I walked into the 2020 IPLNZ Nationals with a 570kg gym total, and walked away with a 592.5kg total, narrowly missing a 607.5kg.
This will be fairly brief, but I believe there is some value and learning for others to take away.
I was prepping for the ANZAC cup but due to covid-19 it was cancelled roughly a month out. My body was already beaten to shit and external stressors were at an all time high, so the cancellation was likely a blessing. I knew (hoped) that there would be an IPL meet late August, so made a plan to be ready for that, giving myself time for a solid 21 week prep.
Below I will outline timelines, goals, execution, nutrition strategy and outcome from each training block leading up the the day of competition.
30th March - 26th April - Volume Accumulation:
Preface - I was in constant pain and unhappy with what I saw in the mirror.
Goal - Body Re-composition, improve work capacity.
Execution - Non competition specific movements, starting at reasonable volume and increasing each week, for primary movements as well as accessories.
Nutrition Strategy - Track food each day, average the weeks macros and calories, find maintenance and be in approx 150cal deficit.
Outcome - In the 4th week volume was unrecoverable (I was fucking cooked). I experimented with some movements/accessories and found some that worked well and some that didn't.
27th April - 24th May - Intensification:
Preface - Bodyweight was tracking in the right direction, I was being very disciplined with all movements to get rid of all the niggles I was holding.
Goal - Use the data from the volume phase to ease my way safely back into any kind of meaningful exertion under load.
Execution - Select Set/Rep schemes and movements I felt worked well in the last block, and add weight to them each week.
Nutrition Strategy - Track food each day, average the weeks macros and calories, find maintenance and be in approx 150cal deficit. In this 8 Week period I took my scale weight from 92ish to 86ish, which I think was a bit too fast
Outcome - I didn't challenge myself enough in this block so the overall stimulus wasn't ideal for physical adaptation to occur. Heaviest loads I touched were 120kg squat, 85kg bench and 160kg deadlift.
25th May - 21st June - General Strength:
Preface - I was happy with where my body was in terms of pain as well as my perception of what was in the mirror.
Goal - Re-Introduce competition movements in what resembles more of a 'powerlifting' program.
Execution - Lower general volume, higher general intensity, accessories slightly trimmed down, no programmed loads, just Rep In Reserve goals.
Nutrition Strategy - Track food each day, average the weeks macros and calories, find maintenance and be in approx 150cal surplus by way of adding carbs.
Outcome - Larger learning curve back into competition movements than I expected, body felt great, confident the previous 8 weeks served their purpose. Heaviest loads I touched were 155kg squat, 105kg bench and 200kg deadlift.
22nd June - 19th July - Specific Strength:
Preface - Major technique adjustments were done in the previous block.
Goal - Build strength within my technique, hopefully get to a stage that I was ready to peak.
Execution - Slightly increased general volume of primary lifts, introduce top set and backdown set work to be able to work at relatively higher intensities.
Nutrition Strategy - Track food each day, average the weeks macros and calories, find maintenance and be in approx 250cal surplus by way of adding carbs and fats. Over this 8 week period I went from 86ish back to 90ish with improved general body composition.
Outcome - Felt strong and confident with technique and general fatigue. Heaviest loads I touched were 170kg squat, 110kg bench and 212.5kg deadlift.
20th July - 16th Aug - Peak:
Preface - Confident I was at a general strength level where a peak would be worth while.
Goal - Prepare my body and mind to execute movement under maximal load.
Execution - Minimal volume, smart load selection for the goal of improving physiological and neurological coordination. Basically a linear approach over a 4.5 week period doing 3 sessions per lift over that period. Starting the peak with each lift at roughly 30kg less than what I ended up with in competition. Making sure exertion stayed at a level where technique breakdown was nearly non-existent. Accessory volume low.
The first peaking session of each lift was within 5kg of my openers, the final peaking session of each lift were within 5kg of my second attempts.
Nutrition Strategy - Went pretty crazy and was hanging around 4000calories, about 450g carbs, towards the last 3 weeks I would weigh myself every day to ensure I was within striking range of u90kg .
Outcome - 570 gym total, 200 Squat, 130 Bench, 240 Deadlift.
22nd Aug - Comp:
Body felt great, I had standard anxiety the day before but was confident about applying my training to the equipment supplied and execute with intent.
210 Squat, 137.5 Bench & 245 Deadlift. I missed my third deadlift of 260 as a callous ripped and allowed downward movement of the bar before the down command.
Some quick take home points:
If you are a powerlifter, the numbers you lift in the gym don't/shouldn't mean anything if they don't translate to your results in the sport that you play. If Dave gets 100 tries at training on Tuesday night, but cant catch the ball on Saturday, Dave is shit at rugby.
Powerlifting is not a max-out day. You have 3 attempts at each lift, in which you need to make educated decisions based on variables such as judging subjectivity and equipment (and hand callous integrity) to accumulate the biggest total possible. This is why I'm a proponent of an easy opener and having the confidence to take larger jumps to second attempts if circumstances allow.
You are likely going to get more out of the mental and emotional side of a peak rather than the physical super-compensation you're chasing, so start low, stay below maximal effort, and execute well with deliberate intent. Also, sometimes it's in your best interest to not peak at all, if you cant recover from your standard training, a peak is going to make you weaker and less confident in your ability.
If your a novice or not going to be competitive, do not worry about weight classes, bodyweight, weight cutting etc.
If you're doing this sport to impress anyone else, your holding yourself back significantly.