Updated: Jun 23, 2019
Imagine this scenario; you have stuck to your training program through 9 of the 12 months of your program. Your end goal is near in sight. You are now ready to dive into the final phase of preparation. Just three short months are between you and achievement!
Here is what you need to do to peak for your big meet.
First, you need to determine where you are in the most critical areas of your training. I suggest you consider the following.
Your body weight
Calculate total training volume, and training volume between 70-85% intensity of full lifts.
Determine max strength/ max strength as a % of lifts
Compile the hours of training, and and HR data you have.
Let us start with weight management.
Managing your weight is crucial. In general, the lighter weight class athletes have a little less wiggle room as typically they have less water weight as a portion of total body weight. To clarify a 100kg lifter will have less water in the body than a 150kg lifter.
I like to have our lighter class athletes be around 3kg over their comp weight 3 months out from the meet they are peaking for. Mid weight athletes can be about 5kg over and upper class maybe even up to 7kg over. Above that we are looking at some significant weight loss that could be hard to manage.
With this I always offer one exception. There are athletes who cut weight like a champ and can handle water cuts with no decrease in performance. If you are extremely experienced and feel comfortable with how you cut weight then read no further on the point.
As you reach the final weeks of your weight cut you are going to weight check and we want you to roughly loose 1/3 of what you need to lose each month out, so that by the time you are in your final 4 weeks of prep you only have to worry about a KG or 2, and because you have done this gradually your body is now use to the lower bodyweight and thus you don’t feel the negative effects of a weight cut when you are training or on meet day.
Training Volume and Intensity
This is probably my favorite thing to talk about because training volume and intensity can be manipulated in a few different ways.
At Lift Lab we keep multiple exercises in the program for up to about 4 to 6 weeks from the competition. When we get to this point we cut out the majority of the program and focus on the most sports specific movements. So we snatch, clean and jerk, and front squat. Naturally this will take down the total training volume.
Prior to this we have ramped up volume so as we reach the final 4-6 weeks we know we can decrease this volume and still be in good shape for meet day.
During this final 4 to 6 week push, we take the intensity up. We try to maintain the volume that we have built in the 70 to 85% range (we may decrease it slightly), but we never completely abandon this range of work.
We significantly increase the amount of work done at 90% and above. In general, we try to go above 90% 2x per week with multiple reps and occasionally we will go above 90% 3x per week.
***If we do this, it is usually with the lighter class athletes who typically handle the volume better than heavier athletes.
For reference outside of this final block we would only go to 90% or above roughly every 10 to 12 days. So you can see how we are ramping up for the intensity of competition.
One word of caution. If you athletes are responding poorly to jumping into this intensity build it over the course of 6 weeks, so that maybe you are not hitting that 90%+ twice per week until you are three weeks out from your taper.
Determining Max strength
As you get to about 4 weeks out we want to just hang on to the strength you have, we are no longer trying to build max strength. Typically, the squat program gets really vanilla. Like 3x3 HAP, which means as heavy as possible. If athletes have an extremely high percentage of max strength to lifts you may not need to squat at all as the strength reserve is so high. You could save energy for the 90%+ lifts.
Fitness—the forgotten aspect.
Last and certainly not least we need to take a look at the 9 months of training that have lead to this point. How fit have you been? In some cases, athletes are training double days and have developed quite a big of work capacity.
Often times when athletes peak for meets they let the fitness aspect of training go. This is a mistake because your fitness level is what allows you to train at a high intensity and is what bolsters recovery. If you are always feeling gassed on competition days when the clean and jerk portion of the competition starts, you should really re-evaluate your fitness level.
In cases where athlete were training double days we will typically reduce the amount of 2-a- days and on the 2-a-day sessions we will work some aerobic capacity.
I know this contradicts what I said earlier about dropping everything that is not specific to the sport. This is the one exception. I want the athletes to maintain fitness so you will see our athletes pedaling on a bike for 20 to 30 min 3x a week at a HR of 130 to 150bpm. The intensity is enough to stimulate recovery and aerobic development. Just enough to keep us training hard! Not so much that it is fatiguing.
Planning a Taper
The very last thing you need to plan out is your taper leading up to the big day. In general, we use a 10-day taper—the 10th day is competition day. Turing the taper the goal is to keep the athlete feeling connected to their technique without over stressing the body too much. In some circles this is referred to as super compensation which I talk about in this article.
Anyway you slice it-- your taper should be way less volume than what your final training block called for. CLICK HERE for an example of what our final taper looks like for our athletes.
Take all of these points into consideration and email me if you have any questions! In general your last 3-months of training should be just as planned and structured as your first 9 or more. If you are slacking on planning you need to get with it! You should have a year round plan that keeps you on track to achieve your goals!