While leaving the Arnold last year with a first place in the super heavyweight (SHW) class, I decided if all things aligned (health, timing, life, etc.) I'd be back to defend my "title." It's 2018 and I came back to do just that. Not only was I there to defend my "title," but I was also there to finally reach a milestone only achieved by a handful of lifters: a 2300-pound total. In the weeks leading up to the meet another SHW, Domenick Minnici, went on a social media spree forecasting huge numbers, and in a roundabout way was predicting my loss. I'm always fast to talk shit, but this is different. I never responded but, unknown to most, it got to me. Dom's favorite saying all along the way was a Nate Diaz quote: "Don't be scared, homie." He utilized the quote over and over. Remember this for later.

RELATED: 2017 XPC Finals — JP Carroll Secures 1st Place

While he was posting videos calling himself my worst nightmare while drinking a beer, I took the entire week off and slept like I've never slept before — I deleted all social media. For the first time in my "career," I felt I was doing everything right. My recovery was more important than likes and views. I was more concerned with what mattered to me: winning, again.

The meet started at 3 PM. I was able to have a couple of meals (the bloat was real by this point) before heading out the door and making my way to the Rhodes Center. Arriving on time and focused, I had one thing on my mind: winning. I was ready.

We set up a table and chairs and laid out our food and drinks for the day. Bags and other miscellaneous items littered the area. The camp was set. The flights (a listing of when each lifter will lift) were posted. I was opening at 845 and Mr. DBSH (don't be scared, homie) was after me with 885. I remember while warming up thinking about how all of the SHWs (I was competing against 11 other pro SHWs) and especially him had all been running their mouths on social media about how great they'd do. I used it but I stayed calm (it's a bar with weights on it, and getting emotional gets you nowhere but to making stupid mistakes).

jp knee wrap XPC


My last warm-up was 785, which Mr. DBSH's camp deemed "high" (yeah, I heard you). Fine with me. My people aren't yes-men, and I was ready to hit the stage. At this venue the stage is accessible by a hallway with a tight staircase, flooded with lifters and all their teammates. For some reason everyone wants to be a part of that stage; get a pro total and compete or leave room for handlers. My foot hit the first of seven steps, then the next, and shortly after that first step I was on stage again.

As I approach the bar, I'm confident. I've done everything right. I've been here before. Lifter after lifter, and finally the call comes over the PA: JP Carroll, bar's loaded. I'm wrapped and I wedge my fat ass under the bar. It looks painful but it's bliss — 10 seconds of freedom. I unrack the weight and it's shit-show central. I'm all over the place, and the first thing my head says is to tell the spotters to grab it. But I've been here before so I tell myself to calm the fuck down and let it settle. It settles and I smoke it.

Mr. DBSH takes his opener and smokes it. 885 to 845, he's up 40 pounds on me. This the last time he'll be able to say he's better than me at this meet. After some solid advice from an old friend Pat Crawford, I take my third attempt (940) out of the rack as slow as old people fucking, and it's money. No rocking back and forth on my heels and toes solid. I smoke it.

Carroll: 940, Macaroni: 885

bench warmup XPC

Bench Press

Returning to camp after squats I was in rare form, pacing back and forth while being rather loud. I was expressing my feeling towards all the big social media hype; I was saying things along the lines of, "These cock suckers want to be social media gangsters but leave their balls at home when it's time to get under the bar." I was genuinely pissed that after all the posts and all the videos, my biggest competition was folding. Time to go for the kill. I knew he wasn't ready for bench, but hey, he isn't scared, homie.

Two benches were set five feet apart, where the handoff men could look right at each other. We started and I felt like an athletic 370-pounder while he seemed like a 400-pound man having trouble standing. I knew this was where it was going to happen: the nail in the coffin.

The last warm-up was 475. I felt great. Making my way up that gauntlet of a staircase once again, I'm confident. The opener is 510, same as Mr. DBSH. I smoke mine and he struggles. He's fading and fast. Mr. DBSH takes a 10-pound jump to 520 and misses. I take 550 and it moves well. I make one more jump to 560. It moves slow but I lock it out — three whites. Mr. DBSH is now 110 pounds behind me and his morale is gone. No Facebook update will save him. He's finished.

After squats, he and his camp stated I was getting "hometown love"(funny, I'm from Chicago), so I made sure to say as I left the stage, "Let me guess, I got hometown love on that, too." I swear on my life that 560 was on my chest three seconds.

deadlift warm up jp xpc


While sitting back at camp icing and flossing my hands (after bench they ballooned up), Mr. DBSH comes over, sits next to me, and says, "I can't win or PR. You're the better man today." He then tells me he is leaving. Disappointing. All the hype and the "don't be scared" talk and he isn't even going to finish. I hate to say this after such respectful tipping of the hat, but that sounds like nothing but being scared, homie. I, for the first time in my life, watched a man leave a meet before it was finished — not to go to the hospital, but to the bar. I was shocked. Little did he or anyone but my people know at the time, my hernia was acting up bad, and with high belt placement I'd have no protection going into pulls. If shit got bad, I would have to take a token pull. No way on God's green fucking earth would I abort, at the Arnold of all fucking places, without a god damn total!

I ended up pulling 780 and would have needed 800-even to break that milestone number of 2300. I just wasn't strong enough to hold it long enough to make it, but I had the heart and balls to try. 2280 was my total. See, if Dom stayed I could have bombed, and he could have won. He, like most, will probably say, "Yeah, I don't want to win on a technicality."  Well Jesus fucking Christ, thanks for leaving me with an asterisk by my win. Shitty fucking move.

I posted a picture of Mickey Ward (an Irish American boxer) two weeks out, and the comments were things like, "I thought we were lifting weights, not fighting." I posted that photo because Mickey, unlike Gatti, (you have to know that saga, or else you aren't a fight fan) was quiet about the fights. He would only stay tough and pound away without talking. He was tough as nails with no quit in him. I don't think because I'm strong I'm a great fighter. I've got hands, but I'm not getting in a ring or a cage, trust me. My fighting career is usually displayed in a Speedway parking lot a 2 AM. I know one thing, though: my Irish DNA has made me one stubborn prick, and I have zero quit in me. That's why my two posts about this meet were an Irish flag and Mickey Ward.

What I Learned

Sleep — Sleep is king. I slept and slept and slept (thanks, Sheena), and napped and napped and napped. If I was idle I'd lay in bed with my (CPAP) mask on.

Bodyweight — I think I need to learn to slowly get my weight up and not use the white trash system of ramen with salt and Gatorade. A fast bloat sits in my hands and makes deadlifts difficult. I have giant thick hands and it’s hard enough to wrap them around a bar, let alone when they are water balloons.

Hydration — I need to be much, much better at this.

Calmness — Staying calm is new. Don't get me wrong, leading up to a meet is tough. Pressure mixed with the good stuff makes for an already short-to-flare temper even worse. Something is different, though. I walk through the doors and I'm game, cool as a polar bear's toenails. That is a game-changer for me.

Screenshot 2018-03-05 10.30.31


I never do this, but I'm getting old and sensitive(er).

Dave Tate

Every Saturday or Sunday I drive to the compound. I drive right past the prison in London and think man, I've come along way. Not too many people have taken chances on me, but you did. I may have your email inbox filled once or twice a week, but that only means two things:

  1. You'll always know I'm as real as it gets.
  2. I'm one of the last of a dying breed, and maybe someone will carry the torch and keep this thing you gave so much for alive.

So thanks for giving some kid from the gutter a shot. It means more than I could ever explain.

Swede Burns

We might not see eye-to-eye on everything, and I may not communicate the way I should, but you've never steered me wrong or bullshitted me, ever. We have an understanding. Thanks for everything you've done and do.

Kevin Anderson

You still suck, and until you total 2000 I won't say too much. But when you drop everything three or four times to drive 10 hours round trip just to wrap my knees during prep and the Arnold, that's love. You get that 2000-pound total and we can be friends on IG again.

Sheena Leedham

Whew, if I start it'll take hours and I'll cry like a big baby. I'm not sure how or why you deal with me the way you do. I'll save all the babbling (you know how I get) and just say thank you for everything you do. I love you and I couldn't have done this without you.


All in all in, this was a great meet. I set zero PRs but won the XPC at the Arnold back to back. Winning is still a great feeling. Missing 2300 yet again sucks, but I'm going to take some time off to get healthy (I have some things that need fixing) and enjoy the summer with my baby.

Yeah, I won. In the words of the great Nate Diaz: I'm not surprised, motherfuckers.