Strength Training 67. Weeks 88-96 ... my head fell off at the Northwest Bench Championships!

Plenty to report on over the past 8 weeks.

This period started off well with new PBs on the squat: week 88 - 160kg for 5 singles @ 84.6kg bodyweight, week 89 - 162.5kg for 5 singles @ 85.4kg bodyweight, week 90 - 165kg for 5 singles @ 84.2kg bodyweight; and also a new PB on the bench: week 89 - 117.5kg @ 84.6kg bodyweight.

Week 91 was a deload week, following a very tiring long weekend away in Skegness with two of my kids. At the end of this week I was a platform loader at the first ever Greater Manchester Championship Competition held at Fighting Fit Gym, Manchester.

Week 92 started rather badly with a tweaked back/glute due to a slipped bar during a deadlift. This was a result of losing grip when I attempted 170kg using a double overhand grip rather than using an alternate grip. The decision was made to lay off squats and deadlifts for a while and focus on upper body strength in preparation for the upcoming Northwest Bench Championships due to be held as part of the Push Pull comp at DJS Fitness in Stalybridge on June 3rd (end of week 96).

I enjoyed the new focus on Bench only training and incorporated techniques I had not used before such as heavy chains and functional isometrics to help smash through sticking points and these seem to have done the job very well indeed. The training was going well as I started to work on a peak, reducing my volume and increasing my intensity, but at the end of week 94, which was my heavy triples week, I developed a head cold and sore throat which persisted and drained me for the next two weeks, i.e. right up until the weekend of the competition. On top of this my sleep was interrupted every morning at around 1am and then again at 3am, plus other times also as a result of various different goings on in the house. This totally screwed up my training as I was unable to perform my heavy doubles that I had programmed in and basically I just reverted back to a maintenance-type program. I also had to lose around 3kg over this period in order to make my weight category at the -83kg (Masters 2) class.

All of these factors combined to work against me, and on competition day I managed to weigh in at 81.4kg and I felt absolutely fine, so logged my opening lift at 110kg as planned. However, problems started during my warm up lifts. I made 100kg easily, but 105kg felt harder than it should have and I was unable to make my planned final warm up of 107.5kg. A chap who had been watching me suggested I reduce my opener to 95kg! I did not want to do this, so reduced it to 100kg instead. However, this guy was an established coach and had competed on the international stage, so his comments started playing on my mind. When the final call for changes to openers was made my head fell off and I decided to change it again to 95kg (my previous best at a formal comp), just to make sure I got on the scoreboard.

My opener went up no problem, so I set my second at 100kg. I was a little eager pressing this off the chest. I had anticipated the press command and shot it up ever so slightly too soon. I realized this but thought I may have gotten away with it because it was very close. However, I got two to one against from the judges, so it was a no lift. The weight was not a problem, so I set the final weight up at 102.5kg and made sure I got a good pause in, resulting in 3 white lights and a good lift.

This was a new formal comp PB for me and I came away with first place in Masters 2 for bench only and my first ever powerlifting medal, so was very pleased in some respects. However, I was not at all happy with my performance, but I did learn a great deal from it. I also had a great day at a well run event in a fantastic venue. I am now considering entering my next comp at the -93kg class so I don't need to cut down body weight for the meeting and will just be able to walk in as I am. I think this is a good idea!

As always, thanks for reading!