MI40 Strength Coach Adam Miller here.
This is an intro into the world of powerlifting, and how we can apply the MI40 principles to get stronger, faster…
Strength is just as much a skill (like hypertrophy training) as it is about how much muscle mass you have.
Just having a lot of muscle isn’t enough to be strong in powerlifting. You have to be able to consciously contract every supporting muscle in the lift and use proper biomechanics to stay safe while producing the greatest force output possible. As we have learned from the 6 essentials, initiation with the working muscle and maintaining constant tension are critical to building muscle but it is just as important to strength training (unless you are ok with tearing a pec or injuring yourself some other way).
I’ll be posting regularly to provide you with the intelligent information on how to apply the MI40 principles to building maximal strength optimally.
So, let’s get started with the recap of the Boss of Bosses meet that I recently competed it for a few valuable lessons and a bit of insight into the world of powerlifting…
Boss of Bosses Meet Recap (Part 1)
In bodybuilding you have the Mr. Olympia and the Arnold Classic – yes there are many other contests throughout the year in North America, but none of them have the prestige of the Olympia or the Arnold. In powerlifting we have only a couple meets a year where all the best guys in the world get together and go head to head. There are only two in North America: the Raw Unity meet in Florida every January or February, and the Boss of Bosses in Mountain View California put on by Dan “the Boss” Green.
My training for this meet in the squat and deadlift was the best it has ever been and I was very confident that I was going to put up big numbers on the largest stage! Good time to do it too because 2 World Record holders were going to be there, and it was going to be a dog fight – there could be no room for error on your attempt selections, and one attempt too heavy causing a missed lift could cause you to fall right out of medal contention.
These type of International meets have what is called a “24 hour” weigh-in… what that means is we weigh in on Friday morning and compete on Saturday, much like boxing or MMA.
This allows for some pretty drastic weight cuts through water manipulation and sweating.
I want to say something about weight cuts. There are federations that only have a 2 hour weigh-in, and some that have a 24 hour weigh-in; I do not recommend a young lifter cut weight, just go and do the meet. Only at the highest level lifter should ever cut weight.
I started competing in powerlifting 7 years ago and did not cut weight for the first 3 years in competition. Once I reached an, “International Elite Total”, our IFBB Pro Card, that’s when I had to start water and weight manipulation.
I have cut weight for all my International competitions – when you go to the major league for baseball you have to use a wooden bat no more aluminum. I had never missed a weight-cut in my career… until now.
It happens to all of us. We miss weight-cuts, pick weights at meets that are just too heavy, or worse yet, we get injured.
So, I missed my weight class, 181lbs/82.3kg. I wasn’t inured, I just had to compete against the big boys in the 198 class… no big deal, I still get to lift weights and compete against the best in the world!
After weighing in the heaviest I have ever weighed, I was then having a hard time putting the ‘extra-weight’ back on; I was coming to the realization that I was going to have to compete at the lightest weight I have competed at in my last 3 meets.
Usually I weigh in at 181, and then through my diet and water intake I put my weight back on.
It is not uncommon for my weight-class to weigh in at 181lbs on Friday morning, and then compete Saturday morning close to 195-200 pounds.
Remember this is our Mr. Olympia, and these are the best lifters from around the world. Water manipulation to make a weight-class is just another variable you have to control and know very well.
For first time in my career I had missed weight, and I had a very hard time putting my weight back on.
I was a little concerned, but I knew once I was at the meet and started to warm-up, I really didn’t care what I weighed, I just want to compete. I was weighing myself in the hotel room after every meal trying to monitor my weight gain, but the scale was not moving. If anyone has ever manipulated your body’s homeostatic mechanism for water and electrolytes (bodybuilders and wrestlers), you will understand what I mean.
Not only was I trying to get my body’s weight back up, I was also trying to help my body send the water where it needs to go – it is very hard to lift a heavy bar if your hands are so swollen you can’t get them around the bar.
The morning of the competition I decided to sleep in and not go to the athletes meeting before the contest started. This was also the first time in my career that I chose not to go. The meet director had the flight list up the day before I knew when and where I was going to be in the order of things.
How one wants to run their meet is how they want to run their meet. It does not matter to me. I’ll lift in the morning, late at night, before the girls meet, after the girls meet, it doesn’t matter to me; what does matter is the fact that I broke one of my own rules by not going to the athletes meeting.
Always go to the athlete’s meeting, I don’t care if it’s your first or fiftieth meet, always go!
This is your chance to ask the director or judges questions and be notified of any changes that may be made for the meet. Meet directors can do this because sometimes people end-up not making weights and certain classes become unexpectedly large – they may have to change the order of the meet to keep everyone moving and the meet running smoothly.
I made the rookie mistake of assuming, and that just makes an, “ass out of you and me”.
On the previous day, the flight list with my name on it said we would start around 12pm, I assumed that was when my session was supposed to start. My wife Stacey and I showed up at 10am, 2 hours before I was supposed to compete. I was sitting in the back area talking with some friends that I don’t get to see too often from the company Caffeine & Kilos, suddenly an announcement for the meet came over the PA system:
“Adam Miller, the bar is loaded for your first attempt, a monstrous 273.5 kilos, that is 601 pounds!”
I jumped to my feet and said, “That’s not possible, I don’t go up for another 2 hours”! I ran to the scorer’s table, there had been some changes made that morning at the athlete’s meeting, and there would be no second session. Everything was going to run in one big session and I was up!
...Stay tuned for Part II (and a few valuable lessons I learned…)!