So, yesterday (Saturday, 13 August 2016) was the biggest day so far in my three week career as a powerlifter! My first official competition .... and I absolutely loved it! I now have absolutely no doubts that this is the sport for me.
I woke up at 6:30 following a good night of sleep and apart from a small but very strong coffee, I fasted until after the weigh in at 9:00am. I weighed in at 91.0 kg, well under the 93 kg max for the class I was aiming for, so the careful monitoring (and shedding of approx. 2.5 kg) of my weight over the past two weeks had worked well. Following the weigh in I had another considerable dose of caffeine and some food (oat, protein, egg, sultana pancake - a Marcin Dryka recipe!) that I had prepared earlier.
The entire event, organized by Dave, Hannah and Andy at Strongest Version/Rochdale Strength and Conditioning was well organized, ran very smoothly and everyone there was friendly and approachable, which was great for a first-timer like myself (and some of the others on the day). In addition, it was a charity event and raised £350 in aid of Bleakholt Animal Sanctuary.
With Hannah, Andy and Dave
As with all such competitions, it consisted of three attempts at each of the three lifts in the following order: Squat, Bench press, Deadlift.
I kept my warm ups to a minimum in order to conserve my strength for the lifts. Following the advice I got from the book I am following, I took a rather conservative approach to the weights I chose to lift. I was actually very surprised to find I could lift my 1RMs with relative ease. Maybe next time I will throw caution to the wind and go for broke (not literally). Indeed, conservatism goes against my grain somewhat, but on the other hand one has to remember the tale of the hare and the tortoise! Nonetheless, there were quite a number of failed lifts on account of the weight being too heavy ... these folks were clearly pushing it and there is no shame in not succeeding ... but of course, failed lifts do not count towards your final total, so that is clearly another consideration when deciding what weights to aim for.
My squat lifts were: 90kg, 110kg, 120kg (current 1RM 130kg)
My bench presses were: 80kg, 90kg, 100kg (current 1RM 100kg)
My deadlifts were: 110kg, 140kg, 160kg (current 1RM 160kg)
In order to compare the relative strength of the lifters, who may be of significantly different body weights, it is not possible to make direct comparison of the weights moved. It is necessary to convert the values to a standardized form that can be compared across all body weight classes (and between sexes) in order to determine the best lifter on the day. This is done using the Wilks calculator, which uses the sum of the totals for the three lifts (in my case: 120+100+160 = 380Kg), the body weight of the lifter and a range of standard co-efficients (these differ between men and women). The resulting value will also place you in a 5-tier classification scheme as follows: un-trained, novice, intermediate, advanced, elite. My Wilks score of 241.26 just placed me within the intermediate category, so I am very happy with that, despite it being one of the lowest scores on the day.
In summary this was a great day and I would like to thank the organizers, the lifters and all the spectators who made it thoroughly enjoyable and one that I do not think I will ever forget. It was not a big affair, but for me the impact was extremely significant! I would especially like to thank Dave Green and his 'old' crew Rory, Stacey and Chelsea for their vocal support during my lifts! Thanks also to fellow FCPC member Adam Mack for his positive comments on my technique.
Self appraisal time: I was happy with my performance given that three weeks ago I had never deadlifted nor squatted with a straight bar. I was a bit wobbly on the walk out of my first squat, but that was the first lift at my first meeting, so no worries there as I was able to correct it and did not make the same mistake in my subsequent attempts. To avoid a failed lift it is important to follow the commands of the referee who is instructing the various elements of each lift. This was fine for the first two attempts of each lift, but I found that on my third attempt of the squat and bench I did not wait for the command to start before I actually started my descent of the barbell, though fortunately the command came at the same time, so I got away with it. Clearly, this was due to me being more focused on the heavier weight I was shifting. Now I am aware of this, I can work on it during my training so it does not happen next time.
Having reviewed the photos of me taking part, it is quite obvious that my pressing technique needs some attention because the barbell is not evenly balanced. In all three of my presses (photos below), the bar is inclined to the right. This is something I will need to work on because it will be impacting the total I can press. I have some ideas as to why it may be happening. I also noticed this in plenty of the other lifters, though it was absent or certainly less defined in those who were clearly more experienced.
Of course, for my size and weight I should be moving much heavier amounts of iron, but this will come in time and is basically what the training is all about. If there are any lifters from the meeting reading this that have additional constructive critique I would be very happy to hear it.
Back to basics: Next week I am back on my foundation cycle (week 3), but with a slight difference. On the advice of Lee Moran of Freedom Strength, I will be replacing my midweek rest day with another squat day.
With Adam Mack prior to lift off (above) and with the rest of the lifters after the event (below) ... BOOM!