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Two Stage Trinity Powerlifting Training Plan

Part Two

By Gary F. Zeolla

 

This two-part article is continued from Two-Stage Trinity Powerlifting Training Plan: Part One.

 

Speed & Isolation Exercises Workouts

 

      The discussion in Part One was about my late afternoon powerlifting workouts. Those take about 1-1/2 to 2 hours. In them, I do all compound exercises, namely the powerlifts and look-alike lifts, plus various forms of rows and presses. But I also do a morning workout lasting about half an hour. For it, I do speed and isolation exercises. Altogether, I work out about 8-10 hours a week.

      The speed work is basically interval training, so it functions as my cardio. For it, I do four work sets, resting just 30 seconds between sets, not pausing between reps, and doing the reps in a rapid fashion. That gives it the cardiovascular (CV) effect.

      I do Speed Squats when I will be doing a Squats workout later, Speed Benches before a Benches workout, and Speed Deadlifts before a Deadlifts workout. The speed work follows the same three-week rotation of exercises as for my powerlifting workouts, using a different variation each training week. However, when I will be doing a Bench Assistance workout later, I hit a heavy bag for up to 12 minutes rather than doing speed work. That is my only steady-state cardio work.

I follow the heavy bag or speed work with one or two isolation exercises, also following the same three-week rotation of exercises as for my powerlifting workouts. Those isolation exercises are done for much higher reps than I use for my powerlifting workouts (8-20 vs. 1-7), and they are done with a shorter rest between sets (1-2 minutes vs. 3-5 minutes). As such, they fit well for conditioning with the heavy bag and speed work. However, I don’t have a sufficient number of variations of the speed exercises to change all of them routine to routine, so I need to repeat some exercises in both routines.

      The reason for this two-a-day pattern of lifting is to keep each workout shorter and less tiring. By splitting up each day’s training into two parts, neither workout is overly long and tiring, and I am able to rest for several hours in-between them. Also, by splitting up the different types of training, cardio/speed and higher rep work in the mornings and strict powerlifting in the late afternoons, each workout does not seem as difficult as trying to mix the different types of training into one workout.

I know this pattern works for CV fitness, as my blood pressure is always around a normal 120/ 80. My resting heart rate (RHR) is always lower than the normal of 60-80 beats per minutes (bpm), usually in the mid-40s bpm. Not bad for someone in his late 50s. Note that a low RHR is a sign of a strong heart. Lance Armstrong, during his Tour de France days, had a RHR of 17 bpm.

 

Peaking

 

      To peak for a contest, the last week of hard workouts, no matter which training week it is supposed to be, I do 4 sets of 4, 3, 2, 1 reps on the actual powerlifts. I increase the weights by just 2.5% set to set to force the one-rep drop, rather than the 5% weight increase and two-rep drop in my regular workouts. That gives me a good bit of low rep work on the powerlifts, ideal for peaking for a contest.

      I then skip the usual following look-alike lift. Doing so makes each peaking workout shorter and less demanding than my regular workouts, as I only do four work sets rather than six and don’t need to warm up for a second exercise. That enhances recovery heading in a contest.

      At the contest, I then use the same warm-ups as for the peaking workout. I open with the weight I used for the four-rep set. My second attempt is the double’s weight, or a 5% increase. I then increase 5% from there for my third attempt, which has me attempting 2.5% more at the contest than I did for the single in training.

      This plan has worked well at every contest I have used it for, as I have only missed one attempt. But that one time, I tried five pounds more than this plan called for on my third attempt to try to break a record. If I had used the calculated weight, I probably would have gotten it.

      Of course, I will need to adjust this plan if I miss any reps in a peaking workout and based on how the contest is going and my goals for it.

 

Contest Preferences

 

      The four federations I am planning on competing in all allow my APT knee sleeves and Crain 3.0-meter wraps in a raw division. That way, I can compete doing either Squats with Sleeves or Squats with Wraps, using my preferred knees sleeves or wraps, respectively. The four feds are the IPA, WPC/APF/AAPF, RPS, and XPC. I have already competed in the first three of these feds and very much enjoy all three of them. The last is a new fed started by the meet director of my last contest, who was with the RPS at the time.

      A second major reason I like these four feds is they all have a 24-hour weigh-in rule. When I competed back in college in the late 1970s to early ‘80s, weigh-ins were always only the morning of the contest. When I started competing again in the early ‘00s and saw there were meets where I could weigh-in the day before, I jumped for that, remembering how difficult day of weigh-ins were.

      The third major reason is these four feds all regularly host meets in my area. By “my area,” I mean within a four-hour drive from my home near Pittsburgh, PA, which is to say, in PA, OH, or WV.

      These three points are “non-negotiable” for me when choosing which contests to enter. I have other preferences that are also seen in these four feds, such as allowing a sleeveless pocket T-shirt, using pounds rather than kilos, and using specialty bars for each lift rather than a regular power bar for all three, but those I could live without. However, the contest being within four hours of my home, weigh-ins the day before the contest, and having a Raw division that allows my preferred knee sleeves and wraps are must-haves. I simply will not enter a contest that does not fit these three standards.

      I might also now add to the last point that I will not enter a fed with an “Approved Gear” list. I say that, as I was considering entering a fifth fed, until I noticed none of the gear I use is on its approved list. I contacted an official in the fed, and he confirmed that none of my gear would be legal, including my APT knee sleeves, not even in its Raw with Wraps division. That is so despite the fact that all of my gear easily fits within the parameters for gear laid out in the fed’s rulebook. Moreover, I have been using such gear for decades, in multiple feds, with never a question raised about any of it. But because the companies have not paid the yearly fee to the fed, the gear is not approved.

 

Partial Movements Vs. Bands and Chains

 

      I’ve gone back and forth over whether to do partial movements or not. When I was competing equipped, they made sense for the top-end work. But with competing raw, even raw with wraps, they make less sense. Moreover, I feel like my form is different when doing partial movements as compared to doing the top portion of the lift when doing the actual powerlift.

      However, I do believe some top-end work is still helpful when competing raw. But that is better done using bands and chains, for two reasons.

      First, with chain and band work being full range movements, my form does not change near as much as with partial movements.

      Second, and also due to them being full range movements, the bottom-end of the lift still gets some work. That is especially the case if I “handicap” the bottom-end when using bands or chains by going extra low on squats, using a 3-count pause on benches, and using a deficit on deadlifts. But even without that handicap, they can be helpful, so I might do them both ways.

       As such, I will probably get away from doing partial movements and do more chain and reverse band work instead, as I feel there is more carry over to the actual powerlift with the latter than the former.

 

Stick with It to Make Progress

 

      I know I have said this before about previous Training Plans, but this time I mean it. To really make progress with the Two-Stage Trinity Powerlifting Training Plan, I need to stick with it without any major alternations for an extended length of time, which is to say, for at least a couple of years, preferably several years.

      It is to that end that I have spent far more time designing this Training Plan than I have spent designing any previous Training Plan. With my many years of training experience and training logs, it is now possible for me to review what I have done in the past and the experiments I have conducted to see what worked and what did not work. I have also tried to think through all possible problems and figure out solutions to them before they happen based on all of this experience, while considering my own training preferences.

      To that end, I designed many different Workouts Summaries, considering the pros and cons of each. I tried to think through each workout, designing each one so that it would be as time-efficient as possible, as overly long workouts have been a common problem for me over the years. I also tried to be sure each workout was not overly demanding, by coupling more demanding exercises with less-demanding ones. My detailed training logs were a great aid in these regards.

      But what I am not sure on is if I will stick with the idea of training Squats with Wraps and Squats with Sleeves evenly and training Sumo and Conv Deadlifts evenly, with all of them being done in both Stages, second and with a handicap in Stage One and first in contest form in Stage Two. I might change that to emphasizing Squats with Sleeves and Conv Deadlifts in Stage One and Squats with Wraps and Sumo Deadlifts in Sage Two, as the latter is most likely how I will compete.

      In the latter case, I will probably not use the idea of a “handicap” for the actual powerlifts in the off-stage, as that would have me doing two more demanding exercises in the same workout. I might do a peaking working for Squats with Sleeves and Conv Deadlifts at the end of Stage One, just to see what happens. I have included both ideas in the following Workouts Summary.

      But even with those points of uncertainty, I am truly hopeful I have designed a Training Plan I can use long-term. If any alterations are needed along the way, hopefully they will be minor. With the two stages and the three training weeks per stage, I have built-in sufficient variety in this Trinity Plan to prevent stagnation and boredom, but any more changing as I go along would just mess it up. It is with that attitude that I am using the Two-Stage Trinity Powerlifting Training Plan.

 

Sets x Reps Summary

 

      My planned sets x reps are as follows. Warm-ups are in brackets. Weights are increased 5% set to set (except 2.5% in peaking workouts).

 

Powerlifting (Afternoon) Workouts

 

      Note: In the following Summary, I have indicated ranges for the reps, although for the powerlifts and most look-alike lifts, I have been shooting for the lower reps. I might do the same for other exercises later, or I might go back to using the ranges for the powerlifts and look-alikes.

 

Actual Powerlifts and Look-alike Lifts done first:

[6 x 13, 11, 9, 7, 5, add gear: 3] 3 x 5-6, 3-4, 1-2

Peaking Workouts (powerlifts only):

[7 x 13, 11, 9, 7, 5, add gear: 3, 1] 4 x 4, 3, 2, 1

Most Look-alike Lifts done second:

[4 x 9, 7, 5, add gear: 3] 3 x 5-6, 3-4, 1-2

Rest of afternoon lifts:

[4 x 9, 7, 5, add gear as needed: 3] 3 x 6-7, 4-5, 2-3

 

Morning Workouts

 

Speed Work:

[4 x Regular: 15, 11, Speed: 9, 7] 4 x 8-9, 6-7, 4-5, 2-3

Most Isolation Exercises:

[1 x 9] 3 x 11-12, 9-10, 7-8

Rotator Cuff Work:

[1 x 11] 2 x 15-16, 13-14

Isolation Exercises using ankle weights:

[1 x 11] 2 x 15-20, 10-15

Some Isolation Exercises:

2 x AMRAP

 

Workouts Summary

 

      All bench exercises done with a medium grip and a slight pause at the chest, unless otherwise indicated. The “extra low” depth for squats is 1-1/2” (2 boards) lower than my normal, legal depth, unless otherwise indicated. The links are to where the piece of gym equipment can be purchased from Amazon. For details on these exercises, see Powerlift Assistance Exercises and my book Starting and Progressing in Powerlifting: A Comprehensive Guide to the World’s Strongest Sport

 

Abbreviations:

AMRAP = As Many Reps as Possible

CG = Close Grip

MG = Medium Grip (my regular grip)

WG = Wide Grip

BB = Barbell (usually my Heavy Duty Power Bar)

CB = Curl Bar

SCB = Super Curl Bar (different grip angles than a regular curl bar)

DB = Dumbbell

RB = Reverse Bands

RC = Rotator Cuff

[…] = Not sure if I will use the variation or do the exercise.

Or = Could use either alternative.

^ = Done in both Plans (not including actual powerlifts).

 

Powerlifting (Afternoon) Workouts

 

Basic Design of Workouts:

Bench Assistance: Decline Benches, Presses, Rows (overhand, to the chest).

Squats Day: Two Major Squat Exercises.

Bench Day: Two Major Bench Exercises, Rows (underhand, to the stomach).

Deadlift Day: Two Major Deadlifts Exercises.

 

Bench Assistance (BA):

Declines/ Declines:

Stage One:

Week A: Cambered Bar Decline Benches, MG Standing Presses, One-Arm DB Rows (overhand grip).

Week B: 3-Count Pause MG Decline Benches, DB Standing Presses (arms together), WG Cambered Bar Rows.

Week C: 3-Count Pause One Chain Decline Benches, CG Standing Presses, MG Cambered Bar Rows.

 

Tetra #2:

Week A: WG Decline Benches, MG Seated Presses, CG BB Rows.

Week B: MG Decline Benches, CG Seated Presses, WG BB Rows.

Week C: CG Decline Benches, Seated DB Presses (arms together), MG BB Rows.

 

Squats (Wraps and Sleeves Evenly):

Stage One:

Week A: Extra Low Two Chain Squats, Manta Ray Squats (high bar, close stance).

Week B: RB (#3, light bands) Squats, Extra Low (”) Squats with Sleeves. 

Week C: Three-Count Pause Squats, Squats with Wraps (2.0 meters).

 

Stage Two:

Week A: Two Chain Squats, Olympic Squats (close stance, extra low).

Week B: Squats with Sleeves, Extra Low RB (#3, light bands) Squats.

Week C: Squats with Wraps (2.5 meters), One-Count Pause Squats.

Peaking Workouts for both Squats (3.0 meters) with Wraps and Squats with Sleeves.

Contest: Squats with Wraps (3.0 meters) or Squats with Sleeves.

 

Squats (Sleeves then Wraps):

Stage One:

Week A: Extra Low Two Chain Squats, Manta Ray Squats (high bar, close stance).

Week B: Extra Low Squats, RB (#3, light bands) Squats.

Week C: Squats with Sleeves, Squats with Wraps (2.0 meters).

[Peaking Workout: Squats with Sleeves.]

 

Stage Two:

Week A: Two Chain Squats, Olympic Squats (close stance, extra low).

Week B: Extra Low RB (#3, light bands) Squats, Squats with Sleeves.

Week C: Squats with Wraps (2.5 meters), One-Count Pause Squats.

Peaking Workout: Squats with Wraps (3.0 meters).

Contest: Squats with Wraps (3.0 meters).

 

Benches:

Stage One:

Week A: Cambered Bar Benches, One Chain Benches, CG CB Rows or One-Arm DB Rows (parallel grip).

Week B: Feet Up Dead Stop Benches or WG Benches, 3-Count Pause CG Benches, MG CB Rows.

Week C: 3-Count Pause RB (#2, monster-minis) Benches, [1-Count Pause] Benches, WG CB Rows.

 

Stage Two:

Week A: Dead Stop Cambered Bar Benches, RB (#2, monster-minis) Benches, CG SCB Rows or One-Arm Dumbbell Rows (underhand grip).

Week B: 3-Count Pause Benches, CG Benches, MG SCB Rows.

Week C: Benches, 3-Count Pause One Chain Benches, WG SCB Rows.

Peaking Workout: Benches, [Rows].

Contest: Benches.

 

Deadlifts (Sumo and Conv Deadlifts Evenly):

Stage One:

Week A: Sumo 2” (3 boards) Deficit Two Chain Deadlifts, Conv SLDLs.

Week B: Sumo 2” (3 boards) Deficit Deadlifts, Conv ” (1 board) Deficit] Deadlifts.

Week C: Conv 2” (3 boards) Deficit Deadlifts, Sumo ” (1 board) Deficit Deadlifts.

 

Stage Two:

Week A: Sumo 2” (3 boards) Deficit RB (#3, light bands) Deadlifts, Conv [1” (2 boards) Deficit] SLDLs.

Week B: Conv Deadlifts, Sumo 1” (2 boards) Deficit Deadlifts.

Week C: Sumo Deadlifts, Conv 1” (2 boards) Deficit Deadlifts or Conv Snatch Grip Deadlifts.

Peaking Workouts for both Sumo and Conv Deadlifts.

Contest: Sumo or Conv Deadlifts.

 

Deadlifts (Conv then Sumo):

Stage One:

Week A: Sumo 2” (3 boards) Deficit Two Chain Deadlifts, Conv SLDLs.

Week B: Conv 1” (2 boards) Deficit Deadlifts, Sumo Sumo [” (1 board) Deficit] Deadlifts.

Week C: Conv Deadlifts, Sumo 1” (2 boards)  or 2” (3 boards) Deficit Deadlifts.

[Peaking Workout: Conv Deadlifts.]

 

Stage Two:

Week A: Conv 2” (3 boards) Deficit RB (#3, light bands) or Two Chain Deadlifts, Sumo SLDLs.

Week B: Sumo 1” (2 boards) Deficit Deadlifts, Conv Sumo [” (1 board) Deficit] Deadlifts.

Week C: Sumo Deadlifts, Conv 1” (2 boards)  or 2” (3 boards) Deficit Deadlifts.,

Peaking Workout: Sumo Deadlifts.

Contest: Sumo Deadlifts.

 

 

Additional Possible Exercises:

      Note: I have found the following exercises to be less effective than the preceding ones, or they are too awkward or time-consuming to do in my home gym.

 

Bench Assistance (BA):

DB Decline Benches (arms together and alternating arms), Seated and Standing WG Presses, Seated and Standing DB Presses (alternating arms), all variations of Incline Benches, Dips (with bars and with rings), Push-ups, CG Cambered Bar Rows, Two-Arm DB Rows (overhand grip).

 

Squats:

Low Squats, Dead Stop Squats, Box Squats, Partial Squats, Bench Squats, [Extra Low] Sting Ray Squats (front, close stance) Squats, Zercher (front, close stance) Squats.

 

Benches:

Rack Benches (safeties 5” from chest), Rack Benches (safeties 6” from chest), DB Benches (alternate arms and arms together), Cambered Bar CG Benches, Board Benches, Floor Presses, Triceps Pushdowns.

 

Deadlifts:

Sumo and Conv 2” and 4” Block Pulls, Sumo and Conv Rack Pulls.

 

Cardio/Speed & Isolation Exercises (Morning) Workouts

 

Basic Design of Workouts:

Day 1: Heavy Bag, Curls.

Day 2: Speed Squats, Calves and/ or Upper Abs.

Day 3: Speed Benches, Reverse Curls or Rotator Cuff and/ or Grip Work.

Day 4: Speed Deadlifts, Hamstrings or Adductors/ Abductors and/ or Lower Abs.

 

Day 1 (on BA Day):

Stage One:

Week A: ^Heavy Bag, MG SCB Preacher Curls or DB Curls (alternate arms).

Week B: ^Heavy Bag, MG SCB Curls.

Week C: ^Heavy Bag, CG SCB Curls.

 

Stage Two:

Week A: ^Heavy Bag, MG CB Preacher Curls or DB Curls (arms together).

Week B: ^Heavy Bag, MG CB Curls.

Week C: ^Heavy Bag, CG CB Curls.

 

Day 2 (on Squats Day/ Wraps and Sleeves Evenly):

Stage One:

Week A: ^Jump Squats, Standing BB Calves, Bicycle Abs (2 x amrap).

Week B: Speed RB (#3, light bands) Squats, Abs: Decline Sit-ups.

Week C: ^Speed Squats, Standing Rocking DB Calves.

 

Stage Two:

Week A: Speed One Chain Squats, Abs: Sit- ups.

Week B: ^Jump Squats, Standing Rocking BB Calves, Twisting Sit-ups (2 x amrap).

Week C: ^Speed Squats, Standing DB Calves.

 

Day 2 (on Squats Day/ Sleeves then Wraps):

Stage One:

Week A: Speed Extra Low One Chain Squats, Abs: Decline Sit-ups.

Week B: Jump Squats, Standing BB Calves, Bicycle Abs (2 x amrap).

Week C: ^Speed Squats, Standing Rocking DB Calves.

 

Stage Two:

Week A: Speed One Chain Squats, Abs: Sit- ups.

Week B: Speed Extra Low RB (#3, light bands) Squats, Standing DB Calves.

Week C: ^Speed Squats, Standing Rocking BB Calves, Twisting Sit-ups (2 x amrap).

 

Day 3 (on Benches Day):

Stage One:

Week A: Speed Cambered Bar Benches, MG CB Reverse Curls.

Week B: Speed Dead Stop Benches, RC: Lying, up and down or Wrist Roller (overhand).

Week C: Speed RB Benches, RC: Shoulder Horn (alternate arms), Hand Gripper (reps).

 

Stage Two:

Week A: Speed Dead Stop Cambered Bar, MG SCB Reverse Curls.

Week B: Speed Benches, RC: Lying, in and out, or Wrist Roller (underhand).

Week C: Speed One Chain Benches, RC: Shoulder Horn (arms together), Hand Gripper (holds).

 

Day 4 (on Deadlifts Day/ Sumo and Conv Evenly):

Stage One:

Week A: Jump Sumo Deadlifts, Twisting Dip Bar Leg Raises (legs together).

Week B: Speed Sumo 2” (3 boards) Deficit Deadlifts, Lying Leg Curls (one leg at a time).

Week C: Speed Conv 2” (3 boards) Deficit Deadlifts, Adductors/ Abductors (alternate legs, with ankle weights), Leg Raises (2 x amrap).

 

Stage Two:

Week A: Speed Sumo 2” (3 boards) Deficit RB (#3, light bands) Deadlifts, Twisting Dip Bar Leg Raises (alternate legs).

Week B: Jump Conv Deadlifts, Adductors/ Abductors (one leg at a time), Dip Bar Leg Raises (legs straight and together; 2 x amrap).

Week C: Speed Sumo Deadlifts, Lying Leg Curls (alternate legs).

 

Day 4 (on Deadlifts day/ Conv then Sumo):

Stage One:

Week A: Speed Sumo 2” (3 boards) Deficit One Chain Deadlifts, Twisting Dip Bar Leg Raises (legs together).

Week B: Jump Conv Deadlifts, Adductors/ Abductors (alternate legs), Leg Raises (2 x amrap).

Week C: Speed Conv 1” (2 boards) Deficit Deadlifts, Hyperextensions or Lying Leg Curls (one leg at a time).

 

Stage Two:

Week A: Speed Conv 2” (3 boards) Deficit RB (#3, light bands) or One Chain Deadlifts, Twisting Dip Bar Leg Raises (alternate legs).

Week B: Sumo 1” (2 boards) Deficit, Adductors/ Abductors (one leg at a time), Dip Bar Leg Raises (legs straight and together; 2 x amrap).

Week C: Speed Sumo Deadlifts, Hyperextensions or Lying Leg Curls (alternate legs).

 

Additional Possible Exercises:

Day 1: Speed BB Rows and Speed Cambered Bar Rows (all variations), Plate Holds.

 

Day 2: Step-ups, Speed Extra Low Squats, Standing Bodyweight Calves (legs together and one leg at a time; 2 x amrap), Standing Rocking Bodyweight Calves (legs together and one leg at a time; 2 x amrap), Abs: Crunch-Side-Bend Combo, Abs: Decline Crunch-Side-Bend Combo, Abs: Crunches, Abs: Crunch-Reverse Crunch Combo.

 

Day 3: Speed Pushups, Laterals (all variations), BB Reverse Curls, CG SCB Reverse Curls, MG CB Preacher Reverse Curls, MG SCB Preacher Reverse Curls, Hammer Curls, DB Reverse Curls, RC: Sitting, front, RC: Lying on Side.

 

Day 4: Jump Rope, Speed Conv Deadlifts, Standing Leg Curls (alternate legs and one leg at a time), Lying Leg Curls (legs together), Twisting Leg Raises (2 x amrap), Lying Adductor, Dip Bar Leg Raises, Side Bends (standing and seated).

 

Current Training Plan and Conclusion

 

      Since my last contest on August 18, 2018, I tried first my Tetra Plan for three months, then my Two by Two Plan for four weeks. I then picked up with Stage Two of my Two-Stage Trinity Plan. These training logs are listed at Full Workout Logs: 2018 – Present.

      God willing, I am planning to enter IPA PA States March 16, 2019. Note the date change. This contest was pushed back a couple of weeks. That is good for me, as it means I should get in three full Rotations and part of a fourth rotation. That should give me time to be prepared for it, so I have already sent in my entry form and made hotel reservations.

      Here’s trusting the LORD this Two-Stage Trinity Powerlifting Training Strategy works well as I prepare for this and future contests. I am also hoping this two-part article proves helpful to someone else. For more on my powerlifting training philosophy, see my book Starting and Progressing in Powerlifting: A Comprehensive Guide to the World’s Strongest Sport.

For a modification of this Training Plan, see 2in2x2 Trinity/ Tetra Powerlifting Training Strategy: Modified Overview and Workouts Summaries.

 


Two-Stage Trinity Powerlifting Training Plan. Copyright 2019 by Gary F. Zeolla.

Powerlifting and Strength Training
Powerlifting and Strength Training: Full Workout Logs: 2018 - Present

The above article was posted on this site February 12, 2019.
It was last updated February 14, 2019.

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