Big Day – Part 3

I hadn’t intended to provide an update this week but at the end of week 3 – things have been reshaped and a nice weekly cadence has emerged.

  • Sunday – Weights
  • Monday – Run with conditioning elements
  • Tuesday – Weights
  • Wednesday – Scapular focused mobility and rehab
  • Thursday – Weights followed by a run
  • Friday – Scapular focused mobility and rehab + long stretch
  • Saturday – ParkRun or other

The Friday original plan was for an additional conditioning session but soreness and general tiredness has encouraged a gentler end to the week but with the ability to focus twice weekly on an area requiring mobility work and associated muscle strengthening – I’ll continue these until at least week 6 but will review following that.   This gives me 2 days per week (Wednesday and Friday as what I would describe as Active rest – doing something but nothing that will hinder recovery on the big lifts).

Thursday’s run has developed into a slow 5km run – the Thursday weights is a set of rising 5s followed by a 3 at the following Sunday’s scheduled 5.  Finishing off with a set of 8 at the 3rd rising 5 weight – see below.  I’d say the easiest weights session of the week but with heavy legs for the concluding run.

 

 

 

Week 3 – the 5km ParkRun was switched to a unintentional 10km in a little over 1hr.  Sunday is the toughest squat day and as the weeks pass by the intensity of the Saturday run may have to be lessened to allow a positive Sunday session.

Week 4 is where I match my most recent training PBs as per the programme design, beyond week 5 it’ll be new territory (for recent training weights) but we are a long way from lifetime repetition PBs.

As I write this on the Sunday so I’m looking forward to the start of week 4 and the last training session before I reach 50 years old.

Big Day – Part 2

Well here we are at the end of week 2.  If you haven’t done so already I’d recommend you read “Big Day – Part 1” to understand the rationale for this programme/goal setting.

Here’s a reminder of the structure of the week.

Sunday Weights
Monday Run and conditioning
Tuesday Weights
Wednesday REST
Thursday Weights
Friday Conditioning and extra long stretch
Saturday 5km Parkrun or other run

Sunday’s weight session went well – remember I’m spending the first 4 weeks getting back to my recent training maximums so week 2 should be relatively easy – I’m still lifting without a belt and not using chalk.

Monday – 6km easy run interspersed with bodyweight conditioning moves in the park.

Tuesday – weights – an easy session for squat but chipping up the press and the deadlift – the deadlift is still at a comfortable 137.5 x 5.

Wednesday – REST day but I felt sore and tired.  I did walk around 4 miles that day walking around London at a leisurely pace with camera gear.

Thursday – Weights on a Thursday build up to 3 reps of the weight which will be the top set of 5 on Sunday  followed by a single volume set of 8.  The run after the weights session was very slow for 5km – I didn’t feel like it but was ok once I’d begun.

Friday – this is the 2nd Friday which I have not done the prescribed conditioning training.  I know that I have an area which requires attention – winging scapula – so I spent 30 minutes on scapula mobility + serratus anterior strengthening only.  This may become the regular Friday activity for the next 6 weeks or so.  To get the improvements I want here I may add it to the stretching on Wednesday too.  Mobility work in general needs to be targeted – in that rather than spend a full hour working on mobility for all of your areas which require attention – do a 10 minutes whole body approach followed by 20 minutes or so targeted at a particular area and do that 2-3 times/week for 4-6 week and then reassess.  The type of strengthening exercises here will not impact your recovery from you big lifts.

Saturday – I didn’t feel completely recovered for the weekly ParkRun but felt ok after the first 1km so decided to pick the pace up and push on. This resulted in a uncomfortable last 1km but a new PB of 26:03 (18s improvement).  Again this is a recent PB so that’s what I’m trying to improve upon.  My best 10km time is 46:21 back in 2000.

Here’s my 12 week plan – focusing this week on the Sunday workout.

The weights in red are PBs – as you can see I’ll be making inroads into getting close to my PB5 in the squat but will not get there in 12 weeks.  The bench has PBs in weeks 11 & 12.  As I previously stated the first 4 weeks get me back to recent training maxes but I’ll be using the weights prescribed from weeks 4 onwards as a guide – it is unlikely that I’ll increase at a faster rate but may slow down the rate of increase using my micro-plates (0.25kg & 0.5kg).  Having said that if things are feeling especially good on a day I may add an extra rep or two.

In summary, things are going well, I’ve dropped a conditioning session in favour or working on a focus area for mobility and isolated strength.  My food intake has gone up – I’m trying to add the additional calories as protein and healthy fats and at the moment that means adding a scoop of protein powder and a tablespoon of ground nuts and seeds to my morning porridge.

Until next time.

Big Day – Part 1

Have I had my “Big Day”?

Within powerlifting and strength circles your “Big Day” (your strongest day) maybe behind you.  On that Big Day there was likely a small amount of celebration but without the fanfare it deserved. You don’t know that’s it’s your “Big Day” until it’s passed.  Have I had my strongest day? Am I on the decline?

As I enter my 50th year these questions are more begin to enter my mind. I’m very keen on setting goals, coming up with strategies, redefining approaches and allowing for adaption and recalibration. But I rarely share all of this, I do share the approaches and the best practices but I do not share my personal goals and failures.

I haven’t competed in powerlifting since the UK National Single Chamionships back in 2014. Since then I have continued to train hard but have suffered with a long term shoulder injury which prevented my doing any kind of heavy lifting and only allowed some light cardio. I then had 9 months of a foot condition known as plantar fasciitis, which put an end to running. During 2016 I was able to train consistently and hit some new PB 5s (personal bests for 5 repetitions)- more detail on those to come but I haven’t hit a 1RM (1 repetition maximum) for 5 years.

Can I put together a long, consistent training cycle, hit some fresh low rep PBs, reduce body-fat, run a faster 5km and then try for some lifetime bests?

Back to the present day – January 2018 – my post-xmas bodyweight is 82.0kg and before xmas it was floating around 81kg. This is 3-4kg less than my pre-competition weight during 2011/12 where I would training at 84-85kg and trim down to compete at 82.5kg – this got me down to the correct weight category but at what price – some strength loss I suspect.  82kg is a good weight to aim for, in my competition days that would be around 16% body-fat, nowadays I’m around 14% but would rather drop 4kg more fat to give me plenty of room to add back more muscle to be a more solid 82kg – say at 12% body-fat.  It’s a tall order but creating room within my weight category in order to compete without a cut may help to maintain my strength.

The first 12 weeks goals:
A 12 week plan to get back to somewhere near my all time PB5s.
Sub 26 min 5km ParkRun. Reduce body fat to 13%.

I’ll share my progress versus plan every two weeks. I’ll share next time my 12 week plan but over the years I’ve learned to understand the feedback my body is giving me and do the best that I can do each day – maybe that’s a rep less than scheduled or on a great day I’ll be able to add a rep or 2.  This ‘best you can do on the day” training style has its place – I’ll delve in RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion) in a later update.

Current/historic PBs (all in KG)

PB5 When PB2 When PB1 When
Deadlift 177.5 27.06.16 220 19.2.12 @ 87.7 bodyweight
Squat 132.5 24.05.16 145  31.05.16 150 Jan-06 @ 82.5
Bench Press 107.5 12.12.16 125 6.11.11 @ 82.5

When you are coming back from a lay-off, it’s best to use your latest training weights rather than lifetime PBs to calibrate a programme.

Here are the training weights used:

Exercise Weight Reps
Squat 102.5 5
Bench 92.5 5
Deadlift 145 5

Very conservative – allowing me to progress slowly over a long period of slowly increasing the top sets in each exercise as I aim to hit some lifetime PBs in weeks 11 & 12.

Structure of the week:

Sunday Weights
Monday Run and conditioning
Tuesday Weights
Wednesday REST
Thursday Weights + Run
Friday Conditioning and extra long stretch
Saturday 5km Parkrun or other run

Week 1 Detail

Week
Day Exercise Reps 1 2
Heavy Squat 5 50 52.5
5 62.5 65
5 75 77.5
5 87.5 90
5 100 102.5
Heavy Bench 5 42.5 45
5 52.5 55
5 65 65
5 75 77.5
Sunday 5 85 87.5
Row 5 30 32.5
5 37.5 40
5 45 47.5
5 52.5 55
5 60 62.5
Prep Press 5 32.5 32.5
5 37.5 40
5 45 45
3 50 52.5
Monday Conditioning & run
Easy Squat 5 50 52.5
5 62.5 65
5 75 77.5
5 75 77.5
Tuesday Press 5 32.5 32.5
5 37.5 40
5 45 45
+ 5 50 52.5
Arms (opt) Deadlift 5 85 85
5 102.5 102.5
5 117.5 120
5 135 137.5
Wednesday REST & stretch
Thursday + Run Prep Squat with volume 5 50 52.5
5 62.5 65
5 75 77.5
5 87.5 90
3 102.5 0
8 75 77.5
Prep Bench with volume 5 42.5 45
5 52.5 55
5 65 65
5 75 77.5
3 87.5 90
8 65 65
Prep Row with volume 5 30 32.5
5 37.5 40
5 45 47.5
5 52.5 55
3 62.5 62.5
8 45 47.5
Friday Conditioning and extra long stretch
Saturday Parkrun or other

How did things turn out?

The only deviation from the plan was the conditioning on Friday was dropped and I only stretched.  The Squating for 3 days in the week created some soreness and I wanted to be in reasonable shape for the Saturday run (5km).  I had previously trialed squatting 3 days/week with good results so knew what to expect.  For around 10 years previous to that trail I had squatted only once per week – due to work commitments and perceived recovery capabilities – more on that to come in future write-ups.

Why?

What’s the point of me sharing this? Without sounding too self-indulgent – it’ll help me. When trying out new ideas it helps to be your own guinea pig, I want to validate and tweak before suggesting to a client. Secondly, the information currently available for those wishing to create and shape their own training programmes in my view is somewhat shallow. By that I mean that it’s very easy to get a cookie-cutter programme, pop in a couple of PBs and a programme will be able to be churned out. There is also some information regarding how people got on with popular programmes. I’d like to take you through a journey, describe upfront the rationale for the programme design – provide regular feedback and most importantly document changes to the original programme. I hope this will be a motivation to those coming back from an injury, trying to get back to previous best and hopefully a success story for those who have lifted for many years, are advancing in years but still want to improve – I think that the human body is capable of much more than we think.