Feeling like a new kid on the “block” pulls and how to hang tough

Let’s face it block pulls for some of us can be as painful as reliving a New Kid’s on the Block song/video. Both can be frustrating while you just want it all to stop!

Well good news! New Kid’s are gone and we just have to see them on VH1 every couple of years or maybe a celebrity rehab show. More importantly I am going to share how you can not only tolerate block pulls but thrive.

Honestly what is a block pull?
A block pull is a partial deadlift where you pull from blocks or pins in a rack from anywhere from 4-8 inches but like many things in life length varies on the person and their goals. So if we have a bar 4” off of the floor what really is it? It is certainly a segmented lift so right from there we need to visualize where in the pull this lift is at mechanically for our own technique. Reviewing video can help a lot in this department. Where are your hips at the point? How bent are your knees? Head position? I am not about to open a can of worms saying what the respective form should be at there are rule breakers that seem to lift just fine with a rounded back and looking down. So focus on you and how you ideally look at that segment of the pull.


2. Hanging tough at the start
I deadlift conventional and like many my start is what helps me with the lift. A block pull is taking away a portion of momentum that you rely and and in some ways your deadlift is a dead start from a weak spot of the lift. Visualize that spot of the pull in a full deadlift. Keep replaying it in your head. Visualizing will help with the awkwardness you may experience with the movement. Understand, it will be harder than a full pull even if the weight is the same or lighter. Addressing our weak points are always humbling so just suck it up and attack.

3. Weird squat pulls need not apply
We see this a lot where people want to get their legs under a rack pull and end up performing something not at all intended to being effective. Block pulls are no different. An extreme Romanian deadlift might be more the idea to consider if that helps you coordinate with the movement. Steve Goggins is a legend and worth taking a look at performing this movement correctly and effectively.

Hopefully these three points can help you in the deadlifting. Personally I recommend block pulls primarily for a conventional deadlifter but any style will benefit just understand your goals, strength and weaknesses.

Peace of Meet

Peace of Meet

The purpose of this article is to give you peace of mine in competing by covering some of my own experiences and sharing videos to help you understand a powerlifting meet.  In short I hope that peace of mind gives you “peace of meet” so to speak.

A powerlifting meet gets anyone involved excited whether they are lifting, coaching, assisting or just spectating (and maybe all of the above).  Even as a veteran lifter,  I was always nervous at an event to compete. Even if I did all of my homework and was pretty sure I would win my class, I still had butterflies.

A good dose of healthy anxiety is normal, but I want to offer you some tips and ideas which, regardless of  your experience level, will equip you with some “peace of meet” the next time you are preparing for the platform.


The squat is our first lift of the day. I normally am so anxious to get that first lift in and be on the board.  Your opener is crucial for the success of everything else that follows; no opener and you are done for the day.  Bomb outs happen, but should never happen in experience and as a raw lifter.

Make or break you lift; training to parallel. It behooves us all to know parallel while at the same time, not going for the deepest squat award which doesn’t exist.  If you squat high in training you will squat high in a meet.  It is really that simple and YES, judges can be a pain in the butt, we all know this, but regardless of the federation, parallel is the crease of the hip below the top of the knee.  Look, you can try to gamble and cut your squats high and then blame the judge.  My recommendation in training is to video your squats and face away from the mirror.  Two things happen; first, you get comfortable with people ‘in your face’ when you are facing the crowd that might be in the gym.  Second, you manage to get that familiar feeling of what parallel is in training while not relying on a mirror.

As the deepest squat is not a recognized category, neither is walking back the furthest.  Get comfortable with squatting close to the rack while being at a safe distance.  Taking too many steps is a waste of energy and is going to leave you open to serious mental drain and possible injury.

Once you have walked out the weight for the squat what happens?  What happens once you squat down?  Do the referees tell you to go back up?  Know what the federation rules are for walking out, setting up and racking your weights and then practice.  Watch what is going on around you at the meet and have a friend queue you with reminders of rack commands.   In the USPA, I have watched many good squats get red-lighted because the lifter just started to rack the weight after the lift but not after the command was given.  People that miss these commands are nervous, new or both.  My college communications professor always stated, “Repetition makes you remember.  Repetition makes you remember.  Repetition makes you remember.”

Also, I have noted that in meets people get antsy and nervous so they tend to stand a lot and move about.  While some can deal with this more times than not you can end up getting tight in the back and dehydrated from the anxiety.  Do yourself a favor sit and sip water/Gatorade somewhere comfortable.  Heck watch Netflix if it helps you to relax.  You need to focus but at some point working your adrenal gland into an anxious frenzy is going to wear you down fast.  And think about just this: tired back will give way to excessive leaning which pulls the hips up and you are suddenly not even remotely close to parallel.

Weigh-ins tend to be when you can get your rack heights set up.  Please consider the settings in your training gear: shoes, suit, belt and lots of weight on the bar.  You want just enough height to save energy while being able to safely unload and load the bar to the rack.

Bench Press

Some federations do not let you have a hand off person of you own so be prepared coordinate with the spotters if you need them.  I coach lifting partners and strangers the same way,“You ask when I am ready.  Then You count 1-2-3-Up.  We lift off on up.”  I do this every time.  It is easy.  Coordinate with spotters in warm ups and let the spotter know as well which will keep you ready and avoiding issues like not being able to have your own personal spotter while being assigned to one of the loaders.

What is a pause?  It is control on the chest.  It isn’t about an amount of time, although sadly some judges thinking a Mississippi count is in order.  Also, the bar needs to be lowered in a controlled fashion; doing this in training will make it easy in a meet.  Controlled, Tight, No movement.  You do this and you will get a quicker press command , especially in a series of meets as you demonstrate the type of lifter you are.

Many a lift is missed because after the bar is pressed, the lifter quickly racks the weight without the command to do so.  Again, PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE.  You practice this in all of your training sessions and your instincts will take over on the platform.  Repetition makes you remember!


The deadlift is so straight forward, but lifters often miss a few simple things that could improve their performance.  First, I see many lifters pacing around and then once they do get to the bar take forever to just pick the weight up.  Do you remember in class when teachers would encourage you to give the first answer that pops into your head because it is usually correct?  The approach to the bar is no different.  Just go and lift the weight.  Stalling can lead to disbelief especially when the weights get really heavy, just “Grip and Go”.

So you approach the bar and go!  Awesome!  Only in time for the bar to cling to your pasty legs and then get caught on your singlet around the thighs.  Use the baby powder and pull the suit up to avoid catching anything.  Doing those two things can differentiate between your completed lift or your stalled attempt.  As a tip, in training you can use water in a spray bottle which is easier to clean up especially in commercial gyms.

Additional things to consider

 Finally, I recommend doubling up; take backup equipment for your lifting gear just to be safe especially if you have traveled far. Don’t forget your caffeine tablets, shaker cups, Pedialyte/ Gatorade and Imodium. I tend to eat light but consistently to help digest my food because I tend to be pretty nervous anyway as I mentioned, a dry fruit/ trail mix is a great fix.

Well that is it from me.  I am sure you have some tips as well so feel free to drop me a line and share them.  The bottom line is you want your very best experience at you meet, it’s what you have spent endless hours preparing for,  you want “Peace of Meet.”

Below are some helpful videos for you to view regarding the rules of a powerlifting meet in the USPA.  Check them out!

Need more help?  Consider highering Raw Power Training Systems today.

Prilepin Chart and How To Design Your Own Powerlifting Program

For anyone who doesn’t know of A.S. Prilepin, I will save you the trouble and tell you that he watched the most successful lifters in the most successful country (Russia) and made a few determinations about their training. His observations, while simple are how PL programming is created even today. His observations are in the chart below–assuming posting this doesn’t monkey it up beyond repair.




What is it?
It is a chart that determines the number of sets and reps that are to be used in training high level athletes. There is a reason that it is still used all of these many years later. It is the foundation for most successful training systems in use today–including westside. It includes a training zone and it’s corresponding rep ranges and what is considered optimal.
Who will benefit from this information?
I hesitate to say everyone. I know that everyone doesn’t want to know what goes into their training–and they for damn sure don’t want to do it themselves. That used to be me–“put it on the bar coach, you’re the thinker, I’m the lifter.” I eventually took control of my own program design–but my coach still bitches anyway. But, intermediate to advanced lifters will benefit from knowing how to use this table seamlessly. But because I am a pompous ass, I am including novice lifters anyway.
How is it used?
For example, If I am working at 90%, I consult the chart and it will tell me that I need a reps per set of 1-2 and that I should optimally perform 7 meaningful reps. However, there is a range of 4-10, which is to accommodate for your training max (if you feel like shit and cant keep going) and your 1RM (if you feel like a freight train). It is pretty simple.
General Users:
This is the simplest method of using the table. You will have a day where you operate in a single intensity zone and you will not vary from it in such a way that would alter your set or rep range. You will make up for not having multiple intensity zones by lifting over more days–i.e. You will squat 2-3 days per week.
Example Plan:
Monday 90-100+% 1RM
Reps per set: 1-2
Optimal reps: 7
Rep range: 4-10
Execution: Don’t be a dumbass and not warm up. But don’t warm up in such a way to compromise your attempts on your 1RM. Higher rep warm-ups should be at low percentages, and higher percentage warm-ups should be made as singles–if possible. Be reasonable, and know when you are ready to go.
Thursday 55-70% 1RM
Reps per set: 3-6
Optimal reps: 24
Rep range: 18-30
Execution: Warm-up and follow the plan.
Intermediate Lifters: The Prilepin Number of Lifts Score
Now for the math squeamish, this may seem horrifying. But little know fact: Most PLers are mathematicians—just ****ing with you…most people hate math. But for the purposes of planning a training cycle, it is important–hear me out.
PNLS = Number Of Performed Lifts in Zone/Upper Total Limit
So if I did 10 lifts in the 90% range, I would have a PNLS score of 10 (number of lifts I did) /10(number from the chart) =1. Now keep in mind that this score is representative of that one lift and it does NOT encompass your accessory work. So you can see that an optimal PNLS score would be .7 or so.
Problem: Nobody works in a single intensity zone, you know-nothing bastar….ok ok.
Solution: Basic phone calculator with the same formula should square you away.
Example: If you did 10 reps at 55-70%, 5 reps at 70-79%, and 3 reps at 90+% you will have 10 (what you did)/30 (max reps from chart), 5/24, 3/10. Restating–10/30 (.3) +5/24 (.21) +3/10 (.3) = .3+.21+.3= .81 PNLS or a pretty good day–and a really damn good example seeing as how I guessed at it.
Problem: I can get the same PNLS by doing the different percentages with the same reps as long as I am in the same intensity zone.
Solution: Stop being a loop-hole seeking dickhead. Don’t you want to be better? Jk….I mean you are a dick, but the loop-hole is about to close: A slight modification to the formula that rewards precision. The Intensity and Number of Lifts (INOL) formula. It is defined like this: Number of Lifts(NOL) at a given intensity/100 – intensity.
Restated: INOL = Number of lifts at your chosen percentage / 100 – (your intensity).
Example: Bench 2×6 @ 60% and 3×5 @ 75% = 2×6/(100-60) + 3×5/(100-75)= .3 + .6= .9
Problem: 2×6 @60% is the same thing as 6×2@60%. Well, the more fragmented your INOL is, less fatigue was incurred per each set. So have a defined purpose when you design the program. Did you want the sets to be low rep and light for a DE day? If so, one way is more optimal than the other.
Guidelines for Using INOL
Weekly INOL Guidelines:
<2 easy
2-3 tough
3-4 Unsustainable
>4 Overtraining
Single Workout INOL of a single exercise:
<0.4 Do you even lift???
0.4-1 Good
1-2 Difficult
>2 Assault and battery on yourself.
The mathematical scores for the Prilepin tables are the ideas of a guy named Hristov. Smart guy that was looking for a definitive method to utilize the table. These are his ideas and not Prilepin’s. It is also of note that Hristov didn’t come out with his ideas until the last decade, so clearly you can use the table without the formulas.
I don’t want to do any of the stupid mathematics, I just want to lift….so what?
No problem, but keep in mind that thousands of people either developed the table with their success (that is why they were selected and studied by Prilepin) or have been successful because of that table. The table should be regarded highly. The numbers you can take or leave. I just have always thought they were neat.
Did I use them? Yes. At one time my programming was solely based on the Prilepin table and Hristov’s data interpretation. Now, my loading has moved into my own formula based on my performance.
Now I hope you hated this boring garbage as much as I hated digging up the email from the bastard (that owes me money) that sent it to me.
Source: Unknown but I didn’t write it.