I think everyone was holding their breath at this years WPO meet at the Arnold Classic.  Not because of the outrageous B.O. and tanning lotion that permeates from the fitness professionals, but because of the judging.  The WPO has been widely criticized because of their leniency in giving white lights to whatever squat is performed.  The running joke was that as long as you broke your hips and returned the bar to the Monolift, you were WPO Approved.

The Arnold Classic featured some insane lifting; probably the best I’ve ever seen at one meet.  Here are some highlights and some thoughts of the 2006 Arnold Classic-

Day I – Friday, March 3

The first day of the Arnold always features tougher judging.  So these guys rarely get the benefit of the doubt.  I don’t know if it’s because they are smaller (and thus easier to judge) or if the judges are just trying to set a precedent.   This year was no different.

Brian Schwab

Brian competed in the 148lbs class this year and opened up with a huge 705 squat.  I knew this was P.R. for his first attempt and was holding my breath.  He blew this up and also squatted 722 in his Metal Ace Squatter.  He finished the day with an 1836 total and another world record bench press (508).  Brian might be in the 148lbs class but he is a thick SOB.

Oleksandr “Ashton” Kutcher

This guy is an absolute freak.  He totaled 2168 (825, 550, 793) while being in the 165lb class.  Amazing.

Becca Swanson

How in the world she weighed 198lb is beyond me.  If you ever seen her in person you know what I mean.  She doesn’t have an ounce of fat on her.  Becca was having some problems with her bench and while she was getting ready for her third attempt (she would bomb out if she didn’t get this) Matt and I saw her talking to Bill Crawford.  I don’t know what he was saying, but you can tell he was working the Militia “Black” Magic on her.  Matt turned to me and said, “She’ll get this.  Crawford’s there.”  And sure enough, she did.  Bottom line is this:  Becca Swanson is amazing.

Travis Mash

Travis has had a very tough year and his day didn’t turn out the way that he would have liked.  It was hard seeing Travis have a bad day, but it I know he will be back.

Chris “Ox” Mason

Chris’ day was full of incredible highs and incredible lows.  Without a doubt, I felt that Chris was ready for this day.  His attitude was great and there was just an aura about him.  Chris squatted huge (947; again in a new Metal Ace Squatter) and his bench went well.  He was on target to win and then the deadlift came.  I’m not going to go into details but Chris had a lot of difficulty here and ended up bombing.  I was very impressed with his lifting, but more with his attitude and his approach.

Laura Phelps

Laura Phelps is amazing and put on quite a show.  At 165lb she squatted 705, benched 402 and deadlifted 473.  This gives her a WR total of 1579 and a whole lot of respect.  I had a brief chance to talk to her and found her to be extremely humble and nice.  Plus, she is extremely cute.  Now I know that I’m married and this is supposed to be about powerlifting, etc.  But it’s fact.

Day II, Saturday March 4

Chuck Vogelpohl

A week before the Arnold, Chuck came by the office and all Matt and I could say is, “Holy Sh*t!”  Chuck was absolutely massive.  No neck, veins running down his biceps and no hint of fat.  You could show a movie on his back.  Chuck ended up squatting 1118 and passed on his third attempt.  He won the heavyweight title (he tied with Marc Bartley and won on bodyweight).

Marc Bartley

First, my hat is off to Marc Bartley.  He may have come in second to Chuck, but he placed first in the competition of “Lifter Most Likely to Look Like a Serial Killer.”  Not only was he massive but his moustache/goatee combo was equally impressive.  I think that if he would have shaved that, he may have lost a few pounds.  Regardless, Marc lifted very well and squatted 1107.  I first saw Marc lift at the APF Seniors a couple of years ago.  He has made huge strides since then.  I would take my hat off to him, but I think he already ate it.

Jeff Lewis

Jeff had some trouble making weight this year, but it didn’t affect his performance on the platform.  That’s a joke.  Anyway, by this time we all know about his world record squat, but the fact that his subtotal was over 2000 was insane.  I never thought that I would see that.

Chad Aichs

First of all, Chad takes the award for most insane tattoo.  He and his training partner Ethan (who has been chronicled in Chad’s training logs) have several horizontal lines tattooed on their chest indicating where to pull their bench shirt for different attempts. I find this to be interesting.  I have never seen Chad lift before and I was surprised.  Chad appears to be one step away from the psychiatric ward when he approaches the bar.  He squatted are very easy 1110 and just barely missed 1160.  Unfortunately, Chad had some problems with his bench and bombed out.  Not a great day for Chad, but he is one of the strongest people I have ever seen on the platform.

Donnie Thompson

Donnie entered this year’s contest as the reigning champion of the SHW.  This was not his day as Donnie had a lower back injury during the squat that really hurt his deadlift.  You could tell that he was hurting during the bench press and his deadlift was way off.  I know Donnie will be back as this is just a small setback.

Paul Childress

Paul got food poisoning a couple days before the Arnold and had to pull it out.  He lost a ton of weight (this is one of the joys of food poisoning) as well as feeling awful.  This was a smart decision on his part.

Vladislav Alhazou

I will say that Vlad’s 1080 opener was probably one of the most explosive squats I have ever seen.  It looked like he was squatting 225.  He is a medium stance squatter and seeing him do this was incredible.  He attempted 1212 twice, the first stalling out but the second, in my opinion was good.  He was called on depth, but I felt it was a good squat.  But then again, I was in the seats and not a judge.  Plus, he wins the prize for having the coolest name, “Vlad”.  It reminds me of this Impaler guy I once knew.

Mike Miller

Few people in the sport of powerlifting have gotten more criticism than Mike Miller.  Mike guest lifted at the Arnold Classic and even though he didn’t get his squat passed, I feel that he did more than shut up his critics.  There were 3 attempts at 1212 in the squat.  Only Jeff Lewis’ squat passed but off all the guys that attempted this weight, I think Mike handled it better than any of them.  When he took off the weight, he looked like he barely strained.  He was called for bobbling a bit at the top.  Other than that, I thought the squat looked very good.  I was extremely impressed.

Andy Bolton

Andy got second place in the SHW division.  But most impressive was his world record deadlift of 971lbs.  This was done after squatting 1124 and bench pressing 639.  Not only was he rewarded with a world record, but EFS gave him $2000 for having the meets biggest deadlift.  I don’t think I’ve seen such a huge crowd response to a deadlift before.

Random Highlights

  • Arnold Schwarzenegger coming into the powerlifting venue.  He proceeded to tell everyone how he learned to say “gubernatorial.”
  • Dave and I ventured into the Arnold Expo which is about as fun as trying to molest a mountain lion.  As we were walking by the various booths, I stopped Dave and said, “That’s Ronnie Coleman” To which Dave responded, “No way.  That’s not Ronnie.”  We were both baffled at Ronnie.  He was not as large as we expected him to be.  He’s not small, but it was very surprising.
  • On the 2nd day, as Matt, Kevin and I were standing in line to get tickets, Jay Cutler walked by.  I’m not one for gawking at males, but this was an exception.  This man is huge.  A real freak.  I almost started doing push-ups just to get a pump.

No Arnold would be complete without talking about women.  There are three kinds of women at the Arnold.  First, there are the regular women.  These are the Everyday Janes that you see at the grocery store, mall, etc.  Second, there are the hotties.  And there are a lot of them.  They have tight outfits and puddles of drool following them.  I’m not sure where these girls live, but I suspect that live in some sort of colony that is heavily guarded to keep us “uglies” from fraternizing and (possibly) breeding with them. And finally, there are the has-beens and the butter-faces.  These women have been tanning for way too long, have faces that would melt a bulldozer and try way too hard to hang on.  My advice to you; lay down the needle and you won’t have to shave your face.