In preparing for a powerlifting meet, I have seen lots of overthinking, overworking, and over-stressing when it comes to people figuring out how to setup their training cycle to perform the best on competition day. Even athletes that aren’t powerlifters, or aren’t competitors on stage can benefit from this system, designed to maximize each training day. This system is not only simple to understand, it’s also easy to implement, and works like a charm every time. I call it the 3, 2, 1, 0 Meet Countdown.
The first piece of the countdown has the athlete focus on dialing in what they are going to attempt at a meet. They are required to define those numbers (or close to them) in advance of the meet. It is important for a lifter to have these numbers defined so they are not second guessing their attempts on competition day. This allows them to focus on their performance. There is enough pressure on the day of the meet, so anything you can solidify beforehand has a positive effect. The less the athlete has to worry about, the better. This is accomplished by the following progression:
3 weeks out – Lifter attempts the planned 3rd attempt at the meet / max attempt
2 weeks out – Lifter works up to planned 2nd attempt at the meet
1 week out – Lifter works up to planned 1st attempt (opener) at the meet
0 weeks out – Week of meet, lifter makes zero attempts until day of meet
The second piece of the countdown manages the workout volume leading into the meet. Combined with the overload and then deload in maximal attempts listed above, we begin the “realization” phase. The realization phase is when you deload in a manner that your central nervous system (CNS) and muscles recover at a greater rate than the fatigue induced by the increased workload. It is important that this is timed correctly so you don’t also begin to lose the training response from your workouts that has developed your strength levels. When applied properly, the realization phase allows you to realize your full potential strength without being overcome by CNS and muscle fatigue.
The second piece to the countdown is, again, mind-numbingly simple and easy to implement. In a typical training session, I let my athletes do no more than three assistance exercises per training session following their core lift (a recent article by Nick Horton articulates this fairly well, albeit he does three total per session where we do a core lift followed by three assistance).
3 weeks out – Lifter continues using 3 assistance exercises after core lift
2 weeks out – Lifter drops to 2 assistance exercises after core lift
1 weeks out – Lifter drops to 1 assistance exercises after core lift
0 weeks out – Week of the meet, the lifter does zero assistance exercises and only light stretching
And there you have it, the 3, 2, 1, 0 Meet Countdown
The writing of this article was prompted by all the social media posts I’ve seen talking about men’s mental health. Apparently November is men’s mental health month. That is unless you’re struggling with your own mental health issues. Then, every month, week, and day may very well be an ongoing struggle. Although throughout this article I’ll be referencing comparative data between men and women and differing demographics, the point is not to prop up men's suffering above women or anyone else for that matter. It’s simply there to elucidate the current state of men’s mental health, which is the central focus of this article. “Einstein is quoted as having said that if he had one hour to save the world he would spend fifty-five minutes defining the problem and only five minutes finding the solution” (1). This mentality exists in contrast to the current lack of awareness pertaining to the drivers of psychological ill-health. Social media and articles routinely discuss what to do if you’re depressed, anxious, suicidal, etc. But seldom does anyone discuss the complexity of the subject. Unfortunately, without truly understanding the issues that lead to ill-health it’s unlikely to come up with an effective solution and subsequent prevention strategies. Therefore the aim of this article is as follows:
Optimizing exercise range of motion to maximize muscle growth is a popular topic to discuss. As new research emerges, it often leaves you with more questions about the fundamental mechanisms and application of hypertrophy training. Mechanical tension is known as a primary driver of hypertrophy. Therefore it stands to reason that training a muscle through larger ranges of motion will create more tension, resulting in a greater hypertrophic stimulus. Although this makes sense at face value, it’s ultimately an unsatisfactory answer. At deeper levels of analysis, mechanical tension alone (or at least our current model) can not explain some of the observed outcomes we see both in the literature and anecdotally. The aim of this article is to provide a brief review of the topic, provide context to the ROM discussion, and offer practical recommendations to implement into your own training.