Barry Marriman Periodized Routines

Barry Merriman's workout routines were posted and re-posted several times to Below is one of the later incarnations.

From: (Barry Merriman)
Subject: Repost: Barry's Periodized Routines (LONG)
Date: 3 Feb 1995 18:29:27 GMT
Organization: UCSD SOE
Lines: 1390
Distribution: world
Message-ID: <3gtsm7$>

Folks occasionally request this stuff. Its also on a weightlifting
web page somewhere in cyberspace, but I thought (just to counter
the evil HIT folks and their incidious HIT FAQ :-) that I would
repost it (its been a year since the originals were posted).


The Good book now, so you don't miss it:

Weight Training: A Scientific Approach,
by Michael Stone, PhD and Harold Obryant, Phd.
ISBN 0-8087-6942-1
360 pages, illustrated.
copyright 1987. cost: about $27.

read it (but it is scholarly, like a college text book).


Ok, time to Rock n' Roll.  I'm tired of folks asking for 
more info on periodized training, and folks claiming 
Jones/Darden/Menter style training is the scientifically
validated training method. Its time for the HIT - Periodization
battle to the death.

Before we start, briefly recall my background so you know
where I'm coming from: I've been training almost 16 years 
now. I presently train at the Mecca, Gold's/Venice.

I started when I was 13 years old. My training history

2 years Arnold style (train 10--12 hours per week)

2 years Mentzer style (train 3 hours per week)

4 years Jones/Darden style (train 1 hour per week)

3 years Mentzer style 

4 years high volume periodized (10--18 hours per week in the gym)

I made great gains my first year, which I now attribute
to be a beginner. Around 20 lbs (but I grew an inch or two, too).

Second year my gains slowed way down, which I now attribute to overtraining and  
lack of variation in the workout. I lost enthusiasm
for the long hours with little results. So I was attracted
to the then fairly new (and hyped) J/M/D styles of training.

I made very slow, steady gains on the J/M/D style. Its hard
to quantify during my growing years, but once I stopped getting 
taller, they were only ~ 2 lbs of bodyweight per year. 

What I can say for sure is my untrained adult weight would be
about 150--160 lbs at 5'9'', based on other members of my family,
and predicitons based on size of frame (I have a scrawny frame, small 
joints, and come from a family of scrawny people.) Instead, at the
end of all the J/M/D 9 years of training, I weighed 170, so 
those nine years of training probably added about 20 lbs of fairly
lean mass to my frame.

In my first year of periodized training, I went from 170 to 
195 lbs. The next year I pushed it up to 208. Those were my best
gaining years---25 lbs the first year, 13 lbs the second. 

These gains were all drug free, by the way.

(As for my current size and strength:
I ultimately got mass up to 225 lbs. At my peak weight, I was
about 16% bodyfat, 18'' arm (cold and flexed), 49'' chest
(cold and flexed), 26.5 inch quads (cold and flexed). 
As for stength: My bench
is at 420 lbs, squat 650 lbs, deadlift 575 lbs presently
(done in the legal pwerlifting style, no cheating). These
are up from about 320, 450, 400 prior to starting the periodized

My personal conclusion is that I was undertraining on the
J/M/D styles, and that as I increased the training time,
the gains increased in proportion. However, the increase in training time to 10  
or so hours per week was only possible by using periodization to avoid  
overtraining. As further proof that I am really a hard gainer type, note that  
training hard 10 hours per week, I would stagnate 
after approx 3 weeks of training. Only by periodizing was I able
to jump over these hurdles and make gains consistently the
whole year.

Also, I followed Jones/Mentzer/Darden training advise very thoroughly.
There is no chance that I misapplied their directions, or
did not train intensley enough. I can vouch for this because I
see mentzer train clients evry day, and I worked harder, and
with better technique,  than the majority of his trainees do.
Same for nautilus---I followed their advice to the letter.

As for my goals: I always wanted to be as huge and strong as possible. 
I was and am a hardcore weightlifter. My goal is to reach my
potential, or get very close. many people do not share this goal, 
and so that will influence what type of training is right for them.
Warning:I am only interested in the training styeles that can carry a
person to their limits of growth and strength, not the most
time efficient methods. M/J/D training is time efficient---you put
in a little time, you get out a little gain (beginners exempted).


Now, lets establish what I consider to be the best book
I ever read on training methods. It turned me on to periodized
training, and is thus responsible for the bulk of my gains:

Weight Training: A Scientific Approach,
by Michael Stone, PhD and Harold Obryant, Phd.
ISBN 0-8087-6942-1
360 pages, illustrated.
copyright 1987. cost: about $27.

You want credentials, well these guys got it up the wazzu.
This ain't no Ellington Darden Phd. and Nautilus Corp. hired
gun. Both gys are university professors, strength coaches
for champion collegiate teams in weightlifitng and gymnastics,
and heads of sports physiology research laboratories, as well
as weightlifters themselves. They are not selling any thing,
and they sure don't earn their living from this text book
(unlike folks like Draden, Mentzer and Jones). They provide
an incredibly well researched survey of what modern sprots
science says about weight training. Guess what: state of
the art is not HIT! Jones and Darden are not
leading weight training researchers! Their techniques 
have been shown to be generally inferior to others for
strength and mass training! Big surprise....

(It actually was to me when I first came acrosss the book.)

If you really want to know the scientific status of
weight training and techniques for it, it you must read
this book, period. This is a college text on weight training, intended for a   
sports physiology/ athletic trainer course at the college
level.  It covers all aspects in detail: nutrition,
biomechanics, physiology os muscle growth, theories of
training, training techniques, exercise technique, steroids,
etc. Each chapter has 100-200 references from the recent scientific 
literature. In particular, it has an excellent chapter
on training, concerning number of sets, reps, volume, intensity,
the value and technique of periodization, etc. 

The reason I try to promote this book is to counter that 
pseudo-scientific pop crap that guys like Jones, Darden and Mentzer have  
produced. Jones and Darden are actually referenced in this book,
but it usually takes the form:

  certain people (ref Jones, Darden) have claimed X,
  but subsequent research (...zillions of refs...) has
  generally found this to false

This will undoubtedly be a big shock to those in the Jones/Darden/Mentzer cult.  
It was to me when I forst encountered
it. When I trained their style, I would argue quite vociferously
that they were scientifically validated, etc,etc. I was sucked
in by their pseudo-scientific jargon and trappings, and after
all, I was traing their style and making my slooow but sure gains
in just a few minutes per week. Only later when I found this
book did I realize it was possible for an advanced trained to 
make the big gains necessary to reach their potential, which I
have subseqently done.

I know most of you will not ever find this book, becasue it
isn't at the B. Dalton's like the Jones/Darden/Mentzer stuff. 
It is not illustrated with steroid bloated pro bodybuilders
lifting fake plates and doing their fake screams---so it
is dry by comparison. I found it by accident in the sports
phys section of a medical bookstore.

(but if you don't get this book, at least read up on periodized
training, such as the Ironman routine, or the Powerbuilder
routine in Muscle Media 2000, etc---it is definetly the way to
train for long term max gains, beyond the beginner level).

So, I will qoute to you---at great expense, since my typing sucks
as you surely have noticed---a few passages most relevant
to these claims that HIT is the predominant scientifically validated training  
theory (NOT!):

Page 109, Chapter on training principles modes and methods:

"At least one machine manufacturer recommends that only one
set of an exercise be performed to exhaustion, and that this represents
a sufficient workload for gains in hypertrophy, and strength
(11,43). This method of training greatly reduces the total workload
made possible by multiple sets, which means the activated motor 
units recieve less training. Part of the reasoning behind using
sets to exhaustion is that, due to fatigue, the nth repetition
would be maximal. This confuses relative and absolute maximum tensions;
fatigue *inhibits* the use of some fibers, whereas all fibers 
are active with absolute maximum tension (3). *Tension* , not
fatigue, is the major factor in developing maximal strength (3). 
One set to exhaustion likely reduces the training effect and produces small  
gains in lean body mass. Stowers et al (67) observed inferior
performance gains (measured by 1 rep max squat, vertical jump)
from one set to exhaustion compared to multiple exhaustion sets and a program  
periodized over 7 weeks."

And page 115, same chapter:

Machines versus free weights.
The studies and observations of this section are of a practical
nature. They compare free weight training programs to machines 
using recommended training programs. Free weights generally produce superior  
results to machines (...refs...) as well as superior 
results in power movements (...refs...).

Now some better stuff for our discussion: from
the chapter Practical Considerations for weight training,
pg 141:

Frequency of training

 exercise scientists and physical educators have generally recommended training  
3 days per week (17,30,126). This recommendationn has been base
largely on experiments dealing with ... untrained subjects.It
has been believed that training 3 days per week provides optimum recovery and  
allows efficient increase in strength... but many athletes,
including weightlifters, train 5 and 6 days per week, often using multiple  
training sessions per day. ... Gillam (63) observed that
increased frequency (2--5 days) of training produced superior results
in the bench press, lending additional credence to empirical evidence,

Training theory and principles (see Chapt. 6) suggest that 
the frequency of training should be as high as possible 
*without* over training. Weight training is no exception.
As pointed out in chapter 6, overtraining can be reduced
through variations in volume and intensity. Thus frequency
of training can be high if proper variation is introduced.
A third factor (in  frequency of training) concerns the training
status of the athlete. As in other sports activities (...refs...)
beginners may not have made sufficient adaptations to recover as fast 
as advanced weight trainers. Beginners may need more days of rest to avoid over  
To a large extent, frequency of training depends on the 
goals of the individual. Three days per week may fit the 
ohysical and psychological needs of some weight trainers, but
both empirical evidence and careful scietific observation
strongly suggest that frequencies great than the typical three
day per training can produce superior results in strength,
power, ... especially is *advanced* weight trainers, including
weightlifters, powerlifters and bodybuilders.


These selections pretty much indicate the tip of
the iceberg:

(1) the training claims of Jones/Darden are not
accepted by the sports physiology community as the most
effective methods for building mass and strength, nor by the
athletic community. And many of their claims are actively

(2) more training is better, as long as you don't over train.

(3) Train however suits your lifestyle, but you won't reach your 
maximum potential on a couple hours a week.

The book of course shows how to set up suitable periodized
training shcedules for those interested in going beyond the 
limitations of simple training systems, and shows sample schedules
used by elite wtrength athletes. Bodybuilding is not their
prime focus, do they do discuss a periodized programfor thast, but you
can easily apply what they say to setting up a bodybuilding program.

It aslo convers nutrition. Again contrary to J/M/D, you need plenty
of calories and protein to increase lean body mass during high
volume periodized training.

My personal experience agrees well with this text. After 
9 years of mentzer/darden/Jones type training, I was 5'9'',
170 lbs and lean, so fairly muscular---people often asked if I was a gymnast or  
wrestler. It resulted in limited muscular gains. After
*just* 2 years on a periodized, *much* higher volume schedule, I
was 208 and big---everbody knew I was a bodybuilder then.

So, what is my final message to those folks who have made
satifactory gains using HIT, M/J/D styles? It is this:

Yes, you can make some gains on those styles, esp if you are a 
beginner (I would even recommend them for a beginner). And yes,
they certainly are time effective. So, if you can get the gains 
you desire that way, excellent. But don't expect to be able
to get close to your potential with those training styles. I've
not heard of any advanced lifter making the sort of gains I
have made using such low volume techniques, and it for sure didn't
work in my case. And the J/D/M approach has yet to produce a top builder or  
powerlifter who trained predominantly that way, even though their techniques  
have been  out and popularized for 20 years now, and their have been thousands  
of nautilus gyms for nearly two decades now producing trainees. That is a  
substabtial body of evidence against
their claims of superiority.

Barry's Periodized Workout Plans

I have been promising to show you the sort of
periodized training plans I used to gain substantial 
size and strength as an advanced weight lifter. I won't
recount my gains and training history again, as I
have done it several times already. Lets get busy:

(1) Periodization Methods

The key to big gains after your first couple beginner
easy growth years is to train more, but do it in a periodized
fashion to avoid (mental and physical) overtraining.  Without
periodization (or steroids) you will rapidly overtrain on
these higher volume workouts.

It is worth reading up on periodization techniques: I suggest
the following:

Brawn, by Stuart McRoberts

The Power Builder Routines, advertized in Muscle media 2000

The Ironman training system, advertized in Ironman

The above three refs I have no direct experience with, but I 
have seen them described and they sound like good periodization
systems for size and strength, and drug free training.

My personal favorite, and authorative reference on 
periodization techniques as well as what is really
known about all other aspects of weight training
(including nutrition, proper form, steroids, etc), is the 
college sports medicine text book

Weight Training: A scientific Approach
by Michael Stone and Harold Obryant
Published by Burgess International Group
7110 Ohms Lane
Edina MN, 55435

Not only is it an excellent, well researched and referenced
text, but I have also talked with a student that studied under
one of the authros, and he concurred he is extremely knowledgable
able weight training. (Note: don't expect any magic bullets
here---this book wil just tell you what is known, and there
is no short cut).

*If you want references for any of the claims I make below, see
the book I recommend*

(2) My sample bodybuilding routine

This routine is intended primarily to add muscle and body mass. 

We must consider all factors related to  growth:

(a) diet: you need a high calorie diet to grow, with plenty
of protein. You should get at least 1 gram of quality protein
per pound of bodyweight, and around 20 calories per pound of bodyweight
per day---that will vary a bit depending on whether you 
have a slow or fast metabolism. Through experiment, you will
need to find a calorie intake that leads to growth without too
much fat accumulation. keep your diet around 20% fat, 50% carbs
and 30% protein. Calories intake will probably be in the range of
3500--4000 calories. Don't worry if you put on some fat 
while gaining mass---you can take it off later. 
But This is plenty of calories---The mega-calorie diets  you read about
 in the mags (6000, 8000, etc calories) are only for heavy steroid users.

(b) supplements: 
    i. use a carbo drink before and during your workouts.
       also, recarb immediatley after training. Study has shown
       athletes have a 1 hour window to effectively recarb
       after hard training, and then recarbing is thereafter
       much less efficient. So, take in 100 grams of carbs
       after your workout. This practice will keep your training
       energy high.

    ii. take cafeine and ephedrine 30 min before heavy workouts.
        Don't consume these more than 3--4 times per week, 
    or you will build up a tolerance, and they stop working.
    This will make a very noticable boost in your workout intensity.
    You canalso try caffeine + ephedrine + aspirin.
    Dose is 1--2 vivarin + 25 -- 50 mg ephed. + 1--2 aspirin.

   iii. take a  good multi-vitamin and mineral tablet, just
        for insurance. 3 Centrum a day is about as good
    as you can find on the open market. I recommend the
    book "The Complete Guide to Anti-aging Nutrient",
    by doctor Sheldon Hendler (Prof of medicine at UCSD),
    if you want a through survey of what is really known
    about the action of vitamins in humans, and if you
    want other recomendations for proper vitiamin suplementation.

    iv. Nothing else. get your protein and carbs from food. The
        vast majority of supplements on the market do nothing
    or are just expensicve replacements for food. There
    is no known legal supplement that increases muscle mass.
    Period. The only supplements proven effective are stimulants.
    See Stone and Obryant for detailed literature review of this.

(c) drugs: you don't need steroid to make good gains on these
    programs. I used them drug free, and am a classic hard-gainer type.
    If you do want to use steroids, I suggest you wait until 
    your natural gains are pretty well tapped out, which
    would take at least 3 years of proper training. I also suggest
    you use them to accomplish a specific goal, like a 450 lb bench
    or an 19 inch arm, rather than just playing around with them.

(d) sleep: get plenty, at least 8 hours a night, and train
first thing in the morning if possible. Once you get used
to it, you will find you can get the best workouts then.

(c) training

Ok, now its time for the periodization schedule

for each bodypart, choose 2 exercises, one compound,
one more isolation. I recommend the folloing, for e.g.

Quads: squat (or leg press), leg extension
Leg bi: leg curl on 2 different machines
calves: standing calf raise, seated calf raise
Chest: bench press, cable flyes
back: bent over row, pulldown
traps: barbell shrugs*
shoulders: behind neck press, side lateral
bis: barbel curl, one arm dumbell curl on preacher bench
tris: lying tricep extension, cable pushdown
fores: hammer curls, behind the back standing wrist curls
abs: weighted crunches, cable side crunches

*only one direct trap exercise, as it gets hit by other things

In your workout, perform 4 sets of each exercise. The
first should be a light, thorough warmup. Then jump
to your heaviest weight you will use that day, do your
set, and reduce the weight on the subsequent sets---so
you do one warmup and 3 descending weight sets. Reps
will be kept in the 8--12 range.

Now, split the bodyparts into a 5 day split:

day 1: legs
day 2: chest & shoulders
day 3: back and traps
day 4: arms and abs
day 5: off

Now, impose a heavy-light alteration on top of this,
for a 10 day micro-cycle:

day 1: legs                 HEAVY 
day 2: chest & shoulders    LIGHT
day 3: back & traps         HEAVY
day 4: arms                 LIGHT
day 5: off
day 1: legs                 LIGHT
day 2: chest & shoulders    HEAVY
day 3: back                 LIGHT
day 4: arms                 HEAVY
day 5: off                  

HEAVY = 100% effort, trying for new best set
LIGHT = 75% of the weight used on the previous heavy day

Now that you have the miscro-cycel, here is how to organize
these into a macro cycle:

At the start of your training cycle, choose weights for your
initial heavy days that allow you to get 8--12 reps comfortably.

Then: each heavy day, try as hard as possible to increase your
reps on each hard set (you do 6 hard sets per bodypart, recall).
You will need to keep a small training log to keep track of
previous performance. Try to maintain the same form fom day
to day---don't get more reps by getting sloppy.

Every time you reach 12 reps, in your next heavy day for that
set, increase the weight, but by as little as possible 
(5 lb increments, or even 2.5 if you have 1.25 lb plates);
that will knock the reps back down to around 8 or so the next time.

On your light days, just mimic your previous heavy set in terms of reps, but  
use only 75% of the weight. On these days, focus on your 
form, move through the workout more quickly, and do not tax
the muscle. A decent pump and tiny burn is all you should get.

If your muscles are still sore on their light day, that is fine
and to be expected. If a muscle is still sore on its next heavy day,
insert a day off.

Cycle termination: continue these 10 days micro-cycles, progressing
every heavy workout as described, until: you fail to improve
over your previous best on a lot of your sets and for 2 consecutive
heavy days. fo example, if my best bench sets were 225 x 10,
200 x 9, 180 x 7, and then the next two heavy days I got
225 x 8, 200 x 8, 180 x 8, and 225 x 8, 200 x 8 , 180 x 9, that
would indicate that your progress has truly stalled and your
are starting to over train. Consider your set performance increases
as votes---every set that improves is a vote to continue the cycle,
evry set that stagnates or regresses is a vote to stop. When
the stop votes win, terminate the cycle.

When you terminate the cycle, do one whole 10 day cycle using
VERY LIGHT weights---50--60% of your heavy weights. During this
period, focus on quick workouts and very good form---try to
undo the inevitable sloppy-ness that builds up during the
load cycle. Don't tax the muscle at all, just get a nice pump.

Resuming the next cycle: after your 10 day VERY LIGHT cycle, 
restart, using as your starting weights around 95% of your previous
cycle best weights. Begin working up in this cycle as before.

(d) comments

I like the above style because it is self-regulating: you
use your rate of improvement to decide when to stop the cycle, thus
guaranteeing you will not overtrain. basically, you should
either always be making improvement on heavy days, or be
deciding it is time to terminate the cycle.

Initially, I could carry one one macro cycle for about 3 months
before I had to terminate it. As I got more advanced, using
more wieght and intensity, and closer to my limits, I would have to terminate  
the cycles every month or so. After a couple years of this 
style, I reahced a point where I was spending as much time 
off cycle as on cycle, and that was about the limit of its effectiveness. But I  
had gained 30 some pounds of bodyweight from it, 
so I was satisfied.

Don't be afraid of light days!!! Lifting addicts often fear that
unless they always train hard, they will shrink. The evil HIT
cabal also try and reinforce this idea that intensity is a must.
In fact, this attitude is a big barrier to progress. learn to have fun on your  
light days. Save your intensity for the heavy days.
Have fun during your very-light cycle. Don't worry if
you lose a bit during this time---you have to be willing to 
step back, to take two steps forward in the future. In practice,
I usually came back from the very light cycle at stronger
than I had been ever before.

As for progress: progress is built into this system---if you
are doing it, you are progressing. Go mostly by rep
and poundage progress---your bodyweight will change slowly,
at most 2 pounds per month. Derive your satifaction from the heavy day to heavy  
day improvements, and the big picture (muscle mass gains) will take care of  

Don't worry if your reps sometimes drop down to 6---just keep 
working to bring them up towards 12 as always. But don't make
the mistake of jumping too much weight when you get to 12: jump
as little as possible. For weights > 100 lbs, a 5 lb jump is
plenty. For weights < 100, try to make 2.5 lb jumps if possible.
Never take a 10 lb jump---just save it for next time.

There are many other possible periodizations. See the refs
above for more idea. You can have a lot of fun designing
periodized programs, but don't stop using one if it is
still working well. Conversely, if it seems not to work well,
scrap it early and try another one. Don't waste months on unproductive
routines (as I did). You should be able to make workout to workout gains
most of the time.

When you count reps for measuring imrprovement, count 1/2 reps
and quarter reps and cheat reps as well. For example, I might
record a set as 200 lbs x 8.5 reps if I fet a did a valid 1/2
rep at the end. Or, if I did a cheat rep, I might record it
as 200 lbs x 8 + 1 cheat. If that turned into 200 lbs x 9 next
time, that would be a improvement.

Barry's Periodized Powerlifting Routines

Well, as of Sunday, July 3, 2:00pm I'm a retired
powerlifter, so now there is no excuse for not
posting my promised powerlifting routines. I'll briefly touch
on all major aspects of putting together a routine.

The fundamental goal of powerlifting is to get strong.
This is different from bodybuilding, where the goal
is to develop large muscles and low bodyfat. Because of
this, different training techniques are required. Strong
and big are different things.

Strength is embodied by the three basic lifts: squat, bench press
and deadlift.  These are lifts that the human body can move the
most weight in, and have a good chance of not breaking.

A real powerlifter does all three lifts, to develop overall
strength. A huge number of so called "powerlifters" only
do the bench press, but bench pressing is really just the tip
of the power ice burg. The real challenges lie in the other lifts.
Not to mention that bench pressers generally have twigs for legs,
and a light bulb-like physique.
If you are going to powerlift, do all three lifts.

I don't know of any good books specifically devoted
to powerlifting. I've seen the books by Hatfield, and was unimpressed.
If you go to a major powerlifting meet, you will find a lot
of manuals by various top lifters. They vary a lot in quality.
The magazine PowerLifting USA has many training and diet articles,
but these also vary a lot in quality. It is most useful for
finding out contest dates and results and ordering equipment.
There are now some good videos on powerlifting available.
The series by Ed Coan is probably a worthwhile purchase.

As for scientific references, I again prefer to rely on the
book "Weight Training, A Scientific Approach" by Stone and
Obryant. This contains a fair amount of material directly
relevant to powerlifting, but at a very scholarly level.

I wont cite any references below. This is just distilled
knowledge. What I know comes from 16 years of weightlifting,
and 2 years of powerlifting as the training partner of one
of the best lifters in the world, and a couple years of
training at the Mecca, Golds/Venice, as part of the "in crowd"
there. But, I am a scientist, so I try and filter this
against some general principles as well.

Calories: to maintain bodyweight, get about 15-20 calories
per pound of bodyweight (a rough estimate). If you need
to bulk up, this should be closer to 25 calories per
pound. If you want to lose fat, keep calories in the
10-15/lb range, and  use a cyclical low carb diet
(always keep the fat low, about 10-20% of calories, but
do 2-3 days in a row of very low carbs (0.0--0.5 gm/ lb)
and high protein (2--3 gm/lb) followed by 1 day of high
carbs (2--3 grams/lb) and moderate protein (1 gram/lb).
The low carb days force your body into a state of fat

Composition: aside from dieting to lose fat, keep the
protein/carb/fat percentage of your diet around
30%/50%-60%/10%-20%, and get 1 gram per pound of
quality (meat, preferably red or dairy) protein per day.

Timing: consume simple carbs  about a 1/2 hour before
your workout (either fruit or carbo drink, 200-400 calories),
and re-carb with about 100 grams of simple carbs within
an hour of training. Get a good dose of protein about
an hour after training. Protein can be taken in large
amounts, contrary to the 30 gram per meal myth. My partner
and I always consumed our protein in 1 lb of beef (or more)
increments (120 grams), and that seemed  fine. It stays in the intestines
for nearly a day, so the body gets plenty of time to process
it. Eating 3 meals a day plus a couple snacks is convenient
and effective (vs the 6 meals a day bodybuilders recommend).

Get you nutrients from normal food, and a good multi-vitamin.
(over the counter, 3 centrum/day is good. The best vitamin
I have ever encountered is Broad Spectrum, From Nutriguard
Research, in Encinitas, CA, mail order). Use protein powders
and weightgainers only if you need the convenience.

There are no legal  supplements that are known to "work" at increasing
muscle mass. You can increase your strength and muscular endurance
by using stimulants, blood buffers and carbo drinks, though.
I recommend UltraFuel, before and during workouts, as it provides
the carbs, needed co-nutrients, and blood buffers in one. You
can drink it after to recarb as well. As for stimulants, caffeine
is very effective, ephedrine less so. I usually use
vivarin + ephedrin + aspirin as a stimulant stack, (the aspirin
is to block pain and enhance blood transport). Take these
about an 1/2 hour before doing your powerlifts.

I have tried creatine, and didn't notice much from it.  But
other people I have talked to think it makes them a bit
stronger. I personally doen't recommend it.

You can get plenty strong without drugs (steroids, clenbuterol,
growth hormone are the substances in use these days). And
drugs are more effective for bodybuilders than powerlifters,
i.e. they seem to work better at increasing mass/reducing fat
than at actually increasing the strength of a muscle. In any
case, I say stay away from drugs until you can at least
squat and deadlift 2.5 x bodyweight and bench 1.75 x.
Those are numbers that can certainly be achieved without drugs,
so there is no need for them up til that point. If at that
stage you want to use them, learn about them and then set some
specific goals and timetables for using them. Plan
to limit your lifetime exposure to them to at most a year
(since, except for rare reactions, most harmful side effects
don't set in til at least one year of "on time").

Belt: You will need a good regulation power belt. Order
one out of PowerLifting USA magazine. Get a single prong
belt (two prongs are too hard to put on tight). Buy
a good belt, it is the most important gear---expect to pay
$60 dollars. It should be be very stiff, not soft and comfortable.

Wraps: Knee wraps are also a necessity. I like goldline superwrap
10's from Marathon. About $15.00 a pair. These are worn for
squating. not deadlifting.

Shoes: a good cross trainer shoe, like nike air, seems to be
good for general purpose powerlifting. Once you get strong,
you may want to use squat shoes for squating ($100) and
a good flat soled shoe (wrestling shoe or tennis shoe) for

Powersuit: once you can squat and deadlift > 2 x bodyweight, you
may want to consider wearing a powersuit. These can be ordered
from PowerLifting USA mag. I prefer Marathon supersuits. $40.
These are a pain in the ass to put on wear though---they are very
tight and leave lots of bruises on your legs. But they do provide
added safety when moving heavy weights, as well as adding 20--50
lbs to what you can lift.

Chalk: buy lifting chalk out of Powerlifting USA mag, and use
it on all powerlifts. Always on your hands, plus chalk
knees before wrapping them, and chalk the back for squating
and bench pressing. $10 gets you plenty of chalk.

Baby Powder: you put this on your thighs for heavy deadlifts,
to reduce friction. Its only really needed as part of
contest preparation, not day to day training. Try
and get the un scented kind.

Power bar and Collars: you need a good olympic bar
and 5 lb collars for the powerlifts. Always use the collars
on squat and deadlift; optional on the bench. Hopefully
your gym has good bar and collars. We train at the
mecca, but theirs are not good enough to heavy powerlifting,
so we had to buy our own ($150 for the bar). the number one
thing to look for in bars is that they are straight, not
bent. Put them on a rack and roll them to check for bends.
If they are bent at all, they can chnage positions 
during a lift and really toss you around. 

BenchShirt: don't wear them, they are a cheat, i.e. the
shirt is there solely to move the weight, not for safety.
But, you can bench more with them, for sure. You also
look like an idiot wearing them, and they are hard to put
on take off without help. At least, wait till you can
bench 1.5 x bodyweight before messing with them. And then,
consider getting a denim shirt from Frantz---these are not
legal in all federations, but they are easy to put on/off,
don't make the wearer look like a total idiot (i.e. you
can put your arms by your sides), and they are more
"effective" too.

(The difference between a bench shirt and squat suit: in the squat,
you are unsupported in the bottom position---with a heavy weight,
you could easily strain the support muscles, inner thigh and
hams. The suit basically reinforces these muscles.
In the bench, at the bottom position you are supported,
since the bar hits your chest if it goes too low.
There is no safety need for the shirt. In fact, I have seen
guys injured by their shirt---either by losing control of
the bar when the shirt rips, or by having it pull them
out of their groove, so that the bar lands in an undesirable spot,
like the mouth.)

Things to avoid:
Also, never wear wrist straps for deadlifts---that robs you
of your grip development.

Same for gloves---plus they are illegal equipment.

Wrist wraps are optional, but I would use them only if
you have an injury. Same for elbow wraps (which are not
legal for bench press competions).

It is futile to try and pass on technique via the written
word, or even still photos. You have to see live action
and get running commentary. If at all possible, find an experienced
powerlifter to critique your style periodically.  If a mentor
is not available (and even if they are) buy a training video
out of PowerLifting USA. I suggest the ones by Ed Coan
(the alltime best powerlifter), as he is known as a great
technician who gets the most out of his lifts.

But, a few comments:

First, always do your powerlifting with good
form---never cheat to get the lift (bouncing in the bench,
squating high, avoiding lockouts in bench and deadlift,
bouncing the bar on the floor during reps in the deadlift,
etc).  If you cheated, you got nothing. Zero. Its that simple,
because thats what you'd get in a contest.

Bench press: there are two styles: touch and go, and pause.
When training specifically for competition, you have to practice
the pause: the bar must come to a complete stop touching your
chest. In power training not specifically for a contest, its
better to move the bigger weights by using a touch and go style.
That means you press up as soon as the bar touches the chest---but
there is still no bounce or cheat at the bottom! Typically the
pause takes 10 lbs off your bench.

Squat:  power squats are different from bodybuilding squats.
The motion is pretty similar to that of sitting down on a toilet
with a wide stance.

Deadlift: there are two legal styles: sumo and conventional.
In conventional, your feet are together and your hands
wider than your feet. The bar comes off the ground easy,
but there is a sticking point near the knees where the
back is put under tremendous stress in a rounded position.
I don't recommend this style,m as it is more injury prone.
(My partner once ruptured his discs like popping popcorn
pulling 675 this way some years ago. Then he passed out
from the pain, and had to spend a month in bed to recover).
I recommend sumo: you take a wide stance, and your hands
go inside your legs, similar in position to the bottom of a squat.
The hips take up much more of the load, and the hard part
of the movement is to get the bar off the floor; after that
it glides up. 

Important note: when doing reps in the deadlift, set the
bar down completely at the end of each rep (keep your hands
on it tho)---don't cheat by bouncing it off the floor or
cutting the motion short and coming up early. You want
every rep to be like a single, otherwise you will be
weak in the starting position.

It is important to mentally psyche up before attempting a heavy
lift. Based on my experience, I'd say the difference between
psyched and unpsyched lifing is about a 10-20% drop in strength,
plus the weight feels ponderous and heavy when there is no psyche.
Proper psyching should put you in a state of extreme rage
or fear---the primitive  emotions. By the time you start the
lift, the conscious mind should be completely shut down---there
is no thought, and then even no emotion. You want to completely
lose your mind, and perform the lift using only instinct.
When you can reach this state (it takes a lot of practice), there
will be no physical sensation at all during the lift---your body
is numb, you are not aware of your limbs, you may lose your
sense of hearing as well, and for that brief time there is just
a direct link between the mind and the muscles, with out the
normal conscious interface. Its a pretty weird mental state, one
that cant be reached any other way than by  putting extreme
demands on your body.

Many people try to psyche up by making a ruckus---they swear,
stomp around, have people slap them, bang their heads on the
wall, yell at themselves, etc. But, its really all in your
mind. I advocate the silent psyche. Keep it in your mind.
I look totally calm on the outside while psyching up, but
inside there is a violent storm raging in the brain.

The training lifts are divided into the three primary
power lifts, and all other movements are classified as assistance lifts.
The purpose of the assistance movements is to develop and
maintain muscle mass over the entire body, and to be sure
that muscles get worked through a full range of motions
and angle. This will assist with the stability during
the primary lifts, and helps prevent weak links from developing.
(The older style was to train weak parts of a primary lift
directly, e.g. work on the sticking point in the benchpress.
The modern approach is just to do assistance work to build
a good foundation of strength and mass).

Thorough warmup is important prior to the power lifts,
since you are going to stress the body severely.
I suggest the following warmup sequences: (sets x reps)

1 x 8, 1 x 5, 1 x 3, 1 x 1, work set(s)

where the work set(s) are the actual sets you want
to do that day. The weight jumps should be roughly
equal between each set above: i.e. the first set
is with 20% of the target weight, then 40%, etc
til you reach 100% for your work set. If you are
using more than 5 plates on the bar, insert
more 1 x 1 warmup sets. For example, I usually
warm up by adding plates (45 lb plates), so that
my sequence is (reps x weight)
8 x 135, 5 x 225, 3 x 315, 1 x 405, 1 x 495, 1 x 585
in the squat if I am squating > 600. For bench,
I stop at 1 x 315, though.

Gear for warmups & sets:
(1) use you chalk on all warmups for all powerlifts.
(2) always wear your belt for all squats and deadlifts.
(3) don't wear a belt to bench press---it interferes with
arching your back.
(4) wrap your knees to squat after your first two warmup
(5) if you are going to wear a power suit to squat and deadlift,
use it only on your last two warm ups and your heavy sets.
(same for bench shirt)
(6) If you deadlift with baby powder, only use it on
your heaviest set---its really only needed for singles.
(7) if you use special shoes to squat/bench/dead, wear5 them
for the entire warmup and lifting sequence.

Minor injuries are a part of power lifting. You will
always have cuts, bruise, aching joints and sore muscles
when you start taxing the body. It requires skill to
decide which injuries to ignore and which to pay attention
to. Here are some simple rules of thumb (but don't blame
me if you end up in the hospital :-)
(1) Bruises and broken blood vessels on the skin and
in the eyes are generally harmless, although they can
look pretty bad.
(2) Same fro all manner of skin abrasions.
(3) Deep muscle aches and aching joints are common
but not a sign of serious injury. Same for tendonitis.
(4) Minor muscle tears occur frequently. If a muscle
tear actually causes a loss in strength, you need to avoid
working that area til it heals. If a muscle tear results
in no loss of strength (even though it may hurt while lifting)
you can train as usual.

The bottom line is usually: if an injury makes you get weaker,
do something about it. Otherwise, ignore it. Its not unusual
to train with fairly (even extremely) painful injuries, as long
as you stay strong.

Here's a tip: ibuprofin helps a lot with the pain (at least you
can get to sleep at night :-)

Similarly, you can train through most minor illnesses. But
don't train with a viral chest infection and a fever---it
can damage the heart, according to what my doc told me.


The powerlifting routines I present are periodized routines,
in which you hit all three lifts roughly once a week, an progress
in poundage---with fixed reps---from week to week. The reason for
the fixed number of reps is (a) to build strength you need low
rep sets with heavy weights, plus (b) when using heavy weights,
a one rep change is a huge change, so varying reps is not a very
gradual way to vary the intensity. Instead, the reps are kept
about the same and small changes are made to the poundages. this
allows for a gradual increase in intensity.

A good way to structure the individual workouts
is as follows:

Primary + Assistance
squat     quads,hams,calves
bench     chest,delts,abs
dead      back,traps
<none>    bis, tris, forearms

This gives you a total of four different workouts. If
you would rather just have 3 workouts (they get a bit
long tho) add the tri's to chest day and bis and fores
to dead day.

As for the assistance work, here are rules of thumb
for selection and performance:

* stay away from straight bar work---too much stress on joints
  only use a straight bar for your power lifts.
* do all your work with cables, machines and dumbbells.
* never do work that puts your back in an unsupported position
  (e.g. T-bar rows). Only use back machines that support the torso.
* never wear belt or wraps or straps for assistance work.
  Those are all tools to allow you to lift heavier weights,
  while the goal of assistance is to work the muscles without
  stressing the joints and tendons to much.
* use full range of motion and decent form on assistance;
  again, moving biggest possible weights is not the purpose.
  Muscular conditioning is the goal.
* try to avoid doing anything that involves bending
  over during assistance---conserve the back and keep
  the blood pressure down.

Here are good exercises from which to select the assistance:

quads: leg press, hack squat, leg extension, thigh abductor/adductor
hams: various leg curl machines
calves: seated and standing calf raise
chest: flat bench flyes, flat bench dumbbell presses,
       incline bench flyes, incline dumbbell presses,
       pec dec, cable crossovers.
delts: dumbbell shoulder press, over head machine press,
       dumbbell laterals, machine laterals, cable
       reverse cross overs (for the rear delt), rear
       delt machine.
back:  pulldowns to the front or behind the neck, with various
       hand positions, machine rows on machines that provide
        chest support. For the lower bakc, oat most only do light
       work on a lower back machine---deadlifts are enough
       intense lower back work.
traps: shrugs and upright rows (straightbar is required here).
abs: all manner of crunches and leg raises---just contract the
     abs; the range of motion is very short (otherwise you
     work the upper thigh)
bis: dumbbell curls, cable curls, preacher machine curls
tris: cable pushdowns, machine french curls, cable french curls.
fores: hammer curls, behind the back wrist curls (need a straight
       bar for these).

assistance performance: for each muscle group, select 2--4
assistance exercises (the more complex the muscle, the more
exercises) (be sure to hit front side and rear delt). For
each assistance exercise, do 3 sets of 8 reps each: the
first set is a light warmup, the second set is moderate, and
the third set is hard, so you can barely get eight reps.
But always get eight---that is your goal. Never do more
reps, and if you do less, back off on weight the next time.
If you are using a lot of weight (e.g. leg press with many
plates), you can add in an extra set to build up to your
hard set more gradually.

Here are three common and reasonable ways to
arrange the basic workouts into a micro-cycle:
If you have an arm day, it can go on any
empty day except before bench day (since you need fresh arms to bench)

day  workout
M    bench
T    squat
W    -
Th   -
F    dead
S    -
S    -

day  workout
M    squat
T    -
W    bench
Th   -
F    dead
S    -
S    -

day workout

The latter (III) is an 8 day cycle, in which you
bench twice in 8 days. This allows for somewhat faster
bench progress, taking advantage of the fact that upper
body generally recovers faster than lower body.


Now these weekly cycles need to be arranged into larger
training cycles. I present two basic ways: the former
is better for people who are starting out, and who are
not training for a contest. It is more open ended and lets
you develop your strength in a less planned way.


Progression on the power lifts:

start the cycle for each lift with a weight you
can handle fro 5 sets of 5 reps. Every week
for the lift, you increase the weight (by 20
lbs in the squat and deadlift, 10 lbs in the bench;
cut those in half if they seem like big jumps for
the weight you are using). Whenever you can't get
5 reps on a set, you throw that set out in the
future. Continue this way, until you are left doing
just one set of 5. At that point, if 8 or more weeks
have gone by, stop the cycle (for that lift). If not,
and you want to keep going longer, continue increasing the
weight, and drop at least 1 rep each workout: i.e do
no more than 4 reps the next time (its ok if you can't
get that many though), and continue, planning to drop
one rep each time. You will reach a single in at most
4 weeks (proabbly less) and stop the cycle after that
(you can stop any time before the single as well).

Apply this procedure to each of the powerlifts. You
can stop them at different times as they peter out.
When you stop for one lift, just go into a holding pattern for
it by doing one set of 5 with a fairly light weight, until
you terminate all the others. Make the cycle run at least 8
weeks, but no more than 12. 8--10 is best. Starting with 5 sets
of five, and assuming you drop one set per workout and then
one rep per workout at the end would result in a 9 week cycle.

Progression on the assistance: *unlike* the power lifts,
there is no projected steady increase in the weights used
for assistance. These sets are done more instinctively,
and you should just look at them as little contests: your goal
is to pick a weight for your hard set that you can barely
get 8 with. If you get 8 easy, you were a wimp. Use more
weight next time. If you miss 8, you lose, it was too heavy.
Be more conservative next time. Never do more than 8;
if you have something left, save it for next time. There
is no need to take these sets to failure all the time.
Also, if you feel a little weak, there is no harm in
dropping down, and vice versa. Just use instinct to select
the weights, and have fun with it. The rigid progression is
for the power lifts.

Also, towards the end of the cycle (the last couple weeks),
start to go easy on the assistance, and you can even cut
back on the number of sets some. The power lists will be pretty draining
by then.

if you are training for a contest, you cant afford an open
ended cycle like the above. You have to know you will peak on
a certain day. So, you have to plan a cycle of a known
length and plan the weight jumps you will need to reach your
target lifts. You may not quite reach your goals, but that
is ok.

You may also want a planned length cycle to coincide with the
quarter system at school, or any other time marks in
your life.

Again, use all sets of 5 reps. For each power lift, you
will do one hard set, and one backoff set. The backoff set
is there as a gauge and to practice the movement: your
hard set may degenerate into a single double or triple,
which can make it hard to judge your performance (e.g. if
you miss a single, how strong are you?). Use how you feel on the
backoff to gauge status in that case.

For the backoff set, use about 90% of what you use on your
hard set.

Here is a reasonable schedule of planned jumps: Let W be
the target weight you want to lift for a set of
5 at the end. Assume there are 8 workouts during the
8 week cycle.

Then: for the squat and deadlift, start at W - 100lbs
and take the following weekly jumps:

20lbs, 20lbs, 20lbs, 10lbs, 10lbs, 10lbs, 10lbs

and for the bench, start at W - 50 lbs and take jumps
half that size.

(You can of course reduce the jumps listed in proportion to the
weights you will be lifting).

Assistance progression: same free format as described in
the other macro cycle strategy.


The 8 week (roughly) macro cycles described above should
in turn be strung together to for a sequence of several
cycles. At the start of each new cycle, set a reasonable goal
(e.g. add 20 lbs on your best set of 5 in squat and dead, 10 in bench)
and start the new cycle that much heavier (e.g. up by 20 in squat
and dead, up by 10 in bench). You can do as many as six of these
cycles in a year, and that gives you plenty of opportunity
to increase you squat and dead by ~ 100 lbs and bench by 50 lbs,
which would be plenty of gains for one year. Alternatively,
you could do two power cycles in a row, and then do two of
the bodybuilding cycles I described in previous posts, so that
you alternate between strength gains and mass gains. In this
case it would probably be good to throw in a 4--6 week fat reduction
cycle every year, too (i.e. use a maintainance workout, and the
sort of cyclical diet I described above for 4--6 weeks.)


If you compete, you need to decide what weight class to
go into. It is a fact that anyone can get stronger by getting
fatter---but who wants to look like a pig? I suggest you
try to compete at 8--13% bodyfat, and try to squeeze in the
lower weight classes. It is a much more athletic thing to
do. Also, you can easily drop 3--5 lbs over the last three
days before the contest and then pop back to you final
weight with a little recarbing and sodium loading. The
trick is to eat zero carbs the last three days before
weigh in, and go on a low sodium diet (no added
sodium at all---keep intake to < 600 mg /day) and
drink a gallon of distilled water per day fro the
last two weeks before the show. use a sauna to drop any
remaining weight if you have to, and dont
eat or drink anything within 18 hours before the weigh in.
After the weight in, recarb (complex day before, simple same day) and
sodium and water load as much as possible.

Contests are allows rushed and disorganized, and conditions
usually rang from bad to worse. You'd think they'd have it
down by now, but they don't. Before you compete, attend a show
and try to sit in on the rules briefing as well, if you can.
It help to have someone with you at the show to help
with your gear as well.

There are three major organizations: ADFPA (for drug free),
USPF (the largest, most official (and officious) organization,
currently drug free at the national and international level)
and the APF (formed by the lifters, for the lifters. Drugs
are ok, and they are more lenient on judging criteria and
choice of gear). USPF has the most shows.

When training for a contest, use the preplanned workout
stlye. It is also helpful to "bring up a single", I.e.
take an additonal hard set which is just a single rep, to
practice technique on the single. This starts out easy.
and should be your first work set, and you junp it in weight
each week similar to the set of 5. By the end, it
turns into a max or near max single done with good
singlke technique (whiuch differs subtly from rep technique).


Good strength---for anyone---is a 600 lb squat, 400 lbs
bench, and 600 lbs deadlift. These are the sort of lifts
a good college level athlete is capable of, if they
trained for it.

Good powerlifter strength is those weights + 100 lbs, and
the strength level good high school level athletes are
capable of is those weights - 100 lbs.

I ignore the weight of the lifter above, but I'm talking
about someone weighing at least 200 lbs.

More generally, squat and deadlift 3 x bodyweight and bench
2 x bodyweight is good strength for a power lifter. That
is nearly national level.


Powerlifting mottos to live by:

That which does not destroy you will make you strong.

Tired does not mean weak, injured does not mean weak,
only weak means weak.


here are the top lifts and lifters for
some representative weight classes:

Lift  Wt   Lifter

Men 165 lbs
S   760   Perez
B   505   Perez
D   733   Inzer
Tot 1890  Alexander

Men 181 lbs
S   843  Bell
B   562  Confessore
D   790  Coan
Tot 2110 Bell

Men 198 lbs
S   870 Bell
B   600 Lee
D   860 Coan
Tot 2204 Coan

Men 220 lbs
S  965  Coan
B  628  Confessore
D  865  Coan
Tot 2370 Coan (But I thought he hit 2430?)

Men, overall:

S 1030 Passanella (275 lbs bodyweight)
B 705 Arcidi (308 lbs bdywt) (But Anthony Clark has hit 730
D 920 Heisey (> 308 lbs bdywt)   in unsanctioned meets recently,
                                  weighing 330)
Tot 2460 Pasanella (308 lbs)

The all time best lifter overall, based on formual, is
Ed Coan with his 2370 total at 220 lbs.

Here is a selection from the women, just to make
the guys reading this feel weak:

Women 125 lb
S  440 Jeffery
B  248 Jeffery
D  408 Jeffery
T  1100 Jeffery

Women 165 lb
S  567 Dodd
B  363 Harrell
D  534 Dodd
T  1317 Dodd

Women 181 lb
S  579 Reshel
B  352 Grimwood
D  589 Reshel
T  1483 Reshel

Women 198 lb
S  633 Reshel
B  385 Harrell
D  604 Reshel
T  1565 Reshel (Note: these records are close
                to my own best lifts at 198!)

(The latter are also the overall best for women).

Barry Merriman
UCSD Fusion Energy Research Center
UCLA Dept. of Math (Internet; NeXTMail is welcome)
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