As a powerlifter, I can almost guarantee you’ve experienced this: You’re at a meet having the day of your life. Squats and bench went amazingly and you’re 6 for 6 with a PR subtotal. You gear up to deadlift and begin taking your first few warm-ups. Things feel alright for the first one or two but then they begin moving uncharacteristically slow. You push through, take your opener and then it hits you like ton of bricks. You are straight up out of gas. A conservative second is made, maybe you even make it to a conservative third. But you just can’t shake the feeling of disappointment that you fell so short of your goals. If this is a common issue for you, ask yourself “Is my training set up in a way that helps or hurts my ability to perform on the platform?”
It’s easy to set up training to display maximal performance in the gym. Just organize your training so that you’re always hitting your heaviest lifts when you’re fresh and rid of fatigue. You can make it even easier by cutting depth on squats, doing a soft lockout on deads, doing touch and go bench (while also telling yourself and all your friends it’s a “paused PR”) and most of all, you can deadlift only in a fresh state. But none of these things will translate to peak performance on the platform where it counts and all of them will serve only to inflate your ego. At the end of the day, your training cycle will be judged solely by your performance in nine lifts on one single day and not by the gym PRs you set in the process. You either make the lifts and PR or you don’t. So let’s talk about how to set yourself up for success!
Enter the SBD Day: A training day consisting of squat, bench, and deadlift performed in this order alone. This will allow you to dial in your ability to perform the lifts in competition order and will pay massive dividends if performed on a regular basis. It will test you physically and mentally, develop a high degree of work capacity specific to the demands of a powerlifting meet, and will more than likely giving you a well deserved ego check.
When setting up a training week, most lifters these days are using a squat frequency of 2-3x per week, bench 2-3x per week, and deadlift 1-2x per week. While it is not necessary to utilize an SBD day year-round, I do recommend utilizing at least one SBD day per week within 4-8 weeks of competition depending on your needs. Additionally, there is incredible value in performing deadlifts ONLY after having squatted in your training so feel free to try that before taking the leap into doing SBD work.
Here is a sample of how to set up your training with the frequency above organized into four training days using deadlifts after squatting on the first day as well as a one SBD day in the week:
Squat- Highest volume/lowest intensity
Deadlift- Heaviest work of the week
Bench – Highest volume/lowest intensity
Squat- medium volume/intensity
Bench- medium volume/intensity
Deadlift- medium volume/intensity
Squat- Heaviest work of the week
Bench- Heaviest work of the week
(*Assistance/accessory work not shown)
Notice that I have organized this week to include the heaviest deadlifts following the highest volume work of squat to allow for a decent level of fatigue entering deadlifts and have placed the lighter deadlift session at the end of the SBD day. This is merely a sample and the placement of these two deadlift sessions could be switched based upon individual needs and preferences so do not approach this as being “set in stone.” Additionally, the two heaviest bench press sessions are performed after squatting making this a very “sport specific” way to organize your training. Lastly, be sure to allow for adequate rest before and after an SBD day as they tend to be some of the most fatiguing sessions.
If you have had trouble putting together a PR total in a 9/9 meet and have not incorporated a weekly SBD day, give it a try and see what it does for your performance.