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Training Log and Five Phase Cycle
(4/29/05 - 11/11/05)

by Gary F. Zeolla

I competed in IPA Iron House Powerlifting Classic, April 16-17, 2005, in Newark, OH. The contest went well, but the day that I got back I started getting sick. I got progressively worse over the next several days. It started with the symptoms of a head and chest cold, but I then developed a fever that hit a high of 101.4 degrees. Thinking it was possible that I picked up some kind of bacterial infection at the contest, my doctor put me on antibiotics. That took care of the fever, but it still took several more days for all of my symptoms to abate.

I had planned on taking a week off after the contest, and I wasn't planning on entering another contest for a while. So in a way, if I was going to get sick, this was about the best time to do so. I was just very glad I didn't get sick a week earlier! But still, it ended up being two weeks after the contest until I was able to get back to the gym on Friday, April 29, 2005.

My next contest will now be the IPA National Championships, November 11-13, 2005, in York, PA. This contest is a long ways off. To be specific, there are 30 weeks between the two contests. With taking the two weeks off after the Iron House Classic and a week off before Nationals, this will  give me 27 weeks for training. And with lifting every other day, I should have 23 of my eight-day training "weeks."

I had already planned on dropping my weights down a good bit after the contest and then gradually building back up. But with getting sick and having to take two weeks off, I had to drop the weights down even more than I originally planned. And with the illness and the lengthy time period between contests, I figured the best approach to regain my strength would be to "start over" and rebuild my "base" strength.

By this I mean I'll go back and use a long cycle similar to the one I used when I first started lifting weights again in 2002 [see Training Routine and Cycle (9/12/02 to 2/1/03)]. But one significant change from that routine is that for it I used the same assistance exercise throughout, but this time I'll change my assistance exercise with each phase.

Five Phase Cycle

Ill still be lifting every other day, alternating through four workouts (bench assistance/ squat/ bench/ deadlift) as outlined in Training Routine Format. So I'll be doing each powerlift every eight days. For my first exercise on bench assistance day, I'll alternate band, reverse band, and chain benches with each new phase. I just got new bands for this purpose. I'll train the band and chain benches the same as the three powerlifts, except for Phase V.

My basic scheme for this five phase cycle will be to start with high reps and gradually drop the reps in stages. The first phase will last 6 weeks, the next three 5 weeks, and the last 2 weeks. I made the first phase the longest since the first couple of weeks were done at a low intensity to give me a break from intense lifting and to be sure I was fully recovered from the contest and the flu. But if I need to add any days to time things right to the contest, I'll add them to Phase IV or Phase V.

To be sure I am recovering throughout the cycle, I'll take a day off after each of the first four phases and then a week off after Phase V before the contest.

I'll stick with two sets for all exercises, both sets done with the same rep ranges.

The cycle will look like as follows for the powerlifts and band and chain benches:

Phase  # of Weeks Reps Gear
I 6 9-10 Raw
II 5 7-8 Raw
III 5 5-6 Raw 3 weeks
Belt 2 weeks
IV 5-6 3-4 Training Gear
V 2-3 1-2 Full Gear

I'll stick with 2x3-4 for reverse band benches for Phase V.

"Raw" means no supportive gear, not even a belt. This is one of the main points about rebuilding my "base" strength. The use of any gear would keep the body part being supportive from fully strengthening. So I will be lifting raw for much of this routine. But I will add a belt for the last two weeks of Phase III to transition to the heavier weights used in the last two phases done with gear. I need to add gear for the last two phases to get used to the heavier weights the gear allows. I also prefer to use gear when doing less than five reps as without gear the risk of injury is too great.

"Training gear" means a belt and wrist wraps on all three powerlifts and on band and chain benches, 2.5 meter wraps on squats, pull-up type knee wraps on deadlifts, and my single-ply Power Shirt for benches. "Full gear" means the above belt and wraps, along a double-ply squat suit on squats and DLs and my Double Xtreme Power Shirt on benches.

I'll change all assistance exercises for each phase. The reps for major assistance exercises other than band and chain benches will be as follows:

Phases I-III: same as for PLs.
Phases IV, V: 2 sets in a "drop reps" manner doing 4-5, 2-3 reps.

For minor assistances, I'll do 2 sets of anywhere from 4-12 reps. The exact number of reps will depend on on the exercise and the phase. The reps will be somewhat higher for Phases I and II than for Phases III and IV. I'll eliminate most of the minor assistance exercise for Phase V.

Work Sets for the Powerlifts and Band/ Chain Benches

My work sets for the powerlifts and band/ reverse band/ chain benches went as follows. For the band and chain benches, just the bar weight is indicated. But my new mini-bands add about 50 pounds at the top of the lift, so for band benches, adding 50 pounds to the indicated weights gives an approximation of the weight used at the top of the lift when the bands are fully stretched out.

The reverse band benches are done by choking the bands over a safety bar placed near the top of the power rack. The bar is then inserted through the loops at the bottom. The bands thus "pull" the bar off of the chest but help less as the bar is raised. This is the same effect that a bench shirt gives. The bands enable me to handle about 25 pounds more than my raw bench.

The chains weigh a little over 50 pounds, so adding 50 pounds to the indicated weights gives an approximation of the weight used at the top of the lift when the chains are almost completely off of the floor.

See below for notes.

Phase - Week Day One Day Two Day Three Day Four
Phase I Band Bench Squat Bench Deadlift
1 65/10, 75/10 225/10, 230/10 135/10, 135/10 245/10, 255/10
2 80/10, 85/10 235/10, 240/10 140/10, 145/10 260/10, 270/10
3 90/10, 95/10 245/10, 255/9 150/10, 150/10 275/10, 275/10
4 100/10, 100/10 255/10, 260/9 155/10, 155/9 280/10, 280/10
5 105/9, 105/8 260/10, 260/10 155/10, 155/10 285/10, 285/10
6 105/9, 105/8 265/10, 265/8a 160/9, 160/8 290/10, 290/10b
Phase II Chain Bench Squat Bench Deadlift
1 115/8, 115/8 270/8, 270/8 165/7, 165/7 300/8, 300/8
2 120/8, 120/7 275/8, 275/8 165/8, 165/7 305/8, 305/8
3 120/8, 120/7 280/8, 280/6 165/8, 165/8 310/8, 310/8
4 120/8, 120/8 280/8, 280/7 170/7, 170/6 315/6, 315/7
5 125/7, 125/7 285/7, 285/6 170/7, 170/6 315/7, 315/7
Phase III Reverse Band Bench Squat Bench Deadlift
1 185/6, 190/6c 290/6, 290/6  175/4, 175/4  325/6, 325/5
2  200/6, 205/6  295/5, 295/5   175/4, 170/6 325/6, 325/6 
3  210/6, 210/6  295/6, 295/6  175/5, 175/5  330/5, 330/5
4  215/5, 215/5 305/5, 305/5   175/5, 175/4  340/5, 340/4
5   215/5, 215/4  300/4, 295/4d  170/4, 170/4  335/4, 335/3e
Phase IV Band Bench Squat Bench Deadlift
Phase V Reverse Band Bench Squat Bench Deadlift
IPA Nationals ----      

  This workout was done on June 10. And for the first time, it was really hot in my non-air conditioned gym. And the heat was really getting to me. It cost me the last two reps on my second set of both squats and band squats. But I'll get acclimated to the heat; I have no choice!

b. This was the last workout for Phase I. And I had a perfect streak in my deadlift workouts. I increased the weight every workout for deadlifts and all of my assistance work and never missed a rep. Unfortunately, things didn't go quite as well for my other workouts. But still, I got out of this phase what I wanted--to re-establish my base strength and to get a gradual increase in my workout weights. And I am glad it is DLs that are going so well as that is the only lift I did not get a PR on at my last contest.

c. I absolutely love these. They feel exactly like benching with a shirt, and they add about the same amount as my bench shirt does. So I am pausing them as I would when wearing a shirt so as to practice "exploding" off of my chest from a pause.

d. This was my first workout in my newly set up home gym. So I dropped my weights and intensity down until I got used to lifting in my new workout area. Also, I was tired out from all of the work setting the gym up. So my weights will be down some for my next few workouts.

e. Along with all of the work setting up my home gym, I have also been having some setbacks health wise, which has lead to significant lose of sleep. These factors led to me being overtrained, hence why my lifts are going down. So I had no choice but to take several days off from training. And with having to take time off, I am having to re-think whether I will be able enter IPA Nationals or not.

And with taking the time off, I decided not to continue with the above Five Phase Cycle. Instead, I switched to using a Drop Reps with Back-Off Set routine. Follow the link for details.

Work Sets for Remaining Major Assistance Exercises

In each workout, I follow-up the above lifts with one major assistance exercise. My work sets for these exercises are indicated below. See Powerlift Assistance Exercises for descriptions of these exercises.

For a discussion on the "Dead Stop, Band Squats" see Bands and Chains. Here, I'll just mention that only the bar weight is indicated. But at the top of the lift when the light bands are stretched out, the bands add about 100 pounds of tension. But see the first note for the first workout.

For chain squats and deadlifts, I am using two sets of chains. The total set-up weighs about 100 pounds, so adding 100 pounds to the indicated weights gives an approximation of the weight used at the top of the lift when the chains are almost completely off of the floor.

The reverse bands on deadlifts enables me to handle about 30 more than on regular DLs. I'm not sure on reverse band squats until I try them.

Phase - Week Day One Day Two Day Three Day Four
Phase I Dumbbell Incline Bench Dead Stop, Band Squat Rack Bench Good Mornings
(legs straight)
1 25's/12, 25's/12 45/4, 45/4, 45/5a 135/10, 135/10 95/10, 95/10
2 30's/12, 30's/12 95/10, 95/10 145/10, 150/10 100/10, 105/10
3 35's/12, 35's/12 100/12, 110/10 155/10, 155/10 110/10, 115/10
4 40's/11, 40's/9 115/10, 120/10 160/10, 160/10 120/10, 125/10
5 40's/12, 40's/12 125/10, 130/10 165/10, 165/10 130/10, 135/10
6 45's/9, 45's/9 135/10, 135/8 170/8, 170/8 140/10, 140/10
Phase II Decline Bench Pause Squat Pause Bench Reverse Band DLs
1 145/8, 155/8 205/8, 210/8 125/8, 135/8 315/8, 325/8
2 160/8, 165/7 215/8, 215/7 140/8, 140/8 335/8, 345/8
3 165/8, 165/7 215/8, 215/8 145/7, 145/7 350/7, 350/7
4 165/8, 165/8 220/8, 220/7 145/8, 145/6 350/7, 350/6b
5 170/7, 170/7 225/8, 225/7c 145/7, 145/7 350/7, 350/7
Phase III Incline Bench Chain Squat Board Bench Stiff Leg Deadlifts
(legs bent)
1 115/6, 115/6 155/6, 165/6d 175/6, 175/6 255/6, 255/6
2 120/6, 125/6 175/6, 185/6, 190/6e 180/5, 180/6 265/6, 265/6
3 135/5, 135/5 205/5, 205/5 185/5, 185/5 270/5, 270/5
4 135/5, 135/5 200/5, 200/5 185/0, 180/5 260/4, 260/4
Phase IV Decline Bench Reverse Band Squat Rack Bench Chain Deadlifts
Phase V Incline Bench Chain Squat Board Bench Stiff Leg Deadlifts
(legs bent)

In each workout, after the above lifts I also do various minor assistance exercises. I'll also change these each phase. I'm not taking the time to indicate these. But for them, I do two sets of anywhere from 4-12 reps depending on the exercise. See the article Training Routine Format for how I fit minor assistance exercises into my routines.

  I had problems setting up the bands, as described at Bands and Chains. For this workout, I had tried doubling the light bands as is done with mini-bands on benches. But this added over 200 pounds of tension, which was way too much. Hence why I only got 4-5 reps with only the bar. But for the second and subsequent workouts I figured out a better way to set them up, as described on the above page. So now they only add about 100 pounds of tension.

b. I was experimenting with a lower carb diet and was really dragging through this workout. I got the carbs too low. But a slight increase in my carbs took care of the problem.

c. Pause squats went very well, with a gradual increase throughout Phase II. However, regular squats did not go so well. I think part of the problem is that although the pause squats really pumped up my legs, they really are not that effective of an assistance exercise for me. This is probably because I tend to struggle most about halfway up, not at the bottom. This is even more the case when I'm wearing gear. So I doubt I'll do pause squats again for a while and focus on using bands and chains instead.

d. This was my first workout using two sets of 5/8" chains on each side. And I am really glad I got the second set. There is now a big difference between the bottom and top parts of the lift. One set of chains just wasn't enough for squats. So these should really strengthen the top part of the lift.

e. The first two sets were too easy, so I did a third set. It's just taking me a while to get used to the two sets of chains.

Training Log and 5 Phase Cycle (4/29/05 - 11/11/05). Copyright 2005 by Gary F. Zeolla.

For the routine I started when I was forced to stop with this one,
see Training Log and and Drop Reps (with Back-Off Set; 9/12/05 - 11/12/05).

For how I changed my training philosophy and basic training format at that time, see
Training Routine Format - Part Three.

Powerlifting and Strength Training
Powerlifting and Strength Training: My Training Routines and Training Logs

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