I like powerlifting. I like bodybuilding.
I like both, therefore I train both. Personally, I believe that they can live in harmony, if trained appropriately. In fact, I believe this way of training has attributed greatly to my overall development as a seasoned lifter, and has helped me refrain from injury. Aside from all of those things, the aesthetics appeal is there as well…
Build your base first.
I dedicated roughly 10 years of my training career to powerlifting. I was blessed with the opportunity to get exposed to lifting in high school, and then continued with it in college playing D3 sports. All throughout college (including summers), I was on a set training cycle, based on the Conjugate Method (not sure what that is? Ask Nate Harvey), that revolved around peaking me for my indoor and then my outdoor track season championships. By the end of my senior year of college, I had box squatted 405lbs, 205lb bench, and a 385lb deadlift. Thank you, Ed Jaskulski and Nate Harvey for making my skinny ass finally get big and strong.
After that I spent a whole year training under Paul Childress, the father of powerlifting out here in the boonies of Buffalo, NY. You want to talk about a circle; this group of crazy humans that I trained with here was the most supportive, encouraging, “take no shit and no excuse” people that helped me become my strongest self. THIS built my base. THIS is where my thick and wide back was built. THIS is where my dense legs were made. When young bodybuilders ask me where to start, THIS is where I direct them.
Then add in the other stuff.
Most people when they begin bodybuilding dive head first into traditional bodybuilding exercises. Dumbbell pullovers and preacher curls are all fine and dandy, but if you still can`t bench the barbell or barbell squat to parallel, then I would suggest reassessing your game plan. Basic, fundamental lifting exercises may be “boring,” but they introduce you to how to properly move your body within planes of motion. BE FUNCTIONAL FIRST. Concentrated bicep curls will not help you with your daily life in a significant way like squatting, deadlifting and benching will. The goal is longevity. Don`t sabotage yourself by jumping in to the “other stuff” too quickly. Develop good habits, sound form/technique, and overall strength FIRST, and then add in the other stuff. Trust me, patience is virtue.
You`re probably wondering how the heck to start since I have taken the obvious out. Unfortunately, the 12 week transformation workout plan you bought for 75$ on Instagram will not tell you any of this, nor will it give you the proper foundation to build upon. In fact, I can bet money that it doesn’t even give you directions on how to actually perform the exercises prescribed.
My suggestion: find a coach or a well-trusted friend who knows the way and can properly show you the way.
I say well trusted because many people think they know the way, but end up leading you down a very wrong path. And I say properly because many people know how, but struggle to teach others. Find someone that is both of those things.
Be patient. Seriously.
Except for the rare occurrences, if you ask any IFBB Pro or Olympian how long it took them to get to their current state, they will surely tell you years. Not one year. Years is a plural word, which means a plethora of long, disciplined years of consistent hard work. This includes detours, bad coaches, learned lessons, unlearned habits, etc. Its also filled with sacrifices, growth spurts, moments of maturing. All in which takes great patience, because giving up is always an option. Its an easy one, in fact. The greatest advice I can give you in regards to that is carry on anyways. Things get hard? Carry on anyways. Not seeing progress in the way in which you expected or within the time frame you expected? F**k your expectations and carry on anyways. Life gets in the way? Carry on anyways. If it’s something that you truly want, go all in, stop making BS excuses, stop complaining and carry on anyways.
What do you do that makes you hybrid, Bernice?
Great question. Its simple. I warm up per usual, 5 mins on cardio equipment followed by 2-3 exercises that warm up my upper body (shoulders, back, chest) or my lower body (hammies, quads, glutes) for 3 sets of 10-12 or however many reps I need to get blood moving around. I take my time with these, don’t rush the movements, and make sure to get a contraction within full range of motion. From there I start with my main movement. This includes a variation of the bench, squat, deadlift, military press, or bent over row. The last two are ones that I have added into my rotation of the first three since I workout on a 5 day rotation with a rest day in between. This is where my powerlifting training comes about. THIS is where I train like a powerlifter, although when I am prepping for a show, I do not one rep max. When in a deficit of calories, maxing out is just asking for injuries, especially in the back and shoulders for me. But I still use chains, bands, typical conjugate protocol for this. After that, my secondary movement is usually an exercise that focuses on a body part I am lagging size in (RDLS for hammies, front squats for quads, Pull ups/weighted pull ups for back, and landmine press for shoulders are some examples of my usual go tos). From there, I fill in the rest of my workout with my isolation exercises for that particular body part focused day. Leg days I have to be a bit careful with my rep and set schemes since my legs are already a bit large for a figure competitor, but for upper body I focus primarily on hypertrophy since it is the hardest area for me to gain muscle. I also keep my cardio pretty standard. I keep prowler pushes in there for a little bit of powerlifter cardio, I sprint, sled drags, along with the usual steady state walking uphill on the treadmill.
At the end of the day, I train like what I am; an athlete. I eat, sleep, and train LIKE AN ATHLETE. And like all athletes, force production paired with acceleration is the combo in which we use to get stronger, faster, and bigger.
So, this hybrid lifestyle is where I live. And it works. Especially since I listen to my coach, I trust the process, and I remind myself to be patient. Because this shit is hard, it takes time, and a full heart. Every. Day.