I have done seven Strongman shows in the past two 18 months, and I was starting to get a little burnt out of the lifts, not that I didn’t enjoy them, I just felt that I needed a little change of scenery for a few months. I discussed doing a Powerlifting meet with my coach, Alanna, and she gave me the go ahead. One of the big things I needed to work on was my technique. What I like about Strongman is also what made training for Powerlifting hard for me in the beginning: You can’t just get the weight up however you want, there is a lot of minutiae technique rules in Powerlifting that would get me a “No Lift” if I wasn’t careful, so that was my biggest concern going into the meet.
We drove down to the Elite Performance Center on Friday afternoon, and I weighed in at 274.4 with clothes on. After stocking up on Pedialyte, Surge, and Clif Blocks, and with a fully belly of meat and rice, I went to bed to prepare myself for the next day’s meet.
I woke up and felt pretty good heading to the competition, I was smarter this time and brought my home pillow. This has really screwed me in the past and left me with tight traps and a tight neck, because hotel pillows seem like they are made for mewling infants, not adults.
I had about 3/4 of a bagel with egg and cream cheese before heading to the meet, and a small coffee. I really don’t do well with a lot of food during competition days, and this day was no different. The thought of eating makes me sick, so I try to just stick with a few carbs sources, and lots of sugar and water. This worked well for me yet again, but it is not something I would recommend to others. I compete how I train, and I never eat before I train.
The squat warmups felt great, it was nice to use a 65lb Mastodon bar, although the thicker diameter of it was something I wasn’t prepared for, and something I will prepare for next time. The bar I use at my gym is thinner, and fits nicely between my traps and rear delts. The thicker size of the bar made it feel like it would slip over my traps and make me dump the bar over my head: something I was really careful about not doing during warmups. Something else I have been working on is my depth. I have no problem touching my butt to the floor when squatting, but it is not optimal for me to do so, and just makes me weaker. Instead, for the past 5-6 months, I have cut my depth to a couple inches below parallel, it is better for my knees, given my situation.
I opened my squat at 501lbs, simply because I wanted my squat opener to be in the 500lb range. This was a good decision, it felt very fast and smooth. Next time I will probably open higher, because it was probably too easy this time, but I wanted to play it safe and get three whites on all my reps. My second attempt was 540lbs, and also felt smoother, with better depth to boot. My final attempt was 567.5lbs, I have hit 560lbs in training, and I considered go to 575lbs, but I didn’t want to waste an attempt, so I settled for 567.5lbs. I think this was a smart decision, because I felt the bar ALMOST slide forward on my traps, you might see it in the video where my back angle slightly changes on the ascent, before I correct it.
I ended up with the heaviest squat at the meet, which, with knock knees and being 6’5″, surprised me. The second highest squat was only 7.5kg under me though, and he was a monster in the 198lb class without wraps, he was very impressive to watch.
Onto bench, which, as we should all know by now, is one of my worst lifts. Any press really, is a crap shoot for me. The bench warmups felt great, I think being warm from squats earlier, and benching later in the day than I normally do for training, worked in my favor. I was planning on opening with 300lbs just to be safe, but 270 flew up in the warmup area, so I decided to move my opener up to 315lbs. I have been practicing long pauses, and as long as I keep my descent slow and controlled while staying under tension, the press portion actually is easier for me than the descent.
My opener felt like nothing, but I can’t take big press jumps like I can with my squat, so I stayed safe again and just went up to 325lbs. This went smoothly as well, but I started to feel my right arm lagging slightly behind my left on the press, so I didn’t take a big jump for my last attempt and ended with 336lbs on my last attempt, which was a 6lb PR. Obviously for the future, I will work on adding some size to my arms, and power to my presses.
Onto deadlift, which I have been apprehensive about since I stopped using my soft belt under my regular belt, to prepare for the Powerlifting rules. Without the soft belt, my belt is actually too big for me, and became a hindrance more than an aid in any form, so based on the fact that I felt very warm, and slightly amped from drinking some Surge, I decided to do all my deadlifts beltless. All the warmup reps flew up faster than any rep in training (again, attributable to the fact that I was much more warm than in training, and it was in the afternoon) and I hit my opener of 570lbs with no problem. I really wanted a 1500lb total, as I feel that this is the bare minimum that a man should be doing, and decided on 601lbs for my second attempt. I chose this weight because it would help me hit two competition goals at once: getting me to the 1500 range, and hitting 600 in a meet. This went up smooth as well, with no hitching or ramping, and that was a PR in itself.
For my final attempt, I decided on a safe 611lb deadlift. I have hit 625lbs in the gym with a belt, and now that I am looking back, I probably should have opened with 600, then 620, then 640. But, as this was my first time going beltless, I didn’t want to waste any attempts. 611lbs went up very smooth, and that was the final deadlift of the meet. The 198lb guy that I mentioned earlier beat me on the deadlift, he was an animal and he put forth a great effort.
I ended with a 1,515lb total, surpassing my goal, and giving me a first place win. This was the first time I have ever won an athletic event in my life, so I would disagree with the notion that “it isn’t about winning or losing”, because having finally won something feels pretty sweet right now.
I want to make sure and thank Alanna for all of the work she has put in with me over the past year of Strongman and Powerlifting, I literally could not have done it without her, and I look forward to another year of working with her.
Thank you all for supporting and reading LBEB, it wouldn’t exist without you all.