The contest was in Droitwich, south of Birmingham and this meant leaving Cambridge around 7am. There aren’t a lot of these types of events on, so you can’t exactly go down to your local gym. From what I can see there are going to be a handful of events in your area (within a few counties) every year. I was happy to travel from Cambridge all the way to Birmingham because this was the right competition for me, a novice competition.
I was picked up by a friend and member of one of the group exercise sessions I take in Meldreth (Cambridge), who was making the ballsy decision to compete in her FIRST powerlifting comp, despite having merely a few weeks of lifting experience. From my point of view, it was just nice not have to drive to a comp for once. I find driving stressful, and it can be tiring, so it’s something I’m going to avoid in future if I’ve got a big competition coming up. Incidentally, one of the guys competing with me drove up from Wales the night before in order to relieve stress on the day itself.
When we arrived I felt more confident this time around and asked where I could weigh in. I’d weighed in at 73.6kg the week before, and had tried a bit of a water cut going into this week’s comp, so I was expecting lower than 73kg. I stripped off and jumped on to the scale to see a sphincter clenching 73.9kg, only 100grams under the weight class I wanted to compete in. Many people would say that this was perfect, but unfortunately it was more luck than judgement, and I’ll have to start getting better at controlling my weight especially if I’m going to still compete in strongman, as close to 80kg as possible and powerlifting under 74kg.
After weigh in I ate some mango, sushi and drank a big ol’ amino acid supplement (Phil Richard’s Amino Acid Work Capacity).
I think this is becoming my favourite, although that may have something to do with the fact that I haven’t missed a weight in a very long time… although maybe I’m not pushing myself enough. The warm-up went well, and we finished with an exercise in super compensation, which Coach Ali suggested. The idea here is to perform a walk out with a supra-maximal weight (around 160kg for me), in order to prime the body so that when the bar goes on your back for your squat, it feels “light”.
I opened with 130kg, and it felt easy. I said in my last post to open at 135kg but having not had a great run at training for a few weeks I didn’t want to push it… turns out I could have. I went on to crush 140kg and then asked for 145kg for the final attempt. This was big for me and I honestly cannot believe how “easy” I found it. I think I need to be adding around 20kg to this in the next year.
Something else I’ve taken away from this experience is that I’m squatting deeper that EVERYONE else in every competition I’ve been to. Unfortunately, nobody cares about this, there’s no award for it, and I’m probably taking kgs off my max effort by lifting the bar further than is necessary for this event. I’ll be working on this for my next competition, so enjoy the video, because it’s the last time you’ll see me taking double weight(ish) “ass to grass”.
Previous PB 135kg, new PB 145kg – Increase 10kg. 4 mins on video.
It was my most apprehensive lift last time, but I knew if I just kept concentrating I’d be OK today as it wasn’t the weight last time, I just cocked up the technique (when it mattered).
I opened with 95kg, my PB from last time, which went up fairly well. 100kg started to slow down, and then 105kg felt like a dirty grind and I there was a moment when I thought I might not have it. I’d been working on squeezing my arse a lot more as I engage the push and I’ve felt like this has given me a lot of help on overhead pressing and bench.
Despite feeling slow and jerky I looked back on the video and it looked quicker and smoother than I remember and the feedback I was getting from my fellow lifters was that it looked more comfortable than some of the other lifters around me.
Previous PB 95kg, new PB 105kg – Increase 10kg. 12 mins on video.
Good old deadlifts… just pick the fucker up.
During the warm up for these I got up to around 140-160kg and I remember thinking… this feels heavy today. Coach Ali could read it in my face. He took me to one side as asked why I was lifting it so slowly. He said it wasn’t heavy, I was just being slow. This makes sense considering my huge effort the week before – 207.5kg trap bar deadlift – the slowest, grindiest deadlift I’ve ever pulled which most likely left my central nervous system in tatters and I doubt I’d fully recovered from it.
I opened with 180kg, which I knew I’d make comfortably… I did. 190kg went up a bit more slowly, and I really felt like I was pulling with my back now… I was. Next was 200kg, as I’d already pulled a PB and I know I’ve got the strength to pull 200, it’s just whether I could manage it when it counted… I couldn’t.
I got it off the ground but then you get to a point where everything in your body is telling you to just put it down, drop it, and you’ll be free. Your hands are being cut into by the sharp knurling on the bar, your shoulders being pulled out of their sockets, you back bending and pushing against the belt and your legs are shaking like a dog shitting razor blades. That’s when you strength of mind takes over… “Just keep pulling,” I’d done it the week before, and I’ve done it before in competitions and training, but on this day I just didn’t have the strength of mind to follow through with it.
Previous PB 185kg, new PB 190kg – Increase 5kg. 16.55 on video
There’s so much more I’d like to talk about like the amazing Sharon who competed with such little experience and couldn’t even hold a bar on her back a few weeks ago. The huge success that Progressive Training Systems (Northampton) had in terms of athletes competing in their first competition and loving it. Meeting up with some familiar faces and contemporaries, sharing stories, successes and cupcakes.
Previous total 415kg, new total 440kg – increase of 35kg.
British National Qualification total 475kg – another increase of 35kg