Powerlifting Meet Prep Part 2
Posted on January 01 2019
“On a scale of 1-10, how much does it hurt?” Anyone who has been to a doctor with some sort of injury has been asked this question. Of course the answer is entirely relative. We’ve all known the office worker with a small cut in his hand from a letter opener who’s going to scream out the answer of “10” between sobs. The ironworker next to him with a steel rod through his leg calmly shrugs and answers the same question with “Oh I don’t know. 6 I guess.” Both answers are exaggerated one way or the other, exaggerated by the mindset of the individual. Perhaps the guy with the steel rod in his leg wants to appear tough as he sits next to his ironworker pal. The office worker is seeking sympathy from his love interest. And of course perhaps the ironworker has experienced worse or simply wishes it to be less than it is. There are a number of different reasons one picks a given number on the pain scale and I wonder if physicians get any value at all from it. The last 4 weeks of this meet prep I have approached it from the perspective of the ironworker and frankly, I’m not yet sure if that was a good idea.
As a Veteran of the Marine Corps and Special Operations community, I now have the latitude to experiment a bit with different fitness disciplines, drawing upon each to better serve the needs of the Tactical Community. As such, I have signed up for my first Powerlifting meet, the Apeman Open to be held at California Elite Training Center on February 2nd. I am now officially 8 weeks in to the meet prep training program provided by Chad Wesley Smith and Juggernaut Strength. If you haven’t read part 1 covering the first four weeks, check it out here.
I approached this block with a serious desire to push my limits. As mentioned in part 1, the program thus far has been primarily based on your Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE). But like the Ironworker, for this block I likely exaggerated the weights relative to my numbers. For those that don’t know, an RPE of 8 generally means that you choose a weight where you’ve got about 2 left in the tank after each set (on a scale of 1-10). In other words, there’s no calculator to tell you what to lift. Just whatever you think an RPE of 8 is. So as warmups progressed, I took into account previous weights lifted, desired maxes, and justified larger weights by saying that this particularly heavy weight was ok because if I really pushed myself I could probably get those two extra reps. But I wasn’t taking into account my sleep, my work schedule, my diet, and the things my body told me. And there were certainly days where the barbell felt incredibly heavy.
Every time I stepped into the gym these past four weeks, the battle became not with the bar, the battle was with my own mind.
While I don’t know if my approach was the best, I will say that I don’t believe that people push themselves hard enough in the gym. Mindset is a big part of this game and a part not often developed enough. Having the military background that I do in life, I’ve often had to take the attitude of, “this is the mission. It’s not going to be fun. It could cost me everything. But it must be done so let’s saddle up and just do it.” And this is at times how I had to approach the bar during this period. “Three reps? Damn this is going to hurt. Oh well. The mission is three reps so three reps it is.” Luckily I was able to complete the mission each time.
A few interesting statistics:
- The first 4-week block was 2,429 total reps, moving 332,700 lbs not including a few bodyweight movements.
- The second 4-week block was 2,503 total reps (more sets at lower reps/higher intensity), moving 325,470 lbs not including a few bodyweight movements.
- My bodyweight has become even touchier, dancing around the max of my weight class of 198 lbs. As mentioned in Part 1, I don’t want to worry about a cut before the meet. I honestly thought cutting out alcohol would drop my weight but it has only increased. But I believe the volume of weight being moved is putting on more muscle and that muscle is heavier than I had planned. Holiday eating probably didn’t help.
I’ve always been one to put my head down and just bull my way forward; just push through any given situation no matter how difficult vice step back and take the smart approach. The next block, the last block, is something I need to approach with a healthy mix of science and dumb stubbornness. Give it one final push but not so hard that I acquire injury in the last block that sets me back, make sure my diet is on point, and keep my sleep consistent. And lastly, I need to set aside a bit of my competitiveness and enjoy this journey. I need to let my numbers be on competition day whatever they may be and simply take pride that I stepped into the arena.
Stay Tuned for Part 3:
As an aside, I’m using this competition to raise awareness and funds for the Marine Raider Foundation. The Marine Raider Foundation is a 501(c)(3) Non-Profit organization established in 2012 to provide benevolent support to Active Duty and Medically Retired Marine Raiders and their families, as well as to the families of Raiders who have lost their lives in service to our nation. The Foundation aims to meet needs unmet by the government with an emphasis on building personal and family resiliency and supporting the full reintegration of wounded, ill, injured and transitioning Raiders, their families and MARSOC’s Gold Star Families. Please visit the Facebook “Reps For Raiders” Fundraiser at https://www.facebook.com/donate/473670616373930/ or go directly to https://marineraiderfoundation.org and donate today!