The deload week has finally passed. My mind and body got a chance to relax, and I entered the gym as a Hungry, Hungry Hippo. You can only be patient for so long. 

 

This week felt great in the gym, as it always does when I’m refreshed and focused. With only a few weeks left before my meet, every day in the gym counts. The goal at the beginning of my training was to increase my frequency, and my body has adapted so well to squatting and benching this often, that I was even able to add a gym day to focus on hitting a training max.

 

 

Training Max 

Breaking Muscle Shop

And that brings us to the training max, which I’ve included in my journals over the past month. The training max is a big weight I work up to at the end of every training session, but by no means is it a true max. The training max serves several purposes, and it’s basically a single that I work up to on the squat and bench. This single is one I should be able to do without any grinding or pumping myself up. I also always ensure that the single is a weight that I could take for a triple, or a single with two left in the tank.

 

"You need the ability to define and overcome your own limits and the confidence to not second guess yourself. Those qualities are just as important as logging countless hours in the gym."

My biggest take away from the daily max is added confidence under heavy weight. The mind and body are so entwined when it comes to lifting. You need the ability to define and overcome your own limits and the confidence to not second guess yourself. Those qualities are just as important as logging countless hours in the gym. Knowing your body has the capacity and strength to handle heavy weights eliminates nervousness. This is good.

 

The training max is implemented daily. Since I hit this max on the reg, that means I gain confidence every single day. I always work up to a weight I can easily manage. Thus, my numbers are always fluctuating, but steadily increasing. Sometimes a personal record (PR) might come, but it’s nothing worth rushing for. Previous PRs become daily maxes, as I can easily hit them for a triple. That’s music to my ears.

 

RELATED: Why Your "Max" Isn't Your Max - The 6 Types of Actual Maxes

 

Choosing Your Attempts 

During the meet, I will get three attempts to squat, bench, and deadlift. Choosing these attempts wisely will ensure I reach my full potential come PR-time. Now I am definitely not an expert on this topic, but here’s my philosophy and how I make my attempts.

 

The first attempt should be a number I can walk into the gym and hit a triple of any day of the week. This attempt should always be easy and relatively lighter in weight than its two counterparts. I don’t know any powerlifter who uses their first attempt on their final score, so why strain yourself? This is most important with the squat, as it’s the first lift that gets you into the meet, and its calming when you hit proper depth the first time around.

 

"Since the daily training max is always a number I can hit with full confidence, unstimulated, with two reps left in the tank, it also helps me to pick my openers."

No attempt is set in stone, so always pay attention to your body and mind when it comes to the next two attempts. For the second attempt, I typically go for a five- or ten-pound PR (usually five for bench as that’s my weakest lift).

 

After that, it’s balls to the walls. I always bring a kilo chart, so I’ll just pick a number based on how many more pounds I feel I can add to the lift. Not very scientific, but hey, I usually hit numbers I couldn’t fathom at the beginning of my training cycle. Just make sure you have full confidence when you get under that bar, or it ain’t budging. Since the daily training max is always a number I can hit with full confidence, unstimulated, with two reps left in the tank, it also helps me to pick my openers. 

 

Here’s the steak and taters for the week:

 

Monday 

Squat (Heavy)

Bar x 10 (2 sets)

135 x 5

185 x 3

255 x 3 (5 working sets @ 90%)

270 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%)

205 x 1 (training max for the day)

 

Deadlifts (Technique/Speed)

135 x 5 (2 warm-up sets)

225 x 1 (8 sets, 20 second rest intervals @ 65%)

 

Tuesday

Bench (2-second pause on chest)

Bar x 10

95 x 5

135 x 5

170 x 4 (4 working sets @ 75%)

205 x 1

215 x 1 (training max for the day)

 

Squat (2-second pause in the hole)

Bar x 10 (2 sets)

135 x 5

185 x 5 (3 working sets @ 65%)

200 x 1 (training max for the day)

 

Dumbbell Row

40 x 5

65 x 5

85 x 2 (2 sets)

100 x 5 (5 working sets)

 

Wednesday 

Yoga

 

Thursday

Deadlift (Heavy)

135 x 5 (2 warm-up sets)

250 x 1 (6 working sets @ 72.5%)

 

Bench (Floor Press)

Bar x 10

95 x 5

135 x 5

170 x 4 (3 working sets @ 75%)

195 x 1 (training max for the day)

 

Squat (Reps)

Bar x 10 (2 sets)

135 x 5

185 x 3

215 x 8 (3 working sets @ 5 lb increase from last week)

245 x 1

255 x 1

265 x 1

275 x 1 (training max for the day)

 

Friday - Extra Day

Squat (Training)

Bar x 10 (2 sets)

135 x 5

185 x 3

225 x 3

245 x 2

255 x 2

265 x 1

275 x 1

285 x 1 (training max for the day)

 

Bench (Training)

Bar x 10

95 x 5

135 x 5

185 x 3

205 x 2

210 x 1

215 x 1

220 x 1 (training max for the day)

 

Hanging Leg Raise x 10 (5 sets)

 

Saturday 

Bench (Pin Press)

Bar x 10

95 x 5

135 x 5

180 x 1 (4 working sets @ 85%)

205 x 1 (training max for the day)

 

Squat (Goblet Squats)

35 x 10 (2 sets)

55 x 5

85x10 (3 working sets @ 5 lb increase from last week)

95 x 1 (training max for the day)

 

Bent-over Row

95 x 5

135 x 5

195 x 3 (5 working sets @ 10 lb increase from last week)

205 x 1 (training max for the day)

 

Sunday 

Rest

 

The fifth day felt great, and I plan on making that a permanent change. I don’t feel sore any more, and I’ve grown a lot, both mentally and physically, in only a few weeks. I’m always excited to see what the next week brings to me. 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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