Less than 2 months before I pulled 551 for the first time, I missed a single rep at 485.
Couldn’t even get 485 off the ground.
7 weeks later, I pulled an all-time PR of 250kg/551 in competition at the 2018 BC Powerlifting Provincials which was held near Vancouver, BC. This was around a 15kg/33lb all time PR on deadlifts.
So what did I do to the plan to take things from what seemed like a doomed powerlifting prep up to a huge deadlift PR?
Yep, this is far from a sexy answer, but here’s the thing: by the time I was starting prep for this meet, I’d been lifting for around 10 years and had a pretty clear idea of what works and doesn’t work for my training.
Most powerlifters should pay attention to their training, refer back to old logs, etc in order to really optimize their program and individualize well.
On top of not making any changes, I was familiar with the 80/10/10 rule.
- 80% of your sessions will feel fairly unremarkable. The weight moved as expected, you show up, put the reps in and then leave.
- 10% of the sessions would feel atrocious. The weights you might normally use for warmups feel heavy, you are unable to complete your top sets. It’s upsetting.
- 10% of the sessions feel like you are a god. Your working weights feel like warmups, you might add a few % to your performance, hit a new weight or rep PR or even move an old weight with considerably less struggle.
The simple fact of the matter with that session was this: as much as I was unhappy with missing ~40 lbs less than my PR deadlift, as much as I knew that I had been managing my recovery and external stressors well, I had had a LOT of good deadlift sessions leading into this prep and I always seem to have at least one “bad” deadlift session in each meet prep.
Instead of looking at the session as a failure, I knew from past DATA that this acute drop in performance was part of the process and seemed to happen once in each meet prep.
My prep wasn’t failed, but instead I had gotten the subpar session “out of the way” 7 weeks out. This meant I had 6 more weeks of good solid pulls ahead of me and didn’t have to wonder when that crappy session would happen since it was already done with.
Applying this 80/10/10 rule to my training has helped me to level my mental approach to training and remain more analytical in my approach to the program instead of being as subject to rash, emotional, knee-jerk changes to the plan which can often end up being much worse for your outcomes than just sticking to your proven plan.
There’s certainly a balance between “trusting the process” and “making adjustments where needed” that you need to strike when designing a powerlifting program, but especially in powerlifting competition prep, I find once you have a few successful preps under your belt, most lifters should be erring on the side of “trusting the process” more than they need to be worrying about obsessing over “optimizing each detail” and being overly reactive in their training and programming approach.
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