In the last article I wrote, I mentioned that I was preparing for my first no shit powerlifting meet. I had also touched on weight and size gain, as well as a decrease in my two-mile run time and the Army’s method of determining body fat percentage. The following is a description of the events that have occurred over the last two and a half months, and the impact they've had on my career.

My first meet went extremely well, especially for not really knowing what to expect going in. I failed to meet my goal of a 1,300-pound total, but I had a great experience and learned more than I expected. I had planned to compete in the 242-pound weight class but missed it by a few pounds, so I was bumped to the next higher weight class. However, this didn’t bother me since I was only there for the experience. The first shock was the warmup and gear check room. I am used to training alone in my garage, without distraction. But walking into that room was like walking into a scene from the movie Braveheart—half-clothed bearded giants clogged around a table waving various pieces of “combat” equipment like William Wallace was giving a pre-battle speech. After a few minutes of attempting to decode the madness, I discovered that these behemoths were presenting their equipment for competition inspection. This is when I first realized that I had absolutely no idea what the hell I was doing. I humbly went into sheep mode and just tried to follow the pack from one station to the next—receiving my rack height, weighing in, and thoroughly butchering my lift attempt card by filling out all three sections.

Once I finally blundered through the whole check-in process, I waited for the first flight of lifters to finish and watched the lifters of my flight take highly different approaches to warming up. There seemed to be three distinct groups and methods of the warmup process. The first was a balls-to-the-wall-workout approach. Watching these competitors complete a full workout well before it was time to lift did not seem like the most strategic option. The second group looked as if they were not very sure what approach to take, and it looked like the first day of school with people that didn’t know each other awkwardly loading and unloading bars and rotating in for arbitrary lifts. The third group was comprised of the guys that had coaches and were obviously more serious and regimented. These athletes seemed to be making the most of their warmup, but they were not making any friends in the process by monopolizing a good portion of the sparse warmup equipment. I just changed and waited for an open spot and proceeded with my normal pre-maximum routine. I detailed this so heavily because once the lifting started, it was just that: lift shit. I was prepared for that, but not for the shenanigans beforehand. My attempts went well going eight of nine—missing my last bench attempt. So a great overall experience.

This is where the military portion kicks in. I went to work the next week feeling pretty good about the weekend’s accomplishments, but the Army had a little surprise waiting for me: a Physical Fitness Test and weigh/tape. Just like any other time, I was not bothered in the least. Myself and every other soldier have taken countless “PT” tests. Situps and pushups—no problem. But then to the track for an easy two-mile run, right? Wrong! Off I go at what feels like a normal eight-minute mile pace. However, with a quick look at my watch after one lap... I knew I was in deep shit. I had prepared myself for the inevitability of a slower run time at a heavier body weight, but not this slow. Crossing the finish line to the Chariots of Fire music blaring in my head, the flames were quickly extinguished when the grader called out the time: two blazing fast back-to-back ten-minute miles. I was in shock. Was I really that far out of shape? How did this happen? Then onto the weigh-in and tape test, which I also failed miserably. What to do now? I had become what I despised.

First things first. One thing that I have learned since being in the Army is that the only way you can run two miles faster is by running two or more miles at an uncomfortable pace. I know this sounds absolutely asinine, but you would be surprised by the number of soldiers that think running a few sprints, hills, or ridiculously long distances will do the trick. So I immediately set out with two- to four-mile runs three to four times a week, with some one-mile intervals mixed in. It didn't take long before I watched the minutes fall off my run time.

The next challenge to tackle was food intake. This is a difficult issue. No one is interested in losing maximum strength, but burning fat and strength loss have been tied together for as long as I can remember. And I have no intention of giving up hard-earned gains. So far, I have dropped some of the heavier assistance work and added in more endurance—biking and strong man activities on non-training days, and I have had good results so far. I have not made much in the way of gains, but I have lost a couple of inches where it counts. Thankfully, my wife has been stealing my egg yolks and filling my lunch with chicken, vegetables, and a little fruit. So far, getting back to where I need to be has not been extraordinarily difficult. It is just shocking to see how fast it can go bad when you are completely focused on lifting heavy shit. This will be an ongoing process of the next few months, and I plan to write about the results in February.

My training log at does not reflect the extra workouts and runs, but I will start if anyone cares to follow. I know there are a lot of other soldiers that are in the same situation or have been in the past, so your input or questions are welcome and appreciated.