I am one of the Weekenders training at the EliteFTS Area S4. My last meet experience in June 2010 resulted in a 350 pound full meet PR and a huge step forward. Feeling what I thought was momentum; I decided to enter the IPA Lexen Fall Classic four months later in October. While there was every intention of another triple-digit PR, that was not the case this day. What follows is not a tale of an inspirational performance. Rather, it is just a perspective on what worked and what didn’t and what was learned from a 16-week training cycle and a small-time 17 pound total meet PR.

The Program & the Bloat

The program was written by EFS head honcho Dave Tate and based on a block model with other methods tossed in. I don’t know jack about block models, so I just think of it as three phases: 1) get your body conditioned and form dialed-in with lots of sets; 2) lift real heavy stuff; and 3) taper activities down in preparation for the meet – while using accessory work to improve weak points at every step along the way.

It was the latter activity around weak points that separated this program from a basic template. Each week Dave would observe and coach, either in-person or through videos of the main lifts of our training group. We'd also send weekly progress reports discussing the performance of everyone in the group and providing an update on how we individually felt mentally and physically. This allowed for the template to be modified, by lifter, with special exercises and instructions to dial workloads up or down as the weeks progressed.

And there was the bloat. Carrying more weight on your frame often means moving more weight in the gym. We had to report how many pounds over or normal wake-up weight we were able to achieve by Saturday morning. Sodium/carb /supplement intake would then be modified week by week based on our ability to, as Dave put it, “look like a blowfish by Saturday morning.”

Meet Week

The week leading up to the meet was great. Lots of rest and ice. I was weighing 245 in the mornings and 250 in the evenings, so no real cut was needed to hit the 242s. I did reduce sodium/carbs/fluids and spent some time in the hot tub on Friday just to be safe and weighed in Saturday morning at 236.

The Meet

The meet was held at a hotel in Columbus, OH about a 10 minute drive from my house, so there were no travel issues.  The warm-up room had plenty of space for lifters, so getting ready was a piece of cake.  The weights were feeling light and we had a whole crew from Elite both lifting and helping.

Squat: Took 675 pounds as an opener. Got knee wraps on and ready to go before realizing that they had changed the order of three lifters opening at that same weight, relative to what was posted in the warm-up room. Had to unwrap and rewrap and then was worried about getting timed out. I think the extra commotion actually helped me focus and I hit the squat easily. Took 725 on the second attempt for a 20 pound PR attempt. Lost my arch, got forward out of the hole and could not recover. No lift. Took 725 pounds again for my third attempt, got forward again, but stayed with it and got three whites. I was in the meet with a 20 pound PR.

Bench: Opened with 620 pounds, eight pounds below my last meet to be conservative, and it moved very fast and easy. Jumped to 660 for the second - and a 10 pound PR. Had the Metal Ace Pro shirt jacked too tight and was way out of the groove throughout the press. No lift. Took 660 pounds again on the third. The weight felt great coming down - I remember thinking during the lift that I was going to crush it. It flew off my chest, but I continued to push with my elbows tucked instead of flaring at the top and pushed it forward into the uprights. No lift. Lifter error. This is a bad habit from training with lighter weights where I can usually recover. Not so much when you are dealing with max weights.

Deadlift: Started light with 520 pounds. Good lift. Went to 555 for a 5 pound PR. Three whites. Then went to 575. Got it up to lockout and stood with it. It was close. One white and two reds – no lift. I did lock my knees out and was upright, but did not push the hips all the way through to completion.


Things that went right:

  • I was rested and the weights felt light.
  • The extra work in gear leading up to the meet was very helpful from a form perspective.
  • Squat is getting there. Knees do not buckle anymore and I am comfortable with the suit now.
  • Bench stability is 1000% better than it was last year at this time, even if it is not showing in the total. Lat and upper back work has paid huge dividends.
  • Strength on pulls is still equal to that of a teenage girl, but is improving. The weight is coming off the floor with good speed, which used to be the main problem.

Things that need work:

  • I do not keep my arch in the squat and end up forward when the weights get heavy. Lower back needs work.
  • Need to regain some upper body bulk for the bench. The extra work squatting lately has made me stronger and in better shape overall, but I'm down about eight pounds in base weight. My legs and back have gotten thicker but my upper body has gotten thinner. Need to get some of that bulk back.
  • Hips are weak. WEAK. I'm guessing rack pulls and reverse hypers would do me a lot of good. Band pulls too.

As for the program, I am very happy with it. I didn't particularly show in the results, but that was more lifter error than poor programming. And, while a 17 pound total PR is nothing to write home about, at least it is progress. More importantly, I learned a great deal, worked out a ton of form issues in training and got another meet under my belt. There are some physical infrastructure issues I need to work out before taking the platform again. But, I will be back and looking for that triple digit PR next time around.


I gotta give a huge nod to Dave Tate here. Not only did he take the time to write the program and coach us along the way; he did so while dealing with the death of his father and emergency heart surgery on his wife. Can’t say enough for what the guy gives back to those around him and to the sport of powerlifting.

The rest of the crew at S4 are also some of the best around. I trained Saturday squats with Ted Toalston, Molly Edwards and Jon Taylor this time around and it was a fantastic environment. And yes, Ted is every bit as positive and upbeat in real life as he is in his log. Leigh An Jaskiewhatever, while not technically in our group, was also a huge contributor to our success. Sunday bench training was with Scott Arnold, who beat me in total by 15 pounds on meet day, and Todd Brock, a guy who is not mentioned much on the site, but is one of the most knowledgeable lifters alive and who has been with Dave since the old days. Of course, no list would be complete without the mention of Rich T. Baggins Douglas, who is 15 years younger than me but knows ten times more about how to work the lifts than I ever will.

That is all for now. See you after the next meet!