I am recently home from the IPA World Championships in Nashville, Tennessee, held in conjunction with the Flex Lewis Classic. It is a small exhibition with a bodybuilding show in one hall and a powerlifting meet in another. In the middle is a hall full of vendors selling and giving samples of products that benefit both bodybuilders and powerlifters.

In the middle front of the room was the Monster booth giving away their drinks. It was the busiest of all the booths, not because of their drinks, but because they had the most beautiful model. It was our own Alycia Israel. I did not see much of the bodybuilding show, but I saw a number of the competitors with their spray-on tans and scantily clad attire in the hallway.

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I spent the entire day at the powerlifting meet. As I have previously discussed, we brought a small team to the meet. Two of our best lifters were unavailable, so we came with our four others. We were very fortunate to have been sponsored by Misfit Powerlifting of Alberta, Canada, who made hoodies for each of us.

We are not all from Morganton, North Carolina, but we all train there. Hence, I called our little band the Morganton Misfits. I am very proud of each of them. They displayed great effort and enthusiasm. Each member of the Morganton Misfits won their respective division. I look forward to competing as a team with them again.

I also must tell you that my dear friends from Nebo Barbell in Marion, North Carolina, had an outstanding meet, especially Joey Smith and his lovely wife, Melissa, who won the best-geared female lifter.

It is a long-ass drive to Nashville, Tennessee, from here. It’s about as far as I am willing to drive to a meet. For any meet farther than that, I’ll have to fly. The meet, as usual, was very well run. Bobby Betts and his crew of spotters, judges, and table people were all outstanding. They will all be in Gatlinburg in March for the Tennessee State Championships.

As for me, I had a respectable meet. As far too often happens, I did not do all I came to do. Do we ever? Powerlifters never seem to be satisfied.

Rather than talking about results, however, I had rather discuss what I learned.

Is that an excuse for not achieving all your results, old man?

No. Talking about results doesn’t teach anything. I will brag about results when results justify it.

I train my squat almost exclusively with a BUFFALO BAR™. I only go under a straight bar at a meet. I justify that because it’s easier on my shitty shoulder. While that has worked on occasion, it’s not a great idea.

For me, standing up with the weight cleanly (the pick) is a very important part of the squat. Picking cleanly gives me a great deal of confidence while a bad pick results in a bad squat.

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I have a tendency not to get far enough under the bar, partially because once I got too far under the bar and 440 pounds rolled off my back. I have got to get it right. Even looking down at my feet does not always ensure a clean pick.

On my first attempt, my pick was horrific. I was off-balance, on my toes, and had to exhale and take another breath with the weight on my back. All I could do was gasp for a little air. Nevertheless, I made the squat until I stood up and moved my foot. Obviously, I did not get far enough under the bar. Shitty pick, shitty squat.

I increased the weight for my second attempt; had a clean pick and a good squat.

I increased the weight to a platform PR; had my best pick, weight came up easily — not deep enough. I have now resolved to work with a straight bar just before a meet. Even if it hurts my shoulder, I must at least practice picks with max effort weight.

I was told that during my last squat, Flex Lewis came over, cleared people out of his way, and filmed my squat. He exclaimed to others that he admired me. I was introduced to him and found him to be a delightful young man. Inasmuch as he is from Wales, we discussed rugby. I was in awe standing next to this massive mass of muscle who is not as tall as I am. I do not follow bodybuilding, but I will now. I hope he becomes the next real legend of bodybuilding.

Doing nine max effort lifts in one day is a lot for me. I have to lift smarter. On my bench, I went from my opener to where I wanted to end. I was within an inch of locking it out. It was a smarter way to go.

What was not smart was taking a third attempt. My mind wanted to do it, but my body would not cooperate. Got to lift smarter.

I did the same with my deadlift. Smart then not smart to take the third attempt. I hope in the future I will have the smarts and the courage to take two attempts in each lift; maybe three in the squat.

I have been to many meets alone. It has always been a pain in the ass to wrap my own knees. Now that I use single-ply gear, it is impossible for me to get into my suit and shirt alone. I was very fortunate at this meet to have had excellent help. Dear friends helped manage the meet, wrapped my knees, called my depth, and gave me coaching advice and lifting cues.

Also, my friends from Nebo made enough noise and gave encouragement, which helped a great deal. Thank you, thank you.

When I got home, to use an old expression, I hurt in places where I didn’t know I had places. I am finally beginning to feel human again.