Posted by Tony Montgomery under General  Weight Lifting  Training  on May 10 2016

DOWN!!! The only sound you hear after you've finished your last deadlift on the platform. You either just finished with a great day or you are scratching your head trying to figure out what went wrong. One way or the other this is the time that we as lifters are our most introspective. We sit and ponder how to get better and ways to improve on our performance never really taking a second to just relax and appreciate the effort you just put in for that one day on the platform. As a true competitior its hard not to just go straight into thoughts of improvement, we just don't have time to waste on enjoying the momemt. So with great zeal and desire we hit the gym with no time to rest. The next step you take will determine how your next meet will go because its not so much what you do during meet prep that will determine the outcome but what you do in the offseason that will determine how your meet prep goes and thus how your day on the platform will go. So take your time to put in the detail of your off season plan because far to often I see lifters say things like I am just having fun for now and will start getting serious in a couple of weeks. Meanwhile the great ones are already in the gym with a specific agenda and a plan on what to do next. They know how they want to train, what their diet looks like and what they want to do at their next meet. Keep these things in mind as you set up your off season plan.

The set up is very simple, at the end of your meet I am sure you have a general idea of when you want to compete next. The stronger you are the more rest and work you need to put in before your next meet, the newer and weaker you are can compete a little more often to get a good feel for meets and how to set yourself up to perform at a high level with practice. Once you have a general date picked out than you want to map out what kind of blocks or phases you want to run and for how long you want to run it for. Leading into a meet as the weights get heavier you should get a feel for what you need to work on and it will become more evident on meet day. Also leading up to a meet you will be at a higher intensity and lower volume to prepare for the meet.  These things are very important before moving onto the actual planning and exercise selection moving forward.
1. When is your next meet?
2. What are your weaknesses?
3. How do you want to set up your training blocks/phases?

Look if your answer to number 2 is everything than sure work everything because it makes no difference because you are to lazy to take the time to pinpoint your weaknesses and build them up so you will inevitably fail and not improve. Why you ask? Its simple because you just can't fix everything in one training cycle and everything can't be weak or else you would crumble under the bar when you go to lift. 

So now that you have made a decision on those 3 things it's time to set up your plan moving forward. After a meet prep your work capacity has pretty much gone to crap and you need to develop some weak areas. Two ways to improve on those two things is volume, supersets, and hiit cardio. You need to really take these next 4-6 weeks to get back in shape and healthy again. So going into a volume block designed to build up your work capacity is a great idea. A few ideas to consider during this phase is to try to make the heavier compound movments harder by doing pre exhaust sets. An example of this would be doing 3 sets of 15 leg curls and leg extensions superset and than go into some squat movements. I prefer to go away from the competition lifts slighlty and also different stances and or grips. So for my squat days I like to do high bar close stance, belt squats, front squats, and leg presses. This takes the bar off my back and allows me to develop my weaker muscles which for me are my quads. i do the same thing with bench and pulls. I bench with a wide grip so I do a lot of close grip work, floor presses, DB's and Inclines. Pulls I go to conventional pulls and a lot of SLDL and RDL's. These moves I haven't touched in probably 8-10 weeks so the new variations themselves will creat a training stimulus and the fact that they are weaker for me I don't have to go as heavy to get the same type of growth which will allow my joints time to recover. I will do this phase with a lot of BB style movements and rep/set schemes. 

After these 4-6 weeks I will do another 4-6 weeks with the same emphasis but switch up the exercises slightly, for me just by switching up the movemtns I will get huge benefits but I give each movement careful consideration on how it will help bring up my main lifts and I also use these movments the whole time because I need to give them time to work and grow. I am not a fan of switching exercises every week or two because to me if you picked this exercise because its a weakness of yours than hammer it away by hitting it for weeks on end. 

After 8-12 weeks of volume work I will go into a 4-6 week strength phase were the exercises get a little more specific and I lower the volume slightly and raise the intensity. the reason behind this is to make sure all your volume work is paying off. It is hard to see if you brough up a weak area with volume, you have to handle some heavier weights to see if things have change. Same thing goes with any type of imbalance as well you put in the work to fix it but you have to eventually test it to make sure it is getting better. During this strength phase I will drop the hiit cardio and just focus on restorative cardio like a bike or walking that way my fitness doesn't completely plummet.

These are just a few considerations to planning out a long and successful off season to keep building up a bigger and bigger foundation so when its time to peak for meet you have a higher ceiling to reach.

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