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.


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