Reader Submission: USAPL Raw Nationals Report




My name is Andrew Watson, I’ve been a long time reader of the site ever since the short short article caught my interest, in the past 5 years there’s close to a 2:1 ratio of days I’ve squatted vs days I have not, so I feel that any shorts that fall past my mid-thigh is a crime to society since these thighs should be shown to the world as we are all better for seeing them.

But Back to Raw Nats, I currently hold the Open Squat/Dead/Total American Records for 67.5kg in the USAPL and go in very confident, although recently I have been training more for weightlifting, my meet pr total is about 10kgs above my biggest competitor Shawn Fasquillo(National Champ and World team member last year), and I’ve been doing nothing but squatting as and despite knowing my bench is down I still believe I can walk out with a win. I weigh in at 65.2 the next day and lifting begins shortly after.

Squats – I fucking love to squat, I squat every possible moment, so much so I’ve earned the nickname Squatson at my gym at home. I open with a moderate 200kilo, get it up easy(that’s what she said) , but I beat the rack command and get redlighted, rookie mistake, I have some jitters. Same Attempt for attempt two and smoked it, but did not feel as easy as I would of liked, me being light, still in the process of rehydrating and deciding to stay conservative I just do a 5kilo jump on my last lift, hit it easy, and come out of the squats in 1st overall with 205kilos.

Bench – Bench is stupid and I don’t like it, I hit 127.5/281lbs. Fasquilo hits 150/330, and I go into a 12.5kilo hole.

Deadlifts – This is where it becomes interesting, I am down by 12.5kilos, needing to tie since I weighed in lighter, and will have the last dead of the meet. I know his results from worlds about 2 months earlier and he pulled 232.5kgs on his third attempt there he went 3/3 so I believe he is capable of more, he knows what I am capable of, we all have a general idea of what each other will put up so competition can get pretty intense. I open with 230kilos, Shawn 215, putting me in the lead by 2.5kilos, next attempt, Shawn hits 227.5 I hit 242.5, this lift breaks my own dead American Record and keeps me up by 2.5kilos. Now onto thirds originally Shawn has his attempt listed at 240, so I put down 252.5. My handlers(Mike Talyor and Arain Khamesi from FSU, also Kristi Polizanno another worldteam member comes back to help with changes on dead as I have barely done this before.) drop my attempt to 250kilos after he drops his to 237.5, per usapl rules you are allowed 2 changes to your last dead attempt, with this pull I will win nationals and I will be heading to worlds. I walk out to the platform to the biggest ovation I have ever had for a lift in my life, screams, and my teammates behind me cheering me on. Holly fuck I am pumped, I begin my pull and immediately knew something was up, my ass shot up and the bar got slightly infront of me, for what feels like 3 mins but in reality less than a second I struggle with the weight right by my knees and it comes crashing back down, it happened, I missed the last dead, on a weight I have hit before and that’s it for me, tough fight but I come up short.  For this meet I was a member of Team Unconquered, noteables on this team were Rob Trettin and Mike Hedlesky both members of Team USA for this past worlds. We placed third in team scoring.

242.5kg dead

250kg attempt

After crying hysterically all night I come back the next day and watch some lifting, I see Jen Thompson and Kim Walford lift, who are two of the strongest women in the world. Kim deads 507 at 140lbs which is insanely impressive for anyone at that weight male or female, which was the loudest I’ve ever seen a pl crowd. LS McLain and Dave Ricks have another awesome battle at 93kgs, and I watch via live stream Blaine Sumner vs. Williams. This was an insanely well run meet, Robert Keller the meet director deserves some props for this as this had to be very strenuous to put together.

For me I’m going to continue being an asshole and training both for wling and pling going up to 74/75kgs for pl and will make the cut to 69 for wl, hope that somehow I get a call from the usapl about being an alternate to worlds, and now I’m planning a local wl meet, the American open (Weightlifting), and the arnold for powerlifting in the future.




PR Friday July 26

PR Friday comes again ladies and gents, hope you all had a good week. Here at 70’s Big, we spotlighted the women of USAW at the OTC on Monday. The Fellas checked in from Raw nationals with some hotel gym training sesh’s and Brent talked to us about finding your 10.  Justin started his series on efficient training with The Squat, and also started a Q&A for his book, Paleo for Lifters to answer any questions you might have.


Over on the facebook page, a bunch of people have shared photos with us lately. Here’s a few:

Jethro shared this gem


Ann Marie shows off her new shorts on a camping trip

Owen sent us this 70's Big face from the hospital. Hope he's alright?

Owen sent us this 70’s Big face from the hospital. Hope he’s alright?

New photo contest for this week, which came to us from our friend from Canada, Mark Marotta. Send in or post your pictures of Pressing Things That Aren’t Weights. suggestions include but are not limited to: animals, significant others, vehicles, the earth, etc. Looking forward to seeing what you come up with, we’ll post submissions next Friday.

Mark starts it off by pressing a drum set?

Mark starts it off by pressing a drum set?

Paleo For Lifters Q&A

cover-mediumOriginally I wanted to invite folks who purchased Paleo for Lifters to a chat room Q&A, but it’s been hard to commit to a date and time. Instead, we’ll do the Q&A here in the comments and on the 70’s Big Facebook Fan Page.

For those who have purchased the book: ask any questions you thought of while reading it as well as questions that may be specific to your training situation.

For those who have not purchased the book: ask questions about the book or about general philosophy. Obviously there are over 26,000 words and 60 pages of information on the topic in the book, so if your question is covered there then I’ll answer quickly and default to the book.

I’ll answer questions throughout the week.

Click here to buy the book.

Efficient Training: The Squat

My travels have led me to many gyms ranging from performance centers for special operations personnel to CrossFit gyms, from storage containers to globo gyms. There is a constant in all of these facilities: inefficiency.

Though I’ve rehashed topics like this ad nauseam in the past (see additional links at end), it’s always good to revisit them and put them back in the fore front of readers’ minds.

Typical 5x5 weight for me was 445

445 for 5×5

The squat is the most important exercise anyone can do for any goal. 

Want to get stronger and/or bigger? You’ll need to squat since it strengthens the legs and hips through a full range of motion while the trunk isometrically maintains position; it’s a full body exercise. And since it’s training the majority of the musculature in the body, it garners a systemic (i.e. large scale hormonal) response in order to heal the damage done from an effective squat workout. This systemic response is what augments any other lifting you’ve done in the same training session and is the adaptive stress that spurns recovery and strength gain.

Want to lose body fat? The systemic stress response from squatting means hormones are working in overdrive to recover — a process that requires calories and stimulates muscle repair and growth. By using calories and growing new muscle — and doing this regularly with consistent training — the body is in a hormonal environment that facilitates body fat loss. To this day I’ve never had a female trainee not lose body fat on a strength training program.

Want to get faster? The squat takes the hips through a full range of motion and accentuates hip extension — the fundamental athletic movement. The squat also inherently involves a stretch reflex out of the bottom; the musculature about the hips and thighs moves into a position of tension and quickly shortens, or contracts, to explode out of the bottom. The squat perfectly prepares the related musculature for speed and power training as well as teaching the trunk how to stabilize the spine and hips to efficiently transmit force while moving (an important aspect of sprinting). The act of improving absolute strength will decrease the difficulty of repetitive movement, resulting in the capacity for higher or faster rates of work.

By regularly loading the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones with a full-body movement like the squat through a full range of motion, these structures adapt to be stronger, more dense, and ultimately less likely to be injured.

However, in order for all of this to be the case, the squat needs to be performed efficiently with adequate mobility. And the first god damn step is squatting all of the way down — a point in which the hip capsule (acetabulum) is below the top of the knee (or patella). If you’re reading 70’s Big, then you most likely squat to full depth on each rep, but statistically speaking there are a few of you who don’t.

As I’ve said before: Every time you don’t squat to depth, I pour a beer down the drain. And I HATE wasting beer.

For the sake of the gods, let’s make this simple: a cue to help reach depth on any squat type is shove your knees out”. Sure, there is a lot of other things we could focus on like stance width, toe angle, torso alignment, breathing techniques, chest positioning, eye gaze, and so on, but anyone can squat to depth if they shove their knees out. The rest will figure itself out.

Dat depth.

Shoving the knees out externally rotates the hips to point the femur out away from the mid-line. It helps clear the femur from impinging on front of the hip capsule and surrounding tissue and allows for more hip flexion, AKA depth. It also helps create the “torque” at the hip that Kelly Starrett frequently talks about and results in distributing the force application across the hips and thighs efficiently (more on that here). It can help if the “knees out” cue is originating at the outside of the hips (imagine a twisting motion on the lateral hip that results in the knees out).

Since I’m preaching to the choir about squatting to depth, it’s up to all of you to help your friends do the same. If you frequent a gym and establish relationships, then it is your honor-bound duty as a lifter to help them. Don’t be a dick and just ask them if they mind if you say something about their squat — most people are very open to this because they secretly have no fucking idea what they are doing and ultimately have six pounds of anxiety building in their chest. Don’t over-complicate the matter — make simple and quick adjustments and give them a single cue before sending them back to the bar. For example: narrow up the stance, change the toe angle, then just have them think knees out — the first two are passive cues that they don’t have to think about and the last is the only active cue they worry about.

Whether you’re a half squat abuser or you are guilty by proxy, spread the word that the only way to squat is to full depth.

More 70’s Big articles on squatting:
A Half Squat Is Not A Squat
Squat All of the Way Down
Low Bar vs High Bar Squatting

PR Friday July 19

PR FRIDAY! How are you guys (and ladies) doing? How was your week?

A non-sober tank top pic from last year's Tucson seminar.

It’s been a quiet few weeks here while Justin settles into a rhythm, but here at 70’s Big, we believe in quality over quantity. If you missed last week’s post, Justin continued his series on manliness with Take Back The Tank Top, a manifesto on obligatory summer attire. This week, Marotta sent in a mob that he thought might help some people, and Mike reviewed Kelly Starrett’s new book.


In other news, Klokov continues to post videos at a reckless pace, including this gem with commentary:

“Today, on 18th of July, I woke up and asked myself: what part of my body doesn’t hurt yet? It turned out that shoulders didn’t. So now we’re going to destroy them. EVERYTHING must hurt.”


Mike, Brent, Chris, AC, Jacob Cloud and friends are at Raw Nationals this weekend in Florida, make sure to say Hi if you run into them.

Also, Marotta puts a new perspective on the protein shake:

how normal people make protein shakes

Notable comment of the week goes to mattalbright, in reference to Mike’s joke about leg presses.
mattalbright said:

If you feel like leg pressing after squats, squat more, then reconsider. Keep squatting until leg pressing would seem silly.


Welp, that’s all I got. If you guys have any questions about training, spots, or whatever else for Mike or Justin, post them here in the comments. They are kinda like 7-11: not always doing business, but always open. cya