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It is hard to believe that in less than two weeks I will be starting my peaking phase for the 2011 Arnold Classic. I knew at the outset of my preparations for the Arnold that I would have plenty of time to prepare but absolutely no time to waste. The goals at the outset of training for Phase I of preparation were as follows:
1. Set myself up to set a personal record in the raw 5x5 squats in the peaking phase – the means used to accomplish this goal was a 6-week Russian front squat cycle
2. Set myself up to set personal records at each height of the rack deadlift in the peaking phase - the means used to accomplish this goal was a 6-week Russian RDL cycle and higher volume rack deadlifts at varying heights
3. Test the strength of my injury site without re-injuring it with higher volume rack deadlifts at varying heights. All three goals have been accomplished.
By far the biggest test for my injury was rack deadlifts from 15” performed last week. There are times in training when I very intentionally plan a workout that will push me 1 step backward in order to move 2 steps forward. Heading into it I knew this would be one of those workouts. In the end I was able to pull 635x5 and 650x5 raw. The site of the tear in my low back was very sore the day after this workout, but recovered nicely within a couple of days with consistent treatment and lots of sleep. I would say this workout was more like ¼ step backward and 3-4 steps forward. A video of these pulls, as well as several other news videos can be viewed at my You Tube site.
I have one more heavy deadlift session to finish up Phase I and then I will take an unload week to let the body and nervous system rest up for what looks to be a very demanding and productive peaking phase. This last deadlift session of Phase I will include heavy DB power snatches, heavy RDL’s and heavy snatch-grip deadlifts. I will continue to re-evaluate my training each and every day from here to the Arnold. I have found it extremely productive to ask myself two questions before any training:
1. Is there anything that I have planned today that will inhibit me from achieving optimal performance?
2. Is there something I could be doing but am currently not that will push me to achieve peak performance?
One thing that stands out above all else during Phase I is that I never struggled with recovery. With two lower body Russian cycles and deadlifts on top of that one would think that recovery would be particularly difficult to nail down. This was not the case. At no point in time during this phase did I ever worry about one training session affecting a subsequent training session. The only thing I have to say about this is: HMB rocks!