Hayley Reichardt's Peak Plan
Programming is something I enjoy, the moments I spend visualizing the execution of each lift, what that lift is doing for strength and technique and what the final outcome will produce provides a ton of joy. It involves pre-planning reactions, understanding where the athlete might be struggling with movement AND it may even require a total technical overhaul sparked by programming. It is powerful; strength gains, technical gains, physical gains and mental gains can all be the output of a well distributed, strategic weightlifting program. But, sometimes there might be unexpected reactions.
Since the middle of February, we have been implementing a new technical model. Myself and my coaches have molded three to four models together as lifters and now have a very precise vision of where we want our athlete’s technique to go. We noticed specific problems in some very capable lifters and then saw a few differences between the best lifters ever and sub-elite lifters. From then it was decided to focus on moderate weights in training to imprint the new movement with a strong squat program to maintain strength and gain slight hypertrophy.
There was frustration. There were tears. There were arguments over whether or not we should be using the technical model. Finally, I got some buy in and after one frustrating day of training, Hayley Reichardt reminded me that our new technique will take time to develop but we just need reps and I needed to believe in the big plan! I calmed down and sat back and watched. I focused on making sure the technical gains would coincide with gains in the squat as well. I knew if I could push Hayley’s squats to 130-135 and she improved her technique during that time frame, we would eventually see big results.
Here is where the crazy part lies. Hayley was getting stronger in her lifts and was also getting stronger and lifting better the day after a heavy day. So...her squat was going up, she was hitting way better positions with our variations and was starting to hit crazy numbers on her lifts with a ton of volume! Every time she lifted after a heavy day, she would always smash weights. I started to realize, Hayley loves volume.
Within the new programs, I began to really play around with the loading parameters on a day to day basis. I knew what lifts can do for lifters, I know what volume and intensity can do as well. So I created a crazy little formula with Hayley’s current program to potentiate the lifts that have the best carryover to her competitive lifts while making strong technical gains with the less intense variations.
So what the heck is the problem? The problem is that Hayley just had the most impressive training session of her entire life and the most impressive session anyone has ever had at Garage Strength. She warmed up and noticed a few things that I documented in my notes. Hayley looked sluggish. She took a step backward with 55, she was slow with 63 and 65. She was so slow with 65, I had her do a second double. Then she hit 68 and it looked like a different lifter. Then came 71, she smashed it. Then 73, she killed it even better. Then we put on 75k, her nemesis...destroyed it! One more lift, I want 77k. Destroyed. Ok, good snatches, Hayley, lol.
What lessons? She can handle a few sets across at a specific weight to learn and engrain the movement pattern. She is capable of that volume and it also shows she is still slightly off with her movement because she needed more sets at 65k. As she warmed up, I stopped giving cues at 68k, she was grooving by then. She was on another plane once she woke up. Her 77k was NICE. Legit, nice!
Carry that over into her clean and jerk. We did it again. Warmed up to 85k, hit that for two singles to wake up a little. On the second 85, it was snappy and that took into the no gear 90 and no belt 94k! When she ripped her 94k without a damn belt, I started to get giddy. Her old 85k lifts are turning into 94k lifts. Next stop, smash mode at 97k. She has hit this four times from various positions in the last 2 weeks. Finally, Hayley loaded 100k and she knew she had it. Her mental approach was spot on. She zeroed in, she approached the bar with confidence and knew it would be there. First time clean and jerking 100k from the floor, second time doing that in two days!
Now moving to squats. She warmed up well and again did two sets at a static weight before pushing it. She hit 105 x triple and then 112 for a triple. I told her if she hit 120k for a triple, I would not make her do her drop set. So of course she crushed her 120k for a triple. That would put her around a 130k-133k back squat as a 50 kilo athlete. That is incredible.
But again...why? Who cares? The question is more about where do I go. My problem of concern is that she’s destroying stuff now and we need to peak in 41 days. Her volume is high, I believe I need to continue the formula with the potentiating lifts versus her competitive lifts. She needs a decrease in volume. This is where I believe I can get her to the right spot by tapering her volume back hard for one week. For a week, I will lower all volume, even some intensity will lower and she will freshen up. As her legs get more recovery, she will enter back into the volume onslaught. Two to three weeks of heavy volume, fixing the technical issues and improving maximal strength. So will we back off at all?
I plan on back her off for 2 days when she is 5 and 6 days out. Then we will go hard for two days, off for a day and then moderate one day and moderate/heavy the day before she competes. This is how she lifts and this is how she responds. Not all people respond to stimuli or tapering the same way. Some people perform better under more volume based training. I am going to embrace this, I am going to plan for it and it is up to me to ensure this plan is successful and will work for her adaptation period!
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