If I just WOULDA picked 633-430-670 I walk away from the nationals with a 1733 total, no belt, on a pretty badly torn groin. I probably COULDA picked 640-435-675 and still made it, for 1750. However neither of those happened.
Since then, I've had time to reflect and on what I could have done differently going into the meet, and what things I thought went well, or that I thought I did well.
So let's get to it.
Things I couda, woulda, shoulda done different or better -
Benched less -
Because of my separated shoulder, I really can't bench every other week for more than about 4-5 times (8-10 weeks) before things get problematic. I think the week I hit that VERY FAST 405, I was as good as I was going to get. It's not a "strength" issue. It's that my pec tendons, brachialis, and elbows all get so beat up and sore that benching hurts very badly. That's one of the drawbacks about benching close grip with a lot of volume. The brachialis contract so hard that eventually mine get to where it's painful to bench effectively. Same for my pec tendons and elbows. Because bench training had been going so well however, my enthusiasm got the better of me and I pushed out bench training a few more weeks than I should have. You also must remember that I am inclining heavy during this period as well.
For someone who does not have these issues, I still recommend benching every week, with a lot of volume. That is really going to drive the bench fast. However for someone like myself, this cycle will help me understand how many weeks I can plan for benching in the future. On the strong-15 short cycle, that's going to be about 3 total bench sessions, with almost no benching done coming into it. I may have to pare benching back to once a month with inclines and dumbbell work being the stuff I do in between.
Kept up the abductor and adductor machine work -
The first 5 weeks of training, I had a day dedicated to a lot of "pre-hab" work like the good girl and bad girl machines. I kept on top of this religiously, and I felt like it was indeed doing a good job of keeping my legs feeling "healthy". Eventually I dropped that day because I felt like I was "ok" and no longer needed it. I have no idea if dropping this day contributed to my groin tear, however I think dropping it was not a great idea. I have a history with adductor tears/strains so I REALLY need to stay on top of that good girl machine. Not to mention that the stronger your adductors, the more stable your squat will feel, so the stronger it should feel. I plan on making the adductor machine literally one of the main movements I don't do without starting this week.
The blood pooling has started on the inside of my leg (I will get a good pic up this week) so the tear was probably a bit more significant than I initially realized. Either that, or I tore it more when I took the 611 squat. My left knee hurts as well right now, and the reason I believe that to be is because I squatted again this past week, and immediately I could feel my body "shift" to protect the groin, and move the load bearing over to my left leg, where my knee traveled far more forward than usual.
Kept in the 350 method -
I also eventually dropped the 350 method in favor of heavier high volumed inclines as well. I also feel like this contributed to getting more beat up in the shoulders/elbows/pecs over the 9+ weeks. The 350 method gives a nice break joint wise, while getting a lot of blood moving, offers a change of pace mentally (which I feel is important over a long cycle), and and certainly helps with some muscle growth. Being pain free for me, is often the biggest difference between being able to press very strong, and not being able to. So once I started getting beat up, I found everything got way harder because of the pain. When I was still pain free, weights were flying and I felt like the 450 close grip bench was pretty much a lock.
I think a good rotation for myself going into the peaking work, would/could have been something like so....
Week 1 - benching - heavy/high volume
Week 2 - incline - 350 method
Week 3 - benching - lighter - low volume reps big-15 method for rep PR
Week 4 - incline - heavy/high volume
Peaking wise -
Week 1 - bench up to 385
Week 2 - incline 350
Week 3 - bench up to 405
Week 4 - heavy incline for volume
Week 5 - bench up to 425
This would have set me up for the 450 I was chasing, without so getting beat up, I believe.
This is something I will be covering in the base building book as well. Everything has a point of diminishing returns. There is only so much volume you can do before that has no real benefit. You can only train balls out on 1 rep sets for rep PR's before you hit a wall there as well. The best method, even for base building, incorporates all of these methods through time that way you can avoid overuse, or diminishing returns. That will be a big part of what base building does.
Slept better -
I basically didn't sleep for the whole peaking cycle. I mean, I did, but it was 3-4 hours some nights, an hour other nights. The one deadlift video where I almost blacked out was a big "wake up" call (not sure if pun is intended or not) for me, that I needed to do something.
Eventually I found this stuff called "Calm" that helped a lot. It's a mag supplement and I was able to cope a little better using that. I also took a Valium the night before the meet, but I'm not sure at this point if that played a role in me not feeling worth a shit the day of the meet (felt like I still wanted to be sleeping).
Some things I felt I did right -
The weight cut -
This was not hard. I cut all carbs for the most part (a piece of fruit here and there during the day) for two weeks. This brought my down to 251. I drank three gallons of water for three days, 2 gallons for 2 days, then basically a little less than a gallon the last day then cut all water off at 7 P.M. I did two hot baths the next morning and made weight at 241. I dropped food during this time to eggs, chicken, and protein shakes.
All I did to find this "secret" method was use the Google machine, and then run it by Jamie to make sure it looked good. Yet I've been asked 1,802,849 times to document the weight cut I used like it was some big secret. I literally just googled it, found some reputable sources and implemented it. I don't know why I find it annoying when people ask me to document this particular thing, but I do. I've never done a weight cut, but to me figuring out the process was not difficult, and I used the same resources to figure out how to do it as everyone else has access to.
Pulled heavy for the last time two weeks out -
I was a little worried about this, so I ran it by 900+ deadlifter and pro strongman Vince Urbank, and he told me that's what he did. In fact, Vince told me that sometimes he pulls his last big deadlift three weeks out. My heaviest pull was a deficit pull of 605x2x2. The next week I pulled 500 for a single, and the next week 365x3. At the meet, I pulled a fairly easy 655, injured.
The reason this ended up happening was actually me just listening to my body. I was set to pull 620x3 from the deficit the next week, but my mind and body were just revolting. So I just pulled 500 for a "not so crisp" single and knew that backing off was a good idea. No one gets "weaker" while they are training on a consistent basis, but your ability to demonstrate strength can be waning because your recovery curve is still in the negative. This is where I felt like I was at the time, so I basically started a "deload" after the 605x2x2 and went from there.
Did lots of rows -
I really dedicated myself to doing a lot of rows this past training cycle, and I felt like it paid off. By the time I pulled my groin was so tight that getting down to the bar was a bit of a chore, however I felt very strong off the floor and through the whole ROM and I believe that all of the rowing and upperback work I did was a big part of that. I hate rowing, or at least I have in the past, but I found two movements I liked enough to be consistent with them.
One was the Flex Machine row. It's a machine made by "Flex". It's seated with a chest support. I generally do these after heavy pressing. The other row was done on Saturday's as a main movement, and it was just the good ol barbell row. The difference is, I did it without straps and double overhand. I also did not get sloppy with my form of course. My best was 315x10, I believe. I will stick with both of these because I find I do them pretty consistently. That is always the most important factor in picking what work you're going to be doing. The work you know you'll do consistently.
Lifting is such a mental game. Numbers can fuck with your head for a very long time until you finally conquer them. This is why it's very important to hit certain weights for certain reps, and to constantly reinforce you are "good" to move certain weights.
Creating an undying belief that you can do something will eventually cement it in your mind that you can.
It's vitally important to still believe you can accomplish something, even after you fail many times trying.
Remember, you're not working to silence your critics, you're working to silence your doubts.
It's not about saying "fuck the haters" or "fuck the doubters"....it's about not hating yourself for failing, and saying "fuck the doubts" you have within yourself.
Believe in what you are capable of, to an unhealthy degree. If people want to say that's arrogant, that's fine. If people want to say "you have to accomplish it before you can say you did it, that's true. However you can say all day "I CAN...." and that's a healthy fucking attitude. That attitude is required for success. The day you replace "I can..." with "I hope..." the day you start expecting less from yourself.
Last, but most certainly not least, just to keep all of this in perspective....a long time friend of mine lost his daughter this week. She was everything to him. I don't know that I've known a more doting and proud father than him. She was his entire world, and upon receiving this news yesterday, I began crying. I can't imagine the pain that my friend is in or what he is going through. I shed tears because I can't even begin to fathom even the modicum of anguish that he must be experiencing right now.
Powerlifting and weights and all of these things, they are trivial and insignificant things in the grand scheme of life. People debate tirelessly over what system does what and what lift does what, and what food is good for this and that, and then.........LIFE, real fucking meaningful life sledge hammers you, and you remember that there are things in this world far more important than worrying about arguing over such nonsense.
Chuck, my thoughts and our love are with you and your family right now.