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On October 12th I had the opportunity to compete in my second full powerlifting meet ever. The USAPL Best of the Midwest Powerlifting Championships was held in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. I competed raw in the open 120-kilogram division. I had one of my best training cycles to date going into this meet. Having only competed in one other full powerlifting meet, my goals were simple: beat my previous raw competition results of 575-lb. squat, 360-lb. bench press and 735-lb. deadlift. My first and second attempts of 512- and 555-lb. on the squat felt good, so I decided to go for 589 on my third attempt. The weight felt good walking my squat out of the rack, but after getting good speed out of the hole I dropped my chest a little too much and could not recover. This was disappointing to say the least. I flushed this result out of my mind and focused on the bench press to come. I knew I could still set a meet total if I did well on bench press and deadlift.
Of the three main lifts I felt I had made the most progress on my bench press training leading up to this meet. A 20-lb. personal record was easily attainable. After very solid first and second attempts of 308- and 347-lb., I called for 380-lb. on my third attempt. I thought this lift would be a slam-dunk. The weight felt light out of the rack and fast off of the chest, but stalled about halfway to lock out. Now a personal record total was not even a possible. My approach to the rest of the meet was just to have fun and help the other guys as much as possible so they could set records on the deadlift. I finished with a solid 733-lb. deadlift to finish the day.
I took a week off after the meet and then started my off-season training to build a solid foundation for my preparation for the Pro Deadlift at the 2014 Arnold Sports Festival. My first three-week phase focused on higher volume with my main lifts consisting of repetitions of 4-6 per set and my accessory movements utilizing repetitions of 10-15. I have been increasingly using Sheiko templates for my training. I think there are some great elements to the Sheiko programs, but I would encourage those wanting to use them to strongly consider changing two aspects of them. First, the accessory work in traditional Sheiko program leaves a lot to be desired. Specifically, there is little to no accessory work for the posterior chain and there is no accessory work for the upper back. In addition, athletes may need to add other accessory work that addresses any specific weaknesses they have.
There will not be any fancy stuff in my training leading up to next year’s Arnold. I have learned from that mistake last year. Raw front and back squats, RDL’s, heavy rows, full and partial deadlifts . . . and of course, plenty of HMB to recover from session to session is what will get the job done!