It’s wicked early Monday morning and I’m having a little trouble sleeping. For those of you who know me, that’s something I never have an issue with. I always sleep like a bear (even though I don’t look like one anymore). There are more than a few reasons for this.

First, getting ready for this meet was a brutal assault on my body. I gave everything I had over the past twelve weeks battling injuries and training as best I could. Second, I made a pretty good cut last week to go from 241 down to 220 and then a refeed up to 245. I don’t know which part was harder: the cut or putting it all back on. Lastly, I am mentally drained.

vincent with ABS

Me 220 with abs? No way!

I have given all I can to the bench gods for the better part of two decades, a lot of which was spent on the top ten list. Interestingly, even if I had hit the 500 in this meet, it would not have landed me on that coveted list. I know I could bust my ass settling into the 220 class and finish that 500, but at what cost? That’s when it hit me: the juice is no longer worth the squeeze.

The lifters on the top ten lists are not there by accident. Contrary to popular belief, it has nothing to do with genetics. It has everything to do with commitment and sacrifice. I always wondered when it would be time for me to take a step back, and now I know. I am just not willing to make those same sacrifices any longer.

This does not mean I will be leaving the sport. I love this sport and even more so, the people in it. Many of my best friends in the world have come from powerlifting, one of which is Jim Wendler. We were talking the other day about training and where I want to be. I am getting incredibly close. I just want to be strong, conditioned, and feel good. As crazy as it sounds, competing at a high level in powerlifting falls contrary to those goals. Plus, Rhodes has been yammering away for years now at how great just training for fun is. Of course I had to take a few years before I'd listen to him.

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I am more turned on by the idea of being able to go out and run a 5k on a whim than I am with any bench number. I want to grow my pastimes of hiking, paddleboarding, and skiing. Perhaps down the road with more well rounded training, I can build a total and enter a full meet just for fun. For those who don’t know, before I injured my back close twenty years ago, I was a far better squatter and deadlifter than I was a bencher. Anyway, all of that sounds better to me than chasing a bench goal I have no passion for.

Since this is a meet report I will give a quick recap as I have blathered on enough.

First, Gene and Ame Rychlak of RPS run the best meets I have ever been to, hands down. They handled around 200 competitors this weekend with two double sessions. All four started on time and finished early. You can’t ask for better than that.

I competed raw in the 220 class. Hard to believe, huh? My 455 opener was really comfortable. My shoulder issue has felt better than it has in about two months. Slightly tweaked, but manageable. With the 500, it felt okay and moved off my chest well, I just couldn’t grind it out. I took it for a third and fell short again.

So after I licked my wounds for a few minutes, I picked my sad butt up and cheered on Drew and Ant as they went off to deadlift. They both went three for three. Drew was so happy he even ran off the platform and jumped into my arms. So our crew of Ant, Drew, and Karsten all walked away with PRs. Before I knew it, a big smile crept across my face. I played a part in all that.

I know where I belong now: giving back. It’s time to be more of a mentor and coach than competitor and I’m good with that. Plus with guys like newest elitefts teammate Carlos Reyes crushing it, it’s time to step back and appreciate the young blood. A special thanks to him and his better half Sam for sticking around and helping our crew out.

Hey, now that I think about it, I PR'd also. It’s been about twenty years since I competed in the 220’s. I was only benching in the 300’s then, and that was in a bench shirt. It’s been a hell of a trip. Thanks for being part of it.