Meet Report: USPA Naturally Fit Games & American Record Squat

I competed at the USPA Naturally Fit Games in Austin yesterday and went 750/402/738/1891 at 181, with an American record squat and small meet PRs on the squat, bench, and total.  It’s not a bad result, but if I’m being totally honest, I’m really fucking disappointed in myself -- I know I’m capable of more, and putting in so much effort and coming so close to hitting the numbers that I had in mind makes it hard to accept falling short.

The Plan

Originally, after the US Open six weeks ago, I’d planned to take a long break to fill out the 198s before stepping back on the platform, but when I returned to training my numbers just kept going up.  So I decided to roll with it and get in another meet at 181 to take care of some unfinished business.  Going into the Open I felt capable of putting up a 2,000 pound total and an 800 deadlift, and with my improved gym lifts, those numbers -- or at least world records in both -- seemed a sure thing.

Cutting Weight

I hadn’t let my weight creep up on me after the Open, and was waking up between 199 and 201 pounds every morning, very consistently.  Two hundred to 181 is a pretty easy cut for me, and one I’ve done quite a few times, including once with a 2-hour weigh-in, so I wasn’t too stressed about it, even though I had some planned travel the weekend before the meet.

I’ll write more about this later, but I’m a big proponent of extended water-loading protocols for cutting weight.  Most advice I read suggests just a couple days of increased sodium and water intake before cutting back, but I keep a very consistent diet and my body takes a while to adjust to changes like that.  With the travel, I’d only have three days to really keep close track of my sodium levels before weigh-in, but I figured that was enough.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t.  I like to sweat the morning of weigh-in, so that I’m at weight for as little time as possible, and I woke up Friday morning at 193 (after cutting out water and salt on Thursday).  Usually, I can lose about two pounds in 15 minutes by sweating in a hot tub, so I figured I was in great shape, but this time, the weight just wouldn’t come off.  It took me five hours in the sauna to lose twelve pounds, and I was feeling pretty rough by the time I finally made it.

Still, I wasn’t too worried: I got an IV about an hour after weighing in, and my body seemed to soak up everything I ate and drank.  I kept sodium super high and bloated up to a solid 209 by the time I went to bed Friday night, and I woke up Saturday feeling fantastic and looking vascular AF.

Meet Day

I got to the venue early, because I like to take my time warming up and getting moving, especially in the morning.

Squat

My best squat in training was an easy 771, but I had cut that a bit high.  The 181 all-time American record squat was 749 and the world record was 760, so I felt pretty good about taking either of those on a good day, and (as always) knew that my coach, Jacob Cloud, would call whatever was there.

Warmups felt great -- you can always tell it’s going to be a good day when you can’t feel the bar on your back.  I did have a little shakiness walking out of the extra-wide racks, but Bobby Morgan and USPA Texas did an awesome job stocking the warmup area with tons of space, plates, and Texas power bars.  Worked up to 595 in sleeves and set my opener at 661, thinking that if my opener didn’t feel fantastic, we could stay conservative on squat and save some juice for pulls.

It did feel fantastic, though.  I use Elitefts Krait wraps -- I’ve tried dozens of different ones and they’re by far my favorite, but for the Kraits to work, you need a really, really, really fucking tight wrap, and my training partner Dominic Morais wrapped them tighter than that.  I wish I had some video of him wrapping my knees, because it was epic.  Every revolution felt like my knees were breaking in half.  I’ve had some elite guys wrap me before and still never experienced anything like it, and the pop out of the hole was beyond insane on both my opener and my second attempt at 716.

Jacob wanted to call the world record on my third, but I decided to play it safe and go for the American record (IPL world record) -- I really wanted the total and pull more, and while I had zero doubt about 750, I was concerned about the walkout with much more than that.  My walkout isn’t the best, and the walkout with 750 was really tough -- so tough that I hurt my foot pretty good in the process.  Not sure what happened, exactly, but after the lift I couldn’t put any weight on the outside of my foot and the top portion near the ankle was pretty swollen.  I couldn’t feel it at the time, though, and between Dom’s wrap and Chad Wesley Smith spotting, I had no doubt about getting out of the hole.  Pretty proud of this one, since I think it’s the highest walked-out squat of all time at 181 (somebody correct me in the comments if I’m wrong)!

Bench

I never have much to say about my bench since it’s a pretty poor lift.  I’d injured my pec going into the US Open and hit 396 there with a lot of difficulty, but in the six weeks since I’d done several paused singles with 410.  The plan was to go three for three on bench ending up around 415 and pad the total.  After taking 750 instead of 760+ on squat, the 2000 total was out of reach, so we took an easy meet PR of 402 to be able to total a world record 1952 with an 800 pull.

Deadlift

This section is hard to write, so bear with me.  I have lots of excuses and don’t want to make them, but basically, the plan was to open light to get on the board, take 800 on the second for the records, and go YOLO on the third with a probable best case around 825-835.

Warmups felt just a little slow but I really didn’t have any doubts about making the 800.  I used straps on warmups because the knurling on all the warmup bars was fresh and rough, and we didn’t want to risk tearing my hands up.  Didn’t help; I tore my thumb on my opener of 738 and dropped it at lockout.  I needed to get at least one pull for my squat to count and was able to come back and get it on my second, but at this point my thumb was bleeding pretty good and I couldn’t hold on to the last-shot record attempt on my third.

Extremely disappointing, but that’s part of the process; I’ll re-evaluate and be back.

Thank You

I really can’t describe how grateful I am to everyone who came to support me -- it’s by far the best part of local meets.  Dominic drove up from San Antonio at 7 in the morning to wrap my knees and stayed the whole day to help, including keeping me from sliding into a bad headspace after that first pull.  Tammy Marquez (founder of Kinetix Body Science here in Austin) worked on me after squat and probably kept me in the game given my foot issue.  Chad Wesley Smith made sure I didn’t die on any of my squat attempts (and, on that note, it was an honor to train with him at Juggernaut last weekend).  Jordan Lawler took time out from working the meet to call me up and made sure I hit perfect depth on my squats. My advisor, Jan Todd, and her husband, Terry, came out to watch my pulls and that meant a lot.  Bobby Morgan and Meg Barrera-Morgan ran a great meet for USPA Texas, and that’s not easy when you’re talking about a huge meet (7 flights) at a huge venue, but everything ran smoothly and on time.

And, as always, couldn’t have done any of it without Staci and Jacob.  Love y’all.

What’s Next?

I can’t stay 181 in the short term.  I’ve been training on low calories for too long and after this debacle,  I don’t want to make any aggressive weight cuts anytime soon.  If 2,000 is possible at 181 then 2,033 is possible at 198 for the total record there, and that will probably be what I’m looking at for my next meet.  The good news: the steps to get there are very straightforward.  I’ll need to:

  • Fill out the class by gaining about 15 pounds.  This will be super fun and I should be pretty jacked if most of that is muscle, especially if I focus on my upper body.
  • Keep plugging away at my bench, adding more partial and speed work and keeping high frequency, and training my shoulders more.
  • Fix my damn grip by training it first in my workouts until I’m not dropping big lifts.

Should be a good ride!

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