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SPC Competitor Close Up: Tom Lin

The basics – How old are you, which university do you go to and what do you study?

Hello everyone, my name is Tom Lin, 21 years old and I study architecture at University College London. I was born and grew up in China and since I was young, I have always been passionate about all kinds of sports but I was still always the skinniest kid compared to others. Despite growing up in China and the incredible study pressure, I always wanted to live a healthy life and be stronger.

How did you get into fitness?

I came to the UK for A levels when I was 16 years old and that was when I could finally start going to the gym and becoming more and more addicted to fitness. I started to see very noticeable transformation of my body and enjoy the feeling of muscle soreness and seeing myself getting better and better each day and more importantly I became more and more confident about myself. However, with the lack of knowledge of diet, I started gaining size as well as a lot fat as well and I did a cut successfully and started becoming more careful with what I eat and nutrition became a big part of my life since then. Until now, fitness has been an indispensable part of my daily life.

 

 

 

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What made you want to compete?

Competing means a lot to me and I think it is about bringing the best version of myself. It gives me a goal to work towards and keep pushing myself harder and I also want to inspire others, especially Chinese students whose life is about constantly working 24/7. No matter how far I can go, MASS SPC gives the opportunity to realise my goals and motivate others. As an architecture student, who is notoriously famous for endless amount of work and deadlines, I want to prove that it is still possible to achieve a healthy lifestyle both physically and mentally because exercise and study are a mutual process.

How many competitions have you done? Is this year’s SPC your first? How are you feeling about it?

MASS SPC is my first ever competition and I am feeling so excited about it because I have never really cut down to this body fat before and obviously it was a bit painful when it comes to the dieting but I really enjoy the process. My training during prep hasn’t changed much to be honest. It is still generally training very heavy to maintain as much strength and muscle mass as possible. Because I am naturally lean, I didn’t go for the conventional “low weight high reps” training routine and I also don’t do much cardio either. My prep was basically revolved around the change of my diet.

What is your training like during prep?

Day 1: Back and biceps:

 

Back:

Pull-ups until failure to warm up, 4 sets of until failure

Wide-grip lats pulldowns, 4 sets of 8 reps

Reverse close-grip lat pulldowns, 3 sets of 12 reps

Seated cable rows, 4 sets of 6 reps (I really go heavy on rows because I think I need more thickness)

Single arm dumbbell rows, 4 sets of 10 reps

 

Biceps:

Barbell curls, 4 sets of 6-8 reps

Dumbbell hammer curls, 4 sets of 10 reps

Reverse grip barbell curl for forearms, 4 sets of 12 reps

 

Day 2: Chest and triceps

 

Chest:

 

Incline dumbbell press, 4 sets of 6-8 reps

Flat barbell bench press, 5 sets of 8-10 reps

Seated chest press, 4 sets of 8 reps

Body weight dips, 3 sets until failure

Cable crossovers, 4 sets of 10-12 reps

Seated machine flies, 3 sets of 15 reps

 

Triceps:

 

Seated dumbbell overhead extensions, 4 sets of 6-8 reps

Close-grip bench press, 4 sets of 12 reps

Rope triceps pushdowns, 3 sets of 12 reps

Single arm cable pushdowns, 4 sets of 10 reps

 

Day 3: shoulders

 

Seated dumbbell shoulder press, 2 warm sets and 4 sets of 6-8 reps

Dumbbell lateral raise, 4 dropsets of 8 reps each sub set

Barbell upright rows superset with plate front raise, 3 sets of 8 reps

Single arm cable lateral raise, 4 sets of 12 reps

Reverse machine rear delt flies, 6 sets of 10 reps

 

Day 4: Legs

 

Leg extension to warm up the quads, 3 sets of 15 reps

Leg squats, 6 sets of 8 reps

Leg press, 5 sets of 10 reps (5 reps of feet together to focus on quads and then 5 more reps of feet wide apart to get more hamstrings involved)

Single leg extension, 4 sets of 12-15 reps

Leg curls, 4 sets of 10 reps

Dumbbell straight leg deadlift, 3 sets of 10 reps

 

Day 5: Rest day

 

Day 6: Weak point target day

On this day, there is no fixed training routine, I basically go into the gym and focus on where I’m lacking, such as chest or legs. It will not be a heavy session; instead, it is more about the intensity and burning calories. I treat this day as a cardio day while still stay very active during the rest of the week.

Above is a general overview of my training during prep, which is similar when I’m bulking as well because I believe it is important to still train heavy for maximum muscle mass maintenance without strength loss. More importantly, my routine is never the same every week. I will alter it more or less or change what I start with to trick the body and keep it guessing.

 

 

 

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What is your diet like during prep?

I believe diet is the most important part during my prep. During my 12 weeks prep, the diet is slight different and can be split into two different phases:

 

  1. Generally average carb intake
  2. Carb cycling period

 

Once I started my prep, I became super strict with myself and cook every single meal. Although I was generally eat healthy before, there were still a few days when I ate out with friends and ordered takeaways. But once the prep has started, all of that was gone. Because I am naturally lean, I don’t really track calories everyday as long as I’m clear with what goes into my body.

 

During the generally average carb intake period, I basically still have healthy carbs, such as brown bread or oats, and eat no carbs for dinner and during the carb cycling period, I eat 260g of carbs on a high carb day and 80g of carbs on a low carb day, which works for me the best.

 

As I become more and more strict with my diet during carb cycling period, my diet plan is as follows:

 

Typical day:

 

Breakfast: 100g of instant oats with skimmed milk, one scoop of protein power, 2 slices of brown bread, 2 whole eggs and 2 egg whites pan fried, one banana and one apple

 

Lunch: 150g of grilled salmon fillets, 200g of brown rice, 50g of asparagus

 

Before workout: 2 slices of brown bread with low-fat peanut butter or one banana

 

Post-workout: one scoop of protein powder

 

Dinner: 200g of grilled mini chicken fillets, 4 boiled egg whites, spinach

 

Before bed: one scoop of protein powder

 

How do you stay motivated during prep?

Honestly, during the prep, I have always been motivated and never felt slacking because what I am doing is to bring the best out of me. I watch a lot Youtube videos and I really look up to Men’s Physique competitors such as Ryan Terry and Jeremy Buendia. I also have an amazing training partner who supports along the prep and pushes me to the limit for every single set I do.

How do you manage your studies alongside staying in shape?

Being an architecture student is tough, who is associated with endless amount of work, drawings, models and readings. But what is good about my course is that I have a very flexible timetable and it is all about managing time on my own. I believe a healthy lifestyle is a study booster and helps me become more focused during my study. Sometimes, what happens to me is that when I’m stuck with design inspirations for ages, I will just stop working and go hit the gym and when I come back fresh, the inspiration comes in naturally.

What are your fitness goals for the future?

Fitness for me is a life-long process to always try to reach the best version of myself, physically and mentally. I don’t think I will become a professional competitor but I will never give up fitness for sure. Being an architect is a dream job for me, but fitness is what motivates me everyday and it forever will be.

Finally, is there anything else you would like to add?

At last, I just want to say that patience is key to build an aesthetic physique and as long as you stick to your plan, it will happen. I have seen so many people who are determined to go to the gym but then give up in two weeks, complaining they see no results. It is a long process, which does not happen overnight. As a student, I believe it is important to balance study and physical health. By that, I don’t mean everyone should become passionate about fitness because people have different hobbies in life. But what fitness is about for me is learning how to be dedicated to the goals you set for yourself and be consistent and patient, which applies to every aspect in life I believe.

 

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SPC Competitor Close Up: Isabelle Schreuder

The basics – How old are you, which university do you go to and what do you study?

22 years, University of Bristol, MSc Nutrition, Physical Activity and Public Health

How did you get into fitness?

I gained quite a bit of weight in the year before coming to uni. Then in my first year I decided to lose it all and became very skinny. After I wanted to build up some curves again and started training my legs once a week. I loved it and started doing it more and more, the results were amazing and kept me going.  It’s my favourite hobby now!

 

 

 

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What made you want to compete?

In all honesty, I never saw myself competing until I saw my friends compete in the SPC last year, that inspired me. I want to prove to myself that I can push past my limits and step outside of my comfort zone. And stepping on stage in front of hundreds of people, wearing little to nothing is definitely out of my comfort zone!

How many competitions have you done? Is this year’s SPC your first? How are you feeling about it?

I’ve never competed before and I’m scared to death! But also very excited to show off my hard work.

What is your training like during prep?

Weight lifting five times a week, followed by 30 minutes of cardio and 45 minutes of fasted cardio every morning.

Monday: Legs plus 30 mins stairmaster

Tuesday: Upper body (back and shoulders) plus interval sprints

Wednesday: Rest day cardio

Thursday Legs plus 30 mins incline walk

Friday: Upper Body (Back and arms) plus 30 mins stairmaster

Saturday: Legs and Abs plus 30 mins incline walk

Sunday: Rest day cardio

What is your diet like during prep?

It varies every few weeks. Right now I am on a 1600 kcal strict plan

Meal 1: 3 eggs, spinach, green beans

Meal 2: 175g of chicken, 150g potato, green veg

Meal 3: 200g of cod, green veg

Meal 4: 50g of oats, 30g of whey

Meal 5: 175g salmon, salad

Post workout: 1 scoop whey

 

How do you stay motivated during prep?

It is hard to be motivated all the time, but seeing the progress weekly helps a lot. And whenever I feel down I talk to my friends or boyfriend and they give me a pep talk. It’s an awesome feeling to know that people are behind you and support you.

How do you manage your studies alongside staying in shape?

Off season staying in shape is easy to manage as my diet and training are more flexible and I don’t do as much cardio. At the moment, it’s hard to fit everything in, especially as I’m doing a masters and the workload is huge. You definitely learn to be efficient with your time during prep!

 

 

 

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What are your fitness goals for the future?

Prep is not the healthiest lifestyle, so after the competition my main focus will be on health and growth, both physical and mental. I want to make sure I give my body everything it needs to recover from competing and function optimally

Finally, is there anything else you would like to add?

Come see the show everyone! It’ll be a great day out.

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SPC Competitor Close Up: Matthew Beaven

The basics – How old are you, which university do you go to and what do you study?

I’m 20 years old. I go to Bristol University and I study economics.

How did you get into fitness?

I used to play rugby but I always found going to the gym with my mates was more fun. My dad bought me a weight set when I was 16 for Christmas and that was when it all started really.

What made you want to compete?

I was debating giving up on bodybuilding/fitness at uni but then I realised that it would be a real waste of time if I never actually did anything with the gains I’ve made. Competing also looks quite fun and it’s always something I’ve wanted to do so why not. I haven’t got much to lose to be honest.

 

 

 

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How many competitions have you done? Is this year’s SPC your first? How are you feeling about it?

This is my first competition. I’m feeling very relaxed about it, perhaps too relaxed but I’m sure that might change on the day of reckoning.

What is your training like during prep?

Same as always, although I’m not focusing on getting stronger just on maintaining what I already have.

I’m currently going in 5 days a week. My split is chest and triceps, legs, shoulders, back and biceps, then abs and cardio. I’m training in the 6 – 12 rep range with about 5 exercises per workout, with 4 sets per exercise.

What is your diet like during prep?

Very regimented, although I cheat more than I’d like to admit. I try to keep as few a variant in my diet as possible.

I don’t like counting macros as I think that 1 it’s unnecessary provided you are getting sufficient protein and fats and are reducing your carb intake/ doing cardio and 2. Because it’s so unbearably boring. However, I’m aiming for about 175g of protein, 150g of carbs and 50g of fat.

Breakfast – 3 eggs, 1 cup of skimmed milk and maybe a tin of sardines (they’re foul but student budget can only buy me so much)

Lunch – 100g beef, almonds, apple

Post workout – 2 scoops protein, half a scoop of dextrose and a banana

Dinner – chicken, broccoli and green beans

Before bed – Ham, carrots and glass of milk. Bleak I know. I normally schedule in 1 cheat meal a week although this realistically turns out to be 2 or 3.

 

 

 

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How do you stay motivated during prep?

Typing in men’s fitness physique on Google and comparing myself to IFBB pros. The feelings of inadequacy are extremely valuable.

How do you manage your studies alongside staying in shape?

I have 13 contact hours a week so I normally go in between lectures/at the weekend. I bulk cook meals so that I don’t waste time cooking every night. Once I’m in the routine it’s quite easy to follow to be honest.

What are your fitness goals for the future?

Who knows? I will most likey just continue going to the gym steadily building muscle. Although, if I could get a sponsorship/start some fitness modelling that would be the dream.

Finally, is there anything else you would like to add?

Dorian Yates you’re my hero.

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SPC Competitor Close Up: Elliott Patrick

The basics – How old are you, which university do you go to and what do you study?

Elliott Patrick, 21 years old, Oxford Brookes University: Business and Management (2nd Year).

How did you get into fitness?

Fitness was a bit of an oddball for me. I never really got into it until I was about the age of 15. I wasn’t particularly interested in sport at school at the time and really had no desire of getting fit. It wasn’t until one of my friends dragged me to the gym to train with him after he spent a year asking me. He loaded up the bench press with his usual, of course, being the young man I was at the time, I gave it a go. I remember there was 70kg on the bar. I proceeded to drop the bar on my chest, of which, I then could not move, very entertaining for my friend indeed. It was at that moment I became addicted to the progression. I trained every day after that almost. My research began, through YouTube, various books and magazines. It has been a passion ever since.

 

 

 

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What made you want to compete?

Nothing in particular, my physique wasn’t changing much at the time when I first got to University. I met the MASS group, became very good friends with them (now my housemates and I am VP of MASS here at Brookes.) The opportunity arose and I decided it would be something that was way out of my comfort zone. I thought I’d give it a shot, a new challenge and I learnt so much from it last year. With my new found knowledge, well, here I am again! Back for round 2!

How many competitions have you done? Is this year’s SPC your first? How are you feeling about it?

This will be my second ever, once again with MASS. I feel much better than last year – I’ve retained a lot more size this time and my conditioning rivalled last years at 4 weeks out. Much better, but there is still plenty of work to do.

What is your training like during prep?

My current split is a 6 day split which just rolls over – Yes I train everyday…

Chest/Back/Legs/Shoulders/Arms/Legs

I usually switch between a compound focused week and a hypertrophy based week. Mainly when I am cutting down for a comp that is the case – until I come closer to the show where it all changes to a conditioning/depletion split. If I am bulking – heavy compounds every week. My joints love it I swear! I could copy and paste my entire session for every day of each week. But there is no way you’d have enough pages in your spread!

What is your diet like during prep?

Generally I stick to a particularly organised and clean diet during prep. I like to see what my body responds well too in the gym. For example one week I may have red meat in the morning (as it raises dopamine levels). It runs well and I feel good. But occasionally it doesn’t sit well. I prefer to stick to chicken/cod in the mornings. My macros vary based on how my body is changing – if I am changing too fast – I’ll increase my intake, I am changing too slow, I lower them. Simple really! I’ve had a lot of success doing a variation of carb cycling – it’s far more harsh but does the job. For example, I’ll go super low carb one week, deplete down, and then hit a moderate week after, I fill out again and I’m leaner.

General food choices:

Protein: Rump Steak/Cod/Chicken/Turkey Mince/Tuna

Carbs: Rice/Oats/Sweet Potato/Mixed Veg

Fats: Coconut oil/Red meats/Feta Cheese/Milk

How do you stay motivated during prep?

I am thoroughly motivated by change. Change in strength, conditioning, how the muscle looks etc. To see change I have to work hard. So, I suppose it’s just that vicious cycle of wanting to better myself. Looking back to last year’s comp and looking at my photos, seeing how I’ve improved is a massive motivation – I can’t wait to show you all what I’ve achieved which I’m already super proud of.

 

 

 

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How do you manage your studies alongside staying in shape?

To be honest, much better when I am on prep. I am far more organised, I get up much earlier (to go do fasted cardio) which means I start studying earlier. At three weeks out, I have no trouble waking up at 5 and getting my day started. When I’m in the off season, I am still recovering from the previous night’s food coma of trying to hit 5000 calories. It makes me lethargic unfortunately, it’s certainly not comfortable carrying round that food all day. But, you get used to it and I love my food way too much to give it up!

What are your fitness goals for the future?

Chances are I will compete again eventually, when I don’t know. But again, next off season will be a decider based on how much I improve. I really do think with the past 11 months worth of heavy training and eating I’ve gained a large amount of knowledge that is really going to better my physique within the next 5 years or so. I don’t see myself ever not training. It’s my passion. Period.

Finally, is there anything else you would like to add?

MASS for myself has been a bit of a life saver at uni, not sure where or what I would be up to otherwise. I am not a massive fan of the going out and the getting wasted scene that uni sometimes shows up to be. I am just glad I get the chance to make time to go to the gym, with a group of lads and ladies of which share the same passion for fitness as I do. It’s really brought us all together and it’s safe to say we will be friends for life. Both in and out of the gym.

 

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SPC Competitor Close Up: A.J. Jones

The basics – How old are you, which university do you go to and what do you study?

I am 24, doing a masters in Forensic Psychology at the university of Kent

How did you get into fitness?

When I was 15 there was a death in my family. A year later I was diagnosed with PTSD, bulimia and anorexia, and also began drinking quite heavily to help me sleep and block out my problems. Somehow, I managed to get into university and during my first year I continued to spend all my money on alcohol and partying rather than focusing on my studies. However, I was drinking so much I could no longer starve myself as thin as I wanted to be – so I started to run. At first I couldn’t run lamppost to lamppost, but I had a lot of problems to run from so I kept it up. In my second year I moved back home and commuted to uni because of my poor mental state. During that year I stopped drinking, stopped partying, got a job in the security industry and pretty much decided to never drink again. My running when from strength to strength and soon I was running 7 miles a day, every day, before breakfast. While at this time I was no longer receiving treatment for my eating issues, I still wasn’t eating enough, ensuring I ate under 1000 cals every day. While at work I was thrown through a door during a fight and was quite badly hurt, and I realised I wasn’t strong enough to do my job. So, I started weightlifting, and shortly thereafter moved back to Edinburgh and continued to focus on weightlifting as opposed to running. Fitness has helped me immensely with my mental state, and thanks to it. I no longer have issues with food and I am able to manage my PTSD through this outlet.

What made you want to compete?

I’ve always admired the physiques of those that compete and last year I decided to tick it off my bucket list. I really didn’t think I’d enjoy it as much as I did, nor did I expect to meet so many awesome women with a similar mindset to myself! I feel like I learned a lot more about myself during my prep last year and I decided to compete again this year because I had such a great time at the shows and I like having targets to meet for my training.

 

 

 

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How many competitions have you done? Is this year’s SPC your first? How are you feeling about it?

I competed last year while I was saving up to go to do my second masters. This year I don’t have the first time nerves that come with not knowing what the day will be like, but rather I feel a lot of pressure from myself to beat what I brought to the table last year.

What is your training like during prep?

As I also compete in powerlifting, my programme remains structured around the big three lifts. During prep for a bikini competition my accessory work focuses more on my ‘bikini muscles’ – shoulders and glutes. While preparing for a powerlifting competition my accessory work changes to focus more on assistance exercises that will help me lift more. Right now a typical Monday’s training looks like this; Am session ; squat 5×5, bench 6×6 , deadlift 5 x 5 Hip thrust – 3 x10, squat cleans – 3 x10 , step ups – 3 x 10 Pm session ; Incline DB press superset Lat raises – 4 x 12 Bicep curls superset close grip push ups – 5 x 10 Shoulder press superset incline curls – 4 x 12 Cable rows superset upright rows – 4 x 12

What is your diet like during prep?

I count macros year round. Last year I handled my own nutrition and training during prep, but this year I have someone planning my macros for you. I check in every day telling him what macros I hit, how close I was to my target, how I felt during the day, what my strength was like etc. My macros change every day depending on what I’m training, how I felt and performed, and of course, how far out I am from competition!

 

 

 

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How do you stay motivated during prep?

I have an issue staying out of the gym rather than getting to it, I really love training! During sessions that get hard I remind myself that very shortly I will be standing on stage wearing next to nothing, for me that serves as a massive motivator to get every rep in and do every single burpee I’m supposed to do!

How do you manage your studies alongside staying in shape?

It’s a struggle, and I don’t always manage my balancing act too well. I try to keep my day very structured and very planned so every day I train at the same times and walk the dog at the same times. Every spare minute I have is spent on my laptop trying to meet my deadlines.

What are your fitness goals for the future?

I will probably continue to compete in bikini for the next two or three years and just see what happens there. I’m not looking to make it my job, or make any money out of it, I merely do it for the love of it and the opportunity to meet other people with similar interests. After that I will probably shift my focus purely to strength and give powerlifting my all.

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SPC Competitor Close Up: Philip Lorimer

The basics – How old are you, which university do you go to and what do you study?

I am 20 years old and go to the University of Kent Studying Computer Science

How did you get into fitness?

My dad asked me if I wanted to go to the gym, as the leisure centre allowed 12 year olds in on specific days, and I said yes and it continued from there.

 

 

 

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What made you want to compete?

My friends Jacob and Yasmeen and I all planned on competing together about 2 years ago, but for one reason or another I was the only one able to step on stage, so it’s because of them I started my “competitive career” and I thank them for it.

How many competitions have you done? Is this year’s SPC your first? How are you feeling about it?

I’ve entered two competitions previously, my last one at the Miami Pro Universe late 2015 where I placed 2nd nationally and was awarded my pro status for the Miami Pro. This is the first time entering the spc, yes, but certainly not happy with what I’m bringing as a lot has been going on regarding work and uni.

What is your training like during prep?

It isn’t really much different from when I’m not on prep, except for the fact that I stop training for more reps on more functional calisthenics movements and introduce a bit more weight along with a few more cardio sessions a week than normal, it’s pretty much calisthenics, resistance training and obviously cardio.

I don’t really have a specific weekly split and I’m not a big fan of the whole “bro” split, what I train tends to change based on what I’ve trained over the previous days, recovery and time and stuff, on average I train 6-7 days a week with adequate sleep and rest when I have a lot going on regarding other priorities or just need a break, but my sessions are usually:
Lower body (back squat (10×10) & deadlifts (6×8) followed by 2-3 accessories (3 x 15)
2-3 days a week usually mon, wed, sat
Shoulders (pullups, 2 heavy presses, 1 anterior delt exercise, 2 medial delt exercises, 3 rear delt exercises)
1-2 days a week
Upper body (pull-ups 12 x 5 (1 min rest), pseudo planche pushups, bench flys etc)
Once a week
Back (weighted pullups (wide, neutral and underhand grip 10×5 each) , rows 5 x 12, close grip lat pulldown 12 x 5 etc followed by cardio)
1-2 days a week
Core (Paralette, planche, front/rear lever, pushups, handstand work) – Calisthenics essentially
Once a week –often evenings as a double session for the day.

 

 

 

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What is your diet like during prep?

I follow a high carb low fat wholefood plant-based diet, no animal products, no meat, dairy or eggs.

It’s usually around pretty much 70% carb 20% protein 10% fat macro split give or take, more protein less carbs pretty much, gram for gram can’t be 100% but 300g+ carbs, 90-120g+ protein, around 20g fats odd, that’s pretty much similar to when I’m not prepping, only thing that changes would be calories.

How do you stay motivated during prep?

My main goal every prep is to bring a better physique to stage than I did last time, anything more is a bonus.

How do you manage your studies alongside staying in shape?

Regarding prep for the SPC? I failed to do so in this section, but in good reason, I said to myself that I’ll do it under the condition that if studies for university started to take it’s toll, I will always prioritise that over everything else.

In regards to just every day, I usually train in the mornings or in the evenings, it’s easy to get a quick session in after your last lecture of the day, it helps signify an end to the day.

What are your fitness goals for the future?

After prepping for the SPC leaving me unsatisfied, I’m currently dabbling with the idea of continuing for a show on July 1st. Other than that, my performance goal is to get a full planche by this time next year along with handstand push ups with ease.

Finally, is there anything else you would like to add?

To be honest with you, the only reason I’m really going on with the SPC is to support my team all the way as they’ve worked so hard up to this point and I couldn’t let them down and give up and simply drop out along with the fact that it’s the last year I could possibly do it. Also to show people another side of things, that you don’t need meat, dairy or eggs, you don’t need to unnecessarily kill and consume animals to build muscle or for athletic performance. Animal agriculture & consumption leads to so many problems within this world from global warming, loss of habitats, pollution etc. to common diseases which were scarcely found 100 odd years ago such as heart disease, diverticulitis etc. There is no necessity in a lot of the actions we carry out.

 

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SPC Competitor Close Up: Joshua Owolabi

The basics – How old are you, which university do you go to and what do you study?

21, Southampton Solent. Studying: Electronic Engineering

 

How did you get into fitness?

My Flatmate was a qualified PT.

 

What made you want to compete?

To show all my hard-work and network with likeminded, fitness-oriented individuals.

 

How many competitions have you done? Is this year’s SPC your first? How are you feeling about it?

I have never done a competition before and this year’s SPC will be my first ever. I am feeling nervous as I am not sure I am ready, but also excited to meet so many other people.

 

 

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What is your training like during prep?

High repetitions for hypertrophy and very regular, I am trying to hold onto as much mass as possible. Not too much cardio as I am aiming to combat fat gain through diet. A lot of posing practice and foam rolling.

 

I follow a 5 day timed superset split. However I occasionally deter and throw in big lifts, just to ensure that I don’t lose strength. Furthermore I feel as though the big lifts expose imbalances and are more functional forms of training. In addition I ensure that I do cardio at least once a week, as heart and lung health is extremely important; and I want to ensure my training is sustainable.
Mondays I work Legs (anterior and posterior)
Tuesdays Chest, Forearms and Abs
Wednesdays Back and Traps
Thursdays Stretching and Gentle Cardio (I do not classify this as training, more as active rest)
Fridays Shoulders and Abs
Saturdays Arms
Sunday Rest

Check it out on Muscle & Strength

 

 

 

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What is your diet like during prep?

A lot of protein, using MyFitnessPal to track calories and macros. Numbers for macros are C: 389, P: 200, F: 86. I strive to get healthy fats, however I prioritise my micros and protein consumption more. I supplement with Zinc and Fish oils daily and have started to include vitamin D. As well as this I also consume a vegetable medley mix (400g per day) consisting of kale, broccoli, cauliflower, beetroot and carrots. I ensure the foods I eat are low in GI and each meal is balanced out. I cook in batches and split them into 4-5 meals throughout the day. Daily I eat brown rice, vegetable medley and chicken or turkey; due to the low fat content. Furthermore, research shows that chicken and turkey are the most bio available sources of animal protein. I do not drink shakes as my skin disagrees with dairy, so all my calories must be consumed.

 

How do you stay motivated during prep?

I visualise standing on stage and wanting to make myself and the people that have come to support me proud.

 

How do you manage your studies alongside staying in shape?

I ensure that I complete my University in the morning and so I have the day to complete the workout and eat all my meals, while browsing through lecture notes; trying to pick up additional information.

 

What are your fitness goals for the future?

I wish to become the strongest and most aesthetic version of myself and maybe stand on the competition stage again.

 

Finally, is there anything else you would like to add?

Nothing else, just gratitude for being given this opportunity.

 

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SPC Competitor Close Up: David Kenward

The basics – How old are you, which university do you go to and what do you study?

I’m 20 years old and I study Design Engineering at Bournemouth University.

How did you get into fitness?

I started working out at my local gym from about 16 years old and took up bodybuilding soon after this. I aspired to have the physique and lifestyle of many famous bodybuilders I had seen on social media such as Christian Guzman and Tavi Castro. I decided to make my passion my hobby by taking a Level 3 Diploma in Advanced Personal Training and Nutrition when I was 18 years old. I continue to work as a Personal Trainer in my spare time to finance myself throughout my degree.

 

 

 

Left Side - Tricep Pose

What made you want to compete?

I have always wanted to compete ever since I started bodybuilding 4 years ago and I said I would compete one day when I was ready. The recent death of a family member made me wake up and realise that it is easy to SAY you will do something and continuously delay it and make up excuses for not doing it. I realised that you will never be ready to do something until you commit yourself to doing it. That is the main reason I decided to commit to competing this year. I’m certainly not ready or anywhere near the condition I would like to be in, but it’s a learning curve and I think it will be a great experience.

How many competitions have you done? Is this year’s SPC your first? How are you feeling about it?

This year will be my first ever competition and I imagine it will be the first of many. I’m feeling quite nervous about the competition but I’m excited at the same time. I’ve met loads of new people on the journey in preparation for the competition and I’m sure I’ll meet many more on the day.

What is your training like during prep?

From 12 until 6 weeks out from the competition my training was very powerlifting focused and I trained 4 – 5 times a week. This was my ‘bulking’ phase. My weekly split consisted of upper body and lower body sessions which were very intense, often lasting up to 2 hours or more. It consisted of lifting heavy weights and low reps on mainly compound movements like squats, bench and deadlifts etc. The focus of this training approach was to build as much muscle and strength as possible.
From 6 weeks until 1 week out from the competition, I started cutting my bodyfat and aiming for better muscle definition. I increased my training frequency to 6 days a week with only 1 rest day. My style of training changed to a hypertrophy bodybuilding approach. I was lifting lighter weights and aiming for a higher number of reps in order to define and tone my muscles. My weekly split was very specific to my personal goals and developing areas which needed improving. It consisted of:
Monday – Shoulders and Core
Tuesday – Back and Legs (Hamstrings focused)
Wednesday – Arms
Thursday – Chest and Shoulders
Friday – Core and Legs (Quads focused)
Saturday – Rest day
Sunday – Legs
In addition, I started training twice a day with weight training in the morning/afternoon and cardio sessions in the evening for approximately 30 minutes.
For the last week before the competition my training style changed completely again. For this week, I trained 4 times and every session was a whole body workout with at least 1 exercise for each muscle group. I varied the session each time but I basically just chose my favourite exercises including; squats, deadlifts, dumbbell lunges, barbell rows, bench press, overhead press, bicep curls, skull crushers, lateral raises, oblique twists, leg raises, calf press and calf raises. I also continued doing cardio sessions in the evening. I continued doing cardio sessions in the evening to assist in burning fat and improving muscle definition.

What is your diet like during prep?

Throughout my prep I used the app “My Fitness Pal” to keep track of my macros and diet progress. I designed and adapted my macros for my diet myself.
To accommodate for my ‘bulking’ phase from 12 – 6 weeks, my diet was quite flexible and my macros were generous to say the least! There was certainly the odd Domino’s Pizza ordered every now and then. I was on 3750 calories a day with 585g of Carbs which was nice because I tend to love foods which are high in carbs. I was also on 150 grams of Protein and 90 grams of Fat per day.
When I started the ‘cutting’ phase my diet became much stricter. After 1 week of gradual decrease from 3750 calories per day, I kept my calories down at 2750 per day until the last week before the competition. My macros consisted of: 160 grams of Protein, 370 grams of Carbs and 90 grams of Fats per day with a total of 2750 calories. I have included some pictures of a typical food diary.
For the last week leading up to the competition, I did a small ‘carb cycle’. I began the week on a very low amount of carbs (275 grams per day) and suddenly increased this to 400 grams when I was 2 days out from the competition. On the day before the competition I had minimal carbs and NO CARBS after 6pm.
The main foods I ate during prep included; chicken, steak, pork, salmon, prawns, cod, brown rice, eggs, broccoli, spinach, kale, carrots, cabbage, green beans, peppers, bananas, grapes, plums and strawberries.
The main drinks I had included; water, semi-skimmed milk, almond milk, protein shakes and Ribena light.

How do you stay motivated during prep?

With great difficulty! It is particularly difficult to stay motivated during prep because there is so much pressure and so much work to do. It is particularly difficult during the times when you are on a low carb diet and therefore feel quite low on energy most of the time. To stay motivated I just remember why I started bodybuilding in the first place and the reason why I am competing this year. I remember all the people that are looking up to me and counting on me which motivates me not to give up. It also helped to train alongside people who were also competing and on the same fitness journey as me.

How do you manage your studies alongside staying in shape?

My studies always come first. I schedule my training sessions around my university timetable and my also my job. It doesn’t leave much time to go out and socialize but there will be plenty of time for that in the Summer when the competition and all my exams are over!

 

 

 

Best Abs Pose (4)

What are your fitness goals for the future?

I am aiming to continue competing in a bodybuilding competition at least once a year and also a powerlifting competition once a year. The bodybuilding competition will be my main focus and will hopefully help me get into a nice physical condition for summer. The powerlifting competition will be more for fun and will embrace my ‘bulking’ phase and high calorie diet once the summer is over.

Finally, is there anything else you would like to add?

I would just say to anyone reading this who is thinking about competing, JUST DO IT! You will never do it if you don’t commit yourself to do it. It’s a rollercoaster journey which will teach you a lot about how determined and motivated you really are. At times it will test your mental and physical strength, but in the end you will be a better person for it. You will learn so much and it will open so many doors for you by getting exposure in the fitness industry and by meeting so many new people with similar interests. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it!

 

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SPC Competitor Close Up: Catrin Thomas

The basics – How old are you, which university do you go to and what do you study?

Hi, my name is Catrin Eleri Thomas. I’m twenty two years old and I’m a sport and exercise science finalist at Loughborough University.

How did you get into fitness?

I was a keen athletics growing up and was in the national squad for athletics. I competed for Wales in the 200m metres and relay on numerous occasions. I eventually moved away from track and field and began interested in endurance running. The heavy mileage unfortunately led to several injuries including stress fractures and tendonitis. During rehab is when I first become interested in the fitness industry and specifically lifting. I used lifting to aid my injury through working on strength and conditioning exercises and increasing muscle strength in my glutes and calves which were identified by physiotherapists as my weak areas. My injury also affected me emotionally but lifting allowed me to feel mentally strong, for me the gym was an escape and gave me a feeling of release.

 

 

 

My favourite session is always legs.. glute pump

What made you want to compete?

I’ve always enjoyed having goals to work towards. I competed in this competition last year and it was a great learning curve. I gained a lot of knowledge and felt it would be a shame not to put what I learnt into practice with this years’ prep. Also it’s my last year of university hence my last year to compete on the SPC stage – I’m keen to make it count.

How many competitions have you done? Is this year’s SPC your first? How are you feeling about it?

As mentioned above I competed in the SPC last year, this was my first and only competition to date. I am nervous but I think that’s natural. I have trained hard for several weeks and I think you just have to trust the process. I know as soon as I step on stage the nerves will disappear and I will just enjoy the experience of being in front of the judges. There was a great crowd watching last year and their support really helped bring out some confidence in your performance.

What is your training like during prep?

I don’t set specific sessions for particular days because I like to choose my session based on my preference on the day and my energy levels. However I do try and complete the 6 session below throughout the duration of my week :-
Day 1 – Legs (quads/ hams/ calves). Day 2 – Chest and triceps. Day 3 – Morning cardio and afternoon swim/aqua jog. Day 4 – High rep shoulder session. Day 5 – Back + biceps. Day 6 – Morning cardio and afternoon abs, glutes and obliques. Day 7 – rest day.

What is your diet like during prep?

Overall my calories consumption is set at 1800 calories per day. The specific macro split is:- Protein :155 grams, Fats: 43 grams and carbohydrates: 205 grams. I try to have 5 meals a day with 31g of protein serving per meal. I make sure I get carbs in pre and post training. I think it’s important to emphasize that the prep diet isn’t focused on calorie restriction or carb elimination. During prep it’s so important to get the right amount of nutrients for your body and this includes a healthy amount of carbs, protein and fats in order to maximize performance during training. Note that macros will probably be changed slightly with 4 weeks to go and during the last fortnight I will be water loading.

How do you stay motivated during prep?

I am lucky enough to have a good friend as my coach for this competition – Gareth Burns. He is a natural bodybuilder competitor and is a UKUP Pro, Pure Elite Pro, FMC Pro and 2016 BNBF Finalist. He is very knowledgeable in this field as well as supportive. It’s great to have someone to talk to about your prep. I send him weekly progress pictures and he’s always sending me feedback and encouragement. I also want to say thanks to my house mate Asia who’s come with me on all my morning runs and kept me going through the dreaded cardio sessions.

 

 

 

My stage bikini for SPC from Harlequin body building bikinis

How do you manage your studies alongside staying in shape?

Personally I think they both go hand in hand. Submitting work by specific deadlines requires a lot of self-discipline and commitment which are both needed for successful prep. I always have my ‘To do list’ out on a Sunday evening where I plan my session for the week as well as what work I need to get done on different days.

What are your fitness goals for the future?

I am currently looking at career options in the health and fitness industry. I am really eager to work with the public and promote positive lifestyle choices. I truly believe that education is the key to changing attitudes towards diet and physical activity. There are many things that I’ve learned during prep that would benefit the general population e.g. tracking macros instead of counting calories, not to be defined by the number of the scales and the vast benefits of strength training.

Finally, is there anything else you would like to add?

I’d just like to say a massive good luck to the rest of the SPC participants. I genuinely can’t wait to meet everyone on show day and witness all the incredible physiques. Hang on in there guys… there’s under four weeks to go!

 

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SPC Competitor Close Up: Fridaos Abdulrauf

The basics – How old are you? Which university do you go to and what do you study?

I am 20 years old, studying Bsc Biotechnology with enterprise (IND), to put in layman terms it is basically science and business in one course, my two favourite aspects of life.

How did you get into fitness?

I have been training for three and a half years on and off, but recently I have been more consistent. How did I get into fitness … that’s a good question. Initially I despised the idea of training at the gym, I genuinely believed this was something only people with no social life did. I have always been a sporty individual; football, athletics, all of that. The only time I went to the gym was as part of PE classes back in high school. I had a mate who went to the gym consistently around this time and I just used to laugh to myself thinking what was he doing. It was second year of college when I had more time on my hands I started going to the gym really. At this point, a few of my close mate had gained some serious size from gym and it was like with great size comes huge respect. Everyone treated them with more respect, people would refer to me as their mate rather than my actual name; a bit disrespectful to be honest. I went to the gym once with these huge mates of mine and struggled with 7.5kg either side on the bench press and they laughed at me after helping me up. That just sparked fire in me really, I said to myself enough is enough. I paid for my first ever gym membership and started going after college; I had no knowledge and just copied what others were doing. I must have been doing it right or copying right should I say because compliments started flying my way. It was when I got to university I did more self-education and trained with the friend of mine I used to think had no life. Then my interest in fitness grew and there has been no going back since. I train for me now, to look good.

 

 

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What made you want to compete?

I decided to compete in February, again from friends influence and one day I looked more into it and started thinking more about it and thought to myself why not. I have nothing to lose, plus it will be a challenge to myself and the first time I will be judged on my physique. A good experience and overview into what the industry is like; plus, the first time I will ever get tanned in my life.
Watching videos of bodybuilding competition just grew my interest in it more, I wanted to get a taste of that prep life and challenge my physique and taste buds.

How many competitions have you done? Is this year’s SPC your first? How are you feeling about it?

This would be my first ever competition aside from one within myself. I am feeling slightly nervous though excited at the same time. Nervous, because I am basically wearing next to nothing and showing off my physique for it to be judged, but excited as it is a challenge. I have just been going to the gym for myself really, without any other goal, but with this competition it allowed me to set myself a challenge and work towards it.

What is your training like during prep?

My training has not changed much. Because of my daily activities I always train late evening from like 6pm, and the week goes as follows:

 

Monday – Legs

  • Stretch, Squats warm up with the bar, then 60kg.
  • Then move on to working 5 sets in total which range progressively from 100kg-180kg and total of 35-40 reps.
    Then I go for a one rep max and drop the weight down back to 100kg and do sumo squats with resistance bands for 10 reps. Finish of with 60kg deep squats until failure.
  • Leg Press – Warm up, Wide foot 10 reps supersets with close foot 10 reps.
  • Donkey calf raises – 5 sets of each then on the 6th set I do a drop set till failure
  • Smith machine – Lunges 3 sets 10 reps on each leg, 4th set I do a slow negative until failure close foot squat (not sure on the technical name)
  • DB Straight leg deadlift with 50 kg 4 sets, 10 reps each
  • Leg extension – Start off heavy then do a drop set with lighter weight on each leg. Usually a total of 5 sets 10 reps on heavy, 10 reps on each leg on lighter weight. If I am training with a friend I tell them to try pushing the extension down on me whilst I try to resist and hold the push. I do this for finishers
  • Leg Curls – Drop set on each leg, 4 sets 10 reps each

 

Tuesday – Chest

  • Warm up – pull ups 4 sets 10 reps, push up 3 sets 10 reps
  • Flat Bench press – warm up, then total of 6 sets, reps ranging from 5-10 depending on weight. All superset with DB lower chest raise 10 reps. Add an extra set doing reverse grip bench press till failure
  • Incline bench press – 4 sets 6-10 reps depending on weight, all superset with DB push ups
  • Machine fly’s – 4 sets 10 reps focussing on the squeeze, then single arm machine flys 3 sets of 10 reps
    Standing cable cross overs – 4-5 sets, 10 reps each alternating the weight
  • Lower cable cross over – 4 sets of 10 reps
    (I alternate this weekly, so following week I would do DB flat bench press and Incline press. Starting off with incline drop set on each level of the inclination on the bench all the way down till its flat, then a drop set on flat bench press as well. Followed by DB flys 4 sets 10 reps and DB Bents arm Pull over 3 sets 10 reps, again focussing on the squeeze. Then machines chest press 4 sets 10 reps)

 

Wednesday – Shoulders

  • Warm up
  • Standing military raises – 4 sets 10 reps, followed by behind the neck presses 4 sets 10 reps
  • Seated Shoulder press – 4 sets 10 reps
  • Arnold press – 3 sets 10 reps
  • Standing Lateral raises – 4 sets 10 reps
  • Rear lateral raises super set with BB up right row wide and close gripe 4 sets 10 reps each
  • Shrugs – BB or DB depending on how I am feeling
  • Face pulls – 4 sets 10 reps
  • Cable cross over – 4 sets 10 reps then drop weight and go till failure on last set
  • Cable single arm raises – 3 different angles 10 reps each way so total of 30 reps per set and 3 sets in total.

 

Thursday – Back (my absolute favourite)

  • Warm up
  • Pull ups – 50 reps different variations superset with dips
  • Deadlifts – warm up then move to working sets 200-210 – 5 sets of 5 and sometimes I go heavier, then drop weight down to 150/160 and do pause reps 3 sets 6 reps
  • BB bent over under arm rows – 4 sets 10 reps
  • BB bent over, over arm rows – 4 sets 10 reps
  • Single arm RB rows – 4 sets 10 reps on each arm
  • T-Bar rows – 4 sets 10 reps
  • Lat pull downs – 4 set 10 reps followed by under arm close grip 4 sets 10 reps
  • Low pulley rows – 4 sets 10 reps
  • Machine lat pull down – 4 sets 10 reps
  • Machine rows – 6 sets 10 reps and on last set 5 random weights 10 reps non-stop

 

Friday – Arms

  • Tricep pull downs – 10 sets 10 reps
  • Curls – 10 sets 10 reps
  • EZ bar curl with fat gripz superset with DB tricep extension – 5 sets 10 reps on the extension last set is a drop set
  • Tricep gauntlet – 4 sets with 6, 8, 10, 12 and failure on each DB
  • Seated DB curls superset with tricep push ups – 4 sets 10 reps
  • Spider curls – 4 sets 10 reps
  • Tricep cable extension – 4 sets 10 reps
  • Drag curls – 3 sets 10 reps
  • Finisher – cable bicep curls till failure

 

4 out of 5 days I do cardio incline walk for 45 mins
On Saturday I do fasted cardio in the morning the train calves and abs in the evening

 

What is your diet like during prep?

Diet has been the main one for me during prep as I lived off the mantra of eating big to get big so I just ate a lot. But during prep I’m having around 2000 calories split out as follows
Breakfast

  • 100g Oats and 5 boiled eggs (3 without yolk 2 with yolk) 9am

Lunch

  •  Lunch 1 –Mixed Vegetables 180g, Chicken breast 100g, 12:30pm
  • Lunch 2 –Mixed Veg 180g, Chicken breast 100g, Sweet Potato 50g (Pre-workout) 5pm
  • Lunch 3 – Mixed Veg 180g, Chicken breast 100g, Sweet Potato 50g(Post workout) 8pm

Dinner

  • Mixed Veg 100g, 2 boiled eggs

Snacks

  • Cashew and almond nuts 46g
  • Whey protein 1 scoop

 

I don’t measure water I just drink as much as I can. I alternate Sweet potato with brown rice every now and again and I have a re-feed one day a week where I just eat whatever I have been craving all week. Sometimes pizza, sometimes a proper African dish which are ridiculously carb heavy. At times I have strayed off a bit on a day and gave in to cravings, I just up my cardio for that day. All about balance.

 

 

 

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How do you stay motivated during prep?

I have a friend who is also competing so we just keep each other motivated and I always take pictures and look at my progress. That keeps my head in the game as well. Also, a supporting girlfriend who I think enjoys this whole prep process more than I do.

How do you manage your studies alongside staying in shape?

I am currently on placement, so there is more of a recurring structure to my day which has its advantages and disadvantages. Its good because I know how my day will go so plan before hand, and a drawback is I get tired at times but I only have the one window a day to train so either I do or I don’t. Back at uni, I trained according to my day really. If I spent longer in the library I just went to the gym later in the day and I lived off Tesco meal deals. So, it wasn’t ideal but I always found time to get everything done. Good grades and good gains. I played some sports as well, so I maintained fitness that way too.

What are your fitness goals for the future?

My fitness goals for the future are just to get better year on year really I want a constant progression in my physique. If mass SPC goes well and I enjoy it (I already am) then I could compete in the future as well, but baby steps for now. I am just enjoying the growth in my physique and being able to advise others.

Finally, is there anything else you would like to add?

Good luck to other competitors, let’s all enjoy it and bring our A game

 

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SPC Competitor Close Up: Oliver Cheng

The basics – How old are you, which university do you go to and what do you study?

I am 19 years old, studying medicine at University College London.

How did you get into fitness?

When I was 15 my mum and I went shopping at Sports Direct and I discovered my first dumbbell; a beautiful 10kg. When I tried to pick it up it felt like I was picking up Thor’s Hammer! My mum noticed this and decided to get it for me. From then on I started using it at home alongside my pushups and abs circuits. When I turned 16 I started my first job as a pool lifeguard and trained at my small local gym and got my first few pumps and I started to grow these mythical muscles that I never even thought I would ever see. I have been hooked ever since!

 

 

Oliver Cheng 2-2

What made you want to compete?

As my physique started taking shape, I felt that it was the right time to truly challenge myself. I have always been quite a shy person but I feel that training and lifting has given me the confidence to come out of my shell. I feel that competing has given me a “lift-off”, if you pardon the pun, from my comfort zone and this is exactly what I need to drive me onwards.

How many competitions have you done? Is this year’s SPC your first? How are you feeling about it?

My first competition will be the Miami Pro World Championships on 19th March 2017 in the teens fitness model category and MASS SPC 2017 will be my second. I am feeling excited with a hint of trepidation at stepping on stage in front of so many people. However, I see this as an opportunity to display the hard work that I have been shifting day in day out ever since I picked up my first dumbbell.

 

What is your training like during prep?

My training during prep is very intense with absolutely no more than one minute rest between sets but I have been doing my best to maintain decent strength levels during what will ultimately be an 18 week prep for SPC. I do not train with a specific split per se; I simply train the body parts that are not sore that day! I enjoy training antagonist muscles by super-setting them; I get a great pump from this style of training! Usually I train four days on, one day of cardio. So on day one I would do chest and back thickness, day two I hit legs, day three shoulders and back width and day four any body part I feel is lagging! On day five I do high intensity intervals for cardio with core conditioning.

 

Day Body parts Exercises
1 Chest and back thickness Flat bench press superset barbell row, 12 reps each exercise for 5 sets

 

Incline bench press superset with T-bar row, 12 reps each exercise for 5 sets

 

Flat dumbbell bench press superset with chest-supported dumbbell rows, 15 reps each exercise for 6 sets

 

Incline dumbbell flyes superset with decline pullovers, 20 reps each set for 4 sets with a drop set 20-20-20 for the last set

2 Legs High bar barbell squat 4×10-12

 

Front squat 4 x 8-10

 

Lunges 4 x 12 each leg

 

Leg extensions superset with lying hamstring curls, 6 sets pyramid up 12-16-20 and back down

 

Calf raises 30 reps superset with 15 Romanian deadlifts for 4 sets

 

Goblet squats and sissy squats on toes 30 reps each to finish

3 Shoulders and back width Dumbbell shoulder press superset with wide grip weighted pullups, 4 sets of 12 reps each exercise

 

Seated Arnold press superset with wide grip lat pulldown, 5 sets of 15 each exercise

 

Machine shoulder press superset with underhand hammer strength lat pulldown, 4 sets of 8 each exercise

 

Barbell pullover superset with upright rows, 4 sets of 20 on each exercise to finish with one big drop set of 20-20-20

4 Lagging body parts – currently hamstrings and chest Stiff legged deadlifts

Hamstring curls

Incline and decline bench press

5 Cardio and core Stepper machine one minute at 60 steps/min then one minute at 160 steps/min repeated 12 times.

 

Decline situps with barbell, decline torso rotations and leg raises – superset 20 reps each exercise for 6 sets

 

 

What is your diet like during prep?

My diet has consisted of a wide variety of foods, consisting of anything that grows, runs or swims! My diet has been macro based with a gradual increase in caloric deficit, which has been quite mentally gruelling for a glutton like myself! At the start of prep I was eating 2600 calories a day, with 300g carbs, 180 grams protein and 50 fats. When my fat loss plateaued I decreased by 150 calories and slowly decreased carbs. I am currently in my 14th week and on 2100 calories a day with 250g carbs, 160g protein and 50g fats. To counter fat loss plateaus I have simply added some more cardio and lowered my calories by 100 when necessary.

 

 

 

Oliver Cheng 5-2

How do you stay motivated during prep?

I stay motivated by remembering why I started taking training so seriously; I want to be unique and I want to show to others that if an average person like myself can get into shape, they can too. One of my biggest motivators is the fear of letting myself down. I have always trained for myself and to bring the best I can with what I have. Giving anything less than my best would be a waste of my potential and it is the fear of that that drives me to keep going even when I am drained.

 

How do you manage your studies alongside staying in shape?

For me it’s about prioritising my goals in life. If you want something enough you will go out and get it done; everyone has 24 hours in the day! My degree is very lecture-heavy but I will wake up at 5am and train early in the morning if that’s what I need to do. More often than not, I train between lectures. The key for me is to keep rest times to a minimum; this stops me from time wasting at the gym and increases the intensity of my training!

 

What are your fitness goals for the future?

I hope to one day compete in the UKBFF men’s physique division and maybe, through hard work, I can pick up a shiny trophy, but who knows what will happen!

 

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SPC Competitor Close Up: Alex Dommett

 The basics – How old are you, which university do you go to and what do you study?

I’m Alex, I am 20 years old currently studying for an Economics BSc at the University of Kent.

How did you get into fitness?

My fitness journey began with playing football from a very young age. I had gotten relatively far with football, doing enough to get into my hometown academy at Bournemouth, but sadly nothing was to come of that. Football helped me to attain good cardiovascular strength but I always considered myself to be ‘skinny’.

In the September of 2013 I began regularly going to the gym with my friend Kieron, and to this day we are still close friends and gym partners! But it wasn’t until around two years ago that I started taking bodybuilding seriously and is now an integral part of my life and the greatest passion of mine.

What made you want to compete?

After training seriously for a few years now I wanted to see how far I can push my body. I maintain a relatively lean physique year-round but I wanted to really push my body to its limit and give me an end goal to work towards. I am also extremely excited to document my journey to the competition and meet some fantastic people along the way!

 

 

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How many competitions have you done? Is this year’s SPC your first? How are you feeling about it?

The SPC is my first taste of competing and I am extremely excited to step on stage with everyone. Prep has been very difficult at times, resisting the temptation of pizza and Ben and Jerry’s, but I am determined and have an end goal and it will all be worth it in the end!

What is your training like during prep?

During prep, I like to maintain as much strength and lean mass as possible. This means I still incorporate heavy compound lifts at the beginning of every workout. However, due to a recent lower back injury this has been slightly hampered.

My split usually follows something like:

  • Legs
  • Chest and triceps
  • Rest
  • Back and biceps
  • Shoulders and traps

However, this can vary from week to week. For example, I am currently incorporating refeed days every 4-5 days and on these days I like to train lagging body parts as these are the days in which your body is in a much more anabolic state.

Each session will involve some form of heavy compound lift, and the rep ranges vary from week to week, varying from simple 5×5’s to 4×8’s and incorporating pause reps and higher volume days when I feel it is necessary.

What is your diet like during prep?

 

My current diet allows me macros of:

  • Calories: 2,500 ish
  • Protein: around 200g
  • Carbs: 180-200g
  • Fats: around 90g

A Standard day of meals would look something like:

  • Morning: 150g chicken breast with 60g broccoli
  • Before training: 100g oats with 30g isolate whey
  • After training: 150g lean (5%) beef mince with 50g spinach and 250g basmati rice
  • Mid-afternoon: 4 whole egg omelette with spinach
  • Late afternoon: 30g pistachios and 30g whey isolate
  • Evening: 2 slices wholemeal bread with 30g peanut butter

 

I like to concentrate my carbohydrates around training time as this is when they are required the most. I tend not to deviate my diet from this very much, however some meals may be swapped for tuna and other lean meats such as turkey. I find this helps me to stay regimented and not cheat or deviate from my diet.

 

 

 

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How do you stay motivated during prep?

I always look forward to getting into the gym and smashing through a workout, constantly reminding myself that it will be worth it in the end when I am standing on stage knowing that I have given my absolute everything to be where I am. The thought of knowing I haven’t put in 110% is enough for me to stay on track and put in the extra work.

How do you manage your studies alongside staying in shape?

I find that regularly going to the gym and eating well actually gives me more time to study, and gives me more effective study time. My lifestyle is extremely regimented and this means that it is easy to allocate time to studying and allows me to be more productive during this time. Also, the thought of being in the gym or the next meal is enough to get me studying for a while!

What are your fitness goals for the future?

Post-competition I plan on slowly reverse-dieting and maintaining a steady bulk into next year. I have plans to compete again in the coming years, perhaps in the Miami Pro, but that is a long way off yet!

Finally, is there anything else you would like to add?

I am so excited to meet all the other MASS competitors in April and cannot wait to eat nice food again! Pizza is only 1 week away!

 

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SPC Competitor Close Up: Mohamed Isa

The basics – How old are you, which university do you go to and what do you study?

 

I’m Mohamed Isa – but everyone calls me dash. I’m 22 and I study MSc Int. Management at Loughborough uni.

How did you get into fitness?

 

Funny story, I was always more of an outdoor athlete but when I came over to study in the UK, the temperature difference between Bahrain (where I am from) and how it’s like here was so high that I was discouraged from playing anything that meant me being outside, no joke. I decided to join my local gym to ONLY jog on the treadmill to get a sweat on every now and then, one day all the treadmills were occupied and so I turned to the weights area, picked up my first dumbbell and the rest is history.

 

 

 

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What made you want to compete?

My best-friend Josh Bridgman, he in fact competed twice in the MASS over the years and won it 2 years ago, so I could see what came of it and how useful it was to try it as an experience.

How many competitions have you done? Is this year’s SPC your first? How are you feeling about it?

This year’s SPC is my first ever competition, I thought I would be scared but to be honest I can’t wait to get all my friends together.

What is your training like during prep?

Heavy! But not stupid heavy.

Training Split:  push-pull-legs-REST- rinse and repeat!!!

 

 

Push
Exercise No. of Sets Method
Bench Press 5 3 on 100kg and 2 on 80kg (2-3 sec squeeze pause at the top)
Seated incline press 3 6-8 as heavy as I can dropset with 8 reps with 4 sec squeeze
Front Military on Smith M 4 10-12 on 60kg
Front D Raise 3 Dropset starting with 16kg down to 12 kg
Flys 4 6 reps for 3 secs then 8 reps for 4 secs
Triceps if I have time I don’t usually
Pull
Exercise No. of Sets Method
Pull ups 2 sets of 10 to warm up
Heavy rows 3 sets 8 reps a side I don’t find this useful just feel like I need to do something heavy
pull downs 5 sets 6 heavy for 2 secs on the bottom dropset with another 6 for 3 sets at the bottom
rows 3 sets 8 reps try and hold for 3 secs then 4sec then 5 if I can
Bicep preacher curl 3 sets of 8
Any other bicep ting
Legs
Exercise No. of Sets Method
Squat or leg press 6 by 6
Quads 5 sets of 10
Hamstring 5 sets of 10
Behind the back military 4 sets of 6-8
Side or rear delt 3 sets 6 reps for 3 secs then 8 reps for 4 secs

 

 

3-2

What is your diet like during prep?

How do you stay motivated during prep? Tunnel vision, in my head I’ve already stepped on stage and life is just going by slower than usual. It’s a case of having to do it because I don’t want to upset the system in my head, I just read what I have said and yes I do sound weird but it’s the only way I can put it into words.

 

 

food diary

How do you manage your studies alongside staying in shape?

I time my meals around my study time, I know my training suffers but at the end of the day, big biceps are important, but we’re all students first.

What are your fitness goals for the future?

I want to be able to hit 100kg. I’m going to try and hit that number 5 months after the show – my stage weight will most likely be 76kg. Yes, I’m ambitious but it can be done.

 

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Battle of the Students 2016 – The Future of Fitness

No more worthy a battleground for the Battle of the Students could there be than CrossFit Bath, home to many of the legends of British CrossFit! And so, amongst the CrossFit elite and the hard-earned trophies, the future of fitness was witnessed as students from across the country fought it out to be crowned the fittest male and female students in the UK. And the event pulled no punches in making them work for the title, starting off with 6 minutes of thrusters and burpees!

 

 

thrusters_battleofthestudents battle of the students

Well and truly warmed up, the athletes then took turns completing a heavy bear complex; 15 full body weightlifting movements, one after another, without letting go of the bar: as heavy as possible in a 10 minute time window. Everyone showed the spirit of the sport by cheering on their fellow competitors through the tough reps, and the orchestrator of denchness himself even did the events. After grinding through the heavy stuff, it was time to fly through a cardio blast in the 3rd event, consisting of rowing and burpees in an opposing pyramid rep scheme; Sam Cass’s rowing WODs paid off as he stormed into first place. The final event of the heats was then a tough kettlebell triplet, but that was nothing compared to the finals!

 

 

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The scaled finals saw athletes complete 160 reps in total of ground to overheads, burpee box jump overs, squat cleans and pull ups. The RX’d final was split into another tough triplet and a home straight of overhead lunges, air squats, and a legless rope climb to claim the title. Glen Harper flew through the handstand pushups and high box jumps, buying him plenty of time to reach the top of the rope first.

 

 

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battleofthestudents_handstandpushup battle of the students

After 6 gruelling workouts and a healthy dose of camaraderie, the results were in. The fittest male student was Sam Cass, and the fittest female student was Janine Dovey, with Sagar Shah winning the hotly contested men’s scaled category. Overall, Cardiff University claimed the crown of ‘fittest university’. Thank you again to CrossFit Bath for hosting the event, to the judges and organisers for making it run smoothly, and to all the athletes for their great hustle!

 

 

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The journey to #BoS2017 begins…

Scoresheet
Full photo album
Written by Shaun Howell

 

 

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Powerlifting Meet Introductory Guide

Preparing for a powerlifting meet without having had quite a few under your belt can be a daunting experience. This will especially be the case if the meet is your first. With that in mind, this article elaborates on some of the more important things to keep in mind in two articles, both as you prepare for the meet in your training, and how to conduct yourself on game day.

Firstly, let’s look at each of the lifts in turn: squat, bench and deadlift, after a brief intro to the MASS powerlifting rules. Then we’ll look at some of the other aspects of the day such as logistics, mental and nutritional prep, and finally we’ll cover the details of choosing how much weight to attempt for each lift.

 

Introduction to lift rules

MASS will be conducting their meets under GBPF rules. As an affiliate of the IPF, the GBPF has strict book rules, but there may be slight variation due to encountering different referees, human error from the same referees, and as an introductory event, some relaxation relative to high level meets (for example, the pause on the bench command may be somewhat shorter, or more benefit of doubt may be given to squats with borderline depth, compared to say, the GBPF Nationals).

This should be no cause for panic, as long as you understand the standards required of your lifts and practice them in training to that standard. While this will be covered in the rules briefing at the meet, which you should attend anyway, the process and commands of each lift as well as common issues will be covered here.

 

The Squat

 

MASSPowerliftingsquat

The squat has 2 commands. ‘Squat’ and ‘Rack’. After you are called to the platform, you will set up under the bar and walk it out. When you are standing upright with hips and knees locked, you will then be told to squat.

After receiving that command, understand that you are not under time pressure to squat. The command merely signals that you will be allowed to start at any time after that. It’s usually after the command that you will take in your breath for the rep. Making eye contact with, nodding at or otherwise acknowledging the main referee up front may reduce the wait.

After finishing the squat, you will have to stand still momentarily to demonstrate control of the bar, only after which you will be commanded to rack. This is a common cause for failing a lift; practice this call with a training partner leading up to the meet.

When in training, always ensure that you squat to depth. This is one of the most common causes of judges failing squats. You must ensure that the hip joint at the top of the leg (which is more or less at the crease of the hip) drops below the top of your knee.

Taking videos from a direct side-on view with the video camera at between knee and hip height is the best way to evaluate your depth. Good lighting and brightly coloured clothes will help you to perceive the hip crease more easily.

 

The Bench Press

 

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The bench press has 3 commands. ‘Start’, ‘Press’ and ‘Rack’. After setting up under the bar, you will unrack the weight (or it will be lifted off for you by spotters) and hold it with elbows locked until you are given the Start command. You will bring the bar down until it touches your torso and hold steady until told to Press. After finishing the rep, you will hold the weight with elbows locked out until told to Rack.

In training, ensure you practice holding the weight at full lockout before starting and after finishing. Practice with a considerable pause. Pause length may vary slightly depending on the judge and lifter’s style of benching, but the more quickly you bring the bar to a complete halt on your chest, the shorter you can expect to wait. The IPF has a few other subtle technicalities in the bench set up you have to contend with as well, namely that your whole foot must be flat on the ground and that your head must be in contact with the bench at all times after the first command has been given. Keep that in mind when training.

 

The Deadlift

 

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The deadlift is very simple in comparison to the other two lifts. It only has the ‘Down’ command. You will approach the platform, grip the bar and stand up with the weight. The down command will be received when you have locked the weight out fully. You will then return the weight to the ground without letting the bar leave your hands.

Keep in mind that hitches (resting the bar on your thighs) and any downward motion after you start pulling in the deadlift will earn red lights. When returning the weight to the ground, you may let the weight fall freely, but the bar must clearly remain in your hands until it hits the ground.

For additional references, you may consult pages 16, 17, 18, 19 of the IPF rulebook

It may also be helpful to watch videos of lifters in the IPF and their affiliates to understand the technique and standards required. The GBPF Classic Nationals and USAPL Raw Nationals are great places to start, simply plug the comp names into YouTube…

 

Keeping your head on Game Day

Depending on the available space and the total number of lifters and spectators, the venue may be crammed and a bit chaotic, with varying finish times from late afternoon to the mid-evening or later. You may spend 6 hours or more at the meet venue, so prepare accordingly.

Handlers and Groups

Go in a group, or with at least one person who can accompany and ‘handle’ you. Ideally, you’d bring along a friend who has lifted in a meet before and knows the flow well enough to keep you out of trouble.

Even if the person is inexperienced, you stand to benefit from their assistance. They can keep an eye on your belongings, keep you updated regarding the schedule and flow of the meet (more on that later) as well as film your lifts. If they’re new, they will need to be carefully and clearly briefed beforehand (by you) to know what their responsibilities are. They will have to be adaptable, alert and perhaps more than anything, have an interest in seeing you succeed at the meet.

Schedule and Timing

There is a good reason to know the meet schedule. This is to ensure you can time your warm ups well so you begin your attempts so that you’re primed to lift with minimal fatigue, and can time other things like stopping heavy food intake.

Knowing your flight (lifting group) start time will tell you when to start warming up and stop eating heavy. You’ll want to begin your warm up at least 25-30 minutes in advance, especially on the squat. Err on a longer warm up time if you’re uncertain. It is after all, easier to slow down than speed up a warm up. Don’t be afraid to take a warm up weight more than once if you’re way ahead of schedule.

There are 2 parts to this, with the first being the flight you belong to and the next, your position within the flight. Flights are just a way of grouping lifters to keep waiting time manageable. For example, a meet with 20 lifters may be split up into 2 flights of 10 each, so we don’t wind up waiting for 20 lifts between attempts. In other cases, one may have flights in two groups (or more), with a break between the groups. [e.g. Group 1: Flight A,B – break for 2 hours Group 2: Flight B,C]

Let’s consider the meet set up at different ‘zoom’ levels.

Using myself as an example (my name is Dan Chin), let’s consider that I know I’m 4th to squat in Flight B and I have the following ROUGH information (don’t take these as exact examples, in reality we may have 3 flights in a group or larger flights to give a longer break between each different lift).

  • Group 1 (Flights A,B): 1300 start
  • Break for 2 hours
  • Group 2 (Flights C,D): 1800 start
  • Flight A: 1300 start
  • Flight B: 1330 start

Meet sequence (Time-Flight):

  • 1300-Flight A squat
  • 1330-Flight B squat
  • 1400-Flight A bench
  • 1430-Flight B bench
  • 1500-Flight A deadlift
  • 1530-Flight B deadlift

The first thing I’ll do is to stop heavy eating by about 1200. From there, only snacking and drinking. I’ll also start to warm up by 1250-1300 to secure a place in the warm up room as well as allow for extra time when working between others’ warm ups.

Next, I take a look at the schedule for the individual lifters.

 

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You can see here the schedule of each individual lifter in his flight. I’m 4th to lift in Flight B, which begins squatting after Flight A finishes. Since I’ll prefer to have between 7-10 minutes rest between my last warm up and my opener, I work by counting the names that come before mine, starting with Patrick Fixler. I hit the 9th name when I count Maxwell Ha. With about 1 minute for a lifter to finish, I plan to hit my last warm up single when Maxwell takes his 3rd attempt squat (in reality, getting it in roughly when Flight A is about halfway done with their 3rd attempts will be good enough). If I work further backward, I know that my penultimate warm up should be done as Flight A rounds up their 2nd attempts.

As you can tell, it does seem like a lot to take care of. However, if you have help, it becomes much less difficult to keep track of what stage the meet has reached at any point. In some cases, the progress of the meet is tracked on a large LCD screen or a projector. You can watch the spreadsheet changes to see where things are at.

If you are the first flight in the group, things will usually start on time and will not be subject to the variation that comes with waiting for the previous flight. Just count the number of lifters the will lift before you in your flight, keep an eye on the clock and hit the last warm up when you want it.

 

Food and Supplements

 

food

Come equipped with food. Make sure it’s familiar, ideally something you can eat before a normal training session without any issues. Whether it’s whole food or candy doesn’t matter, but it must keep you fuelled without causing gastrointestinal distress. Supplementing with protein and carbohydrate powders may be a great idea, especially if you’re hungry right before a lift or eating food right after.

While you should take advantage of ergogenic aids like pre-workouts or stimulants, I will warn against going all out on stimulants until the deadlifts. If you burn out an hour before it’s time to pull because you got hopped up on 4 scoops for your first squat 4 hours before your deadlifts, you’re going to have a bad time finishing up. Scale back slightly the consumption of anything like stims and sugar that may cause a crash in energy levels if this applies to you until the deadlifts begin. A non-stim pre-workout may be very helpful here.

For good reason, this section does not discuss anything related to glycogen or water levels carb depletion or water cutting to make a weight class. As a novice, this should not be under consideration.

Introduction to Matt Gary’s attempt selection process

 

Matt Gary

The approach I recommend on attempt selection is based on Matt Gary’s approach. As a consequence, the following closely paraphrases articles that he has written, which you may look up on the net to verify.

Matt Gary is the owner of SSPT, a USAPL Platinum training facility in Rockville, Maryland. He has trained numerous lifters, including those who have reached USAPL Nationals and IPF Worlds meets. Matt is, however, perhaps even more well-known for his platform coaching and handling skills, which means that he often is involved in handling the US national team at IPF international meets. He employs this very system of attempt selection in the field, to great success. However, in addition to having a good system backing him up, Matt’s skill and experience often enables him to call in 3rd attempts that leave less than 2.5kg left in the tank when he needs to.

To get right down into the nuts and bolts, attempt selection should be something that’s well thought out advance and based on reliable and recent data. Good attempt selection will prioritize ensuring that you don’t bomb out, or take what you have on the day before even considering PR’s.

You should aim to hit a minimum of 6 lifts in the meet. Keep that in mind and be prudent in picking the first 2 attempts, taking reasonable risks on the 3rd.

 

The First Attempt

Your 1st attempt, the opener, will be very important, especially in the squat. It sets the tone for the rest of the attempts and perhaps for the rest of the day. Open reasonably, but lighter if in doubt. The weight should be roughly 90-92% of your projected max, or 100% of your best triple with solid form.

You should be certain of getting this. It should be a weight you can take for a single under even very poor conditions within reason. Treat it like a final warm up. If you have to get psyched for this, it’s probably too heavy. Drop the weight. Likewise if you’re feeling unusually beat up. That shouldn’t happen on game day, but sometimes it does. Make a course correction.

There are few things that will bum you out more than missing an opener, and Matt Gary’s data has shown that those who miss a first attempt are likely to miss subsequent lifts. Dominate this lift and let things snowball as you build your confidence.

The Second Attempt

The 2nd attempt should be considered a springboard more than anything else. As such, it’s generally not the place to take a PR. Still, if results from training have been unusually good and your projected maxes have far surpassed old bests, then taking a PR is not out of the question. That’s something I’ve done several times without issue.

This is usually 95-98% of your projected max. I like to take a bit more than my best double. Use this to build toward the 3rd attempt, which will be the best place to take a PR. Conversely, if the first attempt felt a bit slower than expected, you should adjust expectations and scale back by aiming slightly lower, perhaps 93-96% (taking 100% of your best double is a fairly safe bet here).

The Third Attempt

The 3rd attempt will be the place to take a PR. While generally no percentage is assigned here, if everything is on track, it will be at roughly 100% of your projected max. It is often prudent to take a small increment, such as 2.5kg over your best, especially if you’re an advanced lifter and progress comes slowly, but if you’re feeling good, being aggressive is fine.

Generally, you would not want the jump from the 2nd to 3rd attempt to be larger than the 1st to 2nd attempt. On top of that, if a PR does not feel like it’s in the books, there’s certainly nothing wrong with taking a smaller jump without a PR, to add to your total. The total ultimately matters more and a PR total is still a PR.

So, in short, be reasonable in selecting your weights. Prioritize not bombing out, and building up to a larger 3rd attempt rather than going too heavy too early and losing out on building a total.

 

Applying the Maths; Course Corrections

I offer two different approaches to building your attempts. You can begin with a goal weight, or your opener. If you begin with an opener/your best triple, add 10% to get a 3rd attempt, then split the difference between 1st and 3rd, then add 1-2% to get your 2nd attempt. Conversely, if you begin with a goal weight, subtract about 10% to get the 1st, then split the difference and add 1-2% to get your 2nd.

Whichever way you start, if you suppose that you have a best triple of 190kg OR a goal weight of 210kg (using an opener of 190kg yields a goal weight of 210kg and vice-versa, so they’re equivalent), a sensible approach to writing out attempts along with a Plan B in case things feel bad, may look like the following:

  • A1: ~90% = 190kg – A2: ~96% = 202.5kg – A3: ~100% = 210kg
  • B1: ~90% = 190kg – B2: ~94% = 197.5kg – B3: ~96% = A3: 202.5kg

You can see that the absolute values correspond well to the suggested percentages from the text.

It would be a good idea to write things out on a piece of paper so you can refer when deciding between continuing aggressively and dialling back if things don’t feel right.

In order to make a good decision on modifying your opener or deciding between Plan A and B, it’s important not to overestimate how heavy the weight feels. The best indicator of how much you have in the tank is how fast the bar moves. Therefore, if time allows, you should run over to quickly peek at footage of your lift before submitting 2nd and 3rd attempts. This must be done quickly though, as you’re often asked to submit within a minute of finishing the last lift. If not, a trusted friend with lifting experience could be asked to rate the lift and give you another opinion.

As an important final note, it is almost never a good idea to increase the weight after failing an attempt for any reason. Find out why you failed and rectify it when you repeat the weight. If it’s for lack of strength, you must be nuts to think that you’re suddenly come back and kill a heavier weight after failing something lighter. For issues of technique, increasing the weight generally only makes it harder to correct an issue. As a novice lifter, it is hard to imagine a scenario where you would fail a weight and then make a heavier weight.

 

Written by Dan Chin
Edited by Shaun Howell
About the author:

Dan Chin has been training for nearly 4 years, with the last 3 years dedicated to improving the powerlifts. He is a recent addition to Reactive Training Systems’ coachee roster and holds a wilks of 350, with a meet total of 520kg and a gym total of 547.5kg in the U93kg class. He values knowledge as a tool to get more results from one’s efforts.

 

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