I trust by now you have developed a vision for 2020, made a plan to execute it, and are in the process of its execution. For me, execution of my plan is done on the platform. For others it may be how clothes fit, the mirror, the scale, or the opinion of others.

RECENT: 2020 Vision

I have given myself realistic numbers to achieve on the platform. I have used the conjugate method off-season to get stronger. Now I have to prepare for the meet where I intend to execute those numbers. How do we do that? I have written about various phases of the conjugate method on a number of occasions. Again, with apologies to Louie Simmons, Dave Tate, and Nate Harvey, here is my take on conjugate meet prep.

My mind begins preparation about 12 weeks out from the meet. I actually do a preparation nine weeks out. This allows me to do two four-week waves and a week of rest. The twist to these two waves of work is that the max-effort days are actually linear.

For example; but not necessarily actually, some in the first wave do 60, 70, 80 and 90 percent in each of the first four weeks, with declining repetitions as the weights get heavier. In the second wave, it is 65, 75, 85, and 95 percent. There are those however, that reverse the waves to get the heavier weight done sooner rather than later.

There are those more experienced lifters that never train above 80 to 85 percent. They can judge their strength by how the weight feels and moves. An exceptional lifter, I know, told me he did not train above 70 percent for a meet and got PR’s in all his lifts.


I was taught to do my openers within ten days of a meet. I did that for a time, and it is good advice for beginners. It builds confidence and let’s you know you will be in the meet. I know a bench-only guy who takes that a step further. He does his opener in the warm-up room. I do not agree with that and have told him so. I cannot, however, argue with his results. He has won every meet in which I have seen him.

I do not consider myself a beginner anymore. Some have called me advanced, but I am not in the class of the three gentlemen who I have previously mentioned and many others whose opinions I respect. I call myself an intermediate now. With that in mind, when should I do my heaviest work and just as importantly, when, if at all, do I see what I can actually do?

As in all questions in powerlifting, it depends. A bench-only guy I know got 245 this week, two weeks before a meet where his goal is 250. I suggested he stop and concentrate on technique. He is determined to get 250 before the meet.

Crazy? A guy at a meet missed his third attempt, “I can’t understand it,” he said, “I got it two days ago.” Dumbass! The more experienced lifter has a better idea what he/she can do and bases their percentages on realistic numbers. Then waits until the meet to attempt a giant PR. Once accomplished, it increases the percentages for the next training cycle.

You don’t play a football game before game day. You don’t fight a boxing match before fight night. Why then do inexperienced lifters attempt PR’s right before a meet. If you make it, it may have been too close to the meet to allow you to make it at the meet. If you miss it, it has a terrible impact on your confidence. Wait until game time to play the game. That is where you execute your plan; on the platform.

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So, here I am, six weeks out; what am I going to do? I am going to finish the remaining two weeks of my first wave and do another. I have tried my squat suit once. I have to put on my bench shirt and practice with a shoulder saver, then to my chest for a few weeks. I have a new deadlift suit that I will try tomorrow for the first time. I will substitute a speed day with a deadlift day a few times. I have a pretty good idea about my bench and deadlift and need to make sure I’m right or hope I’ve gotten stronger, not by doing max-effort weight, but by seeing how non-max effort moves. Of course, I’ll do the same with the squat.

My other speed days will be the same. Concentration on speed, of course, but also on technique, technique, and technique. We don’t have many mirrors in our gym and I usually ignore the ones we have. However, I would like one near the rack where I squat. It would help me with depth and make sure my knees go out, which I think is one of the most neglected techniques. Concentration on technique always makes my squat better; a mirror would help.

An inexact program, to be sure, but meet prep is an inexact science. Like the lifts, we try to make the program as efficient as we can for each lifter. In a perfect world, I plan to take only six attempts. If all goes perfectly, I will have four records. I know that things rarely, if ever, go perfectly. I have back up plans that will hopefully get me through.