Off-Season, Strength-Gaining Strategies with Ogden Myklebust IIII

By: Josh Bryant

See Ogden in Action 

I was sittin’ in this beer joint down in Houston, Texas, drinkin’ Colorado Cool Aid and talking to some Mexicans. Never mind, but let’s talk about a Houstonian hell raiser on the powerlifting platform, Ogden Myklebust III. This past August, Ogden cracked 2000 for the first time with 2023 in the 242-pound weight class but instead of resting on his laurels and riding around in a big ol’ Cadillac smoking $50 cigars, Ogden put on the hard hat and went to work. The work paid off; this past weekend, Ogden totaled 2,127.  On a six-for-nine day with PRs in all three lifts via a 760 squat, 518 bench press and an 848 deadlift, with a gallant attempt at a 903 deadlift all at a 233-pound bodyweight. I am going to share with you four game-changing strategies during Ogden’s off-season training that helped him increase his total over 100 pounds, after a 100-pound PR in his last meet.

Olympic Squats Regardless of what the functional trainer that has decided to start a blog says, not everyone is quad dominant.  Like the GOAT, Ed Coan, my personal mentor, Ogden is posterior chain dominant.  So, we took a play right out of Coan’s book; in the off-season, squatting was done with a narrow stance and a high bar placement.  This helped build needed mass on the thighs and directly transferred to Ogden’ competition squat.

Application Point If you are posterior chain dominant and don’t have a meet for six months, do a cycle of Olympic and/or Olympic pause squats for the next six to 12 weeks.

Strongman Events Some see the off-season as a chance to party like Charlie Sheen and certainly drinking “mountain dew” in a West “By God” Virginia dive bar has a certain appeal; the serious lifter knows the off-season is a great time for strongman training. Strongman events, pragmatically applied, builds explosive strength, powerful hip extensors, grip strength, work capacity, and mental toughness. Strongman training carries over greatly to squats and deadlifts. Farmer’s walks helped build Ogden’s grip, work capacity and all the muscles that benefit the squat and deadlift. Backward sled drags provided an uncanny stimulus to Ogden’s quads sans the compressive forces of heavy squats, which resulted in the desired hypertrophic adaptations with none of the negatives.

Application Point  For powerlifting, some of the most transferable strongman events include farmer’s walks, yokes, sled drags, and just about any carrying exercise. Give them a shot in your off-season.

Leg Presses Because of abuse by mullets at Planet Fitness, often, the leg press is about as welcome as an Anita Bryant concert on Fire Island. But, think about the leg press, it commences with a push; so, assuming sound technique, the leg press can teach you to initiate the push off the floor in the deadlift and even push with your legs in the squat, plus the back and core strength will no longer be the limiting factor or can “take over”. The leg press is not needed by all but it is exactly what the posterior chain dominant Ogden needed!

Application Point If you are an “all back” squatter, relinquish your belief that the leg press is useless because, for you, they will be useful.

Hypertrophy Training  A bigger engine means a more powerful ride and hence added muscle mass is the easiest way for you to increase your strength potential. Ogden built his hybrid #chippendalesready/#gasstationready physique in the off-season by including bodybuilding movements like dumbbell pause floor flys, rear delt flys and a plethora of others.  Increased training volume and reduced rest periods induced significant metabolic stress, which ignites hypertrophy in those not accustomed to training this way.  Furthermore, this lighter training gave Ogden’s CNS and joints a break from heavy weight and potentiated the meet prep phase physiologically and with great enthusiasm.

Application Point   If you just lift heavy week in and week out with the big three, you will mentally and physically burnout.  And if you don’t burnout training this way, you are leaving pounds on the platform!  Gain muscle and strength with an intelligently-planned off-season.

Final Thoughts Ogden is just getting started and soon will be a household name.  Success leaves clues!  When it comes to the information I have shared, take Bruce Lee’s advice, “Absorb what is useful, discard what is useless.” GREAT WORK, OGDEN! Checkout Josh’s Amazon Author Page.