I have a big secret, and I am about to let it out to the whole world. My fitness is a house of cards, because I’m not that strong. Sure, on the hipster side of town, I am huge! Compare me to the world standards of strength, however, and I am not even a rated lifter.
Here are a couple of videos, taken at the end of my last training cycle. Here is a grinder of a squat video with 365lbs (with knee wraps):
And here is the sumo deadlift form that world class strongman and Coach Clint Darden dubbed “odd” before making good suggestions that were seconded by my Precision Nutrition Coach Brian St. Pierre.
For the past year I have been doing Precision Nutrition’s Lean Eating Challenge, which is more restrictive of calories than their Scrawny To Brawny program. I dropped 33 pounds of bodyweight, reducing my body fat percentage to 8 percent (done with the seven site caliper method), and revealed a six pack of abs. And it has been pretty darned awesome, to be honest.
The transformation was fun, but I wanted to something athletic, so I entered the Canadian Powerlifting Federation 2013 Nationals. I’d always wanted to do a Powerlifting competition, so I got the form, sent in the cheque, and showed up at 7am on Saturday, June 8 for a big learning experience. The competition was well attended, and there were three flights on Saturday, one of which was for competitors with pro totals. It was crazy to watch these guys. My girlfriend and partner Steph handled me all day, and when the big dudes started to arrive she gave the quote of the day; “Are these guys your tribe, or did they eat your tribe?”
Big dudes like Shane Church, who squatted 900lbs or more that day. Like Dallas “The Punisher” Hogan, who lifted nearly as much as the geared guys, but Raw, and has an awesome tri-forked braided beard. Big dudes like Canada’s strongest junior, Kade Weber, who pulled over 800lbs with no gear except a belt. So it was a little intimidating for a guy of Master’s age, entering his first competition after spending a year getting lean and competing Raw, without support gear (except a belt).
Long story short, I learned a lot about myself and Powerlifting. After the Rules Meeting I figured I had it pretty much down. Listen for your commands. Was surprised to learn the bar doesn’t have to “pause” in the bench press, it just has to stop moving completely. I actually thought, “That’s easier, because I’ve paused every bench, and today I just have to stop at the chest”. It wasn’t quite that easy for me, as it turned out.
I didn’t get the warm ups I usually get in the squat (3 reps total warm up), but made the first attempt, got a misload on my second attempt and missed, and had to satisfy myself by making my last attempt at 155kgs – two good lifts. Here is the last one:
On to the next one – the Bench Press. Every gym rat loves this lift, and most do it wrong, with a big bounce off the chest, ass off the bench, feet dancing all over the place, and an uneven lockout. Well I knew better! I’d been strict in training, had read everything on elitefts.com for the past 8 years, and have watched more bench videos than I can remember. Plus, at the rules meeting the man said you don’t have to “pause” the bar, just stop it motionless, and you’ll get the press command right away! No problem!
Somehow that all escaped my brain during the actual lifts, though! I got my first attempt at 100kgs, then lifted my butt off the bench on the second attempt, and got so hyped up repeating the weight that I did not wait for the “press” command on my third lift! One good lift, only!
Just one to go! Now, it had been a big day up to this point. Steph Iron Lioness and I were up at 4am to make the 1.5 hour drive to Kitchener, and get weighed in at 7am. I was tired by the afternoon, and debated taking just the opener, but decided to roll with it, and like the squat, made my first, missed my second (hitched it up the leg), repeated the same weight on the third attempt, and got it – 170kg.
We were about to go home, but went back just in time for the awards ceremony. Lifters were called up for placing first in their categories, and it was definitely the usual suspects – the big dudes I mentioned earlier. But there are lots of weight and age categories, and to my surprise, I was called up as the winner of the Raw Master’s division. The presenter shook my hand, smiled and said, “You gotta love the Raw Master’s”.
Take home lessons:
Help others, but don’t screw up your warm ups.
Make sure the bar is loaded correctly.
Wait for the command.
Hitching the bar is bad.
Power lifting meets, even when well run, tend to be long! Be ready.
There are a few reasons for writing this blog post. One of them is that I usually put my best foot forward when it comes to my image on the website or on facebook. But I’m a normal man, and I want to show you all sides, not just a carefully managed image. So, no smoke, no mirrors – 425 kgs total was what I could lift on June 8, 2013 at a weight of 88kgs. I’ve done more, and know I can do more in competition, but it is what it is.
And apparently, on that day, that was enough to warrant an invitation to the World Powerlifting Championships 2013, in Prague, CZ. You could have knocked me over with a feather when I got the invite. So that will be my second Powerlifting competition. I’m looking forward to making memories.
This is who I am. I have a passion for training that I love to share, despite not being the best athlete in the world! I hope that what I’ve written will give other people like me the little push they need to start heading in the direction of their dreams – whether that be knitting, athletics, BBQ or astronomy. Sit down, and ask “what is important to me?” Then determine the smallest step in that direction and TAKE THAT STEP!
Thanks for reading!