This past weekend I competed in the RPS King and Queen of Spring powerlifting meet hosted at NBS Fitness in Memphis, Tennessee. This is my home gym, so I was able to share the platform with a ton of teammates and members of the facility, which is always a fun time. The weather was absolutely perfect, the garage doors were left open, a tent was set up outside to chill under, and we even had a food truck for hungry spectators.

RECENT: How I'm Training for the 2017 US Open Powerlifting Championships

This particular meet was very cool due to a variable I have never seen before happen at a meet in the short time I have been competing. There were just shy of 50 full-power entries — 47 to be exact. OVER HALF of these entries were female. I'm going to let that sink in for a second. Numerous times this year, elitefts has had articles about growth in the sport. If it's happening—I am going to tell you firsthand that it is—it is happening with an overwhelming number of females down here in the south. It was awesome to see. A female lifting team rolled in with about ten lifters ranging from mid twenties to at least 50 years old, all first-time lifters, and they brought the noise and excitement everyone loves to see at a meet. There were so many females that they had their own flight. This aspect of the meet was great, but also came with difficulties.

Looking more into the logistics of the meet now, the majority were females. There were only two flights, with one flight being all female competitors. “Oh crap, I better start warming up” is the thought that came very shortly after hearing the lifter's meeting announcements. The guys on the team helped the ladies get through their warm-ups fast. There were two reasons for this: first, they were going to be up shortly, and second, we needed to really get on the warm-up monolift because we were now under time constraints to be ready to take our lifts.



The squat for me on this particular day was on, but it did not start that way and the day did not finish that way either. During warm-ups, the weight felt a little heavy, but I was in a pretty good place enjoying my team and helping others as much as possible to stay out of my head. When the weight got heavy (prior to throwing on wraps) my body started not giving me good feedback, and it was frustrating. It was the weirdest thing. I would consciously think, “glutes tight, twist open” and although I was doing the action, I could not feel it happening. This odd scenario stayed with me the throughout all my wrapped attempts. The only time it worried me was on my third attempt squat, since it was something I have never stood up with before. Three weeks ago I had a pretty gnarly back pop while taking 700, which also had me a little concerned for the third attempt. I was extremely confident in my squats but also felt lost due to not being able to get the feedback I was looking for.

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Bench press was where the meet took a turn on me. My coach John Gaglione kept me conservative on my attempts and had me capped at a 395-pound bench. My best to date was 390 pounds. Warm-ups felt fine until I took 315. The weight was just not sitting right and felt extremely heavy. I found that I had warmed up a little too soon and I started to nod off sitting in my chair. This was not a good sign. I grabbed some inhale and lightly sniffed it to wake up and then started walking around.

My opener of 365 pounds was not an issue and I went to the desk and asked for 385. I'm still not 100% sure what happened, but this lift pinned me and my mind went into a spiral. I did not even think about a back-up plan. This comes with great humor to me looking back now, because my original mindset literally had me going nine-for-nine, and that shit rarely happens. My third attempt came around and I re-took 385. The whole gym got behind me, and if it wasn't for that, I would have never gotten the lift. Even with everyone’s support, I shook like a wet Chihuahua when I locked it out.



Deadlift seemed to be where everything was going to come together. Even with my 385 bench I was still in a place where I could get my goal of an 1800-pound total at 180 pounds bodyweight. Warm-ups felt good and I ended my last pull at 605. My opener was 640 and it felt fine, but I was nervous. I knew after a full meet that my second and third attempt were going to be heavier than what I am used to, because I was never this fatigued pulling this heavy. I went up to 680 pounds with more confidence than doubt (but there was still a little there). As I went to pull it off the floor, the weight went nowhere fast. I was able to peel the weight off the floor but not without it getting way too far in front of me. I had to let it go.

This was a huge slap in the face. I pulled 680 at least two times in training prior to the meet and it never felt this bad. I looked at the video and saw I was not set very well and that the bar pulled away. I went to my teammates and said I needed a gnarly trap slap and hype for the last one. I knew 1800 was out of reach, but a 10-pound PR total was still in grasp if this lift was completed on my third. I walked back up to 680 and knew it was going to move. That it did: I ripped that SOB off the floor with everything I had. The one thing I was not ready for was how sweaty my hands were and how much that sweat soaked right through my chalk, I was about three inches from lockout and my underhand grip let my 10-pound PR slip out. I ended the day with a 1730 total at 180 pounds bodyweight. This is 40 pounds less than my last meet, but that's cool. I did not bomb out, I am not injured, and I learned some valuable stuff moving forward.

I learned a ton of lessons from this meet, along with feedback I received from my peers and teammates shortly after.

  1. Although I am a coach and teaching strength is my job, powerlifting is not my job, nor should I make it that way. It is a sport to enjoy (live), mess up in (learn), and adjust teaching myself and others what I have learned (pass on).
  2. I am aware and now understand I will struggle until I let go of this mindset that powerlifting is not fun. For me personally I will have to bring fun back into the equation to succeed and progress further. The good thing about that is that I will be forced to have fun before I can test my strength again if I want to achieve my goals — and I am okay with that.
  3. Anytime you go into a meet, Plan A is to hit all of your lifts (obviously), meaning you go nine-for-nine. We all know how hard a perfect day is, especially when the “newbie gains” have been acquired already. This means there needs to be a Plan B — a backup strategy to implement to hit either the same main goal or a secondary goal that progresses you in your own strength journey. I did not have a Plan B. When I realized the main goal was unobtainable, this shook me up and got in my head, which leads to my next learned point.
  4. Mental state was a challenge. This is something I have always struggled with and it stems from number one on this list. This particular meet it went a little more haywire because number one and number three happened together. I have had a ton of feedback and helpful itinerary already sent my way to read and implement during my next training, peaking, and meet stages.
  5. I learn more from failures and mishaps, since I do not want them to be allowed to repeat. That being said, I just added to my education of being a competitive powerlifter who is still in the marathon.

Rather than list out everyone I want to thank (it's a long list), here's a video to show my appreciation for those who have given me support and taught me things just by reading and watching how they carry themselves. I failed to mention two individuals in the video and they are our in-house chiropractor Dr. Tyrel Detweiler and massage therapist Yvonna. Tyrel helped fine-tune muscular issues I ran into. Yvonna, however, kept me healthy this entire training cycle and worked wonders when I ran into issues along the way. I am extremely grateful!