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.

Posted by Tony Montgomery under Weight Lifting  Training  on Jan 07 2016

No matter how strong you are or how long you’ve been lifting there will come a time where you hit a plateau and the PR’s quit coming. It’s at this time you have two choices, one crawl up in a little ball, cry and quit lifting all together or you take the time to find your weaknesses and build on them. The problem is figuring it out and having the wherewithal to stay the course and do the work. In a society of instant gratification I know the idea of putting in work is a farce but bare with me here. 


Its not an earth shattering revelation to know in order to improve you have to build up your weaknesses, but the way its gone about is sometimes wrong. There are a few steps you can take to eliminate them. First you have to diagnose where the weakness is. Secondly you have to find the exercises to build them up. Lastly you need to know how you should incorporate these exercises into your program.

First things first although a miss in training is not ideal it will provide you with some great feedback as to what may be the weakest link. When I say a miss I mean a miss within the 1-3 rep range, misses outside of that range may be from fatigue or loss of tightness than an actual muscular weakness. The importance of recording your working sets comes into play here,yes your videos can be used for more than just social media. Going over your sets and your missed reps is a good way to figure out whats going wrong. It will allow you to critique and analyze you set up to your movement patterns and to where the actual breakdown occurs. What I like to do when i am breaking down my clients videos, is i first look at the set up, have to make sure thats good or else the lift may be doomed from the start. Secondly I look from feet to waist whether it be bench, squat or deadlift and make sure things are were they are suppose to be. Finally from the waist up I’ll go over the rest. After you do this you should be able to pinpoint where the weakness is and start to hammer it away. If you can’t figure it out still try using a different angle or hire a coach who’s been doing it a while and a real coach not someone who just reads research papers and trains in his moms basement.


Now I can’t go over every scenario if X happens do Y but here is a quick run down of things to look for during the big three lifts.



  • Feet, rotating in and out or forwards and backwards
  • Knees, are they tracking right or caving in
  • Upper back, does it round or over arched
  • Breathing and Bracing
  • Does ass shoot up



  • Legs, tight and are they being used
  • Elbows, to tucked or flared to much
  • Stabilization in the movement
  • Breathing and bracing



  • Feet, where the pressure is going
  • Upper back, rounding or over arching
  • Knees caving in
  • Neutral Spine
  • Breathing and Bracing
  • Does ass shoot up

Once you have determined what the underlying cause is behind your weak ass lifts and you’ve come to the realization that excuses won’t fix it, then its time to get to work. A few things to consider in the scope of picking exercises to fix your weaknesses, one don’t just follow what the masses say, meaning if you have a weak lockout don’t just go immediately to board presses. Remember your muscles are weak not your movement, so find exercises that will build on that specific muscle group. Two if you find a good exercise don’t just do it once and think that you fixed everything. I see a lot of people say “I have weak hips so I did block pulls today to work it.” and instead of them doing that every week to build up their weakness they do something different. Don’t be afraid to do the same exercises each week if they work and how do you know they work if you don’t give them time to. Building up a weakness takes time it won’t be fixed in one session so be patient.


Building up a weak area takes time, lots and lots of time. To build up a muscle, you have to first increase the size of it. The best way to increase the size of a muscle you have to train it in the higher rep ranges with sub maximal weights, think like a bodybuilder. A bigger muscle will eventually become a stronger muscle because you’ve increased the muscle size you’ll be able to recruit more muscle fibers when it comes time to contract it. Now that you know how to build up a weak muscle you need to know where to put it into your plan. Always keep in mind when building up a weakness you DO NOT want to neglect what you’re already strong at. So keep your strong complex lifts first and second. Your exercises after the first two should all be dedicated to building with hypertrophy work. Here is an example of a squat workout just so you can get a visual of how things should be laid out.


Main Squat Movement- 3-5 rep range for 3-5 sets

Secondary Squat Movement- 4-6 rep range for 3-4 sets

Weak Body Part Accessory- 8-12 reps for 4-5 sets

Weak Body Part Accessory- 12-20 reps for 4-5 sets

Weak Body Part Accessory- 8-12 reps for 3 sets


Keep in mind these accessories are geared towards building up your squats, Your bench and deadlifts will look similar but make sure they are specific to your main exercise. If you can’t get it all in during your split maybe think of adding in anther day specifically for accessories.

Posted by Tony Montgomery under General  Weight Lifting  on Sep 27 2015

Q: How and why did you get into weightlifting? What are your numbers?


A: I was fist introduced to weightlifting through crossfit. I had never heard of the movements snatch or clan and jerk before than. But fell in absolute love with it. My top numbers are a 308# snatch and a 390# clean and jerk.

Q: How was it training at the Olympic Training Center? What was the biggest take away from there?

A:Training and living at the olympic training center was an absolutely amazing experience. Being considered a top athlete and being treated like one is a once in a lifetime opportunity that I am lucky to have. Every day was hard work there but you are given the means to put that effort and focus so you can go in and day out with doing your job. I received some of the best coaching from zygmunt smalcerz and am fortunate enough to be able to share his knowledge.

Q: Where do you train at and what does your training week look like?

A: I train at multiple gyms in the bay area one being CSA in Dublin and my home gym at norcal crossfit. I train usually 6 days a week, twice a week over at CSA and the rest at norcal crossfit. 

Q: How do approach lifting and programming? Does it change much from offseason to meet prep, if so how?

A:I try to approach my lifting in a different way since I have left the training center to a more organic fashon. This meaning that i like to listen to what my body is telling me and then take the days focus to what weakness needs to be worked on for that day. This has proven to work well for me but i am going to switch back to what i was doing at the training center but add a little more powerlifting philosephy. My training doesnt change much preparing for a meet, i might taper a few days out but i like to remain as consistant as possible. There is no offseason.


Q: Best advice you can give to a lifter?

A: Best advice would be to keep lifting and keep fighting no matter how defeated you feel.

Q: What drives you to come to the gym day in and day out?

A: this answer changes all the time for me. It really depends on my mindset and my goals. As of lately my motivation has been displaced and i need to refocus and rediscover what keeps me coming in and what makes me go hard.

Q: Give you best advice on how to improve these:

A:The goal is consistancy so the more lifting you can do the better. Perfect practice makes perfect. 

Clean: Focus on strength positions such as front squat and pulls from ground

Jerk: understanding footwork and building consistancy 

Snatch: Do it over and over and over

Q: What do you have coming up and where can people find you/get ahold of you?

No events as of the moment, possibly the american open in december but you can find me at norcal crossfits barbell club and my website at

Posted by Tony Montgomery under Weight Lifting  Training  Video  on Sep 19 2015

This is an old article I wrote for were I go over complexes to help improve power output in athletes. This can also be used in other strength athletic training to improve power out put for strongman, highland games, etc... For those who don't know I used to own a gym in Florida where I trained a lot of high scholl and college athletes. Over this summer I had a few college kids down and a dozen high scholl athletes and by the end of the summer utilizing these complexes we had 2 kids jump over 40" in the vertical. Here is the article in full:

These complexes were used in the beginning of our off-season plan when we were focusing on strength and explosive power. We lifted four times a week with two upper body days and two lower body days. On our max effort lower body days, we worked up to heavy 1–3 reps in 90 percent of the athletes’ one rep max for that particular exercise. All the guys who were on this protocol were experienced lifters who could squat twice their body weight or more. This is a must. If your athlete can’t perform this feat, he should focus on increasing that. Do his plyometric training on another day.

The protocol that we used worked in three-week waves where we focused on our main lift. After completing the 1–3 rep lifts, the athletes waited 2–5 minutes before going into the plyometric protocol. This will vary with every athlete due to their strength levels and how fast they recover from the lift. Each athlete then performed 5–10 sets of 1–3 reps of plyometrics. We did a vertical jump the first week and a horizontal jump the second week. Then we went back to a vertical jump on the third week. On the fourth week, we deloaded and focused on deceleration drills off a 12-inch box.

In the next three-week cycle, we added more volume to the plyometrics. Remember to monitor your athletes’ central nervous system and recovery because not all athletes are created equal. For the first week of this cycle, we added in a depth jump into a vertical jump. We did this because the depth jumps are more taxing on the central nervous system than any other jump, so we wanted to do this in the first week following a deload. On the second week of the program, we went back to a horizontal plyometric, and on the third week, we incorporated a vertical jump. We then deloaded the same way as discussed earlier.

After this eight-week protocol, we moved our athletes to a three day a week training split to accommodate for the extra running that we were incorporating. We lifted three days a week, doing two upper and one lower body day and then we began a running phase where we were out running three days a week. On our lower body days, we took out our plyometrics and added them into our running days. We did a dynamic warm up and then started off with weighted acceleration drills. After five sets of ten-yard sprints, we went into our plyometric protocol of vertical plyometrics on one day and horizontal plyometrics on another. The third running day was sport specific so we didn’t incorporate plyometrics. We did this for three weeks and deloaded on the fourth.

After this 12-week cycle of intensive plyometrics, we tested our player’s verticals. We had two guys jump 40 inches and five other guys increased their verticals by at least two inches. Some even increased by four inches.

Try this protocol out with your athletes and see how the explosive power and speed increase. View the two 40-inch verticals. Remember, these are just high school kids.

Posted by Tony Montgomery under Weight Lifting  Training  on Sep 17 2015

Peaking for a meet is not a magical answer to increase your total by 100lbs but if done properly it can help with a 3-5% increase which can be the difference between 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place. So properly peaking for a meet can be crucial for success but it won’t make you a world record holder. With that being said keep training hard throughout and push heavy weight leading into a meet, its better to be strong, instead of being “peaked” by dropping heavy weights off to soon. This is both a neurological adaptation and physical as long as your technique is good, if you have bad technique and grind out reps recovery will be harder and you will need more time.


Onto what you guys came for peaking for a meet!! Now this may change if you use the conjugate method but if prepping for a meet I am a firm believer in doing competition lifts first so to get technically proficient at the lifts and to increase sport specific strength for the lifts since we have to perform them on meet day. Football players don’t play basketball all week then go play on Sundays, they practice their sport at a high level of mastery. Thats my quick rant on how you should train leading up to the meet, keep it simple and do the lifts.


Throughout the course of a meet prep, if done correctly we build up a lot of volume and accumulate a ton of fatigue. Muscle fatigue and central nervous fatigue, this is what we want. This accumulation of fatigue and volume should increase on a week to week basis in a somewhat linear fashion. For example if at 10 weeks out you hit a bunch of sets at 6 reps with a moderate weight around 65-75% of your 1rm and leaving a few reps in the tank. The next week at 9 weeks out you have two choices to increase work load, you can either up the weight and do the same amount of reps and sets or you can keep weight the same and do a few more reps or sets the main thing is we want to increase the weekly load and since you are prepping for a meet where the emphasis is on performing a 1 rep max than I would choose to increase the weight throughout the prep and not the reps and sets.


Strength can be acquired through many different ways and styles but the bread and butter of strength gains should be done in the 3-5 rep range and with specific or very slight variations of the competition movements. With this in mind doing a 4-6 week strength phase before a 4-5 week peak phases is ideal for going into a meet. This will vary on the ability and level of the lifter. A beginner lifter can spend more time in the strength phase, while an advanced lifter will need more time in the peaking phase. Not only is that a consideration but the size of the lifter and the amount of weight being lifted plays a role. If you are a bigger stronger lifter you will need even more time to recover so you may have a 8-10 peak phase of lower reps and emphasis on recovery in between workouts, where as if you are a smaller lifter but still strong you may not need to rest as much just due to the shear load difference. Now for me I am a firm believer in not missing reps in training and not chasing lifts, so throw out what you want to hit and always listen to your body and get the prescribed reps and sets for the day. Meaning don’t set a number in your head and think that no matter what I will hit that today, strength and technique are not built through missed lifts, but rather through good quality reps.


So after your strength phase is complete you’ve accumulated quite a bit of fatigue through training and now its time to dump that fatigue so your body starts to recover and you’ll be at your best come meet time. This does not mean take days off or not to train as heavy it just means to drop the volume and to solely focus on sports specificity, the squat, bench, and deadlift. To peak for a meet look to do sets in the 1-3 rep range but mostly doubles and triples. A good way to look at it is say your last week of the strength phase you did 6 sets of 4 at 85% of your 1rm. Starting your peak phase week 1 you will look to drop the volume by 1/3 so you’ll do 4 sets of 3 at 87-90% depending on how you feel that day. Peaking for a meet is a feeling out process day to day and week to week so thats why its extremely important not to chase numbers. We don’t want any misses in training especially during the peak. So week 1 is 4 sets of 3 at 87-90%, week 2 would look like 2-3 sets of 2 reps at 90-93% rep range and also at this point we start to drop almost all high rep accessory work and just stick to compound movements that mimic the competition lifts as close as possible. So if you’re doing 2 sets of pause bench, then your secondary movement should also be 2 sets of 2 reps with say close grip bench or wide grip bench depending on your weaknesses and your comp grip. Week 3 will be your your absolute least amount of volume so it will look like 1 top set of a single at 95-97%. Week 4 you deload and will be ready to go when you step on the platform. 


A few things to consider when peaking for a meet. If you are cutting weight fatigue may accumulate faster so you may have to drop accessory work further out and really focus on rest. If you are training at a high frequency say 5-6 times a week you don't necessarily want to drop the frequency but rather just the volume and accessories as the meet comes closer. If you train at a high frequency don't take the week off of the meet, if you do you will be flat and lethargic, rather still get the 3 lifts in 2-3x that week depending on the lifter at 50-60% for a few sets and reps. Think of this week as active recovery and fine tuning your technique. Trust me if you train 5-6 times per week taking off 2-3 days before the meet is like a months worth of rest. Peaking is a combonation of reducing fatigue, increasing intensity, but still keeping fitness as high as possible, so take a look at how your training is set up and plan accordingly so you can come in and dominate on meet day. Please remember that this is a brief template of a peak and my principles behind it but it will differ from person to person so don’t be afraid to experiment with different ways to peak and find what works best for you.

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