When you only start lifting weights things seem quite simple. You add the weight weekly/monthly, because you are becoming more strong, agile and profound in technique. However, that may not last forever, and once you will realize that you no longer can move the heavier weight than on the previous training. That is the time you realize that the appropriate dosage of workload is key to success on this level.
It is a very important issue one should bear in mind during preparation, however whilst you approach the competition date it becomes even more crucial. On top level strength is the quality that may not be analyzed putting a blind eye on temporal aspect. You may be shred, agile, fast and technique throughout all the year. But an elite athlete may not perform pulls with its maximum weight every other training.
I have seen some USA athletes doing really great job during preparation, showing decent methodological base and excellence in technique, but due to poor planning of workload in transactional period before the competitions, sometimes they scored on the competition 50 lbs. less than their best results in gym.
In this article I will not explain the nature of periodization, the rationale behind it and different models. Instead I will try to provide a very practical set of recommendations for each period of preparation and a clever reader will surely make its own conclusions on how it is connected with the idea of periodization.
Stage I. Preparation period.
This period lasts 2 to 4 months and is aimed on accumulating your strength while maintaining decent technique. The basic recommendations are:
Competition lifts: High rep range and low intensity (low weight in other words).
Strength work: It should occupy a majority of your training schedule in terms of time, diversity and volume.
The idea is to significantly increase your strength, even if it comes at a price of temporal (!) decrease of performance in competition lifts and maybe even in speed.
Stage II. Transactional period.
This period lasts 1 to 2 months and is aimed on transaction of the strength build on Stage I into results in competition lifts.
Competition lifts: Increase the diversity and the training volume of the lifts. Make them a priority in your training in terms of time, diversity and volume. Reduce the rep range comparing to Stage I and increase intensity (moderate weight). Diversity in this sense means that you shall perform different variations of the lifts.
Strength work: Try to maintain the level of strength you have achieved on Stage I. Building strength is no longer your priority, but saving is.
The idea is to increase your performance in competition lifts, whilst trying not to lose your strength.
Stage III. Pre-competition period.
This period lasts 1 to 2 months and now you are preparing yourself for that very day, where you are to show your best in 6 attempts.
Competition lifts: Avoid diversity now, stick only to competition variations of the lifts. Continue increasing intensity and decreasing range of reps.
Strength work: Simply minimize it.
The idea is to increase your performance in competition lifts aiming for new records and preparing to work on 1-rep range. You should accept that you results in squats and other strength work will decrease.
This stage also include going for PR to evaluate your results so that you could know what weights to lift on competition. Use the following recommendations to schedule such PR attempts:
Snatch – 7 to 14 days before the competition
C&J – 14 to 21 days before the competition
The exact time depends on some personal factors (time needed to recover). However, bear in mind that heavyweight athletes need more time to recover than their lightweight peers.
Stage IV. A week before the competition.
Now you should prepare yourself for setting new PRs. You need to rest and relax, but not to lose your focus and tonus.
Take this plan as the example.
Snatch 70-75% 3 sets of doubles
C&J 70% 3 sets of singles
Clean pull (from the stage) 90-95% (of best C&J) 4 sets of doubles
Front squat 70-75% (of best front squat) 3 sets of doubles
Snatch 65-70% 3 sets of singles
C&J 65-70% 3 sets of singles
Snatch pull (from the stage) 90% (of best snatch) 3 sets of doubles
Snatch 50% 3 sets of singles
C&J 50% 3 sets of singles
Sun – Competitions!