Help Programming for a Deadlift/Bench Competition at 56 years old

Discussion in 'Barbell' started by Wolfe, Sep 7, 2017.

  1. Wolfe

    Wolfe Double-Digit Post Count

    I am 56 years old.

    I pulled a 500 pound deadlift in training in July 2016. In September 2016, I pulled 558 in a stone lift at a strong man competition and failed at 608. In June of 2017, I pulled 525 in a deadlift competition and failed about halfway at 550.

    My current training usually involves deadlifts twice per week. I habitually do the following:

    135x10,10; 185x5; 225x5; 275x5; 315x5; 365x5 followed by work sets with 405 up to 475. On the work sets I perform different set/rep schemes depending on how I feel. Sometimes I do singles with 30 seconds rest, sometimes ladders (1,2,3,2,1 or 1,2,3,4,5,4,3,2,1), sometimes I do sets of 3 0r 5. If I feel like it, I may also do higher rep back off sets with 315 or 225.

    I bench a couple of times per week. The bench is not a big focus but I would like it to increase.

    I perform several sets of chest supported rows at the start of each workout. I use a machine to spare stress on my low back before the deads. My rowing goes up to 225 plus for reps.

    I train at the National Institute for Fitness & Sport (NIFS) in Indianapolis, which is a fabulous facility with most nearly every piece of equipment you could think off.

    NIFS has 50 yard of space for sprinting or sled pushing so I have recently added sled pushing to the workout. I am currently doing pushes of 60-80 yards 4-5 times with varying sled weights from 115 lbs up to 295lbs. The sled is working my legs hard and they are getting much stronger. I like the sled because it hits so many muscles at once and really pushes your conditioning to another level. I had read that the sled did not make you sore because of the lack of a negative portion to the movement which seemed counter intuitive (PC code for BS). The lack of soreness turned out to be true and the sled work does not seem to detract from my other training and actually seems to help recovery.

    I mountain bike pretty hard 1 or 2 times per week depending on weather and schedule.

    My daughter is 18 and often trains with me. She pulled 275 easily in the deadlift competition with me in June.

    We are going to compete in a competition at NIFS in November and I plan to do bench and deadlift.

    My progress from 300 to 400 and then from 400 to 500 went pretty well. The road from 500 to 600 has been much different and slower.

    My age seems to mainly limit how often I can train more than how hard I can train. My bench has suffered as I have aged and much of that is from shoulder issues.

    I am asking for input or ideas on how to program my lifts as I go forward, especially in regard to training for the upcoming dead/bench competition. I plan to pull at least 550, but I would really like to see 585.

    The training that has gotten me to this point seems to have lost effectiveness and I need fresh ideas as to what to do next and what I may be doing wrong now. Sometimes you get too set in your routine and can't see the forest for the trees.

    Thank you all in advance for any help or thoughts.
  2. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Forum Administrator Staff Member Senior Instructor

    If you're pulling 500 lbs., I'm not sure you should be on an Internet forum asking for advice.

    Reading your post, the only thing I can suggest is to change up your lifts from time to time. I like to do 4 cycles a year when I'm competing regularly, and means for 3 months backwards from a meet, I train for the meet. The other two 3-month periods, I'm working on my weaknesses and not doing my competition lifts as often or as heavy. It's nice to take a break.

    I also do this on a larger level, e.g., because I compete in 5-year age brackets, I typically do 2 or 3 years of two meets a year, then I give it rest until I hit the next 5-year bracket. Speaking for myself, I've set a few records in my division, which is Raw, Old, and Skinny. :) I'm going to chase a record for two more meets, one this year and one in 2018, and then I'm going to give it a rest for a while, probably a couple of years, and chase a better overhead press and a few other things I'd like to accomplish.

    To address the details of your training, if you're doing the same thing twice a week for a particular lift, I'd rethink that and make a heavy day and a speed day, or something similar, e.g., a high volume and a low volume day.

    I don't remember who said this - was it you, @Rif? - but only the mediocre are at their best all the time. Sounds like you need a break to me for your long-term mental and physical benefit.

    Rif and kbell12 like this.
  3. Wolfe

    Wolfe Double-Digit Post Count

    Steve, thanks for the response.

    You are never too strong to learn.

    The gym where I train has a few monsters who put me to shame, so I don't have an inflated notion of what a 500 pound deadlift gets me. The gym posted a photo from last years competition showing a guy pulling 16 plates.

    I do modulate my weights depending on how I feel. When I am not feeling strong or my joints are tired, I drop back for my work sets.

    I was hoping to get a sense of the volume of deadlifts that others are training with. Sometimes I think my total reps and sets may be more than I physically need to get the required strength stimulus (now whether I need the mental stimulus is another issues all together!).

    I have also been thinking about reducing the volume of each workout but increasing the frequency as in PTP. My sense is PTP is good at lighter weights in the beginning, but I wonder how it fares with heavier weights.

    The competition in November is a non sanctioned event and does not have age classes. For my age, I think I would do okay, but up against the younger beasts I expect to get my a#@ handed to me.
  4. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Forum Administrator Staff Member Senior Instructor

    DL volume depends, for most people on SQ volume. If you're not squatting, you probably want to DL more than if you were. I hope others will chime in here. I'm a very low-volume lifter so my example isn't representative (but it works just fine and could work for more people, IMHO).

    IMHO, you're using energy you don't need to use on all those sets of 5 before you working weight. Again, just me, but I lift 75% 1RM with no warmup, and even at a meet, I maybe do a set of 3, a set of 2, and then go out and do my opener.

  5. Wolfe

    Wolfe Double-Digit Post Count


    "IMHO, you're using energy you don't need to use on all those sets of 5 before you working weight. Again, just me, but I lift 75% 1RM with no warmup, and even at a meet, I maybe do a set of 3, a set of 2, and then go out and do my opener."

    That is exactly one of the things I was thinking about. I had a back injury prior to starting my deadlift training. Initially, I was rehabilitating that injury, so I did a lot of warm up sets to gauge how my back was holding up and make sure everything was limber. I have just continued that warm up sequence out of habit since then. I think the lighter sets of 5 are still good work, but wonder if I would be better off cutting back.

    Thanks for the reply.
  6. LukeV

    LukeV Double-Digit Post Count

    That's some huge volume so my question is just whether it's all necessary. Maybe try warming up with farmers walk (great for dreads) and then follow your weights progression (if you're comfortable with that) with doubles instead of 10s and 5s. Just my 10 cents worth
  7. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Forum Administrator Staff Member Senior Instructor

    @Wolfe, the best thing to do is experiment a little. Let's not forget that volume is a larger determinant of strength training success, but volume below 50% 1RM doesn't, for the most part, help you get stronger. (There are exceptions but it's nonetheless a pretty good guideline to follow.)

    I'd start changing this gradually

    I'd start by changing 135 x 10 to 135 x 5, then start at the top and change 365 x 5 to 365 x 3, and then drop 315 to 3 reps, and so on. If you change all your 5's to 3's, you'll have cut out 10 reps total - see if you feel better or worse. If you feel like you enjoy that sort of volume, maybe add some back-off sets after your work sets, or maybe even go for more volume in your work sets by adding another set.

    I set a new lifetime DL personal best recently on a training schedule that has fewer lifts in a week than you have in a day - I typically do 6-10 reps total, and do that 4x/week. My work sets are singles, doubles, and triples at 75%. I have derived my training from our Daily Dose Deadlift plan, which is a blog you can find here.

    Ryan Cranfill and kbell12 like this.
  8. Double-Digit Post Count

    Nice Deadlift.

    Deadlift Frequence

    As Dr Tom McLaughlin (PhD Exercise Biomechanics, former Powerlifter) has noted, the lower back is quickly and easily over trained.

    That is usually why the majority of Powerlifter only train the Deadlift once a week.

    However, appear to be the exception to the rule. Part of that appears to be your use of...

    Auto-Regulated Training

    "I ...modulate my weights depending on how I feel."

    That something that many lifters fail to do; instead believing every workout need to be push the the limit.

    Warm Ups

    The objective of Warm Ups is to preform the minimal amount of work necessary to prepare you for your top set of an exercise.

    With that in said, you are performing more Warm Up Set than necessary; depleting energy and strength that will enhance your top end set.

    As Steve stated, "...You don't need to use on all those sets of 5 before you working weight."

    A more effective method is...

    CAT (Compensatory Acceleration Training) Warm Ups

    CAT (Dr Fred Hatfield circa 1980) mean performing the repetition in each set as explosively as possible.

    Recommended Warm Up Example

    Set 1: 135 X 5 Reps. 135 X 10 Reps is fine. However, performing 135 explosively for 5 Reps is more effective. It engaged Fast Twitch Type IIa and "Super" Fast Type IIb/x, which a set of 135 X 10 Reps doesn't.

    Set 2: 185 X 3 Reps

    Set 3: 225 X 2 Reps

    Set 4: 275 X 1 Rep

    Set 5: 315 X 1 Rep

    Set 6: 365 X 1 Rep

    Set 7: 365 X 1 Rep

    Set 8: 405 X 1 Rep

    Set 9 : 475 X 1 plus Rep.

    To reiterate, this type of Warm Up enables you to produce more force (Power and Strength).

    The "Recommended Warm Up Example" above was provide to fall line with what you are doing, ease you into changing up your training and thinking on this rather than turning it upside down for you.

    However, the above "Recommended Warm Up Example" still has more Warm Up Set that necessary.

    As Steve as pointed out, "I maybe do a set of 3, a set of 2, and then go out and do my opener."

    Like Steve, I found performing the minimal amount of Warm Ups for myself and in working with other pays off with a greater 1 Repetition Max.

    "My Opening Attempt Is My Last Warm Up"

    Chip McCain (former Deadlift Record Holder with 362.5 kg/799 lbs/198 lb Weight Class/1979) provide me with this wisdom.

    The benefits are...

    1) Ensures you make you Opening Attempt, remain in the meet and take the pressure off you.

    2) Saves your strength and energy for your top end, 1 Repetition Max.

    Back Off Sets

    Perform as you like.

    Hypertrophy Sled Training

    Sled pushes of 60 80 yard, 4 - 5 times a week fall into the Hypertrophy Training Protocol

    Concentric Only Training and DOMS (Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness)

    Concentric Only Training can created DOMS, if muscle are pushed beyond their limit with a new training program, over traumatizing the muscles. Thus, Concentric Only Training can evoke DOMS.

    However, Concentric Only Training (as you noted) does not traumatize the muscles to the same degree as Eccentric Training does.

    Thus, one of the biggest benefits is that you can perform more frequent Concentric Only Training Session and recovery quickly.

    That is one of the benefits to Concentric Only Training Exercises like Sled Pushes, Bike Training and Olympic Movements; which are predominately Concentric.

    Eccentric Training does produce greater trauma to the muscles. With that said, Eccentric Training can be minimized by initiating a new program with very light loads.

    Sled Sprint and Recovery

    As you know, Sled Sprint fall into the category of High Intensity Interval Training, HIIT.

    HIIT is instrumental at increasing Anerobic Strength/Power and Aerobic Conditioning, a paradox.

    Very impressive.

    Without more information on your shoulder issue, it hard to know what to suggest.

    However, one of the exercise that I found that me to keep Bench Pressing while allowing my shoulder to heal is the...

    Reverse Grip Bench Press

    Benching Pressing with an underhand grip, allowing the bar to come down lower on the chest, minimizes the shear force on the shoulder.

    As with any new exercise, I had to dramatically decrease the weight that I used with the Reverse Grip Bench Press. I eventually worked my way up to Reverse Grip Bench Pressing about the same weight as I did with the Traditional Bench Press (Pronated Grip) Method.

    This is an excellent article on...

    Mastering The Reverse Grip Bench Press
    Master the Reverse-Grip Bench Press | T Nation

    I did go back to the Traditional Bench Press Grip at meets. However, a lot of my Bench Press Training revolves around Reverse Grip Bench Press Training.

    False Grip Bench Press

    A False Grip Bench Press enables you to position your hand on the bar at almost a 45 Degree angle. This method decreased the shear force on the shoulder.

    I use the Traditional Bench Press at meets for that reason. My shoulder are back to normal.

    Here a good on the shoulder benefits of the...

    Use the Thumbless Bench Press
    Tip: Use the Thumbless Bench Press | T Nation

    "Everything Works But Nothing Works Forever"

    1) Periodization Training; Planned programs that incorporate cutting back on exercise intensity the requires a 3 to 6 weeks of progressive loading to take you back to and beyond your personal training best is essential.

    2) "Changes In Exercises"
    Changes in exercises are more effective than in loading schemes to improve muscle strength. - PubMed - NCBI

    Changing exercises (research abstract above) has demonstrated it is one of the keys to making progress.

    With that said, Don't change anything/experiment with anything when close to a meet.

    3) Speed (Power Training") Day

    As Steve mentioned, "I'd...make a heavy day and a speed day."

    However, the term "Speed Day" is a misnomer. It is a "Power Training Day".

    The training protocol in training for Speed and Power are distinctively different, another topic for another time.

    Power Training utilizes loads of approximately 48 to 62% for Traditional Movements, such as the Deadlift.

    500 lb Sample Power Deadlift Training Program

    You'd use 240 lbs (48%) to 300 lbs (60%).

    Increasing Power enable to slide through you're sticking point; "An object in motion, tends to remain in motion", Newton's First Law.

    "Research is what I am doing when I don't know what I am doing." Einstein

    Training, as you know, requires some experimentation (as Steve stated, as well).

    As you know, the off season is the best time to "Test Drive" new thing.

    Kenny Croxdale

    LukeV likes this.
  9. Rif

    Rif Helping Make Others Stronger

    Steve yes that was me quoting someone but I forget who . regardless that is true. One has to be able to back off to really reach a true peak. And then do it again :)
  10. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Forum Administrator Staff Member Senior Instructor

    @Rif, I'm thinking it might have been Rob Lawrence who originated that. Hmmm...

  11. Rif

    Rif Helping Make Others Stronger

    Don't think it was Rob
  12. Rif

    Rif Helping Make Others Stronger

  13. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Forum Administrator Staff Member Senior Instructor

    @Rif, I sit corrected. :)

    Rif likes this.
  14. Wolfe

    Wolfe Double-Digit Post Count

    Kenny Croxdale, thank you for the detailed and well-thought response.

    I am experimenting with cutting down my volume; especially the number of warm-up reps. I have dropped the sets of 5 to twos or threes.

    I have been out for the last week. I smashed/scraped my shin mountain biking a couple of weeks back. I cleaned the scrape but I think some nasty woodland bacteria was pushed into the abrasion, which did not bleed much. Ended up developing cellulitis and have been on a heavy load of antibiotics. I took a few days off to let the leg heal and because the antibiotics seemed to leave me feeling abnormally tired. Almost cleared up now and starting back training.

    My thinking about my training right now:

    I am reducing the number of reps in my warm-ups.

    I will do one heavy deadlift day per week and base my training volume on Prilepin's chart. Looking back over my training, the total volume, including all the warm-up sets, was pretty high compared to the recommendations from Prilepin's chart. I enjoyed all of the lifting (which is part of the problem) but given the volume, I was probably holding back my long-term progress.

    My second deadlift day will be a light day (55-60 percent of 1RM). The point of that will be to train the movement without tapping into recovery. [As an aside, I recently went full on stupid during a workout and paired 30 seconds of full out Concept 2 Ski Erg sprints with sets of deadlift at 405lbs. One workout I have done a few times over the last months on my lighter days is to complete 20 reps of deadlifts with 405lbs in as few sets as possible. I usually hit 5 or 6 for the first set and end up doing singles toward the end. Adding 30 seconds Ski Erg intervals between sets of deadlift really gives you an incentive to complete the 20 reps in as few sets as possible. I completed the 20 reps of deadlift at 405 in seven sets with seven 30 second intervals on the Ski Erg last time around. This may be too much for a "light" day, but it was fun. I don't plan on regularly doing this kind of workout on my light days.]

    I am going to plot my weekly training for 5 days a week with two deadlift days, 1 hard & 1 easy; 2 bench press days, 1 heavy & 1 light; one day per week I will set aside for sled pushes and loaded carries. I will continue to do chest supported machine rows each workout except I will probably do pull-ups on bench press days since I may do that workout at home. The conditioning day may get replaced with mountain biking when I can. I may also add sled pushes or loaded carries as a finisher on bench press days if I am feeling recovered.
    Antti likes this.

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