T Nation

Madcow (Road to 1400 Raw @ 181lbs)

I recently competed in my first powerlifting competition in the USAPL federation in the 181lb junior men’s division. I placed second, losing to first by a mere 2.5kilos. It was a fun competition! I’ll record a gnarly deadlift session with me and the winner (never met him prior to the comp, but now we train from time to time) in about 2 weeks.

On February 12th, I managed to
Squat 420lbs (445lbs was redlighted due to a slight downward movement during the ascent, but I managed to grind the 445)
Deadlift 550lbs
Bench 225lbs (Recovering from a long term shoulder injury, been 18 months since benching)

That puts me about 200lbs away from a 1400 raw. My goal is to hit 1400lbs in a year to a year and a half(February 27, 2013 to August 27, 2013)

I would like to share with you guys my current Madcow 5x5/3x3 cycle. It’s not exactly true to “Madcow” because I’ve made a few modifications to the accessory lifts. I’m a firm believer that Romanian deadlifts, good mornings, and dips have more value over abs, tricep extensions, biceps, etc. I prefer heavy movements to assist my lifts.

I’m able to bench press again without too much trouble now, although it’s a close grip bench to prevent a nagging front delt strain. The entire past year or so I’ve relied on dips (which never bothered me), and managed to hit a lift of BW+3 plates for 3 reps a few months ago. I plan on getting back into the bench press full force, utilizing mainly a 5x5 scheme that calls for linear gains. The rest of my core lifts will be based on periodization.

I didn’t train strictly for powerlifting. I tried DC training, bodybuilding splits, programs by Chad Waterbury, CT, GVT, and other programs I’ve found online. My bench and squat respond better to even higher frequency and actually doing the core lifts on a weekly basis. Madcow Advanced has allowed me to get where I am today, and I plan on milking the program a bit longer. I also like that I only need to make it to the gym 3x a week, although sometimes brutal sessions, allows flexibility in my schedule.

Another thing, my diet for the past 18 months is based on intermittent fasting that includes carb cycling.

I’ll also be rating how hard my sets were from a scale of 1-10 for my rate of perceived exertion (RPE).

Here’s my most recent deadlift training video (500 3x3; RPE of 7, 7.5, 8 respectively) I recorded two weeks prior to my first powerlifting meet:

One I just took of today’s training (deadlift 475 5x5) with competition footage:

Current Maxes used for Madcow Advanced:
Squat: 425lbs
Deadlift: 550lbs
Bench: 225lbs
Push Press: 195lbs
Pendlay Row: 362lbs

Note: I squat narrow stance olympic style (high bar).
Note 2: 3x8 = 3 sets of 8 reps

Week One:

DAY 1 Wed
Squat: 285lbs 5x5 (way harder than week 2! RPE 8)
Bench: Unknown (not sure if I benched)
Pendlay Rows: 265lbs x 5 RPE 8.5(from 200x5, 215x5, 230x5, 250x5)
Goodmornings 185lbs 3x8 RPE 5.5 (Getting accustomed to form as it’s been a while since utilizing these, burned my hamstrings!)

DAY 2 Fri
Paused Squats (at the bottom of the hole) 255 5x5 RPE 5.5
Deadlift 395lbs 5x5 RPE 7.5
Standing Military 135 5x5 RPE 6
Pullups (BW+30lbs) 5x5 RPE 7

DAY 3 Sun
Squat: 315lbs x 5 RPE 7(from: 235x5, 255x5, 275x5, 290x5)
Dips: BW + 65lbs 5x5 RPE 7
Romanian Deadlifts: 295lbs 5x5 RPE 5.5

Week Two

Squat 325lbs 5x5 (RPE from 6 to 8 last set)
Bench work up to 185lbs x 5 (RPE 8, reset bench max from 235 to 215 for linear gains)
Pendlay Rows: 295lbs for 5 RPE 7 (from 225x5, 245x5, 260x5, 280x5)
Good Mornings: 195lbs 3x8 RPE 6.5

Squat w/ pause at the bottom 285lbs 5x5 RPE 5.5 (these felt really easy)
Push Press 150lbs 5x5 RPE 7.5 (They were military at first…heh)
Deadlifts 435lbs 5x5 RPE 6 (These flew up fast. Had the best speed pull session that day and it felt incredible. My hands are still damaged from torn off calluses and general hand pain, so straps were utilized today)
Pullups BW+35lbs, x5,x5,x3,x3,x3,x3,x3 RPE 9 (Deadlifts affected the pullups today, and in general I just suck at pullups)

DAY THREE, TODAY 2/26/2012 Sun
Squat 350lbs x5 RPE 9.5 (from 265x5, 285x5, 315x5, 325x5; top set felt incredibly hard due to lower back adjusting to the volume, and the simple fact that I did not have all you can eat sushi the day prior (low carb yesterday).
Bench: 185lbs x 3 (from 95x5, 115x5, 135x5, 155x5; last set after top is 135x5) RPE 6 (Felt smooth and easy, shoulder is feeling better; close grip feels good) (Hope this is the start of a new revelation of getting my bench to at least half my deadlift!)
Romanian deadlifts: 335lbs 5x5 RPE 6.5 (lower back is feeling good by this point)
Dips BW+ 75lbs 5x5 RPE 7.5-8.0

Weeks three and four are lovely. (gotta squat 355-365 5x5). I’ll keep you guys posted!

WEEK 3 Wed

Squats 355 5x5 (RPE starting: 6.5, ending: 8.5) -> These felt really good. Lower back is feeling fresh. Up 5lbs from my last cycle of Madcow.

Bench 185 x 8 RPE 7.25 (shoulder problems are pretty much gone now, looking to improve my bench over the long haul)

Pendlay Rows 330 x 5 (RPE 8.75) (Sloppy towards my last 2 reps, utilized leg drive)

Good mornings 205 3x8 (RPE 7)

HIIT on the Concept 2 machine (12 intervals)

PWO meal: 1lb brown rice, 10oz chicken, and 3 slices of high fiber and protein bread.

Week 3 continued

->Sort of tricky. Had lower back aches. Will ditch the good mornings for now.

Day 2 Friday
Paused squats 305 x 5 RPE 8.5 (lower back was feeling it, back offed from the other 4 sets)
Skipped deadlifts

Push Press 165 5x5 (RPE 8-8.75)
Pull ups BW (185) + 45lbs (7x3; 2x2) RPE ~8.5

Saturday Off

Resume paused squats (305 4x5) RPE range from 6.0-8.5-7.0
Bench press (4 sets of 5;work up to 190 for 3; back off set 135 for 15)
Deadlifts (460 5x5) These were tricky, was not sure if I was able to pull or not but as my workout went on, my lower back was feeling good. Used straps for sets 2, 4, 5. (grip strength on the low; calluses need to be taken care of); RPE 8.0-7.25-8.25-8.0-8.25
20min steady state cardio

Week 3:

295x5, 315x5, 345x5, 365x5 (RPE 8.25), 385x3 (RPE 9.25) ->Pulled my neck and lower back is feeling iffy…Will give these another go next time.

Dips BW + 90 5x5

Go home

2 days rest

Enter into Week 4
Early deadlifts (buddy dropped by in town…5 days after doing 460 5x5, decided to go 475 5x5)

Bench 190x 13 (+5lb and +5 rep PR) RPE 6.5 ->This lift is progressing nicely after an 18 month lay off.

TBAR chest supported row: 3 45’s+ 25 5x5

I’ll be following for sure, a little lighter then me and a good ~70lbs ahead on my squat and deadlift. I also squat high bar/narrowish stance in olympic shoes at the moment and am looking to do a meet maybe 4-5 months down the line.

Thanks Jake, def do a meet. It’s a good learning experience and a ton of fun.

2 day Rest after pulling 475 5x5.

Squats (with competition footage)

5x5 attempt of 365
Hit 5,5,4,3,3 (RPE ranges from 9.25 to 9.9, this day just felt really heavy)

Looks like eating a shitload of carbs (2lbs of brown rice everyday) isn’t really helping my strength so I started to carb cycle again for my upcoming meet in late April. I feel much better carb cycling…

Push Press 185 -> 5,5,5,5,3+2 (technique broke down in my last set)

Barbell Rows: 5x5 ramp: Worked up to 335 for 5 (definitely leg drive, 295 however felt like legit pendlay rows, you be the judge all sets of rows are in the video above)

2 days rest (my sleep schedule is really messed up juggling things like quizzes ,projects, and job hunting, this is my fault here for poor time management)

Paused squats 315 5x5 (felt really good. RPE ~7.5-8.0)
Paused Bench work up to 195 for 3 (RPE 6) back down to 145 paused for 11 (RPE 7.0)
Pullups BW + 50lbs (3,3,2,3,2) (I am pretty horrible in pullups vs. rows; RPE 7.5)

Not trying to go to failure in pullups. It seems that when I do it becomes harder to progress and it also causes my neck to experience pain the day after (last week after going 8 sets on pullups with the majority going to failure I felt massive neck pain the next day).