On Saturday, October 25th, 2014 I competed in the RPS Lexen Xtreme Fall Classic in Columbus, Ohio. I opted to compete in this meet for a host of different reasons. I knew after my performance at Raw Unity VII, that I had the potential of obtaining my first ever raw ten times bodyweight coefficient total at 132 pounds. I missed this total on my last deadlift at Raw Unity and only due to my grip giving out on a 518-pound deadlift. After that meet, I pondered what I would need to do to reach this lofty goal, something I had dreamed about ever since discovering powerlifting, and the steps that it would require for me to bring my best performance. While doing my own needs analysis, I put my grip work and bench press training on the top of the priority list. Behind that was switching to a sumo deadlift stance, followed by more upper back work.

My off-season training went the best it has in a long time, and all my lifts made vast improvements. When eying meets, I saw the Lexen meet and it aligned nicely with my schedule and location proximity. I set my programming up to align with this meet and when prep got rolling I committed early and was ready to conquer this tough feat.

I started “dieting” (I use that term loosely because I didn’t count a single macro) around 10 weeks out to help make my cut easier. I didn’t do this for Raw Unity and I could tell that it made my cut way harder than it needed to be. Taking this one little step a bit more seriously dropped pounds from my frame, but my lifts never took a hit. And honestly, my recovery and prep went even better because of this.

Meet Week

Early in meet week I started my typical cutting methods, by still having my carbs low (something I did after my last heavy weekend, two weeks out) and gradually increasing water. My weight was already so low that I talked with Chris Duffin to get some ideas since I hadn’t made this small of a cut in some time. Plus, the man just squatted a world record after cutting. I used some methods from him, along with some of my own, and my weight was falling off come Thursday.

brandon smitley weigh in 102814

Another thing I implemented this week was mental training. I know some people think this is absolutely absurd, but from all my sports psychology classes I had already built a strong base and used many techniques during training and meets. But I wanted to take it one step further and have my mind just as strong as my body on the platform. The idea of going for a ten times bodyweight total was just as mental to me as physical. I read the book Sport Hypnosis by Dr. Donald R. Liggett. Every night I was going through not only my lifts, but how they felt, my reactions, the smell of ammonia, and every other tangible aspect of a meet. I had envisioned my meet performance probably over one hundred times during this course of the week.

Thursday I began the travel to Columbus to stay at a friend’s place for the evening. I showed up only two pounds over, so I knew I was golden once awaking early Friday morning.


After a lackluster night of sleep, I woke up right on weight and drove to the meet site 90 minutes early to just relax in the lobby and get to know some of the other lifters that were waiting to weigh-in as well. After making weight, I took the time to drink my recomp hydration formula and just let that sit for about 60 minutes. I then met up with Savannah Steamer to eat breakfast at Marshall’s for eggs, sausage, toast, and three of the biggest pancakes I’ve ever seen.

When we were done stuffing our faces we made our way over to The Spot Athletics to catch up with J.L. Holdsworth and his staff. It was great to see everyone again and finally check out his awesome gym and what he is doing. He’s got an amazing thing going over there, and it was great to get some training and business ideas from him. It was also a good way for my food to settle and just get my mind off competing and continue to build some of the awesome relationships I’ve made.

Once noon rolled around, I made my way over to elitefts to catch up with the staff and then go eat lunch with Steve Colescott and Matt Goodwin. I love heading over to see all the guys and girls in the office. We had some good laughs and talked about some pretty cool content stuff that is coming in the near future.

Once I was done there, I finally made it back to the meet hotel and checked in. The first thing I did was take a nice Epsom salt bath and just relax. I had some time to kill until some of my handlers and friends got in town, so I got in some more food and fluid and then took a solid three hour nap. When I woke up I drove over to Texas Roadhouse and met up with Matt Wenning, Sheena Leedham, Joe Schillero, Mario D’Amico, Alycia Israel, and some Purdue Barbell folks. By this time I was feeling really good and after getting things squared away for Saturday I went back to the hotel to crash with some family that finally made it in town.


I woke up early in the morning and went to the Waffle House to have a small breakfast. I don’t like having a huge breakfast before I compete, but I do like having some solid food to give me a good boost going into squats. I showed up early and got my rack heights and area set up for when all my help arrived. My handlers for the day were Joe Schillero, Ted Toalston, Molly Edwards, Mario D’Amico, and Michael Tanner.

brandon smitley squat lexen xtreme 102814


Warm-ups for squats were feeling really well. I was in a huge flight, and was near the very end, so it was crucial that I didn’t get going too early. Things went like this:

Bar x 2x10




330x1 – add belt



435x1 – add Kraits

Opener – 470, good

This was nice and easy. It wasn’t the smoothest squat and I lost a tad bit of tightness in the hole, but it came up really strong. I talked with Ted and Joe and made some minor adjustments for the next attempt.

Second – 505, good

This was a 4-lb. PR. It came up with good speed and I did a much better job of staying tight in the hole. This was a big lift for me, as I knew this was going to set my day up on a really good note. After talking with Joe and Ted, we opted to be a bit conservative and only take a moderate jump.

Third – 525, good

This was a 24-pound PR and, man, were things a bit crazy on this attempt. Something happened on my unrack and I started to fall backwards. I was forced to take a few steps back to catch myself. I had already received the squat command, and I knew if I racked the bar my attempt was forfeited. I had to think really fast and try to suck in a bit more air. I was off center, and had to rotate my body about five degrees to the left to feel like I was normal. I took the decent down strong and aggressive and drove my head up into the bar with everything I had. It came up way faster than I had expected after the mishap. I was in a really good driver's seat going into bench.

smitley bench press lexen xtreme 102814


After squats I got in some more food and fluids and watched Chuck V squat. It was great to see him back on the platform, let alone be able to share the same platform as him. After I saw his second attempt, I started getting loose for some benching. Warm-ups went as follows:

Bar x2x10








Opener – 285, good

Really good solid lift, just like I had planned it to be. I wanted to get on the board and see how the press commands were going to be. They were just like I had expected: very fair and reasonable.

Second – 305, good

This was a two-pound PR, and very big for me. It had been over 18 months since I had hit a PR on bench, and it moved with some good speed despite a minor misgroove. I talked it over with Joe and Ted and I needed to keep letting the bar sink and keep my lats locked in. We did some minor calculations (based on my 1320 total goal) and figured it’d be smarter to make a small jump here and increase my opener on deadlift if I got my third bench attempt.

Third – 315, good

For a 12-pound PR, it felt great to get! It was the right call, no question. It was a bit slow and I had to grind through about three inches off the chest, but it went up and was a good clean lift. While I had wanted 320 here, I don’t think it would have been in the cards for the day. Being 6/6, I was stoked and ready to get some rest and get ready for some deadlifting.

smitley deadlift lexen xtreme 102814


When I was finished benching I decided to travel to the nearby Subway to just get out of the meet venue, rest my mind, and get some grub with everyone. It was good to get a good meal in with ample time for it to digest and not upset my stomach before pulling. When we got back, I took some time to just listen to my music and get my mind right. Talking with Joe, we increased my deadlift opener by five pounds to give me plenty of attempts to get my 1320 total. Here were warm-ups:




365x1 – add belt



Opener – 480, good

This moved really fast and when I locked it out I felt like I had all the pressure in the world off my back. I had finally totaled my first raw ten times bodyweight! When I sat the bar down, I jumped over it and leaped in the air to give Joe a monstrous hug. I think many people were perplexed, but my emotions took over. I told Joe that it was time to have some fun and see what I’ve really got for the day.

Second – 505, miss

This broke the floor really fast, but when I got to lockout my right hand gave out. I was pretty frustrated considering I spent months working on my grip. I looked at the videos from friends and family and my quad pried my hand open. This was a PR attempt, but I had pulled this and more a handful of times in the off season and prep. I decided to take it once more and really squeeze the shit out of the bar.

Third – 505, miss

Basically the same thing happened again. I realized my hands were somewhat bloated and that somewhere my setup was off. While I was a little pissed off I had 505 past my knees twice and dropped it, I reflected and realized I showed up and accomplished what I had intended. I had no reason to be disheartened. I just threw the whole idea away, and went to thank everyone that had helped be part of such a great day.

smitley group photo lexen xtreme 102814

Wrap Up

We stuck around and watched the big guys pull, helped clean up, and waited for awards. Danny did an excellent job running the meet and there were no hiccups all day long. At the end of the day, I showed up and lifted smart with everything I had. I managed to PR on squat and bench, for a 14-pound PR total. I accomplished my mission of a raw ten times bodyweight coefficient and took home best overall raw male lifter. To be mentioned in the same sentence with Chuck V (best overall equipped male lifter) blew me away. While I left some pounds on the platform, I couldn’t ask for a better day overall and walked away with more things I can work on to continue to improve.

I would like thank Dave and Traci Tate for their support and belief in me as a lifter and individual. You two have helped shape me as a person and lifter more than you can ever imagine, so thank you!

I would also like to thank my handlers; Joe, Ted, Molly, Mario, and Michael as without you I would not have been set up for such success all day long. More thanks goes to Renea, Alycia, Lilly, and Savannah for videos, pictures, and words of encouragement all day long. Continued thanks to Mark Glazier from NutraBio for the support and supplement regimes to help me to continue to train hard and recover and be the best I can be on the platform; and my training partners Kyle and Kirk for all their help during my months of training and preparation for this goal. A huge thank you as well to all of Team elitefts for their support and help.

And lastly I can’t forget my loving friends and family: Jim, Debi, Brittany, Joani, Nathan, and many more. You all support and believe in me every day and give me the drive to keep pushing my own boundaries on and off the platform.