Under The Bar: The Iron House Open

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The Iron House Open: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
By Dave Tate
for Elitefts.com



As I wrote before, I learned more about training during my preparation for this meet than I have any other one in the past. This is because it was one of the worst training cycles I have ever had. We will start with the meet and work backwards.

The Squat: To give you an idea of my confidence here, I will go over the conversation I had with Todd Brock (my handler) on the way to the meet. Todd asked what my plan was for the squat. I told him that I would open with 750 and see how it goes. If it is hard and I shake like hell or my groin feels like it is going to rip off then we will go to 775 or 800. If it goes well then I will jump to 840. For the third, we will play it by how it goes. I figure I will fall somewhere between 800 and 850 but if for some reason all is well (the stars are right, the gods are on my side, and everything else) I will take a shot at 875. To say the least he was a bit confused. I told him to make sure I do not "Zippy" out, arch the bar out of the rack and keep my abs tight. The most important thing though is to keep me out of Zippy mode. The 750 was not too bad except that I got Zippied up and could not unrack the weight. Todd called me off the bar and made me step back for a second and brought me down a notch. After that I set the bar up fine and it did not feel bad. At the bottom it felt like my groin was going to tear off. It did come up fast and I called for 810. Although my first attempt was easy, I just was not sure of my groin. I figured I would get to the hole and instead of flaring my knees out like usual, I would focus on my quads instead of my hips. The 810 set up felt like a bitch and my shaking problem was back. I ran the same motto through my head as I always had in the past. "It feels like a bitch but it does not mean it will be heavy." After about 1/4 of the way down my body will become tight and all is well. This weight did not hurt at all and came up faster than the 750. We called for 860. The set up was a bit better, but not great. As I unracked the weight, I began shaking again and but had enough sense to stand there until I felt tight enough to squat. Once again, as I began my descent my body became tighter and the bar came up easy. When I fix this tightness problem (more on this later) my squat will be way over 100%.

The Bench Press: My opener with 560 was done with my shirt pulled up high. It came down perfectly and came up fast and easy. My second attempt was 605. I pulled the shirt down, went to take the bar out of the rack and here is where my problems begin. I can't hold the weight at arms length. When Todd lifted the bar out to me and tried to get it into position, I fought like hell and he could never get the bar where it needed to be. Because of this, the bar started over my neck and not my belly. This caused me to lower the bar to my nipples and not to my upper abdomen. I also was Zipped up. We repeated the weight, this time with no Zip. I tried to get the bar at arms length but as soon as Todd let go I had nothing until 1/2 down. This time the bar hit my lower chest, which was still way too high and I pressed it up fast and at an angle to lock out. Right after or very close to lock out my left shoulder gave out and the weight was in the racks.

The Deadlift: I had this great idea to open low and jump to whatever weight I needed to total what I wanted. At the very least I wanted 2135. I did this because I figured I would only have one good pull and wanted to be fresh. I normally open with between 660 and 700 and have never missed it. So I decided on opening with 630, which should have been easy. After that I planned on jumping to 715. My deadlift training was going well so this should be cake. As I pulled the 630 about 1/2 up my right groin cramped, then my right hip and then 3/4 up I pulled my right erector At the top, I thought F*&K! How in the hell will I be able to pull another deadlift? I figured I would just get wound up and pull like hell. I knew I was in trouble when I dropped my wrist wrap on the floor and could not bend over to pick it up. My second attempt was with 715. It wasn't even close and I was in quite a bit of pain. I then decided I would switch my stance to sumo and see what would happen. Nothing! I left with a 630 pull, and one day in bed with a screwed back! (It does feel better as I can almost walk now)

The history leading up to this hell:

Bench Press: This will be the short version as I am getting sick of writing. But in order to fix something you have to know what happened. The training for this meet was going well until 10 to 12 weeks out when I started trying some new shirt work. I was doing triples with the shirt and after a few weeks I injured my left shoulder. Check the training log for an explanation and my rehabilitation. It was a mess and I could not lift my arm for 24 hours. I had to go into rehab mode and train easy for a few weeks. Things came back fine but every time I really pushed the max effort work my shoulder would hurt for days. The speed work felt great but it has never beaten me up. It has always been the max effort work that screwed me up. This got so bad that at the 5 week point I made a decision to stick to repetition work and lay off the max effort training. I kept my speed weight at or under 185.

By the time the meet rolled around my speed was great but I did not have any lockout strength. Here is the screwed up thing and one I have to fix. My best high pin lockout (3 inch push) is only 455! My shoulders are so beat to hell that it kills me to do this. High board presses are not much better. This is why the speed work is so important for me. If I can't lock out 500 how can I bench 560 to 600 pounds? The speed takes it to the top. All my weights are very fast off my chest. The problem is getting the bar set and keeping it from drifting back. I do have a plan to fix this and will write about this at a later time.

In short, the shirt work killed me and my shoulders were killing my lockout. I also tried to work on getting an arch but had to ditch that idea because of the excess strain on my lower back. This may be a good idea for some but because I have two bad disks it is not a great idea for me.

Squat: This is a long story and I have no idea where to begin. I have been working with and around a groin, back and hip injury for a year now. I thought things were going well until I began to use the bands on my dynamic squat day. At five weeks out I could not do my sets with 385 and a green band. I could not straighten my right leg and would shake like hell. I also could not flex the right side of my torso. This cannot be good. So the last five weeks I used 3 chains on a side and cycled between 365 and 455. While the pain stayed, my form was better and my speed came back. This saved my squat. While I am screwed up the bands are only making this worse.

During all of these injuries my deadlift was going great. Many of you are probably wondering why I did not post my workouts the last couple of weeks before the meet. I dropped all of my accessory and supplemental work these last few weeks and did this for several reasons. First, my recovery was down. Second, I was f*&ked up and everything I did hurt like hell. If it was not the shoulders it was the groin. Third, I was lazy. The biggest factor was the third one. I also gained a ton of weight for this meet as I wanted the best leverage I could get. I was weighing between 300 and 308 the last few weeks. My GPP was and is shot. I couldn't stay awake, my blood pressure was high and I was pissed off about 100% of the time.

So in conclusion, I LIFTED WHAT I WAS PREPAIRED TO LIFT. I was not in shape and did not take care of business. Yes, if I had listened to several of my friends I would not have lifted in the meet but instead would have taken the time to get healthy. Unfortunately, this is not my way and when I decide to do something I do it. This is how I have always been. There is time to rehab when the meet is over. I am sure when you all read this you will see all my mistakes so I will leave it at this for now. Think of this as an assignment to find what I did wrong what you would do to fix it.

Regardless of how you lift in a meet, remember this:
THOSE WHO HAVE THE GREAT MEETS ARE ALWAYS THOSE WHO WERE THE BEST PREPARED AND GIVE CREDIT ELSEWHERE WHEN IT SHOULD BE DIRECTED TOWARD THEMSELVES. THOSE WHO DON'T HAVE GREAT MEETS WERE NOT READY IN THE FIRST PLACE AND ALWAYS PLACE THE BLAME ELSEWHERE WHEN IT SHOULD BE DIRECTED INWARD.

The title of this article is "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly." Well you have the bad and the ugly. The good part is that I have been here before, though too many times, and I know how to get out of it. I have a plan and August gives me enough time to fix my problems.

Disclaimer: Unless you are a complete moron you may want to pass on a meet if you are f*&ked up. Do as I say not as I do.

I am pleased to say I got my ass kicked by another one I brought into the sport. Jim Wendler had a hell of a day and not only did he kick my ass but he trained his training partner to also kick my ass. The double smackdown!

Also a huge congratulations to Mike Ruggiera. I have trained with Mike for the past several years and most have no idea how much he has been through to get to where he is today. Mike hit a huge 1015-630 and 810 and deserves every bit of it. He is one of the best training partners you could ever have and the guy does not know what the word quit means.

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