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!

1/4/16 – Week 4, Day 2 – Chest/Shoulders

This volume program keeps moving right along and brings me to the final chest/shoulder day before I start my meet prep next week. Technically, I am 7 weeks out from the RPS Mafia Mayhem meet that we will be competing in and I am very ready to start moving bigger weights in preparation for the platform. I have been enjoying the amount of incline and dumbbell work that this program contains. Taking this time to focus on building muscle groups instead of individual lifts has allowed my little nagging aches heal up and, in my opinion, has my bench feeling better than it ever has. I look forward to a great inprovement on the bench press come meet day. Today’s training went as follows…

  • Stretch and Warm-Up
  • Slightly Inclined Dumbbell Bench
    • 85x3x8, 90x2x8
  • Incline Bench Press
    • 185×8, 205×8, 225×8, 245×7
  • Machine Press – 3×8
  • Dips – 2 Sets (10 Reps, 11 Reps)
  • Rear Delt Raises – 3×25
  • Lateral Raises – 3×10
  • Machine Overhead Press – 95×10, 115×10, 135×10
  • Band Pull Aparts – 3 AMRAP Sets
  • Ab Wheel Rollouts – 4×10
  • Deficit Pushups – 3×12

For the rest of this week, I am not sure if I am going to finish out the final back day and arm day of this program. On the one hand I would like to finish all of the training days, but on the other it may be beneficial for me to take a small deload from the gym until I jump into heavier weights once met prep begins next week. I believe it will just have to be a day to day decision as to what I feel is the best move for me in order to begin meet prep at 100%. The current goals from now until meet day is train as hard as possible and smartly as possible meaning to gain as much strength as possible while also avoiding injury. For now I will rest up and begin preparing both mentally and physically for a great run these next six weeks. Until next time!

12/20/16 – Volume Chest/Shoulders – Week 2, Day 2

I managed to set some PRs today? But Josh how can you be setting PRs while running a volume program? I’m so confused, you’re supposed to be recovering…

All this is true but unless you have ran a program by Brandon before it would be hard to explain. Brandon Smitley is great at throwing in something just heavy enough to feel like you’re powerlifting while simultaneously giving you a pump that splits the skin and brings the veins out to play. Today just happened to have a couple different pressing movements programmed in that allowed me to set some higher rep PRs and made me feel like I may not have a poverty bench at the February meet. Training today went as follows…

  • Stretch and Warm-Up
  • Machine Press
    • 100×25, 125×20, 150×15, 175×10
  • Incline Bench
    • 185×5, 205×5, 225×5, 245×5, 255×5 (PR)
  • Bench Press
    • 185×8, 225×8, 245×8, 275×6 (PR)
  • Seated Lateral Raises – 4×10
  • Dumbbell Rear Delt Flys – 4×25
  • Overhead Press
    • 95×6, 115×6, 135×6
  • Situps – 4×20

To put these PRs into perspective, looking at my PR book after this session, I did not have a previous PR for either of these lifts at these rep schemes so its already a personal record. However, my current PR for incline bench at 3 reps is also 255 which means that next offseason I need to blow that SOB out of the water. As for the regular bench press, I was supposed to get that last set for 8 full reps according to the program but instead of making the safe 20lb jump which I’m sure I would have nailed, I got greedy and went all the way to 275. Although this is a PR simply because I never do bench press for 6 reps (or 8 reps for that matter) I need to watch this in during the rest of this volume cycle to make sure I’m getting all my reps/sets in.  Only a back and arm workout left to go this week and then I am already half way through this volume program. Until next time!

12/19/16 – Volume Legs – Week 2, Day 1

This volume program keeps moving right along with week 2 of 4 beginning today. After completing the first week, it does seem like I am adjusting to the increase in volume rather well. This, coupled with the fact that I am on break from classes has really allowed me to get the most out of these longer, more intense training sessions. Today’s volume leg workout looked like this…

  • Stretch and Warm-Up
  • Seated Leg Curls – 3×10 + 2 Drop Sets
  • Hack Squat
    • 45×8, 135×8, 185×8, 225×8, 275×8, 315×8, 225×10
  • Leg Press
    • 230×15, 270×15, 320×15, 320×10, 320×7
  • Leg Extension – 3×12
  • Walking Lunges – 3×10
  • Pull Thrus – 3×15
  • Calf Raises – 4×10
  • Stir the Pot – 3×20

Thankfully there were no sets of 20 on squat today but I am confident that I would have been much more prepared for it today if it would have been programmed so. It is amazing what a week of conditioning and good nights rest can do for you. I am very happy that I chose this program to run during this four week stretch because although it is technically a hypertrophy program, the rep ranges on the bigger movements stays low enough that I am sure I will get a decent carryover to my competition lifts when meet prep hits. Having a day specific for the back has also given me a great opportunity to build up a huge weakness that I have for the bench press as well as rehab my lower spine/SI joint issues.

I plan to get slightly ahead in my training schedule leading up to the end of this 4 week run so that I will have around a half week to deload before I begin my meet prep. I have yet to decide if I will be cutting back to 242lbs or staying in the 275lb weight class for my final meet with Purdue Barbell. I plan to make that decision at the conclusion of this program and let my body tell me what to do. Until then I am going to enjoy putting on some muscle size and being with family for the holidays. Until next time!