4 Week Progression to Competition

4 Week Progression to Competition

It has been almost two years since I last stepped on the powerlifting stage. And as much as I would say that I missed competing, that would only be the pinnacle of all the training process. I truly missed the process of conditioning my mind as well as my body when preparing for a specific competition.

In this article I will share the secrets of the trade like how I prepare for the competitions, what goes through my mind and how I readjust my training based on how I am feeling on a specific training day.

But first, why did I disappear from the competitive bench press scene for almost 2 years?

I think we can all universally agree that 2020 has been an absolute $#!7 show of a year. The pandemic has paralyzed the world, millions of people have lost their jobs and it left us in a situation where we have no idea what is going to happen tomorrow.

Well my 2020 started back in the first quarter of 2019.

A couple of weeks after the Asia Pacific Bench press Championships I got sick. At first, I thought it was just the regular flu, like flying, dieting, competing, and stressing about everything at the same time can be quite draining.

However, the flu did not go away, my throat swelled up and I had to take a short stroll to the local GP. My regular GP (it is funny how we all have our GP’s) was on holiday, so I had to spin the wheel of fortune and try a new one.

After a few glances at the back of my throat he told me that I had glandular fever and needed a course of antibiotics to clear it up.

The pain went away within few days, however, my tonsils remained swollen, which made sleeping and breathing quite difficult.

Since my regular GP was still on holiday, I decided to go to yet another GP. Who ran a couple of tests to confirm that I indeed had glandular fever and prescribed me some oral steroids (not the good type) and some more antibiotics.

Few more weeks have passed, and the medicine did not work. My tonsils were still swollen, I still could not get much sleep and on top of that my gut health was not in its prime due to all the antibiotics, I have taken.

I also could not train, as every single time I would attempt to return to training I would get a fever. My weight peaked at 101 kgs in October of 2019.

My local GP was finally back from holidays and I decided to visit him. He did not waste much of his time and sent me to ENT (Ear, Nose, and Throat) specialist.

After a short 6 weeks wait for a 15-minute visit, and a camera being showed up my nose the doctor was able to come up to the conclusion that I am a mouth-breathing moron.

Apparently, I was born with a deviated septum (the middle bit of your nose), which meant that only one of my nostrils was functioning. Since I was not able to get enough air in, I had to breathe through my mouth. This is the reason why my tonsils could not heal up.

I powered through close to 10 years of heavy training without ever being at 100%. This gave me more hope as I knew that the minute I would be able to breathe properly, I would be able to get more oxygen in. Sleep better and recover faster, think more clearly, and be less prone to pumping sugar and caffeine to boost the energy levels to an acceptable degree.

It took me 7 months and multiple GP visits, antibiotics courses, and sleepless nights to find out what was exactly wrong with me. But at least now I knew what to fix.

Before I could lay down on the operation table, I need to get a few more tests done.

5 weeks and a thousand dollars later I had my sleep apnea test done and was ready to return for final consultation before the operation.

I was finally able to get the following operations:

– Nasal Septum Reconstruction.

– Tonsillectomy

– Bilateral turbinate reduction.

It is worth noting that a week after the operation, my morning bodyweight was 89 kgs. That is 12 kgs loss over the course of around 5 months. I did regain a couple of kgs within the first few weeks post-operation.

The operation and recovery went smoothly, and I was able to return to proper training on the first week of March 2020.

Only for the pandemic to paralyze the world the very next week.

5 weeks until Competition

Monday November 16th, 2020.

Morning Bodyweight – 92 kgs.

The Workout:

  1. Flat Barbell Bench Press.
  2. Weight Lifted – 165 kgs.
  3. % of my Current Personal Best – 85%.
  4. Sets x Reps – 3 x 3.


  1. Barbell Quick Squat – 3 x 8.
  2. Seated Good Morning – 4 x 6.
  3. Close Grip Bench Press.
  4. Weight Lifted – 150 kgs.
  5. % of my Current Personal Best – 85%*.
  6. Sets x Reps – 3 x 3.


Mondays are probably the most physically demanding for me as I increase the weight, I am lifting by 5%. Which might not sound like much, but I can certainly feel it.

The most time-consuming part of my workouts, whenever I get to over 80% of my current max, is the warmups.

Just to give you an idea how my bench press warm-up looked like while training with 85% of my personal best:

– Dynamic stretching – to loosen up my muscles, tendons and get the blood flowing. After all, I spend most of my time sitting in the office.

– Empty barbell (20 kgs) x 20-25 reps

– 2 min rest.

– 70 kgs x 16-20 reps.

– 3 min rest.

– 100 kgs x 10-12 reps.

– 4 min rest.

– 120 kgs x 6-10 reps.

– 5 min rest.

– 150 kgs x 4-6 reps.

– 5 min rest.

– Working Sets

I train in our showroom which does not have any air conditioning or fans to help you cool down. It is important to remember that you need more time to bring your heart rate down and keep yourself properly hydrated. The last thing you would want is a muscle cramp or be gassed out while you are training with heavy loads!

If the temperature rises to around 35C outside, it may feel like 40C in the warehouse, since there is no moving air.

I drank around 4 liters today and I kept losing weight!


  1. Barbell Shoulder Press.
  2. Weight Lifted – 70 kgs.
  3. % of my Current Personal Best – 75%.
  4. Sets x Reps – 4 x 4.
  5. Accessory Work:

  6. Front Dumbbell Raise 4 x 6.
  7. Wide-Grip Lat Pulldown 4 x 8.
  8. Barbell Shrug 5 x 6.

    I was feeling quite tired and dehydrated on Tuesday. So, I decided to take it quite easily as I do not want to burn myself out or risk an unnecessary injury by trying to power through the workout. I would rather get some extra calories, sleep and save my energy for the next day’s workout.


  1. Board Press (1 board).
  2. Weight Lifted – 172.5 kgs.
  3. % of my Current Personal Best – 90%.
  4. Sets x Reps – 3 x 3.

Accessory Work

  1. Pec Fly’s – 4 x 7.
  2. Safety Squat Bar Squat- 4 x 8.
  3. Bench Press with a 1 second pause (competition bench press).
  4. Weight Lifted – 152.5 kgs.
  5. % of my Current Personal Best – 80%.
  6. Sets x Reps – 3 x 3.


The board press felt quite heavy today, especially when it only was 90% of my max. I was also supposed to pause with the barbell at the bottom of the movement, so I could develop that tiny bit of additional explosive power. But I did not have much left in the tank after Monday’s workout.

My bodyweight is still hovering at around 92 kgs, which means that I can get away with eating the whole cheesecake.

I constantly review my training and competition video to see where I’ve made mistakes and how I could have prevented them.

The last competition I’ve competed in was in early 2019 – the Asia Pacific Bench Press Championships. Where I failed my Australian Open Men Bench press record attempt in 93 kgs weight class.

If you would have a look at the video, you could see that I had enough power to move the barbell of my chest for the first few centimeters. But then I got stuck.

Normally, for the Board Press I would use a 2 board (~86 mm thick), but from this week on, I decided to try to complete the rest of the training cycle with 1 board (~43 mm).

It is far more difficult to get the weight off my chest as it is right on the sticking point. With a 2-board I could be easily repping an additional 10 kgs, but that is not the point.

Hopefully with a bit of rest and extra calories from the cheesecake I will be able to power through the rest of the training cycle and put up a good result (+182.5 kgs) during the competition day.


I still have not had my cheesecake, but it is still very much on my mind.

Thursdays are my rest days, similarly to my work week, I give the most effort to my training for the first half of the week and then taper off.

Just because it is a rest day, does not mean that I can be lazy. I still need to stretch as often as I can and stick to the 3 liters of water a day. It might not seem like a difficult task, but it is quite easy to forget.


  1. Seated Shoulder Press.
  2. Weight Lifted – 80 kgs.
  3. % of my Current Personal Best – 80%.
  4. Sets x Reps – 3 x 3.
  5. Accessory Work:

  6. Dips – 5 x 6.
  7. Incline Fly’s – 4 x 7.
  8. Hyperextensions – 4 x 8.


The fatigue is there. The heavier you are lifting the longer it takes to recover after the workout.

That is why it is important to know when to lower the weight and not push yourself like a madman. After all, I do have one more training session this week.


  1. Medium Grip Bench Press.
  2. Weight Lifted – 152.5 kgs.
  3. % of my Current Personal Best – 80%*.
  4. Sets x Reps – 3 x 3.
  5. Accessory Work:

  6. Alternate Incline Dumbbell Curl – 4 x 8.
  7. Elevated Cable Rows – 4 x 8.
  8. Preacher Curl – 3 x 8.


Saturdays are always fun; I train in the mornings on an empty stomach while my brain is still loading. It is a great way to start your day with some chest and biceps work.

The medium grip bench press has always felt awkward to me. Mostly because I always bench with the widest grip possible, to reduce the range of motion and put the stress on my pecs.

It is good to mix things up during training and get the optimal muscle development.

Even though the lift looked relatively easy, it felt quite heavy for a few reasons:

  • My recovery time has been reduced from the 24 hours (time between workouts) I usually get to around 14-15 hrs.
  • The lift is only 2.5 kgs away from my personal best (for 3×3, medium grip bench press).
  • This is my third bench press session this week.
  • What is up with the bicep’s curls on Saturday?

    I swear I was not trying to get my arms pumped before I would go to get a cup of coffee. Your biceps would work as a stabilizer in the bench press, so having bigger biceps might help you to bench press a bit more.

    It is a fun muscle group to train, after all, who does not like to get a good arm pump.


    Rest and recover before taking on another heavy bench press workout on Monday. I do my best to get as much sleep as possible and get enough water and calories in.

    If you want to have a good workout on Monday, you must start setting everything up on the weekend. It is easy to get dehydrated, forget to eat a meal or two, and reduce your recovery time by binging Netflix until the late hours on Sunday night.