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Routine Review/ Contest Plans

by Gary F. Zeolla

This article is a follow-up to Full Workout Logs: Starting 1/13/2016 – Two by Two Plan; Routine B (Pre-Contest), Weeks 7-12 of 12.

When I began my 12-Week Pre-Contest Routine, I was still rehabbing my injured hamstring. It had improved to the point that I had been able to work hard on squats and deadlifts for about the previous four weeks. And they continued to progress well for the next eight weeks. By then they were back up to about where they were before the injury. I was very thankful for that. But then they stalled, and I made little progress on them for the final four weeks. 

What I think happened is, usually when I start a new routine, I do “backoff” works for the first two weeks of it. For those workouts, I drop my weights down about 10% from what I would normally use and thus only work somewhat hard as compared to my normal very hard. In that way, I very work hard for 10 weeks, then backoff again. But with having just started working hard on squats and deadlifts, I did not backoff on them. Thus by Week 8, I had already been working hard on them for 12 straight weeks, longer than I usually do, and thus I was getting burned out.

Compare this to benches. For then I did backoff workouts at the beginning of the routine. They went well for the first third of the routine, lagged some in the middle of it, but then went great for the last four weeks. What this means is, the basic design of my training plan is sound; I just need to actually follow it! But this experience was instructive in that it tells me 12 weeks is the longest I can plan for hard training. That will be helpful when designing future training plans and deciding which contests to enter.

In addition, my hamstring injury is still not fully healed. Plus, during this routine I experienced some low back pain, and my right adductor bothered me at one point. Both of these are very old problems. I overcame the formerly crippling low back pain years ago, and I got rid of it this time using the same methods I did then (see Overcoming Back Pain: A Mind-Body Solution), and I had already planned on addressing the lingering adductor problem in my next routine. But here, these three problems would of course adversely affect squats and deadlifts, but not benches. Also adversely affecting squats was changing brands of knee wraps and going back and forth if I should compete raw with wraps or sleeves, before settling on wraps.

As things turned out, my Pre-Contest Routine ended a bit early, and I still had 10 days left before my contest on March 5th. That meant I had the time to put in another full week of training and was in a bit of a quandary as to what to do.

My last deadlift workout was on Wednesday, 2/24, ten days out. With my normal workouts rotation, I would be deadlifting again the next Wednesday, but there was no way I would put in even a light deadlift workout three days before a contest. And with feeling burned out, I figured putting in my last deadlift workout ten days out would be ideal. The three extra days of rest would help me to get over being burned out, but it would not be too long to go without a heavy pull.

Thus deadlifts took care of themselves, but what to do about squats and benches? My Week 12 squat workout was on Sunday, 2/21 and bench workout on Monday, 2/22. If I didn’t do them again or only went light on them, that would mean I would go 13 and 12 days without having a heavy weight on my back or in my hands, respectively.

I was scheduled for a Bench Assistance workout on Thursday, 2/25. If I went heavy for it, with doing decline benches, that would mean having a heavy weight in my hands eight days out for a lift very similar to benches. But I was feeling so burned out, I didn’t think I could put in a heavy workout.  I thus thought of doing a backoff workout for it and for squats and benches on Sunday and Monday. That would help me to recover some. But even better for recovery is to take an extra day of lifting completely, so that is what I did on that Thursday.

By Sunday, after three days of not lifting, I was feeling recovered and thus was able to put in a heavy squat workout. I really needed that, as it gave me one last time to use wraps, to get my wrapping correct, to use the Crain wraps I started with, while breaking in a brand new pair. I then did a heavy but shortened workout for benches on Monday. Thus my last heavy squat and bench workouts were six and five days out. I normally do each once a week, but with a deadlift and a bench assistant workout in-between. Thus without those in-between workouts and taking the rest of the week (four days) off until the contest, I figure I should be fully recovered for the contest.

I’ll use the time on Wednesday when I normally lift to pack, travel on Thursday, then weigh-ins will be Friday morning, and the contest on Saturday, and travel again on Sunday. I have all of my attempts planned out, but I prefer to only publically announce my openers, as much can happen at a contest to alter plans for second and third attempts. My openers will be: 285 – 160 – 350. I will post a contest report next week after I get back. May the LORD be glorified by my participation in this contest, my first in a year.


See my contest report for how the contest went: IPA PA States - 2016.


Routine Review/ Contest Plans. Copyright 2016 by Gary F. Zeolla.

Powerlifting and Strength Training
Powerlifting and Strength Training: Full Workout Logs: 2014 - Present

The above article was posted on this site March 2, 2016.

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