Snapshot of Takeaway Points
- Use Marginal gains theory to enhance performance
- Joovv Red Light pre-workout increases strength & performance
- Learn Tom’s new sleep trick of choice
This article offers an insight into some of the larger details but also the minor ones involved when I prepare for a competition. I am big proponent of marginal gains theory which I first heard applied by Sir David Brailsford for his GB cycling team. Their success is the sum of all the small things added up over a long time.
For example opting for filtered or bottled water over tap water would equate to a lower load of incoming toxins. You may not feel the benefits after one day but after a period of a year your decreased toxic load could have a huge benefit for performance enhancement. Now do this for many small items and the benefits just continue to stack up and results start to snowball.
This approach is how I do everything. I prefer to aim for mastery instead of dabbling in something. I have a serious personality that encourages this. I also believe I needed it. I was aiming for a record that had stood for 7 years by an incredible strongman.
The previous 4 weeks of training was focusing on cleaning each repetition which left me at 140kg x 7. Luckily that left me with any necessary volume completed and an easy linear approach to climb to a maximal attempt:
- 4 weeks out (Volume): 140kg x 7 (Cleaning each repetition)
- 3 weeks out:
- Plan: 5 x 3-5 reps (1 x Squat Clean)
- Actual: 120 x 4, 130 x 3, 137.5 x 4, 140 x 3, 142.5 x 4
- 2 weeks out:
- Plan: 3 x 2-3 reps (1 x Squat Clean)
- Actual: 140 x 3, 147.5 x 1, 152.5 x 2
- 1 week out:
- Plan: 3 x singles 155kg or more
- Actual: 155/160/160 x 1, plus an extra 160 thrown over my head
- Plan: open on the world record to ensure I had at least 3 attempts at it
3 weeks out (5 x 3-5 reps) was a great session. The gym was lively and Arram Eghoyan came down and he was in the mood also. A few reps here are there were a bit off technically but I ended the session with a 2.5kg repetition PB at 4 reps with 142.5kg.
2 weeks out (3 x 3 reps) wasn’t so good. I let work related problems get on top of me and had to get up earlier than usual to fit the session in. The second set I brought it down poorly so stopped at one repetition to save some energy for the last set. Technically the repetitions weren’t good enough which stopped me getting a third.
1 week (3 x 1 rep above 155kg) was a great session. I picked this as the last time I did 155kg for 3 sets of 1 repetition, the following week I hit 166kg which is what I was aiming for. Again technically the repetitions weren’t perfect but they went up without any concern. I attacked the dip transition into the press a bit more on the final set, so much so that it flew up and I couldn’t react quickly enough to control it. Over my head it went!
As you can see it wasn’t all plain sailing. It was nice though not needing to achieve a personal bests and taking any I did hit as a bonus. Usually I’m pushing too hard to hit these which often results in misses. I think some of my errors in these training weeks were also due to adding a new stiffer belt in the form of the SBD lever belt making things feel a bit different in certain movement phases.
I only decided to attempt this record once more as I was surprised to see my body weight sitting at 94.6kg at 4 weeks out. I hadn’t weighed myself since my previous record attempt some 6 months prior. At that body weigh I was able to tighten things up nutritionally and allow myself some extra body weight and from 3 weeks out onwards I weighed 97kg consistently. Dropping from 97kg to u90kg was simple enough using my ‘How to cut and make weight‘ article.
I’m always telling clients and students that the only constant is change. I like trying new things to see what new things I can learn. I wanted to see what marginal gains I could make within the 4 week period.
Regarding supplementation the only additions I made were theanine and liposomal magnesium threonate. By nature I am fairly yang dominant. Meaning my excitatory neurotransmitters are dominant and my inhibitory neurotransmitters slightly deficient. So, by feeding the yin/inhibitory neurotransmitters and improving recovery, I end up with even more yang energy.
L-theanine lowers stress, helps with relaxation and increases the depth of your sleep. I have already been taking magnesium L-threonate in capsule form for some years now but never liposomal which I stumbled upon so already knew the benefits for my brain, recovery and sleep. Liposomal offers an increased absorption rate which means better bioavailability. Mixing this with inositol is my new sleep trick of choice!
For the 4 weeks I used the hyperbaric oxygen chamber on average twice a week, sauna averaged similar but I upped my game on the Joovv red light. I used it pre-workout to reduce muscle soreness and speed recovery but my theory is that is also have a positive effect on the nervous system due to promising research on brain health. If it effects the brain or nervous system positively this will correlate with strength or power output increases.
The research is new and always being updated but it looks promising as a pre-workout energiser for performance enhancement. Additionally using Frequency Specific Microcurrent with the Joovv red light 20 minutes pre-workout primes my nervous system for maximal output.
The main mistake that cost me when I last attempted this record was a lack of control over my mind set. To combat this I decided 4 weeks out to simply think of it as a training session. Whenever I’ve done well in competitions I have relaxed, enjoyed myself and had fun with no pressure. I made a list of things I learnt over the four weeks to put it into perspective. The record would simply be bonus.
Technically, I’m usually quite efficient on the log. On the day though it went well on some sets and really poor on others, including the final effort! This translates to some missed kilos but perfection is never attainable and the end result was achieved. I can’t complain but I can go back and improve technique as I work towards my next goal of 187kg at u105kg.
The weight selection was also a change in approach as I wanted to open on the record to ensure I had at least 3 attempts at it. The crowd really cheered me through that final rep and really got involved creating a great atmosphere which I am very grateful for.
I hope you have found some of the insights useful and are able to implement them into your own training plans. For me it’s now simply onto the next goal: 187kg at u105kg body weight. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me or post them below.