Yesterday, I competed in the 2017 RPS Supreme Iron Warrior meet in Newark NJ.
This meet represented the end of an experiment that started almost 2 years ago. I had just bombed out of a bench meet, where I had attempted to bench 700lbs. In an all out effort to hit this goal, I opted to try and eat my way up, finally peaking at a bodyweight of around 240lbs.
After that debacle, I decided to get healthier and lose some weight, with the goal of competing back at 198, which I did successfully, returning to the XPC finals earlier this year. I guess the ease of the weight loss inspired me to go for more, and I soon decided that I would attempt to compete at 181, a weight class I had grown out of almost 10 years ago.
I was a pretty good lifter at 181, with prs of:
Back then, this was a top 5 total at 181.
However, it always bothered me that I never squatted 800, benched 600 or totaled 2000 at this bodyweight, because I felt like I was very close at the time, but the weight cuts just became too much and moving up was the smarter call.
But not hitting those goals always gnawed at me.
So as soon as the XPCs were done, I started losing once again, bottoming out at 195lbs, a 14b cut from 181.
I had no idea what to expect going into this meet, although my training went fairly well, despite some personal distractions.
Here’s how the experiment went.
The weight cut sucked.
It was the most I’ve cut in a very long time, and I forgot just how crappy the last few pounds can be. I wound up taking hot baths the morning of the weigh-in, which worked well, but had me feeling crappy for most of the day.
My re-comp however was extremely successful, and I woke up the next morning at over 200 pounds. I felt like garbage from all the shitty food, but I felt good to go.
Squat warm-ups went well, and all the weights felt light on my back. My opener was 755, which I thought might be a little heavy following the cut, but I didn’t know If I could hit depth with any less.
First attempt 755 - Good (RPE - “Smoke Show”!)
It was really easy, and I flew up with it. Moved to 800 on my second, which would finally give me my 800@181, as well as set me up for a 2K total.
Second attempt 800 - Good (RPE - “You can’t judge depth from the front”)
With 800 on the board, I decided to go to 835, which would give me an all time pr, beating both my 198 and 220 numbers. Unfortunately, I missed it by being a dumbass, I had a little trouble unracking it, and rather than take a step back and have them lower the rack, I just went for it. I was off balance the whole way and lost my balance backwards at the bottom
Third attempt 835 - Miss (RPE - “Misgrooved it!’)
I was pissed about the miss, because it felt makable, but whatever, I finally had my 800@181 and was on track for my total.
Bench was gonna be kind of a wildcard. My training went amazing, but I hadn’t cut 15lbs. before any of these workouts. Plus, I was opening with a 55lb. pr because I wasn’t sure if I could consistently touch less.
Warm-ups felt ok, but a little heavier than I would have liked. Even on boards, my shirt wasn't giving me nearly the pop it had been in training. My best guess is that the weight from the recomp didn't settle in my upper body as much as it should have, and the shirt was a little loose.
First attempt 600 - Good (RPE - “Eh”)
600 felt good, but not great, plus, we were having a little trouble at the hand-off on the unfamiliar bench. Took a conservative jump to 620.
Much more trouble out of the rack on 620. I usually take my last breath of air prior to the handoff, but with the extra time getting it out, I ran out of air and passed out at the bottom of the lift.
Second attempt 620 - Miss (RPE - Riding a unicorn naked, over a rainbow made of Laffy Taffy)
Just to be clear, I am not blaming the equipment for the miss. The meet bench was fine, just different enough from ours that I needed to adjust. So on the third, I adjusted and took my breath after the handoff and before the start command)
Second attempt 620 - Good (RPE - “Phew”)
So now I had a 75b. bench pr to go with my squat, and was feeling pretty good. Leading up to the meet, I was confident in my deadlift, having just broken a nice training pr in my last deadlift session.
But man, I was getting tired.
I was really starting to feel the effects of the weight cut at this point, and my deadlift warmups kind of felt like shit. My opener was 580, to give me my 2000 total on my first attempt, which was good, because at this rate, I didn't know how many attempts I had in the tank.
First attempt 580 - Good (RPE “That fucking sucked and I wanna be done, but if I just pack my shit up and leave now, my training partners will never let me forget it”)
The 580 was way harder than it should have been, and I knew at this point that I was shot. But if I could just eek out another 25lbs. it would mean a pr in every lift.
it took everything I had, but I pulled it, giving me a 2025 total.
Second attempt 605 - (RPE - “Thought I might die”)
Jumped another 10 lbs. for my third, just for simple fact that I was lifting against Sandy Tepper, XPC champ at 181. We were neck and neck all day, and it was gonna come down to the last pull. I knew I had nothing in the tank, but It would have been an insult to a competitor like Sandy to just lie down and give him the win. I barely even flexed the bar, let alone cracked it off the floor. Sandy made his third easily, beating me by 5lbs. and giving him a big pr total.
I’ve followed Sandy’s career for some time, and despite the fact that he beat me, I thought it was pretty cool to see how far he has come. It’s a pretty special thing to be there when an athlete takes that giant step from being an up-and comer, to a competitor entering the prime of his career.
Great job dude!
So all in all, I was very pleased with the results of this experiment.
First, I learned that I am probably better off staying at 181 because even though this was only a 6/9 day, it was my best total to date by coefficient. Compared to 198, I was only 25 lbs off my most recent XPC performance, and just 50 off my best ever total (which came on a 9 for 9 day). If I take more time to settle in at this weight, and can dial in the weight cut better, I have no doubt that I will break my all time pr total.
I also learned that I don’t need to be a fat mess to lift well.
A lot of people have asked me how the weight loss affected my strength, and I have to say that it didn’t hurt it one bit, at least based on training numbers. The last minute water cut however, did have a negative effect. So in order to compete at my physical best, I’m gong to lose about another 4-5 pounds of actual bodyweight, which will make my cuts easier. Since the fat loss hasn't hurt me thus far, I will be a lot safer losing the 5 lbs now, as opposed to sweating it off last minute. I’ll still cut around 10-11 or so, but this is relatively easy.
Here are the best lifts for the day
I have a whole lot of people to thank.
First and foremost my training partners Anthony, Justin, Mike, Steve, Karen, James and Nicky.
Dave, Traci, and everyone at elitefts.com
My nutrition sponsor, Apollon Nutrition
My EVF Performance powerlifting class, who ventured out of the luxurious confines of Manhattan, to make the trip across the mighty Hudson River like the early settlers did, to cheer me on while I picked shit up.
Gene, Ame and the rest of the RPS. This was a stressful meet on a lot of fronts, and it makes a huge difference to lift in a well run meet, with great equipment.
And finally, my wife Liz, Who holds down the fort while I train and compete, and never gives me shit about being a raging asshole during weight cuts.