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Three Stage Tetra-Trinity Powerlifting Training Strategy:

Mid-Training Plan Review

By Gary F. Zeolla

     As of December 27, 2019, I am now halfway through my 2019-20 Tetra-Trinity #1 Powerlifting Training Strategy. I have completed the first three rotations of my planned six rotations, with each rotation lasting four weeks.

     Counting out the remaining weeks, it will work out just right for me to enter a contest on April 4, 2020. There is an APF contest on that date in Zanesville, OH, which is just 2-1/2 hours from my home near Pittsburgh, PA. That is a bit shorter than the usual 3-1/2 hour drive I need to make for most contests, so it would be convenient. It is also the week before Easter, so I will not miss Easter and my family’s Easter celebration.

     For a contest on this date, if I follow the Tetra Plan as I have it written, I will get in my planned three more rotations and thus three more workouts doing the actual powerlifts, plus a fourth week for my peaking week. That will take me to the week of the contest, just as I want.

     However, looking at how I am progressing and with that number of workouts left, my best estimate is that I will end up matching my Squat from my last contest, or at best, bettering it by about five pounds.

     Benches are a bit harder to estimate as compared to my last contest since I missed my third attempt. But if I estimate it as having completed that attempt, which I should have been able to do, then the same situation exists for Benches. I should be able to repeat what I did or maybe better it by five pounds.

     Deadlifts, however, are not looking even that good. The way they are tracking, I will fall short of what I did last time by as much as 10 pounds or more.

     What this means is, I need to make some kind of change to my Plan if I want the ability to at least attempt significantly more than last time. I had such a change built into the original plan for this Training Plan. I will simply eliminate Week D of the Tetra Plan, turning it into a Trinity Plan. In that way, rather than getting in three more rotations of four weeks each and thus three more regular powerlifts workouts, I will get in four more rotations of three weeks each, and thus four more actual powerlifts workout. That should be enough to open up the possibility of a greater gain on Squats and Deadlifts and at least equaling what I did on Deadlifts last time. To aid Deadlifts a bit more, I will move them up to Week B. In that way, maybe I will be able to sneak in an extra actual Deadlifts workout before the contest.

     I will also be making three minor changes. The first is in regard to my raw backoff set. I was doing 20-25 reps, namely for conditioning. But all that does is tire me out, so I am reducing it to 8-12 reps. That will simply mean, rather than using 50% of the weight for my top set for it, I will use 70-75%.

     Second and similarly, I was only doing that raw set in the mornings, then Speed Work in the afternoons, also for conditioning. But I will switch to doing the raw set in the afternoons as well, as all the Speed Work seems to be doing is tiring me out. But I believe it is important to do some raw work, while eight reps is the heaviest I feel safe working hard completely raw. As for conditioning, I get enough for that from daily activities other than working out.

     Third, I was alternating doing a given exercise in the AM one rotation then in the PM. That was for two reasons. First, it was so that I would be doing both the raw set and the Speed Work for a given exercise. But with doing a raw set in both workouts, that will not matter.

     Second, when I started this Plan, I wasn’t sure if I would be feeling stronger in the mornings or in the afternoons. But now it is clear I feel a bit better in the mornings. As such, I will now do the actual powerlifts in the morning. For other weeks, my morning lift will be what I consider to be the most important lift of the two to be done on that day.

     These three changes are minor and will not require major changes to my workout charts. I have a couple of ideas for more significant changes. But those will wait for my next Training Plan, after the April 4, 2020 contest.

     For my first workouts using this slightly revised Training Strategy, see 2019-20 Tetra-Trinity #1 Powerlifting Training Plan: Rotations III and IV of VII. Note the change from “of VI” to “of VII.” That reflects the one more rotation with now using the Trinity Plan.


Update: Major Change


     I changed my mind about waiting until next time to make one of the two major changes I mentioned about. The change is in my basic Training Week.

     To explain, almost ever since I started powerlifting again back in 2003, I have used the plan of lifting four times a week, alternating through four basic workouts: Bench Assistance (BA), Squats, Benches, Deadlifts. This pattern of course has me doing each lift once a week, and it has worked well.

     However, a problem I have long noticed is that I still get sore after workouts, especially DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscular Soreness). The biggest problem is the morning after a Deadlifts workout. Sometimes, I feel like I can barely get out of bed.

     I say “almost” above as when I first started using free weights again back in the early 00s, I used the pattern of doing each lift twice a week, by doing one Squat and one Deadlift exercise in the same workout twice a week. I did that, as back I college I always trained each lift twice a week.

     But now, it seemed most powerlifters considered such a pattern to be a no, no, so I changed to the above pattern, doing two Squat or two Deadlift exercises in a given workout. That makes sense in that doing so is a time-saver, in that I do not need to change my personal gear (shoes and wraps) and equipment (bars, etc.) around from the first to the second exercise.

     But now, with my two-a-day pattern of lifting, I am taking off my personal gear after my morning workout anyway, then putting it back on again for my afternoon workout. Therefore, it will make no difference to put on my Squat gear for my morning workout then my Deadlift gear for my afternoon workout.

     That will of course be my pattern: Squats in the morning then Deadlifts in the afternoon, just like at a contest. I will then do Benches in the morning (again, just like at a contest), then a BA exercise in the afternoons (Declines, Inclines, Presses).

     I will still need to change the bars and other equipment around, but that shouldn’t add too much to my total workout time.

     This pattern will have me training more like I compete—Squats and Benches in the morning and Deadlifts in the afternoon. Hopefully, it will also keep me from getting such severe DOMS,

     The only downside is I will always be doing Deadlifts second. That could lessen my strength and energy somewhat for them, but I don’t think as much as doing another Deadlift exercise first. As indicated previously, I feel stronger in the mornings than in the afternoons, but that was with doing the same type of lift in both workouts. With this plan, I am hoping the morning lift does not as adversely affect the afternoon lift with the lifts being more different.

     This is a major change, but here’s praying it works out well as I start the second half of my Training Plan leading up to my next contest.


Updated Workouts Summary


     This “major change” necessitates a new Workouts Summary, but I will hold off on posting that. It would take a while to write up, but will only be for half a Training Plan. If I make the second major change I am thinking of for next time, it will change again. Therefore, I will wait until I decide in that regard and post the Summary next time. But I will post the Basic Design of my workouts now. To keep things straight, I am numbering each of the now two basic workouts 1-8. There will still be a difference between one half of the same type of workouts and the other half, so I am differentiating between them by labeling one “odd” and  one “even” indicating of course the numbering.


Basic Design of Morning Workouts:

Bench/ Bench Assistance (Odd): Bottom End Bench Exercise, Hand Grippers.

Squats/ Deadlifts (Odd) : Top End Squat Exercise.

Bench/ Bench Assistance (Even): Top End Bench Exercise, Rotator Cuff.

Squats/ Deadlifts (Even): Bottom End Squat Exercise.


Basic Design of Afternoon Workouts:

Bench/ Bench Assistance (Odd): Non-flat Bench Assistance Exercise (Declines), Rows (overhand, to the chest), Curls.

Squats/ Deadlifts (Odd): Conv Deadlift Exercise, One or Two of: Adductors/ Abductors, Calves, Upper Abs.

Bench/ Bench Assistance (Even): Non-flat Bench Assistance Exercise (Inclines or Presses), Rows (underhand, to the stomach), Reverse Curls.

Squats/ Deadlifts (Even): Sumo Deadlift Exercise, One or Two of: Hamstrings, Lower Abs.


Raw Set Update


     I left it a bit open-ended for my raw backoff set, as I wasn’t sure exactly how many reps I wanted to do and what the best percentage would be to hit those reps. But after a few workouts, it seems that using 75% of my top geared set weight of two reps for Bench exercises enables me to do 10 reps raw. For Squats and Deadlifts, I need to reduce that percentage to 70%. That reflects that gear on Benches (belt and wrist wraps) does not add anything to the lift, while the belt and knee sleeves I wear for Squats and Deadlifts does add a bit, apparently about 5%. But I will probably round it up.

     I will still write it up as 8-12 reps, but the exact numbers of reps will be a bit higher at the start of a Training Plan, when I am basing it on a triple, probably 11-12 reps. Then about ten reps when I am basing it on a double, as now, then 8-9 reps when I am basing it on a single.


Extra Off Day Update


     I mentioned in the Overview the pros and cons of the two ways of adjusting my Training Plan to accommodate my monthly extra off day. The first method was just skipping my BA day. But now that I now longer have a BA day, that will not be an option. That means, I will always use the second method of pushing my workouts back a day when taking my monthly extra day off. But this new Training Week plan will solve the problem associated with doing so. I found that out with my first workout after an extra day off using this new plan.

     With the extra off day, it had been six days since I did Squats, and they went great. But then it had been ten days since I had done Deadlifts, as when I last did them, it was with my old Training Week plan. And they felt terrible. But with this new Training Week, the most a particular type of workout will be pushed back to will be six days. And with doing both Squats and Deadlifts on that day, six days will be the longest I will go without doing a particular lift.

     This also has implications for scheduling my final workouts pre-contest. Assuming a Saturday contest, it will probably be best to do my last Squat/ Deadlift workout on the Sunday before. But I still need to experiment a bit to figure out what will be best for Benches.

Another Raw Set Update


     After a couple of workouts, I could tell doing a raw set after three geared sets was going to be too much. Even though the raw set is considerably different from my geared sets, it is still four work sets total. I have found in the past that four work sets are just too much. As such, I am going to give up the idea of a raw backoff set.

     But to get in a bit more raw work, I am increasing the number of reps for each of my raw warmup sets by 1-2 reps. That will have me doing warmup sets of: raw: 15, 11, 9, 7, 5, (4), add gear: 3. The first set for Squats and Deadlifts is with just bodyweight and for Benches with the bar. The second for Squats is with 65 pounds, which is usually the weight of the bar at contests, and for Deadlifts with just the bar, and for Benches with 65 pounds. Then the rest of the raw sets are spaced evenly between that set and the geared warmup set.

     This is similar to what I have done in the past, before I started experimenting with Speed Work and a raw backoff set. It sufficed for raw without overly tiring me out for my work sets and overall. I should have just stuck with it. Oh well. Live and learn.

Mid-Training Plan Review. Copyright 2019, 2020 by Gary F. Zeolla.

Powerlifting and Strength Training
Powerlifting and Strength Training: Full Workout Logs: 2018 - Present

The above article was posted on this site December 28, 2019.
The Updates were added January 1, 2020.

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