Q&A: Max Effort Lifts

Joe,

After reading every powerlifting post over the years it was placed in my head that you rotate your max effort lift every 1-3 weeks, possibly longer for younger, beginner athletes. Now I remember reading an article that you wrote in which you claim you choose a few lifts and rotate them minimally throughout the year and focus on improving form and becoming better at these lifts. In the meantime changing the supplemental and assistance lifts every 2-3 weeks. It seems that you are using this in your training logs that you have put on your website. Now with that said, when would you rotate the max effort lifts? I also know you are using a “type” of 5/3/1 wendler parameters. I know that DeFranco mentioned that if you are using the wendler 5/3/1 parameters to keep the max effort lift for about 12 weeks while rotating the supp. and assistance every 3 weeks with a 4th week deload. Wendlers 5/3/1 only calls for 3 sets on the main lift of each day and you have added more sets, so I wasn’t sure if because of this you would maybe cut it to 6-8 weeks. I realize that all of these things vary according to each athlete and his schedule and demands but if you had to give just a basic overview of possibly the lifts you use and the rotations used?

Thanks,

Evan

Hey Evan,

Look at the key words in the first sentence your wrote, “after reading every powerlifting post”. While you are correct that most geared powerlifters rotate their max effort lift every1-3 weeks based on their physical preparedness, my athletes are not geared powerlifters nor do I train them like powerlifters. The goals between athletes and powelifters are totally different. In a nutshell, powerlifters are concerned with increasing their squat, deadlift and bench press but this isn’t the case for my baseball players.  Each athlete has different needs. Some need to increase absolute strength, while others need to increase rate of force development, the list goes on and on. Before I go off on a huge tangent let me answer your question.

Because my athletes squat raw, I use the principle of specificity. This simply states that if you want your athlete to  become better at squatting, they must perform squats. This is why I love Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 method. It truly is the simplest and most effective training system for raw strength. The assistance work we do after squatting is done to overcome muscular imbalances and strengthen the posterior chain. The first two big barbell lifts I teach to my athletes are the box squat and trap bar deadlift with high handles. We will do these lifts for a minimum of 3 weeks in a row. We will continue to do these lifts until my athletes can do an Olympic style squat and a trap bar deadlift or a conventional deadlift.

After these 3 weeks, depending on the athletes progression, I will go on to teach a regular trap bar deadlift and an Olympic style back squat. It really depends on the athletes make up. From experience I can usually tell right away whether or not an athlete should be squatting onto a box or not. For me this is simple, if they can achieve proper depth and keep there lower back flat they will squat without a box.

While the squat and deadlift are great indicators of how strong they are, they are not the only indicators I use.  Some athletes that I train are already really strong and therefore they primary goal isn’t to get strong, but instead it may be more of a mobility issue, or a conditioning issue or a muscular imbalance issue.

Athletes need to be strong, explosive,  and more important they need to be healthy. Health and durability are the two components all great athletes have in common.  Evan, hopefully this answers your question.

All the best,

Joe Meglio

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