ROUND TWO - "Meet Prep" & Starting Early

After my first meet in March I set the goal of having a 700 pound total by my birthday (August 2nd), and I decided that I wasn't going to compete again until I had reached that goal. I've now been through two training cycles since that meet, and I've added 58 pounds to my total. That number looks pretty good to me. In just three months I've been able to add almost 60 pounds to my total. I'm now sitting at 675 pounds after testing my 1RMs yesterday.

In the first cycle after the meet I was on a program written for me by a powerlifting coach. That afforded me 42 pounds onto my total. In this second and most recent cycle after my meet I ran Candito again. (The same program I used to peak before my meet.) I did a lot of things differently during this second round of Candito, and I only saw a 16 pound increase overall... That'll teach me to go off program and take long breaks and hike Mount Washington right before testing 1RMs... -_- *badchoices*

So, now I'm looking to gain at least another 25 pounds onto my total in the next ~6 weeks. Cue anxiety.

Right now I plan on taking the next week and a half to focus almost solely on my weaknesses both in my lifts and in my lifestyle. I have recently REALLY let my diet slip, and while I don't care as much about aesthetics as I do about my weights, eating inadequate amounts of protein pretty negatively affects both. I've also slipped into a sort of "rut," I suppose, in my lifting. In the past two weeks, I've started to feel really lethargic about it. I remember feeling this way towards the end of Candito last time as well, and I attribute it to the reduction of workout days (just 3/week) and the monotony of doing the exact same exercises in the exact same order for 6 weeks... I get bored very easily. So, this lethargy and my protein-lacking diet are definitely some weaknesses to be addresses.

On the lifting side of things, I have quite a few things to correct if I want to continue seeing big gains.
SQUAT - weakening torso/core, slight knee valgus, internal hip rotation, minimal glute activation
DEADLIFT - weakening hips, minimal glute and hamstring activation
BENCH PRESS - this is honestly my strongest lift, and I'm not finding too many weakness specific to bench
OVERALL - mentality, breathing, and power

I've put together a list of exercises I want to use in the next ~2 weeks as accessories to help bring my lower body up to speed, and I'll probably continue bench pressing like normal (maybe a 5x5?) since it's been pretty strong lately.

But let's talk about the overall weaknesses; mentality, breathing, and power. These are things that I have always kind of said "meh" too. I've always been a very internal, low-key, mellow lifter... especially when it comes to heavy weights. I've never been one to "pump myself up" or get really psyched before getting underneath heavy weights. I don't necessarily think there's anything WRONG with that, but I do think that it's starting to affect my progress, because I approach 100 pounds the exact same way I approach 200 pounds. But the two are entirely different ballgames. Lower weights that are 100% within my wheelhouse require so much less thought and effort, but those higher weights really demand a lot of cognition and focus, and when I approach them as if they're within my wheelhouse in the same way, I'm just not giving it my all... Maximal lifting definitely requires 100+% effort. Every. Time. This is something I've been lacking and I'm definitely starting to pay the price.

In addition to my fairly nonchalant approach, I tend to fill my head with the negative. This is the only different in the way I approach lower weights versus higher weights... When I'm stepping up to squat 165 lbs, I know I've got that. It's just a fact; that weight is going to move, and it's going to move smoothly. But when I'm approaching anything over 200 pounds I constantly feel unsure that I'm going to be able to stand the weight back up (or in the case of deadlifts, even lift it a centimeter off the floor). So, not only am I completely "un-pumped," but I'm also usually down on myself at the front of a heavy set.

That shit has got to go if I want to continue competing in this sport.

And then there's breathing. This is really something that I continue to question... Does it really help? Does it make THAT big a difference? Really, though. Really? But I'm slowly learning and accepting that it does make quite the impact. Some of that may just be a general readiness for the weights when I'm taking the time to focus enough to breath properly, but I do think that using my breath to help me has made the difference between failing that last rep or not a couple of times. So, now I just need to take the time to harness that for every single set. (Again, back to the cognition of approaching maximal weight.)

With all this being said... I have a LOT of work to do.
I'm starting my prep right now. It begins with this first week and a half to two weeks of accessory work to specifically address my weaknesses. From there, I'm not sure yet. I may run Candito again, or I may pick and choose some things from it that I want to use. I may try 5x5, I may try creating my own rep schemes, I may even try Smolov (or Smolov jr). But I do plan on squatting and deadlifting at least 2 times a week. And I plan on starting this journal up again to follow my prep, which is certainly going to be a much longer process this time around.

Alright, let's get at it! #lovetheprocess