It was the afternoon before the meet, a Friday. I weighed in at 240 lbs. Weigh-ins were scheduled for 9:00 am Saturday morning. In preparation for the four and a half hour drive down to the meet site, I started my cutting process by putting on four layers of sweat clothes. With the windows rolled up and the heat on full blast, sweating wasn’t a problem.

One of my fearless training partners, Mark Schott (a 308 pounder), volunteered to drive down and endure the heat right along with me. Needless to say, when this process was complete, my front seats were soaked in sweat. Now my car reeks something terrible. This is the kind of foul, funk smell that laughs at Febreeze. I think I’ll need to steam clean the interior of my car again.

The drive down was actually the worst part of the cutting process for me. We had only been on the road for two hours when I started to feel sick and really weak. I ended up slumped over the passenger side window at the waist with both arms and torso hanging seemingly lifeless over the car door. I probably looked like I was near death as I dry heaved while cars passed us at about 70 miles an hour on the interstate.

When we finally arrived at our hotel, Mark noticed the kind of salty sweat stains that you usually find on workout clothes on my passenger door. I think my core temperature was too high. Being stuck in the car without my usual 30–60 minute breaks from the heat definitely wasn’t good for me. I had Mark pull over two or three times along the way, but I don’t think it was enough to cool me off sufficiently. However, I did manage to drop 10 lbs on the drive and arrived at our hotel at 9:15 pm weighting 230 lbs. The funny thing is that Mark dropped more weight than I did. He was only wearing a T-shirt and didn’t seem to be feeling bad at all.

When I checked into our hotel, the girl at the front desk must have noticed that I looked near death. Because we’d been given a room on the second floor and the hotel didn’t have an elevator, she took pity on me and offered us a first floor room. I thanked her for that.

We went down to our room and found that we had one with a single, king-size bed. Originally, my girlfriend had planned to stay with me. When she couldn’t make it, I never thought about the sleeping situation with my training partner. We requested a cot for him, but they were out so we were moved to another room. After packing up all of our stuff including a pile of steaming, stinking sweat clothes that I had just emptied out, we moved further down the hall to a room with two queen beds. I was completely exhausted from working the overnight shift the night before and only sleeping four hours since Wednesday. I hopped in bed around 11:30 pm and slept until a little after 1:00 am.

I got up at 1:10 am and began my usual rotation of hot baths in the makeshift steam room in our hotel bathroom. This time I took more hot baths than usual, and it helped accelerate my weight loss. I did 30–40 minute cycles. I started by running a tub full of water as hot as I could stand. Then I submerged myself in it for 10–15 minutes with only my mouth and nose out of the water. This would get my core temp up quickly. After that, I got out of the tub and ran the shower as hot as it would go, creating a nice hot steam room in our hotel bathroom. I sat on the toilet trying desperately to squeeze anything at all out while I continued to sweat profusely. The tub drained very, very slowly, and I used this to time myself.

After I climbed out of the tub, it took about 20 minutes for the tub to completely drain with the shower running. When the tub was finally empty, I went out into our room (which was ice cold because Mark had the air conditioning on full blast as he slept) to cool off for five minutes. Then I jumped back in another hot bath and started the process all over again. Doing this continuously for the rest of the night got my weight down in record time. Overall, I dropped 21 pounds in 15.5 hours starting at 4:30 pm on Friday afternoon and weighing in at 219 lbs at 8:00 am Saturday morning.

The rehydrating/replenishing process went well too. By 10:30 am, after lots of eating and drinking, I was back up to 229 lbs (ten pounds in two and a half hours). This was without the aid of IVs. By early evening, I was up to 238 lbs, and at bedtime, I weighed 240 lbs. On Sunday morning before heading to the meet site, I was 242 lbs, and later that day after the meet, I checked my weight and found that I was up to 245 lbs. All in all, the cutting/replenishing process went very well. Unfortunately, that was the highlight of the meet for me. When are they going to start giving money out for cutting the most weight?

When I tell you that my weight loss was the best part of my meet, you know things didn’t go well. Actually, I went in feeling good and strong, and I had the potential to have a really good meet. I just didn’t get it done.

I opened with 1000 lbs in the squat and hit it easily. However, in my head, I knew I had cut it a little. I got reds and deservedly so. The judging was some of the most consistent, non-biased judging I’ve ever seen. With money at stake, that’s how it should be. Judging by the number of bombs including the majority of the pre-meet favorites, gifts weren’t being given at this meet. My kudos go to John Bott and Bob Youngs for their excellent side judging all day.

Because my opener felt easy, I bumped my second attempt up a little to 1015 lbs. It was in my groove and strong, but I got reds again for depth. I talked to one of the judges, and he said I was off by about an inch. I elected to keep the weight the same for my third attempt. Unfortunately, as I descended into the hole, the bar rolled a good inch or two down my back. This forced me to lean forward to prevent the bar from completely rolling off. I tried to put it in the hole as much as possible, and it was the deepest of the three. I came up easy again, but I was still a little high and taking an early shower.

For me, the meet was very disappointing, especially because the strength for a big total was there. However, it was still a great meet with the majority of the top lifters in the country showing up to lift.

The overall best lifters in the lights were:

  • First: Shawn Frankl, 2400 lbs at 198 lbs
  • Second: Sergey Naylekin (I think)
  • Third: Brian Schwab, 1855 lbs at 148 lbs

The overall best lifters in the heavies were:

  • First: Greg Panora, 2600 lbs at 242 lbs
  • Second: Chuck Vogelpohl, 2565 lbs at 265 lbs
  • Third: Scott Yard, 2455 lbs (I think)

Shawn Frankl won the overall. It was great to see him win because not only is he a great lifter, but he’s a great guy too. Shawn and his wife also have a baby on the way, and I’m sure the money will be put to good use.

My thanks go to Louie Simmons for putting this meet together and for getting athletes paid real money on the spot like they deserve. This is the future of our sport, and my hat goes off to Louie, Mike Ferguson, Mike Maxwell, and everyone else involved in making this meet what powerlifting is supposed to be about.

Matt made quite a statement at the 2006 Arnold Classic. Lifting in the 220 lb class, he squatted 926 lbs, bench pressed 617 lbs, and deadlifted 733 lbs and came away with the win. A cancer survivor, Matt has overcome many obstacles on his way to becoming one of the most dominant forces in powerlifting today. He currently trains in Michigan and has competed in the USAPL, WPO, and the APF.

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