I am super excited to bring to you the very first interview with my coach, Izzy Narvaez of Powerlifting to Win!
My goal is to bring you the best information out there when it comes to strength training nutrition motivation and much more. One of the ways I can do this is by bringing on guests that I consider to be the most knowledgeable people out there. Not only has he been my own coach for the past two plus years, but I consider him to be one of the top out Powerlifting Coaches.
His YouTube channel and his website Powerlifting to Win were one of my own inspirations for starting my own channel. Whether you want to learn about powerlifting training, programming, nutrition, or even competition. I believe their Powerlifting to Win is the number one resource for powerlifters.
Watch the Video
Without further ado, Let’s get started with this interview with Izzy from Powerlifting To Win!
For the to one or two people who may not know who you are, would you like to introduce yourself?
I’m the creator of powerlifting to win. It’s an informative powerlifting channel where I’ve pretty much talked about everything related to the sport at this point, but there’s a lot of information on there was like popular programs what equipment to use. And so I’ve got two books as well. One is on Nutrition for powerlifting and the other is for programming specifically for powerlifting.
I guess the general thrust of the site is that it’s specifically for powerlifters because when I first started making contact for powerlifting like if you type in powerlifting into Google like the first four search results were like from bodybuilding.com. So it’s a lot it’s a lot different now like three or four or five years later, where Powerlifting is a lot bigger.
I’ve been competing in powerlifting for six years now. Now my best numbers are 1450 total at ~190 pounds.
How did you get into lifting?
I remember the first time I ever really lifted like barbells would be in like high school class and I would say at that time I wasn’t super interested in it as much as I did at that time. I was really excited and doing my curls and abs like I guess most people that age probably you know 14 or something like that.
But I’ve got more into it in high school because I’m pretty short. I’m only 5’6″ or so. That under 168 centimeters For people out there who use the metric system. I always liked playing sports but I was too small to really be any good at most sports. Not only was I short but like when I graduated high school I was probably 140 pounds. So when I first started lifting I was like 120 pounds. Besides wrestling, since it’s weight class based, I was way too small for the other sports I enjoyed, such as football and basketball. I didn’t like being like that small and skinny.
I would say a lot of people are sort of skinnier. I’ve actually gone too far with it. I tend to have a pretty strong personality about this stuff. So when I did I started with Starting Strength, which I like at the time that I started lifting those was pretty much anything anybody ever recommended to any beginner. Right back at the time, it was popular to drink a gallon of milk a day. So I was drinking like a gallon of whole milk a day. Really the first nine months I trained and I got up like 240 245 pounds.
I was at my heaviest and I stopped weighing myself because It was like like there was some cognitive dissonance there that I didn’t really want to believe how heavy I had gotten so up to 240 pounds and then him that wasn’t a good thing. I was like 40-45% body fat. So I have I have some experience with that. But I always knew that was a temporary thing for me and I was only that big for you know six-seven months. But I’m I’m I can definitely relate to not wanting to let my weight go out of control because I’ve done that.
Why Powerlifting? How did you start?
I have always been into like combat sports. Growing up I did a lot of wrestling; it was my favorite sport.
When high school ended I kind of looked for another outlet for that and at the time MMA was becoming popular. And although I never got too much into MMA one of the aspects of was is like jiujitsu and various kinds of judo and wrestling. So I started doing that. And in order to get better at that, I lifted weights.
Basically what I found was that over time I realized that I liked lifting weights more than I liked doing Jiu-jitsu or any of the MMA stuff that I was doing. So I kind of got tired of constantly getting hurt doing that stuff. One one time I kind of hurt my knee. Not badly but I just sprained it. But it was enough to not be able to do anything for like three weeks into rehab. I was lifting and it was probably the first time I’ve ever been lifting and not doing any other sports or not doing tons of cardio and tons of sports. I got really strong really fast compared to previous times. And I just decide to keep going with it. I didn’t really I just ended up making I remember I made a conscious decision at that time I was like oh I’m just done with doing other sports and I just lift.
What was your First Powerlifting Program?
5/3/1; which is really not even a powerlifting program but right again at the time that I started when you looked on the internet for information about how to get strong it was all bodybuilding. So nowadays you have guys like Mike Israetel and Greg Nuckols and all these guys putting out tons of science-based information about powerlifting
I’ve already been lifting purely for strength for like a year before I even really knew powerlifting was. So it was totally different so I didn’t I didn’t even do a real program designed specifically for powerlifting until I had been lifting for three years. It was really a different situation I think than what a lot of you have now where they start off you doing powerlifting specific training, almost too soon.
How did you start powerlifting To Win? When did you decide to become a Powerlifting Coach?
I never actually had any intention of doing coaching when I first made my website. The reason why did it is that at the time I had basically made up my goal at the time was to try and create an income source that was 100 percent online. While that was my goal and I was learning really about that more than I was learning about powerlifting. I went through something like some sort of the process for identifying a potentially viable content-based business.
I knew about that I could write about and to my surprise, I considered a lot of different things. I did all this keyword research and it turned out like I said that nobody was writing about powerlifting. Nobody was talking about it making videos or whatever. So it was kind of a coincidence. I was like: well this is something that I’m really interested in. No one else is talking about it. So I’ll make some content about it and we’ll see how it goes. But my original plan was to do affiliate marketing with it mostly like years ago.
What ends up happening is that the website caught so much steam that I would literally be getting dozens of requests from people asking me to personally coach them and so out I went where I just decided to you know give that a try. So many people wanted me to do that for them that I’ve decided to try it. And you know it ended up being pretty rewarding in making me more money than anything else I was doing with the site. So it kind of everything set in really well to start doing that.
Nowadays it’s the super popular saying like everybody is doing online coaching. When I first started online coaching I didn’t even know that was a thing. I knew a few other people that did it. They’re mostly bodybuilding coaches. It’s totally different nowadays where it’s where it seems like every powerlifter you can find out there who has their own program. There were no targeted specific programs that I even knew about besides Sheiko.
What are the top things you’ve learned from powerlifting coaching?
Individual differences are more important than I ever realized.
There’s a saying that in Powerlifting where they say something like: “You know you got to find what works for you.” And I always thought I was kind of B.S. because I was like well there’s things that work for everybody and then there’s just people maybe don’t understand the reasons why this would work in this situation or it wouldn’t in this other situation. But since then, what I’ve realized through coaching through just coaching people is that it’s literally the case where something can work for one person and then the exact or a very similar situation it does not work at all for another person maybe two similar lifters at a similar stage of development and you give them something that should work and it just doesn’t just doesn’t work at all.
But since then, what I’ve realized through coaching through just coaching people is that it’s literally the case where something can work for one person and then the exact or a very similar situation it does not work at all for another person maybe two similar lifters at a similar stage of development and you give them something that should work and it just doesn’t just doesn’t work at all.
And that was a big eye opening thing for me where maybe you have like 80 percent of people who will respond predictably to certain kinds of programming then they’ll be like 10 percent that are hyper-responders and then there’ll be another 10 percent that don’t respond to it at all. So yeah there’s just there have been some really interesting examples like that. I’ve seen people where doesn’t really make sense why this happens but they’ll make better gains with for powerlifting with really high reps like 8,10,12,15 reps. That shouldn’t work based on intensity and specificity for the sport.
And then I’ve seen other people where it’s like they don’t do anything but singles and that’s the best gains ever. So and again 80 percent of people respond predictably to more moderate approaches. But there are these weird outliers that just that combine I underestimated how frequently that actually happens.
What are some of the main differences between males and females in terms of training?
So on a purely practical level, one of the things that you have to break down with that too is the actual size of the female who does more often than not. Females are small or smaller like in height and in overall body weight. Well, that’s not always the case. And so I’ve noticed that just like with males, larger females respond to programming completely differently than smaller females.
But there are more similarities between smaller males and smaller females of a similar size than there is between big females like you know like say six six foot tall female that’s over 200 pounds then that there are more differences between that girl and the five-foot girl who’s 100 pounds. And you would see between males and females.
In general, females can train a lot more. And in particular, they almost get the best gains possible. There’s a bunch of physiological reasons for this. But in the real world what’s really important is that basically have to realize that females can train much more often than males and they should as a result because they can recover from it and make productive gains. So one of the biggest problems that I saw initially was that there was a tendency for females to chronically under
One of the biggest problems that I saw initially was that there was a tendency for females to chronically under train because they would use these American powerlifting programs that were once a week for each lift. You bench once a week, squat once a week, deadlift once a week.
Well, what I’ve seen is that the average size female and again kind of have to exclude some of those taller really heavier ones that almost respond more like males. As you know benching four or five six times a week sometimes whereas the average male trainee for me that t somewhere in that 170 to 220 pounds range. It’s going to bench two or three times a week. But those lighter females at 120, 130, 110 pounds way more training has to be done to get them the best possible results.
And I guess the other one to you is that females just almost across the board have a little bit slower response to upper body progress so it’s lower. Takes a lot more work because they build muscle less quickly especially in places that require you know high androgen levels. But yeah that’s that’s I guess the big one is that I think the biggest part of it is that because females are on average so much smaller and the absolute loads that they work with are also smaller. To me, I’ve seen a correlation between absolute load and how often we can train. So this also applies to like super heavyweight males who train was much larger absolute loads and evenly there are smaller male counterparts and they cannot train as much a lot of those guys do better once a week training.
Then on the other extreme end of that spectrum is I work just like like a four foot 10 female who’s who’s 100 pounds and if she’s not training six days a week you know squatting four days a week pulling two or three times a week and maybe doing some of her body every single training session she makes minimal progress.
So I guess that’s the big one is that they train more. They have to train more to get the best results.
What is your General Programming Style?
I’m pretty moderate at this point. So what I would say is like I use more traditional forms of periodization who with a good deal of variety most of the time. So what’s the most popular right now? I would say is especially among like USAPL IPF competitors is like hyper-specific Daily Undulating Periodization (DUP) templates. And while I have seen that work really well. The problem that I had with it and what I mean by that and those who are unaware, is basically they just do Competition Squat, competition bench, and competition deadlift with very little variation. The variation mostly comes from Rep Ranges.
So if they’re benching three days a week. One day might be you five triples the next day is four sets of six and then another day is y three sets of nine or something. So the variation is mostly in rep ranges just throughout the week which is what daily undulating periodization (DUP) loosely is what I see when I see people who do that make progress very very fast but they tend to have all these overuse issues. These lifters are 22 21 and tendonitis in every joint imaginable and it’s like that that shouldn’t be happening at that age.
So what my approach tends to be more variety especially in the off- season and of course I don’t really know if there’s a real offseason in powerlifting but my offseason I just mean further away. Even if there are a wide stance low bar squatter, I’ll prescribe front squats and narrow high bar squats. If they’re a sumo puller, I’ll have them doing deficit conventional deadlifts. A lot of people would argue you know that’s not specific enough but what I’ve found is that you can use these general strength builders in the offseason that are superior in a lot of ways for hypertrophy. And then when you’re getting ready for a contest you can use the similar approach to the DUP programs with the high-frequency hyper-specificity. This last four to six weeks and get that peak. But then in the offseason with you know a little bit lower frequency, more variety, you avoid some of the constant overuse injuries with tendons and things. So yeah my general programming
But then in the offseason with a little bit lower frequency, more variety, you avoid some of the constant overuse injuries with tendons and things. So yeah my general programming is pretty moderate you know there’s periodization I don’t do anything extreme like say on the one end of the extreme spectrum would be like West Side where you do like a different movement every single time you know and then there’s your max out every week. Or like the Bulgarian method which is nothing but the competition movements and singles. I’m much more moderate in terms of the amount of volume and exercise variety. I periodize I things pretty normally so higher reps further away from the meet and lower reps closer to meeet. I don’t do a lot of exotic things because even though those programs are you know sexier to most people more exciting to run. They usually have problems that are introduced solely because of the extreme nature of the program.
I periodize I things pretty normally so higher reps further away from the meet and lower reps closer to meet. I don’t do a lot of exotic things because even though those programs are you know sexier to most people more exciting to run. They usually have problems that are introduced solely because of the extreme nature of the program.
On Training Volume
What is Training Volume? Why is it important?
If somebody is under training the quickest way to make them progress more quickly is to get them to an appropriate level of volume.
Training volume is a really tricky one because there’s there’s a lot of different ways you can think about it. So one of the most common ways and one of the ways that make the most sense is to use tonnage. So tonnage basically is you calculate that by using the WeightXRepsXSets. Let’s say you did 100 pounds for 1 set of 10 reps, multiply by 100X10 and you get 1000 pounds of tonnage. So that works pretty well as long as you’re staying within powerlifting specific programming parameters.
What I mean by that is you’re in that 70 to 90 percent range using the competition movements. Where tonnage doesn’t work is when you’re using very light weights. Something like 40 or 50 percent or doing a bunch of sets of 20 to 30 percent of your one rep max. Even though you can get a huge amount of tonnage, it’s not going to have the same meaning as far as strength gains as getting that same amount of tonnage about 70 percent.
The other issue with using tonnage as your sole measure of volume is that exercises don’t have perfect carryover. If you’re comparing tonnage from a leg press to the squat, you can get a ton more tonnage on the leg press but it won’t have the same training impact as doing the squat. Volume in a more loose sense and a loose definition is simply the amount of training that you do.
The number of sets, reps, and exercises and giving it a more specific definition can be useful as long as you give it context. You’ve got to keep in mind that we don’t really have a definition of volume right now that covers everything because each definition kind of has its own flaws. A really rough way to think about it is the number of hard sets that you do in a given training week. That’s kind of my preferred way of thinking about it right now.
Does it make sense to record our tonnage in our training logs?
No. I mean it can this is useful but I think it depends on your program. With my programming a lot of times it doesn’t because I just don’t think that when you’re tracking a Squat, Bench, and Deadlift tonnage in one phase of your cycle, the squat tonnage is being made up by paused high bar squats and front squats, and maybe one normal Back Squat session. The next training block is two back Squats with a belt and lets’s say three count Paused Squat, also low bar and you compare those numbers. It’s never bad to have data. Don’t get me wrong. But what is that really telling you? In my experience, it does not tell you that much unless you compare those numbers as equals. So that’s that’s kind of where I prefer the
That’s why I prefer the hard sets metric. Roughly sets done above RPE 6 to seven because then it gives me a better picture of what was being done. Especially with something like front squats where people can usually only use 60 to 75 percent of their normal back squats weight. You might get this idea that they’re not doing very much work based on calculating strictly front squat tonnage when really front squats can be very taxing.
That’s why in training, some of it is more art than science at times. So when I see people making training decisions solely based on tonnage, I just don’t agree with it, Unless you’re never doing anything with the competition movements and then you’re comparing apples to apples at least.
It can be used in the right circumstances. But it’s you have to recognize the limitations. That’s why for me it’s a little bit of a lower priority. Just with the way that I programs since I use more variety than other people.
Do you keep of weekly training volume?
I do that loosely but more closely what I pay attention to is lower body and upper body. I do have a number for the total amount of sets done for the whole body. But what I found is really important is on upper and lower specifically because in a lot of ways your bench programming doesn’t overlap that much with your squat and deadlift programming. That’s not to say it has zero impact. Bench only competitors for example, can train the bench more often than people do in all three lifts but not that much more. Whereas if you don’t track squat and deadlift in a similar category you’ll overtrain really quickly if you’re assuming that those two lifts are not related at all because they’re heavily related.
How often you squat or how often you deadlift, how much volume and how much intensity really r influences how often you can do the other one.
What’s a good range for the number of hard sets for each movement?
That’s a tough one because this varies so much across the demographics. So the number that if I give a number right in the middle. This is wholly inappropriate for people who need bigger numbers. And if I give a number in the middle the bigger lifters, it also doesn’t quite work. But in general I’ll kind of give you those numbers for middle middleweight males.
Usually what I see is a minimum of 5 to 10 hard Squat sets per week is what’s going to be needed for progress and
For Bench, it’s going to be between 10 to 20. And then on
On Deadlift, it can be anywhere from 1 to 10. So some people need a lot less deadlifting than others and some will need a lot more.
I guess if I had to put a rough number on it, you should try at least 5-10 squat sets, 10 to 20 bench sets and you start off with the lower end of those. For the deadlift, to give it a slightly wider range 3 to 5 sets. That’s that’s. So if I’m starting off with somebody and working with them the very first time, the usual number that I will give them is 10 squats sets, 15 bench that’s 5 Deadlift sets.
Then I’ll evaluate how they respond to that and then begin making adjustments. Depending on the demographic, I’ll shift that quite a bit.
A 300 plus pound male might have half all those numbers initially. See how he responds and then adjust from there.
For smaller females, sometimes I start them with almost double that. This a trend in the demographics; it’s not absolute. So like a lot of people ask me like
Training Volume for Older Lifters
A lot of people ask me like “Heyy Izzy, I’m 45, should I train less?” The only answer I could give you is “maybe”. It’s true that in general older people have compromised recovery. But it’s not an absolute rule. And sometimes older people can actually train more than younger people or just because that particular individual for whatever reason has great work capacity.
So again you can start out with these baseline numbers but then you have to see how you respond and continue to make adjustments because some people might get buried by tens or so squats and we all right and other people that’s nothing.
Minimum Effective Dose vs. Maximum Recoverable Volume – How to determine?
There absolutely is a way to do that roughly. So what you want to do is you want to design something like a four-week training cycle with a deload in the fifth week or something like that. It can be slightly longer. But what you want to do is you want to start off with the baseline amount of volume. So if you go back to the numbers that I just said. So let’s say that you know we have a
So if you go back to the numbers that I just said. So let’s say that you know we have a 200-pound male and I’m going to start him off on 10 sets of squats 15 sets of bench and five sets of deadlifts roughly, hard sets so sets above you know RPE 6 to 7. In week 1 I’lll give him those numbers. In week 2, I’ll add one to three sets to that amount and we’ll see how he responds. Does his performance improve going into week 2? If so that’s usually a good indicator that the previous amount of volume we gave was appropriate.
If performance trends down in week two well there could be a couple of things that happened right. One is the maybe not adapted to that volume yet but let’s say that you know we’ve we’ve tried this once or twice already and every time in week two if performance art gets worse. So he’s already overreaching him in week one. So what I would do is next time around the cycle of, in week two the squat already goes down I would say all right let’s let’s try starting you out with seven or eight hard sets on Squat instead of immediately starting at 10. But what you want to do this process right where you add one to three hard sets per week.
Eventually over time if you take consistent notes what you’ll find is there’s a range of sets and you really will not be that big. It will be 2-4 sets where every time where you hit that number you start to overreach. What I mean is that you’ll feel beat-up to a certain degree and you won’t be able to beat or even match last week’s performance. The reason why I say you have to do this and say like a four-week training cycle is that if you just train for nine straight weeks that without deloading, it might not be that the volume was inappropriate it’s just been such a long time.
If you do a consistent cycle length of say four or five or six weeks. And every time you add one to three sets you take notes and you see when does performance begin to go down. And that can help you adjust your volume numbers for the next training cycle. But it’s something that has to be done over a long period of time with a similar training program because if you’re changing too many variables at once you’ll never be sure exactly. So I guess the simplest way I can put it is you start out with a certain amount of Sets in week one, you slowly add and then over time you’ll figure out kind of where that limit is. And then once you know where the limit is it becomes a lot easier because then you want to figure out what is closer to the minimum amount that I can do.
The simplest way I can put it is you start out with a certain amount of Sets in week one, you slowly add and then over time, you’ll figure out kind of where that limit is. And then once you know where the limit is it becomes a lot easier because then you want to figure out what is closer to the minimum amount that I can do.
Unfortunately, there’s no formula they can just plug in your stats and it’ll tell you but it has to be done like that. And sometimes there are outliers. There will be people who really can only do three or four hard sets of deadlifts in a week and then I’ve also seen crazy examples of say like somebody who needs to bench 30 hard sets in a week to make progress and they don’t overreach doing that.
Long-term planning for powerlifters
I think the biggest thing they need to think about here is what needs to be developed in the athlete and what’s the athletes training schedule for the year in terms of what are the important contests that are coming up important life events. So long term planning can add 2 contexts. One is to make sure that you’re preparing yearly, or a two or three-year schedule for the most important contests. But the other aspect of it is developmental. So what aspects of the athlete really need to work on that might not be as simple as just getting stronger.
Sometimes developmentally, certain imbalances that need to be fixed or mobility issues or just developing technique. So if you know when the next contest is coming up and if there’s a big gap in the athlete’s skill set at that time you want to make sure that you’re leaving adequate time for developmental blocks. Let’s say a typical meet cycle could have consisted of three blocks. One hypertrophy block, a strength block and a peaking block from the meet. What I want to do in my yearly planning for someone who is not an advanced athlete, who pretty much has everything set up and really the only concern is mostly just timing things correctly with the competitions that they want to do.
If it’s more of a novice-intermediate athlete that has something that we really need to address.
I like extending things in there to make sure that I can out of time here and there for developmental blocks to work on certain things of that particular athlete might really need. So one example could be let’s say that someone wants to or should switch from doing conventional deadlifts their whole training career, there needs to be an experiment to take place to see whether they might be better sumo.
You want to figure out when would be the most appropriate time to run that sort of experiment. There are all sorts of times where it can be appropriate to use developmental blocks that might not make sense in the context of prepping for a meet but do make sense in terms of addressing one of the athlete’s weaknesses or experimenting with a new technique or things of that nature.
The other aspect of it is purely scheduling. Does the person have a vacation coming up at a certain time of the year? What contest are they into? Because sometimes you know people want to compete five or six times a year, sometimes you are only going to do one meet and then do Nationals, and you have to take in all of those things into consideration to make sure that the plan that you’re coming up with.
But then the other aspect of it is making sure that you give enough time to adequately address weaknesses. One of the biggest ones that I deal with all the time is underweight athletes. That’s where I like to try and find time to run extra hypertrophy blocks of things with higher variety, longer range of motion and higher reps and try to find as much time as possible for these athletes, instead of constantly running like a strength block and a peaking block while running the same program.
How do you assess weaknesses in athletes?
For me, videos are a key aspect of it. In powerlifting it’s it’s pretty common to be able to watch a diagnose like weak muscles. So they say “oh that’s happening because you have weak clouds or you have glutes like that’s why that’s happening.” I don’t generally think like that quite as much. One of the first things that I look at is just movement efficiency. Does it look like the person is moving efficiently because of their leverages? I can’t really give you an objective way to measure this, but I would say that if you’ve been in the sport long enough you can when you see someone Squat where you see someone bench or you see someone deadlift you can get an idea of whether they’re moving efficiently for their body pretty quickly. Especially if it just looks kind of awkward or belabored or it just it doesn’t look or flow smoothly.
Whenever I see something like that that’s the first thing that I’m looking for and that will be evident from the videos and then I’ll have to go through a process of thinking about: OK is this potentially because of muscular balances? or do we need to address this technically and look at revising their technique to a certain degree to make these more efficient?
And when we’re talking about more about sticking points, that one’s trickier because sometimes I think people get too caught up with trying to fix sticking points where it can kind of just be like you just need to get stronger. That’s that’s a really hard one becaus, in a lot of raw lifters, people will talk about how you know they’re weak off of the chest or whatever. But that’s where everybody’s weak as a raw lifter because that’s a point of mechanical least advantage in the bench press.Same thing with a squat they’re weak out of the hole. Well in a raw squat, that’s the hardest part. So that one’s a little bit trickier some
Same thing with a squat; they’re weak out of the hole. Well in a raw squat, that’s the hardest part. So that one’s a little bit trickier some because sometimes there can be a legitimate weakness in the range of motion that you’re trying to correct and other times and say well that’s just where that lenience we were everybody. So you just get stronger in general and probably spending a lot of time trying to fix that sticking point or figure out the muscle that is weak. It can be a waste of time.
A really classic example of this is when a lifter rounds their back in the deadlift, does that mean they have a weak lower back because their lower back couldn’t hold that position? or does that mean that they have weak legs because their lower back rounded and it means that their hips go up a little bit and their knee angle opens a little bit to make the starting position more advantageous? They round their back so that their legs and hips will have to work as hard because their lower back is really strong.
Sometimes I think people waste a lot of time trying to diagnose a specific weak muscle that is causing things where a lot of times, it works better to think about things in terms of positions. Or think about things in terms of a movement. So you know working on and instead of trying to figure out whether it’s your lower back is weak you know use it using deadlift accessories that are more flat black, it can be high volume flat back deadlifts with lighter weights can be a more surefire way of addressing that weak point than trying to diagnose weak muscle groups.
It’s usually a better bet that they just need to get stronger and work and work on their squats. And if they’re moving well not getting hurt that’s that’s the most important part because as long as that’s in place it kind of goes back to what we said earlier. As long as the volume is manipulated appropriately they’ll continue to get stronger in that efficient pattern and without injury. And that’s what we’re looking for anyway.
Coaching Non-Powerlifters for General Strength
The only people that I work with that are not either competitive powerlifters or people whose number one goal is strength in the squat bench and deadlift are family members that ask. I used to do arm more general strength training stuff as well. What I found was that it was just frustrating for both me and the client because my focus is so much on powerlifting that when you get somebody who also wants more done to address say bodybuilding concerns you know they want to do more lateral delts or whatever.
That’s just not my passion. It’s not something that I am even though I read about it, it’s not something I like a ton of experience with. So really I feel like I can provide a better service to just powerlifting as well who I was when I was working with people who had a larger variety of goal sets. I didn’t feel as comfortable that I was the person who could do the best job at that level. So at this point like a lot of people contact me or the like they really like my whole coaching thing.
It’s just because I want to make sure that our goals are aligned and I’m providing a service to you which you know I’m best suited to provide because once it starts to get outside of anything besides powerlifting, my knowledge steadily and then sharply drops like when I football player comes to me.
Sure. I know the general principles and strength and conditioning. Do I have 5,6,7 years of playing football and coaching football players simply to get better at football? No. I’m not passionate about football. So inherently I’m not going to work as hard for that client even if I want to try to make myself.
Importance of Nutrition for Powerlifting
A lot of it is that people are taking the sport more seriously as a sport. People on Instagram will have like their Wilks in their Instagram profile; whereas five years ago no one even cared about your weight class. Unless you are setting a world record no one cared about that. It was just how much you lift in absolute terms and natural that thing wasn’t really a thing either. Natural Powerlifting and the IPF existed, don’t get me wrong. But people weren’t really paying attention to that. And so I think I think the advice kind of was. At that time from the powerlifting community was like no one cares how much you left at 165 pounds. You just get as big as possible and lift the most amount of weight that you can. Powerlifting is all about getting the most that you can. Now it there’s a huge interest from Instagram and other things where people are going to the Arnold, you know to go to these crazy venues are getting to travel overseas and represent the United States especially in the IPF. And people want that you know they want the opportunity to do those things. In order to do those
At that time from the powerlifting community was like no one cares how much you left at 165 pounds. You just get as big as possible and lift the most amount of weight that you can. Powerlifting is all about getting the most that you can. Now it there’s a huge interest from Instagram and other things where people are going to the Arnold, you know to go to these crazy venues are getting to travel overseas and represent the United States especially in the IPF. And people want that you know they want the opportunity to do those things. In order to do those things, you have to treat it as a real sport and take things like weight classes seriously. You can’t just eat everything in sight and lift as much weight as possible because you want to be competitive if you do that.
So people realized that there was a competitive advantage in terms of manipulating the nutrition correctly. And then once a lot of competitors were doing that it was no longer a competitive advantage but a competitive necessity. And I think that’s where and again a big part of that was just bodybuilders converting to power and saying and then spreading that knowledge of bodybuilding backgrounds became powerlifters, dominated like Layne Norton, who is still one of the best in his weight class, besides Jesse Norris, who also has a bodybuilding background too.
In order to win and get all the rewards and the sport nowadays you can’t ignore nutrition.
Body Composition for Powerlifting
This is another one of those things where I had to learn from coaching is that you can’t be dogmatic. I think what I would say is, actually this is almost everybody performs better a higher body gets into just absolute strength. And there’s a point of diminishing returns and a point at which actually getting too fat hurts your deadlift enough that it hurts your total. But almost everybody performs better at a higher body fat.
So what it comes down to is that as you get leaner a smaller and smaller portion of people can hang on to their maximum amount of size. And what I mean by that is like let’s say you’re capable of holding a 100 pounds of lean body mass at 20 percent body fat. There’s a certain amount of people that will be able to hold that same amount or a very similar amount 18 percent. But then as soon as you get to 16 percent a portion of those will drop out. Well, they can they cannot hold that size of that body fat. Then when you get to 14 percent, another way bigger portion drops out and he gets to 12, a huge portion drops out when you get to 8-10%, Almost nobody.
So what happens is that it’s just another genetic factor. If you can hold on to your size while being lean, you should but not everybody can. And so you can get into a situation where being lean actually decreases your Wilks because you just can’t train as hard and hold onto nearly as much muscle as when you’re fluffier. The point at which you start to lose a lot of muscle is different for everybody but on av, rage for a lot of males it’s in that 10 to 12 percent range. When we’re I would say a really good portion of people at 15 percent lose very very little, and almost everybody at 20 percent can hold on to their maximum amount.
I think the other thing which I’ll quickly talk about is in the higher weight classes it’s even rarer to find people who can be lean at those weights because there’s not a lot of tall gifted people in powerlifting because generally, tall gifted people play sports that pay them.
Cardio and Conditioning for Powerlifters
Have you seen other coaches include cardio and conditioning in their programs?
I know that Mike Tuchscherer from reactive training systems will include cardio on some of his GPP stuff. The reason why I write it explicitly is that I came from a background of doing Starting Strength and working with people who had done that program and kind of what that program is like towards the end of it. You do three sets of five at something that’s almost your 5RM and you’ll rest for like 10 to 12 minutes between sets because otherwise, you wouldn’t do it. But what I found is that while that works in terms of pushing your 3X5 max higher and higher and higher is that it puts you in a horrible position to make progress afterwards because you can’t recover from any decent amount of volume because you’ve done almost nothing to stress your work capacity and your ability to recover from sets quickly and recover from a lot of training.
The biggest reason is so that they can do more training volume and recover from that training volume. The reason why I include cardio is to make sure that we’re we’re stressing those systems and in developing work capacity so that when I get novices and intermediates on the necessary amounts of volume as they become advanced, they can actually handle it and actually do the program without failing the sets or without taking so long when it’s unrealistic, and just generally being able to recover from more work more quickly.
Biggest Training Mistakes?
I think it’s different for each level. For novices it’s it’s not just milking linear progression enough. And I don’t like it when people reset 80 times to try and get the highest numbers of all time on a linear progression. That’s kind of silly but sometimes people they say that they’re finished with linear progression and they gain three pounds or something and so you need to when you do in your progression you need to put on weight you do things properly and get what you can out of it. I don’t want to reset over and over and over again kind of beating in their head against the wall.
You shouldn’t be finishing linear progression well below with all of your peers finish. Some people will because of genetics but that’s that’s rare by necessity. So I think novices just want to hurry and they wanted to get to intermediate and advanced programs that are more exciting.
For Intermediates, it’s running the same program every week. So they run almost the same program every week. There’s just no periodization. You run the same thing over and over and over and expect that that’s going to get long-term progress; whereas that that that stops working really quickly once you’re no longer a novice.
A good example of us to be like the Texas method. You do a 5×5 on Monday, then on Friday you go for a five rep max and you just repeat this program forever until you start failing and you’ll start feeling really quickly because there’s no periodization. So intermediates don’t use enough periodization in their routines.
For more advanced lifters I would say nowadays they get too specific with their training means. What I mean by that is they never do anything but heavy reps and they only do the competition movements or something close to that. Not enough variety, not enough hypertrophy work. And what ends up happening is that they remain perpetually underweight and a little bit hurt from overuse injuries always having tendinitis. It ends up resulting in stagnation or just working really really hard for not as much return as they should get to.
Almost all of these if you think about it or problem with impatience. But yeah that for advanced athletes is hyper specificity of training means They just they need a little to include a little bit more variety especially in the offseason and not constantly run themselves into the ground with these crazy programs that have them squatting three to four times a week with relatively high intensity and high volume. You need to take some time to step back from mine in the offseason. Little bit less frequency more variety get bigger. Develop weaknesses and let some of those overused things go away.
How is your own training going these days?
My training is really going awesome. I’ve been taking a lot of progress lately. I’ve been working with Joe Sullivan. He’s an Elite FTS sponsored athlete he’s also working with Chris Duffin Kabuki Strength Systems. He just totaled over 2000 lbs. at 220 lbs bodyweight and finished second to Yuri Belkin at the U.S. Open. His programming is very similar to what I do. More variety in the offseason more specific as it comes time to peak, RPE based.
I’ve been doing really well right now while dieting. Obviously, I’m not making super fast progress or anything. But I’ve been getting a little bit stronger and I’ve been losing weight so you can’t really ask for anything more than not where you’re dieting. At least in my experience, I consider it a really successful diet if you lose a really successful diet if you lose weight and lose no strength. Most people don’t accomplish that.
You make huge strides there especially if you can like drop weight class without losing any significant strength. Well, that’s what I’m trying to do but I’m as strong as I’ve ever been right now and I’d have any real injuries or anything so got trains going well for me you can really ask for more.
The owner of the gym that I train right now is trying to basically at some point kind of get an expo started. So you know you’re going to hear some of these expos that go on like the L.A. fit expo and he wants to kind of get a Seattle Expo started. Probably one of the first times that that will happen will be this year January. Also since you know he’s owner my gym is great guy seems Lee Dougherty. He owns Ego Strength and Conditioning.
I really want to do that meet. So a pretty long ways off in January. Before then I’m hoping to at least get a mock meet done at the gym pretty soon here within the next six-eight weeks. And if there’s something that kind of crops up in my area that’s right around that time, I’ll probably use that as a tester meet for the January meet instead of doing the mock meet. I really want to compete in the one in January, that’s for sure going to happen. If not if I can’t find something in that window that I’m looking for in the next six to eight weeks.
Where can people find you?
Powerlifting To Win: http://www.powerliftingtowin.com/
Powerlifting to Win YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/ThePower…
Izzy’s Second Youtube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/nombrees…