Powerlifting progress 2010: week six

I am serious about wanting to qualify and compete at powerlifting, but when I started out on this series there were a few key problems:

  1. I spent most of 2008 and 2009 trying to improve my form and find the weaknesses that were being masked by poor form (like my abs) and working hard at eliminating weaknesses.  I’m not there yet, but I’m definitely moving in the right direction.  However, the flip side of that is that I’ve not done any proper powerlifting moves for a while and my good form weights are below qualifying weights.
  2. My hip mobility is dreadful so I can’t squat deep enough and it hinders how much I can deadlift.
  3. When I bench, I can’t stabilise the bar once there’s a mildly heavy weight on it and I tend to fail about halfway up.
17.5 inch squat depth 4 months ago when I started the program

17.5 inch squat depth 4 months ago when I started the program

This series 

Having had some reasonable successes at the end of 2009, fixing the problems while also driving up the strength numbers are the priorities of the program.  I’m recording my progress in this series: powerlifting progress.  It is serving as a journal and makes me a bit more accountable to my goals. 

This week

This was the sixthweek in the program and the first week of my new Westside-style program.  I really enjoyed myself trying the max effort approach and wasn’t as fried as I expected to be doing all upper body or all lower body workouts.

Here’s how I got on in relation to my powerlifting goals.


Action plan

  • Maintain – leg strength and ab strength
  • Develop – hip mobility and lower back strength

Progress this week

My first attempt at doing back squats in about 6 months and I was really impressed.  I was doing these as my max effort and, while the total that I managed to squat was perhaps a little lower than hoped (57kg for a 5 rep max), I was pleased to find that my form was better than ever before. 

Particular highlights for me were:

  • managing to squat every rep to my depth of 15 inches – a fraction above parallel
  • my knees didn’t drift forward which meant that for the first time in my life I truly understood the cue “drive through your heels” – with my knees drifting forward to get depth last time I was squatting I was physically unable to push up through my heels;
  • my back remained flat throughout;
  • while my back strength is still my limiting factor, this is probably the heaviest 5 rep max I’ve managed on the back squat without finishing up with a sore back or squatting to a shallower depth so, ultimately, my lower back is definitely stronger than it was.


Action plan

  • Maintain – technique
  • Develop – lat and shoulder strength

Progress this week

This was also a max effort lift (5 rep max) and I was unsurprised to find that it’s not improved much since Christmas.  However, I also did a max effort on chin ups for the first time ever and found I was able to squeeze out some reps with added weight so my lats are definitely getting stronger.

For the avoidance of doubt, I call it a chin up if my palms are facing me and a pull up if my palms are facing away from me.

Bent over rows, Viking presses and close grip chins made up the bulk of my other arm exercises for the week, all of which should assist me in continuing to build up lat and shoulder strength.

I’ve decided not to aim for qualifying weight on this (40kg) but instead aim for “advanced lifter” category on the Rippetoe Strength Standards which means I’m aiming for about 50kg.  The BDFPA qualifying weights for deadlift and squat pretty much match the Rippetoe Strength Standards for advanced lifters so it makes sense to try and keep everything in alignment.


Action plan

  • Maintain – leg strength and ab strength
  • Develop – hip mobility and lower back strength

Progress this week

An exciting week for my deadlift since I moved onto single reps of sumo deadlifts (10 sets of them on 1 minute intervals) and I shifted more weight than I’ve ever moved before – 85kg.  It seems that the complexes have definitely been of help in increasing what I can lift.

Since 85kg is my qualifying weight it seems I’ve just got to get my squat up a bit (and get my deadlift off its inch high blocks) and I’m about there for meeting the national qualifying weights!

I was pleased with my form and my improved hip mobility is definitely making a difference to this, though there is still plenty of room for improvement before I can go into a competition and be sure I can get the lift I want off the floor.


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