Last time we visited, I was on the come back trail, just two days out from my first powerlifting competition in many years. This time around, we will discuss the day’s events including some supplement things I do at the meet.

Training is the easy part for me. I am truly the proverbial gym rat. The only time I really feel comfortable is when I’m wearing my training clothes in the friendly confines of my basement gym.

But mounting the platform, ah, that’s the hard part. You have no control of the tempo of the meet. It’s hurry up and wait. I won’t kid you. Competition is almost always nerve wracking for me. This meet was no different. I was nervous as soon as I entered the meet venue to weigh in. One thing I did not have to worry about was making weight. I’m a super heavyweight, but still it is always fun to see where I have landed bodyweight-wise. I had eaten a steak dinner just minutes before stepping on the scale, so I was anxious to see what I would weigh... 340. Now that was a new one for me. My last meet I competed at 330. I knew I had gained a lot of muscle size and strength with Beverly supplements over the past 18 months of serious training, but I wasn’t expecting a 10 lb increase! Oh well, my gear still fit, I felt strong so, it was time to see what would happen.

But that would have to wait until the next day. It was time to go to the hotel, chill out and hopefully, get some sleep.

The next morning, after some breakfast, I went to the warm-up area and the meet director saw me, smiled and said, “Go on back there and get a spot”. He knew I was a little edgy and to be honest, I think he was enjoying it as he and I go back a ways. I sat down, got my stuff sorted out and set up and started my routine of supplementation for the meet.

My first lift will be the squat. I take a number of warm-ups finishing with 825 and felt like I was in pretty good shape. I opened with 890. It was a solid lift. Next, I upped the weight to 930, which would be a personal record for me. I knew that I needed 930 on the squat if I had any chance of hitting my total goal. 930 was good, but it didn’t go up as quickly as I hoped. At any rate, I stuck to my plan and called for 960. Not only would this be a new personal best, but, the last two meets, 955 had been my albatross and I missed each time because of some technicality. Today was different. I took my time setting up and made sure it was right. I took a huge breath and stood erect with the weight and got the squat command. Down, down, down I went until I hard one of my guys scream, "UP!!!!!" and, up it came with room to spare. Finally, the monkey was off my back and squats were over.

I went back to my little spot and started taking another battery of my Beverly blast of Mass Aminos, Ultra 40, Muscle Mass BCAAs, and Ultra C. If I had not have been fully hydrated (and then some) by this time I would also have taken some more Glutamine Select. For powerlifting complete hydration is not a bad thing – it helps you have better intramuscular leverage. But, I didn’t want to overdo it.

Up next was the bench press. My bench training cycle had gone perfectly and I felt confident I could set a new personal record here, too. My final warm-up weight was 545 and it literally flew up. But then I ran into some trouble. The meet bench was a different height than the warm-up bench. It didn’t seem to affect the other competitors too much, but it kept me from ever really finding the proper groove. I struggled with 625 and knew that I was in for a dog fight. I jumped to 660, which was my goal weight for the meet, and just missed locking it out on the left side by a fraction of an inch. So, I had to repeat it. It wasn’t easy, but I made it on my second attempt and got another personal best.

As I got out of my bench gear, I noticed I was bleeding. I caught my finger racking my 625 opener, but was so focused on hitting that 660, that I didn’t even notice it. So, some lifter pals scrambled to find some athletic tape so I could stop the bleeding before the deadlifts started. Going into the deadlifts I was at a personal best sub-total of 1,620 for the squat and bench.

I hit the same supplement drill, more Mass Aminos, Ultra 40’s and Muscle Mass BCAAs followed by one more Ultra C. At this point in the meet, I’m usually really tired. And to top it off, I’d had the flu about four weeks out and then came down with a light cold the week of the meet. But thanks to my Beverly supplement blast, my energy levels today were still good. I normally don’t do many warm-up reps for the deadlift. I am warm from all the other lifting and today was no exception. The backstage handlers loaded 315 and I pulled it once, about 10 minutes later I pulled 495 and deemed myself ready.

I opened with 625, easy and fast. That lift gave me a personal record total of 2,245lbs, already 45lbs above my previous P.R. But, I was hoping that my day was not over. I called for 660 and up it came with good pace and form so, now I had a decision to make. Should I end the day now with a 2,280 total, or add another 20 and go for a 2,300 total? 2300 is a good round number and a huge total for a 40+, drug free lifter. I went for it. But, it wasn’t to be on this day. I was a bit too far forward as the weight left the floor. As I got it close to lock out, it just stalled. I could not get it to budge another inch. As I was grinding those last couple of inches, the effects of the days lifting showed and I could feel cramping coming on. I decided that it was best to live to lift another day and to escape the meet with out a serious injury. I finished with a 2,280 total and got the meet’s best lifter. A 7 out of 9 day and I felt like I had more than achieved my goal of making a successful come back.

So how can this be of use to you other lifters out there and even to you bodybuilders?

Train like you compete and compete the way you train. It doesn’t matter if you’re squatting on a platform, throwing a knee kick in the cage, or posing on stage. You are what you practice and that’s the bottom line. I had a game plan and I stuck to it. When I had to, I made adjustments in the bench and still maintained my game plan. For me, the consistency in my supplementing on training days came through on meet day. I had energy all the way through what was a very long and emotionally charged day.

Hopefully, you have enjoyed this read and taken something from it that will be useful in your training. Maybe you are asking yourself, what’s next for this old guy? Well, to answer simply, back to the gym to get ready for the next meet with new goals and a game plan to achieve those goals. Until next time...

Lift heavy, train smart & eat more pizza

Wade Johnson’s Bench Press Training Cycle

Monday is flat bench day and then 72 hours later, we do close grip decline presses. I follow a 3 week bench mini cycle and then start over at (hopefully) a higher poundage level for another 3 week cycle.

The sessions are like this
Week #1 - shirtless for sets of 6 (the main session is 3 working sets of 6 and then a drop set of 8).
Week #2 – triples wearing a bench shirt (on triples, I try to hit a triple with what my projected opener will be).
Week #3 – singles wearing a bench shirt (on singles, I try to make my opener automatic and
then push myself on the 2nd and 3rd attempts just like I would at a meet).

Warm-ups are the same at both training sessions each week and they look like this:

(All warm-up weights are very light)
Side lateral raise: 2-3 sets of 15 reps
Hammer curls: 2-3 sets of 15 reps
Standing rotator: 3x15
Side rotator with a band: 1-3x15

Assistance exercises are the same on both days. After the bench or decline, I do 3 sets of 12 reps on each of these movements. Rows for lats, Hammer Strength rear delt for shoulders, hammer curls for biceps, and static hold shrugs for traps. The weights are moderately heavy.

Here’s a sample of one cycle from my training log:
Week 1
Monday - Flat Bench Day - no bench shirt
I have a target each week. Once I get 6 reps for a set, then 3 weeks later when the workout comes up again, I try to push it up. Next time this workout comes up I’ll try 410 again to see if I can get 6 reps.
Thursday – Close Grip Declines
525x5 - missed 6th
515x6 - good set
495x7 - missed 8th
Week 2
Monday - Paused triples in a bench shirt
Thursday - close grip decline presses
500x6 - 3 sets
Week 3
Monday – Paused singles in a shirt
655x1-very hard to touch but, a 5 lb training personal best
675x1-who knew? Another PR!
Thursday – close grip decline presses
505x6 515x6 530x5-missed 6th right at lock out 475x8