Despite this “methodical” type of personality, it doesn’t mean that I can’t enjoy some variety and make things up as I step into my shed. In fact it is critical to the longevity of training to build in some variety if for no other reason than to reduce any mental staleness that could be creeping in. Not to mention how your body can often respond significantly when undergoing a new training approach. The following are some examples for taking a break from the regular 5/3/1, Cube, Westside or you name it type of method.
1 – Just changing the reps and exercises that you do can really add not only some muscle but some serious soreness to go along with it. Instead of your regular 1-5 reps on squats try some 20 rep sets. Popularized by John McCallum and written in the book Super Squats by Randall J. Strossen, PH.D. the 20 rep squat program has been a bonafide “man maker” since the 1960’s.
2 - Training up to a max lift in one of the big 3 and then finishing with multiple drop sets utilizing 50% with 3 rep dynamic efforts can really build some explosiveness that aids your max lifting
3 – A favorite of many weightlifters is the Barbell Complex. These are a fantastic way to build some conditioning and muscle. Barbell complexes also build in some great motor pattern skill acquisition by repetitive movements flowing from one exercise into another. Taking a barbell with a light weight, for example just 40kgs (95Ibs) and following a sequence of consecutive exercises without putting the barbell down you can really be blowing hard not to mention pack on some muscle. Below is a an example of one complex you could try. You can of course develop your own; just make sure that the movements flow from one to another. Finally make sure you start out light as these can really burn you quickly if you start out too heavy.
Stiff legged deadlift x 6
Bent over row x6
Power clean x 6
Front squat x 6
Military press x 6
Back squat x 6
4 - Training arms can be fun. While I predominately train for strength incorporating some bodybuilding type arm routines, this has resulted in a little more mass and some fun workouts. Check out Matt Kroc’s 1000 set arm routine as an example. Comprising of 5 movements for biceps and 5 movements for triceps each for 5 sets of 20 reps it equates to a 1000 reps in total for arms. Not for the faint hearted. Insane Training, Matt Kroczaleski, 2014
5 – Hill Sprints. These are superb for burning fat, building explosive power and conditioning. Pretty simple, find a hill or a long flight of stairs and run up it as fast as you can. Turn walk back to the start and repeat sprint again. Repeat this process until you have had enough.
6 – Strongman training is another staleness breaker for the powerlifter and access to strongman equipment is not necessary. Find a big heavy rock pick it up and walk mimicking the Atlas Stones. Grab 150Ibs+ dumbbells in each hand and walk = Farmers Walk. Set up a heavy Barbell outdoors, pick it up in a Zercher Hold (Crook of the elbows with your hands locked together) and walk, it is just like a Conans wheel. Use your imagination and you can replicate many of the moves your favorite World’s Strongest Man competitors are doing on the TV.
Bottom line is, do not be afraid to change things up occasionally. I have reviewed my last few workouts and have on the past 3 out of 7 sessions exceeded over 11000 total kg's lifted. When I looked at the average weights I was throwing around leading up to my last competition it was more in the 7000kg's to 9000kg vicinity per session, so if nothing else this extra volume in between competition cycles has taught me that I can possibly add even more volume leading up to this next competition which will hopefully yield some tremendous results. If you’ve recently competed or are a number of months from your next competition why not change things up for the next 4-6 weeks. The results may surprise you.