The Powerlifters Off Season

Like most powerlifters, anything over 3 reps and I’m buggered. Lift heavy and then have a good lie down has made up the majority of my training leading up to a competition.

However, as I’ve mentioned before, after a competition is where I, and other powerlifters, can sometimes be lost with what training to do between competition preparation.

With just doing competition lifts for nearly a year, I started to hit a wall. After my competition in November I decided to move away from competition lifts, and work on weaknesses and build some muscle. This refreshed my body from the hammer of competition and made me hungry to get back on the platform.

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This was probably the most successful training I’ve had after a competition. For 9 weeks I steered away from competition lifts, putting on around 2kg of muscle and dropping over a kilo of fat. Above is my before and after photos after 3 weeks of training (I didn’t get a chance to get photos after the final week). I also found that when going back to the start of my training for my next competition, I felt so much stronger. I’m now lifting weights I was finishing on at the end of my prep for the November competition and feeling pretty damn strong!

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And all of this came from the wonders of triphasic training

So what is triphasic training?

Triphasic training focuses on the three phases of lifting separately, the eccentric, isometric and concentric. Focusing on these separate phases can address weaknesses and make your overall lifts much stronger.

Eccentric

An eccentric contraction is the lengthening of the muscle. Think the lowering part of a squat or bench press. I know for me, this really helped with my technique and controlling the bar.

The benefit of only training this phase of a lift is that if you can absorb more force and work on your technique of controlling the bar. The more force you can absorb, the more power you’ll be able to generate in the concentric phase.

Alongside this, eccentric training can pack on slabs of muscle because of the damage it causes to your muscles (as we know, when we use resistance training, our muscles are damaged and then rebuilt by consuming protein), and help with reducing the risk of injury.

However, be warned, DOMS can be an ever present after this type of training depending on the amount of volume. This is why I would suggest using eccentric timings of between 3-6 seconds depending on training experience.

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Isometric

Following on from the eccentric phase of training, it’s time to focus on the isometric. This is where the muscle contracts, but doesn’t change length. This is a great component to focus on when trying to improve your bench for a competition; the bar has to pause on your chest.

There is only a slight pause between the eccentric and concentric phases of any lift. However, the isometric portion of the lift is where the force you produce is transferred from eccentric to concentric. By using isometric training, the number of muscle fibres you can fire at any one time increases. This allows you to be able to create a lot more muscular tension during a lift because you can tap into more muscles.

The maximum amount of time I would suggest to hold a lift in the isometric component is 3 seconds. Any longer, and from experience, you will struggle to lift the bar as any potential force production is lost.

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Concentric

The final phase of training would be to focus on the concentric component of a lift. This is where the muscle shortens and contracts. Think raising of the bar on a squat, or pressing the bar off your chest in a bench press. This is probably the most important part of the lift as it is the difference between completing and failing a lift. I mean, no one wants to fail a lift do they.

Concentric training is mainly just adding in explosive exercises into your programming. Start thinking clap push ups and squat jumps. This starts to improve your intramuscular coordination, simply meaning your muscles are working more efficiently to lift the weight.

Unlike the eccentric and isometric phases, when using concentric training you should be aiming to move the wait as fast as possible. Therefore, reps should be kept quiet low, staying around the 2-5 rep ranges.

Putting it all together

The sections above were a brief overview of what the different phases of a lift are. Depending on how long you have between competitions, you can spend 2-3 weeks on each section. For those of you who may not be powerlifters, using triphasic training is still pretty good if you want to pack some muscle on and get stronger. Below are sample workouts from the programme I used;

Eccentric

Set 1 Set 2 Set 3 Set 4 Set 5
1 Eccentric BB Bench Press – 6s Lowering /6 /6 /6
kg kg kg
2 DB Incline Bench Press /50 Use 60% of heaviest weight of above sets and perform 50 reps as fast as you can
kg
3a Lat. Pulldown /12 /12 /12
kg kg kg
3b DB Reverse Flyes /15 /15 /15
Kg Kg Kg
4a Empty BB Curls /50
Kg
4b Cable Tricep Extensions /50
kg

 Isometric

Set 1 Set 2 Set 3 Set 4 Set 5
1 BB 3sec Pause Back Squat /5 /5 /5
kg kg kg
2a BB Hip Thrusts /12 /12 /12
kg kg kg
2b Press Ups /15 /15 /15
2c SA Cable Row /15es /15es /15es
Kg Kg Kg
3 Candlesticks /10 /10 /10

Concentric

    Set 1 Set 2 Set 3 Set 4 Set 5
1 Clap Push Ups /5 /5 /5 /5
2a Close Grip Pulls /5 /5 /5
2b Lat. Pulldown /15 /15 /15
Kg Kg Kg
3a DB Flyes /10 /10 /10
Kg Kg Kg
3b DB Reverse Flyes /15 /15 /15
Kg Kg Kg
4 Push Ups /2mins 2 minutes max push ups

Triphasic training works, I’ve tried and tested it myself and also used it with my clients. You will put on muscle from this and get stronger. If you’re interested in following a programme, drop me an email at steve@getprimal.co.uk or come visit me at Primal Gym.

Thanks for reading,

Coach Steve

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