart. Like every lifter I'm always tempted to go heavy, and push the training envelope... what I needed tonight was to stay light and work the depth.. We spent 6 sets doing 500lbs x 1 rep, just focusing on my main squatting cues - sitting back, staying upright, setting my arch.. and most importantly hitting depth. What good is it if I am training to hit 675lbs if I can't get my opener past the judging?

By the end of tonights session (8 sets over 500lbs).. I was smoked.. but I was rewarded with hitting 600lbs to a good depth.. even though it felt heavy as shit hahaha

I also experimented tonight with taking my stance a bit wider.. I like it.

Squat cues:

  • Grip Floor / Set feet
  • Set Arch hard
  • Elbows forward and back locked in
  • Begin squat with Hip Hinge first
  • Drive Knees out
  • Arch hard/Chest up
  • Dip at depth

Bar x 3
135 x 3
225 x 3
315 x 1 (Straps Down)
405 x 1 (Straps Down)
405 x 1 (Straps Down)
500 x 1 (Straps Up) x 6 Sets
550 x 1 (Straps Up)
600 x 1 (Straps Up)

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Trying to touch in Metal Jack bench shirt...

Needless to say, didn't go completely as planned haha!
It is definitely a mile between a 1 board (520lb pr) and a touch.. I figured 500lbs was a safe number to run with.. but not when you screw up your setup. Additionally, since this is the first time I've tried to touch in this shirt, it hasn't been stretched at all.. I literally felt my ribs separate on the way down.. more on that later..

What did I do wrong tonight that kept me from a clean bench? Just about everything..

  • Collar was set too low on shirt on my chest and delts, causing me to get handcuffed by the shirt and unable to rotate my elbows out to lockout
  • I tried to touch too high
  • Lost my tightness
  • Didn't keep the bar over my wrists
  • Lost my arch a bit on the press
  • Overflared at lockout

Bar x 5
95 x 5
135 x 5
225 x 3
275 x 1
315 x 1
405 x 1 (Shirt, 2 bd)
455 x 1 (Shirt, 1 bd)
500 x 1 (Shirt, Touch) x 3 Sets

Reverse Band 3 Board Bench raw:
375 x 3 x 3 Sets

Dumbbell Presses:
80 lbs x 10 reps x 3 sets

Band Flyes:
100 Reps

Band Tricep Pressdowns:
100 Reps

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

6 Weeks out - Deload Bench, Raw Bench to 420 at 165lbs

This week was a deload week for me, but a good opportunity for other lifters to do some heavy work.

Tom Priest joined us for some benching, working up to a good 405lb bench at 165lbs.. and near misses at 420lbs.. Fred Mackinnon touched with 405lbs in his Titan Katana shirt.

All in all - a great week of good training with a good team!

Bench Deload:
Bar x 5
95 x 5
135 x 5
185 x 5
225 x 5
275 x 1  x 5 Singles

Incline Dumbbell Bench:
70lbs x 10 reps x 3 sets

Band Flyes:
100 Reps

Tricep Band Presses:
100 Reps

Sunday, February 22, 2015

6 weeks out - Deadlifts to 500.. time to man up

After I injured my back (QL muscle) in 2012, quite honestly I'm guilty of not pushing my deadlift in training. For 2015, its time to change that. In 2014 I really worked on improving my hamstring strength and posterior chain for the benefit of my squat.. Looking back, I feel I went too easy on my lower back work for the last couple of years out of lack of confidence.

Since 2012 each meet I've done, I've went for small PRs each meet which I hit.. 530lbs, 545lbs.. my next plan is to hit 550lbs next meet. I usually open with 500lbs, then go for a small PR on my 2nd.

My goal for 2015 is to push my deadlift PR to 600+. To do this I am going to need to grow a set, and raise the intensity of my deadlift training and focus on my lower back. I've hammered my hamstrings last year, and my deadlift speed off the floor has definitely improved, and my opportunity is to strengthen my lock out.

Examples of some good lower back work for my weakness - (Which may or may not be yours..)

  • 6" Block Pulls for Reps 2-4
  • Reverse Band Deadlift Work/Pulling against Bands or Chains
  • Romanian Deadlifts 15-20 Reps
  • Heavy Good mornings w/Safety Squat Bar
  • Narrow Stance Safety Squat Bar work
  • Kettlebell Swings

135 x 3
225 x 3
315 x 3
405 x 1
455 x 1
500 x 1
500 x 1

6" Block Pulls:
455 x 2
500 x 2
510 x 2

McGill Chins:
16 Singles

Barbell Rack Row:
225 x 6 x 3 sets

DOH Shrugs:
405 x 10 Reps x 3 Sets

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

6 Weeks out - Bench to 520x1

Worked up to a new PR tonight .. 520 off a 1 bd.
The week after next will be the true test when we finally go for the touch in this Metal Jack shirt.. but right now, 500 feels really good and confident as an opener.

Some things I am trying to focus on is setting up high on the traps, and making sure I stay up/belly up into the shirt and bar on the way down.. losing the arch is disaster.

This week I felt the best and strongest I've ever felt.. after we did the 500, and we went for the 520 - I was a little second guessing myself - I've never benched, or let alone held 520 over my face before.. but sometimes you just have man up and go for it - and trust your training.

Needless to say, 520 moved well. Real happy.. at this point.. thinking 500 opener/520 2nd att/530 3rd att

Bar x 5
95 x 5
135 x5
185 x 5
225 x 5
275 x 1
315 x 1
405 x 1 (2 bd, Shirt)
455 x 1 (2 bd)
500 x 1 (1 bd)
520 x 1 (PR)

Medium Grip - Reverse band 2 bd
315 x 3
365 x 3
385 x 3

Band Tricep Press Down
100 Reps

Band Flyes
100 Reps

Thursday, February 12, 2015

7 Weeks out - Bench to 500x2

We've been working in the new Metal Jack Bench Shirt by dropping board heights each week, and getting closer to a touch.. next week we go for the touch and from there on in - there are essentially 5 training weeks left plus 2 deload weeks, I will be touching 4 out 5 weeks and focusing on making my 1st and 2nd Bench attempts reliable.

At this point, I'm looking at opening somewhere around 500lbs, and going for 520 as a 2nd attempt.. we will know more as the touch weeks come up, this may change up or down, but right now, I think thats pretty accurate.

405x1 off 3 bd (Shirt)
475x2 off 1.5 bd
500x2 off 2 bd

Medium Grip Bench w/Reverse bands off 2bd:

Dumbell Military Press:
60x10 x 3

Band Tricep Press Downs:
100 Reps

Band Chest Flyes:
100 Reps

Sunday, February 8, 2015

7 Weeks out - Squats to 615 w/RB

Today was the first time going straps-up in my new Metal Jack squat suit... I'm actually pretty happy with the results. The key I've found is to set your arch hard, and drive those knees out. Lock the upper body in position.. break at the hips..and drive the knees out.

All my squats were a little high, but I have 7 weeks to dial it in.. again being the first day putting the straps up - I'll take it.

All my sets were done with knee sleeves only, but I threw on the knee wraps for the last set of 615.
Felt great. At this point I'm looking at a 600lb opener, and we will see where we go from there.

I try not to be overly optimistic in my thinking. :)

315x3 Straps down
405x2 Straps down
455x1 Straps up
500x1 Straps up
565x1 Straps up
615x1 RB Straps up, Knee Wraps

Narrow Stance Squats:
225x6 x 3

225x6 x 3

Up and Down Planks:
3x15 reps

Saturday, February 7, 2015

8wks out- Deadlifts to 77% / 455lbs + bands

Friday night deadlifts!

Worked up to 77% of an estimated 600lb training max.. 455lbs plus monster mini bands to build explosiveness at lockout.

Adding bands to pull against probably only adds 50-60lbs to the bar, but its the way the bands hit and load the tension at lock that really makes them work. You are forced to accelerate into the bands and build speed and explosiveness. Typically if I fail a deadlift, its at the transition-to-lockout point.. by pulling against bands I am working to build on my weakness. When deadlifting speed helps break thru sticking points.

Deadlifts against bands:

Rackpulls at knee:

Double Overhand Shrugs:

Hanging Leg Raises:
15 Reps x 3 Sets

Friday, January 30, 2015

Thurs 1/29/15 - 9 Weeks out - Bench to 77%, 2 board

This was the 2nd week wave of my 10 week meet prep.. next week we deload, then head back into the gear a bit heavier. I found it a little hard to get my position the way I wanted to on the bench. My feet weren't fully planted for all the reps, and I could do a better job arching into the bar. The video below is two sets, of two reps w/455. I actually feel the 2nd rep on both sets were better than the 1st reps. I try to realize what I did wrong, or could do better on my 2nd reps..

1st set/ 1st rep - too much foot movement, didn't plant my heels
2nd set/ 1st rep - didn't arch into the bar enough and transition smoothly

Fred is also in this video, working on his Single ply bench. We have both been working on arching better in our setups, and staying tight thru the reps. He is working on maintaining tightness all the way down to the chest/boards without collapsing or "Crashing" the boards.. when you lose tightness, the bar falls quickly, and you fall out of the support of the shirt.


Bar x 5
95 x 5
135 x5
185 x 3
225 x 3
275 x 1
315 x 1 (3bd)
405 x 1 (Shirt, 3bd)
455 x 2 (Shirt, 2bd)
455 x 2 (Shirt, 2bd)

Raw Close Grip Reverse Light Band bench:
315 x 3
365 x 3
365 x 3

Chain Flyes w/40lbs Chains - 100 Reps

Band Tricep Extensions w/Micro minis - 100 Reps

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Great article from Elite FTS on bench setup

This article by Scott Yard of EliteFTS is dead-on accurate..Over the years, I've seen a lot of good articles, but what I like best about this is it clearly spells out the entire bench - from setup to lockout. This can apply to both raw lifters and equipped lifters.

Go through these simple steps to remember the ten rules of benching:

  1. Feet up and belt down.
  2. Shoulder blades back.
  3. Set grip.
  4. Set feet.
  5. Unrack the back and start leg drive.
  6. Place bar over touch spot.
  7. Touch at high point of sternum.
  8. Press back first, then arc.
  9. Drift bar towards face for lockout.

1. Put your feet up and set your back.

By placing your feet on the bench and getting your back set where it belongs, you get your position on the bench in the exact spot you want it to be.

2. With your feet still on the bench, squeeze your shoulder blades together and get your weight on your traps.

A strong bench is a short bench, and by getting your shoulders together and down, you will shorten your stroke and put your shoulders in a position to tuck your elbows safely. This isn’t only the most efficient way to bench, but also the safest.

3. Get your belt out of the way.

Your belt needs to be on for support, but pushed low to maximize your arch. Either push your belt down yourself or having a training partner do it for you once you’re set up. This will shorten your stroke and give your stomach room for air.

4. Take your time with grip.

Your connection to the bar is the most vital part of this lift. Get the bar in the meat of your hands so that it is directly over your forearms. If the bar is too high in your hand, your wrist will bend back and add an unneeded lever system to your bench.

5. Set your feet.

Your feet need to be perfect or you’ll risk losing leg drove or worse, getting red lighted for your butt coming off the bend. You need to pull your feet back and underneath you to maximize your arch while keeping your butt on the bench. Test your feet and arch several times to get the feet the furthest back and the arch as high as possible. Don’t rush this. Tweak as much as you need to, and wiggle your feet until you feel like you’re about to pop. Once you feel that pressure, you’re ready to bench.

6. Start the unrack with leg drive.

Once the bar is in your hands, it needs to be moved toward your lower chest and sternum area without bending your arms. This will take some work, but you are able to sink the bar closer while keeping your arms straight. By pushing through your legs on the unrack and getting the bar as close to your body as possible before starting the lift, you’ll be in a strong position to hold the weight until you get a start command.

7. Bring the bar over your chest and lower to your touch spot.

Move the bar to the spot on your lower chest that allows you to utilizes your lats and upper back. This will help make your descent shorter and let you use your pecs, delts, and triceps together.

8. Take a big breath and fill your stomach with air before you bend your arms.

The bar needs to go down in an arc toward your touch spot. The elbows should be around 45 degrees. Focus on bringing your body up to meet the bar.

9. Touch, pause, and initiate with forward movement.

I recommend a press that starts with a backward phase before moving into an arc over the face. Most people don’t have strong enough triceps to push the bar in a straight line. Don’t fight it. Go with it and let your delts, pecs, and lats move the bar.

10. Lockout!

As the bar is moving back to lockout, now is the time to let it drift over your face. The triceps will kick in here, where they are strongest. Letting the bar drift away from your torso lets the pecs and delts take a break while the triceps finish the movement.