T Nation

10 Weeks Till Meet. What Approach to Take?


Hey all, could anyone give me some opinions on working up to a heavish singles for each lift with backdown sets to prepare for a meet (push/pull)? I feel like I’m weak for my size and thought perhaps this type of programming would be logical.

I see that Mike Tuchscherer has taken this type of approach in recent years with his lifters with success, and of course Westside has always done this. The thing is, the vast majority of programs out there are much more linear and I really don’t see many that incorporate heavy singles very frequently (again aside from Westside and RTS). I’ve got 10 weeks till the meet. Thanks for any thoughts/opinions!


The idea is to peak so doing back down sets is counter productive IMO. I’ve never seen anything on WSBB doing back down sets when peaking.

Depending on how you normally train will dictate how you prep. If you do variations of the lifts the majority of the time to build weaknesses, you’ll want a longer prep. If you normally do the competition lifts, you won’t need as much prep time.

Run the 531 concept in three week waves working up to the heaviest weight you can for a 5 or a 3 or a single. Do that for 3 cycles or 9 weeks. Use the last week to either rest or some very very light work. This will prep your body for the meet allowing you to use some different weights each week.

Personally, I train my version of 531 throughout the year. 4 weeks prior to the meet I work up to heavy singles that move smooth. I don’t grind. I only grind during the the non-peaking phase when the weights start getting a little nuts for the rep range. My peaking phase is 4 weeks long.

Take it for what you will and good luck at the meet.


Thanks for that suggestion, it makes sense for sure. My normal training has always been very bodybuilder oriented (6-12 reps) which is probably why I’m a lean 215lbs at 5’10" but my lifts from my last meet were only 353 for Bench and 524 for Deadlift. I think in particular my Deadlift needs improvement because lots of the guys in the 220 class were hitting high 500’s to mid 600’s. Not really looking to win any records but want to improve as much as possible of course. Thanks!


You could just start working up to a single @8 rpe (something you could get for a max effort triple) and add 5 lbs. a week, more if you feel you are getting stronger and nothing or even take off 5-10lbs. if it is @9 or beyond, that is how Mike Tuchscherer explained it. If you have been working with light weights then start conservatively. As for rep work, he either programs @8/repeat or @9/load drop after, and for some people/programs he has submaximal work like 75%x5x6 sets, similar to Josh Bryant’s CAT work (compensatory acceleration training). If you respond well to lots of grinding sets then the first method is better, if not (and particularly if your technique needs work, which it probably does) then I would go with the second method. You could start with 5’s, adding 2-5% each week and gradually dropping reps. How many sets is another story, it depends on what you can recover from combined with the rest of your program.


Maybe not Westside, but lots of people train that way.


Thanks for weighing in Chris, I appreciate your insight. Yeah I was thinking about Mike Tuchscherer’s programming when I mentioned back down sets. I’ve been reading some people getting pretty good results that way. I just didn’t know why it hasn’t caught on more, maybe burnout or injury?

I’ve also read Eric Cressy recommend training with singles at or above 90% more frequently if your weak compared to your size. I think he tends to favor Westside style training though.


If people are getting burnt out or injured from training with Mike T/RTS it’s probably because of the extremely high volume.

Heavy singles in training are probably a lot more common than you think.


I think my wording came out wrong, I didn’t mean to say people are getting hurt or burnt out with RTS. I was just pondering why I don’t see heavy singles built into programs more frequently. But as you pointed out, they are probably more common than I think. I guess for me it just seems so logical due to specificity (and I personally don’t feel comfortable with heavy weights unless I train with them fairly often), but just wasn’t sure if there was some good reason not to include them. Thanks for the replies!


I’ve done it in training, just never heard of anyone peaking that way using back off sets during a peaking cycle for a contest.


Have you found this type of training to be beneficial for keeping peak strength high?

The way I was thinking of it would be to work up to a single at around 90%-95% (depending how the weight is moving) and then do a few sets of 3-5reps until around 4 weeks out where I would then focus almost exclusively on heavy, but not grinding, singles. I train each lift twice per week, so I’d only work up to a single on the heavy day for each lift.

My first meet was sort of an eye opener, as I saw guys that were much less muscular than me lift quite a bit more in some cases. It got me thinking that perhaps I haven’t focused on neural adaptation to max weights nearly enough. Either that, or I’m just destined to be weak for my size lol

On a slightly different note, I noticed that there seemed to be high correlation between bench numbers and muscle size, but only a moderate to low correlation between size and Deadlift strength. Sorta weird


Not sure if you’re asking me or someone else.

If you’re doing 10 weeks of singles at 90-95 I think your contest will suffer. Some respond to that training and the only way to know is to try it.

If you want to incorporate singles and then do some down sets, incorporate something along the lines of what Chris said with the CAT training but do CAT singles.

For example: lets say you want to get 375 on your bench this time. Start with 300lbs for a single but do the single as if it were a competition. Set up, technique and be as explosive and perfect as possible with that single. Then drop down and do some down sets after for the first 6 weeks. Add 5lbs each week to your singles. 300-305-310-315-320-325. The last four weeks go 330-335-340-345 with no additional down sets, just some high rep light weight bodybuilding stuff for support and blood flow/recovery. All singles must be smooth with no grinding.

Singles are important because the mindset is different than just hitting reps. There’s more focus on execution. Go into the meet healthy rather than beat up.


Working to a maximal single and possibly back off sets is one of the best methods for the squat (especially when used with high frequency), but for bench and deadlift I much prefer different ramping schemes such as 5/4/3/2/1, 6/6/4/4/2/2/1/1 (awesome one for bench and deadlift), 3/2/1 waves, 3/1 or 5/1 ratchets, etc., with slightly more guaranteed volume and less focus on the max weight. This works anywhere from once to 5 times a week, though I’d stick with once or twice for deadlift.

Other options involving RoM progression or bands etc. can work but are something for another day right now I’d say; 10 weeks out get some solid, heavy volume work in and guarantee yourself PRs.


Osu122975 thanks for that detailed layout man, that sounds like a really good plan of action. Yeah one thing too like you pointed out is the “beat-up” factor. At 37 years old I might break down pretty bad going too heavy for 10 weeks and then the meet would be a disaster.

Thanks for the help!


That’s something I sorta noticed, it seems like this is fairly popular with Squats but not so much for Bench and definitely not common for Deadlifts. Your right with 10 weeks left I can still get a lot of work in volume wise, and then I’ll do a peak at the end. Thanks!