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Full Workout Logs

Starting 4/17/06

Off-Season Training

by Gary F. Zeolla

These workout logs begin after competing in the WNPF Western PA Championships in Beaver Falls, PA April 8, 2006 in Beaver Falls, PA. My previous workout logs ended at Full Workout Logs: Starting 2/6/06: Rotation 4 of 4.

Age: 45
Weight class: 123s.
Next contest: APF (American Powerlifting  Federation) Pennsylvania State Championships, South Park, PA, in August (exact date not yet set).

For the first two weeks of this off-season training period, I was trying a new schedule: Monday: Squat/ Wednesday: Bench/ Friday: Deadlift. But as I feared, it was too much for the lower body, and conversely, not enough work for the upper body. So starting Week Three, I switched back to my previous schedule of still lifting M, W, F, but alternating through four different workouts (Bench Assistance/ Squat/ Bench/ Deadlift). So each workout is only done once every 9-10 days. For details on this routine, see Training Routine Format for Three Times per Week Lifting.

Warm-ups are in brackets. All weights are in pounds. Format: pounds/reps.
Workout time includes set-up, warm-up, lifting, stretching, and clean-up.

Week 1 of 4

Squats - First off-season workout/ lots of changes

Monday - 4/17/06

Squats: [55/15, 145/10, 145/8, 195/6, 235/3] 255/6, 265/6, 270/5

Sting Ray (front) Squats: 55/6, 75/6, 85/6, 95/6

Sitting BB Calves: [45/12] 75/12, 105/12

Stretching: 5-10 minutes

Workout Time: 1:31

This is the first workout of my four-week “off-season” training period. For this training, I will be doing somewhat higher reps (5-6) and not using any gear, not even a belt. I was going to go even higher with the reps, but I really feel like doing so is a waste of time.

My experience has been that when I do 8-10 reps after a period of doing 1-5 reps, I end up very exhausted, and it takes several workouts just to get used to the higher reps. Then when I drop down to 5 or less reps, I get very exhausted from them, and again it takes a long time to get used to them again. It also takes weeks to get my weights back up after the period of higher reps and the resultant lower weights.

There simply is little carryover from doing sets of 8-10 to heavy singles. So my philosophy for my “off-season” is this period is simply to get my strength and weights back up after the normal post-contest drop in strength. But I also want a break from doing really heavy weights and using gear. So I figure 5-6 reps will be about right. Low enough to handle some decent weights, but high enough that it’s safe to lift without any gear. I will also be working on some form changes on all three lifts

During this off-season training, I am going to try a new three day a week program: Monday: Squat/ Wednesday: Bench/ Friday: Deadlift. If it proves too much for the lower body, I‘ll go back to my four workout/ three day a week program (alternating Squat/ Bench/ Deadlift/ Bench Assistance). But I feel I have time now to experiment with my next contest not for about four months.

On squats, I was experimenting with moving my stance out, hence the extra warm-up set with 145. I ended up moving my stance out to what I've been using for my sumo DLs, namely lining up the inside of my heals with where the knurling begins on my Text Power Bar (17"). That's about 2-3" wider than what I've been using on squats.

To be sure I got my feet where I wanted them, I chalked marks on the floor. Of course, this is not a good habit to get into as you cannot be putting marks on the platform at a contest. But I figure I'll do it for a few workouts until the stance becomes second nature. That said, the new stance felt good. Once I get used to it, I think it will be better, especially when I have a suit on.

This was my first workout using the Sting Ray for front squats (see below for pic). And I must say, I liked it. But I had no idea how much weight to use. So I started light and worked up. But due to the light weights used, they're probably best done in the "off-season" only.

I then kept the Sting Ray on the bar for the sitting calve raises, putting the Sting Rays on my thighs just above my knees. And that worked out well. The Sting Ray keeps the bar from digging into the shoulders and thighs respectively on these exercises.

I decided to go back to stretching after my workouts rather than on off days. As I feared, too often I just didn’t find the time to stretch on off days. So the stretching is included in the total workout time.


Benches - Widening grip

Wednesday - 4/19/06

Bench [55/15, 95/10, 115/6, 135/3] 150/6, 155/6, 160/5

Dips: [--/8, 30/4] 50/6, 55/6

DB Presses: [20s/6] 30s/8, 35s/6

Twisting Sit-ups (reps to each side): --/12, --/12

Reverse Crunches: 9, 10

Stretching: 5-10 minutes

Workout Time: 1:35

I moved my grip out on benches about ”. That puts my forearms just about perpendicular. And it felt good. I could go about ” wider, but any more would have me past perpendicular.


Deadlifts - Trying conv. stance

Friday - 4/21/06

Deadlifts (conv.): [55/15, 145/10, 195/6] 235/6, 255/6, 275/6, 285/6

SLDLs (legs straight, on 2-1/4” platform): [145/6] 195/6, 205/6, 215/6

DB Rows (elbows out): [35/8] 40/8, 45/8

DB Reverse Curls: [10s/10] 20s/8, 20s/8

Stretching: 5-10 minutes

Workout Time: 1:39

I've always used a sumo stance on DLs, both now and back in college. But I cannot seem to make any steady progress. DLs will go good for a while, but then I'll need to drop back in weights and start up again. So I am going to experiment with doing conventional stance DLs during my off-season training to see how they go. If things go well, I’ll stick with them. But if not, I’ll still have plenty of time left to switch back to sumo to train for my next contest.

But I had no idea how much weight to use. So I just started light and worked up. Once I figured out where I wanted to put hands and feet, they felt good.

I also had no idea how much weight to use on SLDLs. This was the first time I did them off of a platform and with my legs straight. So again, I started light and worked up. But I think I’ll like doing them this way. They really stretched the hamstrings out.

For my upper back exercise, I was going to do pull-ups. This was the first time I tried doing them on my home gym power rack. But I found out that a rafter is right above the middle of the pull-up bar in the power rack, right where my head would need to go! So I cannot do them. But no matter, as I really don’t like them much, and I don’t think they help the DL lockout anyway. So I did DB rows instead.

Week 2 of 4

Squats - Rather sore

Monday - 4/24/06

Squats: [55/15, 145/10, 195/6, 245/3] 270/6, 275/5, 275/5

Sting Ray (front) Squats: [80/4] 100/6, 110/6, 120/6

Sitting BB Calves: [90/12] 110/12, 120/12

Stretching: 5-10 minutes

Workout Time: 1:33

An okay workout. My legs were rather sore. I'm not sure if it was due to my new workout schedule of doing squats and DLs each once a week or if it was simply due to still getting used to my new stance on both lifts. But I'll stick with the new schedule through my off-season, and then decide how to proceed.


Benches - Strange workout

Wednesday - 4/26/06

Bench [55/15, 95/10, 120/6, 135/3] 160/6, 160/6, 165/4

Dips: [--/8, 40/4] 60/6, 60/6, 65/4

DB Presses: [25s/6] 32x/8, 37s/6

Twisting Sit-ups: --/12, then changed routine

Curls: [45/8] 50/8, 55/7

DB Reverse Curls: [15s/8] 22s/8, 22s/8

Stretching: 5-10 minutes

Workout Time: 1:54

A strange workout. I felt very sore, but lifted good. The workout took long though. I was still figuring out on my body part split. I was going to do abs work on this day, but decided they would be better done on squat/ DLs days. Then I moved arms here. So I was re-writing my workout log as I went. And I might only do two sets on benches and dips next time.


Deadlifts - Adding speed work

Friday - 4/28/06

Deadlifts (conv.): [55/15, 145/10, 205/6, 265/3] 295/6, 305/6

SLDLs (legs straight, on 2-1/4” platform): [145/6, 200/3] 225/6, 235/6

Jump DLs: [45/6] 105/6x3

DB Rows (elbows out): [40/8] 50/5, 50/7

Twisting Sit-ups: [--/10] 2.5/11, 2.5/8

Stretching: ~10 minutes

Workout Time: 1:34

I decided it was time to add some speed work to my training. But I will be doing it after my regular PL work rather than on a separate day. For my off-season training, I am planning on doing jump squats, explosive push-ups, and jump deadlifts. I just have to be careful not to hit my head on the rafters for the jump work. This is one of the rare cases where being short helps! And I’ll have to keep the weight heavy enough that I cannot jump that high. Then for my in-season training, I’ll do speed squats, benches, and DLs using chains or bands.

To make room for the speed work, I dropped back from three to two works sets on DLs and SLDLs. I know WSB recommends doing 8x3 on speed work. But with doing it on the same day as my other PL work, I’m only planning on doing three sets, probably 3-6 reps, with less than a minute rest between sets. So the speed work shouldn’t add any time to my workouts. And in fact, last week, this workout took 1:39; this week it only took 1:34.

A couple of points on the speed DLs. First, I had to switch to an overhand grip with both hands. With a reverse grip, the bicep on the arm in the underhand position was being "jerked" on the way down, and it felt like I would pull a muscle. But this wasn't a problem in the overhand position.

Second, with the 105, I only jumped a few inches off the ground. With my low ceiling, this is how I need to do them.

Third, I was using my toes/ calves too much. I need to concentrate on pushing up from my heals like on regular DLs. So the exercise was almost like doing clean-shrugs from the floor. These would work as an explosive exercise for DL day as well. The difference with clean-shrugs is your feet do not leave the floor. You just come up on your toes. But I think jump DLs would be a little better, having more "explosiveness" to them.

All that said, this was a good workout. The conv. DLs are feeling good. I just need to perfect my form a little more.

On the SLDLs, I thought I had my legs perfectly straight, but I noticed in this workout that I am using a very slight bend, just short of locking the knees. This keeps the tension off of the knees. But it differs from my bent leg SLDLs where I hold my legs bent in about the mid-DL position.

Week 3 of 4

Bench Assistance - Going back to old schedule

Monday - 5/1/06

Incline Bench: [45/15, 75/10, 95/6, 110/3] 125/6, 130/6

Dips: [--/8, 45/4] 65/6, 65/6

Rotator Cuff: 2.5/15x2

DB Rows (elbows out): [25/8, 40/4], 50/8, 50/8

DB Reverse Curls: [15s/8] 25s/8, 25s/8

Reverse Crunches: 11, 10

Stretching: ~10 minutes

Workout Time: 1:28

With this workout, I'm adding some rotator cuff work using light DBs or weight plates. I'll rotate the weights a different angle each week. These were the type of exercises I did for my shoulder after my bicycle accident almost seven years ago. So I'm familiar with them but haven't done them in a long time. But it is wise to do them to protect the rotator cuff.

See the following site for pics of the types of exercises I am referring to:

Rotator Cuff Exercises


Squats - with jump squats

Wednesday - 5/3/06

Squats: [55/15, 145/10, 200/6, 250/3] 275/6, 280/5

Sting Ray (front) Squats: [100/4] 125/6, 130/6

Jump Squats: [45/6] 105/6x3

Calf Raises: 145/10, 145/12

Twisting Leg Raises (reps to each side): 12, 10

Stretching: ~10 minutes

Workout Time: 1:26

A good workout. I felt much better, not sore like I had been. So the new schedule is working out better.

The jump squats felt good too. The only difficulty is trying to hold the bar down to keep it from flying up off of the shoulders. But then, I read on a Web page somewhere that if the bar isn't coming up off of your shoulders, you're not doing them correctly.


Benches - with explosive push-ups

Friday - 5/5/06

Bench [55/15, 95/10, 125/6, 150/3] 162/6, 165/6

Alternating Arms DB Bench: [40s/8] 45s/8, 50s/6

Explosive Push-ups: 6x3

Rows (close grip): [45/8, 65/4] 80/8, 85/6

Rotator Cuff: 2.5/15, 5/15

Curls: [45/8] 55/8x2

Crunches: 25/15, 35/15

Stretching: ~10 minutes

Workout Time: 1:27

A good workout. The alternating arms DB benches were done by first lowering both arms to the chest, then pressing one arm up and back down while holding the other on the chest, then vice-a-versa. So they are actually a form of pause benches.

The explosive push-ups felt really good. I did them by clapping in-between reps. Another idea would be "Rocky" push-ups, from the first movie where Rocky did one-arm push-ups, alternating arms in a quick fashion. Either way, they really pump up the chest and would work for explosive/ speed work.


Deadlifts - Still working on form

Monday - 5/8/06

Deadlifts (conv.): [55/15, 145/10, 215/6, 285/3] 315/5, 315/5

SLDLs (legs straight, on 2-1/4” platform): [165/6, 215/3] 240/6, 245/5

Jump DLs: 110/6x3

Sitting BB Calves: 130/15, 135/15

Twisting Sit-ups (reps to each side): 14, 9

Stretching: ~10 minutes

Workout Time: 1:32

I'm still working on my form on conv. DLs. I was starting with the bar too close to my shins. But it seems to work better if I keep the bar about 3-4" in front of my shins at the start.

Week 4 of 4

Bench Assistance

Wednesday - 5/10/06

Incline Bench: [45/15, 75/10, 100/6, 120/3] 135/6, 140/5

Dips: [--/6, 50/3] 70/5, 70/5

DB Rows (elbows out): [25/8, 40/4], 52/8, 55/6

Rotator Cuff: 2.5/15, 3.75/15

DB Reverse Curls: [20s/8] 27s/8, 27s/8

Reverse Crunches: 12, 10

Stretching: ~10 minutes

Workout Time: 1:24


Squats - New stance going well

Friday - 5/12/06

Squats: [55/15, 145/10, 200/6, 250/3] 280/6, 290/5

Sting Ray (front) Squats: [115/4] 135/6, 145/6

Jump Squats: [55/6] 110/6x3

Calf Raises: 145/12, 145/12

Twisting Leg Raises (reps to each side): 15, 10

Stretching: ~10 minutes

Workout Time: 1:23

The 290/5 is five pounds better than the last time I squatted without any gear. So my off-season accomplished what I wanted. It got my squat with my new (wider) stance back up to where it had been before my last contest. So now I can build from there when I switch to my in-season training and add gear for my next squat workout.



Monday - 5/15/06

Bench [55/15, 95/10, 125/6, 152/3] 167/5, 167/5

Alternating Arms DB Bench: [40s/8] 47s/8, 52s/6

Explosive Push-ups: 7x3

Rows (close grip): [45/8, 70/4] 85/8, 90/6

Rotator Cuff: 2.5/15, 3.75/15

Curls: [45/8] 57/8x2

Crunches: [30/10] 40/15, 45/15

Stretching: ~10 minutes

Workout Time: 1:25

Benches (with my new slightly wider grip) are back up to about where they were before my last contest. So my off-season training is going well.


Deadlifts - End of off-season training

Wednesday - 5/17/06

Deadlifts (conv.): [55/15, 145/10, 220/6, 290/3] 320/5, 325/5

SLDLs (legs straight, on 2-1/4” platform): [175/6, 225/3] 250/6, 255/5

Jump DLs: [55/6] 115/6x3

Sitting BB Calves: [125/10] 145/15, 155/15

Twisting Sit-ups (reps to each side): 15, 10

Stretching: ~10 minutes

Workout Time: 1:33

This was my last off-season workout. All three lifts with my new stances and grip are back up to about where they were the last time I did them without any gear. So my off-season training went very well.

My workouts are continued at Full Workout Logs: Starting 5/19/06: In-Season/ Rotation I.

Full Workout Logs: Starting 4/17/06: Off-Season Training. Copyright 2006 by Gary F. Zeolla.

Powerlifting and Strength Training
Powerlifting and Strength Training: Full Workout Logs

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