Turning Pro at the 2019 APF Women's Pro-Am

TAGS: 2019 apf women's pro-am, apf women's pro-am, outside submission, Pro total, meet report, MEET, bench, deadlift, squat, powerlifting, dave tate, bench press, training

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Signing Up for the Meet

When I initially signed up for this meet, it was a couple of weeks after I had competed at the APF/AAPF North of the Border. I was able to get my Elite total, but I didn’t get the 400-pound squat that I wanted. When I first started training at the S5 Compound in May of last year, Dave was helping me with my squat form because, as he said, “It’s fucking terrible.”

It was so bad he didn’t even let me finish warming up with the bar before he told me to stop. After a couple of weeks, he eventually asked me what my goal was for the squat. I said, “I want to squat 400 pounds,” to which he responded, “You’ll squat 400 pounds by the end of the year.”

Well, I didn’t. I didn’t even get close, which is no one’s fault but my own. After not competing for a year, I had let my nerves get the best of me, and I was only able to get my opener at 330 pounds. So when I signed up for the 2019 Women's Pro-Am, my only intention was to get a 400-pound squat. I honestly didn’t care if I got a bench or a deadlift PR. Hell, I would have been just as happy if they stayed the same. I just wanted that squat!

Training

Dave wrote my program for the meet I did in November, and he also wrote the program I did for the Pro-Am. I also had a little help from Ted, which mostly consisted of Ted pulling out movements like Suspended Good Mornings, Close Stance Squats to a VERY low box, and Reverse Hyperextensions. I’ve been having an issue with my hip off and on for the past year and these movements were taken out to avoid any further problems. Instead, I did Standard Good Mornings and Banded Back Extensions.

However, here comes the BIG issue that I’ve had with my programming. BOX SQUATS. Both Dave and Ted LOVE to squat to a box. They each have their reasons why, and I’m sure they can tell you what those reasons are better than I can. But I FUCKING HATE IT! I can’t exactly pinpoint why I hate it, but I do! So more often than not, I found myself squatting to a box not once but twice a week. Well, until the last couple weeks of prep when I think Dave got sick of hearing me bitch about it. Then he cut it back to once a week. Honestly, in my mind, the only reason they had me do these is because they know it pisses me off, and they each get some sick satisfaction out of that.

Bench and deadlift training were very similar to my last training cycle, although I think I deadlifted a lot more this time around, which was fine with me. Bench speed work rotated every three weeks between bands and chains. Max effort work was done on the weekends, rotating between boards, bands, chains, grips, and bars. Deadlifts were done maybe once a week, mostly pulling against bands from the floor and every once in a while pulling off of blocks or from a deficit. Overall, training was going well.

As the weeks went on, I would either add more weight, more chains, or a little more band tension, and I didn’t have any hip issues. But still, I had no idea how all this chain and band work was going to help increase my lifts. Plus, I had no fucking idea where any of my lifts were because we NEVER trained with just straight weight. So I had no idea what any of my openers would be, and I would be lying to you if I said I wasn’t freaking out more and more as the days went on.

Everything I did in training was based off of my numbers from my last meet. So for my bench and deadlift, that was fine, but it wasn’t for my squat. Ted and I agreed that we would base my squat percentages off of my second attempt from the meet, which was 360 pounds. At first, I was fine with that, but then I found myself four weeks out from the meet, and I hadn’t held anything on my back that was over 325 pounds. I was standing in the gym, thinking, “Great, this is going to be another shit show. I haven’t moved anything close to 400 pounds all of prep, and I’ve barely been in wraps. I’m going to miss 400 pounds again.”

Finally, in the last couple weeks, the weights got heavier, the wraps got tighter, and I was moving the heavier weight much easier than I was before, which lifted my confidence, and I knew that without a doubt I was going to get that 400-pound squat. I still had no idea what my openers would be until Dave asked, “What’s the Pro total for your weight class?”

I knew then I was in trouble. I responded, “1,170,” and in that moment, I knew that a 400-pound squat was no longer the goal. It was a Pro total. FUCK!

Meet Day

I woke up that morning feeling rested but nervous. My warm-ups went well and felt fine, but I was still extremely nervous, and the only thing I could think about so I didn’t get so overwhelmed was, “One lift at a time.” I found myself repeating this in my head all day. I just wanted to get my opening squat out of the way. Once I did that, I would see how it set the tone for the day.

My opener was 370 pounds with no problem; all white lights. The second attempt was 410 pounds. I knew I was in the right frame of mind for this attempt when I approached the bar.

Normally I don’t see anyone or anything except the mono, the side spotters, and the head judge. This time, I saw and heard everyone and everything. I was scared; this was 10 pounds more than the initial goal I set. I doubted myself, but I knew I had to get this lift if I had any chance at a Pro total. So I got under the bar and I went for it. I felt myself start to pitch forward and I thought, “OK, you can panic and give up, or you can try to fix this and sit back more and try to pull this off.” Somehow, I did.

Immediately, Dave came over and explained that the reason I pitched forward was because I was breaching into my belt like crunch, which was causing me to pitch forward. After Dave, Ted, and JP deliberated on my third attempt. I knew it was time for me to pull my head out of my ass, not be afraid, and move the weight that I needed to get my total.

I don’t really remember my third attempt. I remember walking up to the bar, getting set up, and then getting the biggest hug from Ted when it was over. I had no idea how much weight was on the bar until I was walking back to our stuff. Ted told me it was 440 pounds. I couldn’t believe it, but I knew I had a chance then.

I was a little nervous to bench because I hurt my elbow doing max effort chain work two weeks before. I had extreme pain anytime I gripped the bar. But I didn’t have any issue warming up, and my first attempt of 215 pounds flew up so fast, I thought I was going to hit the rack. My second attempt was 240 pounds, which felt heavy! I brought it to my chest unevenly, and I pressed it unevenly, but it still passed. I knew I didn’t have much left after that, and so did Dave and Ted.

My third attempt was 250 pounds and I brought it to my chest better than my second, but once I pressed it off my chest, it was like it stopped right in the middle of my press. I felt like I held it there before I finally locked it out and I thought for sure it wasn’t going to get passed. I didn’t even check the lights when I got off the bench, and I just figured I would have to make that 10 pounds up in the deadlift but to my surprise, it passed.

Finally, it was time for the last and best lift of the day. I’ve always enjoyed deadlifting, but that day, I wasn’t sure how it was going to go. I was tired and I felt like I had no energy left to even pick up a plate. Somehow after the bench, I managed to take a quick nap and then chugged a Monster.

As I started warming up, I found my second wind. My energy was back, and I was ready to finish what I didn’t think I had a chance at doing. All I needed to do was three more lifts; that was it. I was going to open with 425 pounds, but after the bench, Dave and Ted talked about lowering my opener to 400 pounds and then going to 440 pounds and finishing with 480 pounds instead of going 425 pounds right to 480 pounds. But no matter what, I needed to hit 480 pounds for a Pro total.

I pulled 400 pounds so quickly that the slack hadn’t come out of the bar yet, and the judge made me hold the weight until the bar stopped moving. 440 pounds was also quick, but it wasn’t as pretty. And just like that, I was one lift away from a Pro total.

As I sat there, waiting for my name to come up on the screen, I just kept thinking about all the things that I’ve missed out on during this prep, all the sacrifices that I’ve made for this moment, all the people who have spent their time away from their families to help me. “If I don’t pull this weight now, it will all be for nothing.”

I was the last lifter of the day, and I knew no matter what, I was picking this bar up. Just before I stepped on the platform, Dave whispered in my ear, “You might not have many opportunities to be the last lifter of the day. Hold the weight a little longer before you set it down.”

I stepped up to the bar, got set, and the next thing I knew, the bar was past my knees, and I knew I did it. I locked out the weight and heard every single person in that room cheer. I wish I could describe that feeling.

I had accomplished something I didn’t think I could. I went 9 for 9, won my weight class, increased all of my lifts by 25 pounds or more, and got a Pro total. It still doesn’t seem real, but I proved to myself that I can do a lot more than what I think I am capable of.

That being said, I guess I’ll continue to do these bullshit box squats that I love so much since they added 110 pounds to my squat. And I’ll continue to use all the bands and chains because I guess those worked, too, adding 25 pounds to my bench and 60 pounds to my deadlift.

But all jokes and sarcasm aside, I’m extremely grateful not only to Dave and Ted for everything that they’ve done but also to everyone whom I train with at the S5 Compound. I’m lucky enough to train with and learn from some of the best athletes in this sport and the amount of help and knowledge everyone has brought is endless.

For now, I’m going to focus on building up my weak points and perfecting my form. I haven’t decided if I’m going to compete again later this year or wait until the Pro-Am next year. We’ll see.

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