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50s PRs

by Gary F. Zeolla

I’ve mentioned what I mean by “50s PRs” before, but I wanted to reiterate it for those who might not know as I will be using the term more in my Full Workout Logs and Contest Reports

I started lifting weights back in my early teens in the early 1970s. I started competing via a bench press contest in 1978 as a junior in high school and then in full power meets as a sophomore in college in 1979. I competed until my junior year of college. But then due to health problems I had to stop competing. My last full power meet was in June of 1982, though I did compete in a couple of bench press contests in the summer of 1985 when I was 24. But then my health worsened to the point where I had to stop lifting weights altogether.

Then in my early 40s in the early 00s, I began lifting weights again. I then competed in my first full power meet in 21 years in April 2003. I competed in ten contests from then until June 2009. But once again health problems forced me to stop competing. I kept lifting, but at ever decreasing intensity, until I was barely using much more than the bar.

But then in my 50s in the Fall of 2013 things began to turn around, and I began to gradually increase my intensity and the weights. I then competed in my first contest in almost six years on February 28, 2015. At that time, I thought it best to ignore what I had done in my teens and early 20s and even in my 40s and to think only in terms of what I had done since turning 50 and had started to train at a high intensity again. I thus coined the term “50s PR” to refer to the most weight I have lifted for a given exercise for a given number of reps in my 50s (“PR” means “Personal Record” for those who don’t know.) But I was only keeping track of my 50s PRs for the actual powerlifts, although including both squats with sleeves and squats with wraps and both sumo and conv deadlifts.

But now I realize I need to keep track of my 50s PRs for all of my exercises to better gauge my progress. That is especially the case since with my “Two by Two Training Plan” I only do the actual powerlifts one-quarter of the time, in Week B of my Pre-Contest Routine. For both weeks of my Post-Contest Routine and for Week A of my Pre-Contest Routine I do look-alike lifts instead of the powerlifts. As such, I went back over my training logs for the past couple of years and added my 50s PRs to my current and next workout charts for all of my exercises. With doing so, I was pleased to find out I hit new 50s PRs for most of my exercises within the last couple of weeks of my current routine. That is instructive as it shows my training plan is working.

But just as instructive is the exercises for which I have not yet hit 50s PRs in my current routine. Two of the exercises are incline benches and presses, both of which I do on Bench Assistance (BA) day. I thus have made changes to that workout day that will note in my next weekly training log. Another exercise I have not set PRs on is DB declines, also done on BA day. But the important point is I thought I was making good progress on it, as I have been increasing the weights every workout. But I now know that was only because I started too light at the beginning of the routine. In actuality, DB declines have not gone well, thus necessitating another change to my BA day that I will make starting with my next routine.

Another exercise I have not hit 50s PRs on is sumo SLDLs. But that is because of purposely starting too light on them due to still being leery about pushing my hamstring too hard. But I am now more confident about it and God-willing will hit 50s PRs for conv SLDLs in my next routine. For reverse band conv deadlifts I lessened the tension in the bands, so I cannot compare them to previously. Lastly, I recently purchased new equipment for two exercises and thus have nothing to compare them to, namely my new cambered bar and chains for benches. But I will note where I end up at the end of this routine and try to beat those marks the next time I do these exercises.

All of this is to say that if the LORD wills and all goes according to plan, I will be mentioning 50s PRs more in my training logs, and I will mark all sets that are 50s PRs with an exclamation point and tied 50s PRs with a caret (^). I will continue to mark items that do not go as planned with an asterisk. I will especially note 50s PRs at the end of a routine to compare what I ended the routine with to what my previous PRs were. This will be in line what I say in my powerlifting book that the best way to gauge your progress is to look at what you are doing end of routine to end of routine more than workout to workout, as long term progress is what matters. Of course, to be able to do so requires keeping detailed workout logs, something I also recommend in my book and have always done throughout my lifting career.

Separate 50 PRs for Lifts Done First vs. Second

I have found doing a given look-alike lift first in one a workout versus second makes a big difference in the feel of the lift and how much weight I can use for it. That is why I will also now be keeping track of separate 50s PRs for when a look-alike lift is done first versus second in a workout. This is important as with my new Trinity Training Plan, I rotate through three workout weeks, only doing the actual powerlifts in Week C. I will change some exercises routine to routine, but for others, I will only change the order, doing a given exercise first in one routine then second in the next.

Separate 50 PRs for Peaking Workouts

I will also now keep separate 50 PRs for my peaking workouts. These are my final workouts for each powerlift pre-contest. For them, I use a different sets x reps scheme than for my normal workouts. For my normal workouts, it is 3 x 5-6, 3-4, 1-2 For the peaking workouts, it is 4 x 4, 3, 2, 1. Not doing the initial higher rep set usually enables me to do more on the heavier sets. Moreover, it is in these workouts that I am setting my attempts for my upcoming contest, so I am more psyched up than usual. All that leads to a difference in how much I do in the peaking workouts versus in my regular workouts.

In addition, my progress in my peaking workouts training plan to training plan is of paramount importance, since they most directly affect my performance at the contest. As such, I want to keep track of my progress in these workouts separately from my regular workouts.


50s PRs. Copyright 2016, 2017 by Gary F. Zeolla.

Powerlifting and Strength Training
Powerlifting and Strength Training: Full Workout Logs: 2014 - Present

The above article was posted on this site May 21, 2016.
The first update was added May 2, 2017.
The first update was added August 11, 2017.

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