Articles robert-de-la-rosa

Published on November 26th, 2013 | by Jonathan Byrd

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Powerlifting Meet Training Preparation: 15 Week Peaking Cycle


Many beginner and even intermediate lifters struggle with the aspect of meet prep. The idea of tailoring their workouts for peak strength is a daunting task. Often it becomes over complicated, tricky, and leaves them not having their best showing at the meet.

A powerlifting competition is judged on what you can do that day, and not what you have done in the gym. I frequently see on forums people attempting to peak for the meet and burn out with several weeks left. Then if they don’t burn out, they are coming in injured, beat up, or mentally given up.  This concept is lost on a lot of lifters in all levels of skill.

This article is the intent to lay the ground work for you over a 15 week training cycle. I hope this will allow you to take some of the guess work out of your training, and just allow you to focus on the task at hand.

It is broke down in three, four week training blocks. Each week you are to dedicate 1 day to the three core lifts (bench, squat, deadlift). The training blocks will be followed by a deload week, of which you are trying to refresh your body and brain. Preparing for a meet is a long process in which you can be both physically and mentally broke down.

15 Week Powerlifting Peaking Cycle

The first key to this training cycle is to start off nice and easy. The goal of the first 4 weeks is to not try and win the meet, but to get a starting point and gain strength. Again this is under the assumption that you are use a three day a week training style with one day dedicated to each the bench, squat, and deadlift. The training structure to this set up will go as follows:

  • Week 1: 3×3 core movements, followed by two auxiliary movements 3×8.
  • Week 2: 1×3 then 2×2 on core movements, followed by 2 auxiliary movements 3×8.
  • Week 3: 1×3,1×2,1×1 core movements, followed by 2 auxiliary movements 3×8
  • Week 4: 3×1 starting light and increasing each set of core movements, followed by 3 auxiliary movements 3×6
  • Week 5: Deload- Approximately 50% of your max for a 3×3 just to get the blood flowing.

The second block of training will look much like the first wave you just completed. There will be two big differences overall. The first difference is that you should be doing more weight than you did during the previous time you did that rep scheme.

The second major difference is that you should now be targeting weak points that showed during the previous block with your auxiliary lifts. These movements will be the key to fixing weak areas in the big three.

  • Week 6: 3×3 core movements, followed by two auxiliary movements 3×8.
  • Week 7: 1×3 then 2×2 on core movements, followed by 2 auxiliary movements 3×8.
  • Week 8: 1×3,1×2,1×1 core movements, followed by 2 auxiliary movements 3×8
  • Week 9: 3×1 starting light and increasing each set of core movements, followed by 3 auxiliary movements 3×6
  • Week 10: Deload- Approximately 50% of your max for a 3×3 just to get the blood flowing.

 At this point in training you should be feeling stronger each workout. You should have missed ZERO attempts in the gym. Remember the meet is won on the platform, your gym lifts do not count!

The third and final block of training is when things really pick up. It is time to get a little more aggressive with weight selections, and start to trim down the auxiliary work. During this block you will also get an idea of what a good opening weight attempt might be, and a few ideas of what you could select for a second attempt. You do not want to miss a weight in the gym, so you will not be attempted a third attempt type weight, but something near there at approximately 95% would be applicable.

  • Week 11: 3×3 core movements, followed by one auxiliary movement 3×8.
  • Week 12: 1×3 then 2×2 on core movements, followed by one auxiliary movement 3×8.
  • Week 13: 1×3,1×2,1×1 core movements.
  • Week 14: 1×1 with opening attempt.
  • Week 15: Deload- Rest, eat, sleep, relax.

Now let’s really break down weeks 11 through meet week so that you fully understand what to expect. During week 11 you are still doing 3×3 for your core lifts. This should be more than you had done previously, but again not any weights you should miss.

These would be about 85% of your perceived max. You are only doing one auxiliary movement, and I wouldn’t want it to be a compound movement. Some sort of isolation work that is easy on the body.

During week 12 your first set of three will be about the same weight as your first set of three the previous week. Your 2×2 will be about 88% of your perceived max.

Week 13 will be the heaviest of the training cycle. Your first set of 1×3 would be your last warm up at the meet. The 1×2 would be about 10-30lbs less than your opening attempting (depending on strength levels), and the 1×1 would be about 10-20lbs over your opening attempt.

Week 14 you will be doing 1 set with your opening attempt weight. It should move extremely fast and easy. You don’t win meets on opening attempts, but you sure can lose it.

Your last week, deload, you will rest for a full 7 days before the meet.  Assuming that you are not cutting weight, eat, drink fluids, rest. Maybe do some active recovery things, especially if you have to travel far for the meet.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully this training template gives you some guidance on a real basic way to peak for your upcoming competition. Sure there are tons of ways to accomplish this, I am just sharing some basic ideas to help you prepare for the things to come.  Keep to the basic rules, start light and progress, don’t miss lifts during training, make smart decisions, and leave the max lifts for the platform.

If you would like to see an example of this template used preparing for a meet you can find it here , as Robert Dela Rosa prepares for the LA Fit Expo.


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