I awoke at 6:30 a.m. this morning despite the fact that I got up at the same time yesterday. I did a meet, loaded a mono into a U-haul trailer, and traveled back to Omaha, finally getting to bed at 1:45 a.m. Most sane people will be wondering why, but people who have done a meet will know why. I am in pain. Powerlifting is stupid! Lol. I ache from head to toe from the meet, but that must mean I did good things, right?

Anyone who follows my log knows it’s dropped off dramatically since my father’s passing and even more so this last training cycle. I first want to apologize to the people who keep up on my log, I honestly have no excuse other than the fact that I’ve gotten lazy when it comes to keeping it up-to-date. Being sponsored means I have certain expectations and one of them is keeping an updated training log, which I have failed to do. The only positive from that is that I have been training. This is something that keeps me sane and keeps everything on track. Without it, I don’t know what I would do with myself.

In training, I have had PRs in all lifts. I decided I needed to do a raw training cycle in the squat and deadlifting since I haven’t done one in over five years since I started powerlifting. I started in gear and continued in it for every training cycle I’ve ever done. I figured I had probably built up some deficiencies from exclusively training in gear for such a long period of time. After going down to Springfield, MO to help the great Al Caslow at his meet, we sat down and wrote out a RAWWWWW training cycle. I had already programmed the deadlift with what I had projected my raw deadlift to be, which was 600 pounds. Al and I knew that my grip has always been an issue, so we incorporated that need and made it the emphasis of my deadlift training cycle.

Since I am a geared lifter, I didn’t want to lose the technical aspect of my deadlift so we decided I would pull in gear every other week on Squat day, eventually going to every week. With the programming written out and with the drive to better myself, I began this horrible trek that is raw training. I started off in the 300s as a training weight for squats, which was a humbling and a horrible experience, all at the same time, especially since I had just PRed in the squat at the Arnold with an 860-pound squat.

It was amazing how heavy 330 pounds felt when I took off all the gear, added a raised heel and brought in my stance nearly two feet. This really put into perspective 6,7, and 800-pound raw squats. I had done 525 pounds for a triple for fun on squat day a few months earlier, so I thought I had a shot at a 600-pound squat. I didn’t have myself convinced it was possible after the way 330 pounds felt, but I wasn’t discouraged. I knew no matter what, that training what you’re not good at, makes you better at what you are.

After 10 weeks of training, the heaviest day of the training cycle came, this meant RPE 10 and a near-max squat. For those of you who know what RPE is (don’t feel bad, I didn’t know what it meant either) it means rated perceived exertion. RPE 10 means you have no reps left, RPE 9 is one 1 rep left, RPE 8 is two left, etc. I had done 530 pounds for a double the prior week, so Al and I figured I would top out at something like 570 pounds, which was a good amount of weight I had put on my squat, but was still discouraging since I had 600 pounds in my head. I began my usual warm ups and everything felt really good, my first RPE 10 attempt was 560 pounds, which was a smoker. I had at least another rep in the tank which meant I had to go up, after consulting my team I decided to make the jump to 580 pounds, which was also a smoker. I made up my mind and called 600 pounds on the bar. Here's how it went:


HELL YEA, right? That was pretty easy and I was super pleased with it. I had my depth called and it moved pretty well. I was on cloud nine. I sent the video to Al for review and he too was pleased. Al even thought I had a shot at a much higher number at the meet, after the way that one moved. Anyone who knows Al, knows he’s very conservative when it comes to numbers at the meet, which was a good sign.

Onto the deadlift training which, was also a very humbling experience, since I decided to go RAWWWWW. We had two goals in mind with the deadlift training: grip work and getting my form even better. For grip work, I decided I was going to go completely beltless on all my raw training and I was going to use a regular bar (not a deadlift bar). I just want everyone to know that our regular bar is fatter and stiffer than a Texas squat bar. Pulling with that thing was a complete pain in the ass, no whip whatsoever and it felt like I had fat grips on there.

To make things worse, every rep was to be held for at least two seconds at the top of each rep. This made for LONG and HARD (wait, what are we talking about here?) deadlift sessions. My hands hated me for many many weeks because of this style of training. My heaviest raw deadlift was 510 pounds for the training cycle, which was for 4 sets of 2. On the heaviest day of the cycle I opted to not go raw since I would be pulling geared at the meet. We worked up to a heavy single. Here's how it went:


Two PRs in one session—it doesn’t get much better than that, right? YEA it does, three PRs! Oh well, you live and you learn. I got too amped up for the 765 pounds and we jacked my straps WAYYYYY to tight. I’m not the type of person to make excuses though...I simply wasn’t strong enough on that day to pull 765 pounds. It is what it is. I was still excited beyond belief to hit 750 pounds though, which I’m sure you could tell.

Last and certainly least, comes the bench training, the Achilles heel of my total. As most of you know, the bench is my worst lift, but has been improving as of late. I had taken ideas from numerous people and came up with a plan that was working. It’s basically a waved overload progression with emphasis on doubles and touching every session. For squat and deadlifts I don’t think you need to train anywhere near your max to get stronger, but with bench, it’s nearly impossible to train with those percentages because the shirt doesn’t allow you to touch weights that are that low.

Some people are able to adjust the shirt to fit those types of needs, but I have tried and honestly just can’t get the bar to touch. My heaviest bench day is two weeks out from the meet. I work up to a heavy 3-board double, like I always do, and then work it down until I touch. I do this because I feel it works the triceps and it will give me a better idea of what I’m capable of at the meet after squatting. I worked up to 575x2 off the 3-board, 530x2 off the 2-board then did some 1-board work:


515 pounds was a 14-pound PR, HELL YEA! Even though I dumped it, I was glad I came back and got it. I can’t end the training cycle on a miss, it’s not my in blood!

All in all, I think it was a fantastic training cycle. I really learned a lot about my body, things I had never even put a thought into in previous cycles. I really focused on bringing up areas that were weak points for me. This is included raw deficiencies, imbalances in muscles, flexibility issues that I’m still addressing, grip issues, etc. If you want to progress in powerlifting, you have to work on things you suck at, plain and simple. If you’re always doing things that you’re good at, chances are you will stall out and stop making gains, and most likely give up because you are discouraged.

Training went well, but did my meet?

To be continued...