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Training Routine and Four Phase Cycle
(2/5/03 to 4/12/03)

by Gary F. Zeolla

My Training Routine and Cycle (9/12/02 to 2/1/03) worked very well. So after finishing it, I took a day off of lifting and then started a new cycle. For it, I am following the same basic format as for the first cycle, but with a few minor changes.

First off, I started with 6-8 reps for phase one rather than 8-10. Since my focus is now powerlifting, eight reps is the highest I want to go on the powerlifts and major assistance exercises.

Second, I ran the first cycle a little longer than is usual done for training cycles. I did so as I felt I needed the extra time to get used to heavier weights before trying max singles for the first time in 20 years. So I initially planned on going with a more basic 12 week cycle. However, almost halfway through this cycle I decided to enter a contest! It is the Iron House Classic, April 12, 2003, in Newark, Ohio. It is being held by Iron House Gym and is sanctioned by the IPA (International Powerlifting Association). With entering this meet, I had to shorten up the last three phases of this cycle to coincide with the meet, so this cycle will now run for 9 1/2 weeks.

Training Routine

I am using a four day per week routine, patterned after the second routine listed at Powerlifting Training Routines.

The basic workout format is:
Day One: Bench assistance, Abs.
Day Two: Squat, Upper Back, Biceps.
Day Three: Bench, Abs.
Day Four: Deadlift, Biceps, Forearms.

I started this cycle with bench assistance day since my last workout in my previous cycle was deadlifts.

The routine is:

Day One:
Wide Grip Bench
Board Bench (two boards, about 4")
Dumbbell Press
Tricep Pushdowns
Twisting Crunches
Nautilus Abs.

Day Two:
Squat
Low Squat
Calves (Phases 1&2)
Walkouts/ Rack lift ups (Phases 3&4)
Rows
Lat. Pulldowns

Day Three:
Bench
Dips
Incline Bench
Reverse Crunches
Machine Abs.

Day Four:
Deadlift
Platform (Deficit) Deadlift
Cable Pulls
Barbell Curls
Reverse Wrist Curls/ Wrist Curls

I warm-up on the treadmill for five minutes or so before my workout and then stretch for about 15-20 minutes after my workouts.

Reps, Sets, and Warm-ups

I'm planning on utilizing four phases for this cycle. I initially planned on having each phase last three weeks. But with deciding to enter the contest, I had to shorten the last three phases to two weeks. So the basic format for the cycle will be:

Phase

# of Weeks

Powerlifts

Major Asst.

1

3

6-8 reps

6-8 reps

2

2

4-6 reps

6-8 reps

3

2

2-4 reps

4-6 reps

4

1-2

Doubles

4-6 reps

I will, of course be doing my max single attempts at the meet.

For minor assistance exercises, I will use a higher rep range, doing the same number of reps for phases 1&2 and then slightly lower reps for phases 3&4. So, for instance, for triceps work, I'll start with 10-14 reps then drop to 8-12 reps.

I will again do two work sets for all exercises. My pattern for deciding when to increase or decrease weights is as follows:
Top number of reps for both sets, increase weight for next workout.
Bottom number of reps or less on first set, decrease weight for second set. Use that second set weight for both sets for next workout.
Less than bottom number of reps on second set, decrease weight for next workout.

I will again do one warm-up set without weight before each exercise to loosen and stretch the involved muscles. Weighted warm-ups on the powerlifts will then be 10, 8, 5, 3 reps for phases one and two and 10, 8, 5, 3, 1 reps for phases three and four. Warm-ups for wide grip benches (the first exercise on day one) will be 10, 8, 5, 3 throughout. For the rest of the exercises I will do one or two warm-up sets of 5-10 reps.

Supportive Gear

I will again lift "raw" (no supportive gear, not even a belt) for phases one and two. I will then add in some support gear for my work sets on the powerlifts during phase three. For phase four I will then wear the supportive gear I plan on wearing at the contest (which I will have to purchase by this time). But to be clear, I do not wear supportive gear on any assistance exercises, nor on my warm-up sets for the powerlifts, except for the final, one rep warm-up set for the powerlifts in phases 3&4.

I lift raw as much as possible as I believe that when supportive gear is worn it prevents the supported body parts from being strengthened. But I do believe it is wise to wear at least a belt and wraps when doing four or less reps to help prevent injury. And I wear supportive gear for the one-rep warm-up set before the powerlifts just to get used the gear before my work sets.

The Four Phases

My bodyweight at the beginning of this cycle was 115.8 pounds. I was 41 years old when this cycle started, but by the time it is finished and I enter the contest I will have turned 42. I am 5'1".

Phase One:
Phase one began on February 5, 2003. As indicated above, my initial plan was for each phase to last three weeks. Since I do each powerlift once a week, this would have meant I would do three workouts for each powerlift for each phase. But with entering the contest, I will only have time for two workouts for each powerlift for the last three phases, and only one workout for deadlifts in phase four.

As indicated above, for this phase I am doing 6-8 reps on the powerlifts and major assistance exercises like low squats, wide grip benches, and platform (deficit) deadlifts. The number of reps for minor assistance exercises like triceps work and abs is higher, something like 10-14 or 8-12 reps depending on the exercise.

My workouts for this phase for the powerlifts went as follows:

Powerlift

First Workout

Second Workout

Third Workout

Squat

205/8, 215/8

225/8, 225/8

230/8, 235/7

Bench

145/8, 150/8

155/8, 155/7

155/8, 155/8

Deadlift

260/8, 270/8

275/8, 285/8

295/8, 295/8

Phase Two:
Phase two began February 28. For this phase I dropped to 4-6 reps on the powerlifts but kept the number of reps for all assistance work the same as for phase one.

My workouts for this phase for the powerlifts went as follows:

Powerlift

First Workout

Second Workout

Squat

240/6, 240/6

 245/6, 245/6

Bench

160/6, 160/6

165/6, 165/5

Deadlift

305/6, 305/6

310/6, 315/5

Phase Three:
Phase three began on March 14. For this phase I dropped to 2-4 reps on the powerlifts. I also dropped the number of reps on major assistance exercises to 4-6 and dropped the number of reps on minor assistance exercises as well, to something like 8-12 or 6-10 depending on the exercise.

I am wearing a regular lifting belt for the powerlifts and wrist wraps for benches and deadlifts. I also started using my 20 year-old "super wraps" from college for squats. I have quite a few of these left, so I figure they will be good to wear at this stage of my cycle.

My workouts for this phase for the powerlifts went as follows:

Powerlift

First Workout

Second Workout

Squat

255/4, 260/4

265/4, 265/4

Bench

170/4, 170/4

175/3, 175/3

Deadlift

320/4, 325/4

330/3, 330/3

Phase Four:
Phase four began on March 28. For this phase I dropped to doing straight doubles for the powerlifts. With amount of time and effort it took to get into the suits and bench shirt, I eliminated most of my assistance exercises. But for the assistance exercises that I did do, the number of reps stayed the same as for phase three.

Since I am entering a contest for the first time in over 20 years, I had a lot of equipment to order. I needed to get a squat power suit, a bench shirt, a deadlift power suit, a singlet, and even new squat wraps. My old wraps from college won't cut it for a contest. But my power belt is still in good shape, so at least I didn't need to get a new one.

So for the powerlifts in this phase, I wore all of this new supportive gear as I needed to get used to it. But, unfortunately, the new gear didn't arrive in time for me to put in two workouts for each powerlift like I would have liked. So I only did one workout for this phase for squats and deadlifts but two for benches. As such, I did an "extra" set on squats and DLs. I also did an extra set for my last bench workout as I ran into some problems.

My workouts for this phase for the powerlifts went as follows:

Powerlift

First Workout

Second Workout

Squat

275/2, 285/2, 295/2

----

Bench

185/2 185/2

190/miss, 190/2, 190/1

Deadlift

335/2, 340/2, 345/2

----

In regards to the last bench workout, what I think happened with the first set is the bench shirt alters my "groove" and I "forgot" to adjust for this. But I made the adjustment for the second set and got my planned double. I'm really glad I had two workouts with my shirt before my contest to figure this out. But it was a very difficult double, so I only got one rep on the last set.

In any case, that's it! I'm finished with my training for the contest. Despite some problems of late, considering all I've been through, overall my training has gone very well. And I thank God for the opportunity to be entering my first contest in 21 years!

IPA World Records

By way of information, below are the current IPA Men's, Amateur (drug-tested), World records for 114s. These records are rather low as compared to some other organizations, but that is good for me. The open bench record is completely out of my reach, and the open squat record is probably out of my reach for this contest. But it looks like I should have a good shot at breaking the rest.

Open:
Squat: 320
Bench: 280
DL: 335
Total: 825

Master:
Squat: 300
Bench: 170
DL: 320
Total: 790

Contest Update

My attempts at the Iron House Classic went as follows:

Powerlift

First

Second

Third

Squat

275

290

305

Bench

175

190

195

Deadlift

325

340

350

Total

--

--

850

So I went 9/9 and ended up breaking all six of the records I had hoped to break! See Iron House Powerlifting Classic - 2003 for details.

Training Routine and Cycle. Copyright 2003 by Gary F. Zeolla.

Powerlifting and Strength Training
Powerlifting Training: My Training Routines

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