Big Day – Part 6

Another Sunday update covering weeks 7 & 8 of this 12 week plan.  Having made notes that the Squats were feeling tough at 112.5kg x 5 and at 115kg x 5, today at the start of week 9 I managed 117.5kg x 5.  So getting comfortable with feeling uncomfortable!  A 10km slow run at 1hr 10 mins in week 7 felt good.  The bench press in week 7, 97.5 x 5 was pushed to x7 and today I pressed 101kg x 5.

All things considered good progress. With 4 weeks to go confidence is high that I will get close to some of those old rep PBs.

Midway through week 7 I have also embarked on a side project/experiment – cutting out refined carbs and sugars.  Aiming to keep calorie level the same but sourced less from carbs.  Any drop in bodyfat levels will allow me additional room in my 82.5kg weight-class.

Deadlift of 160 x 5 to look forward to this week.  Dropping the preceding set to a single the last few weeks seems to help.

Reducing training frequency can help, I’ll drop tomorrow’s Monday run – as the weather is looking very bad and the rest may help.  I’ve hit my 12 week goal on the 5km time and would rather sacrifice a few seconds improvement on the 5km run for a few more kgs on the squat and deadlift.  At this stage of the programme, you have some momentum but things are getting tough, look to improve the quality of your nutrition and get that extra hour in bed – breaking new ground is always tough.

Journey to the Nationals 2018 – Powerlifting

Following a fantastic year of training in 2016 (training year Part 1  & Part 2)  James suffered from a skiing injury, which meant that he couldn’t compete in the BDFPA British Single lift competition in 2017.   He trained hard during 2017, even though he couldn’t squat or deadlift for the nearly half of that year – his bench, shoulders and back certainly benefited from the extra attention.  He qualified for the National Event  back in October 2017 after only been able to train his legs for 2 months.  October to the end of the year saw him slowly return to his previous strength levels but he had National Single lift records in his sights so needed to start training hard in the low repetition range whilst still allowing plenty of time for recovery, rugby training and weekend rugby matches. 

I’ll cut to the chase and share his results now, before I go on to explain and share his peaking programme.

Sat 17 February 2018, British Drug Free Powerlifting Association, UK National Single lift championships.
Bodyweight 70.4kg. Age 15. Teenager 1 age group. 75kg bodyweight class.

1st lift   125kg (he’d hit 127.5kg x2 in training so an easy opener)
2nd lift 131kg (new national record)
3rd lift 135kg (increase of his national record and a 17.5kg increase in 4 months) – Video
4th lift 140kg – failed (nice marker for next time)

135kg – new national record – photo courtesy of





1st lift   142.5kg (new personal best by 2.5kg)
2nd lift 150kg
3rd lift 160.5kg (new national record and a 20.5kg increase in 4 months) – Video

142.5kg – first lift – photo courtesy of











The red items represent repetition personal bests (rep PBs).  Warmup sets for the squat (freestanding x2 x10 and empty bar x 10) are not shown.  Rugby training occurred on a Monday and Wednesday with a match (if any) on the Saturday.  We found that the squat was going really well and on ‘good’ days additional repetitions were taken and the plan recalibrated.  The planned deadlift routine turned out to be too tough so the poundages were reduced, but he still hit a PB4 a couple of weeks before the meet.  The results show that the extra kgs added to the squat really have a great carryover to the deadlift.  The bench was a recovery exercise following a wrist injury and progressed well.

Below is a copy of the paper version used during the 7 week build-up.
Without going into lots of details you can see that James hit all of his sessions but after week 3 many changes were made to the poundages of the top sets.  Some of the early bench numbers were missed but there were 2 x PBs in weeks 6 & 7.  The squat was going very well – Sunday week 4’s 107.5 x 4 PB was turned into a 7 @ RPE9 (meaning another rep was left in the tank).  Recalibration took place as we moved along, the Tues Squat session saw James hit 3/2 reps of his planned Sunday Squat lift – I kept this rep range as prescribed.

Tuning a programme, takes some skill but mainly experience of the lifter and understanding of how the lifter is performing on the day – rather that trying to lift to failure each and every session.  I work online with other lifters utilising video and WhatsApp for communication – see my Powerlifting Training page for more details and  contact me here or via Facebook.

Big Day – Part 5

I’m writing this on a Sunday at the end of week 6, so the first session of week 7 starts in a few hours.

The ParkRun at the end of week 5 resulted in a 25:20 PB (an improvement of 43seconds) – 6 weeks of running – 2 sessions of between 5-7 km (normally) at a low HR (120-130) and the weekly ParkRun which I run as I feel – either a fast training run, slow run or PB attempt.  The ParkRun yesterday was also a sub 26min, which was the 12 week goal and means that the week 5 run was not a one-off.

Week 6 – Sunday’s Squat 111 x 5 was ok but the preparation Squat on Thursday 112.5kg felt tough.  It maybe time to reduce the volume as the intensity increases, given that I want to improve my PB5 I’ll reduce the reps on the 4 set to either 1-2 before the heaviest 5th set of the day – I’ll judge this week to week.

Tuesday’s deadlift session was at 152.5×5 – again tough and I may have to apply the same approach to reduce the workload by making the 4th set a ‘feeler’.

Thursday – being a preparation day with a x3 at the projected weight for the next Sunday for the Squat, Bench and Row is not too intensive and I follow that with an easy run appears to be an ‘easy’ day in my mind with the knowledge that bar mobility work and walking Friday is a rest.

See the changes below for week 7.

Big Day – Part 4 – Little Gems

This update finds me almost at the end of week 5, with just today’s scapular mobility and tomorrow’s ParkRun to do.

Week 4 summary

Sun – Squat 107.5×5 – felt tougher than it should have done – maybe the 10km run the day before had more impact than imaged – as things get tougher I’ll need to prioritise the strength work over the cardio (personal choice)

Mon – 4km easy 50th birthday run
Tues – Easy squat, overhead press 5 x 55kg was ok. Encouragingly my deadlift 145×5 felt ok too.
Wed – no scapular – life got in the way.
Thurs – good – 5km sub 30min (felt good)
Sat – very slow Parkrun (light day)

Week 5 Summary

Sun – 110 x 5 Squat feeling tough (now belted) but form good
Mon – Easy slow paced run
Tues – morning session rather than late afternoon Deadlift – 150 x 5 DL (RPE 8).  Rate Perceived Exertion  – meaning that I felt that I had 2 more repetitions in me.
Thurs – Squat 111×3 feeling heavy. Bench Press 96×3 feeling positive.

Micro plates/Slivers/ little gems

The eagle eyed among you will have noticed that I used 111kg for squat and 96kg for the bench – let me introduce Micro plates (or slivers/little gems/partial plates).  They fit a standard olympic bar – my two pairs are 0.5kg and 0.25kg – which always me to make smaller increments that 2.5kg to the total bar weight.  Sometimes the percentage increase of adding 2.5kg to the bar is too much – alternatively you could add the 2.5kg (miss the rep count) and try to increase the following week but I’d prefer the slivers.

The auto-programming has now been replaced by a manual override – so this Sunday I’ll hit 111kg x 5 in the squat, with an expectation of going to 112.5kg the following week (remember I have a light squat day on the Tuesday and a ‘preparation’ day on the Thursday where I hit the next Sunday’s weight but just for 3 repetitions.  Same idea for the bench press 96kg followed by 97.5kg (I always have the option of using the 0.5kg and the 0.25kg and moving to 96.5kg as an intermediate step).  I prefer the week by week weight progression – regardless of how small – remember 20 weeks at 0.5kg per week is still 10kg added.

Lifetime Personal Bests


I’ll cover the deadlift in a subsequent update but for now let’s take a look at Squat and the Bench press – my current working weights are still way down from relatively recent PB5s. But given the training poundages (see below) – I’m happy as I’m surpassing those.  Until the next update – keep healthy/keep moving/keep strong.

Training Poundage used to produce programme