Training to Peak for a Meet

TAGS: The Minimalist M2 Method, M2 Method, meet prep, programming, orlando barbell, PR, powerlifting, Brian Schwab

Powerlifters train to be strong at the meet, not in the gym. One of the biggest mistakes I see competitive lifters make is not timing their training correctly in order to peak for a meet. They spend weeks and months preparing for the competition only to burn themselves out before it’s time to compete. I just as often see the opposite: lifters don't work with weights heavy enough under competition standards and end up opening too heavy.

A properly planned program should incorporate gradually increasing percentages for lifters to increase their strength while preventing injury. The last few weeks should allow lifters to feel comfortable with their openers, handle their second and third attempts without destroying their CNS in the process, and provide adequate recovery time to be rested and prepared for the day of the meet.

Based on my experience, as well what has worked for the Orlando Barbell team and my clients, I designed the Minimalist M2 Method. The philosophy behind this method is to develop techniques that create, “essential training economy for maximal results.” This program is for raw lifters and includes three different 16-week programs for all three lifts. The last four weeks are optional for meet prep, with week 17 being the week of the meet. Although each program follows different modalities, all three finish with the last weeks prior to the meet being the same.

USPAGrouppicDay1_zps24d80a50 A good portion of the OBB Family: Louie Carrell, Nesto Fernandez, Max Stankovich, Michael Frye, me, Trinity, Ethan Wash, Hans Hinnershitz, Jovan Montalvo, Kevin Phillipson, Michael Rywalt, Mark Lessmann, Elizabeth Lessmann and Linda Dietz.

The Squat

The basic M2 squat program is based off of a gradually increasing ROM with high box squats one week, parallel box squats the next, and full squats on the third. The box squat routine is ideal for lifters who need to work on hip strength or who may have knee issues due to excessive squatting. The second program incorporates accommodating resistance with box squats through the use of chains, which is ideal for lifters who have weak lower backs or issues midway in the squat. The third program is ideal for lifters who need to work on depth, since it allows for them to squat to depth each week with the use of reverse bands on the first week, chain resistance on the second, and full squats with straight weight on the third. An additional benefit of the M2 Program is that the different program options are all interchangeable. If you want to box squat one week, but use reverse bands the next, then you can use program one on one week then program three on the next. The weeks in each program are interchangeable. Here's how the percentages for the primary exercise for the last few weeks prior to a meet are programmed for the squat:

Week 15

Full Squats

Opener/95% of projected max x 1

Second attempt/97.5% of projected max x 1 (ideally with reverse mini bands)

Second attempt/100% of projected max x 1 (ideally with reverse light bands)

Week 16

Full Squats, Deload

70% x 2

72.5% x 2

Week 17

Meet week, Off

The Bench

Similar to the squat, the basic M2 bench program is based off of a gradually increasing ROM with 3-board bench one week, 2-board the next, and 1-board on the third. Regardless of their weak points, lifters will be working to strengthen their bench through the full ROM. The second program incorporates accommodating resistance with board work through the use of chains or reverse bands. Incorporating boards for the heavier percentages is ideal for lifters to work with higher percentages while reducing stress on their shoulders. Full rep work is performed each week either following the board work or on a separate day, depending the on the lifter's schedule. The final weeks prior to a meet are even easier to program for the bench due to the use of boards. Here's how the percentages for the primary exercise for the last few weeks prior to a meet are programmed for the bench:

Week 13

Opener/95% of projected max, full range x1

2nd Attempt- 97.5% of projected max, 1 Board x1

3rd Attempt- 100% of projected max, 2 Board x1

Week 14

Opener/95% of projected max, 1 Board x1

2nd Attempt- 97.5% of projected max, 2 Board x1

3rd Attempt- 100% of projected max, 3 Board x1

Week 15

Opener/95% of projected max, 2 Board x1

2nd Attempt- 97.5% of projected max, 3 Board x1

3rd Attempt- 100% of projected max, 3 or 4 Board x1

Week 16

Deload, 3 Board

80% x 3

82.5% x 3

Week 17

Meet week, off

The Deadlift

Just as with the squat and bench, the basic M2 deadlift program is based off of a gradually increasing ROM with four-inch block pulls one week, two-inch the next, and off the floor on the third. The second week incorporates accommodating resistance with block pulls plus chains. The third is ideal for lifters who need to work on their strength off the floor since it allows for them to pull off the floor each week with varying percentages through the use of reverse bands on the first week, chain resistance on the second, and straight weight on the third. Here's how the percentages for the primary exercise for the last few weeks prior to a meet are programmed for the deadlift:

Week 15

Deadlifts, off floor

Opener/95% of projected max x 1

Second attempt/97.5% of projected max x 1 (ideally with reverse mini bands)

Second attempt/100% of projected max x 1 (ideally with reverse light bands)

Week 16

Deadlifts, off floor, Deload

70% x 2

72.5% x 2

Week 17

Meet week, Off