Weight: 200 lbs (Starting Weight: 165 lbs)
Duration of training: 8 Months
Supplementation: 20-40,000 IU D3 + 5g Creatine Daily
415 lbs; 420 lbs (13 March); 425 lbs (17 March); 430 lbs (21 March)
375 lbs; 380 lbs (15 March); 385 lbs (19 March)
Bench Press: 265 lbs
6 Month Goals
Deadlift: 460 lbs
Squat: 430 lbs
Bench: 285 lbs
Volume may not be everyone’s enemy. It proved to be mine, however.
I have come to believe that drug-free powerlifters must lift differently, with an elevated sense of humility and a commitment to heavy, progressive poundages, core lifts, low reps, brief workouts, rest, realistic goals, and finally, enough calories to support growth.
The drug-free powerlifter will break down faster than his enhanced counterpart; one simply is not able to assimilate protein as efficiently as one who is enhanced. But I don’t subscribe to the belief that the drug-free powerlifter cannot make the same spectacular gains as the enhanced powerlifter. Those gains may simply take longer to achieve.
To the drug-free powerlifter, rest, recovery and a commitment to regular, calorie-dense feedings are all-important.
The drug-free powerlifter must be humble and a commitment to realistic goals will ensure that one’s humility is not prematurely slayed by impatience.
What is a realistic goal?
I think the addition of 2.5-5 lbs to each core lift per week is not only realistic but attainable. Plateaus will come and they must not be met with discouragement; they must be embraced. The plateau isn’t the point at which one’s regimen should be altered, but the point at which each lift is met with additional vigor and patience. Why? The plateau is the point at which one’s body is preparing to grow and potentiate the next landmark lift. It will come. Sooner, probably, than you think.
It is the plateau at which I have witnessed my body grow the fastest. It is also the point at which, especially for the drug-free powerlifter, to reduce sets and reps, while ensuring that maximal effort remains devoted to each core lift.
Why reduce sets and reps?
If your poundages have been increasing, so has the intensity of your lifts. Your body has come under considerably more stress over a shorter period of time than when you first began, when weights were relatively light and neural adaptations came quickly. Reduce the number of warm-up reps at lighter poundages in order to preserve power for maximal lifts at target weights. If you’ve hit your goal for your workout, swallow your pride, quit and re-rack your weights. Go home, eat and rest. Otherwise, you will be making inroads into recovery potential and increase the odds of injury.
How many reps?
The path to one’s one-rep max in any given workout is the sum of several reps at various poundages. It will vary from person to person, but there is unquestionably a point at which that sum is too high to ensure that one is able to perform at one’s best at target weights with excellent form. It’s up to you to determine how many warm-up reps at each weight is too many. In order to ensure that I achieve regular increases in strength at progressive poundages, I pared squat sessions down from between 8-12 reps at each warm-up weight to the following:
5 x 135 lbs
5 x 225 lbs
3 x 315 lbs
3 x 365 lbs
2 x 375 lbs (PR)
If I lifted 370 lbs last week and was able to add 5 lbs this week, I WILL grow stronger. As a drug-free lifter, muscle may not appear immediately, but it WILL come, given adequate rest and caloric intake.
If I were to plateau at 375 lbs for an extended period, for instance, I would make an attempt to break through that plateau by eliminating the set of 3 x 365 in order to preserve power for maximal lifts at target weights. A mere breakthrough of between 2.5-5 lbs following a short plateau is often enough to both psychologically and bodily propel one to one’s next PR. Over time, one finds how much is in one’s personal fuel tank, on average, per session. Sip through reserves during warm-up sets; leave the vast majority of fuel for your maximal lifts then get the hell out of the gym and refuel.
What did my last deadlift workout look like?
5 x 135 lbs
3 x 225 lbs
2 x 315 lbs
1 x 405 lbs
1 x 415 lbs (PR)
On both squat and deadlift day, I also do one of two pressing activities: seated presses with a narrow grip, or landmine presses. Due to surfing injuries 20 years ago, I do not perform traditional bench presses, which is not to say that I won’t develop sufficient strength to eventually return to the bench with a spotter that may assist with liftoff in order to avoid rotator cuff pain. In fact, I am certain this day will soon come.
I can’t imagine never knowing of what one is truly capable under one’s own power, backed by Faith. I cannot imagine not knowing where one’s own grit ends and performance enhancement drugs begin. We are capable of dramatically more than we think. Impatience is our worst enemy. To be drug-free is to be intellectually honest. Were we all drug-free powerlifters, global records would unquestionably be a little lower, but damn, we’d certainly know who possessed true genetic mettle.