4/3/17 – 5 Days Out – World’s Strongest Boilermaker Prep

All the heavy work is completely as I pull within a week of the World’s Strongest Boilermaker. I opted to take a training day out of one of Brandon’s hypertrophy programs that he wrote for me while reducing the weight that I would normally take on the sets to get some blood to my muscles and promote recovery. The breakdown of today’s training went as follows…

  • Stretch and Warm-Up
  • Lying Leg Curl (All sets completed with 10 partial reps after prescribed reps)
    • 100×10, 120×10, 140×10, 150×10
  • 45 Degree Leg Press (Worked up to heavy set of 10)
    • 570×10, 660×10, 750×10, 840×10, 930×10, 1020×10
  • Leg Extension
    • 100×10, 120×10, 140×10, 140×10
  • Walking Lunges – 3×12 (Each Leg)
  • Pull Throughs (Using Spud Strap) – 4×20
  • Calf Extensions – 4×10
  • Shin Raises – 4×10
  • Lying Leg Raises – 4×12

As a club, we traveled down to Force Barbell in Fishers, IN over the weekend in order to get our hands the equipment that we will be using this Saturday during the competition. videos of some of the fun we had can be found on the club’s social media sites including Instagram and Facebook. During my time at Force, I realized quickly that I need to make one final push to up my cardio capacity over the course of this week. I wasn’t gassed by any means but I would hate to lose an event simply because I was out of shape. If anything I want to lose because I’m simply not strong enough yet, that I can accept. Additionally, avoiding the urge to rush a movement will need to be avoided on many of these events. I had the tendency to hurry through a movement while I was practicing and some of my success suffered because of it. Aside from those items I feel very good going into the competition this weekend and look forward to seeing my teammates also do well.

For the remainder of this week I plan to hit an upper body day with a layout similar to the rep/sets in the session above. After that I am going to avoid touching weight but may get a couple of stretching and recovery days in which may involve some rolling and light cardio. The main goal at this point is to feel completely rested and ready to go come Saturday morning. I have not backed off nearly as aggressively as I would leading up to a powerlifting meet because of the unsanctioned nature of the event and the fact that it is my first time competing in this type of competition. After getting my hands on some strongman equipment last weekend, I am excited to see what my strengths and weaknesses are in this discipline. Until next time!

3/27/17 – Week 4, Day 1 – Max Effort Lower

I’m officially 12 days out from my first and last attempt at competing in the World’s Strongest Boilermaker strongman competition. I detailed out my approach to this meet and my goals in a recent post so I won’t go through the details again but long story short, this is my first time doing a strongman competition and I intend to learn as much as possible above all else. That being said, I am close enough to the meet that I am beginning to get into my last max effort days before I shut it down going into the comp. Today was the last of heavy deads and the session went as follows…

  • Stretch and Warm-Up
  • Deficit Conventional Deadlift
    • 135×5, 225×5, 275×3, 315×3, 365×3, 405×3, 425×3, 455×3, (Removed Deficit) 500×1
    • 365×5, 365×5 405×3
  • Deadlift, Paused at Knee (3 count pause)
    • 275×3, 315×3, 335×3
  • Paused Front Squat
    • 135×12, 185×10, 225×8
  • Glute-Ham Raise – 4×12
  • T-Spine Raise (Using SSB)
    • 95×20, 115×20, 135×15
  • Deep Abs on GHR – 3 Sets of 21s
  • Standing Calf Raises – 3×10
  • Dumbbell Shrugs – 3×10

Everything moved today. I won’t say that it moved explosively or fast but it all moved and felt good. For some reason I was very sore coming into the gym today in my legs, especially the hamstrings, which last week I would have blamed on being on a rocking ship during vacation but this week it almost has to be a carryover from my dynamic effort day last Friday. I will keep an eye on my recovery and with a decrease an intensity going into next week, I will be 100% on competition day barring any setback.

In other news, I have begun to read. This is something that I have secretly been beating myself over for a long time but just never seemed to pick out or pick up reading material aside from textbooks. The other day my conscious finally got the better of me and I purchased “The Vault” by Dave Tate, the owner of Elitefts. It is basically a compilation of 200 pages worth of training knowledge and tips broken up into page or half page bits of writing. So far it has been perfect to sit down whenever I have 10 or 15 minutes to spare and knock out a couple segments at a time and come away with little pointers here and there. I am sure in the near future I will be involving some items that I find helpful into some logs but for now I want to spend a little more time learning than talking. Until next time!

3/22/17 – Week 3, Day 2 – Max Effort Upper

  • Stretch and Warm-Up
  • Fat Bar Overhead Press
    • 55×5, 75×5, 95×3, 115×3, 135×3, 155×3, 165×3, 185×3
    • 165×4, 165×3
  • Close Grip Incline Bench
    • 195×10, 225×6, 195×8
  • Dumbbell Incline Press
    • 50×20, 60×17, 70×13
  • Neutral Grip Landmine Bar Row
    • 60×20, 70×20, 80×17, 90×15, 100×13
  • Reverse EZ Bar Curls – 4×12
  • Spud Strap Tricep Pushdown – 4×20
  • Wrist Curls – 4 Sets
  • Stir the Pot – 4 Sets
  • Hand-Over-Hand Rope Row – 4 Rounds

3/20/17 – Week 3, Day 1 – Max Effort Lower

With Spring Break out of the way its time to finish out my preparation for the World’s Strongest Boilermaker competition. Moving into this week I am excited to see where my strength levels are at after only being back into my offseason programming for a few weeks. There are a few things that I am focusing on during this time that I will talk about a little later but for now, here is how today’s training broke down…

  • Stretch and Warm-Up
  • SSB Box Squat
    • 45×5, 135×5, 225×5, 255×3, 275×3, 315×3, 345×3, 365×3 (PR)
    • 315×4, 315×3
  • High Bar, Narrow Stance Paused Squat
    • 185×10, 205×8, 225×6
  • Dumbbell Stiff Leg Deadlift
    • 70×12, 80×10, 80×10
  • Pull Throughs – 4×20
  • Chair Deadlift – 3×10
  • Calves – 4 Sets
  • Reverse Hypers off GHR – 4 Sets
  • Lying Leg Raises – 4×10

Breaking my SSB Box Squat PR from the first week of this cycle felt great after essentially taking a deload week over the break last week. I was on a cruise for 6 days of the week and did train 4 times but without a rack or barbell I was reduced to using dumbbells and whatever machines they had available. After the first couple of days, my hamstrings started to feel as though I had crushed them with a training session but had not yet touched my legs with any movements. After talking with a couple of the other guys, we attributed this to the rocking of the ship and its effect on our stabilizing muscles. Although I can’t prove this, I truly believe that this is the case and found it interesting. I was still slightly stiff from this upon returning and warming up for this session but some extra attention to stretching and muscle activation was all I needed to feel just fine again.

As I mentioned earlier, there are a few items I have been focusing on/learning during my prep for a strongman competition that I think are worth sharing:

  1. I suck at overhead press. I have not been benching much to see if there is a correlation between my strength increase in overhead pressing and benching but I am excited to see if building my shoulders causes my benching to jump up. Finding a major weakness always sucks but it also can be a point for major improvement if you can get through the sucking phase to a point where that weakness has been brought up.
  2. I was far behind on both my cardiovascular and muscular endurance, and still am but not as badly. To counter this I have made sure to keep my accessory work at the upper limit of the rep ranges that Brandon prescribes. I have had to swallow my pride and lower the weights that I normally more for accessories but I can feel myself finishing session in a stronger fashion giving me time to throw in some recovery movements that I would normally be too beat to attempt. For my cardio work, that easy. I’ve had to actually start running *gasp*. Its funny how if you actually attempt to build something up that it will actually improve. I’ve been adding a quarter mile to interval runs each week, 2-3 times a week, and with the weather improving will also be attempting some 300m shuttles to switch things up a bit.
  3. Most importantly, this is my first time attempting a strongman competition and I have to approach it like I would if I could redo my first powerlifting meet. I’m not coming in with the expectation of claiming first place. I am going to use this competition as a learning experience and an opportunity to have fun with my teammates in competition one last time. It has been a great run for us and the only way I can fail is if I put myself before my team and let my pride get in the way.

There are only a few weeks left to go before August 8th yet a lot of work to be done. After almost a month of travelling every weekend I am looking forward to a more normal schedule in the coming weeks. Overall, things are looking very well and I am excited for this new challenge to face. Until next time!

 

 

 

 

 

 

3/4/17 – Max Effort Lower – Week 2, Day 1

The Arnold Classic has come and gone once again and never disappoints. Once again a large group of Purdue Barbell made the trip to Columbus, OH to witness some of our heroes in action. Going to the Arnold together has become somewhat of a tradition within the group and having one of our own members competing in the XPC Powerlifting meet over there this past Friday made it even that much more special. Nic Edmondson, a Junior in the club, competed as an elite lifter on Friday morning at the competition and represented the club as well as anyone ever could. Nic has a great career ahead of him and we are very proud to call him our teammate. As for me, I was a spectator to the XPCs on Friday and then an attendee of the big expo on Saturday. During our time in Ohio, we were able to get into the Elitefts S4 Compound on Friday evening to train. It seemed like everyone you could every want to meet from the powerlifting community was there and the atmosphere was amazing. Ethan and I ended up jumping into deadlifts with Christian Anto and his training partner, Steven. I had never deadlifted against before and I think I fell in love. As soon as I am able to train in a gym that allows them you can bet that they will a regular part of my programming. As for the rest of the session, things broke down as follows…

  • Stretch and Warm-Up
  • Conventional Deadlift (vs. Chains)
    • 135x2x3, 225×5, (add 40lbs chain), 315×3, 365×3, (add 80lbs chain), 405×1, 435×1+120lbs chain, 455×1 + 120lbs chain (miss)
  • Conventional Deadlift (3 second pause at knee)
    • 225×3, 275×3, 315×3
  • Belt Squat
    • 225×12, 315×12, 365×12
  • Wide Stance Hack Squat
    • 185x4x20
  • Back Attack Upper Back Extension – 3×12
  • Hanging Leg Raises – 4×10

If you listen to the video you can hear Christian yelling ques at me and I cannot thank him enough for taking time out of his own training to help me. You will never find an Elitefts athlete that is not willing to drop everything at a moments notice to epitomize their company motto: Live, Learn, Pass On. This is what makes this company such an incredible organization and why they will continue to succeed. I can only hope that I grow to show the same character traits in my own life as their athletes do.

As for my current position in training, I will in fact be competing in the World’s Strongest Boilermaker competition on April 8th. This gives me a little over a month until I have to be ready to go. To prepare for this I have had Brandon modify my programming slightly to reflect the movements that I will be doing for the events. Not much is really changing except that I am overhead pressing instead of max effort benching on the odd training weeks and hitting a lot more incline bench work than normal. This will be my first time competing in strongman and I’m honestly doing it mostly to have a good time with my teammates. That being said, I am taking this seriously and will do what I need to in order to perform well on meet day. To make this happen I will be traveling to Force Barbell a couple times so that I can practice using strongman equipment. I am feeling really good even having just competed 2 weeks ago. Spring Break 2017 is coming up this next week which will me to focus on training and recovery that much more. Having this new challenge to take down has me that much more excited for training and I look forward to trying something new for a few weeks. Until next time!

RPS Mafia Mayhem: Meet Write-Up

My final powerlifting meet with Purdue Barbell is in the books and the feeling is bittersweet to say the least. Looking back over 7 semesters, it seems like yesterday I was traveling to Cleveland, OH for my first meet. I squatted 425lbs that day and nearly bombed out after only hitting my final attempt. Fast forward to 3 1/2 years later and I am the president of this club, watching my teammates wrap each others knees and break all time club records. We have come a long way from 10-20 students who just wanted to be the strongest around to a self-sustaining organization with an amazing network of coaches and mentors who make us better than we could ever be as individuals.

Travel, Weigh-Ins, and Pre-Meet Action

This past weekend we competed in our team powerlifting meet for the semester. We chose the RPS Mafia Mayhem meet in Louisville, KY this time around. I decided after long debate to cut down to the 242 weight class once again after not competing at that weight since a year ago in the Spring. Long story short, I made weight on Friday morning and used the rest of the day to rest and get some calories back into my body. Most of our teammates and family that came down to compete or cheer us on got into town Friday during the day. We all ate up, shared some laughs, and got plenty of rest in preparation for Saturday’s lifting.

Squats

The day began at 9am when the first flight began their squat attempts. There were a little over 70 lifters signed up for this meet so we knew starting out that it was going to be a long day. For squats, the flights took almost exactly an hour per and with 4 flights for each lift, I did not begin warming up until around 11am. I took my first squat attempt of the day at about noon. My attempts went as follows…

Opener: 518 (Good)

Second: 523 (Good)

Third: 556 (Good)

My opener, for some reason, felt like a third. It moved very slowly and was a grind from the hole all the way to the top. Because of this, I only made a five pound jump for my second attempt. I have watched and re-watched the video of my first lift and I still have absolutely no idea what I did wrong but I went on to absolutely smoke my second attempt. I was now stuck in a spot where I was hitting my groove with squat but had to take a huge jump to hit a new PR. I chose to take the jump and walked away 3/3 on squats with a 5 pound all-time PR at 556lbs.

Bench

Anyone who has followed my progress as a powerlifter knows that the bench press is by far the lift that I struggle with the most, especially on meet days. That being said, I have made great strides with this over the past year and knew I was good for a PR last weekend. I opened a little more aggressively than normal and decded to make small jumps in order to get as much out of my presses as possible. Although I missed my third attempt, I did manage to set a 6lb PR with my second lift. My attempts went as follows…

Opener: 314 (Good)

Second: 325 (Good)

Third: 330 (Miss)

Deadlift

This one is a little harder to talk about but its all part of the day so I need to go over it. Going into deadlift I was dragging. I began my warm ups at around 6:30pm and tried to get myself going for one last round of lifts. During warm ups I was feeling good and the weights were moving like I felt they should. I even took a last warm up which was closer to my opener than normal just to make sure I was going to kill my first attempt. I did in fact kill my opener but that is where the good news ends. During my second lift, my left hip cramped and pulled with the bar right below my knees and I wasn’t able to recover from the slip up. I took the weight again but it was a no go. This was very disappointing for me considering that my deadlift is usually my best event for the day. My pulls went as follows…

Opener: 528

Second: 556

Third: 556

Conclusion

Put simply, this meet was in fact a success. I walked away with two new PRs on the squat and bench as well as a PR total for myself in the 242 weight class. Although there are a couple of attempts I wish I had one more shot at I have to look back at this experience and realize that I did in fact accomplish my goals. As I had said a few weeks before meet day, my first priority for this meet was to have fun and enjoy the company of my teammates around me. Years from now when I look back on my last meet with Purdue Barbell I am not going to remember my exact total or how the lifts felt but what I will remember is the moments I shared with good friends. Now its time to enjoy this milestone and start getting geared up for the World’s Strongest Boilermaker competition in April. More training and updates to come shortly, but for now I’m going to catch up on my sleep and calories. Until next time!

2/10/17 – Dynamic Effort Lower

As Christian Anto mentioned to me yesterday, “The last few days of training before a meet are bittersweet, aren’t they.” Winding down a meet prep cycle does in fact have a weird feeling to it. For the past 5 weeks I have been ramping up to the heaviest weight I have had on my back since at least the previous meet and then, right as you are feeling as strong as ever, the weights go from 100 to 0. That is how today was for me, everything moved very well from warm ups to my last set of abs but with the lack of work I had on the schedule today it just seemed too easy. It will all pay off next weekend when it is time to bring all of it and more to the platform but when you have been training and conditioning yourself for months to push a little harder or go a little farther, sessions like this just leave you wanting more. The session went as follows…

  • Stretch and Warm-Up
  • Speed Squat (vs. Elitefts Pro Average Bands)
    • 275x6x2
  • Speed Deadlift (vs. Elitefts Short Average Bands)
    • 285x4x1
  • Band Leg Curl (vs. Elitefts Pro Light Band)
    • 3×20
  • Band Ab Pulldowns (vs. Elitefts Pro Light Band)
    • 3×15

On the bright side, I was able to get down to NBS Fitness in Memphis, TN to lift today. Getting to see Christian and David Allen is always a pleasure and having them around for training is a god send. I even got to take my final speed squats of meet prep out of a mono and get used to setting up correctly. These last two weeks of prep everything has fallen together nearly complete and all that is left is to rest, recover, and make weight for this meet. Yes, I have chosen to once again compete at 242 and will be starting my water cut on Sunday. A couple of diet changes has had the weight falling off by the day over the past week and so far this has been the easiest cut of my life. I have learned a lot from cutting down in the past and it is showing this time around. Keep an eye out for video and write-up coming out post meet day. My openers are set, the hotel is booked, and my teammates and I are ready to show them what we got once again. All aboard the gain train, lets do this. Until next time!

2/6/17 – Max Effort Lower – 12 Days Out

12 days until the meet and the days are flying by even faster now that this final day of max effort work is complete. In total I plan to only have 4 more training sessions before hitting the platform, two dynamic days and two active recovery days. As for today’s training, after a fairly dissappointing deadlift day two weeks ago, every attempt I took moved faster than I’ve ever felt it move. All my pulls as well as the rest of the work today went as follows…

  • Stretch and Warm-Up
  • Deadlift
    • 135×3, 225×3, 315×2, 405×1, 455×1
    • Last Warm Up: 495×1
    • Opener: 525×1
    • Second: 545 (4″ Blocks)
  • Bent Over Rows
    • 95×15, 115×15, 135×15
  • Dumbbell Shrugs
    • 80×20, 90×20, 95×20
  • Glute-Ham Raise – 3 Sets to Failure
  • Planks – 3×60 seconds

My top full rep of my day is my projected opener for the meet, the 525 pull in the video above. At first, I was feeling like my pulls weren’t as good as they have been in the past during preps. After looking at my old logs though, I realized that I am pulling more weight more times than ever before and will be opening 20 pounds heavier than last meet.This coupled with my success on he squat and bench over the past 5 weeks has me stoked for meet day and more anxious than ever to see what I am capable of. While I’m on the subject, here is what my openers on meet day are looking like…

Squat: 515

Bench: 315

Deadlift: 525

I am very proud of where I am at with my training, despite have a few roadblocks pop up here and there. Like I said to my teammates the other day, this is my last powerlifting meet as a member with Purdue Barbell. I have competed 6 times before this and will have competed every semester that I have been a member of the club. I have gone from an ex-high school football player that had lost his purpose for training, to the president of this organization surrounded by wonderful, smart teammates who all push me to be at the top of my game everyday.

I am not going to get an elite total at this meet, I am not going to set any records of significance or walk away as the best overall lifter. Don’t get me wrong, all of those things will happen one day. Lord willing, I will one day be able to realize these goals. But for this meet, my goal is to enjoy one last big one with my guys and gals. To watch them succeed as members of this organization that I have had the pleasure to leave a mark on. The goal for this meet is to best my personal records and to help my teammates do the same in whatever way I can. As long as that is my focus, this will be a day to remember and one I’m sure will stick with me for a long time.

Now that all that gooey crap is out, its time to start the recovery work. For those interested, spoiler alert, I woke up at 11lbs over 242. It looks like ol’ Josh might have one last meet at 242 in him. Until next time!

2/4/17 – Max Effort Upper – 14 Days Out

  • Stretch and Warm-Up
  • Bench Press
    • 45×5, 95×5, 135×3, 185×3, 225×2, 255×1,
    • Last Warm Up: 285×1
    • Opener: 315×1
    • Second: 330×1 (2 Board)
  • Dumbbell Bench Press
    • 50×20, 55×20, 60×20
  • Lat Pulldown
    • 100×20, 120×20, 140×20
  • Band Flys (Using Elitefts Pro Light Bands) – 50 Reps
  • Band Pressdowns (Using Elitefts Pro Light Band) – 50 Reps
  • Band Pull Aparts (Using Elitefts Pro Monster Mini Band) – 100 Reps
  • Lying Leg Raises – 3×12

1/30/16 – Max Effort Lower – 3 Weeks Out

The last heavy squats of this meet prep are in the books and I could not be happier. This morning, Ethan Lenn, Austin Elpers, and I got up and to the corec bright and early to get into our wraps for openers, seconds, and thirds. After a shaky first attempt at my possible opener at 515, I settled into the competition groove and nailed the rest of my reps. Below are the weights which I took this morning…

  • Stretch and Warm-Up
  • Squat
    • 45×5, 135×3, 225×3, 275×2, 315×1 (added belt), 365×1, 405×1, 445×1
    • Last Warm Up: 485×1 (added Elitefts 2.5m Krait Knee Wraps)
    • Opener: 515x2x1 (Added Elitefts 60cm Juniper Wrist Wraps)
    • Second: 535×1
    • Third (w/ Reverse Elitefts Pro Mini Bands): 555×1

There was supposed to be a few accessory exercises to be completed after squatting today but with time constraints creeping in on us to get to class, we went ahead and packed up after squats. To put it into perspective, we arrived at the rec at 7:50am and I finished the last squat at 10:05am. That is just how it goes when you have three guys squatting, two of whom are being wrapped for 5 of the reps each by one poor soul. While I’m on the topic I would like to give a huge shout-out to Austin for waking up early and coming to the gym with us primarily just to wrap our knees. Powerlifting is a team sport and do not let anyone tell you different. Ethan and I would not be able to do the things we have done and well as we have done them if not for the great members of Purdue Barbell that surround us such as Austin.

Now for a quick mid-prep update on how I feel the next three weeks will go. I have already knocked out both Max Effort days for this week which leaves me with 8 sessions to go before meet day; 2 this week, 4 next week, and 2 the final week. I am currently sitting at about 261lbs body weight meaning that I am 14 pounds underweight for the 275lb weight class and 19 pounds overweight for the 242lb weight class. I have already began cleaning up my diet but I have yet to decide whether I am going all in to make 242 one last time for my final meet with Purdue Barbell. For this week, my plan is to stick to my diet adjustments and monitor how my body responds. If the pounds fall off easily and I feel good then I will consider making the cut, if I harden up and the weight doesn’t move then I will continue my nutrition plan and go into meet day at whatever weight my body feels best at. I have one more heavy deadlifting day that I NEED to nail my reps in because of my piss pour performance last week and another heavy bench day which I am not nearly as concerned for because of my success with pressing thus far. Overall this prep has gone 90% right with just one or two hiccups but after today, I have all the confidence in the world that my PRs will fall come meet day. Thank you to everyone that has been supporting me during this prep and also to everyone that is coming out to watch Purdue Barbell compete in 3 weeks. Until next time!