Thank you for the responses to last month’s article and to those of you who took the time to read it. Since the article’s publication, I have had a birthday (78). It’s great to have lived this long and even greater to be participating, competing, and coaching powerlifting. I am sad, however, that I started competing as late as I did.

I began training with Donnie Thompson at age 70. I had competed in some aspects of powerlifting before the sport was actually created. I started lifting in 1957 to rehab a football injury. I began reading and training and trying to be an Olympic lifter. Alas, I was not fast enough nor did I have any coaching and was not a good Olympic lifter. I lifted by brute force and awkwardness. I participated in local YMCA bench press competitions and was pleasantly surprised with the results. I trained with the throwers at Chapel Hill and from time to time we had some squat competitions.

RECENT: Conjugate For A Little Old Man

We’d never heard of powerlifting. I don’t know when powerlifting came to the South. I was busy with college, law school, getting married, having children, and learning to practice law. I still thought of myself as an athlete and competed in tennis, racquetball, and rugby. A knee injury and resulting reconstructive surgery ended my rugby career.

After rehab, I continued with tennis and racquetball. All the while, I lifted at The Y and at home on a fairly regular basis. So, I was a weightlifting tennis-racquetball player. And so, it went for years and years until things began to take their toll. The knee became severely arthritic as did the right shoulder, and my right hip became so bad, it had to be replaced. The toll taken on the back required the implantation of a spinal cord stimulator.

What the hell do I do now? A broken down wannabe athlete who is now an old man! Powerlifting.


I can’t run and jump anymore, but I can try to pick up heavy shit and put it down. And that’s what I undertook. I read and was taught and learned to pick up heavy shit correctly and with proper technique rather than brute force and awkwardness.

It excited me so much that I undertook to be good at it, to teach it, and to write about it. What we talked about last month was my version of the conjugate system. There are, as we discussed, many more exercises, and if you like variety, conjugate is for you.

By the same token, old school guys like me often stick to tried-and-true exercises. Either way can work. Last month’s discussion was more about off-season training than anything else. As I write tonight, I am nine weeks out from the IPA Worlds being held in conjunction with the Flex Wheeler Classic in Nashville, Tennessee, on October 12th. It is the biggest meet I have ever attended and the greatest distance I have traveled to a meet. I am both excited and nervous.

This month, I want to talk about the nine-week meet prep upon which I am about to embark. So, again, with apologies to the Russians, Louie Simmons, Dave Tate, and Nate Harvey, here’s what I intend to do for the next nine weeks.

(I know what you’re thinking: “It’s about time, old man. If you weren’t such an old man, I would have interrupted you sooner. Tell us what the hell you’re going to do. We don’t need a history lesson.”)

Alright, here it is.

The nine weeks gives me time for two four-week waves of training and a sort of rest week before the meet. My plan is to do a test this week to see where I am. I think I have a good idea, but I’ll test to make sure. Thereafter, on max effort day, I will work up to 70, 80, and 90 percent.

In the second wave after the test, I will do 75, 85 and 95 percent. In the first test, I will work up to a max effort doing all the reps I can at 10-pound increments. I probably won’t get a true max, but that’s OK.

In the second test, I will only do triples, doubles, and singles and get a more accurate max. As I work up to these maxes, I will try three reps at 70 and 75 percent, two at 80 and 85 percent, and one at 90 and 95 percent.

READ MORE: Everything You Need to Know About The Max Effort Method


While decisions about attempts will be determined at the meet, I like to open at 70 percent, go to 85 percent, and then see what I can do. I will test in my shirt on the bench, but not use it every week. To get to the higher percentages, I often use an elitefts red mini band doubled around my elbows for assistance in what I call a “redneck Sling Shot.”

I will not use a variety of bars in my bench press. Instead, I will use a straight bar with a red elitefts Shoulder Saver until a week or so before the meet. I use the Shoulder Saver whenever I use a straight bar. It’s too late to save my shoulder, but it eases the pain and I would be lost without it. I recommend it for everyone, especially seniors who are prone to shoulder problems. And it is my opinion that it is helpful for younger lifters to avoid shoulder problems.

For my dynamic days, I plan to proceed as previously discussed. I will use a variety of bars, move the weight as fast as possible, and work very hard on technique.

On my squats, I will stop the Safety Squat Bar and Hatfield Squats and concentrate on the BUFFALO BAR™. I don’t intend to use a straight bar until the meet. I also usually squat to a box to make sure I reach depth on every rep. Depth is my biggest problem, and I must work on it constantly.

I was gone for a week in New Orleans (note: don’t go there in August). I did manage to train on Friday and Saturday and was able to test my deadlift.

Lower body dynamic day will not change too much. I still plan to do back work and work on deadlift technique. I still am not sure which style of deadlift I will use. I like the modified sumo that I have used. However, it puts a great deal of torque on my bad knee. Conventional, on the other hand, is difficult for me and not very back-friendly.

There is a meet on September 9th in Charlotte in conjunction with the Warrior Games that will have not only powerlifting, but also strongman, CrossFit, and kettlebell. I plan to not only watch but to compete in deadlift-only to gauge my progress and determine the style to use. Also, the meet is promoted by 365 Strong, and I enjoy their meets a great deal.

So, for better or worse, that’s what I do. Conjugate? I think so. If there are those of you that have other, better, or more efficient methods of meet prep, please put them forth. We can all benefit from everyone’s experience.