I have often marvelled at the Eastern European powerlifters and wondered how these super athletes train. I have searched for years for the perfect workout in my quest to become more powerful, often at times making my training more complicated and over training to the point of getting weaker. I think the answer lies in keeping your training as basic as possible, find where your weak points are at and then work your ass off until they become strengths. Then you just gotta’ hit them hard, it doesn’t mean you lay off the other stuff but, you just gotta’ remember to hit your assistance work hard right where your weak points are. If you’re weak at the lockout of your deadlift, you got to train the block deadlifts heavy & hard until you become strong from that position. If you have weak quads, train high bar squats and front squats. These exercises target the quads; you have to be a thinker when it comes to getting stronger. Just as Neil 'Yoda' Hill would train one of his bodybuilders to bring up a lagging muscle group, with a certain change of angle on an exercise, it's the same principal. I repeat again, YOU GOT TO HIT YOUR WEAK POINTS.
Lay the foundation
Train your back hard, it’s the foundation of everything. Your power training should contain chins, with all different grips, palms facing in, wide grip, narrow grip, even try chins with a towel over the bar. A little secret I found when I was training in judo, if you can get your hands on an old judo gi/uniform, hang it over the chin bar to chin, attach it to the cable for seated rows and you can even use it for pull downs. Judo suits are very tough and I have found it has made my grip that much stronger. Pinch grip is another great way to improve your grip strength. Grab a pair of 10kg disks and put them together, try and pick them up with one hand and hold for a 30 second count. I also like to add a few basic sets of bent over rows, not only do they help my deadlift but they also help my bench press, the two exercises are on the same vertical plane and will help you shrug your shoulder blades together on the bench so you stabilise yourself better and use your back as a launching pad. Core work is very important, going heavy with good form on squats and deadlifts without a belt gives the core unreal strength. Konstantin konstantinov deadlifts 426kg without a belt, the 275pound powerlifting champion has abdominals that wouldnt look out of place on the cover of a fitness magazine. He goes on to explain in one of our many chats I've had with him online, that intra-abdominal pressure is very important and a belt should be used sparingly. He only uses it lifting maximum weights. He doesn't feel a belt adds anything to his deadlift. He feels sumo lifters benefit more from a belt and that for conventional deadlifters it's only necessary for stability and a little assistance at the start of the lift.
It's the simple things that often make up to a big difference when you train. If your power training, chances are you will be attempting near maximum weights. Clothing can make a big difference, right down to your footwear. For deadlifts wear a flat shoe so you’re closer to the ground, don’t wear any restrictive clothing. When you’re locking out a PB deadlift, the last thing you want is your shorts to roll up or your tracksuit bottoms to snag on the bar. Poundage lifted in the gym is very important even to a bodybuilder on a power routine. A little baby powder on the shins and thigh will improve the bar speed on the deadlift, more speed will equal more poundage you will be able to lift. Good training partners can make a big difference in motivating your power training. The lifestyle choices you make will impact your training; surround yourself with positive people that have similar goals to you. Music is a big motivator for me, I concentrate better with my favourite piece of music and it fires me up mentally. If you prefer silence to concentrate that's fine, do what works best for you.
The most important training tool
YOUR MIND, It’s the strongest tool you got. You got to have the ability to not just visualize a lift, you have to visualize the perfect lift in your mind and how it feels EVERY single step of the way....from walking up to the bar, to putting your hands on the bar, to getting underneath it, wiggling to get your position, to tightening up what muscles you want to be tight, to walking out with every single step to the set up. Then it is over with and you just hit it as hard as possible. Cast all negative thoughts away, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by moving that object that's standing in your way to reaching your goals.
If you’re not getting enough rest no matter how much training you do, getting stronger will be an uphill battle. When you’re not training try and relax, take your training seriously when you’re in the gym then get out, rest and focus on your recovery. Try and do things that make you happy, if possible try and avoid stressful situations and enjoy life. Stress will only make you catabolic, not good for getting stronger or breaking personal records in the gym. Power training can be very demanding, look after your body and it will look after you for many years. Enjoy your training and good luck getting stronger.