Zach is training to break the 242 class All Time Squat World Record of 827lbs (375kg) without knee wraps. He is currently preparing for the USPA Philadelphia Fit Expo on April 28th, 2018. In only his second meet, Zach Squatted 843lbs with wraps in November of 2017. This training log is being kept to share ideas, interact, and offer insight into the training and mindset of someone that I believe will become one of the greatest squatters to ever put a bar on their back.

For one month before this training cycle, Zach completed a high-volume, preparatory phase. The main goals of this phase were to increase muscle size, build work capacity and give his body and mind a break from near maximal loads. This phase consisted of multiple sets of 10-20 on compound and single joint movements with short rest breaks, slow tempos, intra-set pauses and specialty bars. Zach’s legs respond to this type of training very quickly. After only one month, he could no longer fit into any of his pants. Zach’s genetics are not the best for fitting into khakis, but a necessity for world records.

Once the meet cycle begins, we shift our focus back to our concurrent system that has taken Zach’s squat from 525×8 to 843lbs in eleven months. Zach’s training will consist of three emphases that are rotated throughout the entire cycle.


High Intensity Days

•Almost always the competition lift.
•Highest Intensity and Lowest Volume
•Serves as a day to build, but also a day to gauge progress.


High Volume Days

•Always a less demanding, supplemental lift.
•Purposely addresses individual weaknesses.
•Highest Volume and Moderate Intensity
•A day to build.


Dynamic Effort/Recovery Days

•Will use a barbell roughly 50% of training days.
•The stronger the lifter is, the more this day leans towards recovery.
•Used as a “setup” day to enhance the H.I. day to follow.
•The only day that is not programmed, but done by feel.


Throughout the entire training cycle, this rotation of days is kept constant. The order of days is very important. The highest intensity work is done first, then the highest volume work, and finally the Dynamic Effort/Recovery Day. Training the Squat and Deadlift on Fridays and Mondays, the first Friday will be High Intensity, the following Monday will be High Volume and then the next Friday will be Dynamic Effort/Recovery. The next High Intensity Day will fall on the following Monday and the rotation will continue. This is what we have determined is best for our recovery. Whenever we have switched the order, our progress has either slowed or completely stopped.

As we rotate the training emphasis, we also rotate the lift emphasis. We train the squat and deadlift on the same days, but emphasize one lift over another for three workouts before switching to the other lift. For example, the deadlift is the primary lift for one High Intensity Day, One High Volume Day and one Dynamic Effort/Recovery Day (See image A).During this time, we still train the squat, but it is a secondary emphasis. We never perform a powerlifting squat on these days, but rather use exercises to address weaknesses and limit the amount of weight and mental energy used. This cycle, these exercises will include Anderson Squats and Belt Squats for a secondary emphasis.

When the squat is prioritized for three workouts, the deadlift becomes the secondary emphasis. We never use deadlifts as a secondary exercise during a meet cycle. We have found that it makes recovery very difficult and in some cases impossible. This cycle, we will be using a 45 Degree Back Raises with the Jack Stands and SSB Goodmornings with Chains.

Even though we use a concurrent program, it still has a very linear foundation (See image B). We only return to workouts once every three weeks, and when we do, there is a slow increase of intensity and reduction of volume that is present throughout the entire cycle. There are multiple benefits of only returning to a workout once every three weeks during a training cycle.

•First, we are always excited to return to a competition lift. High Intensity days in our gym are very intense, focused and fun. We feel fresh on these days and after three weeks of waiting, we can’t wait to train.

•Secondly, the lack of repetitive movements helps limit the wear and tear that is very common from barbell training.

•In addition, this three-week period of time allows us to assess the progression of our training. If three weeks goes by and there is no progress, we must begin to reassess our programming and lifestyle decisions. If progress is moving as planned, we know to stay on course.

The success of this training cycle will not be determined by theory. It will be determined by daily actions and the meet results on 4/28/18. We encourage all readers to comment, question and offer insight as Zach prepares to break his first All Time World Record. We look forward to sharing and learning as time goes on.


Figure A:

Figure B:


2/12/18: High Volume Lower I: Deadlift Emphasis

A) 3-Count Paused Russian DL on PR Platform + Green Mini Band: 5×5
Sets 1-4: 455
Set 5: 485


Similar to the ME day, I took another huge step forward. It seems that locking out against bands is really starting to pay dividends. The improvement may be in part due to the rep we cut off of each set, but I feel a ton more comfortable pulling than I ever have in the past. After missing reps the past two workouts here, I was able to move the weight pretty fast for all 5 sets. In the beginning of the training cycle, I thought getting into the low 500s here would be a huge success, but it looks like I’ll exceed that by a good bit if all keeps going smooth.

B) Belt Squat: 1×10/1xF
Set 1: 410×10
Set 2: 410×20


Between our heavy squat days and the rep pause squats, most of our squatting requires a good bit of mental and physical energy as these weights get heavier. I like the belt squat in this place because it allows us to get some blood in our legs without loading our spines or getting mentally jacked up for a set. Just going to keep progression linear here until I grind through my set of 20.

C) Meadows Split Squat: 3 x 10 (e)
Sets 1-3: 110 lbs


As mentioned previously, we planned on throwing in SSB split squats here. However, after some discussion, we felt we hit our secondary squat variation too hard in past training cycles on our rep DL day. With these, we’ve found we come in fresh on our next heavy squat day and feel more recovered in the days following.

D) Banded Leg Curls: 100 reps

2/9/18: High Intensity Lower I: Deadlift Emphasis

A) PR Platform Deadlift + Grey Band: 3×1/2×2-3
Set 1: 495 x 1
Set 2: 515 x 1
Set 3: 550 x 1
Set 4: 495 x 2
Set 5: 495 x 2


With today being the last time we pull against these grey bands, we wanted to hit a top single before we accumulated work with the down sets. I say a massive improvement here from the previous two workouts. After missing a strapped 525 a couple weeks ago, I managed to hit a strapless 515 and a strapped 550 without too much of a grind. I’m sure a portion of my improvement can be attributed to a lack of fatigue with the decrease in volume before the heavy sets, but I can feel a massive improvement in my lockout from pulling against these bands for the past few workouts. Moving forward, we’re going to keep a mini-band for or ME deadlift days, but significantly decrease the tension. We feel that adding some accommodating resistance, rather than grinding through fatigued competition single will have a much larger carryover to the platform come April. We planned on doing more down sets here, but were really emotionally fatigued after the heavy singles and opted just to go into our squats.

B) Anderson Squat: 4×3
Set 1: 615×2
Set 2: 615×3
Set 3: 615×3
Set 4: 620×2


I managed to hit some big improvements on these as well. After only managing a double on 605 on my fourth set last time around, I managed to hit some smooth sets at 615. However, as I’ve mentioned before, the hardest part in getting and staying in a good position underneath the suspended weight. On sets 1 and 4, I got a little overzealous on my descent and didn’t let the weight settle before attempting the last reps. The moving weight really jerked me forward causing me to miss a couple reps. Still, it’s encouraging to see my squat variations come along after being a little frustrated for the first couple weeks of the training cycle.

C) DB Hex Hold: 4 x As Long As Possible


2/5/18 Dynamic Effort Lower II: Squat Emphasis

A) BW Split Squat: 4 x 20

B) Reverse Hyper 4 x 15

C) Hanging Leg Raise: 4 x 15


Coming off of pause squats, my legs were ungodly sore for the following 5 days. I knew coming into today that there was no chance of me putting a bar on my back for speed squats. However, I didn’t anticipate still waddling around 72 hours after the squat workout. Just messing around, I got underneath an empty bar to see how it would feel to squat and my body literally did not allow me to bend my knees. As a result, we opted just to do some recovery work to be as fresh as possible for heavy pulls on Friday. Although these days are boring, they are 100% necessary. I have little doubt that attempting to speed squat today would’ve ended disastrously for me. Instead, I left the gym feeling a ton better than I did coming in and mentally ready to pull heavy this coming Friday.


2/2/18: High Volume Lower II: Squat Emphasis

A) 3-Count Pause Squat + Black Monster Mini: 6 x 5
Sets 1-6: 575 + Band


Last time through this workout, my last set at 555 was at RPE 10. However, I felt like I’d see a drastic difference this week here with the additional practice squatting and getting back into the full swing of meet training. After an absolute grinding first set, I was apprehensive of how the day would go, but once I got warmed up sets 2-6 were pretty easy with 575. I’ve noticed on our rep squat days that I normally don’t feel totally warmed up until about our second to last set. It’d probably benefit me a lot to reevaluate my lower body warm up and dedicating a little more time to it moving forward.

B) 45 degree Back Raise w/ Cambered Bar + Jack Stands: 3 x 8 / 1 x F
Set 1: 185
Set 2: 185
Set 3: 185
Set 4: 185 x 6


I got pretty sloppy on this last week. So, I wanted to stay around the same weight while being stricter with the pause on each rep. After 2 sets here, the fatigue from 30 pause squats hit me like a brick wall. I only managed six reps on my final set. Optimistically, I blame the abrupt fatigue on a shitty diet and poor sleep the day/night before this workout. However, this is probably just an excuse for having a relatively weak back. For the sake of progress, I’ll make just a 5-10lbs jump next week and beat or match today’s total volume.

C) Seated SSB Thoracic/Cervical Extensions: 3×25
Sets 1-3: 355


These have become my new favorite exercise over the past couple months. In addition to helping me keep an upright posture while squatting heavy, I honestly just like the way these make my back feel. I ended up finishing up with these and forgoing the planned dimel deadlifts. My low back was shot from the squats and back raises, and, after the 11-hour workday, I was ready to fall asleep on the gym floor. I felt like I’d benefit more from going home to sleep then grinding through 50-60 painful dimel deadlifts at 10:30 at night.

1/29/18 High Intensity Lower II: Squat Emphasis (2nd Workout)

A) Squat (Sleeves + Belt) : 10 x 1
Set 1: 700
Set 2: 730
Set 3: 760
Set 4: 760
Set 5: 760 x M
Sets 6-10: 705


On my 2nd work set of what was supposed to be our first ME Squat day, I literally could not bend my knee after a rep at 725. Given how it felt, I was convinced I tore my meniscus and my meet prep was done. Fortunately, after about 48 hours, I seemed back to normal. However, this long lay off from squatting heavy meant the last time I had anything over 555 on my back was my meet December 2nd. This, compounded with the low back pain caused by 10 hours of sitting at a desk at work, honestly made me a little nervous getting underneath the bar. However, as my work sets progressed, I became more and more comfortable with the weight on the bar. I managed a pretty solid day and walked away with a 10 lbs sleeved PR after a 10 hour workday. I ended up missing my third single at 760 due to a very slick dry-fit shirt and lack of chalk on my back. Still, I considered today a win considering the circumstances and anticipate 780 next time around to feel a whole lot lighter than all these sets today.

B) Snatch Grip 45 degree Back Raise (Paused): 5 x 5
Set 1: 165
Set 2: 185
Set 3: 195
Set 4: 195


We originally programmed concentric SSB good mornings as our main assistance work here. However, as mentioned, my low back felt absolutely lit up after 10 singles over 700 and my shitty posture at work. To combat this, Mike thought it would be a good idea to pick a exercise that didn’t load the spine while still providing an opportunity to build my back. Any sort of weighted back raise is tough for me, so these were efficient and painless. Moving forward, I’ll try to keep with the good mornings, as I feel I get a good carryover to my deadlift from them. However if pain persists, I’ll just stick to these.

C) DB Hex Farmers walks: 4 x Max Distance

D) Hanging Leg Raise: 4 x AMA


1/26/18 Dynamic EffortI: Deadlift Emphasis

A) Contrast Platform DL w/ 3-Second Isometric (Hole 1 Jack Stands): 10 x 1 (~60% of 1RM)
Sets 1-10: 435


Coming off of our high volume RDL’s, both Mike’s and mine backs felt fatigued. Rather than uncomfortably pulling maximally for 3 seconds off of the floor in bad position, we opted to through the jack stands in to cut our ROM a hair. We’ve found that although the weight is light, the isometric is really neurologically taxing. I slept 12 hours both Friday and Saturday night after these. We’ll have to see how heavy squats go on Monday and see if we should reevaluate the amount of work on this day

B) Band Resisted Broad Jump: 5×5


Similar to last week, we kept band resisted broad jumps in here and just changed the sets and reps here. A lot of times, jumps after our speed work can get monotonous and we become guilty of going through the motions. However, we brought out the chalk and decided to mark off best jumps and actually keep a log of our distance. Along with making these jumps more fun, the competition really forces us to be jumping with maximal intent.

C1) Reverse Hyper: 3×15

C2) Bodyweight Step up: 3×15

C3) Hanging Leg Raise: 3x 10-15


There’s really no rhyme or reason to these. We just wanted to finish up the workout with some blood in our legs and slightly elevate our heart rates.


1/19/18 High Intensity Lower I: Deadlift Emphasis (2nd Workout)

A) PR Platform Deadlift + Grey Band: 3 ascending waves x3,x2,x1
Wave 1: 465×3​​,  485×2​​​,  ​​505×1
Wave 2: 485×2​​,  505×2​​​​​,  520xM
Wave 3: 495×2 (straps)​,  520×1​​​​​,  525×1


With three weeks passed since our first workout, I was very eager to see how I have improved here. After missing some reps 3 weeks ago and tearing my hands, I planned to just add 10lbs to all my sets and get through all I could. I really can’t put into words how miserable the grey bands make my life on these. Through the first wave, I felt a noticeable difference in my lockout, but couldn’t get through all waves without a miss. Across the board here, the first reps felt really good. However, with almost 200 lbs of tension at the top, each rep mandated a 3 second grind which really took away from subsequent reps on the doubles and triples. I wanted to walk away with a strapless PR on my second wave before my hands got diced up, but my grip gave out grinding through 520 at the top. Still, I managed to grind through 525 with straps after missing it last week. Next time through with the bands – which will be our last before going straight weight, we plan on working up to a max single, then taking down sets with repeated triples.

B) Anderson Squat: 4×3
Set 1: 575×3
Set 2: 595×3
Set 3: 595×3
Set 4: 605×2


After only managing a single with 595 last time through, I was really happy with how these went. After taking the past couple weeks to get reacquainted with the straight bar, I feel back to normal on the squat. As mentioned before here, staying in a good position with the straps is imperative. On the last set at 605, the weight moved really well, but getting out of position on the last rep pitched me forward and I ended up missing. I’m very excited to see where I end up on this exercise down the road.

C) DB Hex Hold: 4 x As long as possible


1/15/18 Dynamic Effort Lower II: Squat Emphasis

A) Speed Squat + Chains: 8 x 2 (~50% of top set from ME day)
Sets 1-8: 375 + 60lbs chain


As mentioned in the general training cycle outline, whether we squat or not on this day is entirely determined by feel. Further, when we do decide to squat, it will normally be to a box to save our hips and knees. However, after not squatting with a straight bar since the weeks leading up to my meet in early December, I wanted to take an extra day to free squat to better acclimate myself to the straight bar. Even though the weight was effortless here, I didn’t really feel locked in until my third or fourth set. Down the road, I doubt we will even squat this day as weights on the ME and RE day get heavier. Still, after missing the ME day earlier in the week and feeling funky on pause squats the other day, I felt this day would be a perfect opportunity to refine technique with a light load.

B) Standing Box Jump: 8 x 3


On our dynamic lower days, we like to use jumps as a low-stress way to purely train power. Since this week is dedicated to the squat, we went with a vertical jump variation. To be smart, we’re very conservative with box height by keeping it at 30 inches. We likely won’t progress much with box height, but may add a set in the coming weeks based on feel. As long as we’re jumping with maximal intent, we feel box height doesn’t make or break the exercise.

C1) Bodyweight Meadows’ Split Squat: 3 x 20

C2) Banded BW Good Morning: 3 x 20

D) Hanging Leg Raise: 4 x 10-15


To finish up, we just wanted to get some blood in our lower body and accelerate recovery for heavy pulls on Friday, so I’ll spare any sort of elaboration for these. On a side note, my abs were screaming after only 10 reps of a leg raise, which is pretty alarming. That’s a huge sign I need to throw in some regular direct core work on these days.

1/12/18 High Volume Lower II: Squat Emphasis

A) 3-Count Pause Squat + Black Monster Mini: 6 x 5
Sets 1-6: 555 + Band


The past two training cycles, we’ve programmed pause chain squats with good results on our high volume squat day. However, after doing these once every three weeks for almost a year, we thought it would be a good idea to switch variations while still implementing an exercise that takes the stretch reflex out of play. After tweaking my knee warming up on our high intensity day earlier in the week, we figured it’d be a good idea to take it slow and see how I felt today. Fortunately, I had no pain and felt good to go after an extended warm-up. The stricter pause, knee sleeves, and not squatting with a straight bar for a couple weeks really made me uncomfortable the first couple sets, but I felt more and more locked in as the sets progressed. I hope to get well into the 600s on these towards the end of the cycle.

B) 45 degree Back Raise w/ Cambered Bar + Jack Stands: 4 x 8
Set 1: 185
Set 2: 185
Set 3: 175
Set 4: 175


These have been a go-to for us as a main assistance after our repetition squats. Since we’re going into a ME deadlift day in 7 days, hammering a DL variation as assistance probably wouldn’t be the best idea. In lieu of that, these provide a very challenging traction-based exercise to help build our posterior. Since I lag in my low-back and my hamstrings, these are especially difficult for me. The goal here is to get a good one second pause followed by a controlled eccentric each rep. However, my low-back pump was so debilitating following the squats, I got pretty sloppy on these. Moving forward, I want to keep these 4 sets strict before I progress in weight.

C) Seated SSB Thoracic/Cervical Extensions: 3×25
Sets 1-3: 335


As mentioned multiple times, when deciding on what exercises to pick as assistance work, we want to target specific weaknesses in the bench, squat, and deadlift. My torso positioning on the squat has been my limiting factor – not leg strength. These have helped my upper/mid back tremendously in keeping a vertical torso as weight on the bar has increased. I highly recommend these to anyone who may lose tightness in their upper back on heavy squats. We plan on keeping these in every 3 weeks on this day with pretty aggressice jumps in weight each workout

D) Banded Dimel DL on PR Platform: 3×15
Sets 1-3: 185 + Orange Short Bands on 3rd Peg


When I first started training with Mike after I graduated college, I had a really bad problem with my right knee caving in due to a hip shift while squatting. To alleviate this issue, Mike suggested doing these regularly with fairly light weight and a lot of volume to build up my glutes. After committing to these for a few months early last year, my hip shift become more and more of a rarity. I’ve gotten away from these and had a really bad knee shift at 705 on our ME day that sidelined me the rest of the workout. I’m going to start adding these in on a weekly basis on both the deadlift and squat days to help out. As far as progression goes, I’m going to keep it linear, adding 15-20 pounds per week, and keeping reps in the 40-60 range.


1/4/18 Dynamic Effort I: Deadlift Emphasis

A) Contrast Platform 3-Second Isometric into Speed DL: 10 x 1 (~60% of 1RM)
Sets 1-10: 415


On our dynamic effort days in the past, we’ve utilized Mike’s contrast platform in a variety of ways. These range from eccentrics, quick release doubles and triples, and—like today – isometrics. However, when doing isometrics on these in the past, we’ve been liberal when counting. This time around, we decided to keep it strict and pull for a full 3 seconds before getting the bar moving. As Mike and the general laws of physics would say, it takes time to generate force. With the long isometric, we have time to generate as much force as possible and build our deadlift while limiting weight on the bar.

In my opinion, these feel completely different with the longer pause. I really feel the back of my legs carrying the majority of the load. I was still kind of beat up from RDLs on New Years Day, which made getting into a good starting position difficult. Still, I’m really excited to see the kind of carryover these have; especially dedicating the other two deadlift days on lock-out. As Mike said as we were finishing up our sets: our deadlift training is like a puzzle. I’m excited to see what the final product looks like on the platform once we put the two emphases together.

B) Band Resisted Broad Jump: 4×6

C) Reverse Hyper: 3×15
Sets 1-3: 440

D) Bodyweight Meadows Split Squat: 2×20


I’ll spare individual explanations for these. As mentioned multiple times in the log outline, the purpose of these low intensity days is to ensure we feel good going into our next high intensity day on Monday. We added the jumps to add another speed element into the day, while the hypers and split squats were just to get some blood in our lower extremities and accelerate recovery for the heavy squats coming up. In the course of an 18-week training cycle, we’ve found these days are imperative to ensure we don’t get physically and emotionally burned out, especially as the weights on the bar increase.


1/1/18 High Volume Lower I: Deadlift Emphasis

A) 3-Count Paused Russian DL on PR Platform + Green Mini Band: 5×6
Sets 1-5: 415


Being less than 72 hours removed from a high intensity deadlift session, it took some thought in programming our main assistance exercise for the deadlift. We felt it would be a good idea to pick a variation that limited the weight we could perform while still being fairly challenging. Implementing the Russian attachment on the PR platform gives a good guiding point on keeping a vertical shin angle to keep the majority of the load on the hamstrings. We added the green band in to help with my lockout and the squat bar to eliminate any slack and the weights from touching the ground between reps. It is unbelievable how much of a game changer pausing for three seconds off the ground without resting the bar is. After each set, we both were ready to pass out. After a night out celebrating the new year, I wasn’t sure how these would go, but managed to get through them without too much anguish (during the set at least). After doing these for 5×10 10 in our 3 weeks of GPP leading up to the cycle, 6s almost feel like nothing. I’m thinking of jumping to 445 next time around and hope to get into the low 500s by the end of the cycle.

B) Belt Squat: 1×10/1xF
Set 1: 330×10
Set 2: 330×20


Since we always want to keep a variation of the squat second on these days, we decided to program some belt squats in before we get to our single-leg work. These not only act as a warm-up for the quads leading up to the split squats, but a good opportunity to get some high-rep squat work that we wouldn’t normally get. Being smoked from New Years Eve and the RDLS, I decided to be conservative and got through these pretty effortlessly. I’ll likely make some pretty aggressive jumps when these come around next.

C) Meadows Split Squat: 3 x 10 (e)
Sets 1-3: 85 lbs


When initially programming today, we planned to put SSB Split squats here, but with the state I was in, I’d probably pass out mid set. We stuck with our unilateral variation from our GPP block with these split squats. I really like these because the single DB allows you to get a good ROM and almost acts as a mobility exercise along with hypertrophy work. Moving forward, we’ll stick with the SSB squats here, but there was no chance of these happening with any sort of real weight today. After these, we just finished up with some ab rollouts and band leg curls.


12/29/17 High Intensity Lower I: Deadlift Emphasis

I’m open to suggestions as to how I set this training log up. If anyone has any input on how to make this easier to understand or improve, I’m all ears!

A) PR Platform Deadlift + Grey Band: 3 ascending waves x3,x2,x1
Wave 1: 455×3​, 475×2​​​​​, 495×1
Wave 2: 475×3​, 495×2 (straps from here out)​​, 515×1
Wave 3: 495×2​, 505×1​​​​​, 525×1


Over the past 2 training cycles, we’ve done some wave loading on our heavy deadlift days. This was programmed in an effort to simulate a fatigued competition deadlift after squatting and benching. We added the bands to help with lockout issues I’ve had. With the power in my legs, my deadlifts 90% and above have a tendency to fly off the ground but hit a wall slightly above the knees. These grey bands REALLY overload the top and are very tough for me. Once I hit set 5, I had a callous tear and decided to strap up. I ended up missing reps on my third wave. Once we hit these again in three weeks, I’ll probably just bump up 10 lbs per set and try to get through them all. After 3 workouts here, I can’t wait to take the bands off and see how my lockout has improved.

B) Anderson Squat: 4×3
Set 1: 555×3
Set 2: 575×3
Set 3: 575×3
Set 4: 595×1


Leading up to my first meet, these for 6- 10 singles were a staple in our training after ME deadlifts. We decided to add them back in the mix for triples. I feel these can have a real carryover to my squat by eliminating the eccentric portion of the lift and mitigating the stretch reflex out of the hole. During our first training cycle, I did these just off the bottom of the spud straps which put me a good 3-4 inches above parallel. This time around, Mike and I thought it would be a good idea to stand on 45 lbs. plates to change it up. I didn’t know where I would be with these with the change in positioning, so I started out at 555 planning to work up based on feel. I was fairly physically and emotionally spent after deadlifts, but the weight moved pretty easy for the first 3 sets. After almost being double platted by Mike on our top set of pulls, I decided to be ambitious on the 4th set to make up the difference between us. However, I got out of position on 595 and only managed a single. We’ve found that getting into a good position with the bar over the midfoot to be the hardest part about this exercise. After watching the video, I noticed I had some internal hip rotation which caused my right knee to cave in a bit, which is an old habit of mine. I may program so banded dimel deadlifts at the end of some of these lower days to help out my glutes and keep some tightness in my posterior. Planning to get through all sets at 595 next time around.

C) DB Hex Hold: 3 x As Long As Possible


My grip really sucks



Since most of you probably just know me as the kid on Bartos’ Instagram that squats, I figured I’d start this training log with a brief introduction. My name is Zach Machuga, I’m a 23 year-old “powerlifter” (I really hate referring to myself as that, but whatever) from Youngstown, Ohio. I first met Mike going into my sophomore year of college football through a teammate of mine. Over the next few months, Mike introduced some general principles of strength training to me and I saw the light after almost a decade of training. In just two months of training with him, I put an average of 50 lbs on my bench, squat, and deadlift and put on about 15 pounds of muscle. After that summer, I had the best football season of my mediocre playing career, but couldn’t have been more excited for the season to end to get back to training.

After finishing up graduate school and my last year of football, I moved back home eager to focus my training solely on pounds on the bar. Mike and his wife suggested training for a meet together with the goal of hitting an 800 lbs squat. After just hitting a top set of 525 for 8, I felt that was overly ambitious, but knew Mike was not a pie-in-the-sky thinker. In the 4 years of training with Mike, not only has he taught me all I know about training and powerlifting, but the also importance of mindset, effort, and intensity in and out of the gym. ​​Through a careful selection of exercises that addressed my individual weaknesses over the next 20 weeks, I hit an 804 squat in June. However, my enjoyment wasn’t in the results of that meet. What made training fun was coming into the gym 4 times a week, working towards a goal, and busting my ass with two of the best training partners, friends, and mentors I could ask for. I couldn’t wait to keep progressing and seeing what I was ultimately capable of.

To me, this training log isn’t about a hopeful world-record or my final total on April 28th. It’s about seeing the development of my body, my lifts, and my mindset in the next 18 weeks. What I hope the readers get out of this log is the importance of individually planning and completely dedicating themselves to whatever their training goals are. I couldn’t be more thankful to Mike for the opportunity to do this. I hope all of the readers can learn at least one thing that helps their training.

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