The Advanced Lifter's Peaking Cycle for Lower Body

TAGS: advanced lifter's peaking cycle, Circa max, meet cycle, matt ladewski

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Grind, click, and pop are all too common sounds that come from my right knee these days. But back before my knee really started to give me issues, my squat was climbing and was the cornerstone of my total. From my first full meet in 2001 to 2005 when I hit my squatting peak, I had added over 300 pounds to my squat and 95 pounds to my deadlift. I was making the most of what I had learned from my visits to Westside.


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Recently in searching for an old article in a binder of keepers, I came across my training log from the 2005 Ironhouse Open where I squatted 825 and deadlifted 705. I had finally put both lifts together in one meet. But I didn’t expect to do as well as I did. My meet cycle was written for a meet that was actually three to four weeks earlier. When the other gym members decided they wanted to go to a different meet I had to adjust. I give you both my training log and the training written as a plan to follow. Use both for ideas in creating your own training cycle.

The Cycle from 10,000 Feet

I was missing 12 weeks out and 11 weeks out so I just gave you the percentages I know I used.

12 Weeks Out

DE — Strength Speed: 70% band tension, 20% bar weight, 3-5x2

ME — No Max Effort: Good mornings for reps

11 Weeks Out

DE — Strength Speed: 70% band tension, 25% bar weight, 3-5x2

ME — No Max Effort: Special exercise for deadlift

10 Weeks Out

DE — Strength Speed: 70% band tension, work up from 20% to 30% bar weight over 3x2, take a few singles to near max or break a PR

ME — SS Yoke Bar good mornings

9 Weeks Out

DE — SS Yoke Bar, 50% bar weight, 6-8x2

ME — Box squat with specialty bar

8 Weeks Out

DE — Circa Max: 50% band tension, 47% bar weight, 3x2

ME — Suspended good morning

7 Weeks Out

DE — Circa Max: 50% band tension, 50% bar weight, 3-5x2

ME — Good mornings for reps

6 Weeks Out

DE — Circa Max: 50% band tension (strong and average), work up in doubles then break PR single

ME — Deadlift against mini bands

5 Weeks Out

DE — Squat: Strong band, 47% bar weight, 5-8x2 (work backward from here)

ME — Squat opener in full gear

4 Weeks Out

DE — Squat: Strong band, 45% bar weight, 6-8x2

ME — Box squat

3 Weeks Out

DE — Squats: Strong band, 40% bar weight, 6-8x2

Deadlift: 60-70%, 6-7x1

ME — Suspended good mornings

2 Weeks Out

DE — Squat: 50% bar weight, 6-8x2

ME — Reverse band deadlift to planned third attempt

1 Week Out

DE — Squat: 40% bar weight, 6x2

ME — SS Yoke Bar box squat

Meet Week

Light assistance

ben pollack squat matt ladewksi

The Actual Training Log

I was missing 12 weeks out and 11 weeks out so I just gave you the percentages I know I used.

12 Weeks Out

  • Did not have exact workouts from this week
  • Second week of strength speed (briefs and suit bottoms)
  • Two strong bands and a light band per side (460-480 pounds of tension), 20% bar weight (160) for 4-5x2
  • No max effort

11 Weeks Out

  • Did not have exact workouts from this week
  • Second week of strength speed (briefs and suit bottoms)
  • Two strong bands and a light band per side 25% bar weight for 4-5x2
  • No max effort

10 Weeks Out

Monday

  • Warm up two rounds: glute ham raise, reverse hyper, pulldowns, rotator cuff work, band stretching
  • Third week of strength speed (briefs and suit bottoms)
  • Two strong bands and a light band per side: 225x2, 245 for 4x2, 265x2
  • Back raises: 3x10
  • Single-leg box squats: 2x15
  • Pulldown abs: 2 sets

Friday

  • SS Yoke Bar bent-over good mornings: 465x2
  • Kneeling squats: 225x8, 316x6, 405x6
  • Pull-throughs
  • Band leg curls
  • Abs with medicine ball

9 Weeks Out

Monday — Deload

  • SS Yoke Bar speed squats: 315 for 6x2, 365x2
  • Glute ham raise with average band: 3x8
  • Pulldown abs with staggered feet
  • Round back band good mornings with average band: 4 sets

Friday

  • 14-inch box squat with Rackable Cambered Bar up to 505 for a PR
  • Stiff-leg deadlifts: 225 for 3x8
  • 45-degree back raise with 30-pound medicine ball and light band around neck
  • Spread eagle sit-ups with 30-pound medicine ball

8 Weeks Out 

Monday

  • Week 1 — Circa Max
  • Box squat with strong and average bands, briefs and suit bottom: 335x5x2
  • Speed deadlifts: 405 for 5x1, 465 for 2x1
  • Glute ham raises
  • Back raises

Friday

  • Suspended good mornings with Rackable Cambered Bar: 495x1, miss 545 (belly button level)
  • Ultra wide deadlifts: 315 for 3x6, 365x5
  • Long strap hypers: 320 for 4x8
  • Ab wheel

7 Weeks Out

Monday

  • Week 2 — Circa Max
  • Strong and average band to box (briefs and suit bottoms): 365 for 5x2
  • 45-degree back raise with light and average bands: 3x8
  • Band leg curls with two light bands: 3x12
  • Side bend on 45-degree back raise: 55 pounds for 3x8

Friday

  • No max effort due to heavy squat next week
  • Power arch back good morning with SS Yoke Bar (this is just a lean): Up to 405x3
  • RDLs on belt squat: 180 for 4x8
  • Side bend pushdowns: 3x8 each side

6 Weeks Out

Monday

  • Week 3 — Circa Max
  • Strong and average bands to box (briefs and suit): 355x2, 395x2, 415x2, 505x1
  • 45-degree back raise with Rackable Cambered Bar: 115x8, 165 for 4x6
  • Abs on glute ham raise with plate behind head
  • Bodyweight: 246

Friday

  • Deadlift on platform against bands: 465, 515, 545x1
  • Back attack
  • Reverse hypers

5 Weeks Out

Monday

  • Speed squats with strong band: 315x2, 375 for 5x2
  • Speed deadlifts against mini bands: 315 for 6x1, 335x1, 365x1, 385x1
  • Glute ham raise against average band, elevated back end eight inches: 4x6
  • Pulldown abs

Friday

  • Opener in squat suit
  • 675 still high
  • 750 right there
  • Iso leg curls
  • Bent-over good mornings
  • Landmine abs

4 Weeks Out

Monday

  • Speed squat with strong band: 355 for 7x2
  • Speed deadlift: 365 for 2x1, 415 for 5x1
  • Long strap reverse hypers: 325 for 4x8
  • Single-leg box squat: 4x8
  • Leg raises against mini band

Friday

  • Zercher box squat with SS Yoke Bar: 315x1, 335x3
  • Deadlifts on grappler three plates per side: 3x6 (glutes are sore)
  • Shrugs and rows on grapple (middle back very, very sore)

3 Weeks Out

Monday

  • Speed squat to box with strong bad: 335 for 7x2
  • Speed deadlift: 405 for 4x1, 455x2, 505x1
  • 45-degree back raise (bar on floor): 95x6, 145x6, 195 for 3x6
  • Glute ham raises 3x25

Friday

  • Suspended good mornings with Rackable Cambered Bar
  • Hip is bothering me. Stopped at 495 sumo stance, went 315x8 with close stance.
  • Grappler deadlifts: 2x8
  • Shrugs on grappler: 2x6
  • Iso leg curls on GHR: 2x6, 2x6 with 25 pounds in hands
  • Calf raises
  • Pulldown abs: 6 reps (the strap broke and so did my motivation)

2 Weeks Out

Monday

  • Speed squat to box: 405 for 6x2
  • Arch back good mornings: 225x8, 275x8, 315 for 3x6
  • Long strap hypers: 3x8
  • Decline sit-ups: 110x8, 130x8

Friday

  • Reverse band deadlift: strong band up to 715 and stopped
  • 45-degree back raise with two light bands and 25 pounds for 4x6
  • Band leg curls with blue band 3x10
  • Leg raises on reverse hyper 4x12

1 Week Out

Monday

  • Speed squat: 335 for 6x2
  • Speed deadlift: 315 for 3x1, 365 for 3x1
  • Glute ham raise with light band: 4x8
  • Reverse Hyper: 4x8
  • Straight leg sit-ups on GHR: 25 pounds behind head for 4x8

Friday

  • SS Yoke Bar box squats (14-inch box) up to 405 (~90%)
  • Round back good mornings with strong band 3x20
  • Step-ups 40 pounds 2x8, bodyweight 1x8
  • Straight leg sit-ups 3x15

Meet Week

Monday

  • Glute ham raises 4x8 and reverse hypers superset 180 for  3x8
  • Pulldown abs, four set

Meet Attempts

Squat: 750, 800, 825 all good

Deadlift: 660 good, 705 missed (grip), 705 good

deadlift matt ladewski

Making Changes

I am a bit of a perfectionist yet I am far from perfect. As I copied this cycle from my printouts to my computer, I found a few things I would want to do differently if I were writing this program today. On the other hand, how can I argue with a 25-pound meet squat PR that moved well technically and with the speed it did? I really can’t complain but I will make some notes of what I see in this cycle that I took particular note of during my writing process.

  • Strength Speed: Go from three-week to two-week cycle
  • Circa Max: Go from three-week to two-week cycle
  • No max effort during circa max. How did I do that?
  • 45-degree back raise: I need to get one because I used it quite often.
  • Glute-ham raises: 6-8 reps with heavy band tension is best for me.
  • A longer taper is better: I like the longer taper for more recovery.
  • Bands, bands, bands: I love crazy band tension (it will make you strong if you survive)
  • Reverse hyper: I hated that old hyper. I needed more volume for my deadlift.

I love squatting with crazy band tension. I miss it but my injury forced me to learn what I need for a bigger deadlift. It is better to be undertrained than overtrained. I knew my gear and how it fit. I only needed to put it on once a cycle.

Some of these are just mental notes and others would be major changes but I can’t argue with progress. If I could go back in time and make those changes would I? No, I wouldn’t. Who is to say that I would have done better? You go through a cycle like this and you learn to make changes as you go. Every cycle is a chance to learn something.

No training cycle is ever the same and never goes exactly as originally planned. Learning to adapt to problems, injuries, and other issues that come up are the key to making the most of meet day. Doing this cycle won’t guarantee you’ll go from an 800-pound squat to 825 but it can give you ideas on the type and amount of work needed to get there. If you have follow-up questions about this cycle or for programming help please email me at regionbarbell@gmail.com.

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