I have been training for the USA Powerlifting American Open in Philly December 8th for the last couple months. This will actually be my first meet since July due to some unexpected, what I like to call “broken fire hydrant-like ass explosion” problems. I had been training hard for my first multi ply meet in October when, all of a sudden, I woke up one day and it felt like my gall bladder was in a blindfolded gorilla knife fight with my appendix. After debating whether or not I should get my ka-bar out and do some home vivisection organ removal on my bathroom floor, I decided a trip to the doctors might yield some better health benefits in the long run. The official diagnosis was gastroenteritis. Which is doctor talk for, your intestines are swollen for no real discernible reason ad will be producing a molten lava like spray of napalm for the next two months. Adding to the misery, the medicine they gave me was a combination of muscle relaxers and Atropine. For those unfamiliar, Atropine is used to stimulate the sympathetic nervous system. Basically, it turns on fight or flight and won’t let you turn it off. For anything. Including sleep. The idea was, in a state of sympathetic dominance, your digestive tract slows down to allow other organ systems to do what they do in times of extreme stress. Like, life and death stress. So, imagine this:
Waves of unbelievable bouts of adrenaline fueled, eyes wide open, serial killer like focus, fashioning spears out of furniture to hunt and protect the village with, and racing thoughts so fast that you can’t even quantify how insane you are becoming that would make sense to anyone capable of rational thought. Coupled with intense and immediate feelings of trying not to pee your pants because you’re so sunken into the couch and relaxed. These are qualities of how I am just normally. Now add in medicine that makes these swings more immediate and extreme. I think I time travelled a couple of times.
Anyway, after that debacle. I dropped about 20lbs (into the 240’s) and none of the gear fit anymore. So, my training shifted gears to 2 goals:
- Eat everything
- Get in better shape
The first 6 weeks (Sept 1st through Oct 12th) of my training was pretty easy to put together. I picked several exercise variations of the powerlifts (squat, bench, and deadlift) that I suck at, and only did those with some added “bodybuilding” work thrown in. My main exercises looked like this:
Max Effort Day:
Squat: Front squats, pause squats with a safety squat bar, and 14inch cambered bar squats
Bench: Close grip bench, floor press, incline, and very close grip reverse band bench
Deadlift: 2inch block pulls, sumo pulls, and deadlifts against chain (100-160lbs)
The first six weeks were spent rotating through all of these finding 5 rep max’s at a 6-7RPE. Once that was established, the weight stayed the same and I did 5 sets of 3 reps with short rest intervals (about a minute). Once the main work was done, I went to some partial range of motion training that was either a rack pull or a board press again for a 3-5 rep max at a 6-7RPE for 3 sets of 3. Once that was done, I just jumped on some typical “gettin’ pumped bro”-ercises. I picked 4-5 exercises and did at least 50 total reps on each.
Dynamic Effort Day:
I only did the actual competition lifts for 70%+ and did some 5 sets of 5 work or 5 sets of 10. This day was more typical of a linear progressive overload system. I pretty much just bumped the weight of 5-10lbs every week and focused on never missing reps.
assistance exercises were pretty much the same.
The next 6 weeks (Oct 13th through November 23rd) were setup exactly the same with one adjustment: On the Max Effort days, I went up to triples and doubles at an RPE of 7-8 and then followed that up with 5 singles of whatever my top weight was. Also, I started pushing those partial ROM exercises to triples and doubles @8RPE for 3 sets of 3. Assistance work was the same.
Transformers Assemble Block:
At the 2 weeks out mark, I signed up for a CrossFit Total Competition at a local crossfit affiliate. For the unaware, a crossfit football total is finding a one rep max in the power clean, squat, bench, and deadlift. I used the competition as a means to practice some meet day rituals and work up to openers for the competition. The day went like this:
Got there at 8:30am, warmed up for a while, lifting started at 9:30 with cleans.
I haven’t maxed out on power cleans in a long time. The last time I did was weights testing for college football in the spring of 2007. Then, I hit something like 340lbs at around 300lbs bodyweight with lifting straps. Being that I was weak as piss and in terrible shape then, but practicing power cleans a lot (because I thought they were important for football/sports in general… they aren’t). So I took my time warming up because I had no clue what I was going to do. First attempt was with 276 and I almost threw it into the atmosphere. 298 went just as smooth. Almost lost 319 on the catch for my third but got my elbows up and stood back up. The 319 was still an absolute smoke show. If I had another attempt, I would have gone for 350 without straps at around 265 bodyweight.
Ok, I actually had a plan in place for the rest of the lifts: hit 90% of what I did my last meet. My “opener” for squats was 450 and I destroyed it. Same with 500. Then went to 90%, 550. I think I could have hit a vertical jump PR with how fast it moved. This is awesome because my last two meets I have had to take my squat attempts conservatively due to a torn quad. I will hopefully be hitting a PR at this new (lower/stupid) bodyweight next weekend.
After basically giving a bench press set-up seminar to everyone, I worked up to a pretty easy 380. It moved fast and felt light in my hands.
The only thing that scared everyone with how easy my 605 opener was how fast I pulled 720 on my third. Technique was a little screwed up but it was still fast and easy.
All in all, it was an awesome experience. The coaches at CrossFit Salisbury know their stuff. All of the competitors were eager to pick my brain about the power lifts, competitions, and technique tips. Also, the competition was for a great cause. The entry fee was a shoebox full of toys for needy kids to open Christmas morning. I filled my box with nerf guns, playing cards, and portable scrabble games. That kid is going crap his pants when he opens that thing.
One Week Out:
All I am going to do is do a “mock meet” with around 50% on Tuesday. Same thing on Thursday but with 30%. Then fill the days with light mobility work, hydrotherapy, light assistance work, and lots of eating and sleeping until I compete Sunday afternoon.
Early guesses on my biggest competition so far is EliteFTS sponsored, pro-powerlifter, and all around cool-dude Scott Yard. I’ve just go to make smart attempts and I should end up just fine. Really, I can’t remember a time I have ever felt this strong and confident going into a meet.
Thanks for reading. Will get a write-up together once the thing is done.
Solum Per Exitum… especially under a heavy squat.