There is a reason I took over 5 hours to do a 3 part series on peaking on Powerlifting Now. It is a complicated topic and there are a lot of variables that go into properly setting up peaking blocks for athletes. Within that though, even with coaches and athletes who have a great foundation for programming, there are 3 common things I see that often derails training within a peaking block. So in my latest YouTube video, I break down the 3 reasons I commonly find peaking blocks not going as planned. And to clarify, this means the actual training preceding the taper, not the peak. We often see athletes at the end of prep complaining how beat up they are, more aches and pains, and sometimes strength even being down. And while peaking is inherently going to have additional variables than a regular block, if you feel like you are dieing and fatigue is so high that top end strength isn’t progressing as planned, or even trending down, you very well could be making 1 of these 3 mistakes. What are those 3 reasons? Overly periodizing secondary days, changing rep work average intensity too much, and/or hitting heavier absolute/relative intensities earlier in the block than you normally would. To get a full breakdown on these 3 reasons why your peaking block goes wrong, click the link above to view!
Building off Devan and Chris’ post (CLICK HERE) “your secondary day determines your primary day’s performance”, I’ve put together a bit of a general checklist that can help guide your decision making. Specifically this will be biased towards a lifter who squats 2x a week, and the variables at play based on different possible scenarios that we might see in regards to primary squat day performance. While this is not all encompassing by any means, my hope is this can help guide the general problem solving when needing to differentiate between the common negative performance indicators we see in our primary squat day performance. This could very well be applied to other lifts and frequencies as well, but for each lift and/or frequency adjustment, there would be specific nuances to how you might approach those situations vs. this scenario.
As discussed in Episode 10 of the Powerlifting Now podcast, one of the key differentiators between coach to coach is the amount of tools in their toolbox, combined with their ability to efficiently problem solve using those tools in a timely manner. For any coach, having a general checklist of how you problem solve can be beneficial to guide decision making. And within that it is important to understand how often these performance indicators can stack as well. Example being a scenario where a lifter feels generally fatigued going into the primary squat day, with an addition of some added low back soreness. This could mean a combination of increasing the rest time between the secondary to primary day, as well as adjusting variation to where a lifter does high bar for backdowns and/or substitutes additional squat workload for more targeted accessory work.
Recently while filming a video for Powerlifting Now, I started to think about a different way of framing the process of bracing on squat and deadlift. And this very well may be something others have talked about before, but at least from my scope, the idea of saying “brace before you inhale” was framing the same cueing I had been using for a while now in a way that seemed to resonate a bit more. And this seemed to be deemed true when I posted this thought process onto an Instagram story and had pretty positive feedback to the idea that this helped to see the process of bracing through a new lens. In my latest YouTube video, I break down the idea of bracing before you inhale, and why this is so important to do in creating the most efficient brace and intra-abdominal pressure. I take a look at the 3 main components of what creates a solid brace. And then I cover the step by step bracing process that I have talked about before in other videos, but this time through the lens of bracing before you inhale. While I don’t think anything I say in this video is new information, my hope is that the slightly different framing can help simplify the bracing process and help others to minimize the cueing needed and maximize their strength. Click the link above to view!
Athlete Feedback Flowchart
In an episode of 2 White Lights that Brad Couillard and myself recorded, we posed the question of what types of things should you ask athletes to get the proper feedback you are looking for. While multiple things were discussed, it led us to eventually putting together an athlete feedback flowchart, which you can now see above. We came up with the 6 main elements of feedback that coaches tend to look for in athlete responses, and for each, a flowchart of yes and no options that should lead an athlete to giving the best feedback possible. All 6 elements stem from the main question every coach has when they get daily/weekly training from an athlete, and that is “Did you feel strong?”. And whether the answer is yes or no to that question, the same flowchart exists to help delineate and figure out the reasoning behind the performance of each session. Did the athlete feel fatigued, were recovery variables on point, were they motivated to train, was there any added external stress, how was technique, and how strong did the session feel compared to prior weeks or sessions? These 6 elements can help to encapsulate the major variables that go into powerlifting, and by following this flowchart as an athlete, it can help guide you to giving the best feedback possible to your coach. Included in the above slides is the initial questioning of “Did you feel strong?” and each of the 6 main elements of feedback. And then for each element there is an individual slide with leading questions that can help present vital information regarding the variables surrounding training performance.
I’ve harped on the setup of all 3 lifts a lot recently for good reason, because much of the lift is controlled and directly comes back to how you set up. For squat, in my opinion there tends to not be enough attention on the intentions of your initial position during the squat unrack. During a recent story I did on my Instagram (which is now a story highlight), I broke down my step-by-step cueing that I use for each phase of my squat. And something I do myself as a lifter and coach that tends to be very different from most, is that when I initially set up during the unrack, I do so in front of the bar, versus behind. This slight adjustment can actually have a pretty profound impact on how you are then able to position yourself while bracing and during the execution of the squat. In my latest YouTube Video, I break down the technique of setting up in front of the bar during the unrack phase. I look at the common faults I see from many lifters who set up from behind the bar, and the issues that stem from this strategy. I discuss how setting up in front of the bar can correct these common faults. And lastly I cover the reasons I coach to bias into extension during that initial unrack phase, and how that benefits the proceeding elements of the squat. Click the link above to view!