BASIC PRINCIPLES

 

Training templates do two things: one, they provide a base or basic starting point and two, they evolve. A one size fits all training template only serves to provide a general foundation. It may work for beginner lifters to get started but to progress, it needs to be individualized. Progress is made, things are changed.

Whatever training templates you find on the internet in almost all cases are not the training that is used currently in a METAL MLIITIA TRAINING COMPOUND or at Westside or Elite FTS. Those posted on the internet were good then but today they have evolved. The basic principles were used to plan the training and experience and goals pushed the templates into new ground.

 

To truly hone in on the most effective and efficient training plan, it needs to be individualized for each lifters specific requirements.

For example, much of the METAL MILITIA TRAINING TEMPLATES that you will find on the internet are old AND they were designed for lifters that were supplementing. If you are a natural lifter then those templates need to reflect your own recovery schedule or else the volumes of work will crush you.

 

Now, for the basic principles.

  • Be serious, be safe. Train with a team and always have spotters or a safety system.

  • Always follow form. If a heavy weight forces you out of your form, stop and go back down in weight and stay within your form. If you miss a weight, you can try again if you want but then if you miss it again, go back down and work your way back up again with the right form.

  • Heavy max triples build strength and stamina, heavy max singles build power, make sure to vary your training to include both.

  • Do your lifts exactly as you would in a competition. Have someone yell out the judge's commands.

  • Accessory work should train the upper end of your lift and can be done raw, i.e. bench rack lock outs and boards, squat high box squats and deadlift high rack pulls all raw without equipment on.

  • Progressively increase the weights. Keep increasing each week for as long as you can, this may be for 5 weeks or 8 or 12 weeks, then back down for a week and rest. Keep your increases small and progressive, don't all of a sudden feel great one week and add 50 lbs and blow yourself out.

Each person is different and will respond differently to workload and frequency. Work with a METAL MILITIA coach or partner to find what works best for you.

PERIODIZATION

 

How many weeks out before a meet do you need to start your training template? And, how should you lay out your weeks?

The answer to to that is usually 12 weeks, but it depends. With experience and with the help of a METAL MILITIA COACH, you will find what works best for you. I find for example, that I make very fast progress using 4 or 5 week waves in which I will add about 25 to 50 lbs each week to my squat and 5 to 20 lbs each week to my bench until I start slowing down. Then, I take a lighter week or two and then continue to ramp up.

The goal is to find the right number of weeks and amount of weight increases that will have you peak exactly at your competition and not two weeks before or one week after. But, often, it is only after missing your peak that you figure it out for next time. Again, it's not one size fits all, there are too many variables, including supplementation or not, diet, sleep and very import the amount of stress you have in other parts of your life at work, school and at home.

With all that said, here is a basic METAL MILITIA PERIODIZATION PLAN:

METAL MILITIA PERIODIZATION PLAN

STARTING 12 WEEKS OUT

WEEKS 1 - 4

  • Reps of 5's and 3's

  • High volume of work

  • Heavy accessory work

  • Focus on form

  • Wear looser gear and partial gear

  • Eat for strength

WEEKS 5 - 8

  • Heaviest workloads

  • Determine ideal warm up sets and reps

  • Adjust and dial-in gear

  • 5 work sets in full gear

  • Reps of 3's and Singles

  • Add weight each week

  • Max deadlift week 7 or 8

WEEKS 9 - 10

  • Max singles

  • Tempo, form, lift integrity

  • Light deadlift, one max squat, max bench

  • Drop all accessory work

  • Eat for recovery and weight class, sleep for recovery

WEEKS 11 - 12

  • Deload

  • Warm up exactly as planned at meet

  • Work up to openers and 2nd attempts and stop

  • Rest, sleep and eat

  • This is only a basic plan. Adjustment needs to be made for each lifter based on experience and competition level and recovery ability. Each lifter's ramp up needs to be maximized through adjustment individually.

  • Unlike other periodization plans where you start with a calculated or planned max to be attained, the METAL MILITIA periodization plan pushes your PR's and max to see what you can attain in your ramp up training.

  • Deadlift training needs its own approach and almost a different approach for conventional and sumo because of longer recovery time required. Maxing out will work in bench and squat but not in deadlift.

  • The METAL MILITIA periodization plan can be used to prepare for one meet or for a group of meets together.

  • Mental preparedness is as important a part of the ramp up and the physical weights, sets and reps plan and is developed together in this periodization plan

  • After the meet or meets, a large rest period is usually taken. A complete break from lifting after meets can be anywhere from just a week or two to a month and even up to 6 months. Don't underestimate the importance of giving your body and mind a break and time to heal. 

WEEKLY PLAN

DAY 1 - SQUAT

DAY 2 - BENCH LIGHT RAW

DAY 3 - DEADLIFT

DAY 4 - BENCH HEAVY

WEEKLY PLAN

Day 1 - SQUAT

  • two approaches, warm up to a heavy raw and add gear a piece at a time or, warm up with gear

  • usually warm up sets of 10, 8, 6, and 5 reps

  • 5 heavy work sets with full gear

  • add weight each week

  • add 2 accessories if needed, i.e. leg press, belt squat, pause squats, assistance or resistance bands, high box squats in briefs or raw

DAY 2 - BENCH RAW

  • 4 to 5 high rep work sets

  • vary reps by week, sometimes 5 sets of 5 reps, sometimes 5 sets of 10 reps, or 6 reps. Add small increments of weight each week based on last time.

  • accessory work include at least 2 sets of pause bench or 5 reps to work the lower end

  • add 2 types of accessory work, i.e. pin presses, floor presses, resistance band presses, heavy tricep / bicep work

DAY 3 - DEADLIFT

  • next day after raw bench and two days before heavy bench.

  • warm-up back and legs and then 4 heavy work sets of 3 reps. Sumo can go up to max singles.

  • destroy your back with accessory work - varying with heavy rack pulls, 3 rep max low rows, occasional goodmornings or straight leg deadifts and bent over rows.

  • always finish with reverse hypers 4 sets of 8 and or heavy back raises.

DAY 4 - BENCH HEAVY

  • warm up raw. Early in cycle can also add work sets of bands or raw boards up to max triples

  • shirt work - alternate weeks, one week warm up with triples or doubles and then work up with singles to a max single and second week warm up and then do four sets of max triples (greatest strength building exercise).

  • If you fail, go back down and work your way back up again.

  • always work on form

Day 1 - SQUAT

 

Always first work up to heavy work sets of a competition squat as you would do it on the platform. Warm ups should be completed in 4 to 5 sets even if your work sets or competition openers start over 1000 lbs. Depending where you are in your training, you can do your work sets in briefs only or in full gear including knee wraps. Remember that full gear allows you to use a wider and more upright stance and this is what you want to practice. Raw squatting will require you to bring your feet in slightly for a bit narrower stance unless you stay with lighter weight.

Always work on developing the right tempo and technique in your competition squat.

 

For your secondary work or next work sets you can take off your gear or wear just briefs and do variations of the regular squat, including pause squats, squats using resistance or assistance bands or overloaded high box squats.

 

For additional assistance work add in about 4 heavy sets of leg presses (10 reps) or belt squats (5 reps) or even lunges (10 steps each way for 4 sets) and even heavy calf raises. Occasionally, you could add overloaded heavy stand-ups for 2 or 3 sets of 3 reps holding the 3rd longer. Raw box squats done with a soft landing and total letting go on the box will help build the muscles for explosive strength.

 

Plyometrics or box jumping are fun things to do but they will not help your squat, instead your squat will help you jump higher. Stay away from plyometrics in the ramp up for a meet, it will make your squat worse.

 

What will help your squat the most is core strength and this is developed best by squatting. In the off season you can further develop your core strength by walking out your weights in a power rack or even in a monolift.

 

The best thing that will improve your squat is squatting.

Day 2 - Bench Raw

If you are pressed for time and can only train three days a week, you can skip this day. We added this day to develop raw strength, to work on form and to work and get confident in the bottom of the bench at the chest.

 

This is a light bench day both weight wise and mentally.

 

First warm up and then do 4 raw work sets. Each week you can vary the number of reps, one week doing 5 sets of 5 reps or 4 sets of 10 reps or any other variation. You could even do one or two sets of maximum reps with a weight just for fun.

 

Secondary work should include 2 or 3 sets of pause benches for 5 reps. Bring down the weight to just touch but not rest on your sternum and have someone count out 5,4,3,2,1,press, then on the second rep count 4,3,2,1,press until you get to 1,press on the fifth rep. The better you get at this the more weight you will be able to handle closer to your max raw bench. Beginners for example will have trouble doing this exercise with more than 70% of their raw bench. Why practice pause benching? For bottom raw strength, for confidence at the bottom and to develop solid stable form.

 

After that you can add a few fun exercises for variety such as 10 quick sets of 3 reps with heavy bands for strength and practice setting up quickly. Band work is only done occasionally because it is hard on the joints. Beginners can attach a 25 lb plate or a kettlebell to each end of the barbell with elastic bands to learn to build stability and tightness. This won't do much to help an experienced lifter who is already tight and stable.

Additional accessory work may include, 4 sets of 10 reps of floor presses (but this is a useless exercise for people with large chests or short arms because the bar touches their chest before their elbows touch the ground.), heavy tricep pushdowns 3 sets of 15 reps or any other bodybuilding tricep type of work.

 

Again, the amount of accessory work depends on the experience of the lifter. Beginner lifters need more accessory work because they are not able to give it all on the regular bench press. 

 

Day 3 - Deadlift

 

How often should you deadlift? How heavy should you go and how much workload should you do?

The answer to this varies greatly. I believe you can do more workload and even max out week after week doing the sumo deadlift but you cannot do that doing the conventional deadlift. Why? because the conventional deadlift uses more of your small back and sumo is done in a more upright position. The small of your back is a section with a lot of smaller and very dense muscles with not as much circulation to assist in quick recovery. If you don't let your lower back recover your deadlift progress will suffer. Old school deadlifters used to deadlift every 10 days. But, there are always exceptions to this, most notably Ed Coan the greatest deadlifter of his time who's routine and volume of sets and reps would destroy most people.

 

At Metal Militia Montreal, we have had great success by getting most lifters to practice sumo deadlifting and maxing out in gear for several weeks in a row.

Deadlift training always starts with a warm-up and work sets of the deadlift. 4 sets of 3 reps done as singles works well. Also, when chasing maxes, warm up with triples and then do singles up to a max.

Always work on form. Have someone record a video of your lifts so you can see immediately how your form looks.

After your hard work sets, you can do heavy rack pulls at, above or below the knee for 4 sets of 5 reps to strengthen your grip, deadlift off blocks of various heights to practice straight form, max low row cable pulls, one arm dumbbell rows. Pick two of these and vary them each week.

Once you've reached a maximum deadlift, it is difficult to make progress. You can focus on increasing your max through improving your form or dialing in your equipment or gear. But, then to continue to improve your deadlift, you may just have to back off for a while. I find that deadlift is a lift that you dedicate a period of time, say two months to push it and make improvements, then you coast for a while and just maintain it, then attack it again.

 

The deadlift is said to be an attitude lift or a mental lift. This is why many people only hit their best deadlifts in a meet when they really want it. It's hard to call up the mental toughness needed to lift a max deadlift in a regular training session in the gym. Many people hate the deadlift mostly for this reason and some love it.

 

Day 4 - Bench Heavy (Shirt)

 

This is where METAL MILITIA first started developing bench shirt technique and training. Bill Crawford and then METAL MILITIA were at the time mostly "bench only" lifters and soon became known as the best bench shirt technicians in the world. Here is a sample of how we train on heavy bench day.

We change usually every two weeks, one week is max bench day when we go for a pr, and the second week is heavy work day when we do four heavy work sets of triples in the shirt. These kill but they develop strength the quickest.

 

Raw warm-up

We normally start with raw warm-ups almost to a single raw max, with a slightly closer grip. Alternate days, we start with

Close grip board presses up to a 3 rep max. This does two things: it instills the motion of throwing the weight back instead of pushing up and gets you used to the feeling and second it saves some strength for maxing out in your shirt.

Shirt work

 start about 50 lbs more than the last board press or 90 lbs more than the last raw press.

1st set usually three reps, must touch by the third rep

2nd set usually two reps

3rd, 4th and 5th set, singles up to your max or to a pr.

If you miss a lift, you can try it one more time, if you still miss it, then go back down to a weight you can do three reps with and find your form and work your way back up again to your max.

Accessory work

After shirt work, we alternate with some days band presses, most days with rack lock outs and occasionally floor presses. By now, your triceps should be finished, if not go do some tricep presses and finish them off.

Band presses

Try two different exercises with bands. One day do sets of 5 adding a band to each set until you can’t do anymore. On another day, have a least three people in a group and set the bands up so that the weakest person can barely do three reps. Then test the other lifters by adding weight plates so that they find the weight they need for a hard three rep set. Once everything is set up, do ten sets of 3 reps very quickly, moving from one person to the next as quickly as possible. As soon as one person finishes his lift, get off the bench and the next one jumps down, someone sets up the weights and the hand-off person hands off right away. This gets everyone used to setting up quicker and

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