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The Powerlifting Matrix

I recently caught wind of a powerlifting program known as the Powerlifting Matrix. It is a very simple program that uses the principles of progressive overload. It took me a great deal of research to find this matrix on the internet and it is for that reason that I am posting it here. This program seems to be very simple and sound and I believe that if it were more publicized that many lifters would benefit from it. This program is good for lifters who cannot progress without lifting at or above 90% of their 1RM on a regular basis (such as myself). Too many training protocols use 80-85% as the "heavy" lifts during most of the cycle and only occasionally subject the lifter to loads 90% or higher. The powerlifting matrix itself is a graph which shows how many sets/reps and at what weight you should perform a training session based off of a 1RM of that lift. I recommend beginning with 90% of your 1RM, then perform the assigned sets and reps followed by some assistance work (2-3 lifts for 3-5 sets of 5-10 reps). If you are able to complete the all of the assigned reps for your major lift that day then you progress to the next highest 1RM protocol the following week. If you fail to complete your weights 2 weeks in a row then you reset your weights 10% lower and start to work your way back up. Try to think of it as taking 10 steps forward and 5 steps back. Using this simple system it is easy to continually progress as long as you are not one to shy away from training intensity. Try to limit your assistance work to exercises that will transfer strength to your big three. For example, if your hamstrings are weak it would be better to perform Good Mornings or Glute/Ham Raises instead of Leg Curls. I train with this program 4 days a week with one major lift each day, Day 1: Bench Press, Day 2: Squat, Day 3: Press, Day 4: Deadlift.

 
1RM
8 rep set
5 rep set
3 rep set
1 rep set
1 rep set
1 rep set
5 rep set
100
70
80
85
90
90
90
80
110
75
90
95
100
100
100
90
120
85
95
100
110
110
110
95
130
90
105
110
115
115
115
105
140
100
110
120
125
125
125
110
150
105
120
130
135
135
135
120
160
110
130
135
145
145
145
130
170
120
135
145
155
155
155
135
180
125
145
155
160
160
160
145
190
135
150
160
170
170
170
150
200
140
160
170
180
180
180
160
210
145
170
180
190
190
190
170
220
155
175
185
200
200
200
175
230
160
185
195
205
205
205
185
240
170
190
205
215
215
215
190
250
175
200
210
225
225
225
200
260
180
210
220
235
235
235
210
270
190
215
230
245
245
245
215
280
195
225
240
250
250
250
225
290
205
230
245
260
260
260
230
300
210
240
255
270
270
270
240
310
215
250
265
280
280
280
250
320
225
255
270
290
290
290
255
330
230
265
280
300
300
300
265
340
240
270
290
305
305
305
270
350
245
280
300
315
315
315
280
360
250
290
305
325
325
325
290
370
260
295
315
335
335
335
295
380
265
305
325
340
340
340
305
390
275
310
330
350
350
350
310
400
280
320
340
360
360
360
320
410
285
325
350
370
370
370
325
420
295
335
355
380
380
380
335
430
300
345
365
390
390
390
345
440
310
350
375
395
395
395
350
450
315
360
380
405
405
405
360
460
320
370
390
415
415
415
370
470
330
375
400
425
425
425
375
480
335
385
410
430
430
430
385
490
345
390
415
440
440
440
390
500
350
400
425
450
450
450
400
510
355
410
435
460
460
460
410
520
365
415
445
470
470
470
415
530
370
425
450
475
475
475
425
540
380
430
460
485
485
485
430
550
385
440
470
495
495
495
440
560
390
450
475
505
505
505
450
570
400
455
485
515
515
515
455
580
405
465
495
520
520
520
465
590
415
470
500
530
530
530
470
600
420
480
510
540
540
540
480
610
425
490
520
550
550
550
490
620
435
495
525
560
560
560
495
630
440
505
535
565
565
565
505
640
450
510
545
575
575
575
510
650
455
520
550
585
585
585
520
660
460
530
560
595
595
595
530
670
470
535
570
605
605
605
535
680
475
545
580
610
610
610
545
690
485
550
585
620
620
620
550
700
490
560
595
630
630
630
560
710
495
570
605
640
640
640
570
720
505
575
610
650
650
650
575
730
510
585
620
655
655
655
585
740
520
590
630
665
665
665
590
750
525
600
640
675
675
675
600
760
530
610
645
685
685
685
610
770
540
615
655
695
695
695
615
780
545
625
665
700
700
700
625
790
555
630
670
710
710
710
630
800
560
640
680
720
720
720
640

Accomodating Resistance, Training with Chains

The concept of accomodating resistance is widely practiced amongst powerlifters; especially those who train using the principles researched and developed by Mr. Louie Simmons of the Westside Barbell in Columbus, Ohio. Accomodating resistance is using implements which cause the resistance applied to the lifter by the barbell to gradually increase as the barbell is lifted. The two most common implements used for this are large latex bands and chains. The scope of this blog post is to show you a great place to get chains, not to instruct you on the intracacies of training with them; however, since you may not realize how much you need them in your training I will explain to you the basics.
To perform a lift with variable resistance using chains you first load the chains onto the barbell using a thin chain from which to hang the heavier chains at such a height that the heavy chains will almost completely sit on the floor at the lowest portion of the lift and will almost completely come off of the floor at the highest point of the lift. If the chains are properly loaded, the barbell will become increasingly heavier as it ascends because of the links of chain that are unloaded from the floor. This is performed for two different reasons, the first of which is that when you are training for a higher bar velocity having the variable resistance will teach you to continue accelerating throughout the lift rather than slowing towards the top. Accomodating resistance will also overload the easiest part of the lift. For example, if you are performing a squat, it is much easier to lock out the last fourth of the movement than it is to push yourself out of the hole at the bottom. If you have a sufficient amount of chain weight at the top of the movement then locking the weight out at the bottom will be just as difficult as getting out of the hole. This causes the entire movement to be sufficiently loaded and the exercise is now more efficient at developing strength since you struggle through the entire plane of motion.

The chains used for this type of training must be very heavy, they are usually a  minimum of 1/2 inch diameter chains. 5/8inch chains are probably the most common. I have seen them for sale on the internet for ridiculous prices, sometimes over $200+shipping!!!!!! However, I have found a website that sells them for a much more realistic price and they even include the chin chains to suspend them from with some convenient little carabeaners for free! I recently ordered some chains from this website and was really happy with the deal I got and the quality of the chain set up. The package took a little longer than I had expected to get to my house (about 2 weeks) but considering how cheap the chains were I wasn't terribly upset about it. I will definitely be buying more chains from them in the future! I have posted the link below. Also, in the future (after I have completed my book) I will write a full blog entry on how to use accommodating resistance with chains and with bands.
http://rpscoinc.com/weightlifting-chain/

2x4 A-Frame Squat/Bench Rack with Dip Station and Adjustable Safety Pins

A while ago I got tired of seeing all the ridiculous people at the gym. It's distracting! There are so many douchebags that sit around looking at themselves in the mirror constantly (I'm not talking about checking their form either) and old, slutty women who look like they are actually and entirely composed of some sort of polymer showing off their overly tanned skin while they listen to gay people music and wear over-priced workout clothes. I am the kind of guy who goes to the gym to workout, believe it or not! I usually wear the crappiest clothes that I have available and I actually intend on become sweaty and smelly during my training session. I WANT to end up stinking like crap and covered in chalk by the time I am finished and during this endeavor I would like to listen to THE LOUDEST AND HEAVIEST METAL KNOWN TO MAN!!!!!! Because of this, I decided to train at home. There really isn't a suitable training facility for powerlifters in Las Vegas because it is a city filled with pussies. Las Vegas is the kind of place where men wear clear coat nail polish, have spray on tans and spend more time doing their hair than my girlfriend. Through implication you now know that powerlifters do not do any of those things. We are the manliest of the manly and if you come up to us with any of the faggotry aforementioned we will spew the ultra dark beer out of our mouths and through our lumberjack beards as we laugh at you with our amazingly deep voices until our bellies ache and we slap our overly muscled knees...

Seriously though, I need a place to train where I don't have to prance around like a fairy so I decided to build my own gym in my garage out of 2x4's because it's cheap and I'm good at it. Here is a video of me explaining how I made my Squat rack. I didn't go into extreme detail so if you have any questions on measurements or anything of that nature you can feel free to shoot me an email at norsemanpowerlifter@yahoo.com and I would be glad to help you out.

APF Texas Cup 2011

Although I have been training with weights for years and have competed in various different sports I have never actually competed in a powerlifting competition, that is, until now! Last Saturday I drove to Waxahachie, TX (which is about an hour and a half from where I currently live) to compete in the APF Texas Cup. I weighed in at a slim 335lbs (haha) which placed me in the super heavy weight class and I competed raw (weight lifting belt and wrist wraps only).

The meet was run by Liz and Randy Nesuda, both of whom were extremely friendly and helpful. There were 63 lifters in total and they had only expected for there to be about 40. Because of this there was only one platform set up and the meet took a little longer than was previously anticipated but was otherwise very smoothly run.

I had to take a token squat of 55lbs due to a lagging shoulder injury which makes it difficult for me to hold a bar on my back (it should finish healing in a few weeks) but I was able to bench press and deadlift and set personal records on both lifts!

I ran into a powerlifter that I used to train with when I lived in Las Vegas which was surprising since we're across the country from there. He encouraged me to take a huge PR (personal record) attempt on the bench press and I am thankful for that because without his encouragement I would not have even thought about it. I made all 6 attempts on the bench press and deadlift, they were:

-Bench Press: Attempt 1: 330lbs
                     Attempt 2: 365lbs
                     Attempt 3: 403lbs
-Deadlift: Attempt 1: 565lbs
               Attempt 2: 605lbs
               Attempt 3: 637.5lbs

 Holy Crap this is heavy!
 OMG! I got it off of the floor!!!
 This is taking forever!!
I got it! My head feels like it's going to pop...














Had I been able to think, this is probably something similar to what my thought process would have been. I realized after the lift that when the other guys set the weights down it was really loud but when I set mine down it was silent. This was because I couldn't hear anything with that much pressure building up inside of my head. I popped a blood vessel in my eye and bunch in the skin on my face. It took about a minute for my soul to re-enter my body after this pull. Hitting an absolute 1RM on deadlift is literally the most difficult thing you will ever do. Nothing else I have ever experienced has required that amount of concentration and dedication.

Although this meet was extremely long, I had a great time and I can't wait to do it again! I am planning on competing early next year, hopefully with the APF again but I have heard that the SPF and APA run some quality meets so I may give them a shot. I cannot imagine a meet being run any better than the one last weekend so whenever there is an APF meet in my vicinity I will be there. The judging was reasonable and consistent, the other lifters were friendly and everyone tried to help everyone.

Powerlifting and the competitors themselves epitomized the true meaning of sportsmanship. They cheered for each other, gave each other pep talks before the lifts, shared their smelling salts and chalk and helped tighten each others belts. It was very apparent that no one there was competing against the other lifters, they were all competing against themselves.

Sheiko Training

A while ago I came across an interesting training protocol (that you've heard of I'm sure) called Sheiko. This Russian training protocol was named after Boris Sheiko, a Russian powerlifting coach. The texts written by Mr. Sheiko have only recently been translated into English and, from the sound of it, I think someone used an online translation website because the grammar has not been modified from its' original form in Russian. The words have been literally translated one by one rather than spoken as they would have been in English. This makes it extremely difficult to understand. My step-mother and her family are from Russia and, unless you have hung out with a lot of fresh-off-the-boat Russians, you probably don't understand how different their language is from our own. When a Russian first learns to speak English you really have no idea what the hell it is they are saying even if they can pronounce the English words properly because they say everything backwards or in a way that a native English speaker never would have thought to say it. Getting back on topic; Americans are just beginning to understand how to use the Sheiko protocols properly because we don't know what Mr. Sheiko is saying exactly in his books.

There are several different Sheiko training protocols which are each designated by numbers. Training protocols #29, #29 version 2, #30,#31,#32, #37, #39, #40, CMS-MS Prep, CMS-MS Prep 2, CMS-MS Prep 3, CMS-MS Comp, MSIC Prep and MSIC Comp are the Sheiko programs which I have been able to find. How are they supposed to be used? This is kind of a mystery to me. I have read several different articles that I have found around the internet as well as some of the original material written by Mr. Sheiko. The articles found on the web present a lot of conflicting information since there isn't a lot of clarity regarding this style of training yet and the material written by Mr. Sheiko (which I am more accustomed to understanding that most Americans since I grew up around so many Russians) is very difficult to understand and doesn't divulge much information as to what order or for exactly what purpose these different training programs should be used.

What I have deduced is that #29, #29 version 2, #30 and #31 are preparatory cycles. They can be used to build a strong foundation for a lifter. They utilize moderate weight and extremely high volume training and will therefore help you to develop a large work capacity and recovery ability. #32 is a peaking cycle for a beginning/ intermediate lifter and can be done as a contest preparation cycle for someone who is relatively new to Sheiko style training. This would be done after a preparatory cycle or after several preparatory cycles performed consecutively.

Cycles #37, #39 and #40 are preparatory cycles that are more advanced than #29-#31. Cycle #40 uses insanely high volume, especially for the bench press so strap your nuts on before you try that one. These cycles should be worked up to using the less advanced cycles for someone who hasn't tried Sheiko training before. Attempting to perform one of them right away would basically be suicide and you probably wouldn't even finish it. The CMS-MS Prep and Comp cycles are used the same way that the rest of the cycles are, you will first perform a few preparatory cycles to gain strength and then peak in strength using a competition cycle.

I have not had the opportunity to try all of these training programs, but I have had some success using #29 as the accumulation phase during block periodization and then swapping to a westside template for the transmutation phase. This is a calculator which has all of the cycles and automatically calculates the weights for you (this saves a lot of time!) If you use an Android phone there is an app called "Sheiko Droid" which has all of the major programs and will calculate the weights for you right on your phone! This is really convenient since you can bring your phone with you to the gym.

http://www.elitefts.com/sheiko/default.asp

Excerpt from my book #2

 

"Before one begins training with weights it is important to understand not only what training methods/techniques you will employ, but also what anatomical structures are involved in moving those weights, the physiology of those anatomical structures and how your body will adapt to the stimulus of training. Because of this, we must begin from the very beginning and leave no stone unturned as you endeavor to learn the intricacies of your human form and strive to improve it to its highest potential."

Excerpt from my book

My book which I am working on is going really well and is actually coming along much more quickly than I imagined it would. I am hoping to finish it by early next year (including illustrations and such) and will release it shortly thereafter. I'm getting a lot of emails and messages from the bodybuilding.com forums about how my book is being so highly anticipated. In lieu of this, I have posted below a short excerpt from the third chapter of my book on adaptation.

"The muscles of the body adapt to the stimulus of resistance training by many different means. The most obvious of these is, of course, that they grow larger. An exercised muscle will grow while an unused muscle will atrophy. It is important to note that just because you exercise a muscle does not mean that it will become larger. It means that if you exercise a muscle past its current physical ability and FORCE it to adapt then it will do so accordingly. Muscles will experience hypertrophy only in response to overload of the muscle itself and because of this, your training should be programmed to systematically stress the body in order to improve your physical capacity. This means that unless you complete tasks that the muscle is barely capable of performing, there will be no adaptation. It also means that the muscle will adapt specifically to the stimulus with which you provide it. This aspect of adaptation has been labeled "SAID".

S.A.I.D. stands for Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands. In a nutshell, this refers to the fact that if you want to become stronger in a certain lift you must perform that lift. There are some exercises that will carry strength over to other, similar exercises; however, you will still lose a certain amount of strength gain between the two lifts. For example, suppose that you began with a 100 lbs squat and 100 lbs leg press and, through working hard for an extended period of time, were able to double your squat to 200 lbs but you didn't perform any leg presses during that period. It would seem that your leg press would have also doubled since the movements are so similar, but in fact, your leg press would only increase to 150-170 lbs. This proves the principle behind S.A.I.D. which states that
"adaptation to a stressor is specific to that stressor".

Boring stuff.... I know. Unfortunately it's the kind of stuff you need to understand in order to develop an effective training protocol for yourself so keep learning and keep training. Go lift something heavy.

Notice: This Blog will be Postponed

Because of the enormous demand for more powerlifting neurology/physiology information, this blog will be discontinued until I am able to finish a book which I am writing that will be titled "Powerlifting A&P". I will email a free copy of this e-book to the first 100 people who email me their email address at norsemanpowerlifter@yahoo.com. Thank you all for your support.

Powerlifting Chemistry 101: Trenbolone Acetate

Of all of the performance enhancing drugs and supplements currently available to athletes, Trenbolone Acetate is definately in the top five when one takes into account safety, effectiveness, availability and price. The problem with compounds of this nature is that they are publicized as being dangerous, terrible things to put into your body and if you take them you are worse than Muslim terrorists!!! This is just simply not true. There are a large spectrum of anabolic/androgenic compounds that we have at our disposal and they are vastly different from one another. To group them together as "steroids" and say that they are all bad is irresponsible at best. For example, Aspirin and Oxycontin are both pain killers. They are obviously not in the same ballpark but they are; nevertheless, painkillers and to group them together without further classification would be ridiculous. The same is true for many of the anabolic compounds on the market today. So without further adue, let's delve into this amazing compound.

Trenbolone comes in many forms, the difference being the esther group. The most common esther group seen is Acetate. This is because Trenbolone Acetate is available legally as a cattle implant from veterinary and livestock supply companies without a prescription. Trenbolone Acetate is also the most potent of all the Trenbolone variations milligram per milligram because of the acetate esther's lower molecular weight and shorter life span within the body. Trenbolone is a 19-nor anabolic steroid which put it in the same class as the ever popular Nandrolone (commonly known as "Deca" after the decanoate esther it is often attached to) and has many benefits that are not found in other anabolic hormones. Some of these benefits are:

1: Increases IGF-1 production: Insulin Like Growth Factor 1 is key in increasing metabolism, anabolism and protein synthesis.

2: SARM: Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators are chemicals that act specifically on the androgen receptor and avoid other tissues. These type drugs lead to muscle mass gains without effecting other tissues of the body to the same degree and are therefore less likely to cause side effects than other drugs. Trenbolone acts similarly to a SARM.

3: Binding Affinity: Trenbolone has 5 times the affinity to bind with the androgen receptor than testosterone.... nuff said.

4: Nitrogen Balance: Trenbolone, like most other steroids, increases Nitrogen retention within the body and thus increases protein synthesis; however, Trenbolone does this to a greater degree than most other commercially available steroids.

5: Decreased Stress Hormone Release: Trenbolone effectively inhibits the release of glucocorticoid steroids. This means less fat and more muscle.

6: Gene Expression: Trenbolone causes gene expression with the androgen receptor that is at least as potent as DHT without necessarily converting to DHT.

7: No Aromatization: Trenbolone presents no Estrogenic Activity but does convert to Progesterone. Progesterone will upregulate the estrogen receptor but won't actually activate it. This means that the estrogen in your body will have a greater affinity to bind with the estrogen receptor. Trenbolone taken generally will not manifest itself with estrogenic side effects such as gynecomastia; however, when taken with an aromatizable steroid such as testosterone the estrogenic side effects can be pretty bad. This problem, of course, can be solved with an estrogen receptor site modulator such as Nolvadex and could also be treated (probably less effectively) with anti-aromatase drugs such as Clomid.

8: Availability: You can mix up a batch of Trenbolone in your kitchen (you can even make lotion!) with very minimal preparation and chemistry knowledge. I will blog about this in the future.

Trenbolone can cause some side effects since it does increase secondary male characteristics without the conversion to DHT. This means that you could have oily skin, increased hair growth, dropping of the voice, balding (only in individuals who were going to go bald eventually anyway) but not prostate enlargement (which is nice). Trenbolone Acetate is considered tolerable by most of its users since an injection is only required every 3 days and generally causes very little soreness of the injection site. There is a myth circulating that Trenbolone causes kidney toxicity. This is because of the rust colored metabolites that excrete in the urine and are often mistaken for blood by bro-scientists. There is no scientific evidence suggesting that Trenbolone is hard on your kidneys and, since it is an injectable drug, on your liver either.

Next I will be writing on how to safely make your own Trenbolone Acetate solutions at home for transdermal or intramuscular administration. Until then, go lift something heavy.

DIY: Fixing Rusty Weights

I have in my home gym a little over 600 lbs of plates. I got all of these plates from a guy that I met in Las Vegas who had an entire gym worth of crap in his two car garage. There was so much weightlifting equipment, racks, benches, bars, plates, dumbells, etc.. that it was impossible to exercise! It was literally piled up to the ceiling and had been neglected for several years. Because of the necessity to get rid of a lot of his equipment I was able to get them off of him for an extremely good price. The first time I visited him I got a barbell with four 45lb plates and four 35lb plates for $100! The reason they were so cheap (aside from the fact that Doug was just a really nice guy) was that they were very old and very rusted. I banged the rust off and they served me just fine in their current state while I was living in Las Vegas, NV; however, after I moved to the much more humid environment of East Texas they began to rust again and rather than allow them to continue to deteriorate I decided to slap a coat of spray paint on those bad boys.

I chose Valspar Flat Black Spray paint because Valspar makes very high quality paints and it's also the cheapest spray paint they had at my local Lowe's. Now that I think about it I probably should have used epoxy paint because it is really hard and tough when it dries but they're just weights and I suppose it's not really that important if they look good for a long time. I just wanted to prevent them from oxidizing any further.



 These are the weights before they were painted. My two pitbulls were curious as to what I was doing and wouldn't get out of the shot.
Here are the weights after they have been painted. Notice that the weights at the top are shiny and the others are not. This is because I had an extra can of Rustoleum Hammered Finish spray paint and finished them with it. It was a much higher quality paint than the Valspar Flat Black. So if you decide to not use an epoxy spray paint I would recommend it. I put 3 thin coats on all of these which used up 6 cans of spray paint.

Myth Buster: Stabilizer Muscles

I don't know how many times I have heard people say it, "when you train on a bosu ball it hits all of the little stabilizer muscles". Surprisingly, a lot of the people who said this were "personal trainers" who are supposed to be educated and certified on the subject. Before I go into the science behind this ridiculous statement that is spreading across weight and locker rooms faster than athlete's foot, I will begin by explaining to the unknowing population what exactly goes into becoming a personal trainer.

I have been training with weights for a very long time and I have an education in biological sciences. This being said, I am more than qualified to help individuals learn how to perform exercises, how to choose which exercises they need to be performing and how to advance at them safely. Because my girlfriend (now fiance') was working at a gym at the time, I decided that I could pick up a second job at that gym as a trainer. After all, I had been training myself and several other people who would just try to tag along with me for years. Before I could actually be employed as a personal trainer I had to obtain some sort of personal training certification. I was given a list of personal training certifying bodies by my prospective employer (who, so I don't feel like I am slandering them, shall remain nameless). I chose one of them and went to take their test online......... I took their test online, not at a testing center on a computer but on a computer that could be located anywhere that I chose and was completely unsupervised. I had to consult with my brother over the phone for a few of the questions, not because I wasn't familiar with the material on the test, but because none of the answers they listed as choices were correct. I passed it with flying colors without opening up a book or even having to think too hard and magically I became a personal trainer. The test didn't ask any questions on programming or correct exercise execution or anatomy and physiology and didn't even really touch on safety that much. It is because of testing like this that you have a bunch of douchebags walking around gyms pretending that they know what they are doing. I will tell you now that MAYBE 5% of the personal trainers out there know what they are talking about and they aren't necessarily the most educated ones.



Now that you understand the type of people we are dealing with, let's take a look at your "stabilizer muscles". The theory behind this statement is that your joints have these little, tiny muscles that noone's ever heard of that help to stabilize the joints and these muscles can only be properly trained by working out with things that are unstable such as kettle bells or by working out on surfaces that are unstable such as a bosu ball or a swiss ball. To the layman this might sound like a sound theory but let's take a look at the ACTUAL anatomy of your joints instead of some mentally retarded fantasy land interpretation of your musculature.

The most common joint you will hear people talk about in this manner are the knees, which is surprising because they are one of the most simple joints of the body. There are several muscles which effect knee movement, above the knee there are the four muscles of the quadriceps (vastus lateralus, vastus intermedius, vastus medialis and rectus femoris), the muscles of the hamstrings (semitendinosus, semimembranosus, biceps femoris), there are the gluteus maximus and gluteus minimus (which effect the knee by way of the ilio-tibial band), there are the thigh adductors (gracilis, sartorius and iliopsoas) and then there is one small muscle called the popliteus that functions to unlock the knee. Below the knee there are a also several muscles that cross the knee joint, they are the gastrocnemius, soleus, anterior tibialis and peroneus longus (there are a couple of others but they simply aid in the actions of these larger muscles). All of these muscles are very large muscles and all of them are in place to facilitate movement. They are not there solely for the purpose of stabilizing the joint.

The fact of the matter is that there are no tiny "stabilizer" muscles. Stabilization of the joints is achieved by muscular coordination of these large muscles and we all know the best way to train all of these muscles..... squat with heavy weights. There can be a case made for the necessity of one legged squats on occassion for sports athletes but for the most part coordination is best trained using drills, not weights. This same argument holds true for the elbows, shoulders, hips, ankles, wrists and any other joint on your body. The only joints that are not made for flexion and extension under load are the vertebral joints. The vertebral joints are designed to be held statically while your trunk is moved around by your limbs. I have never heard anyone use the term "stabilizer muscles" when referring to the spine however. This is probably because most personal trainers believe that training the spinal erectors directly is unsafe. Which is obviously untrue. I would venture to say that is more unsafe to NOT train the spinal erectors (i.e. deadlifting) because of the increased chance of injuring yourself on the playing field or while doing manual labor.

Another problem that exists with this theory is the methods with which they train these imaginary muscles. Standing on an unstable surface while you attempt to lift a heavy object will do three things.

1: Limit the amount of weight that can be lifted: If you are lifting weights then I think it's safe to say that you intend on becoming stronger and in order to become stronger you need to stimulate your muscles with your lifts. By limiting the amount of weight that can be lifted you are making sure that you are not going to get any stronger, period.

2: Increasing Muscular Coordination: You will benefit some from this type of training by improving your balance; however, the benefit:risk ratio is not in your favor.

3: Increasing the Risk of Injury: Obviously, standing on a wobbly surface while attempting to lift a heavy weight is BLATANTLY STUPID. Especially to an untrained individual. So don't do it.

A healthy habit to develop in the world of strength training is to challenge the validity of everything that you hear. Athletic training is the one area of science where retards rule and the ignorant abound. In no other area of science will you see such a large amount of invalid, untested and untrue literature. So always ask yourself, "a thousand years ago, did people do this to get strong?". The answer will most likely be "no". A thousand years ago people trained with heavy stones while standing on solid ground. We now have the luxury of barbells, but the premise is the same. Stand on a stone and lift a stone. Go lift something heavy.

DIY: High Pulley Station Weight Stack and Cambered Attachment

If you have been following my blog then you know that I have recently built a high pulley station for my home gym from some 2x4's. I ran into some problems with my original design though. I had originally used the cable with an S hook attached to it to loop through the weight plates. This proved extremely cumbersome, even dangerous! I was changing the weight to perform some lat pulldowns and three 45lb plates rolled off of the platform and just about crushed my foot. Luckily, I was able to get out of the way in time but even so, this was a design flaw that obviously needed to be addressed. I also didn't have a handle to attach to the cable properly with which to perform any exercises.

I settled on a solution for this which, since I have implemented, has been wonderful! In order to do this you will need two carabeaners (make sure you get very strong carabeaners, mine are 260lb test each for a total weight capacity of 520 lbs since there is one at each end of the cable), an old collar from an olympic barbell, a large threaded hook (mine is a 3/8inch hook), two nuts that fit the hook with washers, a whole bunch of ratchet extentions (it must be long enough to fit all the way down the olympic collar, so about 2 feet). I put it together as follows:

1: secure the hook on the end of the olympic barbell collar using the two nuts and two washers. This is where you will need your really long ratchet extension to screw the nuts on tightly.

2: attach your carabeaners to the ends of the cables.

3: slide your weighted plates onto the olympic collar and attach the carabeaner

 Here, you can see the hook sticking out of the end of the barbell collar.

Here you can see the weights loaded onto the barbell collar. The fat piece at the end of the collar is underneath the weights and holds them in place.













In the future, I will need to extend the pulley apparatus itself from the wall about 4 inches so that it can accommodate 25 lb plates. At this point you can only fit 15 10lb plates on it. After this was finished I still had the issue of not having a handle to do lat pulldowns, tricep extensions, etc... I fixed this problem by employing an old ez curl bar (which I almost never use because I prefer my barbell), 2 thick metal hose clamps and a metal ring.

First I took the collars off of the ez curl bar. I then attached the metal ring to the center of the bar with the two hose clamps and voila! I had a long, cambered bar attachment for my pulley station with which i can perform tricep extensions or lat pulldowns.

 Here you can see how the ring was attached to the bar. Originally I only used one hose clamp to hold the ring in place but was worried about its ability to bear weight so I threw an extra one on there just to be safe
And here is the finished product. I put some athletic tape on the parts of the bar that didn't have any gnurling to aid with grip when my hands were sweaty.










I have already put in A LOT of work on this pulley system because I am rehabing a little shoulder tear I acquired while squatting and lat pulldowns seem to help more than other exercises. I have no complaints with its performance. Altogether this cost me about $40 because I already had the ez curl bar and the olympic barbell collar but even if I didn't it still wouldn't cost me nearly as much as it would to go out and buy one of these. Plus, the ones that are commercially available and designed for home use are usually a double pulley design and they don't have very much weight on them. This definitely fits my needs better. I was also able to use the collars from the ez curl bar as fat grips. I will post on this later. Until then, go lift something heavy.

Powerlifting Neurology 101: Smelling Salts

It was recently requested of me on the bodybuilding.com forums that I write a piece on the physiological action of smelling salts. I went off and did some research and actually found very little on this topic thus this will be a shorter blog than you are accustomed to from myself.

The active ingredient in almost all "smelling salt" mixtures is ammonia of some form. Generally it is just household ammonia which consists of 5-10% ammonia and water. I found this pretty funny considering that a bottle of Nose Tork or a similar product runs around $10.00 and it's only about 3 ounces of liquid. I'm in the wrong business apparently. A much more cost effective way to get this is to buy it from a medical supply company. I recommend imed.com. Ammonia in its purest form is far too dangerous to let the general public get their hands on , I'm sorry to say, and it wouldn't be very effective as an inhalant to increase your lifts because it would probably knock you out if you sniffed it (in a laboratory, you have to wear a fume hood to handle it).

I have used Ammonia inhalants several times before I attempted a record lift and it really does seem to get you cranked up but how exactly does this happen? From the review of literature which I have conducted, discussions I have carried on at length with a neurologist regarding this matter and my own, personal experience with ammonia inhalants I have determined that there are most likely 3 different means through which ammonia can improve your strength.

1: Inhalation Reflex: Ammonia is a very caustic chemical, because of this when it is inhaled it irritates the very sensitive mucous membranes inside of the nose, throat and lungs. This negative sensory sensation effects something called the spinal cord reflex. Basically, when a painful sensation is perceived it does not go to your brain to be processed. The sensation takes the form of a nerve impulse that travels proximally down the nerve, towards the spinal cord. Once it reaches the spinal cord it enters through the dorsal root. When the impulse is traveling along pain fibers (S1 nerve fibers to be precise) it does not continue on to the brain. Instead, it flips through the anterior horn of the spinal cord and exits through the anterior root. This will effectively stimulate contraction of the muscle innervated by that nerve (this is usually the muscle on the opposite side of the limb). For example, if you burned the back of your hand the spinal cord reflex would cause you to pull your hand away from the heat without having to think about it. In the case of the pain caused by inhaling ammonia, this would cause contraction of the Diaphragm and Hemidiaphragm. This contraction (and nervous stimulation) could possibly help you get a better breathe before you begin your lift.

2: Wakes you up: If you have ever intentionally picked up a bottle of ammonia, opened it, and forcefully inhaled the fumes coming off of it then you know that it smells F&^%ing terrible! When I sniff ammonia before a lift it wakes me up because sniffing it is like getting slapped in the face. This could provide a little more strength manifested in the form of simply being more "awake" than you were before you sniffed it.

3: Placebo effect: Up to 30% of the positive (or negative) effects of medications are due to this. I know, people like to pretend like they're too smart to let this happen to them but trust me. I have been working in medicine for several years now and people are not smart... to say the least. What you believe about a medication actually effects how well it works. If you believe that taking the pill will help your headache go away then your brain will actually launch the physiological means of blocking the pain without ever being acted on by the medication. Similarly, if you believe that sniffing ammonia will make you stronger then it will, and I can tell you, sniffing ammonia DOES make you stronger.

In conclusion, knowing WHY ammonia makes you stronger won't actually help you become stronger so stop worrying about it. Sniff some ammonia and hit a PR already!

Powerlifting Neurology 101: Neurological Plasticity

In my last post on Powerlifting Neurology i went over the basic anatomy and physiology of the Neurological System and busted up some bro science that floats around the weightroom. Today I will go over neurological plasticity and how this attribute of our most intricate bodily system can help you lift heavier weights

Neurological Plasticity (or neuroplasticity) is the ability of neurological tissues to change structurally and functionally in response to stimulus from the environment. Similarly to how your muscle cells grow and add mitochondria to adapt to the stimulus of you lifting heavy weights regularly. Neurological tissue is able to adapt to stimulus moreso than other tissues in the body. The adaptation (particularly in the brain) to outside stimulus is very slow but is almost limitless whereas adaptation in other tissues of the body will eventually stagnate.

If you look through medical journals you will see several studies on neuroplasticity, but most of them will involve the brain as medicine tries to find a way to retrain the disabled portions of people's bodies from diseases like multiple sclerosis and stroke. Since we are powerlifters and are discussing how to utilize your nervous system to become a stronger, more efficient athlete I will not be describing CNS plasticity in this blog. I will be discussing the motor unit.

As you may remember from Powerlifting Neurology 101, the motor unit is the anterior horn cell, the spinal nerve, the peripheral nerve, the neuromuscular junction and the muscle fiber. Motor units used for gross movement usually contain around 1500 muscle fibers per motor unit (this sample was taken from the gastrocnemius) whereas motor units used for fine movement (for example, in the lumbrical muscles of the fingers) contain approximately 100 muscle fibers per motor unit and even more refined motor units (in the larynx) contain less than 10 muscle fibers per motor unit. We will obviously be focusing on the larger motor units since they contribute the most to overall strength and explosiveness.

Before you can understand how the nervous system adapts to outside stimulus such as weight training, you need to have a better understanding of what it is these nerve fibers are innervating. Motor neurons innervate muscle cells and for our purposes we will be most concerned with skeletal muscle fibers. Skeletal muscle fibers are broken down into two main types: "fast twitch" and "slow twitch", as they are commonly referred to in the gym, are designated as type I and II or in some texts as "red" and "white" muscle fibers; but, since you already probably know of them as fast twitch and slow twitch that is what i will call them as these designations are accurate enough and will help to alleviate any confusion.

Fast twitch muscle fibers are capable of contracting with a great amount of force for a short period of time whereas slow twitch muscle fibers are capable of contracting with a lesser amount of force for an extended period of time. How many fast twitch muscle fibers you have in relation to slow twitch muscle fibers at birth is determined largely by a person's gender and genetics. This can be changed though through outside stimulus.

Every motor unit contains only one type of muscle fiber. This means that each anterior horn cell only innervates fast twitch or slow twitch muscle fibers. Also of note is that the type of a muscle fiber is not determined by the muscle fiber, it is determined by the neuron which innervates it. For example, say a person has damaged one of their spinal nerves and now there are several uninnervated muscle fibers and let's also say that all of the muscle fibers that have been effected were slow twitch fibers. As the person begins to heal they will experience something called reinnervation. This is when surviving motor units grow branches out to the uninnervated muscle fibers so that the person can regain control of the muscle tissue. Say that the only motor units available to reinnervate the muscle fibers are fast twitch motor units. The slow twitch muscle cells that they reinnervate will become fast twitch muscle fibers once the reinnervation has taken place! This sounds like a great way to improve your fast twitch to slow twitch muscle fiber ratio. Unfortunately in order for this to take place you have to injure yourself... most likely your spine. So even though this scenario is good for teaching this concept, it probably isn't the best way to go about priming your nervous system for some heavy weight lifting.

The common belief for increasing explosiveness in the gym is that if you train explosively you will "learn" how to stimulate a more complete muscular contraction (i.e. you will be able to excite more muscle fibers at the same time) and will therefore become stronger. This is true, but the mechanisms that are in place to provide this adaptation are a little bit different than most people think and are (as are many things in neurology) theoretical. There are three theoretical means for this to happen, they are:

1: Change of fiber type: this is when some of your slow twitch muscle fibers become fast twitch muscle fibers. There are different ways for this to happen, but the most common way is by increasing the size of the fast twitch muscle motor unit. By branching out and innervating neighboring slow twitch muscle fibers (and therefore converting them to fast twitch fiber type) you can increase your fast twitch to slow twitch ratio. This process happens very slowly. Nerves can generally generate about one millimeter of length in a month and this would only be under the most ideal conditions.

2: Increasing the size of the motor unit: this is obviously very related to number 1 and is probably the most effective means your nervous system uses to adapt to the explosive training. Since each motor unit only has 1 anterior horn cell, increasing the size of the motor unit will increase the percent of the muscle fibers in a muscle that contract simultaneously.

3: Increasing the amount of upper motor neurons: if you read Powerlifting Neurology 101 then you know that upper motor neurons are the neurons in the motor cortex of the brain that originate the electrical signal to contract a muscle. By increasing the number of upper motor neurons you have, you will effectively increase the amount of motor units being stimulated with each contraction.

These 3 methods of increasing muscular contraction are all triggered by the same training stimulus, training explosively. If you are an olympic lifter or train with a Westside Barbell template than you have probably been doing all that you can to increase your nervous system's ability to produce explosive contractions. It is also worth mentioning that you need to provide your body with the nutrients necessary to develop nervous tissue. This includes Magnesium, B6, B12, D3, Iron, Chromium, Manganese and lots of healthy fats.

Next in my series on Powerlifting Neurology I will be covering smelling salts. Until then, go lift something heavy.

Powerlifting Neurology 101

There is something that you probably do not know about me. I am a Registered Nerve Conduction Study Technologist. I am board certified through the American Association of Electroneurodiagnostic Technologists as well as the American Association of Electrodiagnostic Medicine. I am not a doctor but I would venture to say that I know more about neurology than your average powerlifter. This is unfortunate because building your nervous system is just as important in powerlifting as building muscle.

The purpose of this series is to educate the weight lifter on the basics of neurology as it pertains to becoming stronger. I will begin by instructing you in the basic anatomical structure and physiology of the portions of the nervous system relevant to the powerlifter. I would like to dive right in but since us powerlifters are all big meat heads I guess I had better start at the beginning.

The Nervous system is composed of 2 things, neurons and neuroglial cells. Neurons are nerve cells that transmit impulses which you can view as information. This information may be sensory in nature (a taste, a sensation) or motor in nature (a signal to contract a muscle). Neuroglial cells hold the neurons together and provide metabolic support (they supply nutrients and such to the neurons) and as far as the purposes of this paper are concerned they aren't very important so I won't bring them up again.

A neuron is composed of dendrites, a cell body (or Soma), an axon and an axon terminal. There are several other components to a neuron but again, they aren't important for you to know at this point. The dendrites are branches coming off of the cell body that receive information from other neurons. The cell body regulates metabolic functions of the neuron. The axon is a long branch off of the cell body that transmits signals to other nerves and/or muscles. The axon terminal is the very tip of the axon that sends the signals off to other cells.

Neurons are the active cells in all nervous tissue. The nervous system is comprised of the CNS (central nervous system) and the PNS (peripheral nervous system). The CNS is made up of the brain and spinal cord and the PNS is made up of the spinal nerves and peripheral nerves which carry information from the brain to your body. Because I am trying to keep this article as basic as possible while still conveying my point we will only be discussing the signals carried from the CNS to the muscles of the body. These signals are referred to as motor signals because they are basically what happens when you brain tells your body to bend over and pick up a weight.

When you decide to move consciously a signal is derived in an area of your brain called the motor cortex. The motor cortex houses the cell bodies of neurons called upper motor neurons. An upper motor neuron is any neuron involved in the contraction of a muscle fiber that does not share a synapse with that muscle fiber. We will get to synapses in a bit, but for now just know that upper motor neurons don't have direct contact with the muscle fibers which they influence. The signal derived in the upper motor neuron travels down a neural pathway through the brainstem and into the spinal cord. This pathway is called the common pathway. Once in the spinal cord, the signal continues to travel down until it reaches the desired level of the spinal cord at which the signal will travel outwards to the targeted muscle. At this point the signal is transferred from the upper motor neuron's axon to an anterior horn cell. An anterior horn cell is a neuron whose cell body is housed in the anterior horn of the spinal cord. The anterior horn is called such because it is in the anterior portion of the spinal cord and because it is shaped like a horn. Once it has reached the anterior horn cell, the signal will now be propogated along the spinal nerve which branches off of the spinal cord and into the peripheral nerve which sends the neurotransmitter signal out of the neuron through the neuromuscular junction and into the muscle cell. That was quite a mouthful and you're probably wondering what half of the stuff I just mentioned was so here is a quick list of definitions you should read and then re-read this paragraph.



















-Upper Motor Neuron: Derived in the motor cortex of the brain. Upper motor neurons are where motor nerve impulses begin

-Common Pathway: the pathway through which motor nerve impulses travel to get to the spinal cord

-Anterior Horn Cell: a neuron whose function is to transfer information from the spinal cord to the periphery

-Spinal Nerve: a nerve that branches off of the spinal cord

-Peripheral Nerve: a nerve that is generally composed of several spinal nerves that transmits information directly to the muscles

-Neuromuscular Junction: this is a synapse between the nerve and a muscle

Now to learn about the synapses themselves. The word "synapse" means connection which should pretty much sum up what it is. A synapse is the point at which two neurons or a neuron and a muscle meet. When a nerve meets a muscle it is a synapse but it is referred to as a neuromuscular junction because this way it differentiates itself from a synapse with 2 nerves involved. A synapse functions by transmitting signals with the use of chemicals. The presynaptic terminal (the neuron that is sending the signal) and the postsynaptic terminal (the neuron or muscle fiber that is receiving the signal) have a small gap between them called the synaptic cleft. The presynaptic terminal releases a chemical signal into the synaptic cleft which floats over to the postsynaptic terminal. The postsynaptic terminal has little spots on it called receptor sites. These receptor sites are basically like locks and the neurotramsitters that plug into them are like keys. The neurotransmitters hook up with their respective receptor sites on the postsynaptic terminal and open up ion channels that depolarize or hyperpolarize the neuron. For purposes of this paper, let's assume that the postsynaptic terminal is a muscle fiber. When the neurotransmitter hits the muscle fiber, it will contract the muscle. When you are dealing with neuromuscular junctions the neurotransmitter is Acetylcholine.

So as a recap in layman's terms. Your brain decides to flex a muscle, it sends a signal down your spinal cord, that signal gets transferred to your spinal nerves which send it down to your muscle and shazam, your muscle flexes and the girl you're trying to show off to is still unimpressed. The acetylcholine that is sent from the presynaptic terminal to the postsynaptic terminal doesn't all get used every time its released; however. Because of this your body has to have a way of getting rid of it effectively or your muscles would be flexed all of the time. There are three ways that your body gets rid of extra neurotransmitters and they are as follows:

1: Reuptake: this is when the presynaptic terminal reabsorbs the extra neurotransmitter
2: Enzymatic Degradation: this is when enzymes in the synaptic cleft break down the neurotransmitters
3: This one doesn't really have a fancy name, but it's basically when the neurotransmitters just float away out of the synaptic cleft so your nerves don't have to worry about them anymore. Kind of like what happens with most of your girlfriends.

There is a saying floating around the powerlifting community that involves neurology and it enrages me!!!! However, it does bring me to my next topic of discussion. This saying is "CNS fatigue" people talk about "Oh man, I deadlifted too much yesterday and I totally like, fried my CNS bra". I have asked many of these people what the hell they were talking about and none of them really knew. The closest thing that I can think of to what they were talking about was something called synaptic fatigue.

Synaptic fatigue is when the receptor sites get clogged up with neurotransmitters so even though neurotransmitters are still being secreted from the presynaptic terminal, the postsynaptic terminal can't use them. Imagine for a moment that you have a lock (the receptor site) and you broke a key off in the lock. It wouldn't be very easy to stick another key in it and get it to work untiil you got the broken key out first. The same concept applies here. Luckily for our nerves, they have a much more efficient way of getting the neurotransmitters out than you would of getting the broken key out. After a few seconds, the enzymes in the synaptic cleft will act on the neurotransmitters that are stuck in the receptor sites and break them down so that the synapse is nice and clean and ready for business once again. This process takes at most a few seconds so I don't know why these powerlifters would be complaining about frying their CNS THE DAY AFTER THEY LIFTED! I have even discussed this with the neurologist with whom I work and he had no idea what these people were talking about.

Anyway, that concludes the first installment of my series on Neurology for powerlifters. Next I will be explaining the concept of nervous system plasticity which will be much more functional knowledge than was presented to you today. Until then, go lift something heavy.


Block Periodization

If you have spent any time studying about all the different types of powerlifting programs out there your head is probably spinning. I see it every time I get onto the bodybuilding.com powerlifting/strongman forum. There is always someone asking questions about a program that, to those who understand the program, seem almost too obvious to even answer. I understand where these people are coming from though.

The problem with most lifters following a preset program is that they only understand WHAT they are supposed to do, they seldom understand WHY they are doing it and this is actually a more important aspect of your training. Unfortunately, most of the programs out there don't come with a "why" section attached to them, they usually come in the form of an excel spreadsheet and calculate the sets/reps/weights exactly so you don't even have to think. The problem with this cookie-cutter approach to training is that each individual has strengths/weaknesses and exercises that work best for them. These programs are a way to give a man a fish, well I am here to teach you how to fish... slowly but surely.

To begin your fishing lessons, I will be going over an older program that is simple both in philosophy and in execution. This is the Block Periodization style of training. There are three different types of block periodizatioin which I have seen cycling around. The original three phase cycle, a strange bastardized three phase with some westside barbell principles sprinkled in it and the four phase cycle which is basically the same as the 3 phase with the addition of an extra 4 week "power" phase. I don't like the 4 phase system because the purpose of the cycles becomes too similar when you try and break it up more.  If it ain't broke don't fix it!

The original cycle is defined by its creator as, "The general approach to the compilation of block periodized training assumes the sequencing of 3 different type mesocycle-blocks that form a single training stage ending in some competition".

The three blocks are the Accumulation mesocycle, the Transmutation mesocycle and the Realization mesocycle.

The Accumulation Mesocycle is defined by the following characteristics:

1: 2-6 weeks in duration
2: Higher volume training
3: Sets with 5-15 reps
4: 50%-70% 1RM
5: No deload phase
6: Focus on general strength

The Transmutation Mesocycle is defined by the following characteristics:

1: 2-6 weeks in duration
2: Moderate volume training
3: Sets with 3-5 reps
4: 70%-90% 1RM
5: Followed by 1 week deload
6: Focus on competition lifts

The Realization Mesocycle is defined by the following characteristics:

1: 2-4 weeks in duration
2: Low volume training
3: Sets with 1-3 reps
4: 90%+ 1RM
5: Followed by 1 week deload
6: Focus on competition lifts

What does all of this mean? The block periodization method of training is not some cookie cutter program, it is an actual system of training that you can break down and tailor to your own personal needs. For the sake of people who are afraid to think for themselves, I have posted an example cycle below. However, when there is leeway I have not listed specific exercises, I have posted movements or muscle groups. You can use any exercise you like for these movements, as long as it fits the criteria which I have given.

The Accumulation Mesocycle is in place so that a lifter can build a strong base from which to become powerful. In other words, it is there for you to put on some muscle mass and have good conditioning. Because of this, you train more or less like a bodybuilder ( I know.... I said it) in terms of your set and rep schemes. Your split and exercise selection will be that of a powerlifter however (thank God!) please, don't go off doing preacher bench cable curls... it's just too homo. Here is the example cycle:

Monday: Bench Press
1: Bench Press Variation: (Close Grip Bench, Wide Grip Bench, Board Press, Floor Press, Pin Press...)
50-70%
3 sets
5-10 reps

2: Press Variation: (Overhead Press, Jerk, Db Bench, Incline Press...)
3 sets
10-15 reps

3: Rowing Variation: (Barbell Row, Dumbell Row, T-bar Row, Chest Supported Row...)
3 sets
10-15 reps

4: Rowing/Pull Down Variation: (Cable Row, Lat Pull Downs, Chin Ups, Upright Row...)
3 sets
10-15 reps

5: Triceps Movement: (Skull Crushers, French Press, Cable Push Downs, Rolling Triceps Extensions....)
3 sets
10-15 reps


Tuesday: Deadlift
1: Deadlift Variation (Deficit Deadlift, Sumo Deadlift, Rack Pulls, Halting Deadlift, Romanian Deadlift.....)
50-70%
3 sets
5-10 reps


2: Good Morning Variation: (Safety Bar GM, Seated GM, Band GM, Power GM...)
3 sets
10-15 reps

3: Glute Ham Raise, Hyperextension or Reverse Hyperextension
3 sets
10-15 reps

4: Shrug Variation (Barbell, Dumbell, Shrug Bar, Shrug Machine....)
3 sets
10-15 reps


Thursday: Bench
1: Bench Variation: (use a different one than on Monday)
50-70%
3 sets
5-10 reps

2: Triceps Movement
3 sets
10-15 reps

3: Rowing/Pull Down Variation
3 sets
10-15 reps

4: Deltoid Movement (Overhead Press, Delt Raises....)
3 sets
10-15 reps

Friday: Squat
1: Squat Variation (Box Squat, Belt Squat, Olympic Squat, Low Bar Squat, Front Squat....)
50-70%
3 sets
5-10 reps

2: Squat Accessory (Lunges, Split Squat, Leg Press, GM....)
3 sets
10-15 reps

3: Posterior Chain Movement (Romanian Deadlifts, Zercher Squats, GHR, Reverse Hyper...)
3 sets
10-15 reps

4: Upper Back Movement (Shrugs, Upright Row, Barbell Row, Dumbell Row....)
3 sets
10-15 reps

Be sure to eat a lot while you're on this cycle as your body will require plenty of protein and carbs to keep up with the volume. It is also important that during your accessory movements that you are lifting heavy enough weights that you fail somewhere between 10 and 15 reps on every set. If you fail at 8 every now and then that's okay, but if you fail on a set any lower than 8 then you know that you need to lower the weight. This cycle is there for muscular hypertrophy mostly so you should treat it as such. Per Dave Tate, the more experienced the lifter, the shorter the Accumulation Cycle. Basically, if you weigh 300lbs and have been lifting weights for 10 years then you probably don't need to build much more muscle than you already have but if you're a pencil neck 170lber then you definitely need to beef up. Like the great Louie Simmons says, "you can't flex bone".

At this point you can move straight into the Transmutation Mesocycle, this mesocycle is in place so that you can turn the non-specific strength you developed during the Accumulation Mesocycle into specific strength i.e. the competition lifts. This is accomplished by focusing on the competition lifts themselves obviously but also by focusing on the type of strength that you need (small bursts) and therefore, the sets will be performed in the 3-5 rep range. Here is the sample mesocycle:

Monday: Bench
1: Bench Press
70-90%
3 sets
3-5 reps

2: Pressing Movement
3 sets
5-10 reps

3: Rowing Movement
3 sets
5-10 reps

4: Triceps Movement
3 sets
5-10 reps


Tuesday: Deadlift
1: Deadlift
70-90%
3 sets
5-10 reps

2: Pull Down Variation
3 sets
5-10 reps

3: GHR, Hyperextension or Reverse Hyperextension
3 sets
5-10 reps

4: Shrug Variation
3 sets
5-10 reps

Thursday: Bench Press
1: Bench Press
70-90%
3 sets
3-5 Reps

2: Triceps Movement
3 sets
5-10 reps

3: Rowing Movement
3 sets
5-10 reps

4: Deltoid Movement
3 sets
5-10 reps

Friday: Squat
1: Squat
70-90%
3 sets
3-5 reps

2: GM Variation
3 sets
5-10 reps

3: GHR/Hyperextension/Reverse Hyperextension
3 sets
5-10 reps

4: Shrugs
3 sets
5-10 reps

The Transmutation Phase is where you start to feel very worn down. during your major lift you should be going completely balls to the wall and still be putting in a lot of work during your accessory movements. Because of this, you should follow this mesocycle with a one week deload phase where you perform your lifts but you do them nice and light and do plenty of active recovery work. This cycle is followed by the realization cycle where you drop your volume to almost nothing and hit some serious lifts. In the Accumulation and Transmutation cycles you were sewing your fields and in the Realization cycle you are reaping them.

Monday: Bench Press
1: Bench Press
90%+
3 sets
1-3 reps

2: Rowing Movement
3 sets
10-15 reps

Wednesday: Deadlift
1: Deadlift
90%+
3 sets
1-3 reps

2: Shrugs
3 sets
10-15 reps

Friday: Squat
1: Squat
90%+
3 sets
1-3 reps

2: GM
3 sets
10-15 reps

During this phase I try to get a triple with my previous one rep max. It doesn't always happen but when it does I know I have made some improvements and it makes all the work worth it. I am about to go back onto this cycle (I have been running a westside template and I hurt my shoulder from maxing out on squat every week) so hopefully it will heal well during the Accumulation Mesocycle since the weights will be easy to manage. I will update this post with the results of the cycle once I have finished.

If you have any questions regarding this article or you have something that you would like for me to write a post about, feel free to drop me a comment here or send me an email at norsemanpowerlifter@yahoo.com. For now, go lift something heavy.