In case you missed it, catch up on Part 1 here.
Now, during my prep for this meet I had the best training cycle of my career with regard to my squat… I felt there was no weight I could not lift and I was prepared to hit a HUGE squat PR.
My best squat in a meet prior to this training cycle was 60 lbs, this training cycle I hit this for an easy rep, and I hit 605 for reps. I hit numbers quite a bit higher than this in training and I really didn’t know where I was going to end up.
Whenever I choose the weight for my first attempt, my openers, I always choose conservatively – I want the first attempt to be nice and easy, smooth and quick, and get myself into the meet. In powerlifting you get 3 attempts per lift. You turn in your first attempt for each lift after you weigh-in the day before the meet. You can change the weight of your first attempt before your class starts, but my first attempt was already on the bar, my fate was sealed… once you choose a weight, you have to do it, you can never lower the poundage! If you miss a lift you can do one of two things: keep the weight on the bar, or go up.
If you miss all three attempts you ‘bomb out’ of the meet and cannot compete any further. Total = 0.
*Always open conservative. You never know what variables you may have to change at the meet.”
Rookie mistake number 2.
So, here I am, opening up with the heaviest lift of my life, weighing the lightest I have weighed, and I am standing there considering passing on my first attempt in front of the best strength athletes in the world.
Stacey and I act quickly.
We run back to the warm-up area and get changed as quickly as possible, and that’s when one of powerlifting’s little demons decided to show up, muscle cramps and spasms. The cramping that caused me to miss a night of sleep, and ultimately the reason I missed my weight-class, chose now to act up again… and I begin to sweat, bad!
My wife does a hell of a job “dressing me”, and together we get my triceps unlocked from the muscle-cramps and the rest of my gear on. I’m ready, well, sort of…
7 lifters – I have 7 lifters in front of me before I’m up again. I have 7 lifters before I am going to walk out there on the platform and put 601 pounds on my back! I have 2 attempts to get this weight, or I will bomb out of the meet. It seems fitting that I don’t make weight for the first time ever in my career, and now I’m facing the reality that I may bomb out of this meet in front of the best in the world.
Okay, 7 lifters to go.
I do 50,70, hell I don’t even know, maybe 100 bodyweight squats to try and loosen up. I begin to look around the warm-up room and the big boys are warming up, 220’s-275’s, and I see Kade Weber warming up his squat.
Kade is one of the best 242’s in the world, and he is one strong SOB. He and I are about the same height so maybe his squat rack is at a height I can get a rep in. Yes, there he is and thank God he just started warming-up, so nothing crazy on the bar. He will go 700-800 in the squat, so by luck I caught him at a good time in the warm-up.
Me: “Kade, I didn’t get any warm-ups in, can I hit this weight one time?”
Kade: “Hell yeah man – get in there and let’s do what you got to do!”
Me: “Okay, uh it’s all in kilos and I don’t have my chart with me. What is on the bar?”
When I walked out, 383 might as well have been 500 pounds. It was heavy. I did it for one rep, and there was my name being called…..!
As I’m walking out to the platform, the hallway is full of competitors, handlers, and some of the biggest names in the sport:
My mind is racing and I’m thinking about how I’m about to embarrass myself in front of all these guys!
My wife is walking with me – there have been meets when I have lifting where all I can hear is her voice and screams, along with my buddy Joe’s… but I don’t hear anyone else around. Everything else is drowned out by the same internal dialogue I hear in my head during every training session – thousands of coaching cues and tips from old coaches.
Everything goes silent as I begin my walk through a hallway made of my peers, my idols, who are now my competition; and the walls are closing in on me, quick!
Sometimes I start warming-up when the gym is closing, and I stay and train when no one is around.
I walk out heavy squats. I take out my own benches. It’s something I’ve gotten used to. I enjoy the primal solitude of it. Call it growing up as an only child having often been by myself, pushing my imagination.
When I train I like to think about every rep, every inch of the movement, the pattern, what’s happening throughout. Drive here, push knees out, hips through, grab tight, breathe, don’t breathe.
There is not one rep during this prep that I have not been locked-in. I know what my body can do. I know how it should feel under every weight, at every point, and right now, that weight out there on the platform wants to crush me!
I need a plan. A logical thought process.
Moving a heavy weight is so much more than just pushing and pulling as hard as you can. I’ve tried that approach before and I have the battle-scars to prove it! Thousands of reps. Hundreds of hours perfecting my technique. Countless times pitting myself against the bar. All that work is about to be tested right here.
Whether I am warmed-up, sick, or feeling good, 600 pounds is always 600 pounds!
So as I’m approaching the platform, all of my thinking, my analysis, it’s all replaying over and over in my mind. I’m not ready for this. What’s the best way to approach this? I have two attempts to hit this weight.
I’m going to use my first attempt to feel the weight. I’m going to take it down using a slow negative and stretch it out. When I come up to the platform, the spotters look more nervous than I am because by this time everyone knows I am not warmed up; just 9 minutes ago I was in street clothes and standing at the scorer’s table.
I take the weight out, and it is heavy! I really can’t breathe under it. I take it down slow, and let it crush me – 600 pounds, you win that rep…
As I walk off the platform, my mind is working fast. More bodyweight squats. I have 7 lifters in front of me.
From the side of my eye I notice someone walking up to me… not right now. I just want to be left alone! I turn to look and it’s the GOAT (greatest of all time)… Ed Coan! Ed Coan is walking up to me. Let me say that again… Ed Coan is walking up to me!
Ed: “You ok?”
Me: “Yeah, but I didn’t do any warm-ups”.
Ed: “I know. I haven’t seen you lift in person before, but you picked that as an opening weight, so you must own it. You know you can do it, so now go and do it!”
Me: “Strong is Strong. If you’re truly strong, warm-ups, no warm-ups, I have a fighting chance. If you are truly strong, it doesn’t really matter.”
Ed: “If you are strong it doesn’t really matter, does it?”
Ed: “He’s READY!”
As I am walking back to the platform my wife comes up to me:
Stacey: “You can do this, you are at your best when under pressure!”
Stacey: “Now go smoke this shit so we can sit down and get something to eat before the bench press!”
This time my approach to the platform begins to feel like it always does; my walk has a little strut in it, and I have an overwhelming urge to bend the bar in half, wrap it around my shoulders, choke it to death, and let it know just how serious I am this time. I have to get this rep or I am done. I need this to stay in the meet.
I walk up to the bar and grab it like I always do. I centre myself and imagine being back in my home gym. Just as I always do, I take a breath, I walk the weight out, I set my feet… just like I always do.
I smoked that shit, just like I always do! Screw you 601 pounds, I own you!
The iron never lies. People may lie when telling you how good you are, but the iron never does – 600 pounds is always 600 pounds.
Strong is strong.
601 pounds, today I win.
So, here is a new crossfire WOD (Workout Of the Day) for you:
- 50 bodyweight Squats
- Squat 383 x 1
- Squat Eccentric 601 x 1
- Squat 601 x 1 to depth
I will even give it a crossfit name: FUBAR. Screw you crossfit, try that shit.
As I came off the platform Ed Coan congratulated me:
Ed: “The man that took 600 for a cold ride.”
After I gathered myself I had to prepare for the bench press – the part where we lay down and rest before we deadlift!
I hit my opener of 401 and made the jump to 418. I missed 418 on both attempts… the strength was there, but my triceps were having some cramping issues. Not the weight I wanted to put up.
On my deadlift I opened with 601. It was easy, but I was beginning to get tired from all that had happened throughout the day. I knew I had one more good lift in me and I wanted this PR in the deadlift. My best meet lift was 628 and I destroyed that weight in training, so I jumped to 633 and it flew off the floor!
As I was walking up to the scorer’s table though, I knew I was done for the day. I put in for 645 but missed it, my body was exhausted. The day was very long, about 7 hours past between the 600lb squat and the 633lbs deadlift.
I need to get in better shape, then I will be better prepared for those long days. It does not matter how long the meet is, I can take better care of myself and do some things differently throughout so I’m prepared for those heavy pulls at the end of a long day.
On the day I finished with a 1633 total competing in the 198 class, weighing 185 – most of those guys were weighing around 215-225 maybe. Not all re-comp (put weight back on) that high, but some do. I finished 4th in the class, first time in my life not placing in the top 3, but the meet for me was a complete victory.
If there was a meet for me to learn something, it was here.
So many guys helped me, and they are the biggest names in the sport. Hell of a place to go for some advice and learning experiences.
If I was able to change anything, I still wouldn’t – I learned so much about myself at this meet.
Now it’s on to my next meet, RUM9, and prepping my team for their next meet. I have a great group of young lifters that I’m coaching who are getting ready for a meet in November… I am expecting big things from them!
We have the best facility at the MI40 gym, all you need to do is bring your best effort. It’s defiantly a wakeup call training for the first time here at the MI40 Gym downtown Tampa, we have the best coaches and facility in the word, and ‘quitting’ is just not in our vocabulary!