Yea well that is kind of exactly why I don't know what program to use, because Madcow doesn't really suit me, or my goals.
Here is a rep and exercise scheme that I think will work better for me, I just need to know how much of my 1rm to work with for each:
Instead of 5x5 for each exercise, how about a rep scheme like this:
5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 for my main 3 lifts, and 3x5 for my assistance exercises.
I find that after hitting a decent single, my neurological system is primed for higher reps. I normally use 90% of my 1rm, 95% if I'm feeling extra strong that day. I don't know what numbers to use for the other sets though.
And instead of only using squat, bench, overhead press, rows and deadlifts, I want to include the following exercises:
Lower body/posterior chain exercises:
Squat, lunges, deadlifts
Bent over row and 1 arm dumbbell row, weighted pull ups.
Bench Press, overhead press, dips.
Main focus will be on the Squat, Bench Press and Deadlift, with the other exercises being used as assistance and for building balanced strength.
Since my Squat and Bench Press is the farthest behind, it may benefit from being done twice a week each, with day focused on each specific lift, but with a lighter day included.
Here is an example training week:
Monday: Squat focus.
Warm up with kettlebell swings and lunges, but only enough to get my system running without producing any fatigue. Say 30 swings with 20kg, and 2 sets of 5 lunges per leg with a medium weight.
Do 5,4,3,2,1,2,3,4,5, starting at a lighter weight, peaking in the middle, then lowering the weight for each successive set.
Bench press 3x5 with medium weight, focus on explosive speed.
Wednesday: Bench focus.
Warm up with 30 kettlebell swings, followed by 2 sets of 5 overhead presses or 2 sets of 5 dips.
Bench 5,4,3,2,1,2,3,4,5, same principle as squat.
Squat for 3x5 with medium weight, focus on explosive speed.
do 3x5 of either overhead presses or dips (depending on which I used for the warm up, do the opposite one. Alternate which comes first each week.)
Friday: Deadlift focus.
Warm up with 30 kettlebell swings, followed by 2x5 of bent over rows.
Do 3x5 of 1-arm dumbbell rows and 3x5 weighted pull ups.
This is something that will work for me, the main question is the loading parameters. What % of my 1rm should I be using for each set? Or in the case of the assistance exercises what % of my 5rm if that's more applicable.
For no more than 1 week a month I might do 5 days in the week, in which case the Tuesday and the Thursday will be used to focus on weak points. For instance if I find I have a specific sticking point I'll use a controllable weight, and do isometric holds at different parts of my lift, focusing on and just above and below the sticking point. If I find that my squat has too much forward drift in it I'll use the opportunity to do some overhead squats and front squats. If I find my lower back giving in for deadlifts I might use the opportunity to work directly on my core, for instance with ab wheel roll outs. But this will be the exception rather than the rule.
I have one main concern though, and that is the fact that I don't just powerlift I'm also a surfer. Right now that isn't much of an issue since this is the off season for surfing but when winter hits I'll inevitably wish to surf. This is a high-endurance activity and it goes directly against my strength gains. How much surfing will I be able to do (hrs per week) without jeopardising my strength? For those of you that have never surfed, there is a lot of paddling, some beatings, and a drop of full body acrobatics. The intensity of the exertion varies throughout the session, there are times where it's as intense as can be (when you end up in the impact zone of multiple waves at around 2 stories high), times where it's like light cardio (paddling) and times where you rest completely, along with 30 second full blast bursts (actually riding the wave.) And it's for the very reason that surfing goes against strength gains that I am saying I want to do this 'fast' (as in I can't skip multiple seasons of surf for this, I can let go of one but I have other goals too. The fact that all the powerlifting competitions happen in winter really irks me.)
I got into lifting and training in general to improve my surfing, but then I fell in love with powerlifting from the time I did my first deadlift. There was something immensely satisfying about seeing the faces of 300lb juiceheads when I walk up and make them look weak. (Because lets face it they are.) I know I'm not strong in the grand scheme of things, but in the little microcosmos of my local gym I'm the strongest guy when it comes to deadlifts and squats (which is just sad in my opinion considering the size of some of these guys) and normally the only thing they can beat me at is bench press. Not surprising since it's pretty much 90% of their training, their spotters help them, and they are not bringing the bar all the way to their chest. Which again, is just sad. This is why I want to get to nationals and compete, so that I can measure myself up to some REAL lifters. The reason why I need to get to a certain point fast is because I want to be ready by qualifiers. I don't have to have put on the full 100kg but I'd like to have at least put on enough to go through, so say 2/3rds of it. Since I've only been in the gym for the past 6 weeks and my form on bench and squat still needs to be primed. I know for a fact I can add 30-50kg just by fixing my form and training out my imbalances from not using certain ranges of motion, without actually having added any real 'strength.' And since I also just learned that I may actually use a belt in raw powerlifting (what gives?) I know that right there is a few untapped kilograms right there. I won't be using a belt when I'm training though, not until a month or two from meet day (and only then so that I can learn to use it correctly in the first place), because I want to rely on my core for stabilization and not some tool.
When I squat the weight feels light, but I'm not used to the position with the bar on my back and just getting more used to it and getting the motion fluid will probably make it possible for me to squat 200kg. With bench I know exactly where my weakness is and dips is solving it quickly. 90% of my 1rm is getting easier and easier and I can actually rep it out now, chances are my 1rm isn't 100kg any more, but I'm not testing it till I have no trouble cranking out a set of 15 dips.