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Building a Champion

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Matt Merrick Building a Champion

Matt Merrick is a British powerlifter, he's been lifting for around 11 years, more seriously in the last 4 and has been powerlifting for the last 2 years. In that space of time he has gone from attending his first amateur competition to winning the World Championships. He now has invites to powerlifting competitions all over the world. We caught up with Matt to find out about his preparation for the British Powerlifting Union qualifier in March.

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“Five, four, three, two one – Happy New Year”.

Right. Ok, so now the celebrations are over, let’s get focused on the goal. Three months after taking the gold medal at the GPC World Powerlifting Championships in Slovakia and 6 months after winning silver at the 2019 GPC European Championships in Hungary, I now have my eyes firmly set on a new prize – the WPC European Championships. Held in Manchester, England in June. My chance to win a medal on home soil… but first I have to qualify in March. This is my goal. This is my target. This is my obsession. I will become a medalist on home soil, representing my country!

Powerlifting GPC World Champonship 2019

To those of you who don’t know me or my background, by day I am a school teacher, and the rest of the time I am a father to my beautiful 3 week old daughter. Seeing her face everyday melts my heart – but my goal is to make her proud of her Daddy. So if I can do this, combine a difficult job, a hectic home life and minimal sleep – there is absolutely no reason that you can’t also!

So here we go, you’ve joined me half way through my 8 week training plan. The gym is busy, the new year’s resolutioner's are in full force and for me, January 2020 has already seen some impressive results! Training 3 sessions a week in the Hammer Strength squat rack in Anytime Fitness Worksop, hitting squats, bench press and deadlift on each occasion really takes its toll on the body – but, my god, it gets you strong and conditioned to grinding out the effort. During week one and two of January (week 6 and 7 of my training plan) I’ve been working at 70-80% of my one rep max (1RM), cruising through five sets of five reps during each session (on bench-press, squat and deadlift). My body feels like it is at breaking point, and the last set on each occasion felt like my body was going to collapse – but I have the goal, and I will not let myself fail. I left the gym this week feeling broken and bruised… I love this feeling!

Matt Merrick Deadlift

This stage of my training is modelled on an old German powerlifting training plan, called the Korte 3x3 program. This is an approach developed by German powerlifting coach Stephan Korte in the 1990’s. Strangely enough, this program was never designed for raw lifters like me; however, as long as my total keeps increasing, I am going to keep using it. The downside to this type of training is the lack of assistance exercises. It’s neither fun, nor pleasant but it gets results – and at the end of the day, I am in the results business when I stand on that platform in front of a room full of spectators. I must note, I’ve not had an arm day or shoulder session in over 18 months as a result of this plan. The sacrifices we make, eh?

Finally, week 3 of January (week 8 of my training block) is here. This is where things get interesting. So, it’s now time to push myself to the limit and hit some heavy numbers. All those long, painful, tiring sessions add up to this week – here we go!

Squat – well, that went comfy, equaling my personal best, but with 8 more weeks to competition – I am confident.

Bench – now this is just sorcery - I just hit a triple on my previous 1 RM!

Deadlift – Last time I tried a 280kg deadlift it felt like it was bolted to the floor; today it went up with minimal effort.

Matt Merrick Squat

So, on March 29th 2020 at the British Powerlifting Union qualifier, all I have to do is total 550kg across the three lifts. This week I totaled 655kg. Qualification is as good as certain…but getting on that podium, that’s where the focus is needed.

Time to restart!

With 9 weeks of training remaining – I am now going full focus in that squat rack! It’s the final week of January and my training program restarts – this should put me in prime position for the qualifier.

Week 1

Sets x Reps

KG

Squat

5x5

150kg

Bench-press

100kg

Deadlift

180kg

Hitting these numbers I am in with a very good chance of taking a podium place – possibly even the gold! Let’s see what the next 8 weeks bring.

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