Powerlifting and lifting weights are just in my blood. Although it is not the focus of my life it once was, I still love the sport. This is why I continue to train, to learn, to write, and to just be around the sport. It is also why I happily agreed to judge again at this year's Boss of Bosses meet put on by Dan and Sparkle Green. Judging is not my favorite thing, but for me, it is a way of giving back to the sport and showing appreciation for people that have judged the meets I competed in. Judges definitely do not get much positive feedback for the difficult job they do.

My weekend judging this year was a very interesting one for me on many levels. I, of course, have been making a lot of changes with myself and this was definitely a great test of my progress. The lineup for the pro day was pretty big this year, and as a fan of the sport, I admit I was excited to see a lot of these lifters compete. Unlike last year, this time I was able to judge both the amateur and pro day. American Iron Gym had more than a few athletes lifting at the meet this year and I looked forward to getting to help out however I could around my judging duties. The weekend just left me with so many different thoughts and perspective about so many things.

At last year's Boss of Bosses meet I only judged the pro day, but as I said, this year I was able to judge on both the amateur and pro day. I found it very interesting getting to see both categories of athletes so close together. There is probably a whole other article along this thought path, but I did want to cover just a couple of things that really stuck out to me.


The biggest one was the fact that many of the amateurs seemed to be rushed and on edge throughout the meet, almost as if they always thought they were short on time or something. They seemed to be in such a hurry with getting their knees wrapped or wrapping their wrists. Then they seemed to be in a hurry to get to the platform and in a hurry to get the lift started. I had to red-light more than a few lifters because they beat the head judge's commands. Then on the pro day the lifters seemed much calmer, and even the ones that did get all pumped up knew when to turn it on and off. The amateurs did a lot of rushing their lifts, not taking the time to get setup properly, whereas the pros took their time and did not start the lift until they were setup right.

To be expected, there was definitely a difference in technique between days. Seeing back-to-back days it was really noticeable. Of course the pros had better technique and seemed to pay more attention to it. There also just seemed to be a different atmosphere on the pro day, which I am sure had to do with the athletes and the spectators as well. I think there is a much higher confidence level in the pros, and it can really be sensed. No one jumps right into the pro level of any sport, and it takes time to learn these things. But I do wonder how many of the amateurs notice these things. I wonder how many of them work to get better at these things. Being better at these things is part of what makes those athletes pros.

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Judging is a tough, thankless job, and I have always known this. It is not my favorite thing to do in the sport, but it is a job that needs to be done and it is an important one. I have never given a judge a hard time and I always try to treat them with respect, because I understand what the job is like. Judging from a video or from out in the audience is not the same as sitting in that chair.

I judged all day Friday except for bathroom breaks and to grab food, then judged all flights except the one with American Iron lifters on Saturday. That's a lot of lifts and a lot of sitting in a chair. I know I probably messed up a couple calls over that time, but I always went in favor of the lifter. There are a lot of things to look at when judging, and sometimes we miss stuff. There are times you just can’t get a clear shot, like judging depth on the squat. If you judge depth from the front you do not get a clear view, and judging from the side you often have spotters in the way. It is not their fault; they are trying to do their jobs and keep the lifters safe. I always try to move around to get a clear view and I will talk with the spotters to see if we can work together, but sometimes it is just hard to see everything. Side judging a bench, you have to watch the lifter's feet, their butt, and still keep an eye on their lockout and bar movement. The deadlift is probably the easiest to judge, but even then sometimes things are borderline.

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I think one of the hardest things for me is to not be a lifter or a fan but to just be a judge. I will always go in favor of the lifter if it is borderline, but I still have to be impartial with my calls. I absolutely hate red-lighting a good strong lift because of missed commands like "squat" or "rack." I will flip that red light because that is the judge's job, but I hate it. It is hard to not cheer for a lifter or get excited about certain lifts being performed, but the judge needs to stay calm and judge. I know I catch myself smiling after some lifts because I am still a lifter at heart and I like seeing people PR or break records. I smile after watching someone grind out a lift or if the technique is just spot-on perfect.

Judging is not my favorite job at a meet, but it is growing on me and I think there is something to be learned from it. In fact, I think all lifters at some point should try judging a meet. Even though it's not my favorite, I had a good time judging this year.

I think everyone knows I competed mostly in geared lifting, and in my biggest years it was the only way I competed. This in no way means I do not appreciate all types of lifting. In fact, I probably lifted more of my life raw than in gear. To me, lifting is lifting and different classifications based on the amount of gear people wear are just different offshoots of it. All that being said, I am hugely impressed with some of the amazing raw numbers being lifted right now. At Boss of Bosses IV there were some incredible lifters doing some incredible lifts. This was all across the board, too. There were some outstanding female and male lifters of all different weight classes. The limits just keep getting pushed higher and higher. I don’t know how any lifter could watch lifts like this live without getting pumped up and excited. I know I could not wait to get back home for my next training session. If you love the sport, seeing limits gets pushed up higher and higher is a great thing. This definitely happened at this year's Boss of Bosses.

One big thing I noticed this year and was very happy to see was squat depth. It seems in the last couple years there has been a lot of controversy surrounding squat depth and what lifts are getting passed. I agree that it has seemed to be an area the sport has been sliding in. Even back in my day they were starting to let it get out of hand with the geared lifters. From what I saw and judged at this meet, the athletes did a way better job of getting the squats down and really hitting depth. I know there were probably some that people questioned, but like I mentioned earlier, sometimes the judges don’t get the best view and in those cases it goes to the lifter. I am just saying that overall, as far as depth was concerned, the lifters did a great job at this meet and I hope it keeps up.


For me, this weekend was a good test of my progress personally. It was basically four days of travel and social interaction, which is usually very hard on me and can send me spiraling down, or at the very least take weeks to recover from. I cannot remember the last time I did so well with a trip like this. I drove over on Thursday and ended up having dinner with friends from American Iron. I judged all day Friday and ended up going out with a large group for dinner that night (I actually had two dinners with people). I then judged again Saturday and had the after party that night. Sunday I had breakfast with friends before driving home.

I even got pumped up just being in a meet atmosphere again. I had a blast helping with the lifters from American Iron Gym and I put out a lot of energy doing that. This was a very full four days with a lot going on, and I managed it with flying colors. I was very social and talkative the whole time. I never felt any stress, anxiety, or the need to wonder off to be alone. Once I got back home I got right into my routine except for ending up getting sick that Tuesday (but that was unrelated). I really feel this weekend said a lot about how much progress I have made.

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I think Boss of Bosses IV was an exceptional meet that went really well. The setup of the platform with the background meet logo and sponsors, plus the lighting, gives it a great feel. The amateur meet on Friday ran very smoothly and at a good pace. I think it's a great meet for amateurs and gives a little something extra for them to know they are on the same platform the pros will be using. The pro meet on Saturday had an energetic vibe from the start. I think everyone knew that with the lineup, some crazy numbers were going to go down that day. The spectator seating was full all day. Brandon Lilly did an awesome job announcing and keeping the energy level up. The meet, again, ran at a good pace and kept everything going smoothly. I think the spotters and loaders have the hardest job of all but they did an awesome job. I think it was an outstanding meet and I was proud to be part of it.

I am glad I again agreed to judge the Boss of Bosses meet and had a great weekend. It was awesome to be in that atmosphere again and to feel that rush I love so much. It was incredible to see some absolutely amazing lifters doing their thing. I had a great time getting to see and spend some time with old and new friends. It is always good to give back to a sport that has given me so much and to give back to new athletes coming up in the sport. It was even good to test myself a bit and I am so happy with how I did, at times even commenting to my friends how much I was talking or how long I went without shutting the hell up! It was a great weekend and a great meet.

Photos courtesy of Boss Barbell Club