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2016-17 Two by Two Training Plan Review

By Gary F. Zeolla


      I just finished the final workout of my 2016-2017 Two by Two Powerlifting Training Plan leading up to my next powerlifting contest: IPA PA States on March 4, 2017. My training did not go as well as I had hoped for most of the training plan. I will explain why in this short article and discuss my plans for the contest.




      The word that defines this training plan is “experimentation.” But most of the experiments failed and messed up my training.

      I first experimented with a cycle of sorts on my Post-Contest Routine, doing somewhat higher reps at the start of the routine, then cycling down the reps through the routine. I ended up with a few small 50s PRs, a few tied 50s PRs, and falling short on others. But I did not make any significant progress.

      Then in the first half of my Pre-Contest Routine, I experimented with adding a fourth higher rep set to all of my lifts. That led to me feeling overtrained and did not do much in terms of increasing my lifts. I then switched to an alternate high/ low reps plan for a week or so. That also did not go well and led to more overtraining.

      But then I finally wised up, and for the final month of the routine, I went back to my previously sets x reps plan of doing 3 x 5-6, 3-4, 1-2 on the powerlifts and look-alike lifts. And that got me back on track.

      I also experimented with using sleeves on squats for most of the routine and then only using wraps for my final two regular squat workouts (Weeks 10, 12). But that left me feeling unsure when I used the wraps. I will thus go back to using wraps throughout for entire training plan in the future.

      Adding to this problem was I have been using 2.5 meter wraps for quite some time now. But the IPA allows 3.0 meter wraps, so I got a couple of pairs and used one pair for my final workout. But that messed that workout up due to the wraps not being broken in and me not being used to the extra half a meter. But they will work, and I will use them at the contest, but I know now not to wait until my final workout to use a new pair of wraps, and I probably need to use the 3.0 meter length for a couple of workouts pre-contest.

      Otherwise, I experiment with the exercises on my Bench Assistance Day, but that also did not go well and led to yet more overtraining. Thus at the end of the training plan, I went back to the pattern I had been using. I also experimented with different exercises on other days that didn’t work out.

      Then I experimented with different orders of exercises and groupings of exercises. It makes a significant difference if a major exercise is done first or second in a workout and even what the first exercise is when a lift is done second. But doing so hindered progress on the lifts that were being moved back and forth.

      In fact, all of this experimenting messed up my training throughout this training plan, but I did learn a lot that will aid me in designing my next training plan. I will explain all of that in a later article. But as for my upcoming contest, all I can do is trust the LORD that things go as best as can be expected. To that end, I struggled with how best to peak for the contest




      As the contest approached, I went back and forth if I should experiment with the peaking plan that I discuss under the “Second Update” at 2016-17 Mid-Training Routine Changes. I was leery to experiment with something totally new with the way all of the experimenting so far had been messing me up. But that peaking plan does make sense, and I wanted to stick with my plan of opening with what I did for a four-rep set. My second attempt would be what I did for a double, then figure my third attempt out from there.

      As a compromise, I only did the peaking plan for my final workout for each powerlift rather than the last two. Following are comments on each workout.



      I was still debating on exactly what sets x reps to do as I started squats, the first of my final workouts. I figured I would start with a weight I could do for four reps and then play it by ear from there. But confusing the issue was I was using the aforementioned new pair of 3.0 meter wraps. For further comments on the wraps, see the “3.0 Meter Wraps Update” at the end of Knee Wraps and Knee Sleeves for Powerlifting.

      But here, I will just say, the wraps threw me off until I got used to them and got them broken in, both during my warmups and for my first two work sets. As a result, I only did a triple on my first work set with 295 rather than my hope for four reps. I then went up by ten pounds to 305, hoping for a double but only got one rep. Then I went up by another ten pounds to 315 and did another single. It felt better than the second set, as it was only by then that I got the wraps wrapped right, and it was with strength to spare. But I thought it best to stop there. I skipped the normal following Mantra Ray squats but did my speed work.

      Even with all the messing around with the wraps, with skipping the Manta Ray squats, it was a shorter than normal workout, and I barely felt like I had worked out afterwards. As a result, I am in a quandary as to what to attempt at the contest. If I had been able to wrap right for the first two sets, I might have gotten them for four and two reps respectively. But without actually doing a four-rep or two-rep set, I’m not sure. And I am really unsure if doing so little work in my last squat workout will prove beneficial or detrimental. I guess I will find out come contest time.


Updated Plans:

      Not knowing going in what I was going to do messed up squats, so for benches and deadlifts, I went in with the plan as it was originally written, which is to say, I planned on doing my normal, final 3-rep warmup set with gear. But I would replace my initial work set of 5-6 reps with a 1-rep warmup set, also with gear. That means it would be 5% less than my first work set. Then I would plan on doing 4 x 4, 3, 2, 1.

      Since I would only be dropping by one rep set to set rather than my normal two reps, I would increase the weights by half as much set to set as I usually do, thus 2.5% rather than my normal 5%, but rounded up to the next 2-1/2-pound increment. If I had done that for squats, I would have only increased by 7.5 pounds each set, and the workout might have gone better. But for benches, I increased by 5 pounds per set and for deadlifts by 10 pounds.



      It was unseasonably warm in the Pittsburgh area the week of these final workouts, and that led to a sleepless night before this workout. But I took a nap in the afternoon and felt okay for it. And the workout went exactly according to plan.

      On benches, I did: 155/4, 160/3, 165/2, 170/1. The final rep of each set was a near or full max, just the intensity I wanted. I then skipped the close grip benches I had been doing, but did speed push-ups and DB rows. The workout was much shorter than usual, but I still felt like I got a decent amount of work in, but not too much. As such, I am glad I went back to my original plan, and I am feeling much more confident about benches than squats for my upcoming contest.



      Just like benches, deadlifts went exactly according to plan: 350/4, 360/3, 370/2, 380/1. Even more importantly, this was the best deadlifts have felt this entire training plan, so I am feeling very confident about them for the contest.

      The only possible problem is this workout was six days out, and that is the closest I ever did my final heavy deadlift workout to a contest. But if I didn’t go heavy here, then my last hard workout would have been 13 days out. I know some would say that would have been better, but at that point deadlifts still did not feel good, so I really needed this workout.

      Also, all I had left was a light Bench Assistance workout the next day, and for that, I skipped my normal upper back work altogether so as to be sure my upper back is fully recovered. So I think I will be okay, but I guess I will find out at the contest.




      I have entered three contests since started to compete again in 2015 after a six-year break. The first two were IPA contests and the third an APF contest. I have gone 9/9 at all three. I have done so by following a specific plan for picking my attempts. I have also increased my lifts each contest from the previous one. But this might be the first contest that I do not better my previous lifts.

      I need to put that thought aside and to avoid the temptation to be overly aggressive and to deviate from my attempts plan. That could cause me to miss lifts unnecessarily. Instead, I need to focus on doing the best I can at this contest. Moreover, since my last contest was an APF contest and this is an IPA contest, I might think more in terms of increasing my IPA records from a year ago rather than my 50s PRs and all-time records from the APF contest six months ago. If I do just that, I will be satisfied.

      That said; my planned openers are: 290 – 155 – 350.


Cutting Weight


      I weighed 120.6 pound Monday morning (2/27). I need to weigh 114.5 pounds on Friday (3/3) at 10:00 am for weigh-ins. That means I have 6.1 pounds to lose in the next four days. I will follow the same plan as have been: eat only low-calorie veggies and low-fat animal protein. I will increase salt and water the first few days, then cut it as needed the last two days. Then I will follow the same eating and rehydrating plan as I have been. Both the cutting weight and eating and rehydrating plans have worked well for my last three contests, so there is no reason to make any changes.




      All of the experimenting did mess up my training. But I am ready for this contest. Here’s praying things go well. For a contest report, see IPA Pennsylvania State Powerlifting Championships – 2017 (forthcoming).


2016-17 Training Plan Review. Copyright 2017 by Gary F. Zeolla.

The above article was posted on this site February 28, 2016.

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