The Perfect Storm

Today was just one of those days where everything worked. I cranked my neck musculature all out of whack during the last two training sessions and I’m not 100% recovered from it–apparently jamming your head into the bench when you use leg drive to move the bar off your chest is not great technique–so I was a little concerned going in today. Also from the recent sessions, I learned that my preferred spot for lifting (in a corner) was not ideal as there was no air circulation at all there and my performance suffered as I almost perished from heat frustration. I took all this information, input it into the processor in my frontal lobe, and came up with an attack plan.

I stirred up a batch of homemade electrolyte beverage to counteract the likely loss of minerals from the profuse sweating. I got the formula here. I moved to a Squat Stand that is roughly centered in the gym, which puts it into a cross ventilated centrifuge of 3 large fans. The temperature is likely 10° cooler. I let the bar sink into my chest/sternum area on the pause when benching, lifting my head slightly off the bench at the same time while still keeping contact with it (some Federations don’t allow the head to be lifted from the bench. Don’t want to develop that habit!), and was able to still use leg drive to start the movement without moving my head or neck at all. I deadlift directly under the fans right out in the middle of the floor.

The result was a strong training session that didn’t feel in the least bit gruelling. I actually stopped bench pressing for example, because I’d already done 6 working sets and was getting a little bored. In terms of Rate of Perceived Exertion, I could have continued.

Squats and Deadlifts were both rep PR’s today, but I am approaching the limit of what I can likely do for sets of 3. The last two Squat and Bench sessions I have not been able to get above 3 reps on my Top Set while staying at a 9 RPE (could have done one more rep). Today’s Top Dog for Squats was 263 x 3, and Bench was 180 x 3.  I’ll keep increasing in 1-lb increments to squeeze out as much as I can from this basic training structure, but I am looking forward to shaking things up a bit.

The next phase of the plan is designed to provide a bit more recovery time between the heavy sets with the big three lifts, using assistance lifts and supplemental lifts leading up to the competition movement session. What I’m doing now is basically training the competition movements twice each week, leaving anywhere from 72-96 hours between sessions to allow for recovery. The next phase only trains the big three once each week, albeit at higher intensity. It’s a bit like the Texas Method only using Assistance lifts as the Volume Day, Supplemental Lifts as the Recovery Day, and then the actual competition lifts. It looks something like this:

Day 1

  • 2-count pause squats
  • 2-count paused bench
  • 2″ deficit deadlift
  • close grip bench

These lifts are done for sets of 4-6 reps with back off sets so it’ll be a high volume kind of day.

Day 3

  • Front Squat
  • Incline Bench

These are done for lower RPE and slightly higher reps (6-8) so they are designed more toward hypertrophy of the specific muscles that carry the brunt of the load when doing the Powerlifts.

Day 5

  • Competition Squat
  • Competition Bench
  • Competition Deadlift

Here I’ll be working up to a heavy triple and adding weight from there, so eventually doubles and singles will be the result as I keep piling on the microplates. Speaking of which, it is a pleasure to have a full complement of micros at the new gym. They’ve got .25-lb, .5, .75 and 1-lb plates, so linear progression can really be milked a lot longer than possible without them.

So my combination of a cooler temperature locale, refreshing electrolyte packed beverage and improved bench technique which did not aggravate my already angry neck, provided an excellent stimulus to body and mind. I couldn’t be more pleased.

In terms of my attempts to add muscle mass, my Weight Tracking App informed me this morning, as it does every Sunday morning, of the results from the trailing week. My average weight over the last week was .7 lbs less than the previous week. I will likely not change my calories yet, giving it one more week before I take them up a notch. Body composition remains in the awesome category and muscle building doesn’t happen overnight, so being in a hurry will just move me out of the awesome category by fattening me up.

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