Gear, gear, gear. I love gear. I'm the newest gear whore. I started powerlifting in 2007 after competing in Division 1 track and field as a decathlete. I competed raw for two years and realized I needed to give up track and field to fill out my tall, skinny frame. Then I spent the last two years dealing with a chronic injury that I suffered from competing in track and field. During this time, I was able to work through the injury and develop my body to be able to compete in the 242-lb weight class from 198 lbs. As my raw lifts went up, I wanted more.

First, I started experimenting with single ply gear a few months ago including Metal IPF V-Type Squatter, Metal IPF King Presser, and Metal IPF Deadlifter. Training in the V-Type Squatter was great for me. It did more than just allow me to squat more weight. The V-Type Squatter enabled me to squat using a wide stance with the support I needed for my tight, narrow hips. Those that know me know that I squat with my heels practically touching each other. Believe me, I have been doing plenty of accessory, functional, and flexibility work for my hips. Squatting wide in the suit has allowed me to develop some of the flexibility weaknesses in my hips much differently than with just accessory work.

Training in the Metal IPF King Press was a great start in learning how to bench in a shirt. With the use of boards starting with a 4-board and going down a board each week to a 1-board, it wasn’t long before I was pressing over 500 lbs. The first day I put on the Metal IPF Deadlifter with the straps down, 725 lbs went up with ease. I only trained in single ply for four weeks. After four weeks, I felt I was technically sound and just wanted to go right to Pro Gear. I want the big numbers now and I want to climb to the top of the total charts.

Here's how my first week ever using Metal Pro gear went.

Sunday, July 3, 2011, max effort bench

  • Raw, 1 X 5, 135 lbs; 1 X 3, 210 lbs; 1 X 3, 255 lbs; 1 X 3, 300 lbs; 1 X 3, 340 lbs; 1 X 1, 380 lbs; 4-board, 1 X 1, 425 lbs; 1 x 1, 475 lbs
  • Metal Ace Pro, 4-board, 1 X 1, 525 lbs; 1 X 1, 575 lbs miss
  • Dead press, 1 X 5, 325 lbs
  • Horizontal triceps extension, 5 x 12, Pro Monster mini doubled
  • V-Grip pull-ups, 4 X 6
  • Fat grip lateral raises, 1 X 75, 17.5
  • Banded rear delt, 2 X 25, mini
  • Banded external rotation, 2 X 25, mini

Findings: I found that 525 lbs was very easy, but this doesn’t mean you take the next lift for granted. I had a difficult time spreading my arms. This isn't a bad thing. This simply means that you're going to get some serious support for a big bench. Having good training partners, I should have asked for someone to place my hands into position on the bar. This would have set me up with a good grip, and my wrists wouldn't have been bent. I took the lift lightly, not with the best hand position. I had to remember that this is still 575 lbs. Good thing I had a good spot and my partner’s hands were there ready to get some deadlifting work in. I did tuck nicely. However, if your wrists and hands aren’t stable, the weight will go nowhere but down.

Tuesday, July 5 2011, max effort squat

  • High box squat, 1 X 5, 135 lbs; 1 X 2, 235 lbs; 1 X 1, 325 lbs; 1 X 1, 415 lbs; 1 X 1, 480 lbs
  • Add Ace Pro Squatter, 1 x 1, 570 lbs; 1 X 1, 650 lbs; 1 X 1, 730 lbs; 1 X 1, 805 lbs
  • Glut ham raise, 4 x 8, 45-lb plate
  • Cable row, 1 X 6, 295 lbs; 1 X 6, 385 lbs; 3 X 8, 475 lbs
  • Reverse hyper, 2 X 15, 225 lbs
  • Hanging knee raise, 3 x 20; dumbbell curls, 3 X 15, 30 lbs

Findings: I raised the box two inches, making it higher than parallel. I chose the high box to feel out the new Metal Ace Squat suit. This was a good choice, not trying to go to competition standard. I wanted a weight over 800 lbs and I nailed it. I did all the points properly from gripping the bar tight, driving the elbows under the bar, keeping the chest up, holding a tight arch and tight upper back, sitting back, keeping the bar travelling in a straight line, and keeping my knees out. I'm used to taking one breath right out of the monolift. However, I felt I needed to take an extra breath after taking it out of the rack. This was fine because it worked for me. The eccentric phase is naturally longer in this suit.

Thursday, July 7 2011, dynamic effort bench

  • Bench, 1 X 5, 135 lbs; 1 X 3, 185 lbs; add 40 lbs chain and Pro Short monster mini, 8 X 2
  • Lactic threshold triceps from hell close grip bench, 225 lbs; 1 x 3 to the chest and then 1-board, 2-board, 3-board, 4-board, and back down to each board; no board at the end; non-stop; 27 reps total
  • Skull crushers, 8 X 8, 85 lbs plus Pro mini
  • Neutral grip pull-ups, 3 X 8, body weight
  • Shoulder circuit on high incline bench (front raise, Vs, side raise, press), 2 X 15, 5

Findings: I didn't use a shirt today. It was just another dynamic effort bench day.

Friday, July 8, 2011, dynamic effort squat

  • Box squat, 1 X 2, bar; 1 X 2, 145 lbs; 1 X 2, 235 lbs; 1 x 2, 325 lbs; 1 X 2, 415 lbs
  • Metal Ace Pro Squat suit with the straps down, 6 x 2, 415 lbs plus strong Pro bands
  • Max effort deadlift off four 3/4-inch mats, 1 X 1, 225 lbs; 1 x 1, 315 lbs
  • Metal Pro King Sumo suit: 1 X 1, 425 lbs; 1 X 1, 505 lbs; 1 x 1, 580 lbs; 1 X 1, 660 lbs; 1 X 1, 735 lbs (good start—I’m not a sumo deadlifter)
  • Glute ham raise, 4 X 8, body weight
  • Dumbbell hang shrugs, 6 X 12, 80 lbs
  • Dumbbell curls, 3 X 6, 55 lbs
  • Standing ab crunch, 3 X 20, Pro average band

Findings: For the dynamic effort squat, I kept the straps down on the Metal Ace Pro Squatter to be able to get past parallel more easily. With the straps up, you get significantly more support. This was a good choice because it allowed me to effectively get in the hole. The amount of speed generated was ridiculous and just the beginning of big things to come. As for the deadlift, I'm traditionally a conventional deadlifter. I want to do sumo more often to strengthen my weaknesses. I decided to pull off of mats, raising the bar three inches. This was a good idea because it allowed me to get used to getting down to the bar. For my 660-lb attempt, I had the Velcro straps too tight, making it difficult to get to the bar. I literally finger tipped the entire lift. How I did it who knows. So for the 735-lb attempt, I had my training partner loosen the straps so I could get to the bar. The 735 lbs went up way better. I was pleased because I had never pulled anything over 625 lbs doing sumo and it has probably been since October that I did sumo anything. I also bought the Pro King Deadlift for when I go back to conventional. There always has been a huge difference in my sumo versus conventional, conventional being much better. If my sumo goes up, I believe it will take my conventional up. I'm looking for that 800-lb pull when I put that Pro King Deadlift suit on.

Sunday, July 10 2011, max effort bench

  • Bench, 1 x 3, 135 lbs; 1 X 3, 210 lbs; 1 X 3, 285 lbs; 1 X 3, 335 lbs; 1 x 1, 375 lbs
  • Ace bench shirt 4-board, 1 x 1, 445 lbs; 3-board, 1 X 1, 495 lbs; 1 x 1, 535 lbs; 1 X 1, 555 lbs
  • Dead press, 1 X 7, 300 lbs; 1 X 7, 320 lbs; 1 X 5, 340 lbs
  • Fat grip triceps extensions, 3 X 12, 115 lbs
  • Fat grip lateral raise and front raise, 3 X 12, 17.5
  • Tank’s rear delts, 3 X 20
  • Chest supported dumbbell row, 3 X 12, 60 lbs

Findings: Last Sunday, I failed from technical errors with a bad hand set up. I didn’t mess up this time. I decided to go down to a 3-board and was successful in the Metal Ace Bench shirt. I did have my spotters place my hands for me. What a difference. I hit what I had wanted for the day. I did find that trying to touch a 3-board with 495 lbs was difficult. I didn't touch. It takes a little more weight to get down there. I'm happy with this because it gave me some confidence in the shirt.

In the end, I'm training for the APA meet at Iron Sport on November 5, 2011. I'm looking to compete multi-ply in the 242-lb weight class. I plan to buy some Metal briefs to add to the squat. My short-term goals are to squat 850 lbs, bench 600 lbs, and deadlift 800 lbs. By November, my meet goal will be to hit a 900-lb squat, a 650-lb bench, and a deadlift over 800 lbs. I really enjoy using Metal Gear. It's going to take me to the next level.