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Tapering for the Intermediate
 3/15/2011  by  Glenn Pendlay

The main differences between the Intermediate lifter and the beginner are of training specificity,  volume, and accumulated fatigue.  The intermediate trains the competition versions of the lifts about 2/3 of the time, with power and hang versions taking up the other roughly 1/3,  the exact opposite of a beginner.  Where a beginner trains 3 times a week, the intermediate trains 4 or 5.  Where a beginner will be fresh a and well rested most of the time, the Intermediate is starting to train hard enough to accumulate fatigue, and make use of easy weeks here and there to dissipate this fatigue.

While specificity doesn't directly affect the taper, an increased training volume and the resulting greater fatigue do, and together these things demand a 2 week taper for the intermediate instead of the 1 week taper the beginner uses.  Beginning two weeks out, the lifter will continue with their previous number of workouts per week as they normally do, whether it is 4 or 5.  We will assume 5 workouts in our description, if the reality is 4, simply cut out Tuesday. The second Monday before the meet should be a fairly low volume day, but the lifter will achieve as high a snatch and clean and jerk as possible…  with no back off sets.  Again, very limited volume.  Back squats should be done in a fairly normal way with some volume, 3 sets of 3-5 reps would be the norm.  If the lifter is doing any remedial work, such as RDL's, presses, etc, they should be done as normal.  15 minutes spent using a contrast shower is a good idea here, after training of course.

The second Tuesday before the meet will be power snatches and power cleans only.  Again, very low volume but the lifter will go for a new max on power snatches for sure, and on power cleans if it seems possible.  On the power clean, you should know if you are feeling it by the time you get to about 90%.  If it seems like it might be there, go for it.  If not, don't.

The second Wednesday before the meet will be a lower intensity day, concentrating on consistent technique.  You want 5 or 6 snatches that are great, and 4-5 clean and jerks that are the same.  The weight is variable, but, in general, should be above 80% of max, and yet not heavy enough to be extremely difficult to hit singles.  I think usually 90% for snatches, and 85% for clean and jerks works pretty well.  Then, max your front squat.  Just single up to max and quit.  If you have access to a sauna, this would be a great day to go do 3-4 cycles of 15 minutes in then 5 minutes of cool shower.  After training of course.   Alternatively, or on top of that, if you are used to getting massage work done, this would also be a good day to do that, again, after training.

Second Thursday is a rest day

Second Friday is a day to hit openers and get out of the gym.  Really, this should be a 45 minute training session at most.

The second week out ends with Saturday.  We go to about 90% on both power snatch and power clean, then repeat whatever rep scheme we did on Monday with back squats, but with about 10 – 15% less weight.  Like Wednesday, this day is a good day for various recovery methods.  If you used the sauna on Wednesday, and want to use it again, limit yourself to one round of 15 minutes, if you didn't use it on Wednesday, then feel free to use for 3-4 cycles.  Any other form of hydrotherapy would be useful this day, and this is the absolute LAST day do have any sort of massage or tissue work done.  All of this is after training, of course.

Sunday is a rest day.

The Monday before the competition, you will max your snatch, and do your opener clean and jerk.  You will then max your front squat.  This should be a quick, very low volume workout.

Tuesday before competition, you will do VERY light snatches and clean and jerks.  How light?  Very light.  70/90 would not be out of line for a 150kg clean and jerker.  All you are doing is getting in, loosening up, and getting warm.  No actual training.

Wednesday before competition you will want to work up to openers, doing your snatch opener 2-3 times is fine if you think you need it for confidence.  Front squats should be medium or light, definitely not over your max clean and jerk, and not more than 3 or 4 reps total with heavy weight.  2 doubles, 3 singles, whatever, but, medium weight and low volume, just enough to wake the legs up a bit.

Thursday is rest.

Friday you can work up to the snatch opener, then take a clean and jerk that is fairly light,  at most 10% under your opener.  No squats are preferred, but if you must squat, work up to a front squat of whatever you clean nad jerked. This assumed that Saturday is rest, and you compete on Sunday.  If you compete on Saturday or Friday, some changes must be made.

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.  Fridays training would be done on Wednesday, but with squats prohibited.  No training would be done on Thursday.

This is our basic plan to peak for a competition and it works pretty well.  Keep in mind that this is aimed at lifters that are used to lifting close to maximal or maximal weights frequently.  If your training program is different than this, then this peaking plan is not for you.  Also keep in mind that the tapering process is individual, just like all of training.  Keep records each time you go through it, and after 3-4 times you will be able to make small changes that can make all the difference in how it works for you.

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