Preparing for the Come Back


By: Wade Johnson
Magazine 13 #2

In the last few years of my life, life changes have gotten in the way of the platform and dealing with those changes became a priority over competing. But now I’m on the road back. The one big thing I’ve noticed is that I can’t train and recover like I did earlier in my powerlifting career. So, hop on board and go along for the ride as I cover different facets of my training and supplementation on my road back to the platform at age 42.

It is Thursday, February 21, 2008. I am two days away from my comeback meet. While I am nervous, I am also excited at the possibility of hitting some bigger lifts and upping my total personal record.

Wade Johnson 960 lb Squat

In my younger days I was able to overtrain and get by with it. It has never been "Will I do the work?" It was always "Did I do too much?" Now I had to take that issue seriously. For my comeback I tailored my training to the sole purpose of developing power and strength. I focused on form in the big three lifts and did assistance exercises based on priority and time constraints. I changed some basic eating habits and reevaluated my supplement needs.

For this column, I’ll start with squatting. For you bodybuilders out there, it would be leg day, but, keep an open mind and remember that I am a powerlifter. For me, the development of strength, power and dynamic explosiveness is my priority. So I did away with the typical bodybuilding routine of squats, followed by extensions and curls and maybe some leg presses and calves. Instead, I trained like I was competing. All my warm-up sets and working sets were done as explosively as possible and as close to meet conditions as possible. I started with the competition style squat, and then followed this with two additional squatting movements to assist my competition squat. These were the sumo wide stance squat and close stance squat. A typical session was competition squat training, wide stance squats and then finishing with close stance squats. If there was time, I would do some calf work. Here is a sample routine.


To warm-up I did:
Leg extensions:
usually a light weight on a plate loaded extension like 50lbs for 25 reps
Seated leg curl: 45lbs x 15
Calf raise: 50-100lbs x 15-20
If I felt I needed a bit more, I would perform this rotation once more.
Occasionally, I will do a couple of light sets of reverse hypers as well.

Then I would do my warm-up sets in the squat working up to my target weight for the day. Once there I usually did 6 sets of 2. I stayed with sets of two reps in order to focus on form. I found that after a couple of reps with a heavy weight my form starts to deteriorate. My risk of injury goes up and I develop bad habits. I get the volume I need by increasing sets rather than reps.

Johnson Close Stance Squat

  Close Stance  

Wade Johnson Wide Stance Squats

 Wide Stance  

I follow the competition style squats with wide stance squats. Now here I go for reps – either 2 sets of 10 or 1 set of 20. I base this solely on how I feel that particular day. If I’m tired that day I’ll do the 10’s, if I feel pretty fresh I’ll go for 20. Regardless of the rep scheme I choose, I put my feet out as wide as I can and go as deep as I can. This style really focuses on the hips, one of the primary movers in the squat.

Next I go to the close stance squats. Here the quads are the primary mover. I do 3 sets of 3-5 reps depending on feel and weight.

From there, depending on time, I will finish up with some hamstring work and calves.

To illustrate..

A typical session might look like this:
Leg extension, 50lbs x 25-2 sets
Seated leg curl, 45lbs x 15-2 sets
Seated calf raise, 80x25-2 sets
655x2 for 6 sets
Ultra wide squats
255x10-2 sets
Close stance squats
Prone leg curl
Seated calf raise
100lbs x 15-3 sets

Oh, I forgot to mention my squat session is on Tuesdays at 5:00 am sharp. Here’s how I prepare. I usually get up at 4:20 am and sit at my computer for a few minutes trying to justify being alive at that time of morning. Then I get myself together and get my squat clothes and shoes on. As I head down to my basement gym I take 8 Muscle Synergy tablets, then open the gym. I grab a banana and an apple and eat them along with a bottle of water. Then I take 5 Mass Amino Acid tablets and 5 Ultra 40 liver tablets. Once the rest of my training partners arrive and are ready to get started, I take 8 more Muscle Synergy. In addition, I will keep 5-10 Mass amino tablets handy. Every 10 minutes or so, I take 1or 2. This helps me keep my energy levels high through out what is a grueling session and a terrible time to train.

At 5:00 am, eating eggs and a big breakfast is out of the question. And to make a point, my entire training group does this. We have 5 elite powerlifters in the group two of them are females. Also, I’m a big believer in vitamin C. Not only for recovery and the immune system but, vitamin C will heal at the cellular level and that makes it vital for recovery from these types of sessions. I use three Beverly Ultra C daily - one tablet post work out and one with lunch and dinner. Post work out I take 5 more Mass aminos and 5 Ultra 40 liver tablets followed by 8 more Muscle Synergy (that’s 24 Muscle Synergy in all). Being a master aged lifter, recovery is a huge priority and these supplements aid that recovery in a big, big way.

For you bodybuilders out there, there is something you too can take from this work out. These are multi-joint movements that really help build muscle density and size on your lower body that isolation movements just can not match.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this. The next time I will cover the meet and how it went and some more supplementing things we do during the meet to keep ourselves going and keep the energy levels high.

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