Monday, February 3, 2014

What's going wrong in your meet training cycle

Every week I see videos of guys getting ready to compete.  And every week I ask myself, "what the fuck is that guy doing?" when I see his videos.

More than that, I routinely see these guys miss weights at their competitions that they hit in training.  Well, let me clarify.  Weights they BARELY hit in training.  

Then I see guys doing strapped up touch and go deadlifts.  This does nothing to build your max pull.  I don't care who does it and what they pull, I've seen it enough times now to know it's nothing more than an exercise in ego fulfillment.

Then I see all the touch and go benches, claiming "benched 500 in training" when they did so fresh, and without a pause.  Then I have to listen to faux outrage because they weren't even close to that come meet time.  Well no shit, Sherlock.  You had to bench after several heavy squats, and actually pause your lift.  You may have benched 500 in training without a pause but that doesn't really mean anything now.  

I also do not get, for the life of me, guys doing rep sets with knee wraps.  Even if they compete with knee wraps.  Why are you doing a set of 8, 10, or more on squats with knee wraps on?  Those sets can and do build strength, but they fall more into the realm of hypertrophy training than pure top end strength work.  If a guy has busted up knees, I get it.  But outside of that, I'm not sure why a guy would wrap his knees for sets of 8+.  

I also see tons of high squats by raw guys now.  It used to be, the bitching in raw circles was that "geared guys squat higher than a giraffe's nuts."  Well, I see a LOT of that from raw guys now.  The heavier it gets, the higher they cut it.  They still claim the lift too.  Which is not dissimilar to how they approach their bench training.  They did it, or something similar to it really, and so it must count.  

Then I always read then writing the same thing in regards to their shitty training.    

"I'll clean it up come meet time."  

To me that's like months and months of purposeful premature ejaculation during jerk sessions then saying you'll bang the next lay for hours on end because you'll just "fix that problem come sex times."  

No, you won't.  And even if you do, it's in spite of what you did.  Not because of it.  The odds are, you'll just repeat the behavior you've been performing.  

Most of these things are rooted in the lifters ability to lie to himself.  The inability to be honest about training.    
If you think it's high, be honest and say it's high.  If that's the case, don't expect it to get passed come meet time.  

If you aren't pausing your heaviest bench sets, then don't expect to bench that in a meet with a pause after heavy squats.  

If you are bouncing your deadlifts off the floor for reps using straps, don't expect that weight x reps to equal anything in the ball park of what you're really capable of for a max pull.  I've seen all sorts of big deadlifters pull big weights for lots of reps like this, but then when they have to pull a max at the meet it's not anywhere NEAR what you'd think if you based it off of training like that.  

On the flipside, I'm not saying there's no place in training for these methods.  Doing touch and go bench for maximum reps clearly has merit in terms of building hypertrophy in the pressing muscles.  And doing strapped up touch-n-go pulls can serve the same function.  However these methods should be cut out of training all together once the peaking cycle is put into place.  

I see zero reason to squat high.  None.  So I can't see any reason to do that.

So what are some things you can clean up in regards to your meet cycle that can set you up for more success come meet day?

  • Ditch the straps.  
    • Unless you have pain in your arm you're just going to deal with on meet day, get rid of them.  Spare me the "but so n so uses em and...."  Listen, that needs to stop for most guys.  Just because something works for one guy, doesn't mean the majority of lifters should be doing it.  Far too many people use exceptions these days than the rule.  And the rule is, train like you have to compete.
  • Don't do touch and go anything
    • Once you get into the meet prep phase of your training cycle, you should really be focused on developing bottom position strength.  That means pause your benches, and don't do touch and go deadlifts.  That means pausing ALL of your bench reps.  For deadlifts, reset on every rep.  
  • Don't live on singles
    • I often see guys doing singles weeks and weeks out from a meet.  This should be the time you're building strength and not demonstrating it.  When you're 5,6,8,9 weeks out from a meet you should be doing plenty of sets of 5's.  Possibly even 8's if you're 8+ weeks out.  Once you get closer to show time, reps should drop as the intensity rises.  Singles should still be done this far out, but only as part of the "over warm up" in order to facilitate better performance on the strength sets.  
  • Squat to depth
    • I've read some real bullshit on the net like "if you got three white lights you went too deep."  Jesus fucking christ where does this mentality come from?  It's better to squat deep enough so that depth is never an issue, than to think about cutting it a little high trying to squeeze in a couple of pounds.  I see guys now squat high all training cycle, claiming they will clean it up come meet time, then aren't able to, and either bomb out or barely get in a squat.  Squat fucking deep.  That means the top crease of the thigh is below the knee.  Anyone that is "feeling for depth" is fooling themselves and generally squatting high.  Lose the ego.  
  • Don't count on grinders in training for the meet
    • If you ground out a hard fucking single while performing a lift fresh, especially in the bench or deadlift, then it's probably a good idea not to count on that lift being there come meet day.  By the time you take that third bench and third pull, you're usually pretty spent.  Lots of guys bench and pull on separate days and don't realize or take into account that by the third bench and third pull, you're pretty spent.  If you barely made the lift in training then it's likely your third attempt will be something a bit less than that.  
  • Make training harder than meet day (if you can)
    • Lots of guys want optimal conditions in training in order to prepare for the meet.  Then when optimal conditions aren't met on meet day, they have trouble adjusting.  Some guys won't pull on a power bar, or won't squat without a squat bar.  They don't want to bench on a non-competition bench.  For guys that train in gyms with all of this stuff, that's great.  But I see lots of guys that don't have these options and complain about it.  Listen, just get fucking stronger.  Regardless of the bar you use or the bench you're on, you're still lifting weights.  If it's not under optimal conditions then that's ok.  Lots of guys do meet prep right in their home without special bars and special benches or monolifts and do just fine.  Second, pull after you squat.  You want to be fatigued when you pull.  It's going to give you a better idea of what you'll be good for come meet day.  If you don't want to do that, then another idea is to do all of your back work before you deadlift.  
  • Don't program too heavy 
    • If you are missing reps and grinding shit early in the training cycle then something went very wrong in your planning.  The last two weeks or so should be heavy.  You will have some grinders in there.  But 5-8 weeks out you should be blasting through shit like you're the Juggernaut (bitch).  There's something to be said for crushing weights every week, and building confidence in the lifts.  This can't be done if you get overzealous in your training and decide you're going to squat 80 more pounds than you did in your last meet, 3 months ago.  Be smart and conservative about these things.  


  1. you're going to love this one dude:

    1. The guy in the video is a bodybuilder. Powerlifting is not bodybuilding. Whatever that guy is doing is CLEARLY working for him, bodybuilding-wise.

    2. Lots of things "work" for people in spite of what they are doing. But it doesn't mean it's optimal. What he's doing is not optimal for hypertrophy even if he's "jacked".

      It's more than likely his supplement stack is what's working for him. Not his half squats.

  2. I've pulled after squats for the longest time now and i still get comments from people about how they cant do that because they'd be too tired to pull heavy enough.

    So pull....lighter.

    I don't know why but when my quads are pumped and warmed up from squatting i feel like i pull better. Maybe not as much as i'd pull fresh, but just better.

    I noticed it first when i was messing around with doggrapp a few years ago and pulled after a tonne of leg presses etc so kept it in when i went into a strength cycle.

  3. hey paul i plan on including another squat movement after my front squats, i see in your blog plenty of times the hack squat, do you mean the hack squat with the slanted angled machine or the behind the back barbell hack squat lift? if you like both which one have you gotten the most out of?