Skip to main content

Becoming a powerlifter - training for gains

Continuing in adventures in powerlifting,  today we are looking at training. I've really enjoyed chatting to other people in powerlifting training and the way they train can be very varied. Some train 5-6 days a week, some less. Some to other sports alongside. Some train all the lifts every session, some split them. Some do their own programming, some have a coach, some follow an off the peg programme.



While previously I was managing all my own programming (with a bit of CrossFit to throw me out of my comfort zone), my meet preparation is mostly outsourced. 

I started Jen Sinkler and JVB's Unapologetically Powerful programme before I made the decision to compete, because I wanted to see how JVB worked in terms of balancing accessory movements and building strength over a relatively short, focussed period. The best way to understand a programme, is to train in it.

The programme is based around 3 lifting days a week, each one focussed on one of the competition lifts (squat, bench, deadlift), but with complementary exercises that bring benefits to form, work the synergists and make the whole programme more well rounded.

There are multiple exercise options for most sets, and you get to choose using biofeedback testing - or sometimes I find I have to eliminate an option for lack of the right equipment or convenient space (like avoiding doing a superset where the exercises are at opposite ends of the gym and putting away and reclaiming equipment would interrupt the flow).

So that's my heavy lifting sorted.

Of course lifting alone isn't a balanced programme. It's important to do a bit of cardio as well. To compliment my strength training I tend to focus on short, anaerobic intervals for one session a week. So I do CP sprints (10 second sprints that rely heavily on energy from creatine phosphate - the same source as heavy lifts). Alternatively I do a session of Tabata training - usually 3 or 4 rounds - in my studio. I love Tabata because a single round takes less than 5 minutes, so there's no excuse for not fitting it in. When I do several rounds I tend to fit it in while lunch is in the oven!

Then I have my optional "vanity workout". The mysterious 4th workout which traditionally might have been used for aesthetic work (because bicep curls don't tend to figure into a powerlifting programme). I usually take this as a functional movement workout. Animal flow, kettlebells or I might get to a cheeky CrossFit session. I don't do this every week, only if I feel twitchy on the weekend - sometimes I just walk or dance instead.

I do a lot of walking, usually with the dog, and I am still dancing, which helps to keep me moving on rest days without stressing my body too much. I try to have 2 days a week where walking is my only exercise. Balancing dance training and strength training is tricky, but I've been able to drop my conditioning and focus solely on technique drills and rehearsal.

I have found that this plan, along with my classes and personal training sessions, feels challenging, without being too much. Only doing the main lifts once a week allows for plenty of recovery, which is vital for my health, but having the assistance lifts that echo those movements within the other sessions means I'm not timing out for too long.

The one thing that UP lacks, is deload weeks. I find it really helps me to take a week off heavy lifts on a regular basis. The good news is that I have a few "spare" weeks in the run up to the competition, which will allow me to deload on my own terms. For those weeks I will likely to back to Unapologetically Prepared - the mobility and form introduction that comes as part of the UP package.

I'm pleased with how things are progressing. The first 4 weeks of UP don't involve any very heavy lifts at all (it's all in medium length sets) and I was a little dubious about this. But after 6 weeks off heavy (2 weeks preparation, 4 weeks main programme) I walked into the gym on week 5 and lifted my previous best single rep for 4 sets of 4, so it must be working!

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Managing Fibromyalgia flares

I've written before about living with EDS and Fibromyalgia ,  much of my personal fitness and health practices are geared around managing those conditions and keeping me as well as I can be. When managing a chronic health condition, particularly one that involves fatigue and potential flare ups, pacing, good nutrition, good sleep and generally taking care of yourself is always the first priority. Ideally we want to have as few flares as possible. But sometimes they still happen, and when they do, it's good to have a strategy in place. And I'm going to be talking in fairly general terms, because while EDS and Fibro are my personal experience, there is so little understanding of the mechanisms behind these conditions, that most strategies are going to be applicable to a number of conditions where crashes of exhaustion and pain are a feature. So what is a flare? A flare is a period where someone with chronic illness suffers increased symptoms for a short while. The

What's the deal with yoga and hypermobility?

I wanted to address a question today that keeps coming up on various hypermobility and EDS forums that I frequent. It comes up so often in fact that I feel like I have to write this all up in one place, to save me 1000s of key strokes of individual responses and distil some of my opinions and thought processes on the matter. It always goes like this. Someone asks a question like "I've just been diagnosed with hypermobility, I've been told I can't do yoga anymore..." The responses are always a mixture of "yes, my doctor/physio told me yoga was the worst thing I could do for my hypermobility" and "I do yoga and it's been the best thing for my hypermobility". So what gives? Well, I'm firmly in the "yoga is useful" camp, and I have to disclose that. I'm a yoga practitioner of around 20 years and a perinatal yoga teacher , as well as a personal trainer and bendy person. While I have the deepest respect for the medic

Step away from the scale. Why weigh ins and weight loss don't match.

I have a persistant bugbear when it comes to health coaching, and it's this issue of "weight". People are often talking about "losing weight", the number on the scale becomes a focus. "If only I could just get under 65kg" they say. Or worse I see advertised "buy this supplement and you can lose 20kg in a fortnight". I've found myself frequently sitting with a weight-focussed client and asking "if you were 2 dress sizes smaller, fit and toned, but you weighed the same as you do now, could you be happy with that?" You might be surprised how challenging a question that can be. For many people, particularly those who have struggled with weight loss, that number is the absolute key. They can wake up, feeling energised and full of life, slip into those jeans that used to live hopefully in the bottom of the drawer, check themselves in the mirror and love what they see... then they step on the scales, see the number is half a kilo

Is being polite sabotaging your weight loss?

I've been thinking a lot lately about the barriers that make it hard for people to stick to healthy habits, or even take them up in the first place. My personal training clients are a lovely bunch, and one thing I can certainly say is that none of them have come to me completely uninformed about healthy eating. Most people have done some homework before they get to the point of hiring me, and while I always go over the basics (never assume anything) I know that when I tell them stuff like this, it's not new information to them: Eat less to lose weight Eat protein with every meal Eat 5 portions of fruit and veg a day Consume high sugar and fat treats rarely and in moderate portions Drink water with every meal or snack Exercise regularly That's not rocket science, so why are so many people still struggling with it? Is it because "the rules" are more complicated? Are they missing the "weird trick" (spoiler alert, there are no weird tricks

Running with wolves

When I started trying to reverse my post-baby weight gain , I spent several months, probably a year or so really floundering. I was exercising, hard. I didn't feel like I was overeating, but I wasn't losing weight. In fact sometimes I was gaining more and I couldn't figure out why. Often I get personal training clients coming to me with the same problem. They eat wholesome foods with few treats, they exercise hard several times a week, but there's no weight loss. The answer to this problem is a staple for a PT or nutrition coach. It's about activity levels. If I sit on the sofa all day, I burn through just under 2000 calories. If I do a 30 minute HIIT workout, I burn about 200 more. But if I spend my day doing housework, walking to town to do errands and generally being on my feet, I burn 3000 calories or more. It's not the workouts, it's the activity or NEAT (non exercise activity thermogenesis if you feel fancy). So how do you keep up your NEAT or