KEEPING A PACE [Training Video Included]

The MONSTER GARAGE GYM/MAROSCHER COACHING LOG is a weekly Coaching Log by MGG owner, 2-Time WPC World Powerlifting Champion, Eric Maroscher, and is geared to the new to intermediate powerlifter. LIVE, LEARN and PASS ON.

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THIS WEEK’S Monster Garage Gym/Maroscher Coaching Log: KEEPING A PACE


This Week’s Coaching Log:
There are an array of variables that are dictated by the meet conditions. Some of these you can replicate at the gym, some you can’t. If the meet will be using a 55LB squat bar, you can train with one, if the meet is USAPL, you can be assured you need to not just break parallel, but do so with convincing depth. These are some aspects of the meet the typical meet lifter thinks about.

One variable that is sometimes missed is the sheer pace of a bigger meet. We have all been to the local or state level meets, the rules are there but sometimes the one-minute clock is more of a ‘suggestion’ than a reality. In the bigger meets and especially the international level meets the clock looms and is a threat to some, especially the bigger guys who compete.

There is a learning curve at the international meets and I have competed in enough to have seen the same scenario play itself out over and again. At these meets the judges, unlike a state, local or unsanctioned meet are not going to give a lifter the benefit of the doubt on squat depth, or any of the rules for that matter. They are going to protect the integrity of the meet so gifts are not happening, and the 60 second clock shows no favoritism nor preferential treatment.

At these meets those lifters who can only get by with an at parallel squat find themselves bombing out and the meet pace gets ramped up in speed as the flights find themselves getting smaller and smaller as the herd is being thinned out. These meets have great spotters and loaders who change kilo plates as it they were tires being changed by a professional pit crew. The pace of the meet is already at a breakneck speed so for the more heavily muscled or just plain old heavier lifters, there is a variable involved with regard to the pace of the meet that is a must for them to heed during their training.

I can vividly recall a meet I did in Canada where the cadence of the meet was at a breakneck pace. I remember I was wrapping my own knees that meet and by the time I had re-rolled my wraps and wrapped my knees, I had barely caught my breathe and I was already up. I remember making all of my lifts because my team purposely trained at the gym at a good clip, so although I was someone surprised by the pace, I was also very much prepared for the pace. I recall others missing third attempts, not because the weights were too heavy or they did not hit depth, but literally because they had not recovered enough to hit the numbers they hit in the gym where the pace was clearly more relaxed. As a lifter in the 100kg weight class, I was watching the big guys and they were huffing and puffing and there was a lot of weight left unclaimed on the platform for those guys. Big guys carry a lot of extra muscle and it takes oxygen to feed those muscles so recovery is a serious issue often the bigger the lifter is.

When training at the gym there is not the pressure of the meet, there is not the fast loading of the plates and the voice over the mic saying, lifter X is up, lifter Y is on deck and lifter Z is in the hole. There is not that extra quickened pace that happens when three lifters are taking the same weight and nothing needs to be changed by the loaders. Now you throw in during training that ridiculous cell phone as well as conversations that should wait until after the meet and a lifter can find themselves not ready for the pace of the big meets and without the ability to recover enough to perform the big lifts that they have trained for during their training cycle.

To be clear, we all know at a huge meet there can be an hour or more between the squat and the deadlift, so that is not what we are talking about. We are talking about the pace in between the squat attempts, then the speed in between bench attempts, and then the deadlift attempts, which should be somewhat easier to recover from in between attempts, but aren’t because of the amount of lifters who bombed not only in the squat but the bench press too. It won’t matter if there is an hour between squat and bench if your squat was sub-par because you were still huffing and not fully recovered for the next attempt at the next massive weight. Having said that, I have been to enough world meets to have seen guys, mostly bigger guys, plain old spent by the time the deadlift comes around, so conditioning is key even with the hour break in between the events. Why be the strongest at your gym, if at the meet you can’t put up your huge numbers due to the simple fact you are not in a condition to put that strength to work for you. And why be the strongest at your gym if you can’t move at the expeditious pace that the meet is trodding along at?

This accompanying video focuses on WPC World Powerlifting Champion and 1,025LB squatter Steve Brock. Steve is one of the Monster Garage Gym’s sometimes 308 and sometimes SHW powerlifters. Steve is a master aged lifter who still bangs out 2400LB totals, but who also knows that if you are going to put up the giant numbers at the meet that you put up while training, you must also train not just for the big numbers, but the reality that a meet pace is faster than your training pace. Steve utilizes a sideline clock display and has a pace set for his training, and that pace is something that he is constantly pushing to make a little bit faster as his conditioning continues to improve over time. He has a little different pace for his volume and speed days, but in all cases, Steve moves not only at a good clip for a big man, but for anyone now that he has done this for a chunk of time. His goal in all of this is conditioning to get strong(er) but the primary reason is to be in meet condition so he is controlling that meet variable at the gym, each and every session.

Steve’s current pace is 4 minutes for the main lifts, and 3 for the auxiliary lifts. His last session was a speed day and the duration between was 2 minutes. As his conditioning has improved you can see it pay dividends on a bench day that follows a squat day. So the positive impact is showing up in multiple areas of his training. Steve’s next big challenge in this area comes next weekend where he will have 3 sets all over 1,000LBS (just like he is going to have at a meet) as that is a weight that requires recovery prior to the 2nd and then 3rd attempts during the meet.

In training like in life, although there are those big fork in the road actions that help determine success or failure, it is more often those thousand little actions that make that determination. In training, having the perfect program, technique and choosing the best attempts won’t mean a thing if the lifter is too gassed to recover enough to hit the next weight they surely could hit if only they had the conditioning and stamina to do so. Being mindful of pace is one of those little actions.

Keeping a pace (and that pace will be different for the individuals and it will need to be worked on consistently in order to get better) at the gym is 110% something any lifter can and should do. Especially the more heavily muscled lifters.

The words “I’m all in,” are thrown around so much in our sport that they are cliche’, and the reality is, if someone is all in, they don’t need to announce it…..but that is a story for another time. If the pace is not a serious one during training, if a lifter is spending more time between sets on socialookatmedia then focused on getting ready for their next set, then they are not just cliche’, they are in denial of what it takes to bring the best version of themselves to the big meets.

The accompanying video shows some of Steve’s volume work set to a pace of his choosing utilizing the sideline clock as his visual cue to keep the pace going and to force his body to adapt to this level of training speed.

Wishing all of our weekly coaching log readers the best in your training and competitions. Ever Onward, Eric Maroscher, Owner: MONSTER GARAGE GYM

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