Tag: Squat

Powerlifting Meet Recap: Part II

On December 6th I competed in my second powerlifting meet: The Team Phoinix Holiday Classic. This meet was held in Lake Stevens by my friends of Team Phoinix Powerlifting. This was another great meet that was fun, efficient, and humbling. For those of you that are unfamiliar with the sport of powerlifting I suggest you look up my recap of my first meet where I go into more detail about the sport itself.

It had been about a year since my last competition so I came 15 pounds heavier and confident in my strength gains. I weighed in at 250 pounds so that put me in the 275 pound weight-class as the lightest lifter in the group. I expected this and was fine with it since I have no interest in the dehydration and starvation involved in cutting weight to be in a lower class. The only set-back I experienced heading into this meet was an SI Joint issue I suffered about 10 weeks before the meet. This sidelined my training for about two weeks but I was able to recover from it thanks to the help of Dr. Li. Despite this issue I was confident I would hit my meet goals.

Squat:

During the squat everything went exactly to plan and I ended up setting a PR and hitting my goal of 440 lbs (200kg) with plenty of room to spare. I believe I would have been good for at least 460 lbs that day.

1st Attempt: 365 lbs (easy opener, a weight I can do at anytime on any day)

2nd Attempt: 418 lbs (8 pounds above my best gym lift, very easy again)

3rd Attempt: 440 lbs (meet goal, probably left 20 lbs on the platform)

Bench:

I’d been toying with my bench technique and wasn’t quite sure how it would go. My goal was to break my previous meet PR of 298 lbs.

1st Attempt: 265 lbs (easy opener, felt great and explosive)

2nd Attempt: 303 lbs – MISS (big jump but I wanted at least 2 attempts at my goal)

3rd Attempt: 303 lbs – MISS (got the bar about 4 inches off my chest before it drifted

forward and I failed the lift)

Deadlift:

Deadlift had been going quite well in training. My goal was to break the 500 pound mark; my highest training deadlift was 465 lbs.

1st Attempt: 425 lbs (easy opener)

2nd Attempt: 475 lbs (this flew off the floor easier than expected but I stuck with the plan

instead of taking a bigger jump)
3rd Attempt: 501 lbs (just as easy as my second attempt, left at least 30 lbs on the

platform)

Overall I hit 2 out of 3 goals, took 2nd place in my weight-class, and left the meet very happy. Now it’s time to continue to get bigger and stronger!

Powerlifting Meet Recap

For those of you unfamiliar with the sport of powerlifting, it is a sport in which competitor’s squat, bench press and deadlift as much weight of they can for one repetition (1-rep Max). Each athlete gets three attempts at each lift and chooses how much weight they will try to lift on each attempt. Placing is decided by taking the sum of all three lifts to get the athlete’s “total” and the athlete with the highest total in their respective weight class wins the event.

 

On October 12th I competed in my very first powerlifting meet. I’ve always enjoyed training for strength but after completing my collegiate track career I found I still had the desire to compete and have a real purpose behind my training. I’d been training with powerlifting principles for quite some time but hadn’t done any meets because I thought I needed to get much stronger before competing. That’s when my good friend and amazing amputee power lifter Ali McWeeny informed me that her team (Team Phoenix) would be hosting a local powerlifting meet and I decided to jump in.

 

Training:

The meet was four months away when I signed up so I had some solid time to prepare. I had been on the same basic plan for the past 6 months and was seeing constant strength gains so I decided not to stray from the program that was working for me.

 

My training includes four lifting days per week with one day dedicated to bench press, squat, deadlift and overhead press. I included an overhead press day because shoulder strength and stability is extremely important for bench press. The main lift is performed first each day using a rep-max method where I work up to one main set of as many repetitions as possible at varying intensities depending on the phase (usually 3-8 reps at 85-95% 1RM). The main lift is then followed by assistance exercises designed to; increase the main lift, build muscle mass, provide balance and reduce risk of injury.

 

As the meet approached I started implementing paused bench press and heavy singles after completing my main “rep-max” set.

 

Meet Prep:

Two weeks out from the meet marked the final countdown of my meet preparation. During this time I had my last hard workouts where I worked up to 105-110% of my training max on bench, squat and deadlift while backing off slightly on overhead press. I really focused on getting in the mindset of the meet and attacking the weight as I would in competition. While increasing the intensities of the main lifts I decreased the volume of the assistance lifts by 20-30% while maintaining the intensity.

 

One week out from the meet I started my official “deload” in order to recover fully for the meet. In a normal deload I will decrease volume and intensity significantly (40-60%) but in preparation for the meet I did a high intensity deload where performed singles at 90-100% of my training max on the main lifts but almost completely dropped assistance work. The meet was on a Saturday so I performed my high intensity deload on Monday and Tuesday, rested Wednesday, did a dynamic warm-up and short workout Thursday (just got a light sweat), and rested completely Friday. Many competitors have to cut weight before a meet in order to compete in a lower weight class but since I was in the 242-pound class and weighed a solid 235 lbs I didn’t need to worry about that.

 

Meet Day:

I had received all kinds of advice about my first meet day from fellow power lifters but the two most common pieces of advice were;

  1. Bring food
  2. Triple check that you have all your equipment (shoes, singlet, belt, deadlift socks)

So I showed up to the gym with a cooler full of food and my triple checked gym bag bright and early and proceeded to wait two hours for the meet to start.

 

During this time I met a ton of the other lifters and introduced myself to all the referees, spotters, plate loaders and administrators. Doing this really helped calm my nerves because I had no idea what to expect and these people were more than willing to help. I was amazed with how receptive and genuinely excited all these people were to hear that this was my first meet and I was taking the plunge into powerlifting. While many of them looked the part, these people were far from the screaming meatheads outsiders tend to associate with powerlifting. I had great conversations about training, the inner workings of a meet and the powerlifting community. I went from feeling like an isolated competitor to feeling that all these people were on my side and wanted to see me succeed.

 

With my nervousness subdued it was finally time to begin the competition. Coming from a track and field background I expected an excruciatingly long and tedious meet with ample time between each lifter but I was very mistaken. I could not have been more impressed with the efficiency in which the meet was run. As soon as a lifter completed a lift (or didn’t) workers sprung into action to load the bar with the next weight to be attempted, adjusted the rack height and cleaned excess chalk off the bar. To my shock, downtime between each lifter only lasted about 30 seconds, resulting in a meet of 40 lifters only lasting 3.5 hours (less than half the time I expected).

 

Meet Results:

Coming into my first meet my goal was to simply compete. I had numbers that I wanted to hit but had no real aspirations of winning or placing but to my surprise I ended up placing 2nd in my weight class (242 lbs).

Numbers:

  • Squat: 402.5 lbs
  • Bench: 298 lbs
  • Deadlift: 463 lbs

I attribute my relative success to being solid in all three lifts while others had one lift that was especially good at the cost of the other two lifts.

 

Improvements:

My biggest downfall of the meet was my performance in the bench press. The difference between benching in competition and what you normally see in the gym is that the bar has to come to a complete stop (pause) on the lifter’s chest before being lifted. This pause will significantly reduce the amount of weight a person can bench press and this technique requires a lot of practice. I know now that I did not practice this skill often or early enough in my meet preparation. Adding more paused bench press work will be the biggest change to my program for my next meet.

 

Overall my first meet was an incredibly positive experience and I encourage anyone who wants to add purpose to their training to consider powerlifting. The feeling of putting all those hours of training on the line in competition is an amazing feeling that will surely add fuel to your training fire.

Audit Your Training Program

By Tom Sheriff, Personal Fitness Trainer Seattle Athletic Club Downtown

More and more frequently I am asked by coaches, friends and fellow gym-rats to review their strength training program. I am always happy to do so because I feel that most programs lack a simple evaluation, monthly or yearly, to ensure effective and efficient progress is being made. The following is an explanation of how to perform a simple audit of your training program.

The first question you need to answer is “Am I following a program, or am I wondering around doing whatever I feel like doing?” If you are just doing whatever you feel like, simply proceed as usual but for the next two weeks record what you are doing each day. At the end of the two weeks you can apply my auditing techniques to your workouts and go from there.

Once you have your program laid out, the first and most important step to auditing a program is to look for “gaps.” Make sure you are doing the fundamental human movements:

• Push (Bench press, military, dips etc.)

• Pull (Pull-ups, rows etc.)

• Squat (Back squat, front squat, overhead etc.)

• Hinge (Dead lifts, good-mornings, RDL’s, etc.)

If any of the mentioned movements are missing, there are gaps in your program.

Next I look for the push to pull ratio. To do this simply count the number of reps you do for each movement in a week then find the ratio of pushes to pulls.
Example:

Push: 300 reps/week

Pull: 100 reps/week

In this example the push to pull ratio of 3:1 is way off (but very common). A ratio of 1:1 would be better and ideally you would have a 1:2 ratio of pushes to pulls. The correct ratio ensures balance and promotes good posture.

I also look for balance top to bottom because people tend to slack in the leg department. If you bench press 315 pounds but shudder at the thought of a body weight squat you need to check your priorities.

Thirdly I look at how these movements are being accomplished. The main lifts of all my athletes and clients are considered core and structural lifts. This means they recruit one or more large muscle areas, involve two or more primary joints, and emphasize loading the spine directly or indirectly. If you perform all your exercises sitting or laying on a machine you are not getting the real-world application that exercises should give you.
A back squat will do a whole lot more for you than a leg press or leg extension because it more closely replicates movements you perform throughout the day.

Lastly I look for the purpose and progression of each exercise. If you cannot think of the real reason you are doing an exercise, there is good chance there isn’t one. Program progression is a topic that warrants a separate discussion but you need to make sure there is some rhyme and reason to how your program is moving forward.

I hope you take the time to really evaluate your workouts because you deserve to make progress. Just remember to look for the gaps! If you would like your training program audited please contact Tom Sheriff.