The WPC World Championship was my first international powerlifting competition. I qualified for Worlds by placing top three at APF Senior Nationals in June. At Nationals I weighed about 235 pounds and competed in the 242-pound weight class. In the 15 weeks following nationals, I began regimenting my eating in order to fix some digestive issues and fuel training better. In the process, I dropped from 235 to about 215. When it was all said and done, I actually ended up eating more food at 215 than when I was 20 pounds heavier. And, believe it or not, I ended up performing better as well (but I’ll spare the details for another article in the future). I plan to gain more weight moving forward, but in a way that benefits my performance much more efficiently. There was an opening in the 220 class for Worlds, so I decided to comfortably eat my way up a few pounds and compete there. The 220 class has actually been more competitive than the 242 class the past few meets I have done, but (as usual) I looked forward to the challenge of competing against a very tough group of lifters.

My training went fairly well leading up to this meet, with a lot of help from Jo Jordan and Bob Youngs. I’m fortunate to receive so much experienced advice from my elitefts™ teammates and training partners at Dukes Iron Zoo on a regular basis. The biggest obstacle I had to work around was balancing training with my summer job of concrete leveling. Keeping my weight up and not overtraining during this time were the two challenges I had to focus on every single week.

Since I was competing in the open multiply division, I lifted on Sunday (the last day of the week-long competition). In following some of the other lifters throughout the week, I could see that this would undoubtedly be the toughest competition I’ve been a part of. Quite a few experienced lifters bombed or had sub-par performances, and I knew the judging was consistent but very strict.

I went in to this meet with conservative openers and had a basic strategy to 1) get in the meet, 2) hit PRs, 3) pad my total and, 4) use my deadlift to either shoot for a top-three finish or goal total if possible. With these highly competitive meets, I’ve seen that often times being a smart and composed lifter can allow you to hang with lifters that are a little stronger than you and give you a chance towards the end. These are the times that strategy matters and can make the difference between a wasted training cycle on a bombed meet and a world-class finish at the highest level of the sport.

I opened with 680 pounds on squat and got it easily. I then jumped to 716 pounds for a good lift and a five-pound meet PR. I took 733 pounds next, but got bent forward and stalled coming a third of the way up.

For bench, I opened with 507 pounds (a six-pound meet PR), and after getting that easily I jumped to 518 pounds. I benched my second attempt easily but jumped the press command by a split second. After shaking off my stupid mistake, I re-took 518 pounds again, this time as my third attempt, and got it for a good lift.

I opened light again on deadlift with 584 pounds and then jumped to 622 pounds for another five-pound meet PR and a PR total. It came up smooth for white lights, so then I asked Bob Youngs to take a look at the flight and see if I had a chance at top three. I was in fifth, and the pull it would take to get into third was a little too out of my range. Bob recommended I take a smart PR attempt for my third deadlift. If I wasn’t able to get into the top three, my next goal was to try for an elite total at 220 (1875 pounds). I know that an elite total is not the end-all-be-all for powerlifting, but it was a goal I wanted to check off the list moving forward. I needed a 644-pound deadlift to reach the total, so I took it on my third and got it successfully.

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I finished in fifth place out of an extremely competitive 220-pound class, and went seven for nine with PRs on all my lifts, a 45-pound PR total, and my first elite total. I was very happy with reaching several personal goals and having a good meet at my first international competition. My sights are set on a medal next time around. I can’t express enough how much I appreciated having Bob Youngs and Mike Stuchiner there to coach me throughout the meet, and their advice has already provided me with great ideas moving forward. WPC Worlds was a great experience with top-notch equipment, consistent judging, and an incredibly competitive field of lifters from around the world.

Moving forward, I plan to most likely compete at APF Senior Nationals again this summer, and select a meet late in the Spring to compete before then. I have a lot of weaknesses to address this training cycle, the biggest one being my squat. I don’t get nearly enough out of my gear as I should, and I have several physical weaknesses that are leading to technical issues during max attempts. I feel confident that after addressing these weaknesses and changing my stance and some other issues with squat, I will see a big jump in my squat numbers in the next few months.

I can’t express enough how much I appreciate the help from Dave Tate, my elitefts™ teammates, training partners, and nutrition and supplement help from elitefts™ columnist Ben Hartman and Morphogen Nutrition. I know I have a long way to go in my powerlifting career, but this was a great stepping stone and I look forward to this upcoming year.