I have been lifting weights since I was 16 years old for general fitness, bodybuilding, injury recovery and two years ago I started powerlifting. I had never participated in any competition or meet up until last Sunday. For the reason that I was lacking motivation and first-hand competition experience, which all of other members of the IJzersterk board did have. But I decided to give it a shot..
Preparation for the big day
In terms of training I hardly prepared myself, due to lack of experience and time. There weren’t as many competitions to participate in this year. The SBD Cup was the last official powerlifting meet this year in which you could qualify for the Dutch nationals in December. So it came down to a month of time to prepare, but I would also be on holiday for two weeks. At the powerlifting meet you get three attempts at each of the three lifts: Squat, Bench Press and Deadlift. I tried to determine my opening weights for the first attempts, before I left. During my holiday I only managed to slip in one workout. After I came back I had one full week left, in which I had four workouts focusing mainly on form and I cut some water to keep my weight in check. After the last training I had two days of rest and I was just hoping for the best.
The meet was split in three sessions as there were over 70 athletes. I was in the first session of the day with the weigh-in starting at 7:30. It surprised me when I ended up weighing only 80.8kg (-83kg class). I applied a water cut in the week leading up to the competition and part of that is no drinking or eating starting 12 hours before the weigh-in. After the weigh-in you have approximately two hours to rehydrate and eat, during this time you should focus on carbs, minerals and water. Pouja, my coach, and I brought tons of food and drinks. Once hydrated and fed I was ready to perform.
Warming up and opening with squats
About 30 minutes before the first lift we started warming up and to our horror we found out that we had to warm up outside in the cold! I learned a valuable lesson: always bring warm clothes and be prepared for circumstances that are far from ideal. I upped my opener on the squat last minute with 5kg to 175kg as I was feeling quite good. My feeling was right as I squatted all 3 squat attempts with white lights, with respectively 175kg, 185kg, 195kg (+5 PR!). It boosted my confidence and I was ready for the next lift.
Following signals and ego lifting
Bench press has always been one of my weakest lifts and I was not too confident in my form. My opener of 110kg was no lift because I did not wait for the referee’s signal. The weight itself was not a problem so I did 115kg on my second attempt which went fine. From then on it went downhill. I increased my planned third attempt by 2.5kg to 122.5kg but I lost focus and form during the attempt and failed. I am not sure if it was a case of ego lifting, fatigue or just bad focus. If you want to learn more about ego lifting you should check out the previous blog post. There was no time to waste and I had to put my thoughts on the last and my best lift, the deadlift.
Playing safe or taking risks
First off, I love deadlifting. I knew I could get back into the competition with deadlifts. I opened 220kg with good form and speed. 235kg for the second attempt with good form and slightly less speed. For the final lift it was a toss-up between 245kg (gym PR) or 250kg (tried once in gym and failed lift-off). I took the risk and went with the 250kg and failed on grip, which really surprised me. Looking back I am not sure if 245kg would have made a big difference. One of the things I am still struggling with is consistency in the pre-lift rituals. It took me a lot longer to actually start the lift with the third attempt compared to the other attempts. As a result I lost confidence. I tend to have this problem often when I am lifting weights I am not comfortable with. Ideally, you want to have the same pre-lift ritual with every rep of every set, even at your warm-up sets!
Qualified and now what?
With my total of 545kg at 80.8kg bodyweight I placed second of eleven participants in the men’s open classic -83kg. All lifters with Wilks above 340 points were qualified for the nationals and so was I (369.8 Wilks). In the end I have no regrets getting into the world of powerlifting competitions. It was inspirational, I got to know lots of people with the same interest and it’s a great way to stay motivated and (officially) log your progress.
Now I have three months to properly prepare for the nationals and I am going to follow a Sheiko program (#37v2, #31, #32v2). This is a Russian powerlifting program with the unique emphasis on volume rather than high weights. It seems like a fitting approach for me as I have to work on my form, especially bench press, and the way of training appeals to me. If you are interested in following the program yourself you can check out this website http://sheiko-program.ru/. Just interested in my progress? Follow my training log on http://weightxreps.net/journal/Quadzilla
You can find all my lifts here: Youtube