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I have just finished my fifth week of training in preparation for the IPF Pro Deadlift at the 2011 Arnold Sports Festival. To begin preparation for this contest I did something that I have not done in a very, very long time. I did not touch a single weight for an entire week. This provided a much needed rest after USAPL Deadlift National Championships, not only physically but psychologically as well. I had been pushing the training very hard for eight months and I wanted to ensure that I was hungry when it came time to commence preparation for the Arnold.
As is typical my first training phase includes very high volume with the intensities being low to moderate. This will transition into high volume with moderate to high intensities and finally, I will peak with low volume and very high intensities in the last phase before the contest.
I have decided to take a very simplified approach to my preparation for the Arnold. A trendy program with all the latest and greatest periodization schemes and movements is not what is going to produce results. The two most important ingredients to success are hard work and discipline. Thus, my first five weeks of preparation included a front squat Russian cycle (A Russian cycle is a very high volume program, typically performing the given movement three times per week). This will get my legs and core in shape for a very demanding 5x5 back squat program that will peak two weeks before the contest. At week four I started a six-week RDL Russian cycle. Russian cycles are often used to peak for a competitive period. However, I am using the Russian cycles to get in shape for my peaking period. Thus, I have lowered the intensities slightly for the front squat Russian cycle. I kept the intensities as originally outlined for the RDL Russian cycle; my lower and upper back need this to prepare for heavy rack deadlifts in the peaking phase to come down the road. As one might imagine doing RDL’s and front squats three times per week can be very challenging to recovery from, but to be honest this challenge has not arisen for me. I attribute this in large part to the HMB regimen that I am on. HMB gives me a very legitimate edge in the recovery department, and as we all know, recovery is just as important as the training itself.
I have also decided to reintroduce rack deadlifts to my training. These use to be a staple of my deadlift training. However, I was forced to take them out after injuring my lower back. My lower back is still not 100%, but has come a long way in terms of healing. I need to improve the top end strength of my pull if I am going to achieve a personal record deadlift at the Arnold. My back has responded well to the rack deadlifts as of late; I have focused on higher repetitions per set with moderate weight. I will continue to push the very top end and lower end of my rack work. I will take a more conservative approach with the middle ranges of my rack work because this is the range of motion that leaves my lower back most susceptible to re-injury.
Next week I will start the 5x5 raw back squat program and snatch grip deadlifts off of the floor, while continuing to push the weights in the rack deadlifts from varying heights off of the floor. I have posted new training videos on my YouTube site. Keep checking back in the near future – more videos will be added regularly.