Have you ever had an outstanding year of training…
…. and then the next two years are completely terrible?
Maybe you haven’t even been in the training game that long, but you know what it’s like to hit a slump.
So, when things stall in training, what variables to do you look at first? Do you scrap the whole program and jump to another or do you look at each part of the puzzle and adjust what is missing or lacking?
Looking at the way I have trained over the last 12 years from a 10,000 foot view, it looks like the same program. But when I zoom in on each year and the individual parts, there are some distinct things I notice. And if I notice the slumps, I can then ask myself a few questions:
1. Is my core/ab work strong enough?
2. Am I pushing my assistance work?
3. How far out from a meet am I?
4. Am I using builders for my supplemental work?
5. Is my supplemental work building or tearing down?
I know if I am not pushing my core work that it is a huge indicator that my lower body training isn’t as strong as it could be. The years when I hit my biggest numbers, I was doing heavy ab work consistently, twice a week. The other two training days had lighter ab work. But the key was consistent and heavy.
All the exercises that follow your main movement is your assistance work. It “assists” your main lift. Much like a dentist cannot complete their work without a dental assistant, a lifter cannot reach their potential with their assistance work. (Perhaps a lame comparison, but you get the point.) We’ve all had days where we need to cut the training short for time’s sake. But does that happen on daily basis for you? Are you just being lazy with what you really need to get done? Are you spending more time talking than you are doing? And if it really is a time factor, give yourself 30-45 minutes to get your assistance work done. That means you’re going to have to move.
The further I am out from a meet the lower my sense of urgency. Once a meet is planned, things become real, the excitement increases and my desire to break my personal records is top priority. Knowing that there is an end date makes me excited to see what I can accomplish by that time. Sometimes, you just need to sign your name on the dotted line.
Supplemental Work for Builders
One of the big mistakes or lacking areas in most people’s training is supplemental lifts. This is usually a second pressing exercise on upper body days or a deadlift variation after squatting on lower body day. Your supplemental/builder exercise should be the one thing that will drive your main lift up. It’s about finding your biggest weakness and targeting that. It can take time, sometimes years, to dial in the specific exercises that YOU might need to improve that lift. But figure it out and make it happen.
Supplemental Work Intensity
Once you have the right supplemental exercises, you must use them to build your strength, not test it or tear yourself down. What do I mean by this? Supplemental lifts should not be a second max effort exercise…but you can’t go through the motions either. A good starting point is 3-8 reps for supplemental work, but singles work for some people and higher reps work for others. If you build it, records will come!