Don’t Wait Until You’re Breaking Records to Compete
No Nonsense Magazine Volume 25 #2
By: Jeremy Helton
At a Glance: Jeremy Helton
Occupation: Business owner operator- Helton Home Services, Wolverine Fight System, Woodsman Coffee Co, and Fitness & Health Coach at Xcel Performance Fitness, Certified Personal Trainer, Functional Fitness Specialist and Fitness Nutrition Specialist
Family: Wife- Julie, 3-year-old daughter and 7-year-old son
Current Residence: Ellettsville, IN
Years training: 18
Weight: Off-Season: 152-170, Contest: 148 or 165 weight class
Favorite Muscle Building Meal: Deer steaks, roasted potatoes and veggies with leafy green salad
Favorite Supplements: Muscle Synergy, Creatine Select, and PBP (Plant-Based Protein)
What would you recommend to someone who has never used Beverly supplements? Glutamine Select and UMP/PBP - tastes great and both help with soreness and recovery.
Music: Rock and Disciple (Skillet, 12 Stones, We as Human)
Most inspiring book: The Bible
Other Hobbies: Hunting and fishing, martial arts and auto performance
Words to live by: Don’t be disappointed with the results of the work you did not do.
My passion for strength training starts in the weight room at Owen Valley High School in Spencer, IN. As a multi-sport athlete, I knew I needed to gain size and strength to be competitive. In the 8th grade, I began reading as much as I could about strength training. When I started lifting with the high school football team in January of 2000, the coaches and older guys on the football team were serious about strength training. When I saw the record board for lifting, I knew I wanted to be on there one day. I dove hard into my training and, after 4 years, had gained 45 pounds of muscle. I did make it on that board for my high school's current and all-time lifting records.
I met my wife Julie in 2008 when she was an Indiana University strength and conditioning coach. At the time, I was still soaking up everything I could about strength training and dividing my spare time between MMA and lifting. Julie launched Xcel Performance Fitness in 2009, and a couple of years later, I opened Wolverine Fight System martial arts training.
After competing in 85 BJJ and grappling matches, I decided to get back into serious strength training. In December of 2021, I began training with Drew and Stacey Heckman. Drew has totaled 2000 pounds, raw, in the 275-lb class. I was embarrassed my first few sessions lifting at “Sweet Owen Barbell” (that’s what we call the garage gym). Over the winter, everyone started talking about competing. By now, I also had the lifting bug and said I was in. My first two competitions were in the raw division of the American Powerlifting Federation (APF). I set state records for my age group and the open. I also set APF national age group records in the squat and deadlift in the 148-lb class.
My next challenge was to go up to the 165-lb class and compete in the division, which allowed powerlifting gear (squat suit, knee wraps, bench shirt, and deadlift suit). It took me weeks to get used to the equipment and use it to its full advantage. I remember the first time I got into a squat suit with straps down. I was amazed at how the weight moved. I couldn’t get the suit fully on (straps up) until my 3rd session with it. But when I did, I was able to squat 5 lbs over my raw 1RM easily for 3 solid reps. Drew, Stacy, and I used a “linear progression” powerlifting to prepare for our next meet.
The meet was on November 13, 2022, in Dubuque, Iowa, during the United Power Lifting Power Weekend. I competed in the drug-tested division for my age group (33-39). Stacey competed in the raw division and Doug who was coming off an injury in the deadlift only. We all placed first in our divisions. Stacey set new PRs; Dave hit a new PR with a 529-pound deadlift.
I set PRs with a 385-lb squat and 440-lb deadlift, and a 1080-lb total.
Here are a few tips for beginning powerlifting.
- Get the form right before going heavy - have “pretty lifts.”
- Bulletproof your body before going heavy. If not, you will find weak links and possibly injure yourself.
- Recovery is key. Use gel iced knee and elbow sleeves post-workout, and work on tight spots when resting or watching TV via foam roller or massager. Hot tub or Epsom salt baths, ice baths, sleep 7-9 hrs a night and take a 20–30-minute nap if possible. Beverly Supplements help me recover and give me the energy to get through the day.
- Gym lifts do matter but are different from competition numbers. You can’t control the variables in a meet like you can in the gym.
- Don’t wait until you’re breaking records to compete. That’s the reason I waited so long. I received terrible advice years ago and was told I needed to lift “x” pounds to compete, which is untrue. If your technique is solid, get in there, get the experience, and have fun.
Sample linear progression powerlifting schedule
Monday – Squat
Squat 2x4 (after warm-ups)
Leg Press 3x5-7
Leg Curl 3x8-10
Friday – Deadlift
Bent-over Row 3x5-7
Barbell Curl 3x8-10
Wednesday – Bench Press
Bench Press 2x4
Shoulder Press 3x5-7
Skull Crushers 3x8-10
During weeks 1-4 you’ll do 2 sets of 4 reps on each of the main lifts (Squat, Bench, and Deadlift). Start week 1 with 67.5% of your current max. Add 2.5% each week for week 2 & 3, then deload on week 4 to 55%. If your starting max is 200-lbs, your workout weights would be 135 for week 1, 140 for week 2, and 145 for week 3. Week 4 deload to 110. Jeremy’s competition dead lift was 420, so on his next linear progression cycle he would start with 285.
The second and third exercises listed for each day are “assistance lifts.” For the exercises listed 2nd (leg press, shoulder press, and bent-over row) do 2 sets for 5 reps, then on the 3rd set go for 7 reps in perfect form. If you make it, add 10lbs the following week on the leg press and 5lbs on the shoulder press and bent-over row. Use the same progression scheme for the leg curl, skull crushers and barbell curl –
2 sets of 8, then go for 10 on the 3rd set.
Reduce the reps on the main lifts to 2x3 for weeks 5-8. Start at 75% of your max on week 5 and advance 2.5% each week for weeks 6 & 7, then deload again to 57.5% on week 8. Use the same progression as before on the assistance lifts.
Main lifts are 2x2 starting at 82.5%, progressing 2.5% per week up to 87.5% on week 11. Deload week 12 to 60%. Continue to add weight to the assistance lifts whenever you are able to get 7 (or 10) reps on the 3rd set in perfect form.
The main lifts for week 13 will be 2x1 at 90%. Week 14, 2x1 at 92.5%, and week 15, 2x1 at 95%. During this phase do not try to add weight to the assistance exercises, but do 3x5 or 3x8 in perfect form with the same weight throughout. You will work up to a new max on each of the main lifts during week 16.
Sample Nutrition Plan for Building Muscle and Recovery
Weekdays most meals are prepared in advance and stored in a cooler
Pre-Workout (5:30 am) peanut butter and honey sandwich on whole grain toast, 1 cup strawberries, 4oz lean ham or turkey
Post-Workout (7:30 am) 4 eggs, 1 cup quick oats with 1 scoop PBP (Beverly’s Plant-Based Protein) and oat milk, ½ peach or orange
Snack (10 am) granola bar, ¼ cup mixed nuts
Lunch (noon) avocado and turkey sandwich on whole grain bread, bell pepper; on weekends, it’s usually fish or deer steak tacos with greens and avocado
Snack (2 pm) 2 scoops PBP in oat milk, fruit cup
Snack (4 pm) Woodsman Coffee, peanut butter and strawberry jam on wheat bread
Dinner (7 pm) baked cod or salmon fillet, 1 cup stir fry veggies and an orange; on the weekends, I have steak, baked potato, green beans and salad
Super Pak with post-workout meal for energy, recovery, and muscle function
Ultra 40 with meals for strength and energy
Muscle Synergy and Up-Lift, pre-workout for focus, intensity, and strength and size gains
Creatine Select, Muscle Mass & Glutamine Select post-workout for recovery, immune support, and muscle building
PBP as a morning and/or evening snack to supply extra protein for recovery