Train Harder In Your Off-Season!

Train Harder In Your Off-Season! 

It’s been a long time between posts as we have been very busy at Valhalla Strength, but at this time of year, I’ve made some time to talk about something that most people take completely take for granted, or at the very least don’t put enough effort into; Off-season training for powerlifting.


In this post, we are more talking about an intermediate and above level lifter. If you are novice, this doesn’t really apply to your first year of competing, and I actually have a completely different set of guidelines for you.


Some coaches/lifters believe that powerlifting doesn’t have a season, and factually, they are probably correct, but that doesn’t mean we cant make one.
Those same coaches/lifters step onto the platform every 12-14 weeks without taking a break, which I think is a MASSIVE mistake.

Not only are they putting a huge amount of stress onto their bodies, which in turn will lead to injuries, but they also aren’t taking any time out to properly work on their weaknesses and imbalances.

I’ve seen it time, after time…… Whole teams dropping of the powerlifting scene due to lifters never taking a break…. Hell, it’s even happened to one of my teams.
I advised most of my lifters to sit a particular competition out, and no one listened.
As a result, almost everyone of them ended up with some sort of issue that sidelined them from training for some time. This was off the at the end of about 4 comps, back to back…… No rest, no time to recover, no time to rebuild.

As much as it pained me to see everyone go through that, at least some good came of it.
The best thing about being in a team is learning from each others mistakes, and luckily a lot of our other members noticed what was happening, and took note.


We all (should) know that longevity is the key to a big total. Ed Coan, the greatest powerlifter of all time, COMPETED for over 25 years.
Ed told me he only did 2 comps a year, with the exception of some “Record Breakers” meets.

More recently I had the pleasure of spending some time with Jeremy Hamilton (former all time WR holder) and guess what, he only does one big meet a year….. And to further that, until he came to Australia, he had NEVER sustained any injuries. Nothing.

Both of these guys are great examples of what happens when you structure your training properly.
Take your time, build the body, fix weaknesses. If you come in guns blazing, you’re probably only going to be around for a short time.


Personally, I don’t like to see my experienced lifters do more than 2 hard comps comps a year.
I say hard as we may need to compete in a local event to qualify for a bigger meet, but we will get them to do training weights on the platform as that is normally enough to qualify them, and isn’t taxing or disruptive to their training.


Personally, my 2 comps would be Nationals and Worlds.
So my season would typically run April-September – 5 1/2 months.
Does this mean that from September-March I’m just goofing around in the gym and missing sessions?

No way!

The off season should be your time to be productive.
The off season should be the time you fix up weaknesses that were discovered from you 2 big meets.
The off season should be the time you get on top of any niggles before they turn into injuries.
The off season SHOULDN’T be the time to take the back seat, its not a freaking holiday.
If your off season has no structure, it has no purpose. If it has no purpose, it has no point. If it has no point, why train?


Last season, my comps were NSW States and GPC Nationals.
I had identified 2 big weaknesses in my own lifting coming off the back of the previous season, one being lateral hip movement in the squat, and the other being thoracic rounding on my deadlift; which was killing my lockout.

So from September 2015 until Jan 2016 my training was to gain weight, and fix those 2 issues.

I completely got rid of the hip movement during the squat, and it helped me go from 282.5kg to 295kg.
The thoracic rounding improved dramatically, i used to round at around 240kg…. now its around 285kg. It still has some way to go, but it made great progress. I went from deadlifting 315kg to 330kg.
I went from not being able to bench press without causing a tear, to benching 162.5kg.

This goes to show me that the work I did in the off season paid big dividends for my total.


It’s off season time again for me. I did my 2 big comps for 2016, identified my key area’s of which I need to improve, and now it’s time to build on them for 2017.

August 2016 – May 2017 is my time to fix some knee tendonosis, gain 6kg, improve on maintaining a neutral thoracic spine when pulling heavy and build some strength in my shoulders.


Do not compete year round, and do NOT waste the time you have off; it’s almost impossible to fix any real issue while you are prepping for a meet.


Look at your lifting objectively, identify weaknesses, build a plan to correct them.


Until next time,

Stay Strong.

Scott Wasson
Valhalla Strength – Brisbane


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