When we talk about powerlifters and their offseason programs they seem to be all over the map. Some people like to focus on a bodybuilding style program. Others believe it is time to bulk up and gain size to improve overall power output. When I look at an offseason and offseason programming, I ask myself the following questions:
What are my expectations for this plan?
If you are acting without a result in mind, it is difficult to gauge its effectiveness. There could be a lot of waisted time and effort put in when you don’t a clear goal in sight. Zig Ziglar said, “You were born to win, but to be a winner, you must plan to win, prepare to win, and expect to win”.
Is this plan realistic?
Some athletes have a very good understanding of who they are and what their potential looks like. Yet, I have seen others who don’t have the self-awareness to be objective when it comes to their limitations. I have heard some outlandish expectations from people, usually right after a poor contest. Trust me, I am aware of how hard it is to balance ego and reality after a disappointing performance on the platform. But remember, an unrealistic plan is about as good as no plan at all. Not only will this likely impact your output and preparation for your next contest, but it can also impact your confidence. And there is nothing worse than going into a meet with low confidence in your abilities.
Have these tactics worked in the past?
This could mean with you or with others. The difficulty when looking at the results of others is they are their own special little flower. So, based on their individuality, there will be areas which may not be translatable to you. I suggest, if you are looking at other people’s successful programs, that they be like you. Look at their age, how long they have been competing and are they following the same federation guidelines as you. These can make a big impact on whether you should follow in their footsteps.
Another situation to be aware of is some of the concepts that had worked in your past, may not be applicable now. I feel there are two groups that run into this the most. First are those of us who have been doing this for several decades. The things we did in our 20s and 30s may not bring us the same bounty in our 40s and beyond. Now having said that, I admit it is a generality and does not apply to everyone. From my own personal experience, I can still be just as intense as I was in my 20s. But It also appears my risk of injury increases.
The other group is the athletes who have just gotten out of what we often refer to as the “newbie gains” phase. This population often can do just about anything and have success. Mainly because training like a powerlifter is a new stimulus to them. This group will need to learn how to evolve with their new-found abilities and find safe ways to challenge themselves. It should also be noted, when looking at what has worked, you should ALWAYS have a way to track your progress. It is a great advantage to have your past training logs.
Is this something I will do?
Understanding yourself and what you will do and not what you would like to do is critical. There are a lot of great intentions supported by our egos which can get in the way of us reaching our actual goal. For example, if someone is currently training 4 days a week because of their work schedule and they decide to increase to 6 days to add extra frequency. First, is this even possible? Would this get in the way of work or will it impede your daily regiment to the point where you will miss days you had scheduled or exercises you felt were important to add in. Next, are you able to handle the extra frequency? This goes back to knowing yourself and having the ability to objectively gauge your current state. Including the stresses this new program may cause. Not working hard enough is bad but working too hard, arguably, is worse. This is one of those times it is important to have either a seasoned coach or workout partners who will help you to see where you truly are.
I hope by now you can see that your offseason can make or break your future performances on the platform. Having a plan that answers the questions posed in this article is a good start to ensure you’re prepared and not wasting your time. As Chuck Knox said, “Always have a plan, and believe in it. Nothing happens by accident.”
Ryan J. Stills