Post-Meet Training — What to Do the First 9 Weeks After Competition

TAGS: raw training, multi ply lifter, barbell training, bodybuilding split, powerlifting off season, 9-week program, off-season program, building muscle, barbell movements, powerlifting meet, training cycle, Joe Schillero, recovery

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How I approach training after a meet has evolved over the past several years. When I first began competing, I would take a few days off following a meet and then be right back at it, training heavy and training hard just like I was before the competition. When you’re a beginner, you can tend to get away with this more, especially when your progress is pretty rapid and linear. As I began getting stronger, lifting in multi-ply gear, and competing at bigger and bigger meets, training cycles began taking a much bigger physical and mental toll then they did when I first started. Combine that with some injuries and weaknesses that need addressed, and a good “off-season” can be just what the doctor ordered.

The following is a 9-week program to allow recovery, build muscle, improve conditioning, and prepare you mentally and physically for another heavy training cycle:

Stay out of the gym the first week. This will give yourself a mental and physical break.

Girls UGSS 2015-5843

Phase I: Weeks 2-5 , Bodybuilding Split (3 Days On, 1 Day off)

The purpose of this phase is to take a break from barbell work to give your joints, tendons, and nervous system a break and work on building muscle. The weight you use on these exercises isn’t nearly as important as being very deliberate with the movements and focusing on things like full range of motion, holding contractions, slow eccentric movements, etc. Exercises can also be easily switched out with different variations depending on what you have in your gym and what’s available at any given time. Remember the point of this phase is a mental break as well, so if you don’t feel like doing dumbbell flyes and want to use the pec deck machine instead, by all means do that.


RECENT: Failure Is Always An Option


Since this will likely be a pretty big change from what you were doing leading up to your meet, don’t be surprised if you’re really sore in the beginning. Also make sure if you have lingering injuries from your meet cycle that you adapt training around them and use this opportunity to let them heal. Keep rest periods brief, you should be able to bang through these workouts in around 45 minutes. If you haven’t been doing any conditioning or cardio work (I’m gonna go ahead and guess 90% of us aren’t), then it would be a good idea to start adding in a day or two of some easy conditioning you don’t mind doing (walking, biking, rowing, light sled drags) to prepare you for the next phase.


Sample Week for Phase I

(Repeat for four weeks, making tweaks as you see fit)

Day 1 – Chest/Shoulders/Triceps

A. Pec Deck Machine – 3x12 (slow eccentric, full ROM, hold contraction for 1 second)

B. Machine Chest Press (unilateral handles) – 4 sets – Reps: 12/12/10/10

C. Push-Ups – 3 sets to failure (slow eccentric)

D. Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Laterals – 3x12

E. Rear Delt Machine – 3x20

F. Machine Shoulder Press – 3x8

G. Rope Tricep Pushdowns – 3 Sets – Reps: 15/12/10

H. Overhead Rope Tricep Extensions – 3x15 to failure

Day 2 – Legs

A. Lying Leg Curls (machine) – 4 Sets – Reps: 15/12/10/8 (slow eccentric, full ROM, hold contraction for 1 second)

B. Seated Adductor Machine – 4x15

C. Leg Press – 4x15 to failure (slow eccentric, don’t lock out knees at the top, keep tension on muscles)

D. Rear Leg Elevated Split Squats w/ Kettlebells or Dumbbells – 4x12 each leg

E. Ab Wheel – 4 sets of as many reps as possible with good technique (be able to keep neutral).

Day 3 – Back/Biceps

A. Neutral Grip Lat Pulldowns – 4x15 (slow eccentric, full ROM, hold contraction for 1 second)

B. One-Arm Dumbbell Rows – 4x10 each arm (let lat stretch at bottom, use full R.O.M.)

C. Dumbbell Shrugs – 3x12 (hold each contraction at top for 2 seconds)

D. Back Extensions or Reverse Hyper – 3x15

E. Cross Arm Hammer Curls – 3x10 (slow and controlled)

F. Machine Curls – 3x8

G. Supination Curls (outlined in Dave’s log) – 3x10

Day 4 – OFF

Day 5 – Chest/Shoulders/Triceps

A. Dumbbell Chest Flyes – 3x12 (slow eccentric, full ROM, hold contraction for 1 second)

B. Dumbbell Chest Press – 4 sets – Reps: 12/12/10/10

C. Bodyweight Dips – 3 sets to failure (slow eccentric)

D. Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Laterals – 3x12

E. Band Face Pulls – 3x20

F. Dumbbell Shoulder Press – 3x8

G. Straight Bar Tricep Pushdowns – 3 Sets – Reps: 15/12/10

H. Rolling Dumbbell Extensions – 3x15 to failure

Day 6 – Legs

A. Seated Leg Curls (machine) – 4 Sets – Reps: 15/12/10/8 (slow eccentric, full R.O.M., hold contraction for 1 second)

B. Seated Abductor Machine – 4x15

C. Hack Squat Machine – 4x15 (slow eccentric)

D. Front Leg Elevated Split Squats w/ Kettlebells or Dumbbells – 4x12 each leg

E. Hanging Leg Raises – 4 sets to failure

Day 7 – Back/Biceps

A. Wide Grip Lat Pulldowns – 4x15 (slow eccentric, full ROM, hold contraction for 1 second)

B. Dead Stop Barbell Rows (pendlay rows) – 4x10 (use full ROM, strict form)

C. Dumbbell Shrugs – 3x12 (hold each contraction at top for 2 seconds)

D. Back Extensions or Reverse Hyper – 3x15

E. Hammer Curls – 3x10 (slow and controlled)

F. Cable Curls w/ Straight Bar – 3x8

G. Supination Curls– 3x10

Day 8 – OFF

Then repeat weekly cycle for three more weeks.


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Phase II: Re-Acclimation to Barbell Movements and Increased Conditioning

Weeks 6-9 (Four-day Training Split — two upper days, two lower days)

Now that you’ve had four weeks to “chase the pump” and get a break from barbell movements, the next phase is designed to start slowly working back into barbell training again and also work on conditioning to prepare for your next training cycle (what would be Phase III). This phase will look slightly different depending on your goals and what kind of training cycle you’re using this to prepare for, but in general the goal of this phase is to get you in shape enough to start training heavy again.

For myself, my meet training cycle was to prepare for a multi-ply meet, but my “Phase III” will be doing raw training using 5/3/1. So for me, the fourth week of Phase II will be used to get raw training maxes to use for the following training cycle. If your situation is different, your progression over the four weeks will likely look different as well. The key with this phase is to keep the big picture in mind and resist the temptation to go heavier than prescribed. Stick the RPE’s listed, and make sure you’re getting all the assistance work and conditioning done. The purpose of this phase is not to be hitting all time PRs — it is to condition yourself for your next training cycle.


Sample Weeks for Phase II 

Week 6

Day 1: Lower Body A

A. Squat – 3x8 @ RPE 7 out of 10 (use a weight that is about 70% of what you would use for a max set of 8)

B. Good Morning – 3x8

C. GHR – 3xAMRAP (with good technique)

D. Ab Wheel – 3x10

E. Conditioning: 10 minutes of steady pace on rower (use sustainable pace, but should be winded at the end)

Day 2: Upper Body A

A. Bench Press – 3x8 @ RPE 7 out of 10

B. Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press – 3x8

C. Chin-Ups – 4xAMRAP (with good technique)

D1. Dumbbell Tate Presses – 3x10

D2. Dumbbell Hammer Curls – 3x15

E. Conditioning: 10 minutes of steady pace on bike

Day 3: Lower Body B

A. Deadlift – 3x8 @ RPE 7 out of 10

B. Front Squat – 3x8

C. Rear Leg Elevated Split Squat – 3x12

D. Hanging Leg Raises – 3x10

E. Conditioning – 15 minutes of steady pace on rower

Day 4: Upper Body B

A. Standing Overhead Press – 3x8 @ RPE 7 out of 10

B. Dumbbell Bench Press – 3x8

C. One-Arm Dumbbell Row – 4x10 each arm

D1. Rope Tricep Pushdown – 3x20

D2. Dumbbell Hammer Curls – 3x15

E. Conditioning – 15 minutes of steady pace on bike

Week 7

Day 1: Lower Body A

A. Squat – 3x5 @ RPE 8 out of 10 (use a weight that is about 80% of what you would use for a max set of 8)

B. Good Morning – 4x8

C. GHR – 3xAMRAP (with good technique)

D. Ab Wheel – 3x10

E. Conditioning: 10 minutes of high intensity intervals on rower (30 seconds hard, 1 minute easy)

Day 2: Upper Body A

A. Bench Press – 3x5 @ RPE 8 out of 10

B. Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press – 4x8

C. Chin-Ups – 4xAMRAP (with good technique)

D1. Dumbbell Tate Presses – 3x10

D2. Dumbbell Hammer Curls – 3x15

E. Conditioning: 15 minutes of steady pace on bike

Day 3: Lower Body B

A. Deadlift – 3x5 @ RPE 8 out of 10

B. Front Squat – 4x8

C. Rear Leg Elevated Split Squat – 3x12

D. Hanging Leg Raises – 3x10

E. Conditioning – 10 minutes of high intensity intervals on rower (30 seconds hard, 1 minute easy)

Day 4: Upper Body B

A. Standing Overhead Press – 3x5 @ RPE 8 out of 10

B. Dumbbell Bench Press – 4x8

C. One-Arm Dumbbell Row – 4x10 each arm

D1. Rope Tricep Pushdown – 3x20

D2. Dumbbell Hammer Curls – 3x15

E. Conditioning – 15 minutes of steady pace on bike

Week 8

Day 1: Lower Body A

A. Squat – 3x3 @ RPE 9 out of 10 (use a weight that is about 90% of what you would use for a max set of 8)

B. Good Morning – 3x5

C. GHR – 3xAMRAP (with good technique)

D. Ab Wheel – 3x10

E. Conditioning: 12 minutes of high intensity intervals on rower (30 seconds hard, 1 minute easy)

Day 2: Upper Body A

A. Bench Press – 3x3 @ RPE 9 out of 10

B. Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press – 3x5

C. Chin-Ups – 4xAMRAP (with good technique)

D1. Dumbbell Tate Presses – 3x10

D2. Dumbbell Hammer Curls – 3x15

E. Conditioning: 20 minutes of steady pace on bike

Day 3: Lower Body B

A. Deadlift – 3x3 @ RPE 9 out of 10

B. Front Squat – 3x5

C. Rear Leg Elevated Split Squat – 3x12

D. Hanging Leg Raises – 3x10

E. Conditioning – 12 minutes of high intensity intervals on rower (30 seconds hard, 1 minute easy)

Day 4: Upper Body B

A. Standing Overhead Press – 3x3 @ RPE 9 out of 10

B. Dumbbell Bench Press – 3x5

C. One-Arm Dumbbell Row – 4x10 each arm

D1. Rope Tricep Pushdown – 3x20

D2. Dumbbell Hammer Curls – 3x15

E. Conditioning – 20 minutes of steady pace on bike

Week 9

Day 1: Lower Body A

A. Squat – Test Max (clean with solid technique)

B. GHR – 4xAMRAP (with good technique)

C. Ab Wheel – 3x10

D. Conditioning: 10 minutes of high intensity intervals on rower (30 seconds hard, 30 seconds easy)

Day 2: Upper Body A

A. Bench Press – Test Max

B. Chin-Ups – 5xAMRAP (with good technique)

C1. Dumbbell Tate Presses – 3x10

C2. Dumbbell Hammer Curls – 3x15

D. Conditioning: 30 minutes of steady pace on bike

Day 3: Lower Body B

A. Deadlift – Test Max

B. Rear Leg Elevated Split Squat – 3x12

C. Hanging Leg Raises – 3x10

D. Conditioning – 10 minutes of high intensity intervals on rower (30 seconds hard, 30 seconds easy)

Day 4: Upper Body B

A. Standing Overhead Press – Test Max

B. One-Arm Dumbbell Row – 4x10 each arm

C1. Rope Tricep Pushdown – 3x20

C2. Dumbbell Hammer Curls – 3x15

D. Conditioning – 30 minutes of steady pace on bike

Week 10 

Deload, then begin your next training cycle.

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