I was told last week that you are not really a Powerlifter until you’ve bombed.



Well, until last Saturday, I was never a Powerlifter I guess. Sure, I’ve done a meet or two, had a total, but I was not a Powerlifter. Today, I officially am one. I bombed out last Saturday, but it was Bench Only, so does it even count?



Bombing Out 3 CJ Murphy Sabra Mitchell Elitefts

Can you believe she red lighted me?




On April 7, 2018 I did the RPS New Hampshire/Vermont State Championships put on by Jamie and Megan Matta of Fairhaven Fitness. They run some of the best meets I have ever been to, you should do one.


I was in the 242 Bench Only division, and this time I did not need to make weight like last time. Hell, I kept my jeans on and still weighed in at 237.


I had a goal of hitting a 405 bench. 405 isn’t a very big bench, especially in the 242’s, but for me, it would be huge.


It’s a stepping stone to a bigger goal, and an accomplishment that means a lot to me.


A little over a year ago, I couldn’t bench an empty bar. Hitting 405 would be sweet.   I benched 380 at my last meet with some difficulty, and if all the stars lined up last week, I would have hit 405.


They didn’t.


I opened at what should have been a smooth and fast 360 and planned to take a second of 385, and then a third at 405.


What Happened?


Well, I didn’t know that day, but I am pretty sure I do now.   Let’s look at the day of the meet.


I got to New Hampshire the night before and weighed in with ease. I went to a good dinner with my partner and then actually got a great night sleep in a 2 Star hotel. I never sleep well in hotels because the mattress usually sucks, but the one in my 2 Start hotel was pretty good.


I felt great the day before, and when I woke up, I felt even better. I was brimming with confidence and had no stress about this meet because nothing was on the line.


Seriously, nothing. I was not going to come close to setting a record of any kind, I was doing this meet just to do it, and to give me a new max to use in my training. That’s it. No pressure, no stress.


The morning of the meet, we got to the gym and I started my warmup.




Nothing was working.   I could not get my hip to loosen up.

This has not been a problem the past few weeks/months.


(NOTE: my hip is crap, and has been plaguing me for a long time, but has been getting remarkably better over the past year.)


I did some movement, RPR and stretching to get it to open up, but it was to no avail.   As I went through my warmups, none of the weights felt heavy, as a matter of fact, they felt pretty light, but they were very hard to move because my hip was pretty much locked.   I took my last warmup of 315 which went up just fine, and according to my training partners, it looked good too. It did not feel good.



Bombing out, CJ Murphy, Sabra Mitchell, Matt Buckingham, Russ Smith, Candace Puopolo, powerlifting, elitefts, total performance sports

Coach Candace



I told Candace, my coach that we can change the plan if needed, I would rather go 3 for 3 and not get the 405 if she didn’t think it was in the cards.


On to the opener.


I brought the bar out, touched way too high and it was BRUTAL to press. I pressed it, but my arse came up and I got the dreaded red lights.


She kept me at 360 for the second, and that went worse than the first. I touched too high again and the bar moved about 3 inches off my chest and then froze.


Like they turned the magnets on.


I pressed as hard as I could until they took it away from me. Jamie came over and told me what I already knew, I was touching way too high. I made a mental note to get my head out of my ass and do it right for my third.


Third attempt, same as the second. Bomb. Not one successful lift passed.


Bombing out, CJ Murphy, Sabra Mitchell, Matt Buckingham, Russ Smith, Candace Puopolo, powerlifting, elitefts, total performance sports


The funny thing about this is that I was ok with it. I am not ok with failure, and I am pretty sure that if this happened 5 or 10 years ago I would have been a miserable and angry asshole.


Today, not so much. My spirits were still high.


Of course I was disappointed in myself but what is done is done.


Note to other lifters: If you get red lighted or you bomb, don’t throw a tantrum. You only make yourself look like an asshole. We had a guy lift on Sunday that should take this advice.


Lessons Learned


I reflected back on the last training cycle and things leading up to the meet and figured out a few things. I made a lot of mistakes this cycle that I shouldn’t have.


As a matter of fact, on my last heavy session of the cycle I told Matt and Russ I was dropping out of the meet.


I missed every work set I was supposed to hit in my last session, and in the two prior to that. I should have pulled out, as I was not prepared.




Well, my old bench shirt was about 4 sizes too big and I got another one from Russ. I normally use a Jack shirt, but he had an Ace that fit ok so I used it.


Before I used it, Russ strongly suggested that I do not use it. It was too “used up” and had no life left in it.   I should have listened because he was right. I fought with the shirt every workout and just couldn’t get it to work.


On my last training session, after I said I was pulling out, Matt had a talk with me in the gym.


He asked me what was different about this training cycle and for the life of me, I couldn’t give him the answer he as looking for. I came up with a million things, most wrong.


Finally, he said the shirt. He said to go and get my Jack shirt and just put it on and take a single.


What did I have to lose?


So I did. I put the too big Jack on and smashed the weight I missed with the Ace 15 minutes ago.


Now, don’t take this as a Jack vs. Ace statement, they are both awesome shirts, it’s just that the Ace I was using was ready for the trash can. I decided that I would stay in the meet and use the Jack.


Lesson Learned: Listen to your training partners.


After that I got in touch with a few EliteFTS teammates to see if anyone had a Jack shirt in a smaller size they’d be willing to trade. Matt Ladewski had one that fit and shipped it to me right away.


I put the shirt on as soon as it got here and took a few singles in it. They flew.


I decided to do the meet in this shirt with ZERO training in it.


I figured as it was a Jack, it should be no problem. I know the shirt, and it will be fine.


Now, I am not blaming the use of the shirt for my failure, I am sure it had little to do with that, but a primary rule in Powerlifting is to never use gear on the platform that you haven’t trained in and I did it anyway.


Lesson Learned: don’t be an asshole.


Stored Pain


In RPR, JL talks about stored pain and once it is released, things get better.


He also told me that I was holding on to my injury for some reason and that it was stored pain.


It was holding me back.


I can’t get into too much on this because I don’t fully understand how to explain it as well as JL.


I told him that I was not hanging on to the injury, it was there and it is what it is.


He told me I was wrong.


Reflecting back, I think he was right.


I have to figure out how to let go of the stored pain and release it.

Lesson learned: Listen to the people you trust.


Matt and Russ had a come to Jesus with me yesterday.


They both basically said the same thing as JL did without knowing about the discussions J and I had.


Russ said that I needed to let go of the bullshit and just get in the gym and get back to hard training like the old Murph.


Of course I got defensive and told them that getting a big total is not my priority now, ambulation without a limp and pain is my biggest priority.


He called bullshit on it.


Russ said all him and Matt wanted to see was me in the gym crushing whatever I could and getting my fire back. He said the weight on the bar doesn’t matter, my attitude did. Matt and Russ both said that I would not put up with the shit I give them (and Candace) from one of my lifters or partners. I’d kick them out of the gym or the training group and that’s true.


What they meant was that I am always (lately) saying I can’t do this exercise or that one because of pain. That is true. I just can’t do a lot of the things I want to do. When I try, walking is off the table for a few days.


They said to figure out what I CAN do, stop saying I can’t do something and work HARD at what I can.


Once again, they were right and I am grateful to have these two guys as part of my crew. I needed someone to tell me that I was being a pussy. I didn’t think I was, I thought I was training smart. I was not.

I was making excuses instead of finding solutions.


Now you have to take a minute and think of what just happened.


Telling your training partner that they are a bitch is one thing and pretty easy to do.


Well, I am not only their training partner, I am their employer.


It takes a lot of balls to have that talk with your boss.


A lot of bosses would have lost their mind after that conversation.   You know what that told me?


It told me that I have a crew of people working here, that I train with that give a shit.

They aren’t “yes men”.

They care.

They want me to be my best.

Well, I have not been my best as of late.

Getting a kick in the ass is what people like me need.


I’ve said before, I’ll say again, I have surrounded myself here at TPS with the best people I know.


They are honest, genuine and care.


You are who you surround yourself with and I have surrounded myself with people I will go to war for, and who will go to war for me.


That means a lot.


It is also hard to express to them how much I appreciate them and how grateful I am to have them in my life.


Lesson Learned: Listen to your training partners and those you trust.


I trust them. I don’t trust many. They have earned it.


I am now going back to the drawing board and getting back to training and finding solutions instead of hiding behind excuses.


Once again, I need to thank those who support me, train with me and make me a better person every day.


Bombing out, CJ Murphy, Sabra Mitchell, Matt Buckingham, Russ Smith, Candace Puopolo, powerlifting, elitefts, total performance sports

Thank you to

Sabra Mitchell

Russ Smith

Matt Buckingham

Candace Puopolo

and Phil Rago.

You all make me want to be a  better lifter, a better boss, a better coach and most importantly, a better person.

I’ll get that 405 soon with your help.


Ask me a question-Be sure and Type to Murph in the header


Find me on Google-search for Total Performance Sports Malden, Mass. The Best Gym in Boston, Facebook too.


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Vincere vel mori

By: C.J. Murphy

April 12, 2018