How to Get Stronger Powerlifting
When Progress Stops
By Bob Shaefer
In the past year, I have agreed to get involved in some extensive email training for a few young men. Believe me the limitations are almost insurmountable. The challenge is time consuming and one that I would have never undertaken even two years ago due to time restraints. My reasons for taking on such a seemingly ambiguous chore, boiled down to a challenge from a friend. I felt email training would be shallow and very hard to convey. My friend thought it would be a success as long as the application focused on beginning and intermediate lifters.
Obviously my willingness to post my email for questions pertaining to training, draws those who aren't in a progressive mode. My first questions concern their age, weight, level of experience, and sometimes a request for a photo, along with an outline on their current training volume, etc..
I get return letters describing 5 and 6 day a week, gym sessions involving a multitude of isolation training that would have me thinking I was working with a body builder. They tell me of their desire to bench X amount and I think to myself, "How in the world am I going to convince them to cut 50 % of their gym time, and almost all of their isolation training when I know they are probably sitting on a collection of bodybuilding magazines that would reach back to the Frank Zane era.
My first response included nothing about the changes I might suggest. I only asked if they will devote two weeks of strict adherence to a routine that would surely test their trust in a total stranger. I tried to get a "yes" or "no" answer before I started. Most said yes out of curiosity, knowing full well they might not see their way to the end of the two weeks. Then I set them up with an abbreviated training regimen requiring multiple days of rest between sessions, 5 to 7 minute rest periods between bench sessions allowing for only two demanding sets plus, a page full of "no no's" eliminating hours of their previous calorie burning assistance moves. Also eliminating their training partner's help at each bench lockout, etc.. The DENIAL had my outlook express bursting at the seams.
I heard "What about pec dec? What about skull crushers? What about my arm size?" ARM SIZE?? AHAH!!! See..here comes the inner bodybuilder blurting out the truth. I answer with questions. "I thought you were only concerned with strength gains"? Well.....um...geez, do I have to lose size? Now I'm thinking of a few smoke clouded friends of mine who say, " Geez, can't I have cancer free lungs and still smoke for a few more years"?
Don't get me wrong, I am totally enjoying my cyber trip with a few, who have taken the two week challenge and continued on.
The key word is "FEW". Let me take this opportunity to say hello to my Cyber Team. ... Josh , Shawn, Jason, Charles, Todd, Adam, Mike, Don and Verlyn, plus several others who have spent a good amount of time disciplining themselves to trust a stranger as he guides them into questionable training territory. To these guys I say "Congrat's" for being honest with yourself.
No denial with these boys. I think I can safely say, each is happy with our results to date and our ongiong friendship. And to Josh Wilkins (One of my first email Pals) , it's time to change your email address from 500 to 600.
Isn't it a great feeling to know 500 is no longer a dream max, just a poundage used to get in a few reps?
So...why two weeks? What happens at the end of the period? Actually very simple logic. Just the reduction of unnecessary isolation work plus the extra few days of complete rest, allows them to see an immediate gain in power, especially in their bench. From then on I can usually keep there attention.
So, don't let denial set in. You won't find a blank spot on a powerlifting entry form asking for the diameter of your arm.
JM Blakley said it best "Do less but do it better".