Last Saturday, Chris, Jay, and I headed down to the Holiday Inn in Rockland, Massachusetts to compete in the ADFPF Nationals. We all met up at Dynamic shortly after 7:00am and promptly hit the road. Despite the heavy rain, we made it to Rockland in an hour flat, the same amount of time it took Chris and I to get there for our last meet in December. The playlist this time consisted of Dark New Day and some early Flotsam & Jetsam.
I woke up early Saturday morning feeling good, not great. I was hoping that as the day went on, and as the meet commenced, that I would feel a bit better. Sure enough, once the meet got going, I felt better and was able to turn my focus completely to my performance on the squat, bench press, and deadlift.
Before I begin telling you about the meet, however, I’d like to let you all in on a little “snafu” that took place. As Chris, Jay, and I arrived at the Holiday Inn, we proceeded to go through the typical check-in procedure common at any powerlifting meet. We had to choose our opening lifts, get our rack heights for the squat, weigh-in, and get our equipment checked. After submitting my opening lifts and having my rack height measured, I got in line to get all of my equipment checked. As the gentleman in front of me was going through equipment check, I heard the meet official giving him some grief about his underwear. Apparently, due to ADFPF regulations, no spandex underwear is allowed in a raw meet, since it may provide the lifter with an unfair advantage. How much of an advantage is certainly very questionable, but that’s their rule. Well, somehow I must have glossed over this rule when I signed up for the meet. I was wearing spandex briefs and had not brought any other form of underwear. Standing there next in line, I thought to myself, “Shit…I’m screwed!”
When I stepped forward, I put all my stuff on the table. Everything passed inspection: belt, wrist wraps, shoes, socks, t-shirt. As the official was inspecting my gear, I hoped he would just forget about checking my underwear. But, of course, the very last thing he asked to see were my underoos. “Are those spandex?” he asked. I was busted. Turns out, only cotton briefs are considered legal. It wasn’t just me, though; many participants were showing up in spandex, and I heard that someone was actually making a Wal-Mart run to pick up a value pack of whitey-tighties. The official turned out to be good about the situation and passed me anyways, so long as I made sure to get a pair of cotton briefs before my first lift.
I should’ve worn my Jockeys!
I weighed-in quickly and made a mayday call to my dad for some underwear. Luckily, I caught him just before he was leaving, and he graciously brought me three pairs of his underwear. He literally saved my ass! More on this later, unfortunately…
For the time being, my dad had saved the day and I was now sporting a comfortable pair of Hanes boxer briefs. There was a sizable field at this meet and it was organized by weight class into four waves, A through D. I was in wave D, so I had plenty of time to relax, foam roll, go through some mobility/activation work, and warm-up before my first squat attempt. My warm-ups on the squat looked like this:
*Note: the weights in the warm-up area during my last meet were in pounds, but this time there were only the actual kilogram plates that were used in the meet itself. Total pain in the ass for trying to convert to pounds for all of my warm-up sets!
Bar x 5
Bar x 5
143 lbs. x 5
188 x 5
232 x 3
298 x 1
331 x 1
353 x 1 w/belt
My warm-up sets felt really solid. I was opening at 386 lbs., and when my name was called, I went out there and nailed it as expected. As I was walking off the platform, the side judge, an older man from the ADFPF clad in a nifty blue blazer, grabbed my arm and began what I perceived to be him staring at my junk. “WTF?” I thought in my head. What happened was that at the bottom of my squat, due to my singlet “riding up” on me, my underwear had poked out ever so slightly. The judge, noticing this, declared it a rules infraction and I was charged with a missed lift. I was obviously a little pissed off, and thought this was a little nit-picky, but I guess rules are rules, and your underwear length cannot exceed the length of your singlet. So now, as if retrieving a pair of cotton underwear wasn’t enough, my underwear was too long (in the grand scheme of things, technically “missing” this lift didn’t really matter, as I was still allowed to go up in weight as I had planned).
Once this debacle was over, I walked back to the warm-up area and stared blankly into Chris’s face.
“Dude, I’m gonna have to go commando.”
As Chris was cracking up at the thought of my nugget pouch popping out during my next squat attempt, Bernie, a Dynamic client with an extensive history in powerlifting who had accompanied us at the meet, blurted out, “Just cut them!” He immediately ran to find a pair of scissors. Back in a flash, Bernie then handed the scissors to Chris, who was thus charged with the duty of cutting a pair of underwear that my dad had supplied. Under Bernie’s instruction, and my watchful eye, Chris shakily made the cut, and this is what resulted:
My first pair of Bernie Briefs!
Chris suggested that I show the side judge my makeshift briefs to ensure that they were legal. As I presented them to him, he laughed and said that they were fine. Crisis averted! I went out back, slid them on, and was able to proceed with the meet and focus on my next squat.
For my 2nd squat attempt, I took 408 lbs., a PR weight, and it flew up! I was psyched, and decided to stick to my plan of achieving a near mid-400’s squat, and went with 435 lbs. for my 3rd and final attempt. Here it is:
After getting 435 up, and after looking at the video, I think I had another 15-20 lbs. in me! I was definitely happy walking away with 435, though, a 33 lb. PR from my last meet.
Next was the bench press. As I mentioned in my meet preview, I finally hit 300 lbs. on the bench press at the end of March. I was happy with the progress I had made on the bench in 5 months of training for the meet, and I felt confident that 303 lbs. was a lock. Unfortunately, on Saturday, this turned out not to be the case. Here were my warm-ups:
Bar x 5
Bar x 5
99 lbs. x 5
143 x 5
187 x 3
232 x 1
254 x 1 w/wraps
My first attempt was at 287 lbs. My best bench in the last meet was 281, so it was encouraging to already be opening with more than my max bench from last time. Take a look at 287 below:
As you might have noticed, and as Bernie pointed out to me, I began to decelerate the bar even more as it approached my chest. The goal is to lower it evenly, and I probably expended a little more energy than I had to in getting the bar to my chest. The lift felt heavier than I expected, but nevertheless, I decided to go with my meet goal of 303 for my 2nd attempt. Here’s how it went:
F***!!! It felt like I was waiting forever for the press command on this lift. The “competition pause” can be absolutely killer. Regardless, the weight on the bench press just felt plain heavy on this particular day. Once you attempt a certain weight, you’re not allowed to go down for a subsequent attempt, so I had no choice but to go for 303 again. I ended up missing on my 3rd attempt as well. I was definitely a little bummed, but I had no time to feel sorry for myself; the meet wasn’t over, and my favorite lift, the deadlift, was up next.
There’s a little saying in powerlifting that goes, “The meet doesn’t start until the bar hits the floor.” I had to get my mind right after missing twice on the bench, but that wasn’t too hard, since I love deadlifting and naturally, it’s my best lift. I was determined to take out my anger on the iron and pull something very heavy. At this point in the meet, I began feeling a little fatigued, so I used the ample time between lifts to rest and relax. With that in mind, I made sure to limit my warm-up sets and pick them carefully. They looked like this:
165 lbs. x 5
221 x 3
276 x 1
342 x 1
419 x 1 w/belt
My opener on the deadlift was 502 lbs. It felt awesome, so that was a good sign. My 2nd attempt was at a PR weight of 535 lbs. This, too, went up just fine. For my 3rd attempt, I chose to go with 551 lbs. Check it out below:
Like the squat, I feel like I might have had another 15-20 lbs. in me on the deadlift, too! My best deadlift at my last meet was 524, so I’ll definitely take a 27 lb. PR.
All in all, it was a great meet across the board for Chris, Jay, and I. Chris went a perfect 9 for 9, with PR’s on each lift, and came in 1st in his weight class and 1st in his division. Jay went 8 for 9, only missing an attempt on the bench press, and came in 1st in his weight class and 1st in his division. Because of the underwear incident, I ended up going 6 for 9 (although, in my mind, I was 7 for 9) and placing 4th in my weight class and 2nd in my division. My final total was 1273, a 66 lb. increase from the 1207 that I posted last December. Of course, I was pretty happy about this, and it’s something I’m excited to keep building upon.
Big congrats goes out to Chris and Jay on an outstanding meet. Not only are they two of the strongest guys for their size that I know, but they are also two of the hardest workers in the weight room that I know. Also, big thanks to my dad, Angela, Bernie, Boule, Kelly, Kris, Mike, Rich, Kyle, and Kristen for attending the meet to cheer us on. Thank you as well to Tony, Chris, Greg and all the staff and clients at Cressey Performance, my family, my girlfriend and her family, my friends, and all the staff and clients at Dynamic for the support and encouragement. Everybody’s support was truly overwhelming and it meant so much to me. I can’t express my thanks enough!
I’ve been taking this past week off from training to give myself a bit of a mental and physical break. I’m excited to get back in the gym this weekend and begin preparing for my next meet, though! Right now, I’m not sure exactly when my next meet will be. If I apply for and am accepted onto Team USA for the ADFPF World meet this October, I will participate in that, but if not, I’ll plan on doing another meet by this December at the latest. Tony Gentilcore will continue to program for me, and the primary goal of my training will still be to increase my bench press. Also, I’m hoping to hit a 600 lb. deadlift and 500 lb. squat in the near future. Based on my numbers, a 600 lb. deadlift should come first, but hopefully a 500 lb. squat isn’t too far behind! Time to hit the iron hard again and get stronger!
By the way, be sure to CLICK HERE and check out Chris’s excellent meet recap.
Oh, and one more thing…if you watched the videos, you may have noticed that I was donning a well-styled Mohawk at the meet. This was my first-ever Mohawk, and I’ve been wondering whether I should get rid of it or let it rage…what do you think? I kind of like it, to be honest…