With my first week of my next training cycle in the books, it’s time to make a few revisions. I must have been out of my mind thinking I could have a day of pause squats with five-second pauses while squatting four times per week and then safely make it up the stairs. 

 

I’d call it a rough week, but it’s to be expected when you get into a long-term relationship with squats. With that being said, two-second pause squats will still accomplish my goals without reaching the point of diminishing returns.

 

 

Squat Plan

Breaking Muscle Shop

My last competition taught me a lot about my weak points during each lift. I have been working on strengthening those weaknesses throughout my next short six-week cycle. I exceeded my expectations on the squat, so the main thing I’m doing to improve my squat is increase frequency. I have included the following four days in my plan:

 

  • Rep Day
  • Technique Day
  • Heavy Day
  • Practice Day

 

My heavy day is to clearly get stronger, while my reps day is used to recruit different muscle fibers and confuse the body, as I can’t continuously be in the one to five rep range. For technique day, I’ve employed pause squats, as these teach me to be more explosive coming out of the hole (which is often a sticking point). Let’s just say two-second pauses were much friendlier than four-second pauses. I also threw in a day of goblet squats, just to practice squatting more without having to load a bunch of weights on my back. Hey, variety is the spice of life!

 

Bench Press Plan

My bench press has always been my weakest lift, and I’ve always had a few sticking points. I’m always weak off the chest, but at my last meet I missed a lockout. I’ve increased my frequency on the bench solely to get more time under the bar, and I’ve split my days into the following categories:

 

  • Heavy/Technique Day
  • Maintenance Day
  • Floor Press Day
  • Pin Press Day

 

My heavy/technique day has a lot of volume and intensity, and I typically vary the length of time I pause on the chest, like a competition lift. The floor press not only helps build my bench, but also strengthens my lockout, whereas the pin press helps me be more explosive off the chest – my kryptonite. For maintenance day I always get five sets in at eighty percent before working up to my training max.

 

Deadlift Plan

And that leaves us with the deadlift. My programming has been changing on a weekly basis, as I want to progress but I can’t risk injury since I’m already squatting so much. I’m hoping my squatting frequency will help increase my deadlift alone by strengthening my hamstrings, glutes, and back. 

 

For this week, I started out light on deadlifts with a technique day, and then had a heavy day just to see what it felt like. I kept the reps low, and they felt great. My deadlifting percentages and rep ranges aren’t set in stone, as I’m listening to my body over the course of this cycle. Powerlifting is a marathon, not a sprint, so this will set me up for long-term success.

 

Let’s get into the bread and butter!

 

Monday

Squat (Heavy)

Bar x 10 (2 sets)

135 x 5

185 x 3

235 x 3 (5 working sets @ 82.5%)

250 x 1 (training max for the day)

 

Bench (Maintenance)

Bar x 10

95 x 5

135 x 5

175 x 2 (5 working sets @ 80%)

200 x 1 (training max for the day)

 

Deadlift (Technique/Speed)

135 x 5 (2 warm-up sets)

190 x 1 (12 sets, 20 second rest intervals @ 55%)

 

Tuesday

Bench (2-second pause on chest)

Bar x 10

95 x 5

135 x 5

150 x 5 (5 working sets @ 70%)

Overload/Static Hold 235 x 10 seconds (3 sets @ 110%)

 

Squat (2-second pause in the hole)

Bar x 10 (2 sets)

135 x 5

160 x 5 (3 working sets @ 5lb increase from last week)

180 x 1 (training max for the day)

 

Seated Row

80 x 5

120 x 5

150 x 2

175 x 5 (5 working sets)

 

Wednesday

Yoga

 

Thursday

Deadlift (Heavy)

135 x 5 (2 warm-up sets)

185 x 3

225 x 2

255 x 3 (1 working set @ 75%)

275 x 3 (1 working set @ 80%)

295 x 3 (1 working set @ 85%)

 

Bench (Floor Press)

Bar x 10

95 x 5

135 x 5

150 x 6 (3 working sets @ 70%)

190 x 1 (training max for the day)

 

Squat (Reps)

Bar x 10 (2 sets)

135 x 5

185 x 3

205x 8 (3 working sets @ 72.5%)

Overload/Static Hold 315 x 10 seconds (3 sets @ 110%)

 

Friday

Rest

 

Saturday

Bench (Pin Press)

Bar x 10

95 x 5

135 x 5

160 x 1 (10 working sets @ 75%)

190 x 1 (training max for the day)

 

Squat (Goblet Squats)

35 x 10 (2 sets)

55 x 5

75x10 (3 working sets)

85 x 1 (training max for the day)

 

Bent-over Row

95 x 5

135 x 5

180 x 3 (5 working sets)

 

Sunday

Yoga

 

Another week of being sore almost every day, but I’d say my body is responding well to the increased frequency. Healthy eating and adequate sleep have made all the difference. The craziest part is I look forward to going to the gym every session. I love lifting, and it’s extremely rewarding. Until next week, stay active!

 

Ryan Seaver is a novice powerlifter who found his love for the sport after six years of going to the gym religiously. Follow Ryan's journals to learn how to get started as a competitive lifter.

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