When training for a meet, there must be organization of systems of training. This is called periodization. In 1917, Kotov, of the former Soviet Union, wrote a series of texts about training that considered general preparatory and specific needs. Most lifters would use a progressive gradual overload system. Here, the reps were high in the beginning with light weights. Then over time the weight became heavier and the reps lower, leading up to a contest. This is simply a detraining system. The muscle-building phase is first, along with speed strength. As the weights grow larger and the reps are decreased, the hypertrophy is lost. The maximal strength phase begins, but bar acceleration speed is lost and contest training consumes the bulk of the training. This makes peaking for a meet very unpredictable.
Dr. Matveyev realized in 1981 a more sophisticated wave periodization must be utilized than his first models in 1964. Sports scientists such as Verkhoshansky, Vorobyev, and Ermakov found the same to be true. The system of equal loading of skill and strength training was common in track and field. This was also considered by Bondarchuk, but Bondarchuk’s idea was to develop skill first to take advantage of the strength increases. Top Olympic lifters in the former Soviet Union would use over 50% of their training on special exercises to increase the totals. Around 80 special exercises and 20 skills, while wave loading, were given priority for about 5-8 weeks at a time by Verkhoshansky in the late 1970s. This was to contribute to the next wave of 5-8 weeks. This system was for highly qualified athletes and lifters.
Westside training is much more weighted toward special exercises. Our waves never last longer than 3 weeks for speed strength and 2 weeks for strength speed. For Olympic lifters, squatting was front and back squats with only one bar. Westside can change volume in the same intensity zones by using a wide variety of special bars, but what about programming? What does it consists of? What do you change during the year? I feel top powerlifters should compete two times a year in a full power meet and maybe one bench meet or one deadlift meet. There are four phases of training in a yearly plan. They should start after a meet. As the training continues, it is important to know the terminology and what is expected during each and every training phase leading up to an important contest. Let’s look at each phase independently starting with the accumulation phase.
First many would consider this off-season training, but athletes cannot have time off: no vacation, just training and work toward increasing their ability. At Westside, we concentrate on improving bar speed in all squatting and deadlifting workouts on Friday and on Sunday for speed strength benching, commonly known as the dynamic day. We rotate many special bars to change the volume while maintaining the same bar speed at the same intensity zone, or percentages. The training must be dense, meaning very short rests between sets. You must work to raise your training volume at all percentages; adding hypertrophy, increasing bar speed, and perfecting technique are essential. This period of training was intended to increase speed of movements in all sports, especially track and field, but we use this period after a meet for all aspects of increasing special strength gains as we work on weaknesses to increase skills in all lifts and also increasing GPP. After all, you must recover from more difficult workouts to succeed in any sport.
In this phase of training the lifter or athlete will push his or her training toward the sport itself. For a powerlifter the 3-week wave style of cycling is essential. Using the same exercises for more than 3 weeks creates a negative result. The 3-week wave will help eliminate this phenomenon. In this period of training you must increase the rest time between working sets. The training is now directed toward your sporting goals. For the powerlifter, this means reducing the fun exercises and start using ones that build strength specific to powerlifting.
This period of training starts the competitive phase for track and field. At Westside this is the circa-max phase, based solely on the squat training weeks. In week 1 work up to the top weight of your all-time best. For Westside that means a box record. During week 2, work up to approximately 90% of your all-time best. In week 3 use 50% of your all-time best for 2 sets of 2 reps. Week 4 is the meet. Note: A 3-week reverse wave pendulum is used.
This reverse wave loading was used for Naim Suleymanoglu by his coach Abadjiev. The transformation phase lasted for 3 weeks. The third week revolves into the delayed transformation, or rest period. During the transformation phase, deadlifts for sets are used at moderate percents. Not counting abs, only two or three special exercises are used. Westsiders will wear a bench shirt 3 weeks out, and the last heavy pull is also 3 weeks out.
I hope you can relate to a plan that is intended to maximize the weight lifted at contest time. If you use this plan, you will not be scratching your head and wondering why the weights you lifted in the gym did not materialize at meet time.
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Kurz, T. Science of Sports Training, 2001.
Siff, M. Supertraining, 2004
Zatsiorsky, V. M. Science and Practice of Strength Training, 1995.