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My Experience with Verkhoshansky's Peaking Plan

November 10, 2009 07:17 AM


The aphorism "knowledge is power" is literally true in the sport of powerlifting. To succeed in powerlifting one must first master the proper technique of each lift. The competitive lifter, having mastered technique, will then construct a training plan designed to produce the highest total at a contest. Remember, you must first learn how to execute each lift to perfection before worrying about what routine to use. A lifter will never achieve his or her potential unless technique is flawless, regardless of the routine he or she uses. Alternatively, a lifter with excellent technique can make progress using almost any reasonable training routine.

Where does a lifter gain the knowledge that will help him master technique? If you want to be the best, learn from the best. First find a strong teacher. Legendary powerlifters Ricky Dale Crain, Ed Coan, and Mike Bridges have excellent videos on powerlifting technique. The book "Starting Strength" by Mark Rippetoe is an step-by-step instruction manuel for appropriate squat, bench and deadlift technique. Pavel's book Power to the People! is an excellent treatise on strength training and that should be in every powerlifter's library. YouTube is full of videos of great (and not so great) lifters. Remember, there are only two techniques in powerlifting, good technique and bad technique. Learn good technique first, then plan your training routine.

Unlike technique, which is either good or bad, there are numerous reasonable training routines, which can lead to success on the platform. Where does a lifter gain knowledge to put together an appropriate training routine? Again, look to an established authority. Strength training is a science. Many of the strength training philosophies and routines used by elite powerlifters today are based on research conducted by Soviet and Eastern European scientists and coaches during the Cold War era. Mel Siff's book "Supertraining" and Fred Halfield's book "Power" describe the science of strength in great detail. Pavel's book, Power to the People! puts things in layman's terms. Although emulating the technique of elite powerlifters is almost always advisable, the routine that works best for any given elite lifter may not work best for you. High volume/high intensity training routines developed for chemically enhanced lifters will probably lead to injury in the drug free lifter. Of course, any good training routine must stimulate strength gain without causing injury. I recently decided to give the Verkhoshansky Peaking Program a try. I read about the routine in Brett Jones's article "Programming for the Deadlift" on www.Dragondoor.com. I used the six-week Verkhoshansky routine for my squat training this summer, beginning with a raw max (belt and knee sleeves) of 500 lbs and ending with a new personal best of 517 at a USAPL contest weighing 222.5. I am a 41 year-old 220/242 lb drug free lifter competing in USAPL and WABDL. I have been competing for 13 years, so a 3.4% (17lb) gain at the contest was a significant increase for me on this program. I squatted on Monday and Wednesday. I put on my belt and knee sleeves at 75% and above. Assistance excercises included glute-ham raises, reverse hyperextensions, and weighted situps. I also deadlifted every Saturday using a routine detailed in Ricky Dale Crain's book "Extreme Deadlifting." Here are the actual percents and pounds based on my 500 pound raw squat going into the cycle:

Workout 1
45% 225 x 8
55% 275 x 6
65% 325 x 6
70% 350 x 6
70% 350 x 6
70% 350 x 6

Workout 2
45% 225 x 8
55% 275 x 6
65% 325 x 5
75% 375 x 5
80% 400 x 5
80% 400 x 5
80% 400 x 5
75% 375 x 5
65% 325 x 6
55% 275 x 8

Workout 3
45% 225 x 8
55% 275 x 6
65% 325 x 6
70% 350 x 5
75% 375 x 5
75% 375 x 5

Workout 4
45% 225 x 8
55% 275 x 6
65% 325 x 5
75% 375 x 4
80% 400 x 4
85% 425 x 4
85% 425 x 4
85% 425 x 4
80% 400 x 5
70% 350 x 6

Workout 5
45% 225 x 8
55% 275 x 6
65% 325 x 5
70% 350 x 4
75% 375 x 3
80% 400 x 3
85% 425 x 3

Workout 6
45% 225 x 8
55% 275 x 6
65% 325 x 5
75% 375 x 4
85% 425 x 3
90% 450 x 3
90% 450 x 3
80% 400 x 5
60% 300 x 6

Workout 7
45% 225 x 8
55% 275 x 6
65% 325 x 5
75% 375 x 4
85% 425 x 3
85% 425 x 3

Workout 8
45% 225 x 8
55% 275 x 6
65% 325 x 5
75% 375 x 4
85% 425 x 2
90% 450 x 2
95% 475 x 2
75% 375 x 4

Workout 9
45% 225 x 8
55% 275 x 6
65% 325 x 5
75% 375 x 5
75% 375 x 5

Workout 10
45% 225 x 8
55% 275 x 6
65% 325 x 5
75% 375 x 3
80% 400 x 3
85% 425 x 2

Workout 11
45% 225 x 8
55% 275 x 6
65% 325 x 5
75% 375 x 3
80% 400 x 2
80% 400 x 2

Workout 12
45% 225 x 8
55% 275 x 6
65% 325 x 5
75% 375 x 3
85% 425 x 2
90% 450 x 1
95% 475 x 1
100% 500 x 1
102% 510 x 1
104% 520 x 1 (Contest max 517 two weeks later, 8/15/09)

A beginner may make greater gains on this program. I was happy to get a 3.4% (17lb) improvement with a 517lb raw squat at the contest. I look forward to plugging my new max into these percentages percentages and repeating the cycle for a new personal best. Always remember, "talk is cheap, squat deep."


Mike Woody is a drug-free powerlifter with a personal best geared deadlift of 705.2lbs (WABDL) and Raw Deadlift of 644lbs (USAPL). Mike is a Medical Malpractice lawyer in Indianapolis, Indiana. mwoody@petrilaw.com
 

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