Powerlifting: Emerging Strategies an Interview with Mike Tuchscherer

By Gaby Muller

At universities as ongoing coaches we typically get taught the various periodization models and get advised to strictly follow those types of top-down plannings. Is it really beneficial to plan out an entire year in advance? Where does individualization come into play? In a recent conversation that I had with Mike Tuchscherer, the founder of Reactive Training Systems and the man who gave bottom-up planning the name of Emerging Strategies, shared his story as a coach and his modern view on programming- and his answers were surprising.

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The Ecstasy of Agony: Why a Life of Physical Striving is More Fulfilling

By: Nathaniel Hancock

Photo by @hippyshots on IG

It’s not rocket science that human beings prefer pleasure to pain. Sigmund Freud called this phenomenon (originally laid out in Epicureanism) the pleasure principle. In short, not only do we seek pleasure to satisfy our needs, Freud argued, but we also work towards avoiding pain in our day-to-day experience.

On the surface, Freud’s logic makes sense. After all, who doesn’t prefer a hot chocolate by the fire to stepping on legos or slipping on ice? But at a deeper level, it’s not irrational to embrace a certain degree of targeted hardship and even pain to unlock the rewards of joyful achievement that go beyond mere pleasure. In this vein, Hungarian-American psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi stated in 1990:

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By: Nathaniel Hancock

“Each new chapter of our lives requests an old part of us to fall and a new part of us to rise.”

-Jenna Galbut

               After meticulous preparation and arduous lifting over many months, I was two weeks away from setting personal bests across the board at my upcoming powerlifting meet in Boise, Idaho. For the first time after nearly a decade of training, I was poised to take over the number one slot in my weight and age category nationwide. The moment came for my heaviest deadlift single (one rep) in the gym, and I was feeling strong and determined. With 575 lbs. on the bar, my previous best in this lift, I was excited to witness my progress and boost my confidence going into the meet by annihilating this weight. I approached the bar with purpose and drive: it moved quickly off the floor until just before lockout, and then — “POP!” — my left biceps detached from the elbow bone as my tendon ruptured. In the space of a nanosecond, I was transported from a place of intense confidence and elation to one of utter heartbreak and disappointment. I sat down in a sea of sadness in the middle of Ironground gym in Murray, Utah, and pondered on what had just transpired. For several minutes I did not know where I was; I was lost.

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Physician, Heal Thyself:

Learned lessons in toughness and self care from a literal hole in my heart

Author: Kris Hunt

Insta-therapy is a weird place. I say “insta-therapy”, but really I mean “popular culture” therapy. There’s always a new push for a new catchphrase and then a counter movement for the opposite one. For example, co-dependency was once considered a bad thing to have in relationships. Now, some therapists say good relationships are meant to be co-dependent because the co-dependency movement just caused people to isolate themselves. “Inner child” work is a thing now, but it is probably causing people to push their parents away and lose out on meaningful relationships with them. Well, what the hell is the answer then?

I bring this up because there is a big “resiliency” movement right now in popular culture. If you just expand your capacity for resilience, you can handle life. This seems to be getting closer to reality in terms of how to cope and continue to grow. We see this concept in powerlifting all the time – build up your tank, work on your capacity, grind through some harder reps, and your strength will increase. Of course there are exceptions to this in powerlifting – injuries are the obvious – but also life circumstances: birth of a child, death of a parent/spouse/etc, divorce, mental illness, and the list goes on. These chip away at your work capacity and your ability to handle intensity, but if you have a baseline tank to draw from, you probably can work your way back into some quality training when the obstacle is over.

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Nine for Nine: Ingredients for the Perfect Meet

Written By: Nathaniel Hancock

Photo By: Photo by Maren Ingrid of MRNtography

Last week at the USA Powerlifting SLP Classic in Salt Lake City, something extraordinary
occurred: I relaxed.

In my first meet under Reactive Training Systems (RTS) coach Mike Tuchsherer, I hit all my lifts,
including weights I had never even tried in training. I achieved four lifetime Personal Bests (PBs)
at age 44, breaking into the top ten all-time tested performances worldwide for my weight and
age. What’s more, all third attempts felt fast and effortless.

Looking back over my competitive lifting career, it took seven years of powerlifting training and
five years of competing for me to secure my first nine-for-nine day (in 2018). It did not have to
be thus.

The mistakes I made in earlier meets range from the comical (chalk on thighs) to the careless
(jumping the rack command) to the technical (squat depth). It is my belief that mistakes –
provided we learn from them – can be blessings in disguise.

At the height of the COVID pandemic in 2020, I wrote about the Ingredients of the Perfect
Training Session
for Kabuki Strength. What follows is a related reflection detailing what goes
into generating our best meet performances.

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Technique must be challenged

There are levels to good technique. And what you have to do to make it better changes as you develop.

When you say the phrase “technique work” to most powerlifters, it conjures images of light training with a focus on body positioning. Perhaps even with an exaggerated slow tempo. And that’s fine for a basic competency in technical execution, but that’s about all.

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A Lifters Journey to Becoming Multi-Dimensional

By Coach Ross Leppala

This is a story about how a bench press specialist became a well-rounded powerlifter with a growing total.

Edward Narayan has been working with RTS for many years now.  In the beginning, he was one of our Guided Programming lifters.  After some time of following along with that program, he upgraded to All Access Coaching in October 2019 to work with me, coach Ross Leppala.  Ed is 38 years old and competes in the 140 kg weight class with over 10 years of powerlifting experience.  His day job has him working in IT services before hitting the gym for training.  

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Bending Emerging Strategies Rules for Competition Prep – Case Study

By RTS Coach Adam Jones

Case Study – Athlete Clinton Lee
Clinton is an international powerlifter who competes in the u74kg open category for Singapore. Clinton has been competing in Powerlifting for 8 years, competing in three weight classes from u93kg to u83kg and now as an u74kg. Clinton’s accolades include a silver medal overall at the 2018 IPF Open Classic Worlds in the u74kg weight class and he is currently the highest-ranked men’s lifter in the Asian Powerlifting Federation (IPF).

Clinton has been working with me for over a year now. Previously his training was mostly block periodization with very high specificity. His blocks were typically 3-4 weeks long, increasing intensity leading into competition and tapering in a typical block periodize fashion.

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You DON’T Have “Plenty of Time”


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You DON’T Have “Plenty of Time”
By Mike Tuchscherer

I’ll never forget my first 800-lbs deadlift in competition. Prior to it, I was still relatively unknown in the powerlifting world. I’d won a Jr. World championship, but I’d bombed out of four (4!) other national level meets. It was well before Facebook (at least for me) and unless you were paying attention, I was easy not to notice. It was 2007. I had recently left the collegiate ranks and I was looking for a meet and I found one in Hemet, California. Read more…

How I added 129lbs to my total in 2 blocks

It sounds unbelievable. I can scarcely believe it myself. But here’s how it went down.

If you would like to see the full program in it’s entirety, check out the Program Library inside RTS Training Lab. Full details, additional information, support for modifications, and deployment for yourself/your athletes is all available.
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