First workout since the meet

I never look forward to the first couple training sessions after a meet.  The weights always feel heavier, move slower, and it takes longer to recover between sets.  The good thing is, I've got a good 5 months before my next competition so there's plenty of time to work on building up a new plateau.

While at the meet, I spoke with a buddy from the Niagara Powerlifting Club, Matt Cuthbert.  He was there helping out his teammate, Gerry Frenette.  Matt is one of the good guys in the Ontario powerlifting scene.  He's always ready to help out and he's got a good eye for technique critiques as well as suggestions for improving it.

Matt gave me a great form cue that made a difference in my competition bench presses and he also gave me some training suggestions for the future.  The form cue was to squeeze the bar as tight as possible with the whole hand but especially the pinky fingers on each hand.  To be honest, I had never done that.  I always squeezed the bar but the pressure was concentrated in the index and middle fingers.  Adding in the pinky squeeze made a significant difference in the amount of tricep activation.  As a result, I benched at least 2.5 kgs more than I had expected to lift.  It's always nice to get a simple cue that pays immediate dividends.

You can hear Matt yellling, "squeeze" during my 3rd attempt bench press.

The other suggestion Matt gave me was to start hitting my lats a lot harder.  I told him that I occasionally did barbell rows, Matt's suggestion was to hit them consistently but to do them with a hold at the chest.  He said it would build much better tightness at the chest when bench pressing and would also result in a more stable scapula when pressing.

With that in mind, I started building my training sessions for the next 4-5 weeks.  In addition to weak lats, I also need to build up my quad strength.  To remedy that, I'm going to start my sessions with leg presses.  The concentration on the quads as well as pre-exhausting them before squatting will be a change from my previous routine.  I will also be training without a belt since the weights I'll be handling will be lower to start.  My expectation is to be handling decent weights, beltless and with the leg press pre-exhaust by the end of this foundation phase.

Leg Press:  450x20, 540x10x3 sets
Pause Squats:  135x10, 225x5, 275x5, 315x3x3 sets

Barbell Rows (hold at the top): 135x10, 185x5x3 sets
Bench Press: all reps paused, 135x10, 185x5, 225x5, 275x3x3 sets

As the weeks go on, I'll be adding sets to build up the volume while also shortening the rest periods.  This session took me almost 90 minutes--the post-meet hangover was in full effect and it was actually hard to get through this.  I should be back to normal, recovery-wise by next week.

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