What’s Your Perspective

I will be posting last night’s training log and videos later tonight, but I thought I would share this quick story.

Last night was my last heavy squat day before my up-coming meet. As I was getting ready for my second to last heavy set, one of my lifting partner’s children came out to the gym.

Looking at the bar, she said “Why’s the bar bending so much?”

My partner turned to her and said, “Honey, there’s a lot of weight on there.”

I didn’t think much of this until I was driving to work this morning. It’s a funny thing being a competitive powerlifter. We sometime forget that our perspective or what may seem perfectly normal to us, like a bar bending under a half ton of weight, is in fact not normal at all. And even beyond that, we get under the bar to squat it.



Comments and questions are always welcome.


Week 10 Speed Day

Being three weeks out from the meet and having to incorporate both speed squat and bench day together, I decided to do something a little different.  To take it easy I decided to do all the exercises with bands.

2 sets x 5 reps x 1 Super Heavy
8 sets x 2 reps x 1 Super Heavy, 1 Heavy Black

Seated Hyperextensions with Bands
3 sets x 15 reps x Gray
1 set x 15 reps x Heavy Black

Band Hip Rounds
3 sets x 15 reps x Gray

4 sets x 15 reps x Small Black

2 sets x 5 reps x Mini Black
9 sets x 3 reps x 2 Mini Black

3 sets x 15 reps x ½ Peach Across Shoulders

Triceps Extensions
4 sets x 20 reps x Light Black

In theory, my plan to use only bands to take it easy sounded great, but I will tell you this; I felt like it. When I got home from the workout, I was beat but I wasn’t too sore. It was a nice change.



Week 10

I’m very pleased with this week’s heavy days. I’m right on target for the meet. I like to set goals for myself each week that I feel will maximize my efforts leading into a meet, and as for this week, I hit all of them.

4-3-2012 – Max Squat Day
This week for the squat was my last heavy top-end weight workout. I find that Band-Assisted squats are the best for this. These are a great way to get your Central Nervous System (CNS) ready to handle the monster weights. My goal for the meet is 1,060+ lbs., so I wanted to unrack and hold more weight than that prior to competition. This way when I get to the meet and attempt my goal, my body and CNS will be ready to handle the weight.

I set my goal for this week’s workout to 1,100 lbs. bar weight (top-end) with about 80-90% of my max in the hole. This translates to approximately 250 lbs. of help from the bands. My workout went as follows:

Band-Assisted Squats
260 lbs. top, 10 lbs. hole
350 lbs. top, 100 lbs. hole
460 lbs. top, 710 lbs. hole
550 lbs. top, 300 lbs. hole
660 lbs. top, 410 lbs. hole
770 lbs. top, 520 lbs. hole
860 lbs. top, 610 lbs. hole
930 lbs. top, 700 lbs. hole
1040 lbs. top, 790 lbs. hole
1110 lbs. top, 860 lbs. hole

Leg Extensions
120 lbs. 3 sets x 15 rep

Leg Curls
100 lbs. 3 sets x 15 reps

4-4-2012 – Max Bench Day
Today’s bench workout is the second week in Lester and my plan leading into the meet. Last week was three board presses so this week I dropped a board and went to two boards. The goal in this plan is to try to keep the weights the same but drop a board each week. Next week will be one board presses.

I was pretty pleased with this workout. I was able to go up to 700 lbs. again. This week it didn’t feel like I was holding a house in my hands.

2 Board Bench Press
135 lbs. x 5
135 lbs. x 5
225 lbs. x 5
225 lbs. x 5
315 lbs. x 3
365 lbs. x 1 – Start board
455 lbs. x 1 – Start shirt
545 lbs. x 1
610 lbs. x 1
710 lbs. x 1

Floor Press with Bumbells
80 lbs. x 3 sets x 15 reps

Close Grip Four Board Press
225 lbs. x 10
275 lbs. x 10
325 lbs. x 10



My Book is Finally Complete!

It’s been more than a year, but my book on squatting is finally complete. It’s now available as Paperback: https://www.createspace.com/3826447 or Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B007R7FBJ4 and should be available for the Nook in the next few days.


I’d like to thank everyone who helped me to accomplish this, especially the members of Team Jax.

By the way, I will try and post Week 10 training logs tonight.




Week 9: Speed Squat Day

Not much to report today, but I figured it was important to start posting the speed (light) day workouts. Being only five weeks out from my meet, it’s time to start taking the light days lighter. The plan for the next few weeks is to push the max effort (heavy) days to the max or beyond, so I will be conserving myself for those days.

Today was speed squat day.

Chain Box Squats
3 sets x 3 reps. – Bar (55 lbs.) with 80 lbs. of chains
8 sets x 2 reps.  – 140 lbs. with 80 lbs. of chains

New Exercise!
Seated Hyperextensions with Bands
2 sets – Peach bands for 15 reps
4 sets – Gray bands for 15 reps

Standing Crunches on Cable Machine
80 lbs. 20 reps
100 lbs. 20 reps
100 lbs. 20 reps

That was it. Light!

Let me explain how to do the Seated Hyperextensions.  I was sitting on the floor stretching thinking I wanted to do hyperextensions but we don’t have a machine to do them on. Even if we did, I wanted to do something that would work like them but wasn’t too taxing on my lower back. I wanted to get more of a stretch than a burn.  What I ended up coming up with was this:

  1. Take a band and wrap it around  an upright on the bench press, about 16 inches off the floor
  2. Put a box or four board up against the upright
  3. Push your feet against the box
  4. Grasp each end of the band with your hands
  5. Straighten your legs to pull the slack out of the bands
  6. Bending at your waist, lean backward until your shoulders hit the floor, keeping you back straight
  7. Sit back up slowly not letting the bands pull you back up

If you do these correctly, you will feel strain in your lower back but not too bad. Also, an added benefit for all you bigger guys who can’t touch your toes, it will give you a nice stretch in your hamstrings when you sit back up.

Advise of the day: When training for a meet, take the light days lighter so you can take the heavy days heavier.



Q & A: Squatting Questions…

Yesterday I received an email from fellow master lifter, Steve Peterson. Steve is based out of West Richland, Washington and is currently getting ready for the APF Master Nationals, being held at the end of May in Baton Rouge, LA. Steve is currently ranked 4th in the squat, 6th in the deadlift and 9th for total on Powerliftingwatch.com’s Master Men’s rankings. He has a 925 lbs. squat and is looking to break that 1,000 lb. barrier in May. I was glad to help him with some advice, the email chain is below.

I need to pick your brain. Are you only squatting once a week? No speed day?
I am 8.5 weeks out from Masters Nationals. Got a good template you could throw out for me to bump me over 1000?
I did a 925 my last meet in Oct. Then I had my prostate removed due to cancer. They got it all.
My template has been Monday: Speed Bench, Tricep work. Tuesday: lower back and upper back work. Thursday: Max effort bench, tricep work.
Saturdays: Max effort squat, Have SSB, Cambered bar, Texas Squat bar. Rotating all.
Can’t wait to get your book. I want a signed one brother!
Thank you,

My Reply:


First, I’m sorry to hear about the cancer and I glad to hear everything is going well now.

As for your questions, I always squat twice a Week, unless I deadlift on the heavy (max) day. I don’t like to miss light (speed) days at all. Those are the days to get the soreness out. I like to have at least three days between the heavy and light day. If I squat on Monday, I do speed on Thursday. From what you stated, it looks like you already split your week up appropriately; just add the speed squats on Tuesday and take the back exercises a little lighter.

Now, leading into a meet, save most of the effort on the max days. As the max day workouts get harder and the weights get heavier, lower the weights on the speed days. Normally, on a speed day you would do squats for 10 sets of doubles with 40-50% of your max weight. Drop the percentage down to about 20-30%. Use these days to recover and work on form.

As for a meet program, I usually start 12 – 13 Weeks out.  This is my current program going into the APF Single-Ply Nationals.

Week 1:  Safety Bar – Raw
Week 2: Box Deadlifts – Raw
Week 3: Band Assisted Squats – Raw
Week 4: Chain Squats – Raw
Week 5: Deadlifts – Suited
Week 6: Squat – Briefs Only
Week 7: Safety Bar Squat – Briefs Only
Week 8: Chain Squats – Suited
Week 9: Deadlifts – Suited
Week 10: Band Assisted – Suited to 115-120% of max at the top
Week 11: Squat – Suited to 90-95% of Goal
Week 12: Squat – 3 sets 5 reps with warm-up weight
Week 13: Meet Day!

As you can see, I like to start off a meet program doing the exercises raw. This gives me a good gauge of where I am strength wise. As the weeks progress, I will start with the briefs, so I can start getting my body used to handling the heavier weights. By the time I’m five weeks out, I start with the suit, again allowing me to go heavier and get even more accustomed to the heavy weights.

If you have chains and bands then try to incorporate chain squats and band assisted squats when you are about 5 weeks out. Either one of these exercises allows you to overload the top-end weight.

You want the top-end weight to be around 15 – 20% over your max. Now this may sound crazy, but if you use a lot of chain weight on the chain squats or a lot of bands on the band assisted squats, then it’s not so bad.

Let’s say you use 300 lbs. of chain weight, with your max of 925 lbs. you would need to go up to 1,060 lbs. at the top (15% over max). In the hole the weight will only be 1,060 – 300 = 760 lbs. (around 80% of your max). Now add another 60 lbs. of chains. Still at the top the weight is 1,060 lbs.  Taking away 360 lbs. leaves 700 lbs. (76 % of max).  This will do two things. First it will get you used to un-racking weight much heavier than your 1,000 lb. goal.  Second, you will be able to work on blasting the weight up out of the hole. The same theory applies to the band assisted squats. You will want to do these exercises fully suited so you get used to the heavy weight in your gear.

As for the rest of the program, two weeks out is for working out the kinks in the gear and to push yourself to a heavy weight that’s close to your goal. One week out if for rest, take it light and do some reps. Just enough to get the blood flowing but not enough to feel sore.

As for light days, as I said earlier, the heavier you go on the max days, the lighter you go on the light days. I only use 235 lbs. for my speed sets when I’m in the middle of a meet program, sometimes only 195 lbs.

I hope this helps. If you have any questions, let me know.

Good luck and keep me informed.




Week 9: Max Bench

As I said in my last bench press post, Lester Estevez and I decided on a new bench program leading into the meet. This week was shirted three boards to a max.

The plan for today was to get at least 6 working sets in the shirt. Now to get close to my goal weight for the meet (675+ lbs.), I did multiple sets for each warm up set, then shirted up and took a big jump. As the weights got heavier, the jumps got smaller. I was very pleased with the outcome.

Bar x 10
Bar x 10
135 lbs. x 10
135 lbs. x 10
225 lbs. x 5
225 lbs. x 5
315 lbs. x 3

Start Boards and Shirt
445 lbs. x 1
545 lbs. x 1
585 lbs. x 1
635 lbs. x 1
660 lbs. x 1
700 lbs. x 1

Flat Bench Dumbbell Press, Wide
70 lbs. x 12
70 lbs. x 12
70 lbs. x 12

Triceps Pushdowns with Thick V-Bar
80 lbs. x 12
100 lbs. x 12
110 lbs. x 12
110 lbs. x 12

One more thing about my workout, my cousin-in-law, Melanie, is an AdvoCare rep. For the past few weeks she has been sending me supplements to try. Now, I’m not much for taking supplements, but I figured I’d try them and let her know how they worked. Today I tried their O2 Gold along with their Rehydrate product. She informed me to take 2 O2 Golds 60-70 minutes before my workout and I should feel some good strength effects. So I did. I will tell you this, the warm-up sets were feeling heavy and the first two sets in my shirt felt heavy, but, about an hour or so after taking the O2 Gold, the heaviest sets felt great.  This has me convinced; I’m going to have to pick up a bottle for the meet.  If you want more details about their products, you can find Melanie on Facebook, http://www.facebook.com/melanie.churchwell, she would be glad to help you.



Week 9 – Dealifts

This was Week 9 in my training cycle leading into the APF Single-ply Nationals. Instead of squatting, I decided to do some deadlifts. I haven’t pulled for a month and figured I would give a go today.

The last time I pulled, I was trying to get back my old sumo technique. It went real well that day, I was able to pull 675 lbs. for the first time in years.

Today so I was excited to try sumo again but it went very badly. I blame myself. You see, at lunch today I went to the all you can eat sushi bar. Well, I sure did eat all I could, thinking that it would be digested by the time I deadlifted tonight. It wasn’t!

It’s not fun deadlifting with a bloated stomach. Let me go through my workout and you can see how bad it was.

145 x 3 x 2 sets.
245 x 3 x 2 sets – So far so good, I was raw no belt
335 x 1 – still good (raw no belt)
445 x 1 – Started briefs and belt – I could not get into position
535 x 1  – Briefs, suit and belt. I could not get in position and had to horse the weight up. SAD!
535 x 1 – Changed into conventional suit and pulled conventional, still had to horse the weight up
645 x 1 – Raw and belt – horsed the weight up

After that terrible deadlift session, I was pretty much spent. I had to horse the weight up too many times and with a full, bloated belly, I couldn’t breathe very well. I took it easy for the rest of the workout:

Leg Extensions
4 sets 120 lbs. x 15 reps.

Leg Curls
4 sets 100 lbs. x 15 reps.

The rest of the workout was me sitting around bullshitting with the guys.

One of the founding members of Team Jax, Randy Boynton, used to say, “When training up to a meet, you WILL have at least one bad day. Better to get it over with before getting to the meet.”

I can only hope this was my bad day. Next time, no all you can eat buffets before a heavy training day.


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Another Saturday Light Day Workout

Normally Team Jax likes to split up our light days into two days, one for bench and upper back and one for legs and lower back.  Due to member’s schedules, we are sometimes forced to do both in the same day. When this happens we like to limit the number of exercises to just a few for each major body part.

For the next few weeks leading into my next competition, the weights on my light days will be very light. I need more to go over the motions on these days and to save my energy for the heavy days.

Today’s workout went as follows:

Box Squat with medium bands
140 lbs. for 10 sets x 2 reps.

Bench Press
185 lbs. for 10 sets x 3 reps.

Cambered Bar Good Mornings
225 lbs. for 4 sets x 8 reps.

Band Hip Rounds*
Light band for 3 sets x 20 reps.

Lat Pulldowns with Fat Bar
220 lbs. for 4 sets x 10 reps.

Kettlebell Bent-over Rows
80 lbs. for 4 sets x 10 reps.

Straight Bar Bicep Curls
70 lbs. for 4 sets x 10 reps.

*I have no idea if the Banded Hip Rounds has a proper name or not, so I gave this exercise one of my own. What this exercise consists of is this. Take a light band and anchor it on the bottom of a bench or power rack. Take the band and stretch it out in front of the bench or rack. No take a chair and place it about four feet in front of the band. Stand behind the chair, on the same side of the band. Place the band over your foot and hold onto the back of the chair. Using you hip to start the motion, kick your leg up and out around the side of the chair until your knee lines up with the side of the chair. It’s almost like doing a knee raise but out to the side. This exercise works the hip flexors like you won’t believe.


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Crossing Over from Single-Ply to Multi-Ply Gear.

Recently I had a conversation with Chris Pappillion, a well-known lifter out of Texas. Chris currently competes in both the United States Powerlifting Association (USPA) and the United States Powerlifting Federation (USPF) in the single-ply gear. Right now he is ranked 3rd in the 242 lb. weight class on PowerliftingWatch.com’s lifter rankings. He has decided to give it a try in multi-ply gear and compete in the upcoming Southern Powerlifting Federation (SPF) Longhorn Classic Powerlifting and Bench Press Championship being held in Texas next month. New to multi-ply gear, Chris asked me for some advice on how to make the transition from single-ply to the multi-ply gear.

Our conversation went as follows:

Chris: Man what’s the best way to cross over from single to multi-ply on squat?

Me:  Start with the suit first. Use your single-ply briefs under the multi-ply suit. Once you feel comfortable with that combination, train in the multi-ply briefs alone for a while to get used to them.  Next, put them both together. You will also need to brief and suit up early in your work outs. At 315 lbs., put on the briefs. At 500 lbs., put on the suit over the briefs. Always pull straps even if you can’t get down, this way you can get used to the gear with weight that is easy to handle.

You will also be forced to hold the bar higher on your back with the ticker material, so put the mono-lift up a little higher than your normal rack height. This way you can get set up properly under the bar.

The biggest thing with multi-ply gear is that you need to stay upright throughout the lift as much as possible, from start to finish. If you aren’t upright, the gear will try and keep you locked in the wrong position and it will be hard to get back into the position during the lift. It’s not as forgiving as single-ply gear.

Chris: So you think I should use a multi-suit no briefs to get used to it first?

Me:  You can do that or use the multi-ply briefs alone first. Either way, use one or the other, not both, until you get used to them, then put them together.

What suit and briefs are you using?

Chris: Titan Boss suit and Titan Boss briefs! I hit 900 lbs. in the suit alone no straps but when I put the briefs on, 900 lbs. is 3 inches high and at this meet we have to break or bomb!

Me: Do you have single-ply briefs?

Chris: Yes!

Me:  What kind? Titan?

Chris: Yes! Should I do legless or regular?

Me:  Try the regular; the longer leg will let the suit slide up on top of them better and get settled in more on your body.

Chris: I’ll try it Friday. Joe thanks!

Me:  On the Boss suit you can get away with leaving the straps a little loose. Try it with the straps almost falling off your shoulders, then as the weight gets heavier, tighten them up accordingly.

Chris: What happens when I jack them? Man when I was going down with all that gear it messed my form up bad!! I got to get this multi-ply gear down, cause I already said I was going to do it! I want a 2,500 lb. total. I got the bench and dead just need the 1,000 lb. squat.

Me:  The most IMPORTANT thing to remember is to stay in form, if you don’t get down, don’t worry. Do not break form, just keep going up in weight until you can reach parallel.

Chris: K I got you man! Let me know when that book comes out I want one! You need to get dealers to sale it for you that shit will go Joe! You got enough credit to do it!!

K thanks

Me:  Good luck and keep me up to date on your progress.

When crossing over from single-ply to multi-ply gear or even the other way around; it is always a good idea to gear up early in your workouts. This way you can adjust your form with lighter weight. One last thing, remember the golden rule “DO NOT COMPROMISE YOUR FORM!” no matter what. To lift the big numbers you will need perfect form, so stay in form, break in the gear and squat.


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