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Training Routine Format

with Off and In-Season Training

by Gary F. Zeolla

After much experimentation, I have found that the type of routine that works best for me is one which in some way incorporates higher (5-6) reps done completely raw (not even a belt) with lower (1-4) reps done using whatever gear I will be using at my next contest. If I do only lower reps, I get "burned-out" very quickly, but of course lower reps need to be done to prepare for the body to handle heavy weights and to practice doing the singles that are done at a contest. While the higher reps done raw build muscular endurance along with strength in areas supported by the gear.

The three ways I have found of incorporating lower and higher reps into a training routine is the Basic Cycle, the Training Routine with Off and In-Season Training seen below, and the Alternating Weeks routine. All three are effective, so I will be using one of these three routines from now on. But I have found it best to go back and forth between them for the variety. For the first one, you need to know for sure when your next contest will be, while the other two allow more flexibility.

For all three routines, I am lifting three times a week (usually M, W, F), alternating through four different workouts, so a training "week" lasts 9-10 days.

The routine below is the type of routine I used during the spring and summer of 2006, leading up to APF PA States, and it worked very well.


General Background

Workouts:
Day One: Bench Assistance, Upper Back, Forearms.
Day Two: Squat, Abs.
Day Three: Bench, Upper Back, Biceps.
Day Four: Deadlift, , Abs.

Workout Length:
Total workout time includes set-up, warm-up, lifting, stretching, and clean-up.
Keep total workout time to less than 1:30.

Rest periods between work sets:
Squats and deadlifts and major assistance: 3-6 minutes.
Benches and major bench assistance: 3-5 minutes.
Remaining exercises: 1-3 minutes.
Warm-up sets: about half of above times.
Speed Work: <1 minute.

Cardio:
Do cardio work on three off days.
Lift: M, W, F / Cardio: Tu, Th, Sa.
Take Sundays off.

Days Off:
Take one day off a month.
Skip lifting workout one month, cardio workout the next month.

DB Pressing Moves:
Can be done both arms together or alternating arms.
Can be done with hands perpendicular to body, parallel to body, or rotating from perpendicular to parallel as weight is raised.


Off Season Training

Off-Season Format::
Take a week off after a contest.
Contest on Saturday, first workout (bench assistance day) Friday, then squat day on Monday, etc..
Powerlifts every week, followed by one major assistance exercise and speed work.
Use different assistance exercises during off-season and in-season training periods.
No chains or bands off-season.
Off-season lasts 3-5 weeks.

PLs and major assistance: 2 x 5-6
Dumbbells: 2 x 6-8
All lifts done raw.

Upper Back, Arms: 2 x 6-10
Rotator Cuff, Calves, and Abs: 2 x 8-12
Speed work: 2-3 minutes

Workouts

Day One:
1)  One of: Decline Bench, DB Decline Bench, Dips.
2)  One of: Overhead Press, DB Overhead Press, Incline Bench, DB Incline Bench.
OR
1)  Overhead Press or Incline Bench.
2)  DB Incline Bench Bench or DB Overhead Press.
3)  Rows (One of: DB: underhand, elbows in, elbows out; BB: medium grip, close grip; Curl Bar).
4)  Reverse Curls (One of: BB, DB, Curl Bar).
5)  Rotator Cuff (optional).

Day Two:
1)  Squats.
2)  One of: Sting Ray (Front) Squats, Lunges (front and/ or side).
3)  Jump Squats
4)  Calves (BB or DB).
5)  Twisting Abs: One of: Bicycle Abs, Double-Crunch Cross, or twisting versions of lower abs: Reverse Crunches, Dip Bar Reverse Crunches, Cable Crunches, Leg Raises, Dip Bar Leg Raises, One-Leg Dip Bar Leg Raises or twisting versions of upper abs: Crunches, Decline Crunches, Sit-ups, Decline Sit-ups.
 

Day Three:
1)  Benches.
2)  One of: Close Grip Benches, DB Benches, Dips [3 Second Pause Benches, Wide Grip Benches].
3)  Explosive ("clap") or "Rocky" push-ups.
4)  Lat. Pulldowns (One of: wide grip, underhand grip, V handle grip), Straight Arm Pulldown.
5)  Curls (One of: Curl Bar, DB, Hammer).

Day Four:
1)  Deadlifts.
2)  Good Mornings (legs bent or straight).
3)  Shrugs (BB or DBs).
4)  Jump Deadlifts
5)  Abs: One of: Crunch/ Reverse Crunch Combo, AB Wheel, or lower abs: Reverse Crunches, Dip Bar Reverse Crunches, Cable Crunches, Leg Raises, Dip Bar Leg Raises, Dip Bar Leg Raises with Scissors or upper abs: Crunches, Decline Crunches, Sit-ups, Decline Sit-ups. (Between Day One and Three, be sure at least one exercise works upper abs and one lower abs).

 


In-Season Training

Alternate Training Weeks:
First week: Powerlifts with full gear.
Second week: 2 major assistance, speed work with chains or bands.

8-12 weeks for in-season training (4-6 weeks for each workout week).
Total program lasts from 11-17 training weeks.

Sets and Reps:
Powerlifts: 4 x 5-1.
Increase weights, decrease reps each set.
Benches: Increase 5-10 pounds each set.
Squats & DLs: Increase10-20 pounds each set.
Use full gear; i.e., whatever gear will be used at the contest.

Major assistance exercises: 2 x 4-5, 2-3 or 2 x 5-6, 3-4
Speed work: 2 x 5-6 (except as noted)
Arms, Calves, Abs: 2 x 6-10
Rotator Cuff : 2 x 8-12

Warm-ups:
Four warm-up sets for first exercise: 15,10,6,3 reps.
First set with just the bar. Last set with 10-15% less than first work set.
Second and third sets spaced evenly in-between first and last sets.
One or two warm-up sets for rest of exercises as needed.

Workouts: Week One

Day One:
1)  One of: Decline Bench, DB Decline Bench, Dips.
2)  One of: Overhead Press, DB Overhead Press, Incline Bench, DB Incline Bench.
OR
1)  Overhead Press or Incline Bench.
2)  DB Incline Bench Bench or DB Overhead Press.
OR
1)
  Speed Bench with bands or chains (3-4 x 3-5).
2)  Presses (BB or DB).
3)  Rows (One of: DB: underhand, elbows, in, elbows out; BB: medium grip, close grip; Curl Bar).
4)  Reverse Curls (One of: BB, DB, Curl Bar).
5)  Rotator Cuff.

Day Two:
1)  Squats with full gear.
2)  Twisting Abs: One of: Bicycle Abs, Double-Crunch Cross, or twisting versions of lower abs: Reverse Crunches, Dip Bar Reverse Crunches, Leg Raises, Dip Bar Leg Raises, One-Leg Dip Bar Leg Raises or twisting versions of upper abs: Crunches, Decline Crunches, Cable Crunches, Sit-ups, Decline Sit-ups, Janda Sit-ups. 

Day Three:
1)  Benches with full gear
2)  Lat. Pulldowns (One of: wide grip, underhand grip, V handle grip), Straight Arm Pulldown.
3)  Curls (One of: Curl Bar, DB, Hammer).

Day Four:
1)  Deadlifts with full gear.
2)  Calves, standing (BB or DB).
3)  Abs: One of: Crunch/ Reverse Crunch Combo or lower abs: Reverse Crunches, Dip Bar Reverse Crunches, Leg Raises, Dip Bar Leg Raises, Dip Bar Leg Raises with Scissors, or upper abs: Crunches, Decline Crunches, Cable Crunches, Sit-ups, Decline Sit-ups, Janda Sit-ups. (Between Day One and Three, be sure at least one exercise works upper abs and one lower abs).

Workouts: Week Two

Day One:
1)  One of: Decline Bench, DB Decline Bench, Dips.
2)  One of: Overhead Press, DB Overhead Press, Incline Bench, DB Incline Bench.
OR
1)  Overhead Press or Incline Bench.
2)  DB Incline Bench Bench or DB Overhead Press.
OR
1)
  Speed Bench with bands or chains (3-4 x 3-5).
2)  Presses (BB or DB).
3)  Rows (One of: DB: underhand, elbows, in, elbows out; BB: medium grip, close grip; Curl Bar).
4)  Reverse Curls (One of: BB, DB, Curl Bar).
5)  Rotator Cuff (optional).

Day Two:
1)  One of: Manta Ray (High Bar) Squats, Box Squats, [Low Squats, Pause Squats.]
2)  One of: Chain Squats, Band Squats, Reverse Band Squats, [Bench Squats, Partial Squats].
3)
  Speed Squats with bands or chains.
4)  Twisting Abs: One of: Bicycle Abs, Double-Crunch Cross, or twisting versions of lower abs: Reverse Crunches, Dip Bar Reverse Crunches, Leg Raises, Dip Bar Leg Raises, One-Leg Dip Bar Leg Raises or twisting versions of upper abs: Crunches, Decline Crunches, Cable Crunches, Sit-ups, Decline Sit-ups, Janda Sit-ups.

Day Three:
1)  One of: Close Grip Benches, Rack Benches, Board Benches, Chain Benches, Band Benches, Reverse Band Benches.
[2)
  Speed Benches with bands or chains.]
3)
  One of: DB Benches, 3 Second Pause Benches, Wide Grip Benches, [Decline Bench, DB Decline Bench, Dips, if not done for Day One].
4)  Lat. Pulldowns (One of: wide grip, underhand grip, V handle grip), Straight Arm Pulldown.
5)  Curls (One of: Curl Bar, DB, Hammer).

Day Four:
1)  One of: Platform DLs, SLDLs, Good Mornings and Shrugs.
2)  One of: Chain Deadlifts, Band Deadlifts, Reverse Band Deadlifts, [Rack Pulls].
3)
  Speed Deadlifts with bands or chains.
4)  Abs: One of: Crunch/ Reverse Crunch Combo or lower abs: Reverse Crunches, Dip Bar Reverse Crunches, Leg Raises, Dip Bar Leg Raises or upper abs: Crunches, Decline Crunches, Cable Crunches, Sit-ups, Decline Sit-ups, Janda Sit-ups. (Between Day One and Three, be sure at least one exercise works upper abs and one lower abs).

Contest/ Post-Contest

The exact number of weeks for each "season" should be adjusted to coincide with a contest. After the contest, take about a week off then restart routine. But for the new cycle, all the assistance exercises should be changed. Also, the weights on the powerlifts should be dropped and the assistance exercise weights such that the first couple of weeks the workouts are relatively easy. This way, the body has a chance to "deload." Then the weights should be gradually increased after that.

If a contest is not entered, then a practice contest should performed at the end of the routine by doing three singles on all three powerlifts. This will gauge where one is at and provide practice at doing singles and picking attempts. Then an an extra day or two up to a week should still be taken off. Then for the next routine, again, the assistance exercises should be changed and all weights dropped, then gradually build back up again.

Rather than repeating this routine, for variety, another option would be use either the Basic Cycle or Alternating Weeks routine.


Training Routine Format. Copyright 2007 by Gary F. Zeolla.

The above article was posted on this site April 10, 2007.
It was last updated June 27, 2007.

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