The cat is out of the bag, I have now competed in my first powerlifting meet and it was quite the experience! Honestly, I can't even believe that I did it. I mean, just a few short years ago I was extremely unhealthy and overweight. Here is a quick visual for you, in 2015 I weighed 225 pounds, and for this recent competition I competed in the 75 kilogram weight class which is roughly 165 pounds. It is like night and day as far as my body weight goes, and to have the confidence to go out and lift weights in front of people and against others is a huge turning point for me.
First, I want to speak on the meet preparation. The hours of training, the good days, the bad days and how committed I was to hitting my goals. Now, because I have a family, a wife, a full time job, and other commitments I do, most of my training gets done at 4 o'clock in the morning. Working out that early isn't even the hard part. The hard part for me was pushing through a workout when the weights felt heavy. I am not a weight lifting expert or anything, but based on my experience some days a particular movement just isn't there. When this would happen my training partners or coach would always reassure me that it's supposed to be challenging and it is supposed to feel heavy. On the other hand, there were days where things were just moving so smoothly and the improvements I had made were obvious (love those days). The mental part of getting up and getting the training done is a lot easier, for me, when there is a specific date and goal set in place, the competition. To sum up the training and meet preparation part of this article, training was hard, but it was fun, and I made a whole lot of gains with the help of my coach, training partners and the SLO Strong team.
Next topic, weight management and diet. So, I kind of pride myself in the fact that I love to cook. Literally I am the one who cooks the meals in my family. I do it because I enjoy it, and because I am kind of controlling (just being honest). I want to eat what I want each night and normally my wife and kids don't mind what's on the menu. Like any person's childhood experience there is a lot of similar food served from week to week, or maybe biweekly. My kids are little so I have to make food that I know they will eat while trying to keep it high in protein and carbs. Honestly though, it's pretty easy. Season my chicken, chop up some potatoes and maybe broccoli or green beans and BOOM you've got yourself a nice simple dinner that my family can enjoy. Fried rice with some teriyaki seasoned chicken, chicken tacos and Spanish rice, hamburgers (my favorite), sloppy joes, fajitas, steak, spaghetti, etc. (I just realized that my kids are actually pretty good eaters). I think what it comes down to is laziness. It is a lot easier to just eat Chick Fil A or order a couple pizzas, but I want to stay healthy and I am also kind of leading the way for my kids. It seems that I stay at the same weight with an active job and wholesome foods. I try to stay away (as best I can) from greasy and sugary foods. In the shop I work in everyday someone brings in donuts or pastries so I have trained myself to not even open the box or go near it. It is too tempting. If you want to eat a donut or a cookie you've got to earn that shit. You'll know when it's time to treat yo'self.
75 kilograms, am I going to weigh in at the correct weight or did I somehow manage to over eat the night before I weigh in? Gabe and myself have been training together for the 2 months before the meet and we held each other accountable everyday as far as lifting weights and we weighed ourselves at least once a week to make sure we were right on track. The last week before the meet, we were both about a pound or 2 over our specific weight class which was a good sign that we were gonna weigh in right where we wanted. No real water cut, dehydration, or starving necessary for us. Friday, the day before weigh ins, my wife told me she had to work Saturday morning which is the day I had to weigh in. That kind of threw me off a little bit, kind of stressed me out because I was already nervous about my first meet and that meant I was going to have to bring both my kids to weigh in. Anyways, after stressing out a bit and being kind of a dick to my wife about it, she asked my mother in-law to watch my youngest kid Adam and my daughter said she would come with me as long as she could get a donut. On the day of weigh ins, Gabe and I met at the gym we train at in Santa Maria and checked our weight one last time. I think I was about a half pound over, maybe a pound and Gabe was right on his weight. We sat in the sauna for about 20 minutes, checked our weight, and headed up to the weigh ins. I was really hungry and my daughter would not stop asking me for a donut. I tried to tell her to wait until after I got checked in, but she wasn't going to wait. The last thing I wanted to see was my daughter eating a delicious donut while waited to get checked in, but she got her way. It was like torture. But, I finally got checked in, set my rack heights for the squat rack and bench press, weighed in at 74 kilograms (one under) and as soon as I finished it was my turn to get a donut, and Gatorade of course. It takes some real mental strength and focus to not eat or drink anything while you wait to weigh in.
I think this is going to be the last topic before I sum up my experience. I have got to talk about the competition. The part where I actually have to lift weights. Talk about nerves. I already knew that since I am in the light weight category I was going to be one of the first guys to be on the platform. Sure enough, flight A, about halfway down the list of guys. Time to warmup and get ready to smash some weights. I was really counting on some of the veteran lifters on the team to kind of help me out. They did, Gabe was kind of in the zone but Scott and Andrew were there to help me focus. Really, all I needed to do was warm up just as I always warm up, but man oh man I was just so nervous. “Flight A, it's time to go!!!” I was ready, nervous, but ready. Went out to hit my first squat, 152.5 kg/336.2 lbs and it felt heavy. I thought I chose a light weight opener, for some reason it was just hard. Three white lights, so I am on the board. Second attempt, 157.5 kg/347.2 lbs, 2 pounds over my personal best, got it. Third attempt, 162.5 kg/358.3 lbs, a 12 pound personal record, no lift. 2 pounds added to my squat, but now it is official because the weights are calibrated and I did it in competition so I am very happy about it. It took about an hour and a half in between events, squat, bench, deadlift, time to refuel. Eat, eat, and eat some more before I have to go lift again. And now the nerves have calmed down a bunch and I was having fun. Warming up for bench felt good, the weights were moving fast and I was feeling confident. Opening attempt, 107.5 kg/237 lbs, smoked it. Second attempt, 115 kg/253.5 lbs, 3 pounds more than my personal best, couldn't get it. I was really thrown off when I couldn't bench my second attempt, actually I was mad about it because I had my eyes on a way heavier bench press. After that miss, I decided to retake that weight, in hopes that it would go. Third attempt, same weight, got stuck in the same exact place. Now, I am real pissed. Why the hell didn't I get that?! All the hours of training and work I did to improve, and I have to settle for my opener. My coach, my wife, and some of the other guys all tried to tell me to just move on. You'll get it next time, it's okay, go out there and kill it on your deadlifts. Basically, they wanted to cheer me up or something. But I was upset. Okay, time to eat some more. Deadlifts are my favorite of the three lifts. Maybe, I can get back in the zone. I'm here to have some fun and set some new PR's. Once again, the weights are moving good in warm ups and I'm having fun again. Flight A is ready and warmed up, and here we go! Opening attempt, 202.5 kg/446.4 lbs, too easy. Second attempt, 225 kg/496 lbs, “LIGHTWEIGHT!” Third attempt, this is it, I went over to ask my coach what weight to choose for my final lift of the day. “SPINE ON THE LINE!” he says. My famous quote from the interview I did. 240 kg/529.1 lbs, 35 lb personal best! That was the longest deadlift I have ever done in my life, a “grinder” as they call it. But guess what, it's all mine. Had to make up for the shitty bench. Out of 9 attempts (3squat, 3 bench, and 3 deadlift) I was successful on 6 of them. I guess that's alright. I guess I can be happy now that I got second place in my weight class.
Final thoughts, I'm hooked. Already signed up for my next meet. The camaraderie of all the guys competing, the intensity of lifting heavy weights in front of a bunch of people, and training for a specific purpose. I mean, I love having a reason to hit the gym and try to better myself. Getting this first meet under my belt has boosted my confidence in and out of the gym. I've made a bunch of new friends, I've been able to set some goals and surpass them, I've seen the results of being consistent. And now, being a good team player with SLO Strong, I'm able to help others and most importantly learn about getting stronger, while staying healthy.