• Case Studies in Powerlifting -- Josh Hunt

      By Brady Stewart

      This is the second article in the series titled Case Studies in Powerlifting. In this article series, I will discuss some of the programming for lifters that I currently train with, the Belleville Weightlifting Club, and some other ideas that we have implemented involving training and training for other sports. We have seen some great individual successes with the implementation of basic, intermediate, and advanced RTS programming principles. The results speak for themselves.
      These are our experiences…

      Josh Hunt
      Age: 27
      Sport: Powerlifting
      Hometown: Fairview Heights, IL
      Training Location: The Belleville Weightlifting Club (BWC - Belleville, IL)
      Josh was a football player in high school and college. When he decided that he was too small to play offensive line in college, he turned to rugby. Once he graduated from college, he still participated in softball and soccer…up until he started powerlifting. Josh began lifting right before high school and picked up as much information and training experience as he could through the years. He started powerlifting after graduating college in 2004, but didn’t start serious powerlifting training until he moved to Illinois and started training at the BWC.
      Best Lifts Raw:
      Squat: 496lbs
      Bench Press: 353lbs
      Deadlift: 485lbs
      Competition Total: 1334lbs or 605K (this was his first contest)
      Weight Class: 275lbs / 242lbs
      Goals: In the near future he wants to bench over 400lbs, as well as squat and deadlift in the mid-500’s, RAW. Longer term he wants to break 2000lbs total geared. He’d also like to move down to the 242lb weight class.
      Other hobbies/interests: When not working, at school, or in the gym; he enjoys music, traveling, cooking, reading, and movies

      Josh Hunt is one of those guys who was made for powerlifting. He has a perfect build, large frame, and a determined attitude to move iron. At the Belleville Weightlifting Club, we get a lot of potential powerlifters that come and go. Some guys just don’t have the guts to challenge heavy weights and to better themselves through the iron game. Some find out quickly that powerlifting just isn’t for them. We can tell fairly quickly whether or not they’ll stick around. It seems like for every 5 guys that walk through the club to try the place out, maybe 1 stays. This is very exhausting when you and your training partners try to help these people and give 100% to their personal physical quests, just so they turn around and quit or never come back. We knew that Josh was different from the beginning. He already had some strength that he earned through going it alone for some time through college. Still studying and going to school for a Master of Science in IntermodalTransportation Management, Josh doesn’t miss a training session and is devoted to the sport as well as his education. Each training session we see his determination and confidence with the weights improve.

      Before training with the Reactive Training System, he would train with what he thought would work from any source he could find. Powerlifting is a hard sport to get into when there are no powerlifters around. So, he utilized an multipart plan that consisted of what he learned from his football coaches, reading various websites, and speaking to anyone that he thought was strong in the gym. Other than that he would experiment and try to find something that he thought worked or felt like it would work. He would download workouts or put a program together from things that he had picked up over the years. In training, Josh has told me that even though he was lifting heavy, he wasn’t lifting correctly. A year ago, he would claim a 500 squat, press 350 (touch and go), and deadlift in the mid 400’s. He has told me that he probably only did half squats, ramp his thighs in the deadlift, and his bench press technique was a mess. So, the challenge was taking this strong guy, improve his technique, get some solid training under his belt, and get him in a contest. Since starting RTS, he feels like his overall health has improved, joints and lower back don’t hurt anymore, and that he doesn’t feel completely drained after a training session. In general, it seems that his strength is more consistent week to week. On RTS, he still has ups and downs, but overall he is stronger than he has ever been. I feel that Josh will improve drastically over the next few months now that we have some kinks worked out.
      For Josh, we decided to take a very basic approach to RTS. We have been implementing more of a beginners program for him for the simple fact that we wanted him to concentrate on performing the basic lifts, without belts, with perfect execution. Even though he had all of this strength, he still wasn’t moving the weight efficiently. Aside from this, he decided to emphasize cardiovascular health, performing cardio 30-45 minutes a day, five days a week. At times he’ll also do strongman type cardio after workouts. We put him on a standard template training the upper and lower body twice weekly with 6 main slots each. We won’t put him in gear until he gains a little more movement efficiency with his lifts. Immediately, Josh was put on accumulation and stayed there until we felt like his strength stagnated (approx. 5 weeks), then made the switch to transmutation/intensity (approx. 4 weeks). We then followed this with a deload week before training for his first contest.
      After showing drastic improvements in his form, we moved him over to fatigue percents and let his current state of readiness dictate his volume and intensity. This allowed Josh to learn a bit more about the rate of perceived exertion scale and how to apply it to fatigue percents. I laid everything out for him. 4 weeks of accumulation, 3 weeks of transmutation, 1 week of testing/realization, then a deload through the contest. Here is what it looked like:
      9) DELOAD
      8) Accumulation – Medium Stress
      7) Accumulation – High Stress
      6) Accumulation – High Stress
      5) Accumulation – Medium Stress
      4) Transmutation – Low Stress
      3) Transmutation – Medium Stress
      2) Transmutation – Medium Stress
      1) Test / Realization – Low Stress
      C) Deload and Contest – Deload/Low Stress
      VOLUME / ACCUMULATION (x5@10, x4@9, x4@10, x3@8, x3@9)
      TRANSMUTATION / INTENSITY (x3@9, x3@10, x2@9, x2@10, x1@9, x1@10)
      VOLUME / ACCUMULATION ACCESSORY WORK (x3x12@8, x3x10@8, x3x8@8 )
      protocol selected for each exercise and each day was completely at random…
      … Josh added a belt for one squat and one deadlift slot during transmutation to work on the contest lift with contest conditions…

      Josh also feels that he has a better understanding of what he needs to work on for the next contest and has learned some things about training with RTS that will be integral to his future successes in powerlifting. He likes training without a belt. As he feels that training without one strengthens his core. However, when he does put on a belt, he gets that much more out of it. He also learned that when you correctly select weights that are proper for each set, you don’t miss lifts. When you don’t miss lifts in training, you are more likely to not miss in a contest. With that said, he agrees that it is important to check your ego at the door and not let yourself get caught up in ego-driven attempts, but planned, discussed, and thought out attempts. He isn’t afraid to ask for opinions on assigning RPEs to his sets and discussion on his sets following. On a side note, if you do train alone, video your lifts and playback in between sets. This is very helpful when you are unsure of what RPE to assign prior sets. Josh has also learned that consistency is key. Training sessions cannot be skipped, but modified. If he can’t train on a certain day, he will combine/alter his training days to make it up. Josh believes that his biggest weakness is not knowing as much as he should about the training process.
      For Josh’s next competition, he will compete raw. We agreed that we won’t put any equipment on him until he reaches certain attainable raw goals at 242 or 275. The only changes that we’ll make to his training are incorporating short bursts of concentrated stress in the accumulation phase in the off season, try a short phase with training at a higher frequency, and then resume normal training frequencies all of which will utilize fatigue percents. We’ll probably keep him on fatigue percents until we feel he has stagnated progress. The short bursts of concentrated stress will be during his off season accumulation phase (4 total weeks) and will only be for a week followed by a week of medium or low stress and repeated once before pushing higher intensities in a transmutation phase (4 weeks). This is designed to shock his system into performing more work without taxing his ability to recover. In turn, the subsequent weeks should feel physically and mentally easier to get through. For a guy in Josh’s classification (Class 3 on the Russian Classification Chart), I would use concentrated stress with caution as to it may not be right for you at your current state of training. Since I train with Josh, I know that it is appropriate for him at this time. For a class 3 lifter, it should be programmed in with care and with a well thought out plan that has a purpose. I always tell the guys at the gym that if they don’t have a good purpose and reason for something they want to incorporate into their training, then chances are they don’t need it. Research the methods and means that you’d like to include in your programs/plans before throwing it in. Know why you should include them and how to incorporate them. Truly strive to learn how to properly set up and execute your training plan. It will make you a better lifter and you will ultimately accomplish more.
      “Try RTS. It allows you to create your own workouts based on how you feel. It is a thinking man’s program rather than just something you blindly follow. Which means there is a lot more of yourself in the workout.” - Josh Hunt
      Comments 1 Comment
      1. Shirm's Avatar
        Shirm -
        I'm really enjoying these case studies as I'm about to try rts for the first time. I'm from boston but actually have family in Trenton IL. Good to know for next time I come out and visit.