October 22

Lessons From The IPF International Coaches License (Day 3) – FINALLY!


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The kind-of-but-not-really last part of my experience at the IPF’s international coaches license has taken a couple of days longer than I’d have liked to get out to you. For that I apologise. There were a few mitigating circumstances;

On the last night, instead of writing the blog post, I packed. Not only that, but I was SO wiped from 3 days in the row of training (plus a 95% of 3RM set of 3 I was made pull on Saturday after my squat workout) that I couldn’t formulate words anyway.

And then when I got to the airport to leave, I spent about 4 hours working thru my programming notes trying to collate them into some sort of understandable format. Then, the last couple of days in Ireland have seen me playing catch up with my sleep, and all the biz stuff I missed while I was away.

The last walk up to the Spa and Sports Hall @ La Manga
The last walk up to the Spa and Sports Hall @ La Manga

So, here we are today.

If you haven’t read part 1 and 2 yet, it probably makes sense to start here:

Part 1

Part 2

Today’s post comes with a stern warning – if you aren’t interested in the technical rules of the IPF, and their anti doping policies, you probably won’t find this very interesting at all. Maybe save it for some bed time reading, or to cure your next bout of insomnia.

There’s some random programming comments at the end, and the new things I’ve implemented in my own training and that of my athletes that may be of interest, but if you wanna go there, skip to the “THE INTERESTING STUFF” heading.

So, onwards.

The IPF takes their anti doping policies and procedures very seriously, with good reason. It’s a vital part of the recognition process to try and make powerlifting an Olympic sport, and because a lot of member countries receive government assistance in financing, and without an effective anti doping that would be called into question.

We’d a brief chat about the rules around anti doping within the IPF, but one thing stood out then, and remains out now 5 days later – if a lifter is doping, the coach will know, and the coach is responsible.

I’m NOT saying the coach has doped the lifter. Not at all. What I am saying tho is that an experienced coach SHOULD notice the rapid and unencumbered progress a lifter makes once they’ve moved to the dark side. They’ll recover faster, gain more muscle, tolerate more volume and smash PRs. As much as we’d like to believe that we’re all amazing exceptional coaches, none of us are THAT good.

So, in that situation, a coach should be investigating that matter with his lifter, and informing the national federation of suspicion as necessary. Unfortunately, outside of testing, there’s not much that can be done at open / regional competition to prevent doping – dirty athletes will still enter, they SHOULD be prevented from progressing further thru drug testing once suspicions have arisen.

And certainly no athlete should make it to the international stage and test positive without being caught by his home federation first. Simples.

Dietmar, Bosu, myself and Ralph - 3 great dudes to learn off, and me.
Dietmar, Bosu, myself and Ralph – 3 great dudes to learn off, and me.

The IPF is notorious for its strict enforcement of its rules of performance. It gets a lot of grief on the internet for it. BUT for the most part the rules are enforced consistently – which is fair. The biggest problem I’ve seen as technical director for Ireland is that lifters don’t know, or understand the rules. Which is a problem for us in that we haven’t communicated it, and because their coach (if they have one) isn’t educating them on it. But I guess half the time they don’t know it themselves anyway.

Maybe in future a coaches workshop going thru the rulebook could be done. And we’re probably going to start doing morning lifter briefings too (typically at interationals they’re carried out the day before, BUT we never have that luxury on the national stage).

Anyway, all I’m including is some notes on the rules I made that were of interest to me. They may not be helpful for you.

  • once a 2:1 majority is reached on start commands, the head referee must give the start command. BUT if he doesn’t agree the correct start position was achieved, he must red light the lift after
  • Interestingly, the blue card on bench / deadlift identifies downward movement, but it’s a yellow card on squat. We asked why that was, and they said it was something they’ll actually bring to the technical committee because the inconsistency is confusing 
  • if there has been a loading error or a rack error made by the platform team, the lifter clock must be reset to 1 minute after “the bar is loaded” has been announced
  • you may only adjust your belt on the platform, everything else should be locked in and ready to go before you’re cleared by the technical referee prior to stepping on the platform 
  • you may present gear to the technical referee on the platform edge prior to lifting for approval if having to change gear after the official kit check
  • if a lifter bombs out on any given lift, he may still compete for individual lift awards provided he makes bona fide attempts matching his capabilities – final decision on what constitutes that is a jury decision. ie – you can’t just take the piss with a 100kg bench if you’re a 250kg bencher 
  • single lift bench records may be set at a full meet, but must be met with bona fide attempts at squat and deadlift
  • we need to get cat 1 and cat 2 qualified refs in place once our probationary period as new refs has passed (there’s quite strict rules on what you must do to qualify to become an international ref)

THE INTERESTING STUFF (programming & my take aways)
Again, with the programming I’d love to share every number, percentage, training volume and all the magic we got on the course, but since we’ve been explicitly asked NOT to share someones life’s work with randomers online, I’ll be respecting that and instead sharing the spirit of the program, along with some key take aways for me.

  • during deload periods, volume and intensity can both decrease, but the intensity must always be decreased regardless
  • it’s almost impossible to make all your lifts go up at once consistently, different times of the year will require different focuses for training
  • young/weak lifters should use lower %s and more volume to build muscle
  • if you’re unsure how to progress a lifter, increase the volume before the intensity
  • it makes the most sense to use doubles and triples to estimate maxes rather than smashing a lifter with 1RM attempts during training blocks
  • every 4 weeks will require some sort of deload in volume or intensity
  • during the first 4-6 weeks of a prep cycle you can use combination lifts to quickly up the volume (eg 3 front squats into 6 back squats, or triple sets / giant sets). But if you’re doing that – push out recovery to 3-5 minutes per set
  • beginners should hit approx. 8,000-10,000 lifts each year, increase 1-2k annually over their training career
  • on the platform you’re on your own, but everywhere else – you’re on the team
There we are... the new IPF internationally licensed coaches
There we are… the new IPF internationally licensed coaches

The great temptation after a week of learning like I’ve just had is to throw the baby out with the bath water and changer EVERYTHING. That rarely makes sense. Especially considering our lifters (and me) haven continued to get real strong over the last couple of years.

So for me personally, here’s what I’ll be implementing going forward;

  • massive increase in bench volume, minimum 5x pressing sessions each week
  • all squat warm ups will be done toes on plates
  • knees wider and hips under more on squats – that will suck for the first while as my body gets used to it, and make squats harder, but it will pay off down the line
  • taller chest and lower hips when pulling – lower hips, not squatty hips! really nailed a couple of nice start positions today and started to get a sense for how they should feel
  • once / twice a week I’ll do a truck ton of upper back volume to keep me healthy
  • increased squat volume (by a rep per working set) rather than an increase in weight since I’m currently 13 weeks out. Once entering the peaking phase, I’ll increase weights marginally
  • I need to eat more and recover better
  • 5 weeks out from comp I’ll start to reduce kcals and see if 93kg is doable
The final sunset over beautiful La Manga
The final sunset over beautiful La Manga

So after about 6,000 words – that’s it. All done. I’m not one for long goodbyes.

I hope you enjoyed reading this series.

Any Qs on anything covered, email me directly on james@revolutionfitness.ie


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