Random training = random results

Updated: Oct 2, 2018

In 2016 I competed in a few competitions early on in the year with no competition booked in for the autumn/winter season. So my only goal was to get my deadlift from 240kg to 250kg before the year was out.

To get there I started by telling everyone I was 100% going to lift 250kg by the end of the year. Because if I start talking about it then it must happen, believe then achieve and all that bullshit. Then I started training. But because I didn’t have a competition coming up I thought I didn’t need a training programme.

One week I would hit sets of 10, the next week would be sets of 3, then the week after sets of 5, then a single at 90%, then 10 reps again. Basically, I did whatever I fancied when I walked into the gym, it was completely random.

When the end of the year came around I tried to max out, but could only manage an ugly 240kg, and 250kg was glued to the floor.

Feeling defeated I just thought that 250 was way out of my reach and all my hard work was pointless.

Fast forward a few months and I sign up for Plymouth’s strongest man in August of 2017. The illusive 250kg deadlift still tormenting me, but this competition had a max deadlift in it, so I needed to sign up. I told Jordan the goal and the date, plus booked in some 1-2-1 deadlift sessions to keep me on programme.

The deadlift training started with some stretching, empty bar good mornings and explosive kettlebell swings. Then onto deadlifts. They started light with higher reps and progressively got heavier with lower reps, towards the competition. A lot of variation was created through normal deadlifts, deficit deadlifts, and deadlifts from the blocks. Along with a max 300kg deadlift from really high blocks, to build up confidence.

Last but not least my favourite exercise from the training block – isometrics. Here you load up the bar to a weight way above your max, so there’s no way it’s coming off the floor. Get into a normal start position and try to rip the bar off the floor for 8-10 seconds, keeping a tight start position. We only performed this twice towards the end of the training cycle because it has such a high impact on the body.

All of this training was supplemented with a rest week every fourth week, but it did vary by a week or two depending on how beat up I was feeling.

When I was about two weeks out I realised I hadn’t gone above 90% on a conventional deadlift in the whole build up and immediately started to panic. People kept telling me I needed to test my max. Luckily I didn’t and talked to Jordan. He explained maxes have a time and place, but your efforst are better concentrated by lifting consistently at 70-90% with variations do. You need to be patient and leave your max effort for the platform.

Competition day - the first event was max deadlift. I warmed up to an easy 230kg. My first allocated lift was my current PB – 240kg. Stepping up to the platform I felt very confident. I strapped in and ripped it off the floor easy, pulling it to lock out with no hitching.

Attempt number two was the illusive 250kg. Stepping to the platform I still felt pretty confident, but I was very aware I’d been chasing this number for over a year. Strapped in, ripped it off the floor and it felt no heavier than the 240kg. After this lift I was already happy with the result but I had one more attempt to see how far I could push it.

Attempt number three was 260kg and it was only slightly slower then the 250kg attempt with still no hitching. This result put me 4th in the placings, which would normally have me worried but I was too excited to have a brand new shiny deadlift PB. 10kg above what I was expecting and 20kg above my pervious PB.

So what is the moral of the story? Don’t do random workouts if you have serious goals you want to achieve. If you want to be a serious athlete with longevity in strength sports you need professional programming because it isn’t guess work, it’s science! And if you stick with it you can see some amazing results.

Jake – BNSF Britain’s strongest natural U105kg