Conjugate Powerbuilding & Meet Prep

My last six weeks of training have been “off-season,” time I spend learning how to activate my muscles better for bodybuilding, taking a break from heavy, low-rep work, and resetting mentally.  Now that I’m gearing up for another meet, I’m taking a slightly different approach to my programming.  I’ll still be incorporating bodybuilding exercises, but the powerlifting setup will be much different.

Personally, I’ve never been a big fan of conjugate training for raw lifters.  I think it’s too important to practice the competition lifts, and that speed work is less useful.  However, it has a lot of strengths, too, especially when it comes to exercise rotation.  It’s very difficult to make linear progress on the competition lifts, so rotating (useful) variations is a great way to maintain momentum and motivation.

So the setup I’ve settled on looks like this:

Sunday: Max Effort (ME) Lower

This day is designed to give me a chance to go all-out -- important for mental prep leading up to a meet -- without wearing me out.  I’ll do that by training variations of the squat and deadlift, but only variations that I already know to be useful for me.  For example, pause squats are a great exercise, but they don’t carry over super well to my competition squat, like yoke bar squats and front squats do.  I’ll also use this as a chance to practice my competition squat in wraps.  I’ll work each variation for two weeks before switching exercises.

  • Squat variation: work up to 1-5 RM (RPE 10).  Examples: yoke bar squat, front squat, back squat with wraps.
  • Deadlift variation: work up to 1-5 RM (RPE 10).  Examples: deficit deadlift, sumo deadlift, deadlift with bands
  • Accessory work: bodybuilding exercises for the upper back and hamstrings

Tuesday: ME Upper

Same thing as ME lower, but focused on the bench press.  Since there’s only one upper-body exercise, and I find that bench responds better to volume, I’ll also include a “supplementary” variation here, trained at submaximal weights but still focused on improving the competition lift.

  • Bench variation: work up to 1-5 RM (RPE 10).  Examples: incline press, bench with slingshot, board press
  • Bench supplement: work up heavy set of 3-5 (5-8 for dumbbell lifts) (RPE 9).  Examples: floor press, decline press, bench with dumbbells
  • Accessory work: bodybuilding exercises for the chest and triceps

Wednesday: Competition Lower

This day is designed to give me a chance to practice the competition squat with a weight that’s heavy, but not so heavy that it destroys me physically or mentally.  I’ll use multiple sets of low reps, working around an RPE 8-8.5.  In my experience, that’s the sweet spot for technique work.  Any lighter, and you’re not able to see where your form might break down or where your weaknesses are; but heavier is too demanding to recover from on a regular basis.

  • Competition squat: 4-6 sets of 2-3 reps at 80-90%
  • Accessory work: bodybuilding exercises for the quads and calves

Friday: Competition Upper

Again, same idea as Competition Lower.

  • Competition bench: 4-6 sets of 2-3 reps at 80-90%
  • Accessory work: bodybuilding exercises for the shoulders and biceps

Overall, I’m confident that this is a solid, well-thought plan that should work well for me.  I’m excited to see how the next few months go!  That said, it’s a new thing I’m trying, so if you have any experience with a similar style of training, I’d really appreciate it if you could share some advice in the comments.

Loading Comments... Loading Comments...