Let me first tell you briefly about myself for those who do not know me. I am 33 years old and live with my wife, Laura, of 8 years in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. I work as a research Hydrogeologist for the state and specialize in subsurface geophysics and aquifer hydraulic testing. I started competing in powerlifting meets when I was 16 and living in Ohio. At that time, I played outdoor soccer; spring, fall, and indoor during the winter. I started powerlifting to put some weight on and found out I really enjoyed the sport. The rest was history; I moved down to Florida after college in 1995 and competed in bench meets once or twice a year. My lifting went to new levels after I met Bob Youngs in 2000 at a bench meet and he took my bench from 480 lbs. to 500 lbs. in two months with a single poly. Bob sold me on Westside training and I totaled ELITE in 2003 at the IPA Iron House Classic in Zanesville, Ohio.

This past June, I decided to compete at the WPO Bench Bash for Cash (BBC) in Orlando on September 25, 2004. My bench has been making progress and this competition would keep me from competing in a full power meet, thus allowing me some extra time to heal from a previous back injury. The bench press has always been my favorite event. I want to be the best, and to do this I must compete against the best. What better place to do this than at the WPO BBC.

I had just benched 622 lbs. at the APF Florida State meet on June 19, 2004 in the 242 lbs. weight class. After the meet, I sat down and wrote out my 14 week bench training cycle along with a diet to get myself down to 220 lbs. I also decided to use Ginny Phillip’s double denim bench shirt for this meet. I could go on and on about what a great shirt she makes, but I will save that for another article. The diet was easy; I just ate cleaner than I did at 242 lbs. I also kept myself from getting lighter than 235 lbs. until a week out before weigh in. My training cycle went as follows:

Dynamic Effort:
- 2 weeks speed bench using El Gordo bar with chains
- 1 week max triple or single

Max Effort
- 1 week regular max effort work (Westside Style)
- 1 week shirt work with 3, 2, 1 board or down to chest (Metal Militia Style)

Note: I only noted the main exercise. I also did additional triceps, back, and shoulder work.

My training was going exceptionally well up to 7 weeks out and I had just benched an easy 630 lbs. I was feeling real strong and thought I had a good opportunity at benching 650 lbs. by the WPO BBC. At this time I should have been deloading; instead I increased my volume and on dynamic effort I was up to 400 lbs of chain with 200 lbs. of bar weight for 4-6x3. When I couldn’t bench 600 lbs. 4 weeks out from the meet, I knew that I had overtrained. And to make things more exciting, this was the time hurricane (Frances) plowed through my side of the state. One week without power at home and the gym in south Florida was not good for training or my diet. Over these next few weeks, I just tried to take it easy on my body to give it time to recover.

I weighed 235 lbs. five days out from WPO BBC weigh-in. Throughout this time I started to drop water weight and cut about 1/2 of the carbs from my diet. Weigh-ins for the competition was on Thursday (September 23), at 7:00pm. By Thursday morning I was weighing 223 lbs. and dropped these last 3 pounds by spending an hour in a sauna. Thursday was also the day I found out we were going to get hit by a second hurricane (Jeanne) this weekend. I was very dehydrated and obviously stressed about leaving my house without preparing for the storm. Jason Castiglione arrived at my house around 11:00 am and noticed how stressed and determined I was to put my shutters up on the windows before I left. Knowing how disoriented I was from being dehydrated, he forced a valium down my throat and put the shutters up himself. This is what made me realize that the guys and girls I train with are more like family to me. I feel very fortunate to be a part of Southside Barbell Club. Bob and Jason drove me up to Orlando where I weighed in at 219.6 lbs at 7:00 pm. With Jason pacing my eating and fluid intake, I was able to get my body weight up to 241 lbs. by 10:00 pm on Friday.

By Saturday morning, I was really stressed about the storm. I asked Kieran Kidder if I could bench at 1:00 pm with the Ironzone lifters so that I could get home before the storm. Kieran gave me the okay, which helped set my mind at ease. I arrived at the meet around 11:30 am and talked shit with the guys until the rules meeting. My warm-ups were all very strong. I honestly felt like I could bench 650 that day, although, my goal that day was to finish with a personal record (PR) bench.

I opened up with 584 lbs. which was an easy bench for me. I decided to stay conservative on my 2nd attempt and bench 606 lbs. This was also an easy attempt for me. So, on my 3rd attempt I went for a PR of 628 lbs. I believe I forgot how to bench on this attempt, because I raised my head too high causing my traps to come off the bench and took the bar to low on my stomach. I was only able to muscle the weight up half way.

I wasn’t very happy with my performance, although, I did learn quite a bit from it. The following is what I took from this experience:

1) I am very close to putting a training cycle together for my bench that is going to push me over the top. I just need to start deloading earlier in the cycle.
2) The last few inches at the top of my lift are still a little slow. I am going to add more pin presses in my next training cycle.
3) I believe that I still have much to learn about the bench shirt. The carryover from my raw bench should be much higher with the shirt on.
4) I have learned from this experience that I need to be calmer and focused during a meet. I am still getting stressed over things I have no control over (i.e. the hurricanes). I needed to have more faith that my wife and house were going to be okay even though I was not going to be home during the storm.
5) I am very good with manipulating my bodyweight.
6) The guys and girls I train with at Southside Barbell Club are family to me and I would bend over backwards for any of them.

My goal next year is to place top 3 at the 2005 WPO BBC and get my invite to the Arnold Classic. I want to give a quick thanks to my bench group, Bob, Lance, Charlie, Dwayne, Paper, Dave, and Jason. I also want to thank Gloria, who wouldn’t let me get lazy during my extra workouts. I would be nowhere near the lifter I am today without them.