5 Things I Learned at Westside
By Blaine Sumner, 26 September 2017
[Note from Mike: Blaine will be teaching a class for RTS Classroom starting October 5. The class will cover how Blaine sets up training for himself and his athletes as well as keys for great execution — which is probably the most important part. For a full lesson list and registration information, click here]
I am Blaine Sumner, IPF World Champion, World Record holder in the Squat, Bench, and Total…….. and I…….. went to Westside.
Over the past few years, I have been pleased with my progress on some lifts, and not on others. I would try to change things from cycle to cycle, but always found myself working my way back into the same rut and same routine that I have for a few years. I would try to program in some different traits, and somehow always worked my way back to what I knew. These patterns are important and I go through them every few years. In 2012 I began working with Mike Tuchscherer on high frequency training and it opened my eyes to a new style of training and the knowledge I gained from communicating with Mike set me years ahead of where I would have been otherwise. So it was time for a new quantum leap in my training and I traveled to Columbus, Ohio to visit the godfather of powerlifting, Louie Simmons, in his mecca, Westside Barbell. Read more…
Project Momentum 17-1 Results
By Mike Tuchscherer
Project Momentum 17-1 Post Project Analysis
I’ve often heard people suggest that the number of reps you can do with 80% loads is indicative both of fiber type distribution and how you should train to see the most progress. The fiber type distribution claim wasn’t so interesting to me as a coach, but the training claim was. More specifically, the claim as I came across it was something like this:
Lifters who can do low reps with 80% of 1RM are fast-twitch dominant and therefore should train with low reps per set. That will allow them to progress the fastest.
I am aware of some studies looking at whether reps-at-a-given-percentage correlate to a fiber type distribution, but again, I’m much more interested in performance. And I wasn’t able to find anything that tested the claim underlined above. So we sought to test it in a practical setting.
What did we find?
First, a bit about the basic setup…. Read more…
Case Studies in Powerlifting — Tim Thomas
by Brady Stewart
Sport: Powerlifting – Bench Press Specialist
Hometown: Belleville, IL
Training Location: The Belleville Weightlifting Club (BWC) (Belleville, IL)
Competing in powerlifting since 1998 in the USAPL and non-sanctioned events, but is currently a Bench Press Specialist
Best Competition Total: 1590 (2004 Ozark Open)
Best Competition Bench Press: 450 (2009 Bluegrass Open)
Past Injuries: 2005 Torn Tendon in right shoulder and right hip injury
Goals: To bench over 500 pounds in 2010 and try to rank in top 20 nationally in 275 Open Bench
Hammer Thrower Turned Powerlifter
by Josh Rohr
Michelle Stark was an All-American Hammer and Weight Thrower for Ashland University under the watchful eye of her coach, 4x Olympian Jud Logan. She graduated in 2009 and decided to give powerlifting a try. In only her 4th powerlifting meet ever, she became the 2010 IPF Junior World Silver Medalist in the 90kg class, barely missing her 3rd deadlift of 512.6 lbs for the win.
Michelle came to me after she graduated college and said she wanted to give powerlifting a try. She had experience with the squat, bench and deadlift because they were performed frequently in Coach Logan’s program at A.U. She was already really strong but her technique was not optimal for a powerlifter and we would eventually modify all three. When she came to me about powerlifting, it was only about 6 weeks away from the meet so our preparation time was limited and changing too many things was not a good idea. The first meet she wanted to do was the 2009 USAPL Georgia and Southern States. Her initial goal when she came in was to go to Women’s Nationals and try and make the Junior World Team. Because of this, we decided to basically train though the meet because she was strong enough coming in to hit the qualifying total without getting in gear.
The training template for this meet was high frequency, medium volume, low intensity because we needed to spend a lot of time performing the lifts to IPF standards. This allowed her to Squat/Bench and Deadlift frequently without overtraining. This also allowed her to put her focus on doing certain things right like pushing the knees out, sitting back, driving her legs in the bench etc. without having to get too focused on the heavy weight. This paid off in a big way, not in the short term but down the road, especially once we got in gear. At the meet, she went 8/9, only missing her 3rd bench press of 198 lbs while qualifying for women’s nationals @ 181, only weighing 176. Read more…
In January 2016, RTS issued a free experimental training program to anyone who signed up. It was called Project Momentum. At the outset, we were pretty sure the protocol would work, but we had no idea how well or for whom. It worked better than expected. This article is an attempt to digest some of the information, learn some lessons, and become better coaches and lifters in the process.
Why did I write this? Well, a cursory view of the statistics showed that the training worked. So why did I spend a huge amount of time crunching all these other numbers? Initially it was because I wanted to know what type of lifter was best suited for this type of training strategy. But what I ended up learning was much more about how to tailor strategies for all my lifters, whether they are suited for this particular strategy or not. I also gained some statistical backing for some things I’ve had a feeling about for a while now (i.e. the importance of the subjective TRAC questions, etc).
A quick word on the limitation of it being an online, self-report project… Yes, this is a limitation in the sense of us trying to learn biological truths. But I coach people in an online setting, so this is actually much closer to applicable information than it would have been had I walked each individual through the training in person. You can read more about the limitations in the dedicated section near the end.
The Training Program
Project Momentum was based on a high frequency model. Each of the four training sessions per week consisted of all three powerlifting style competition movements. In addition, each day also had emphasis items that added additional volume or intensity to some of the lifts. Sometimes it was via heavy singles in the competitive lifts. Other times it was via assistance or supplemental lifts.
The assistance and supplemental lifts were chosen based on where the majority of raw lifters show weaknesses. Also factored into the decisions was equipment availability. Since this program was executed in a decentralized way with varying gym equipment, we limited our exercise selection to only the most commonly available pieces for Powerlifters. If a lifter could not perform one of the lifts for any reason, substitutions were recommended by the coaching staff via the Project Momentum Facebook group.
There was an overall linearity in the periodization of the mesocycle. The beginning of the training was at a higher volume and lower intensity than the end of the training. The training mesocycle spanned seven loading weeks, plus one “meet week” where the athletes tapered and then performed a practice competition.
Including the written program in its entirety probably wouldn’t work in this article due to the length, but for the sake of understanding, I’ve included a sample training week below. This is the third week of the loading block:
IPF Masters World Champion and world record holder in the 83kg class (50 years old). Then comes back to set a PR in every lift and improve his total by 40kg at Raw Nationals a couple months later. What’s his secret?
When Laddie came to work with us at RTS back in February of 2015, he already had an extensive training history (since 1987). You can find out more about Laddie and his twin brother Troy – who is also a Masters World Champ and world record holder – on our Podcast. So our job at this point in Laddie’s career is to hone and peak rather than teach and develop. So with that unique position in mind, let’s discuss how we adapted Laddie’s training.
We used a similar training strategy for Laddie both in prep for his world-record-setting performance in Finland, and then again to exceed those marks a few months later at Raw Nationals. In June, his lifts were 220/170/245/635 (kilos of course). By October, he had improved beyond those marks to 230/180/265/675. That’s a 40kg (88 pounds) improvement on his (already world record) total in just over 3 months.
In the beginning of working with Laddie, we were simply looking to get established on a productive training regimen, so we opted for a 3-day-per-week training template. My thinking was that this provides a good starting point so we can avoid any potential recovery issues. If Laddie was recovering easily, we could just turn up the frequency. However if we started too high, there would be more steps in getting training stress back under control. When he responded quite well to this level of frequency, we kept it. This leaves another tool in our toolbox for later as well.
The driving force behind all of his strength development would be training of the competition lifts. The competition style squat, bench, and deadlift would be trained at least once per week, with more work targeting assistance and supplemental movements. Intensities for the contest lifts were kept fairly high. In the beginning of a training cycle, they would start about 80% and then gradually increase in waves up to 92-95%. The overall pattern of intensity was linear, but it came and went in waves.
All of Laddie’s training was done using an RPE system to auto-regulate the weight on the bar. This way, on good days he could use heavier weights. On bad days, he could reduce the weight to an appropriate level. His main lifts were trained by working up to an 8 RPE and repeating this load for multiple additional sets. The volumes I required from him were quite brutal, but recovery was managed via auto-regulation as well as the 3x frequency template (more on recovery later).
Laddie’s assistance work targeted the bottom of the squat and the bench – typical problem areas for raw powerlifters. We did very little assistance work for Laddie’s deadlift, which had a propensity to beat up his hips. For the squat, this meant lots of 2ct Pause Squats and Pin Squats. Laddie loved the pause squats saying, “I had never really done Pause Squats consistently. Pause Squats played a big role.” Well, maybe “loved” is the wrong word, but he definitely felt they made a big impact on his squatting performance. Squats with chains were done toward the end of his training cycles. For the bench, we used various pause lengths as well as pin pressing, touch-and-go benching, feet up bench, close grip benching, etc. Again, intensities stayed fairly high – there was less 80% stuff than for the main lift, but less 90%+ work too. RPE’s were again around 8 with lots of volume.
Supplemental movements were rotated and varied a lot more than other slots. For the lower body, lunges, SSB Squats, Good Mornings, more pause squats, and 303 Tempo squats were all included at various times for various periods. For the deadlift, lots of rows and some Stiff Leg Deadlifts were the bulk of the movement selections. When it came to benching it was Dips, DB Bench, and lots of close grip partial pressing (such as pin press and board press) to develop triceps strength. All movements were rotated regularly, but when trained, were done at a fairly high intensity (say 80% +/- 5%). RPE’s for these movements were typically higher (9 RPE) and volume was lower.
As we came into each peaking phase, the general intensity of all the work would rise just as you’d expect it to. But then we would also begin incorporating heavy-ish singles into his training. Some weeks it would be just x1 @8. Other weeks it would be x1 @8 and x1 @9. They were always followed by down sets afterward. This was done to provide a highly specific stimulus as we approached competition. It also helped Laddie hone his competition skills, practice commands, and in general focus on the coming contest.
When it comes to recovery, the volumes were managed in such a way that recovery was possible on most training weeks. But other weeks would be “high stress” weeks where we would intentionally do more volume than Laddie was able to tolerate. To balance this out, we planned deload weeks after every 3-4 week long training block. Laddie’s deadlift in particular seemed sensitive to this and needed some deloading. He is a sumo deadlifter, so all the volume that I required on the deadlift pushed his hips and adductors to the limit. As such, every three weeks or so, Laddie would skip sumo deadlifts, usually replacing them with conventional deadlifts. This allowed him to continue getting in some pulling practice without continuing to tax his hips and adductors.
Particularly when training for Raw Nationals, Laddie credits lots of his improved health and recovery to his daily stretching regimen. Every day (sometimes twice a day) he would stretch whatever seemed tight and sore for 15-30 minutes. Most times his focus seemed to be on the upper body – particularly chest and shoulders. Laddie told me, “This was the first time I was able to bench press with no shoulder pain at all. [Stretching] helped me with both [recovery and avoiding injuries]. This was the first time I had no major injuries.” This is huge – especially for a masters lifter!
As was mentioned earlier, the result of all this work that Laddie put in was a world-record setting performance at IPF Classic Worlds in Finland. Then only a few months later, he exceeded all of those marks by 40kg total at USAPL Raw Nationals in Scranton, Pennsylvania.
After Nationals, we’ve changed up Laddie’s training quite extensively in an effort to keep him healthy and strong. This short restoration phase will be followed up by more loading phases, but the strategy is ever-adapting. Future cycles should allow for better recovery and improved stress management so Laddie can continue to set World Records for years to come. Just like with all our lifters – Laddie’s training has been unique. The general principles are constant, but how they take shape into a training program is not.
|About the Author
Mike Tuchscherer is the owner and head coach at RTS. He has been powerlifting since 2001 and since has traveled all over the world for competitions. In 2009, he was the first man from USA powerlifting to win a gold medal at the World Games – the highest possible achievement in powerlifting. He has coached over a dozen competitors at the world championships, a score of national champions, and multiple world record holders.
While being relatively new to the sport of powerlifting, Mike Garozzo is not your typical newcomer. He has racked up an impressive total in a very short amount of time. This interview was done back in April 2015 and a lot has happened since then. Mike competed at the RPS Heatwave meet held in Long Island, NY on July 12th totaling 1675lbs raw without knee wraps at 198lbs bodyweight and later competed at the 2015 USAPL Raw Nationals in Scranton, PA placing 7th in the open division with a 1642lbs total. Here is a look at Mike’s progress over his brief career:
|1st meet:||Nov 2012: 390,240,500||1130 @ 181 total w/ wraps|
|2nd meet:||Nov 2013: 500,290,560||1350 @ 181 total w/ wraps|
|3rd meet:||July 2014: 535,325,640||1500 @ 181 total (no wraps)|
|4th meet:||Feb 2015: 540,341,678||1560 @ 181 total (no wraps)|
|RPS Heatwave:||July 2015: 620,355,700||1675 @ 198 total (no wraps)|
|2015 USAPL Raw Nationals:||Oct 2015: 611,353,678||1642 @ 204 total (no wraps)|
RTS: How did you get into powerlifting and eventually start working with Mike?
Mike Garozzo: I got into lifting through a weight loss contest at work. I used p90x and a strict diet to win it… by a lot. I’m right around 5’10” and my body gains and loses weight very easily. I went from a chubby 195 lbs to an extremely lean 152 lbs. Once that was over, I realized that I needed to build some muscle because I was tiny, but I had no real weight training experience to this point. I started researching and realized strength training was the way to go, at the time StrongLifts 5×5 caught my attention and I started with that. I started SL 5×5 in February 2012 and I started with Mike in December 2013. RTS and Mike were brought to my attention when someone posted on one of my training videos on YouTube about him. After reading everything on the RTS website I knew I wanted to work with Mike and give RTS a shot, I’ve never looked back since. Read more…