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Tapering for the Beginner
 2/24/2011  by  Glenn Pendlay

There are no questions in weightlifting asked more often than those about how one can most advantageously "peak"for competition. Doing your best in competition involves many things including making sure your training fatigue has been dissipated while strength has been maintained, technical skill is at its highest point possible, and confidence and mental strength is at its highest point possible.

Obviously what is done to prepare for the competition is to some extent dependant on the training plan followed up to that point, for the purpose of this article I am assuming that the beginner is following a program similar to the one in the article on this site titled "A Program for Beginner Weightlifters".

For the beginner, the process of dissipating fatigue and therefore peaking usable strength is quite simple, since there is rarely very much accumulated fatigue. A beginner will usually be able to do this entirely during the last week before competition, there is no need to worry much about "resting" or lightening the load for a period longer than 7 days prior to competition. Should a beginner be going into competition on a Sunday, the following works well when it comes to "resting" and dissipating physical fatigue: Monday before competition lift maximally on snatch, lift weights in the clean and jerk amounting to about as much as you can do without undue chance of missing, and squat hard, but not a really high volume. As an example, a lifter who has maximal lifts of 100kg snatch, 120kg clean and Jerk, and has been doing 3 sets of 5 in the squat 3 times a week and improving almost every workout for the last few weeks might do the following: Snatch all the way to maximum, maybe even trying 101 if it seems possible. Clean and jerk to 115kg, a weight you know you will not miss but is heavy and close to maximum. Squat a single set of 5 with a heavy weight, maybe even a new personal record for 5 reps.

Wednesday before competition, would have the athlete making 3 snatch attempts around your planned opener, with the emphasis on MAKING all 3 attempts, and no misses or ugly lifts.  The clean and jerk training should be working up to a single lift which should be in the neighborhood of the planned opener.  Squatting should be medium intensity but low volume.  A couple of doubles in the front squat at or around your clean and jerk max is good for many lifters…   if the lifter is used to back squatting only then working up to one reasonably heavy back squat is also a good plan.

Friday would be the last training day.  A lifter might snatch up to his opener or just a few kilos below, clean and jerk up to about 10% below his opener, and either not squat, or at most front squat up to the opener clean and jerk.

For the lifter competing on a Saturday, the Monday training session would stay the same, training as described in Fridays session would be done on Wednesday except the squats would be obligatory, and on Thursday a very light session would be done, say 60% for a couple of singles in both lifts.

For the lifter competing on a Friday, Monday would be the same except the squats would be a heavy single or double instead of sticking with the sets of 5.  Fridays training would be done on Wednesday, but with squats prohibited.  No training would be done on Thursday.

As you can see, the last week, as compared to a normal training week as outlined in the training program mentioned is much lower in volume with what workload there is much more dominated by the actual competition lifts than an average week.  The week starts with Intensity as high or even higher than normal, but the intensity drops as the week goes by.

The lower volume during the whole week and the decrease in intensity toward the end of the week should be enough to allow the beginner plenty of rest and to enter into competition in a fresh and rested state.  The increased concentration on the actual competitive lifts should lend as much of a short term bolstering to technical skill as is possible, and the concentration on weights that can be done successfully and done correctly (with the possible exception of Mondays snatches) yet are still somewhat challenging should fill the athlete with confidence toward the end of the week.

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