Here is another one of my clients who recently entered the Onyx True Raw Powerlifting Competition, Dion. Her prep was really smooth, we spent quite a bit of time laying a nice base, with her following the programs set while I was in Europe. We ran her through some Greg Nuckols inspired base phases which included some basic strength work with  high variation on the competition lifts (Anderson squats, paused squats, close grip benches and dips etc). From here we brought her into a specific 12 week prep inspired by a Robert Wilks’ style program which was quite high volume (for a powerlifting prep) which worked really well until the last phase (read that as a criticism of my coaching not the source material), but with some slight adjustments things moved wll.

Her peak went really well, she hit pb’s in all her lifts really comfortably as you can see below. She had had the most prep time out of our group and thus was the most confident in her lifts, and who had the least trouble with missing lifts and injury during prep. Below are some examples from her peak week including a pb squat of 97.5kg (which she couldn’t quite replicate on the day) and a 57.5kg bench with a really long pause. Her squat will be a focus for improvement over the off-season until November which I think with a slight increase in deads and bench will make her quite competitive in her next comp.

As you’ll see below she actually hit a higher squat in training than on the day, which was her only disappointment from the day. It was a mixture of factors I would say, nerves, the length of the day itself, me being absent from the platform for cues and just bad luck.

Comp day was a big day, her and Sieraya were there hours early to help us boys out and support us, which we are grateful for. Squat was up first and was a scary experience, being her first PA comp Dion was, like the rest of us, worried about depth. We’d heard the fed was tough on rules so we were a little gunshy, we had planned Dion’s attempts based on easy lifts in the gym so it was really left up to luck on the day. She got through her first two attempts easy enough, but just she went a bit shallow on depth and lost her groove and couldn’t get it.

Next up on bench, which was her strong suit, she powered through all her attempts with a comfortable finisher of 57.5kg. I was tempted to push her for 60kg on her last attempt but we stuck to our plan or having a good, safe day.

Lastly were deadlifts which had really come along well for her in the last few weeks leading up to comp (mostly because she can’t count plates and kept adding a heap of weight onto the bar accidentally), she hit a pb of 120kg on her last attempt with plenty left in the tank.

She ended up with a:

90kg squat

57.5kg bench

120kg deadlift

For a total of 267.5 at 67kg bodyweight. She also won best new lifter of the day which was an award they only gave to one person. That’s a great start to her future in powerfliting. Videos form the comp were hard to come by here is her second squat, first or second bench and last deadlift.

To give you some insight into how well she’s done during this prep, here are some vids from her first comp a few years ago (which I did not coach her for):

In these vids you can see her failing a 70kg squat and 50kg bench press, but more than that you can see how much more technically proficient her lifts are now too, how much more confident strong she is.

Her next competition is November, she’s returning to training this week after not training since the comp (about three weeks now), and she’s hitting the ground running. Watch this space.

So, the comp has come and gone, but let’s look at Sieraya’s performance leading up to and on comp day.

Sieraya’s been doing it really tough, she had several assignments, and her thesis proposal all due for uni on comp day, which means she spent the weeks leading up to it holed up in her room stressing and studying trying to get it done, as such her strength levels and her peak were affected. More than this she also had her period during peak week and only a 10 week prep in total from 5 weeks off training. So, as far as that goes she actually did pretty well in that she managed to get near her last total with a fraction of the prep time (largely due to increased strength set point I would surmise).

She actually missed quite a few of her peak week lifts, all of them in fact (some she hit on different days), which made us address her attempts in the meet and readjust our expectations for the meet. This was obviously disappointing for her, someone who takes on board so much in the world and has huge expectations of herself. But there was also quite a relief that came over her in the idea that this meet wasn’t about hitting PR’s, but rather seeing what PA comps were like, how they judged squat depth and bench pauses. Knowing we’d set weights she could hit, she was much more confident during the comp, and on comp day, and actually left quite a bit on the platform.

Now, on to comp day, first up was squat, and this was the one we were worried about, although she competed in a PTC novice comp (see here), and was pinged for depth, we believe that to be the case of not knowing how to use the monolift. But, having said that she has come close to missing depth on some of her squats during prep so we were curious to see how she went on the day.

And, no problems, she got all white lights on her first attempt at 85kg, and her second attempt at 92.5kg, but alas it wasn’t to be on her last attempt of 100kg. Although she’d hit it in the gym it was still a risky move, and she lost a bit of tension at the bottom of the lift and just couldn’t get it up.

After that was bench, and this was very smooth, her first at 45kg got all white lights as well as her second at 50kg and her third at 55kg. The last was was a little bit of a grinder but she got it up, and its something shes very keen to work on in the off-season.

Finally the deadlift, her quad started cramping up during the warm up which wasn’t a great sign, we pushed fluids/electrolytes but it kept cramping. It didn’t seem to affect her performance though, she got all white lights on all her attempts, which went 115kg, 122.5kg and 130kg. She even had a little bit left in the tank but we didn’t raise the last one up as we wanted to focus on success in this comp as much as possible to set a baseline for the Barbarian Comp in November.

Videos were hard to get but above we have her 92.5kg squat, 45kg bench and 130kg deadlift.

She’s already in to her off-season hypertrophy work, eager to get a competitive total in November.


Well as anyone who follows me on social media knows I hurt my back, it was my first workout for the week, deadlifts. I’ll post the vid below. It was just a minor back strain (trust me it didn’t feel minor the next day), but it’s been good in that its taught me some of my weaknesses. My hammies (particularly my left) are weak, it’s probably too late to do much about that now, but I’ve changed my dedicated hammie work (with correct form now, thanks Rob Murrell!). It certainly has made me re-assess goals for the day, in all lifts but particularly the dead, I’ll definitely be going conservative there.

I also had a good chat with Rob about the year’s goals and building strength over the course of progressive comps. Sounds obvious I know, but with so many of us from Goodlife competing I think it’s gotten a little competitive, which is good, it’s pushed me beyond what I would have otherwise done (I have a tendency to be cautious). But, I and the girls have goals that we want to achieve in powerlifting (nationals for one, Oceania if we’re being ambitious, see here for rankings/qualifying), none of which will be achieved in this particular comp. So, we’re looking for PR’s, meet PR’s (the girls will definitely get these, I won’t). Then we’ll move straight back into off-season prep to come back for an October comp even stronger. Who knows, a year or two of this style of training and we just might be competitive.

And to the vids:

No squatting this week as it wasn’t until Sunday that my back felt solid enough to go in even to bench




I didn’t film my deads on friday (which I did at Barbarian in Rockingham), but I managed a top set of 170kg, with 3×3 at 150kg. None of which felt particularly rough, just wanted to take it easy as I’m really gunshy with deads now. I’m not really sure how to program from here on out, I haven’t tested 1RM’s really since the beginning (see here), I’ll probably work back up to a 200kg top single next week, then do some triples at 170kg, and maybe add 10 or so kg to both of those for the final peaking week. This won’t get me a very big dead at comp (maybe 220-230kg at most, I’ll asses how it feels), but better to walk away than limp away.



I don’t know why I didn’t do this at the time, but I’ve wanted to put together a blog post on Sieraya’s journey to her last comp, so here we are.

On November 6 of last year Sieraya competed in her first ever powerlifting competition at PTC in Malaga (which falls under the branch of the GPC federation). This was her first complete foray into powerlifting, with her having many attempts at it in the past and for whatever reason it didn’t eventuate. She wanted to start with a PTC Novice comp as she’d seen me do one many years ago, we know many people involved in that group and they were our first experiences with powerlifitng and thus where she felt most comfortable trying her hand at the sport (she’s now moved over to Powerlifting Australia).

The first thing we did was measure her 1RM’s which were:

Squat: 57.5kg

Bench: 43kg

Deadlift: 75kg

Pretty solid numbers for your average female lifter, particularly one who had focused on metabolic and fat loss for the past few years, mostly. But we had plenty of work to do.

We engaged in a 16 week series of programs, which we came to realize by the end was probably too long a time to spend prepping, for interests sake if nothing else. The basic structure of her programs was a progressive but undulating periodized program that increased in weight week to week in 5kg increments on legs and 2.5kg increments on upper body, with a low/moderate/high intensity day per week and plenty of assistance exercises too. To be honest her program was insanely high volume and I don’t know how she handled it, I know I couldn’t. But it worked.

I can include a couple of vids of her progression below to see progress:

With GPC comps you have a 24hr weigh in so we spent 5 days out from her comp manipulating water, sodium and food weight to bring her down from about 78kg, to 73kg on weigh in day. When she got on the platform the next day she weighed upwards of 80kg (due to refeeds, fluid and sodium intake). This was great for her Wilks score (a score that equalizes lifts to bodyweight), but to be honest, it probably hurt her strength a little. And it’s not something I would want her to do again.

She had a massive day, she walked away with:

Squat: 95kg

Bench: 57.5kg

Deadlift: 130kg

She nearly doubled her lifts on legs with nearly 1.5 on bench, which would be partially accounted for by newbie gains, but also a testament to how hard she worked and how much she focused over that time. Her lifts are below:

Now she’s currently deep into prep for a comp coming up in 3 weeks and she’s on track for an even bigger day. Stay tuned.

For the rest of this series see here, here, here, here.


So, things are starting to get pretty intense, weights have moved up and they’re coming along nicely, I tweaked my quad tendons more on the friday squat session (a mixture of volume and load) so I reduced my volume the following week, which I’ll update you on in a moment.

The interesting reality is, while I couldn’t be more proud of myself and how much I’ve accomplished in the short time I have the reality is, especially after watching the Barbarian Comp the other weekend, I’m really not going to be competitive at this comp. I came back from 5 weeks off, did a 4 week base phase then got into it. That’s ok, I’m not making excuses, that was always the plan, you learn so much during comp prep and during the day itself that I wanted to get into it and see what happens. I know how my off-season will go with how I’m going to deload, build muscle, while slowly building strength so that when I get to my next meet prep my tendons and joints are fully prepared for the rigor of these high loads.

That said, I think I’m on target for pb’s on most if not all of my lifts (current comp pb’s are S: 182.5KG, B: 150kg, D: 240kg @ 94.8kg bodyweight), but since I’m 10kg heavier (105kg class) than last time I competed (vid below) I don’t think that’s saying much. And since I haven’t touched anything close to these loads pretty much since I hurt my back in early 2015 I’m really happy with how it’s coming together.

Ultimately we’re popularizing the sport of powerlifting and while I’m sure there are plenty of higher level coaches and athletes who see people working at my level as a dilution of the sport, that’s also just what happens when a sport becomes more popular. Which I’m sure everyone wants.

The girls are coming along really nicely, no injuries, tweaks or problems to speak of, and they’re getting stronger by the day, actually they’re doing much better than me, which I love. Like, that’s all there is to say about them, they’re fucking amazons. They come in, do their work and get out, I feel like they’re embodying the essence of the Dave Tate style of powerlifting, that old school, shut up, rest until it’s your turn to lift, no bragging, just putting in the work, hard-assery. And they’re both getting either pr’s or volume pr’s all the time now so they’re both going to have an amazing day.


In a week or two she’ll be hitting her comp pb’s as part of her top singles and she’s already repping higher numbers than she did in her previous comp, this is all the while keeping a “golden key” average at uni (it’s an award they give to students who get all hd’s) and preparing her thesis for honors while also completing assignments and working. She amazes me, and shows me the way. She’s hungry for that qualifying total. And for those who are curious:

FullSizeRender (2)



She’s already repping way higher numbers than her previous comp pb’s, in the case of her squat, we could be looking, if we allow ourselves to be ambitious, a multiple of her former pb on the day.


So, the quad tendons, look, they’re sore, they’re not going to get better until I deload and add some variability into my training, the two things I can’t do. So, I kind of have to work around it best I can. I think I might be working at around a 190-200kg 1RM at the moment, which, if I can maintain that up and until the comp, will be a huge pb for me, so I’m not particularly concerned with gaining too much more strength there. Maintenance will be the aim of the game for the next 4 weeks, as well as trying to dissipate some of the tension in them as much as possible. I’m applying ice to mitigate any excessive inflammation as well as foam rolling and stretching so as long as I don’t do anything silly I should be ok.

Everything else is coming good, back pain is minimal, refereed pain minimal, and I would argue has actually improved since prepping. My shoulder is coming good, some triggers around the subscap, but I’m making an effort to keep my shoulder depressed during benching (which has always been a problem for me), working on my external rotation, and of course, working on those triggers.


As far as the body comp goals mentioned in my base week? Yeah, that’s gone to shit, With the low volume, long rest periods I’m just not burning many calories, and with the added stress of lecturing now (adds an additional 7 hours to my week) I eat what I want when I want. I track cals of course, and try to stay within guidelines, I eat veggies everyday, plenty of protein, and keep my cals under, but if I want junk, I generally have it. Thought about going down a weight class in the off-season but that means going down to 93kg which makes me just too damn skinny for my liking. I would rather have a little more bodyfat and be bigger than very little and be small. That’s just me. I also feel strong at this weight and less prone to injury so while I’ll certainly lean up over the off-season, it won’t be anything too dramatic.



This is a common term used in the strength and conditioning field, there is much discussion about which way to periodize and how. But your average trainee vary rarely has a program, let alone one with progressive (and variable) resistance, let alone one that periodizes different variables into an orderly fashion. This could speak to the small percentage of gains that periodization might actually add to your total goals given that many people get great results without such, or it could be that people actually are periodizing their workouts, but going on feel rather than any strict formulation. Before going further lets actually look at what periodization is:

Periodization training allows for the use of many different types of workouts, trianing programs, and modalities. In essence, it calls for varying the training stimulus (intensity or volume) over determined periods of time to allow for proper progression in the exercise stress and planned periods of rest. (Kramer et al, 2007, p. 53)

And that’s it really, its a structured, systemized plan, that takes into account, and focuses on different variables, to further develop the overall goal (be it strength, athletic performance, aesthetics etc). The history of periodization, Kramer et al. state comes from the principle of progressive resistance training or overload developed in the 1940’s by an army physician working with soldiers, which in turn developed from an older principle; the SAID (Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands) principle, which essentially is: “the need to gradually increase the amount of physical stress placed on the body in order to continually stimulate adaptations.” (p. 53) Adaptations that can be manipulated are generally volume, intensity, frequency and duration, with rest periods in there too.

Linear Periodization

The most popular way to periodize variables is known as linear periodization and was the traditional way programs were ordered in the Eastern Bloc in the 1950’s. Kramer et al. notes the coaches found that by decreasing volume and increasing intensity (expressed as percentage of 1RM) their strength and power athlete’s performances increased leading up to competition.

These early periodization models were built around one competitive season broken into four phases: preparation, first transition (end of preseason), competition, and season transition (off-season). The length of time of each phase depended on the length of the competition season, the mode of training, and individual differences of the athletes. (Kramer et al, 2007, p. 54)

To further elaborate, Kramer notes that the preparation phase focused heavily on increasing muscle mass and strength, volume was a priority while intensity was low. As they moved into the first transition phase  volume was lowered to allow for an increase in intensity (as the two are inversely related), with the goals being muscular power (defined in the physics fashion as work over time/ P= W/t) and increased skill. The competition phase, also known as the peaking phase were different for each sport, but training for everyone was sports specific, designed around the demands of competition. Finally the off-season was spent recovering and rehabilitation without completely detraining. (p. 54)

Linear periodization takes quite literally and simply the concept of progressive overload, in the sense that usually it increases load or volume gradually and week to week.  While this may be the best way for beginners to increase their size of strength it actually becomes problematic over a long period of time with plateaus being quite common as the lifter progresses.

In linear periodization, the aim in each mesocycle is to attempt to increase the body’s muscle hypertrophy and strength toward the theoretical genetic maximum. Thus, the theoretical basis for a linear method of periodization consists of developing muscle hypertrophy followed by improved nerve function and strength. This is repeated again and again with each mesocycle, and within each phase, loading would progressively increase from workout to workout. (Kramer et al, 2007, p. 55)

The authors note: people new to training should commence with 6 to 12 weeks of a general preparation phase to get ready for a more formalized plan. This plan should focus on light weights, learning new exercises and progressing to the starting RM percentage used in the program. (p. 57)

An example of a linear periodized program would be:

Microcycle Repetition Training Zones
1 3-5 sets of 12-15RM
2 4-5 sets of 8-10RM
3 3-4 sets of 4-6RM
4 3-5 sets of 1-3RM

(Microcycles here represented as 4 weeks long) (p. 56)

A more complicated example would be as follows:

Preparation phase (4wks) First Transition (4wks) Competition Phase (4wks) 2nd Transition (Off season 4wks)
Goal Muscle Growth Maximal Strenth & Growth Peak Muscle Growth
Reps 8to10 4to6 1to3 8to10
Sets 4to6 3to4 3to5 4to6
Intensity Low Moderate Very High Low
Volume High-moderate Moderate Low High-moderate

(P. 56)


Kramer, W.J., Hatfield, D. L., Fleck, S.J. (2007). Strength Training (edited by Lee Brown). Champaign, IL. Human Kinetics.


So it turns out the quad tendon issues I’ve been dealing with, as well as my shoulder ones are indeed becoming insurmountable. I don’t like to train in pain, I don’t think it’s a good indicator of positive training load/frequency/volume. As such I’ve reduced my volume/frequency for week 5 (but not load), to see if I can’t dissipate some of the fatigue I’ve been accumulating while maintaining perhaps even promoting a bit of strength leading into the peaking phase. Strength is gaining slowly so that’s not my problem, and while I think the twice per week frequency has been good for strength, it’s just loading me up too much. I’ll try and keep an assistance for deadlift and bench, see how that goes. As long as the weights go up week to week I don’t mind.




This was a pretty good week, everything starting to get a little heavier but still moving. I’ve kept my volume to one core lift session per week, I added some assistance on the last day, a close grip bench and Romanian deadlift. Ideally I’d love some more squat volume in there but with my quad tendons being still sensitive (feeling better, my squat session on Friday made them a little sore but they pulled up fine), and as we’re getting into peaking, I’ll keep the volume low and focus instead on intensity.

The girls are doing pretty good, Sieraya is doing really well, she’s already on track to beat her last comp numbers and we’re still 6 weeks out. Considering she hasn’t trained much since her comp in November and has been gallivanting around Europe this is especially impressive.

Dion has been following a serious training program for this goal for the past few months so she’s coming along nicely too, already easily repping higher than her former comp PR’s so we’ll expect a big comp day for her, from her.



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