Every real powerlifter goes through cycles. On the outside, each cycle looks different, but it will always come full circle, and they all look the same at one point in their training, and that is on meet day.

Many lifters nowadays will put all their eggs in one basket — one meet — and it's all or nothing. If they get their all, it will still not be enough. They left it all on the platform and have higher expectations for the meet — if they can make it there.

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If they find themselves in the nothing category, you will see apologetic and depressing posts explaining all the excuses (“Triceps are weak and lock-outs on my bench are a struggle, I cannot catch my breath between attempts, my depth sucks, this hurts, that hurts, etc.”) and a picture of an animal and something about resiliency.

Let's see where my dice fall on this write-up.

For me, powerlifting is the hardest ON meet day, not because of the weight, not because of the plan, but because of my nerves. That's right, the tip of the pyramid. Everyone has an area where they struggle within sports; even the best go through slumps.

Powerlifting, though drastically different than other mainstream sports, is not an exception to this, and individuals seem to struggle with the same problem for longer periods of time.

Our training blocks are the times to work on these shortcomings, and it boils down to one day to see if you can make it all come together. My struggle, my mental state, which it always has been, and I refuse to accept the end phrase, “It always will be.” Unfortunately, this meet was no different, as the mental struggle kicked in two days before the meet even started.

APF Nationals

This meet lasts four days. They do single lifts on Thursday, another group lifts on Friday, heavy men lift Saturday, and guys (people under 200 pounds are not considered men in my book) lift on Sunday. Don't get too offended; I fall into that last category. I had a client compete on Thursday, and when I coach, I am very passionate, so my nerves get jacked up when my clients compete because I want them to do well. This does not bode well when I have a competition three days later.

I was off the entire time even though my client made it through his lifts after not competing for four years due to shoulder surgery. That should call for excitement, right? Oh, there was plenty, but I still had to focus on what was to come.

Back Story

My best total came about two years ago. I made some choices in my life that affected that, and I have been chipping away to get back there ever since. At my last meet, my wife and I overtrained, and I got injured to the point where I almost pulled out of the meet.

With the help of elitefts teammate Dani, I was able to get through the meet, but not with the total I wanted. Even after the meet and when I started training, my back issue and adductor issue were still present. I sought out the help of a local chiropractor who specialized in DNS and we started on the right path.

After several conversations with key people and long talks with my wife Julia, we decided on a short prep and to hop into this meet without worrying about a weight cut. I was diligent with my rehab, meticulous about my deadlifting and squat positioning, and with all the nerves and worry, it paid off.

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The Plan

The meet went great for me. I had a plan, and I did not stray from the plan, not once. I gave myself some leeway on deadlifts because I really had no idea where I was at.

During training, I only took second attempts, and if I felt good, I would have taken a reverse band third attempt. Well, I never felt good enough during training to go for a perceived third. That being said, I am a firm believer of NOT taking a third attempt and doing prep meets to get my nerves out of the way! I was able to go eight out of nine, hitting all my lifts.

Someone told me I did not go heavy enough by the way the lifts looked. I could not disagree more, as I know how they felt and what I was dealing with. Those comments reaffirmed to me that my peak, taper, and deload were done perfectly.


Everything was running great, the warm-up area was efficiently set up, the flights moved VERY quick for the number of people we had going, and it was comfortable.

anto meet report squat copy

Guys, I am going to be 100 percent transparent: My squats were garbage. You will see in the video that my last warm-up was borderline on depth, I had Julia and teammate Dan Dalenburg give me the heads up on judging, and it was generous. I thought I was where I needed to be based off how I felt, but the video shows me now that I was not.

Even at the meet, I was not concerned about depth. I was strictly looking at position and speed to make my next jump. My opener flew up, so I stuck to the plan.

Second attempt moved better than it did anytime in training, so I went for the number I wanted, and I said to Julia, "If they are being generous, I am going to play Russian roulette on depth." I did, and it paid off. I got three white lights.

All of the angles in the video below are not straight from the side so you are unable to see my true depth, but I can tell you right now my opener squat MIGHT have been the only one that was below or equal to my last warm-up at best.


This section will be short and sweet, which never happens! This was, by far, the best lift of the day. During training, I missed my second attempt once and did not even take an opener one-and-a-half weeks out, so I opted for my last warm-up due to how I felt.

anto meet report bench copy

There were a few nerves during warm-up because as Dan mentioned, my butt was coming up. Since every bench was different, I had to manipulate my feet just a bit to ensure I stayed in contact.

I set up for my opener, and I could feel my ass stay down, and the weight felt light because the press command was so fast I almost cried with excitement. I thought to myself, “If this command stays this fast, we are in business.”

READ MORE: 2 FREE Ways to Increase Your Total

Well, the commands stayed fast, and I stayed conservative and went for a No. 1 lifetime meet bench PR that took two years to get. I believe it was 196 there, but the goal was to get my total back to where it was. Giving up 11 pounds on my total for a bigger bench was not part of the plan.


Here is where we were walking in the dark. During this training block, I think I only deadlifted heavy three times? On top of that, I changed my setup. For those of you who do not know, that changes everything. My last heavy deads during prep went well, but 650 (planned second attempt) felt super heavy. I was fine with this because I was not having any grip issues at all, nor was my back hurting from improper loading.

anto meet report dead copy

My opener was 611, and it moved extremely well. I needed this for confidence, as 622 slipped out of my hand at my last meet. Jumped to 650 to ensure my better total this meet. My confidence was even higher as the 650 moved very well, too.

I almost got too excited because of how it felt, so I decided to send it on my last one and beat my best meet deadlift by three pounds. Although my confidence and excitement were high, I could tell I was out of gas from trying to amp myself up for the last pull of the day.

Side note: I did not realize I was the last deadlifter of the day. I don't care who you are, being the last lifter of the third flight is a pretty cool thing, and this may have changed my mindset. I digress, I knew the weight was going to feel heavy (more than 680 pounds on meet day always does after eight ME attempts), and when I started pulling, I was met with a ton of resistance that I was not expecting. I felt my right side move the weight off the floor, but also my entire right side shifting.

I made this entire prep, and the entire meet thus far injury-free. I could have attempted to correct it and keep pulling, but I am not a grinder and did not want to take on that fight.

My goal for the day was already accomplished.


This was a 62-pound meet PR (1,725 at 198 pounds) from my last meet. It is not my best total (1,770 at 181 pounds). I am still 45 pounds shy of it, and it was at a lower weight class. The plan is to reach and exceed my previous total not cutting weight, which, by the way, I was a LIGHT 198. Then, once I have developed a little more at this weight, I plan to cut fast at the very end and give myself the best chance of success to beat my previous best total at 181.

I cannot thank elitefts enough for the continual opportunity to represent them. My wife as my training partner, my elitefts teammates, and last but not least, all of the people at the Illiana Power Asylum who came out to support me along with others who I have never met that wanted to see me lift as a representative of elitefts. Thank you, Dave and Traci Tate, for everything you do for the industry and for me.