Category Archives: Powerlifting

Chains in Powerlifting

Related article: Links of Solid Metal Lead to Strength, Speed and Stability, by Rachel Cassano


Periodization, articles links

Undulating Periodization: Variable Repetition Training (VRT), by Alwyn Cosgrove – Part One
Undulating Periodization: Variable Repetition Training (VRT), by Alwyn Cosgrove – Part Two
Undulating Periodization: Variable Repetition Training (VRT), by Alwyn Cosgrove – Part Three
Undulating Periodization For Athletes!

Periodization For Bodybuilders Part 1, by Keats Snideman
Periodization For Bodybuilders Part 2, by Keats Snideman

Why periodization doesn’t work, by Charles Staley

Other articles on periodization

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Central drive dilution theory and single limb work

Central drive dilution theory and single limb work
by David Barr


Bilateral Evidence

Although the word theory is thrown around colloquially as a synonym for “guess”, a scientific theory is a testable prediction based on evidence. Consistent with this usage, the central drive dilution theory comes from something we’ve all experienced called the bilateral deficit.

Whether you’ve known it or not, your body contracts muscle far better during single limb work than when using both limbs. For example we have better contraction during a single leg squat than the traditional two-legged version. This happens because the neural signals for muscle contraction get divided during the bilateral exercise, whereas everything can be focused during single limb work. This bilateral deficit is not only a reason why you should be incorporating unilateral work into your program (among others), but it’s the extension of which that is the central drive dilution theory.


Source was (this site does not exist anymore):

About David Barr:
“David Barr is a strength coach and scientist, with research specialty in nutrition and its impact on performance and body composition. In addition to his work for NASA at the Johnson Space Center, David’s research career has involved everything from the cellular basis of muscle breakdown to work on critically ill catabolic patients.”

The Bench Press. Is It Right For You? – Scott Abel and Kevin Weiss

The Bench Press. Is It Right For You?

Abel Body Experts coaches Scott Abel and Kevin Weiss discuss the bench press and how it may not be the lift for you if hypertrophy is the goal.

The Bench Press Part 2

Abel Body Experts coaches Scott Abel And Kevin Weiss discuss how the bench press is used to develop neuromuscular pathways that can lead to development in future training.


About Charles Poliquin

Charles Poliquin is a native of Ottawa, Canada. While completing graduate studies in Exercise Physiology in Canada, Charles began coaching athletes, a career move that has resulted in hundreds of medals, wins and personal bests of many elite athletes. He is known worldwide for producing faster athletes. When a country wants a Gold medal, they come to Charles.

Charles Poliquin is recognized as one of the Worlds most successful strengthcoaches, having coached Olympic medalists in twelve different sports including the US female track and field for the Olympics 2000.

His current clients include:

Al MacInnis, St Louis Blues, Norris Trophy winner, strongest slap-shot in the NHL
Joe Nieuwendyk, Dallas Stars, Conn Smythe Trophy winner, Stanley Cup winner
Chris Pronger, Colorado, St. Louis Blues, winner of Norris and Hart Trophy
Canadian short-track speed-skating team
Nanceen Perry, World Record Holder 4 x 200 m
Michelle Freeman, number 1 ranked hurdler in the World
Chris Thorpe, Olympic Silver & Bronze Medalist, Double’s Luge
And much more…

To learn more about Charles, click here or check out this website at:


Charles Poliquin articles on
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Charles Poliquin videos on youtube

Frequency Of Training!

By: Charles Poliquin

“Frequency of training is measured as the number of training sessions for a given muscle group or lift per unit of time. A certain level frequency must be given in the administration of a training stimulus in order to maintain or build upon a previous training stimulus. Optimal recovery time between training sessions is important in maximizing adaptive processes. As a rule of thumb, one would think that as the intensity of the training stimulus increases, there would be a decrease in need for training frequency.

However, in the practice of strength training in the sporting world, especially with elite athletes, there are conflicting schools of thought on training frequency. For example, Rich Weil, World Record holder in the bench press, recommended one session per week per muscle group (Weil, 1985) while at the other end of the spectrum 9 to 12 weekly sessions are common on leading successful weightlifting teams. For example, Tara Nott, America’s first Olympic Gold Medalist in weightlifting has regularly squatted 9 times a week to achieve her sporting standard.

Some weightlifting National Teams have done as much as 4 to 5 training sessions for the hip and knee extensors on a daily basis. And to rely on the scientific literature for an answer is rather useless, as the data is coming from untrained, unmotivated university subjects.

The Three Main Schools Of Thought On Frequency:

School 1:
Train three times a week. Bompa espouses that concept so did Chuck Sipes a very strong bodybuilder from the sixties. It is the most used system in the World.

School 2:
Train at least 6 days a week the lift or its variations that you want to improve. Again, some very successful individuals like Mel Hennessey and Bulgarian lifters have endorsed this training concept.

School 3:
Train hard, come back once you can lift more. In other words, wait for supercompensation to take place. So training frequency per muscle group is once every 3 to 10 days per lifts. Fred Hatfield is a strong proponent of this system. So was Mike MacDonald, one of the most successful bench pressers of all time. Terry Todd related to me that he would test how he felt in the bench press muscles with just using a broomstick for resistance. If it felt odd he would take an extra day off, or whatever how many offs he felt it would take.

My Observations On Training Frequency:

Of all the loading parameters, I think training frequency is the one that is most influenced by individual genetic differences, regardless of drug use or not. I believe that it is the loading parameter that one must experiment with most to find out what works out best for them. I have seen very strong individuals get strong on once every 10 days to 10 times a week. In both extremes there where individuals using recovery agents and some not.

Frequency of training will vary the person’s level of qualification. In the immediate start of strength training is definitely a must. As the person gets stronger, genetic differences become more important.

The principle of training economy has to be considered: how much time can you actually devote to training?

Provided that the training intensity and volume are challenging, a frequency of once every 5 days works for most individuals, most of the time. This is how I train 70% of my clients with appreciable results. Of course, you will here arguments like my uncle Bob bench pressed once only every equinox, and he can bench 600 lbs, or on the other side, you will not make gains unless you train at a frequency per week that represents the last 4 digits of you social security number.

The choice of training method influences recovery. For example, the more eccentric overload, the more need for recovery. Squatting 4 sets of 6 with chains is more demanding that squatting 8 sets of 3 explosively, even though the total reps are the same.

All factors being equal, for strength development, frequency is more important than it is for hypertrophy development.

If you can afford dedicating it the time, I believe that training twice a day for the same body part (if you can afford the training time) is the system that works best. The morning workout facilitates the evening workout. Then again, I make the individual train that body part 5 days later. The trainee will train 3 days out of five twice a day for 10 days, then go on to once a day for 5 days.

You have to consider the entire training system. For example, Louie Simmons has an extremely successful system with variations of loads throughout the week. His system works well when you do it in its entirety. So you can’t mix a Louie Simmons bench press cycle with a Finnish deadlifting routine and a Russian squatting system. Always give a training system a fair try only in its original design. Combining training systems can lead to failure.

Training more than 3 times a week for a improving a lift is excellent to go through a plateau. In this area, there is scientific literature to back up this concept. But there is also a need to lower training volume once every three weeks for males and every three weeks for females.

Multiple sessions a week is for individuals who want to achieve Olympic standards. In personal communications with Chinese, Bulgarian and former East German weightlifting coaches, all of them stipulated that it takes about 3 years of incremental training to develop the work tolerance for such workloads.

In summary, training frequency will be determined by your training goals, your gender, the choice of training methods, magnitude and intensity of training load and most important your genetic make-up. In other words, you have to find out what works best for you. Take for example my assistant Chad Ikei, he bench pressed a World Record of 316 lbs at a bodyweight of 112.5 lbs at age 19.

At that time he was bench pressing twice a week. Later on, when he was on the US weightlifting team, he trained the hip and knee extensors at a frequency of 8 to 12 times a week and yet his best performance was 13th in the World, and was National Record holder in the snatch, clean and jerk and total.”

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Shoulder Savers part 1, by Eric Cressey

“Over the past few years, I’ve become known as the shoulder guy on the list of T-Nation contributors.

Nobody ever really asked why this became an area of interest for me; all they care about is how to recover from impingement, labral tears, bicipital tendonosis, AC joint sprains, and the occasional accidental amputation. (I usually recommend a bottle of whiskey, some duct tape, and a glue gun for that last one.)

Truth be told, my shoulders have taken a beating during my career as a competitive athlete, so I’ve got a pretty good frame of reference. Would you believe that this powerlifter was an all-state tennis player in high school?

Let’s just say that my kick serve wasn’t exactly conducive to shoulder health, so before I ever picked up a weight, I’d lost a chance to play in college due to internal impingement — a hypermobility condition that led to a partial thickness tear of my right supraspinatus and enough bone spurs to sink a battleship.

Surgery was scheduled for December of 2003, but rather than just wait for the ‘scope, I buckled down, read everything I could find, and experimented in my training to find what I could and couldn’t do in an attempt to avoid the surgery.

The end result? I canceled the surgery in October of 2003 and took up powerlifting, where I’m on the brink of bench pressing 400 pounds at a body weight of 165.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t always smooth sailing between 2003 and now. I dealt with a frustrating acromioclavicular joint problem in the other shoulder for a good four months this past year. As a result, I spent an entire 12-week training cycle spinning my wheels and dealing with a lot of pain. Rather than have my distal clavicle cut off, I ultimately managed to figure out a way to correct the issue, and recently hit a 34-pound personal best bench press in competition.

Along the way, I’ve helped to fix a few hundred T-Nation shoulders and those of athletes and clients I see in person. It seems to have just become part of a normal day for me.

My intention here isn’t to just blow some sunshine up my own butt, but rather to show you that I’ve got a pretty good perspective for what I’m going to write below.

Very simply, there are certain mistakes that many lifters with shoulder problems share in common. With that in mind, I decided to take a proactive approach and present to you my top sixteen recommendations for avoiding the problems in the first place. These aren’t exhaustive, but I guarantee that if you take them to heart, you’ll be much less likely to email me or, worse yet, give your orthopedic shoulder surgeon enough business to pay off his new Mercedes.

Shoulder Saver #1: Avoid what hurts.

It seems logical, but we all know how tough it is to resist the exercises we’ve grown to love. Face the facts; you just might not be able to overhead press or bench with the straight bar.

Not all bodies are created equal in the first place; a good example would be the different types of acromions, a portion of the scapula. Those with type III acromions are more likely to suffer from subacromial impingement due to the shape of this end of the scapula:

These are the 3 types:

Type I Acromion: flat, minimal impingement risk, normal subacromial space

Type II Acromion: curved, higher rate of impingement, slight decrease in subacromial space

Type III Acromion: beaked, highest rate of impingement, marked decrease in subacromial space

Now, ask yourself this: when someone universally recommends overhead pressing, how often do you think they’re consulting x-rays to determine if it might not be the best thing for you?

Moreover, not all bodies are equal down the road, either. If you’re a type I or type II acromion process, you can “acquire” a type III morphology due to reactive changes. These changes may be related to a specific activity (e.g. weight-training) or just a case of chronically poor movement patterns (think of a hunchbacked desk jockey who’s always reaching overhead).

There’s almost always going to be something else you can do to achieve a comparable training effect without making things worse. So, the next time your shoulder starts to act up in the middle of a training session, put down the weights, take a deep breath, and walk over to the water fountain.

Use this stroll as an opportunity to recognize that something is out of whack and determine an appropriate course of action — including an alternative exercise. You might need to experiment a bit, but it’ll come to you.

Shoulder Saver #2: Serratus Anterior Activation Work

The serratus anterior is a small muscle, but it’s of profound importance when it comes to scapulohumeral rhythm and, in turn, shoulder health.

Essentially, this muscle locks the scapula to the rib cage to prevent the scapula from winging out. It assists the pectoralis minor with protraction, but most importantly, it’s involved in a delicately-balanced force coupled with the upper and lower trapezius for scapular upward rotation, a movement in which you need to be perfect to function safely with overhead movements.

The Serratus Anterior

Unfortunately, the serratus anterior will always be the first muscle to “shut down” in the face of any sort of scapulohumeral dysfunction, and activating it is a crucial component of all rehabilitation programs for the shoulder girdle.

I could literally give a day-long seminar on all the different pathologies in which serratus anterior dysfunction is involved in some way. So, why not take care of it ahead of time? Two great exercises are the scap push-up and supine 1-arm dumbbell protraction:

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Shoulder savers part 2
Shoulder savers part 3

Core training (videos, artciles, links)

Some videos demonstrating core exercices can be found at:

Regarding crunches:
Let it be known, the era of the 800 daily crunches is over. And, this isn’t just because we’re concerned about hip and lower back health; would you believe that you can actually screw up your shoulders with inappropriate core training? Here’s what happens…

The rectus abdominus runs from your rib cage down to your pelvis; when it shortens, it pulls the rib cage down toward your feet. So, as you can imagine, if the rectus abdominus is tight, it can pull the whole rib cage too far down — making you look more like Quasimoto than someone who actually trains hard.

Beyond just the fact that poor posture isn’t all that aesthetically appealing and actually makes you appear smaller, excessive kyphotic postures have biomechanical implications at the shoulder girdle. When your thoracic spine gets too kyphotic, the scapulae abduct (protract) so that they slide outward on the rib cage (toward your arms). This repositions the aforementioned acromion process, as the entire scapula becomes anteriorly tilted. An anteriorly tilted scapula dramatically increases the risk of impingement on those rotator cuff tendons.

How do we counteract this problem? As Mike Robertson discussed in detail in Core Training for Smart Folks, we need to prioritize exercises for the posterior fibers of the external obliques, as these exercises will posteriorly tilt out pelvis without pulling the rib cage downward.

And, by increasing the strength of these muscles, we’ll take some of the burden off the rectus abdominus and shift things back into balance. When I see this problem, I drop all traditional trunk flexion movements (pulldown abs, crunches — and people should know to not do sit-ups by now) and replace them with pure stabilization movements (prone and side bridge) and “lower ab” exercises, most notably the reverse crunch.


Other articles:
Core Training for Smart Folks by Mike Robertson
Functional Ab Training for Bodybuilders by Kevin Weiss


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