About Cloud

I'm a coach, lifter, and writer based out of Austin, TX. Contact me at Vintage Strong.

PR Friday and Robert’s First Meet

I asked one of my Vintage Strong lifters, Robert, to write up a recap after his first powerlifting meet last week. I’ve been incredibly proud of his work in and out of the gym, and thought his story would be a great one to share with you all, and knew that he’s a great writer and it would make a good read. What he sent me impressed me even more than I imagined. This is a heart-felt and honest story, folks. Check it out, and post your PRs in the comments as you would any other Friday – but go ahead and mention how many days out from your next meet you are while you’re at it. – Cloud 

When I first started trying to write this I had a difficult time deciding what was worth sharing. Should I talk about how I learned pretty quickly that a competition bench is much wider than the bench I use for training at my gym, and as a result I felt rock solid steady on that thing? Or how on my third bench attempt my face split into a huge grin as soon as I got the press command because I felt how easy 248 was, and then got teased by the judges because, “there ain’t no smiling during the lift?” How about the incredible embodiment of strength in all the participants through their support, compassion, and empathy? Or how I went nine for nine (and got a perfect 27 for 27 from the judges), set four PRs (three coming on my final attempts for each lift), and I shattered my goal of a 1000lb total by hitting 1063? All of these were eye opening, and very important for me, but I was still curious as to what I could possibly have to say that is worth hearing. Then it hit me: this has been my biggest hurdle both in and out of the gym. I rarely understand why anyone would think I am worth whatever he or she is asking of me, because I constantly think I am not good enough. Maybe, just maybe, Cloud is still coaching me out of the gym, and knows I need to work on this… so I decided to write about how I hit 1063 by NOT listening to that asshole little voice in the back of my head that tells me, “you are not good enough,” and instead listened to my coach and my handler (here is a great article by Cloud that hammers this same stuff out very clearly).

Cloud started coaching me back in March. I had been running the Greyskull LP for about a month or so, and had been really enjoying it. However, I had been program hopping for the last three and a half years, and as a result, I had basically the same PRs in March that I had four years prior. GSLP might be a good program, but I finally realized that I needed to reach out and ask for some help.

Cloud slid into the role of coach effortlessly, and he knew really quickly how to explain to me the plans we were implementing, and how to get my head out of my ass. We continued to run a modified LP right up to four weeks out from the meet, when we transitioned to a Texas Method taper approach. I could go into all the detail for you, but suffice to say, that for the first time since my D1 swim coach in college, I trusted someone to tell me what to do, when to do it, and that it would be the right move. I trusted that Cloud knew more than I did, and as a result the whole “not good enough” attitude started to fade.

Come meet day it was impossible for Cloud to be there in person to keep an eye on me. He was out in Austin for his Push/Pull, and I was in Atlanta. Cloud and I did take some time to map out exactly how to approach the attempts, and he made a fantastic plan for me to give to my handler when things got rolling. Enter my buddy Alex.

I asked Alex to handle me because Alex coaches another guy at our gym, Dave, and Dave set some solid PRs a few weeks back. He told me he never knew what was on the bar because Alex put in the weights so he wouldn’t think. I immediately wanted Alex to do the same. As someone who overthinks, I knew I could ruin the meet by overthinking my second and third attempts.

Alex is a few years my junior, but he is a huge inspiration to me. He also competes in the 198lb weight class, and is a trainer at the gym where I train: Core Body Decatur. Besides his great lifting knowledge, Alex is just an all around great person, and despite my insistence on paying him, agreed to come handle me free of charge. I sent him Cloud’s spreadsheet two days out, and all I heard from him between then and meet day was, “looks good, but let’s see how your openers look.” I was a bit disheartened by this, because I of course interpreted Alex’s response as, “You are not good enough to hit those weights.” Boy, was I wrong. Alex did not tell me, but he thought I was shortchanging myself.

When Alex arrived on Saturday morning he completely overhauled what I had planned. He cut my expected warm-up reps by almost two-thirds, and I was admittedly a bit nervous going into the first squat. Next thing I knew, 319 felt like kiddy weight and was quickly followed by a very easy 342 (which was the worst case scenario third attempt Cloud and I had come up with). I was starting to buy in. Third attempt goes up with a bit of a fight, but nothing bad. I went to the table and asked how much it was. They just laughed at me and said 358. 358!? A thirteen-pound PR that easily? That was what Cloud and I thought might be a best-case scenario. Needless to say, I was listening to my handler from there on out.

The bench went similarly. Smaller warm up, super easy opener and second attempt. Third attempt felt so light I grinned like a fool, and then came to find out I had just pushed 248, an eight-pound PR, easily. Moreover, Alex actually had to go beyond the plan Cloud and I had mapped out, because we guessed 242 at best.

Deadlift time: my bread and butter. The one lift I knew I had in the bag. I also knew that I had performed so well on the squat and bench, that all I had to do was hit my 395 opener to break 1000. That felt awesome. No pressure now, just fun time. Same thing: super short warm up, incredibly easy opener. Second attempt, Alex gives me advice for the first time: “Keep your hips high and your shoulders over the bar. This ought to go up pretty easy, but you tend to hitch when you get those shoulders back too early.” Fair enough, except it was not pretty easy. It was SUPER easy. It was also 430, a fifteen pound PR, and what Cloud and I mapped out as my most likely third attempt. I am geared up now, thinking “third attempt, what might happen?” Again, Alex steps close to me, “I have no doubt you have the strength to make this pull, but you have got to keep your shoulders ahead of the bar, otherwise you will hitch.” I step up, start to pull, and it gets going and then it hits me, this is a tough pull. However, I kept my shoulders back, and actually remembered Cloud’s advice instead of Alex’s: “when it gets heavy, just ride it out. Do not let go. Just keep it moving. It will be there.” It was. A 457 deadlift, a forty-two- pound PR, and it sure as hell was good enough.

IPF Classic Worlds

The IPF is hosting the “first” annual IPF World Classic Championship this week in Russia. I use the term “first” a bit loosely, because they had a nearly identical raw contest last year, but slightly changed the name this year (primarily because this year, they are hosting Junior and Sub-Junior Raw classes as well as Open).

Here’s where you can watch it live (scroll down for the schedule – keep in mind that they are 9 hours ahead of the Central Time Zone, 8 hours ahead of EST, etc.): http://goodlift.info/live.php

Here’s the lifter start list: http://goodlift.info/onenomination.php?cid=260

Here’s where you can check out the IPF Classic World Records/Standards, MANY of which will be broken this week: http://www.powerlifting-ipf.com/44.html

Some (American) Men’s lifters of note (I’ll make another post about the ladies):

Eric Kupperstein (59kg) and Shawn Frasquillo (66kg) lift Tuesday at 5pm (in Russian time – subtract the proper # of hours for your time zone). Eric’s been lifting for about 200 years, including last year at the IPF Classic Cup, and has pulled over 550lbs at 123lbs bodyweight, and 578 at 132. Shawn’s a local central-Texas fella who looks about a week out from a bodybuilding show at any point, and holds the US record with a 341lb bench in the 148 class, and 363 as a light 165.

For some reason, we don’t have any entries in the 74 or 83kg Open classes, but LS McClain (another Texan) will put on a great show as a 93kg. You might have seen him win Raw Nationals last year, and if you did, you’ll remember his bench – he hit 201kg/443lbs as a 198 – with a pretty close grip and a minimal arch. He’s a beast. The man he edged out at Raw Nats has a familiar name, and will be competing in the 93kg Junior class – Ian Bell. He will absolutely destroy the Jr. World Standard in the deadlift – probably on his second attempt. He’s got a great chance of bringing another Gold back to Austin. Ian lifts Thursday at 10am, and LS lifts on Friday at 12:30pm (remember, that’s Russian time).

Robert Trettin is a strong young guy that I saw at Raw Nats, but haven’t met. He’ll be in an extremely tough 105kg field, led by Russian Alex-Edward Raus, whose 325kg squat is a thing of beauty. They’ll be lifting Saturday at 1pm.

Everyone knows Mike T. He had a very tough IPF Classics last year (to say the least – read my coverage here), and we’re all hoping he can come out this year and take the gold, though he’s coming in ranked second to a Russian monster. There’s also another American in the class, Michael Hedlesky, who I haven’t heard of, but has very respectable numbers, including a 350kg deadlift. They lift Sunday at 11am, along with the SHW lifters – notably, Brad Gillingham. Brad is an all-time great, and comes in as the heavy favorite to win (and to demolish the WR DL, naturally). Getting up Sunday morning to watch these two classes is going to be worth it!


Take a good look at the American representation in the Junior classes – I’m not familiar with most of them, but I’m sure I will be soon, and so will you. The future of powerlifting in the US – especially raw – is pretty stellar. Guys like Gregory Johnson (who I’ve seen at pretty much every local TX meet, and has pulled 727.5 as a 220) are a lot of fun to watch and have just begun reaching their potential.


PR Friday, June 6

Guys, Gals, other weirdos – Justin and I had a real, real busy week watching Hot Tub Time Machine on repeat. Hopefully you found a better way to occupy your time than to read Brent’s MopeWOD. Odin, I hate that site.

Don’t worry –  next week we have several meet reports from various readers that I’ll post, complete with PRs, pics, and people totalling (psst – I used 2 l’s in that word to amuse myself and vaguely reference a certain Canadian – Canadians spell stuff funnily). I have had a couple requests for topics to write about, so, like, I can do that, too, and of course, Justin’s getting back into the swing of things, and will soon be responding to all your love letters. We’ll get some more stuff up soon, but in the meantime, spend more time getting your jacked and tan on. It’s summer!

In the meantime, this dude, Noah, sent in this pretty legit 70sBig face submission after his first successful 300+ squat with the following quote, which is fucking awesome…



“Broke 300 on my squat after growing the beard. Not saying it’s directly attributable to the beard, but it 100% is.”


He later tried to backtrack, saying it wasn’t deep enough when he looked back at the video and that I shouldn’t post the pic. Guess what? I don’t give two shits – I’m posting the pic. Good job, Noah. Yes, you can bury it next time, but give yourself some damn credit. You went down with 300 for the first time, and came back up. This is not to be ignored. You can get 3 whites at your next meet. Don’t try and backtrack! Own it. You now owe the entire 70sBig community a 300lb squat to depth. Wait, no – actually, now I’m kind of pissed off, and you owe us 8 Acts of Contrition (directed towards Mr. Doug Young, naturally) and a 315 squat to depth. I’m expecting the video within the next month. Do you see what happens, Noah? Do you see what happens when you fight a stranger in the Alps?

That’s all I got today. I’m really looking forward to posting up these reader submissions next week – nothing cranks me up like seeing folks competing and kicking ass. If you have a cool story, submit it. If not, just comment below and let us know how much stronger you are than last week. That’s pretty cool, too.

Finally, you can laugh at me coming as close as you can possibly get to finishing a deadlift and NOT QUITE GETTING IT at last weekend’s Hyde Park Gym Push/Pull meet. 585, you motherfucker: You will be mine. You.Will.Be.Mine.


PR Friday, 31 May 2013

Hope you had a great week. It was pretty quiet on the site, but hopefully you caught Justin’s Memorial Day post. Probably best to go re-read it anyway. Since there weren’t very many posts, that gave you less time to read, and more time to lift. Make sure you post your PRs that resulted. There seems to be quite a few people competing this weekend (myself included), so everyone, please: Seek and Destroy.

Mike didn’t have enough Q to make a Q&A this week, but he weighed in on something I personally think is really important. Watch, listen, and see if you agree.

Entertaining stuff has been sent in. Here’s some of it.

Brooks Conway’s buddy John Rivas squatted 793 at IPF Jr. Worlds last year, and has finally shared his secret with us mere mortals. Behold: The Ultimate Squat Setup.

This might be the perfect demonstration of intensity and mobility coming together for ultimate lifting domination. This is a HIGHLY ADVANCED move – I suggest using a basic linear progression on your setup for quite some time before advancing to a weekly linear periodization, then tapering for 6-8 years and using an American Wave method before finally giving this a go. You’ve been warned.

Reader Dimitri sent in a couple pics of his 70sBig face – this was the best. He said something about being in Canadia in it, but we’ll let that slide this time, because he mentioned that many beers were consumed in the process of celebrating some sort of “hockey” victory. I guess that’s like football with funny accents?


I also had some great pics of young future-70sBiggers submitted by dads and uncles, but sorry guys, I’d feel weird about posting pics of kids. I still thought the pics were cute, though. Made me want a dog.


Last Friday, I recounted the soon-to-be-legendary story of our buddy Ryan Carrillo showing up to IPF Bench Worlds and bringing home the gold on his final attempt. He got back in the states last night, and there was a news crew waiting for him at the airport – he’s a pretty medium deal. We’ve already heralded his achievements on this site, but showing some love to the news stations that cover this is only going to help them believe that powerlifting IS news. So, uhh, click these links, and let’s make one more small push to getting powerlifting the recognition it deserves. And if you don’t click the links…Ryan might just eat you. So do it. KENS5, KSAT12


Justin will be back writing SOON for everyone’s amusement. Til then, just lift more, and keep your short shorts on. It’ll be worth the wait.


Ryan Carrillo at IPF Bench Worlds

Ladies and Gentlemen of 70sBig, I interrupt your regular PR Friday programming. I’m writing this at 5am on Friday morning. Why? Because I wanted to write this post to kick off Memorial Day Weekend while watching our buddy Ryan Carrillo represent the United States of Awesome at IPF Bench Worlds. First and foremost, Memorial Day is about honoring and respecting our soldiers, especially those who have fallen in support of our country. It’s also about being a patriot, and being proud to be an American. It’s only fitting that Ryan is off in Lithuania flying our colors proudly for us on the World stage.

While my first pot of coffee brewed this morning, and I desperately tried to get the sleep out of my eyes, Ryan opened successfully at 267.5kg, putting him in 2nd place in the Jr 120+ kg category, 7.5kg behind a Russian for first, and 7.5kg ahead of the Czech lifter. He knew going in that the Russian would be his main competition, and I even texted him some choice words about it ahead of time. He called for a 10kg jump for his second; the Russian called for a 7.5kg jump, narrowing their gap. Ryan might be too young to remember the cold war, but this battle still seems appropriate.

I am glued to the stream, which I have connected to my big-ass TV and surround sound (America!). I get chills every time the Lithuanian chick says Ryan’s name over the streaming broadcast. He presses his second attempt, 277.5kg, a bit slowly, but gets 3 white lights. The Russian’s 282.5 is a bit quicker and also gets white lights, narrowing his lead to 5kg.

They both call for 290.0kg (640lbs) on their third. This is what he told me he wanted in our first discussion on the topic back in February, so I probably should have seen it coming. He hit 280kg at Collegiate Nats on his final attempt (after missing it on his second at that meet), so this is a big one – a meet PR for sure. The Russian calls for the same 290kg. Rammstein plays in the background, because Lithuania.

The wait seems like forever – I imagine Ryan behind the stage, knowing he has half of Texas staring at computer screens well before their normal waking time, waiting to scream and yell in support of his final lift – trying to will him to victory. His facebook feed is alive with support. His spotify playlist simply called “meet” ominously looms on his facebook wall. He is connected, even across the world, but I know that his mind is locked in on what he came here for – the win.

Five lifters in a row have failed their third attempts as the bar climbs from 245 to 270. My coffee is finally kicking in, and my blood pressure is climbing. I get a text from the other room asking me to turn down the volume of the stream. I oblige…barely. I start to think the Lithuanian announcer chick sounds kinda hot, but I secretly hope her shitty pronunciation of Ryan’s last name is fueling his inner rage on the other side of the world. I change my mind about the volume of my internet stream, turning it higher and insisting that my lady friend come in to watch Ryan, because it just feels like something big is about to happen. She grumbles and stumbles her way to the couch.

Suddenly, the Czech hits 277.5 to bump Ryan into 3rd, based on bodyweight. Next, the Ukraine lifter hits 280kg to bump Ryan into fourth, off the podium. When you’re in a meet, you don’t think much about these things, but as a spectator, everything suddenly feels like it’s slipping away. I watch the attempt board closely, and am appreciative of how responsive and quick it is on my browser. The attempt chart shows that Ryan lowered his 3rd to 285. Still a PR, but is he just trying to get back on the podium? I don’t know.

285kg is loaded, and Ryan storms to the platform. I imagine it is shaking under his weight. He’s locked in, mentally, of that I have no doubt. I can practically see lasers coming out of his eyes. But during his setup, he discovers the height of the racks are incorrect for his giant frame and long wingspan. He shows the liftoff guy, who quickly fixes it, but I briefly worry that his concentration might be shaken.

Ryan quickly gets in position anyway, brings the bar low and tight, and presses it. It moves quickly off the chest, but there’s a subtle dip on one side – subtle enough for me to yell “TWO WHITES!” at the screen, as more of prayer than anything. I was wrong – he gets all three whites, ending his day perfectly, hitting a huge PR in the process, and putting him temporarily in first place for the first time of the meet.

The Russian lowers his 3rd attempt to 287.5, enough for the outright win, though tying Ryan’s 285 would still get him the gold based on bodyweight (The Russian is about 20kg less 70sBig than Ryan). I’m a little let down after such a triumphant 3rd by Ryan, thinking the win might slip away, because the Russian’s lifts have all been quite strong. The Russian brings it low – “too low!” I yell at the screen! – and explodes with a ton of speed off the chest. I hold my breath – the lift is impressive, and quick. He’s a strong fella. But then the bar dips. He completely fails to lock it out. Three reds.

After jumping up and down and screaming (it’s still not even 6am), I kiss my lady friend, who I dragged into the room to watch this. She beams, and we both know that he’s done it – Ryan Carrillo is now a World Champion.

Could it be more fitting that this happened going into Memorial Day weekend? Ryan’s years of hard work, finally paying off on the biggest stage of his life so far, in his first opportunity to represent Team USA at a World event. In the medal ceremony, he towers over everyone before he even steps on the podium. He has proudly represented his country, his state, his family, and his friends. I know what kind of patriot he is, and how much this means to him – I know that the timing is not lost on him. As the Star Spangled Banner plays, and Ryan covers his heart with his right hand, I see tears forming in his eyes. Strong men also cry…strong men also cry.


I’m proud of you, brother. From all of us at 70sBig, thank you for representing our country so well this weekend. You done good.

Ryan Podium


Sorry for the quality of the photos – they are cell phone pics of an internet stream, what do you expect? Go ahead and post your PRs in the comments as you normally would on Fridays. I have some reader-submitted pictures and videos, but will hold them until next Friday’s PR post. Stay safe.