Three Steps Forward, Two Steps Back
by Mike Lambert
One thing you should know about powerlifting: You shouldn’t spend too much time at it. The typical gym rat never gets anywhere because he thinks if one heavy workout a week is good, three are better. Back off the natural desire to hit a lift heavy every time you train. The recuperation you get from a week’s rest between big ones will pay benefits. Make that one major workout count. Here’s an example of a common progression –
135 x 6 (warmup)
185 x 6 (next warmup)
275 x 4 (intermediate set)
345 x 5 (first work set)
345 x 5
345 x 5
345 x 5
285 x 5 (back-off set)
The four work sets should be sufficiently tough that you can just barely make the last rep of the last set. Obviously, as you get stronger you’ll increase the weight used in the heavy sets. A common progression is to add 5 to 10 pounds on to your work sets when the final rep at 345 starts to feel pretty easy.
Progression of this sort does not usually continue regularly over a long period of time, and one way to extend your progress is to use the “Three Steps Forward, Two Steps Back” approach, first described to me by middleweight Rick Gaugler.
Here’s how it works. Say your work set weight was 345 for 4 sets of 5 reps. Back off to 335 for next week’s workout. It will be fairly easy. The following week go for 345 on your top sets again. Shouldn’t be any big problem. The following week go to 355. After that, back off to 345 again, followed by a week at 355 and one at 365. Then back down a couple of steps to 355 again . . . 365 . . . 375.
The variety and recuperation this mini-cycle adds may keep your progress moving forward for some time.