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Imaginary Contest 2 Report and Future Plans

By Gary F. Zeolla


This article is adjacent to Rotator Cuff Injury.


      I had a consultation with an orthopedic surgeon on August 9, 2021 about an MRI I had done on my left shoulder a week before. The MRI showed I have two significant rotator cuff tears and a biceps sublaxation. I scheduled surgery for Friday, August 20. After the surgery, it will probably be six months before I can work out again. As such, I could have easily just blown off my remaining workouts for those intervening days.

      However, I feared my health would suffer a serious setback due to those months of not working out, so I wanted to keep working out as long as possible before the surgery. And besides, my Squat and Deadlift training had been going great; so good, I thought of delaying the surgery a couple of weeks so that I could compete in a contest before the surgery. But for reasons I discussed in Rotator Cuff Injury Part Two, I decided not to do so.

      I instead decided to do what I did a year and a half ago when the Covid lockdowns forced the cancellation of a planned contest. I went ahead and finished my training plan and did my Peaking Workouts as if I were going to enter a contest. I then posted an Imaginary Contest Report about what I would have attempted if that contest did happen.

      This time, I was not planning on entering a contest until November 6, 2021. That meant, I still had two full rotations plus my Peaking Workouts to go before then. But with the surgery coming fast, I skipped most of those final regular workouts and just did my Peaking Workouts for Squats and Deadlifts the week of the surgery. Then based on what occurred in those workouts, I figured out what I would have attempted if I had entered a contest before undergoing surgery.

      I am calling that imaginary contest “Imaginary Contest 2,” since this was the second time I used this approach, just to give me the satisfaction of knowing what I might have done at a real contest.

      But it should be noted, I did four Peaking Workouts, two for Squats and two for Deadlifts. That is because I did Peaking Workouts for both Squats with Sleeves and Squats with Wraps and for both Conv Deadlifts and Sumo Deadlifts.

      However, I was not able to actually wrap my knees due to barely being able to use my left arm at this point. Thus, instead of actual Squats with wraps, I did Chain Squats with sleeves. I have found that the weights I use for Chain Squats with sleeves is a bit more than what I can do for Squats with 3.0 wraps, which is what I use at a contest. But with the extra 1/2 rep I need to do to get the bar out and back in the rack,  I had to lower my planned weights five pounds, so this time, the weights might be about the same.

      I put the last of these Peaking Workouts in the day before the surgery, on August 19, 2021, so I am using that date for this Imaginary Contest 2.

      I did not, however, do any Bench or Bench Assistance (BA) workouts at this time, as by this time, I could barely do any upper body work. I instead used the time I would usually do those workouts to get caught up on some needed housecleaning and preparing food ahead of time, that would be difficult to do after surgery.

     When I weighed myself at the beginning of this Peaking Week, I weighed 120.6 pounds, so I am using that as my contest weight. But that is about what I weighed before I started cutting for my last contest, when I easily made 114s. Thus, if I were entering a real contest, I would have again cut to 114s.

      My plan for my Peaking Workouts is to do three work sets of 4, 2, 1 reps, increasing 5% from the first to second set, then 2.5% from the second to third set. I then open at the contest with what I did for the four-rep set. My second attempt is what I did for the double. My third attempt is then 5% more than that or 2.5% more than what did for the single. That is assuming all goes according to plan in the Peaking Workouts. If not, then I adjust my contest attempts as need be.

      Below is how my Peaking Workouts went (pounds/ reps), with a video of all three sets for each,


Sumo Deadlifts: 360/4, 380/2, 390/1. Video

Chain Squats: 310/4, 325/2, 332.5/1. Video

Conv Deadlifts: 365/4!, 385/2!, 395/1!. Video

Squats with Sleeves: 280/4, 295/2, 302.5/1. Video

         ! = 50s-60s PR.


        I was very pleased with these workouts, with them all going as planned, with no missed reps. Below is what my attempts would have been based on these Peaking Workouts if I had been able to enter a contest before having surgery.


Sumo Deadlifts: 360, 380, 400

Squats with Wraps: 305, 320, 335

Conv Deadlifts: 365, 385, 405

Squats with Sleeves:  280, 295, 310


      I probably would have opened with sleeves to be sure got my opener. But then, assuming I could have gotten someone to wrap my knees, I would have switched to wraps for my second and third attempts. I might also have taken a fourth attempt, if the third attempt had gone well. But it would have been somewhat up in the air due to the uncertainty with using wraps. It would have depended on how well the other person wrapped my knees. I never had someone else wrap my knees for me, so I would have been leery about it, hence why I would have opened with sleeves. That is why I probably would have been a bit more conservative on my second and third attempts, and wait for a fourth attempt to try a PR and to break my own all-time, raw masters (60+) world record.

      Strangely, I ended this training plan using five pounds more on Conv Deadlifts than on Sumo Deadlifts. Usually, it is the other way around. I usually do about 5-10 pounds more on Sumos. However, the Conv sets were a bit harder than the Sump sets, and I had a bit of a problem with my grip on the Conv sets that I did not have on the Sump sets. But that could have been because I have not done grip work since  I stopped doing upper body work a couple of weeks ago. But still, I probably would have used a Conv stance at the contest. As such, my actual contest attempts would have been:


Squats: Sleeves: 280, Wraps: 315, 330, [340]
Deadlifts: 365, 385, 405


     Remember, these lifts reflect rushed Peaking Workouts. But even at that, they came close my 50-60s PRs and in the case of Conv Dealifts, were new PRs, and I might have been ablke to squeeze out a PR on Squats with Wraps, depending again on the wrapping issues. And if I had been able to finish my training plan as planned, I am confident I would have hit new 50s-60s PR and broken my squat record at the originally planned contest on November 6.

      But as it is, I am not sure if or when I will ever lift again, let alone compete again. But if I do, I will do what I did when I started lifting and competing again in my 40s, after having not competed since college, and again when I started over again in my mid-50s after having stopped in my late 40s. I will start over with my PRs, both for training and for contests. That means, all of my lifts in my first post-surgery training plan and a first post-surgery contest will be new 60s PRs. I will then work to improve on those marks through the rest of my 60s.

            One final point. If you look closely at the Squat videos, the bar is laying straight across my shoulders. But if you compare my older squat videos, you’ll see the bar is angled, higher on the right, lower on the left. That goes back to my bicycle accident and my right shoulder not healing properly.

            That got me wondering if the extra stress on my left shoulder contributed to this current injury. But whatever the case, I have now gotten in the habit of pulling down on the bar with my right hand to take stress off of my left shoulder so that it doesn’t hurt as much as I squat. Even after the surgery, if I go back to squatting, I will try to remember to still do that, even though, hopefully, by then, it will not be necessary to alleviate the pain.

For the rest of this story, see Rotator Cuff Injury: Part Three.

The above article was posted on this website August 19, 2021.

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