I'm getting ready for my first meet on April 23 (15 weeks out), I will be lifting in single-ply gear, but I've never worn gear before 6 weeks ago. I'm looking for advice on how to structure a 12-14 week meet prep program, and would appreciate any help.
I've only been competing for a little over 3 years now, so although I've more than totaled elite don't take my word as anything more than my opinion.
The best advise I could give a newer lifter looking to compete is to 1st make sure that you understand all of the rules. Know your feds commands for the squat and bench especially. 2nd, get honest training partners to help watch your lifts so you don't find out come meet day that you squat high and your spotter has been helping your bench press the whole training cycle. Last, don't do anything.... ANYTHING..... different for the meet than you've done for a heavy training day before it. Meet day isn't the time to try new things. LEave the equipment exactly like you have used in training, eat the same foods the night before ( nothing pisses me off more than pre-meet diarrhea)
As for training I cycle my training every 3 weeks ( occasionally adding in a deload week when I need it) so, Light, Medium, Heavy. ( there's a lot more to it than this, but don't make anything more complicated than it needs to be, this isn't rocket science)
For a good meet plan meet day like your heavy week, the week before I'd take somewhere around your planned openers.... for example, I plan to open this year at our state meet around 859-640-600..... so the week before I'll take 800ish in the squat, touch the lightest weight I can in the bench ( somewhere just over 6) and pull 550-600 at around 10 days out.
2 weeks out I'd go really light, almost a deload week.
3 weeks out don't go stupidly-heavy but this should be your last heavy-ish workout before the meet.
Before that just do what you do....... because you're new to gear I'd spend every workout in some sort of gear just to give you time to learn it better. You don't want any surprises come meet day...
My training partner and one of our regular handlers have both competed for over 10 years and went to this meet last year, so I'm in good shape there.
It sounds like what you're saying is that we shouldn't change up our training until the last 3 weeks, then:
3 weeks out - last heavy week 2 weeks out - warm up and leave 1 week out - hit openers, accessories just to keep the blood flowing
I already plan to spend the entire 12 weeks in gear, I guess I'm mainly looking for advice on (for example) whether I should be pressing to the chest all the time or cycling boards for my main movement, if I should be doing speed work, if and when reverse band movements are appropriate... things like that. I guess a list of what NOT to do would be more appropriate.
I would echo most of what has already been said, but I've never been a big fan of taking my openers 1 week out. It always preferred to take them at least 2 weeks out and then 1 week out was very very light. Here are a few other guidelines I would suggest: 1) Keep and really heavy band or reverse band work early in the cycle and make sure to do mostly straight weight as you get closer to the meet. 2) Any band or reverse band work shouldn't provide a huge contrast (i.e. super-heavy at the top) as you are using somewhat loose single-ply gear. 3) Wear your gear enough so you are completely comfortable with it my the time you get to the meet. I would suggest SQ suit with straps down and then gradually add in the straps and maybe wraps a few times before the meet to get acclimated. Work alot on full-range benches in your shirt. The biggest reason people bomb is they have to open so heavy in the BP in order to touch that they can't finish the lift. Even if your main lift that day is a 2 or 3 board, work up and touch a couple weights in the shirt and then do your board work. 4) Again make sure you handle some straight weight in full gear on all the lifts in training. A SQ with a ton of band tension with suit bottoms feels different in the hole than a heavy straight weight in full gear. Same goes for reverse bands in the BP and pulling against bands. 5) Do enough raw work and raw assistance work that you don't lose any muscle mass or lose all of your raw strength. 6) If things like speed work have been part of your training and seem to be helping, then keep them. Don't add or subtract a bunch of stuff just because of a meet if your current training style has been working. 7) If you are struggling with the tightness of the gear at all (getting depth or touching weights) I would suggest not gaining 10 lbs.
These types of posts always confuse me. If you have good training partners why not go to them for advice? I'm hoping you are just looking for other viewpoints to compare to your training partners advice.
The most important part of a meet cycle is "peaking" being in the being fully recovered muscularly and CNSly without being over-recovered/relaxed. While the first weeks of a cycle vary significantly between people, everyone I have trained with has done pretty much the same thing in the last three weeks.
3 weeks out - Heavy: at least a second attempt but less than a third 2 weeks out - Openers: self-explanatory Meet week - 1-2 days in the gym, no work above 50% maybe a couple sets of five
Depending on how you train e.g. linear periodization, westside, sheiko, etc., the weeks preceding can be very different. If you just want tips I can throw out random shit.
Shirt work with boards can be give your CNS a kick in the ass and get you used to heavy weights that you should be handling in a shirt, however make sure you get enough full-range work. Being new to gear you need to be able to touch without fucking up your form, boards will not get you comfortable with this.
I would advise against adding in too many squat variations close to a meet. You want to be as technically proficient as possible to get as much your best total in the meet. If you haven't done a free squat with a straight bar in several weeks, your technique will not be perfect.
Personally I would advise against trying to add 10 pounds for this meet. Just get the gear tailored if you want it tighter.
Are you saying that people just stick to their normal training months out, or that the specific meet prep cycles vary depending on how you train?
I am looking for different viewpoints because in the past they have had coaches to program the meet prep cycles who are not available to us, so we are trying to put one together from memory. The problem is that we don't follow any particular program - though it most closely resembles 5/3/1 - and we are both of the mind that something with more structure would do better to help us get ready and peak at the right time.
This is exactly the kind of stuff I was after.
Out of curiosity, why? Getting the gear tailored isn't an option, because I would have to buy it first, and I don't want to.
When you said hand me down gear. I assumed some one had given it to you to keep.
If the gear is really loose adding ten pounds wouldn't significantly "tighten" the shirt and suit up. If it is only slightly loose and adding ten pounds would give you the proper fit, then I would say fck it and just wear it loose because it is your first meet in gear. Also it is important to know what weight it takes to get depth and what weight it takes to touch, if you are gaining weight throughout the cycle this number will be fluctuating. By tailoring it you get the proper fit and it will fit the same throughout your training cycle.
I think that boards and bands are great tools to gain strength, but the last few weeks should be under the same conditions as a meet. My team goes as far as to squat and deadlift ( sometimes even bench) on the same day to build up the conditioning for a meet.....
boards are cool in the last few weeks because they'll let your shoulders heal up ( assuming you don't push too heavy).... AS LONG AS YOU KNOW WHAT IT TAKES TO TOUCH A WEIGHT IN YOUR SHIRT. It sucks so bomb out on bench, make sure you know what it takes to touch and have a realistic opener picked out.
gaining weight changes how the gear fits and changes your leverages. A burrito between squat and bench makes for a good belly to bench off of, but a dozen burritos the week before a meet will make your gear tighter so it'll be harder to hit depth and touch a weight in your shirt....
once you have done a dozen meets you can start playing around with bloat, bodyweight, etc... to really peak for a meet. But for a first meet, like I said, keep it simple.
It's way better to put up meet numbers at 90% of your gym best than to bloat, jack your gear, gain 20 lbs... whatever to get that extra 10% and end up bombing out because something goofy happened. Get some experience, just go have some fun, enjoy lifting heavy in front of a crowd and having someone else load the bar for you..... then once you have a feeling for what it is like to lift at a meet start trying to up your total.
Just my $0.02..... you can take it or leave it and I won't be offended, I just hate to see young guys come out to a meet and leave pissed off because they didn't have their shit together and they bombed out.
get the first squat in, something that you can do for three reps - after that, the pressure feels almost over! If you put on 8 pounds and came in right at 198, that would be perfect for you, Its good to experiment with different dietary strategies this far out so you dont lose or gain too much the week of the meet.