Top Set Powerlifting Training- Raw & Equipped- Week 11

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This training cycle has been a great learning experience and I have gained strength mentally and physically through challenging myself weekly to keep pushing. Some days were better than others, but in the end I set some PB’s and also in some lifts I stayed about the same.

My 12+ Week Strength Progression

  • Squat: 400lbs->390lbs
  • Equipped Squat: 475lbs->470lbs
  • Bench Press: 245lbs->270lbs
  • Equipped Bench Press: 305lbs->310lbs
  • Deadlift: 495lbs->?
  • Equipped Deadlift: 505lbs->520lbs

-In the squat if I really wanted to push it I could have probably broke even with my previous best, but it didn’t ever really feel worth it. My squat was hit or miss and depending on the week or day I was mostly trying to stick to my plan.

-Bench obviously improved a bunch whenever my technique was on point. I feel I have a good understanding on what that feels and looks like, so moving forward I see my bench press improving much more.

-I never went for a new max with my raw deadlift, so I’m unsure as to where I’m at, but my equipped deadlift is only 25lbs ahead, so who knows? I feel like the deadlift suit has helped me with understanding my positioning to start the pull. Before I was trying to get too low and squat the weight up, now it’s about getting tight and being patient.

Something that I need to keep in mind is that when I watch other high level powerlifters lift, I am not going to look like them as far as technique goes. Our bodies are different and I have to do what works for me. I am learning more about myself and how to improve through reflecting and documenting my training. This has been a great way to track progress and understand the changes I need to make to improve.

On to this week’s training, I was really feeling fatigued and low on energy for the most part. My motivation was slipping away. I bounced back in the middle of the week, but after deadlifting this past two weeks, I feel drained. This is expected considering I hit PB’s back-to-back, but I am needing a change because I would really like to improve my squat and bench press a lot more than I have.

This week got me thinking of what direction do I want to navigate my training towards; more intensity or more volume? I’m wanting and needing to make some changes in my programming to improve the two lifts that need it most; squat and bench press. So, my plan moving forward is to focus primarily on those two lifts by adding a ton of volume.

I have had fun learning and experimenting with equipped lifting. In some ways it has helped me learn and understand better positioning for my bench press and deadlift. I need to get my squat suit adjusted in the shoulders and I plan to get a new lifting belt with a lever. This is the perfect time to get my raw numbers up.

Week 11


Day 1- 9/11/18

  • Squat-Single Ply Suit: 470×1
  • Bench Press-Pause: 250×1, 230×3

Note: Equipped squat felt good and I probably could have got another 5lbs maybe, but I rather end on a good note, so I didn’t push it. Bench press felt off. It didn’t feel right; couldn’t get tight. After bench, I was really unmotivated and felt tired. I couldn’t get my head in the game so-to-speak, so I shut it done for the day.

Day 2- 9/12/18

  • Bench Press-Single Ply Shirt: 310×1
  • Squat: 330×3, 340×3, 350×3
  • Bench Press-2 Board: 250×5,5,5
  • Chest Supported Row: 60’sx12,12,12

Note: Equipped bench press felt strong, this was a 5lb PB for me. Squat actually felt good this day and I thought I might be figuring things out. I have the tendency to overthink things and I know this has led me to making unnecessary changes that has slowed my squat progress.

Day 3- 9/14/18

  • Deadlift-Sumo Single Ply Suit: 520×1
  • Bench Press-Pause: 270×1
  • Bench Press: 220×5,5, 225×5
  • Box Squat-SSB: 295×3,4,5
  • Bench Press-Wide Feet Up: 205×5, 210×5
  • Lat Pulldown: 120×17,17,17

Note: Equipped deadlift has been feeling awesome! Another 5lb PB. I’ll take it! I have been able to get into a good position and maintain it through the initiation of the pull and lock-out has improved as well. Bench felt amazing! I hit a 5lb PB and all rep work after felt solid. I think I figured out my groove and it has to do with learning the bench shirt. I’m setting my back tight and reaching my chest/ stomach up to the bar while touching the bar to my upper ab area. This seems to be working for me, so I’m gonna keep at it. Box squats started off heavy and I built up each set. Bench press wide with my feet up is one of my favorite chest builders. I have my pointer finger outside the power ring for this, any wider and it becomes sketchy trying to re-rack without pinching my hand between the bar and J-Cups.

Day 4- 9/15/18

  • Squat: 385×1
  • Bench Press-Close Grip Slingshot: 225+mini bandsx1
  • Bench Press-Close Grip Slingshot: 185+mini bandsx5, 195+mini bandsx5
  • Rear Delts: 30’sx15,15,15

Note: Squat felt horrible. I wasn’t keeping my upper-back tight and I had the bar to low on my back causing me to aggravate some shoulder issues. Nothing major, just some discomfort. I need to pinch my back tighter and create a shelf for the bar to sit; below the traps and above the rear delts. Squat has been a struggle and I need to get in more practice through added volume. Bench press with the slingshot felt ok, but after squat I was drained. I did what I could and called it a day.

Change is Good!

I’m glad this week is done and I will be taking a week off and begin my new program the following week.

With change comes new challenges. I have decided to focus on building my raw squat and bench press up. I will return to equipped lifting in the future. I know that by improving my raw numbers this will also benefit my equipped lifts. I feel like I need a break from the suits and shirt for a little bit and focus on my raw lifts.

I have been thinking of what kind of program will help with improving my squat and bench press. The program that comes to mind is the Smolov routine. I’m thinking of running the full Smolov squat routine and Smolov Jr. for my bench press. I want to get my squat back up over 405lbs and my bench to 300lbs by the end of the year. My deadlift is ok for now and with past experience; when my squat goes up, so does my deadlift. I will deadlift light once a week for some singles to maintain form. I will still be doing some kind of back-work every workout. On my off days I will do some kettlebell swings and light leg work for recovery.

I plan to document my training to track progress and do write-ups the same way I have been. I look forward to the challenge and expect it to be tough.

Until next time, keep pushing!

If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions feel free to leave them below.

We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone.-Ronald Reagan








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Marcus is a man of God, married to a wonderful women and has 4 children. He is an ISSA Certified Personal Trainer and aspiring Powerlifter. He has a passion for helping others achieve personal growth through a healthy fitness and nutrition based lifestyle. With hard work and dedication anything is possible. God bless

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