The last two weeks have been tough. I’ve missed lifts, I’ve battled with staying motivated, I’ve fought to eat properly, I’ve struggled to sleep, my joints ache, and it feels hopeless at times. I haven’t quit though. I have thought about this cycle and evaluated my program design. The list of things that went well is long, as is the list of what needs improvement.

The list containing items needing improvement is topped by checking my ego at the door when entering the gym. For this cycle I did not max before hand, but instead used estimated maxes. However, my estimates were a bit whimsical and certainly wishful. In hindsight my squat estimate should have been at least 10 kilograms lower, my bench was on target, and my deadlift was at least 5 kilograms too high. Now, these adjustments would not have made the estimates truly accurate, they still would have been auspicious, but they would have been safely attainable and would not have lead to compromise later in the training cycle.

Next on the list would be not sticking to the plan, a rookie mistake I should not be making. I compete well, choosing attempts and planning strategy for the day of competition. However, poor training means that I am shooting for the best day after training missteps. Better self control would not only lead to the best day possible, but also a day filled with PRs due to effective peaking. What I need is to remember that the early training phase should be light feeling and is a time to cement technique and bring up weak points with well chosen assistance work.

The next biggest item would be consistency in training frequency and time, not missing days on which the big three are performed or days which are primarily assistance and technical work days. This takes better time management. Elijah demands I recognize my time limitations so that each person in my life receives the best of me when they should. Not someone stretched thin due to time mismanagement.

For the most part I’ve done well eating, forcing food down when I needed to, but the competition is still three and one half weeks away. Until the last deadlift hits the floor this has to continue.

To be sure, there are many other small details that need to be addressed, but these things tend to fall in line when the bigger issues are handled well. What has gone well?

I’ve hit a great number of PRs and, for a moment, my squat form was looking great.  I’ve made more lifting days this cycle than prior.  I’ve managed to weigh less on average, while getting stronger, for most of the cycle.  I’ve also created a template that seems to work great, after adjusting for overzealous lifting activities.

Taking all of these observations together I am well positioned to succeed if I embrace the necessary changes.  Looking forward I am intrigued by the description of Andy Bolton’s deadlift training description in Flex magazine this week. With regards to deadlifting he only pulls maximal weights from blocks and does a good deal of speed work at lighter percentages.  Six weeks out from a competition he eliminates maximal loads and concentrates on maximal speed of the floor with approximately a 60% load.  I have queried him, by asking via Facebook , if he follows similar protocols for both the squat and bench press?

Why am I concerned, or curious, about this, if you will?  It is common for me to hit PRs in a cycle.  Usually these take place in the middle of the cycle, not necessarily a problem, but burn out often follows.  This burn out, if tempered properly, could be used to facilitate super-compensation by controlling load after the period when most of my PRs take place.  Technique could be encouraged after the given time period my utilizing maximum speed work with weights which technique can be maintained, thereby increasing motor recruitment later in the cycle and at the competition. Some other ideas are maintaining volume at the higher percentages from the current program, but doing fewer reps per set so that fatigue does not mount causing technique failures. The latter is an easier choice on the ego, the former a greater leap of faith.

Other changes are certainly possible, and being considered. After the NOTLD on October 23rd I have the USAPL Georgia & Southern States on November 20th. I may do the UGA Strongest Dawg competition in the second week of December, but do not intend to peak for it. Assuming I can total 1509+ at the Georgia, I totaled 1325 last year, I will, hopefully, get to lift at Raw Unity this year. Should this not happen, I will most likely compete again at the Battle on the Border in late March. After that I intend to go to USAPL Raw nationals in Scranton, PA in July (June?).

Clearly, my short term goals include totaling 1509+ in late November, including my first 500+ squat. In the more immediate future I plan to make my first 600+ deadlift at the NOTLD. Looking further out I would like to deadlift 700+ within the next two years, squat 600+ and hit my first 400+ bench, all while staying a 220. The last batch is auspicious, and thus the fuzzy dates on it. My goal when I came back to competition was to qualify for USAPL Open nationals while competing raw and to place well. Placing well to me would be a top 10 finish under these circumstances.

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