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Training Log and Descending Reps
(9/12/05 - 11/12/05)

by Gary F. Zeolla

When I set-up my Five Phase Cycle, I planned on using that routine until I competed at the IPA National Championships, November 11-13, 2005, in York, PA. However, at the end of August I ran into problems. And this led me to making a lot of changes in my training plans and philosophy.

Lots of Changes

With the price of gas continually going up, I decided it would be more economical in the long-run to set-up a gym in my home rather than making the 15 mile drive each way to the Iron Pit in Leechburg, PA where I had been working out. But I ran into various problems setting up the gym, and it ended up being a lot more work (and expense!) than I had originally thought.

At the same time, I had some setbacks health wise, which lead to a significant lose of sleep. These factors led to me being overtrained. So I had no choice but to take a week off from training. My first day back lifting was September 12, 2005. Interestingly, the last time I took more than a day or two off of lifting other than before and after a contest was in September 2002 when I also had a major health setback. And I started lifting again that year on September 12 as well (see Training Routine and Five Phase Cycle: 9/12/02 - 2/1/03).

With the layoff and with only two months left until IPA Nationals, I doubt I will be able enter it.  Also, with taking the week off, I decided not to continue with the Five Phase Cycle. Instead, at first thought I was going to I will use the type of routine I used before, namely a "drop reps with back-off set" approach.

But after a couple of workouts, I realized that I really didn't need the raw, high rep back off set. The four plus months I spent on the first three phases of the Five Phase Cycle were more than enough of this type of training. And after that lengthy time of doing raw, higher reps, my weights for lower reps with gear were way down from what I did before my last contest (see Training Log, Alternate High/Low Reps with Drop Reps, 1/25/05 - 4/16/05). I simply had a hard time adjusting to wearing gear and the heavier weights. So in retrospect, the long Five Phase Cycle I was following was not such a good idea.

So what I am going to try is a "descending reps" approach I often used in my college lifting days. On the powerlifts, for the first routine, I'll be doing four sets starting at five reps, then adding weight for subsequent sets and dropping the reps down to a heavy single. And a week into the first routine, I decided that my training gear would include a single-ply suit on squats and DLs, along with the belt and wraps and single-ply shirt I had been using.

Another week into this program, I realized that using this approach on the powerlifts and following it up with a major assistance exercise was just too much, and my workouts were taking too long. So I decided to try something totally new, at least for me. I will alternate doing the powerlifts with gear one week with doing chain and band work on opposite weeks. So I'll do, for instance, reverse band squats week one, then squats with gear week two. I'll use the same descending reps approach on the band and chain work. Eventually, I might even try going 2-3 weeks with the bands and chains then one week for the powerlifts.

See Training Routine Format: Part Three  for further details on the above points.

Another change I made at this time was to plan on moving up a weight class, from 114s to 123s. For each contest I have entered it has gotten harder to make weight. Moreover, with the publication of the most recent top 100 chart for 114s, I had reached the goals I set for myself at 114s. So it is time to move up to 123s and to set new goals (see Summary of Powerlifting Contests, USA Ranking, Records, and Times Bodyweight for further details). Another consideration is that at my age (44), If I want to add some muscular bodyweight, now it the time to do so. If I wait any longer, it will be much more difficult. And to compete at 123s at the same level as I have been doing at 114s will require time for training at the higher bodyweight and to gain a little more weight to be solidly at 123s.

So in September of 2005, I made a lot of changes to my training. I set-up a home gym. I started training with gear exclusively on the powerlifts, including using a suit on squats and deadlifts. I started focusing more on training with bands and chains. And I decided to move up a weight class.

Needless to say, it will take some time for me to get used to all of these changes. So Nationals are definitely doubtful, but another possibility would be the IPA Christmas Carnage December 10 in Leesport, PA, hosted by Gene Rychlak (the first and only man to ever bench over a grand!). But at this point, even that seems doubtful. I'm thinking it might be better in the long-run to wait and compete once again at the Iron House Classic, set for April 1, 2006.

It was Tuesday, September 27 when I finally got things changed around and fully started my new format. This left 25.5 weeks until the Iron House Classic. I initially tried lifting four times a week, but after a couple of weeks, I could tell this would be too much. So I went back to the every other day routine I had been using. So once again, I will be operating on eight-day training "weeks." Figuring a week off before the contest and an occasionally day off otherwise, I will probably get in about 22 of these eight-day training weeks before the contest.

Work Sets for the Powerlifts and Band/ Chain Benches

My work sets went as follows for the powerlifts and my first exercise on bench assistance day. As indicated above, my first couple of weeks were "false starts" as I made changes to my routine. So I am numbering those separately, then starting the numbering over again. I'll be changing my assistance exercises every six weeks and will indicate it as a new routine and start the week count over again when I do so.

Also note that I am only doing the powerlifts on even-numbered weeks. I'll be doing my chain and band work on odd numbered weeks (see below).

See below for notes.

Routine - Week Day One Day Two Day Three Day Four
False Start Weeks Band Bench Squat Bench Deadlift
1  110/4, 120/2, 95/8 310/4, 320/2, 270/8  175/4, 185/2, 160/8  335/5, 345/2, 350/2a
2 110/5, 120/3 315/5, 325/3, 335/1 175/5, 185/3, 195/2 340/5, 350/3, 360/2, 370/1
New Routine Incline Bench Squat Bench Deadlift
1 125/5, 135/5, 140/3 --- --- ---
2 140/5, 145/3 320/5, 335/4, 350/2, 365/1b 180/5, 190/4, 200/2, 210/1c 345/5, 360/4, 375/2, 385/1
3 145/3, 140/4d --- --- ---
4 140/5, 145/4 330/5, 345/3, 360/2, 375/1 185/5, 190/4e, 205/2, 215/1 350/4, 365/3, 380/1, 390/1f
5 145/4, 145/4 --- --- ---
6 145/5, 150/3 340/5, 355/3, 370/2g, 385/1 190/4, 200/3, 210/2, 220/1 350/4, 365/2, 380/2, 395/--h

  For the first two sets I tried using 2.0 meter Power Wraps. I did so as I saw a picture of Ricky Crain doing so. But as I feared, the bulk of the wraps on my knee caps was getting in the way forcing me to move the bar too far out. So for the third set I went back to my pull-up type knee wraps, and that set went much better. So I will stick with the pull-up wraps on DLs.

b.  That's much more like it!

c.  It was with this workout that I began using my Double Extreme Power Shirt for training rather than the single ply Power Shirt I had been wearing.

d.  I was using a different bench for this workout, so that threw me off some. I'm still having problems getting my home gym set up the way I want it!

e.  This set was a mis-load. It was supposed to be 195. Oh well.

f.  A weird workout. I missed a rep on my first and third sets, but I ended up pulling five pounds more on my last set than in my previous workout. And since what I do for a single is all that really matters, overall, not a bad workout.

g.  This was actually my second try with 370. One my first try I got buried on the first rep. I couldn't figure out what happened, until I looked at the bench I sit on between sets, and my wraps were sitting on it! I cannot believe I forgot to wrap. Dumb, dumb, dumb!

h.  Not a a good workout. I felt rather burned out. But the worst was after DLs, I did good mornings. I missed the last rep on my first set, so I set the bar on the safety bars in my power rack. I then "squatted" the bar back onto the hooks. When I did, something didn't feel right in my right hip. The next day, it was bothering me some, but not too much. But to be sure, I decided to take a couple of days off. I also decided to change things around some for my next routine. See Training Routine Format - Part Three: Changes for details.

Work Sets for Remaining Major Assistance Exercises

My work sets for my chain and band lifts (done on odd-numbered weeks), along with my bench assistance day lifts are indicated below. I also do good mornings or stiff-leg DLs after chain and reverse band DLs, but I don't have room to indicate them on this form. But they would be considered "major" assistance exercises as well. See Powerlift Assistance Exercises for descriptions of all of these exercises.

Routine - Week Day One Day Two Day Three Day Four
False Start Weeks Dumbbell Bench Reverse Band Squat Rack Bench Chain Deadlifts
1 40's/10, 40's/10 270/5, 290/5, 310/5a 180/5, 190/2 205/5, 225/5, 245/5b
2 45's/10, 45's/8 320/5, 330/3 185/5, 190/3 ---
New Routine DB Decline Bench Reverse Band Squat Band Bench Chain Deadlifts
1 40's/10, 40's/10 325/5, 340/5,
355/3, 370/1c
115/5, 120/4, 130/2, 135/1 255/5, 270/4, 285/3, 300/1
2 45's/10, 50's/8 ---- ---- ----
3 50's/8, 50's/8 345/5, 360/4, 375/2, 390/1 120/5, 125/4, 135/2, 140/1 270/5, 285/4, 300/2, 315/1
4 50's/9, 50's/8 ---- ---- ----
5 50's/10, 50's/8 355/5, 370/4, 385/2, 400/1d 125/5, 130/3, 135/2, 140/1 275/5, 290/4, 305/2, 320/1
6 50's/10, 50's/10 ---- ---- ----

In each workout, after the above lifts I also do various minor assistance exercises. I'll also change these for each cycle. I'm not taking the time to indicate these here. See the article Training Routine Format for how I fit minor assistance exercises into my routines.

  I had no idea how much weight to use for these since it was the first time I did them, so I started too light, hence the extra set. Once I get used to them, the bands will probably add about what full gear does, just what I want.

b. Once again, I had no idea what weight to use since this was my first workout using two sets of heavy chains. So again, I started too light and did an extra set. The feel of the exercise is much better, much closer to the effect that my suit gives me.

c. This was my first workout doing my main assistance exercise without doing the powerlift itself first. So I was not tired out when I did the reverse band squats, and hence I was able to really jump up in my weights.

d. This is the first time since my last contest over six months ago that I had 400 on the bar. It felt great!

See Full Workout Logs: Starting 11/15/05: Rotation 1 of 4 for my next log.

Training Log and Descending Reps (9/12/05 - 11/12/05). Copyright 2005 by Gary F. Zeolla.

Powerlifting and Strength Training
Powerlifting and Strength Training: My Training Routines and Training Logs

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