Last week’s posts were dominated by our experience from Raw Nationals. A lot of you have written in saying how much 70’s Big has inspired you to compete, and I enjoy every one of those e-mails. 70’s Big is an attitude, and part of that attitude is putting yourself to the test and risking failure along the way.
I’m going to periodically share some stories from people who have written to me about their competitions. Today I want to highlight Antoinette’s journey into her first powerlifting meet earlier this month. You may remember her from this post when she deadlifted 250lbs. Antoinette is coached by her boyfriend Eric, and he did a solid job on teaching her the barbell lifts and helping her develop a great strength base. On a side note, Antoinette told me that when she got into lifting, she dropped bodyfat and even though she was eating a lot more. I’ll let her comment on that, but typically when girls start getting stronger they have an improvement in body composition.
Eric and Antoinette having a rough time with the 70's Big Face
The first time Antoinette e-mailed me, she was asking about the best way to taper her “Texas Method” program into the meet. TM programming works really well with people shifting from novice programming to intermediate, and once the lifter has been on it for a few months, it can be transitioned pretty well into a short taper for a meet. I recommended she start doing 3 rep maxes (3RM) so it would paint a more accurate picture of what she could open with.
Antoinette kept in touch with me as she got ready for the meet, and unfortunately she was hit with various types of the black plague for the three weeks leading into the meet. In any case, she didn’t let it deter her from having a solid day. Eric wrote me a recap, and I’ll give it to you from the horse’s mouth:
So our plan was to open conservatively and make reasonable jumps for the second attempts on each lift so, worst case, she could go 6/9 and put up lifts in the neighborhood of her training PRs. Seeing how she was coming off being sick for most of the three weeks prior to the meet, and the fact that her Tuesday recovery day hadn’t gone very well, we definitely wanted to keep things on the low side. Add in the fact that she was on the verge of having an anxiety attack prior to her first lift (she can tell you more about that) and I was still a little worried going into the squats.
We decided to open at 105kg on squats, which was a weight she had tripled without too much struggle two weeks ago. You can see that it looked a little more difficult than it should have, which was mainly due to her nervousness preventing her from getting a good deep breath before starting the lift. So we only went with a 2.5kg jump for her second attempt, which put her about 9lbs short of her gym PR of 245lbs. 107.5kg went up without too much problem since she had calmed down a lot once she got the first lift out of the way. She had a slight knee turn-in and loss of back angle, so we knew she could handle quite a bit more weight if she fixed that. For her third attempt we jumped to 112.5kg, and even with a slight knee turn-in (looks like it was due to toes not being angled out enough in the stance) it went up without any problem.
Bench was definitely her weakest event–on her last intensity day she had put up 125lbs (which was a PR for her) but it didn’t go easy. We opened at 52.5kg which went up easy enough, but I was still hesitant about making a big jump on bench so we only went to 55kg for attempt #2. That went up easy enough that I felt comfortable calling for 60kg on the third attempt. By this time she had gotten over the nervousness and was able to channel the pressure in a productive way and get amped up for each lift. 60kg went up far easier than I had expected, giving her a 7lb PR on bench.
With deadlift we wanted to use the first attempt essentially as a final warmup lift so she would have something left for her second and third attempts. So we opened at 102.5kg, which she has done for a set of 5 before. That went up easy enough for us to feel comfortable jumping to 110kg on her second attempt…again short of her gym 1RM but something that would let her get a solid number on the board without too much trouble. After hitting that attempt easily we jumped to 115kg, 3lbs over her gym PR. She pulled 115kg like it was a warmup lift, and it looked far stronger than when she set her previous deadlift PR a few weeks ago.
So in the end, she went 9/9 and totaled 287.5kg, good for 2nd place in her weight class in the raw open. Tracee Patterson, the winner in her weight class, hold several national records in that class, so it was no shame to take second place to her. All three lifts were PRs and it looked like she could have handled about 5kg more on the bench and 7.5-10kg more on the squat and deadlift, but being her first meet we thought it was a better idea to leave something on the table rather than taking a chance bombing out or getting hurt.
That, my friends, is how you handle someone at their first meet. Antoinette had e-mailed me, and we went back and forth with strategy. I mentioned that they could take the last warm-up for deadlift on the platform, and that’s what they decided to do in order to help her go 9/9 in the meet. And really, PR’s on all the lifts and going 9/9? I can’t think of a better way to motivate anybody, especially a girl in her first competition. Nice job Antoinette, and nice job Eric.
Here is Antoinette’s last deadlift (you can see her other lifts here):
PR Friday — Post all your personal records to today’s comments.
The 100kg session lasted almost four hours, so I was sort of burned out already. The 110kg, 125kg, and 125kg and up weight classes were all in the same session, so they were all weighing in at the same time. USAPL conveniently didn’t post a schedule for the roster like they did that morning for the 100kg class, and they are a bit gruff in the weigh-in room. When Mike and Chris were finally weighed, I drove Brent, Mike, and Chris to go eat at the same breakfast place from the day before. Thankfully I went, because the coffee, waffle, eggs, bacon, and sausage helped refuel me for the next six hours.
When we got back to the hotel, we had about 15 minutes until the session started. There were two flights and Mike was in the first and Chris was in the second. Again, they wouldn’t let me see the second flight’s order so I had no clue when Chris was going to open. I don’t fucking understand why they can’t just post it on the wall and clarify it’s “subject to change”. Having to aim a shot in the dark is irritating since I like to have the lifter take their last warm-up about 5 to 8 attempts out.
Irre-fucking-gardlessly, we warmed Mike up pretty quickly. He wanted to open lower than the 222.5kg (491lbs) that we went with, but I talked him into bumping it up since 240kg (529lbs) was his goal. Mike was pretty wound up, especially in his “getting pumped” period before that first squat. Most athletes are similar – I know that in football I was always a little razzed up until I got my first hit in at linebacker. It’s the same with my friends and their first squat; they settle down a bit afterwords. Thank god, because Mike was starting to piss me off the way he was grabbing me and hitting me before and after the easy opener.
We took 232.5kg (512lbs) on his second attempt which matched the PR from the last meet. Mike was a bit slow out of the bottom, but once he got the bar moving again it never slowed down. I cued him quite a bit on getting a sharp bounce on his third attempt of 240kg (529lbs). Choosing third attempts is a bit tricky; I look at the lift and judge how difficult it was, I ask them what they thought of it, and then I take into account what their goal is. As I mentioned a couple days ago, I took more of a risk at this meet because I figured, “Fuck, it’s a national meet, let’s force them to step up.” I called for the 240kg (529lbs). I wanted Mike to know he got the most out of his squat.
The last month leading up to this meet was a bit tough for Mike. He is an instructor in the Air Force and he has to stay under a 39 inch waist. This means that he can stay around 250 and cut some weight to lower down to a bit under 240 for his PT test (which he has never failed), so it fits nicely into competing in the 242lb class. The only problem was that he almost weighed 260 after he went on leave for a couple weeks, so he had a hellacious weight loss period. His training suffered, he felt like shit, and he was irritable as hell. He passed the PT test (which has new standards nowadays – if you fail one section, you fail the whole thing!), and got ready for the meet with sub-par training. It was all an after thought as we sat in the warm-up room getting ready for his last squat.
Unfortunately you can’t see that last attempt, because Brent Fucking Kim mis-pressed the record button on my camera and turned it off when he thought he was turning it on. AC has some footage, but what I remember in person is that the third attempt looked better than his second attempt. He bounced well, fought a bit, but drove it up evenly. Nice work.
Meanwhile Chris was warming up behind the stage. Ace came back and was helping me load, did a bit of filming, and generally giggled with Chris about the scenario based jokes that Chris likes to perform. Chris opened a little more than halfway into his flight, and we set him up with a 257.5kg (568lbs) squat as an opener. The goal was to PR, and that means anything higher than 600lbs. Chris is a pretty strong squatter – recently he did three sets of five at 500lbs, but he has a tendency to let his knees come in at the bottom, and this brings his hips and ass, thus the bar, a bit forward. He did a decent job on the opener, and had a pretty sick bounce out of the bottom. I still thought he could be tighter, and this was my emphasis when talking to him in the back.
We moved ahead towards 267.5kg (590lbs) on his second attempt. After Chris got that first attempt out of the way, he had better focus as we prepared for the 590. After he walked the weight out and received the squat command, he hit the bottom loosely. It’s a combination of going a bit too low and letting his knees fall in, and as a result his pelvis and butt actually move forward. As you can expect, it completely relaxes his hamstrings, and he no longer has that important muscle group to help him with the ever important bounce. This is all hard to see from the angle I was at behind him – all I know is that his knees came in. It wasn’t until I reviewed the tape that I saw him move forward. The fact that he quad pressed 590 back to the top is impressive. He got it, but it was a struggle.
I had a choice at the moment. I could try and match his 600 squat that he did in April or I could go for the next bump up and PR at 606. I was banking on getting him extremely amped for the last squat as well as cuing him to be tight. When he came back from the first attempt, I told him his knees yanked in at the bottom and to shove them out. My mistake is that I didn’t emphasize this and didn’t use it as my main cue. I didn’t bring it up because Chris is an anxious guy, and I didn’t want him thinking about more than a few things at once. I just used the vague phrase of “staying tight”. “Staying tight” as a cue doesn’t mean shit, and I never use it because it isn’t descriptive and doesn’t command the lifter HOW to stay tight, so I wish I would have cued his knees instead.
I got Chris as amped as he could be, told him to have a ‘sharp bounce’ out of the bottom (a familiar cue between us), and had to stand and watch. When you watch him on film, he falls pretty fast into the bototm, loosens up the same way he did on the second attempt, drifts his ass forward, and doesn’t have any hamstring bounce. I don’t see this as a “the weight was too heavy” situation, because I think he could have gotten it had I been cuing him properly from the start of his warm-ups. The good news is we know exactly what to cue him on heavy squats, and I think he’ll progress very well into the next meet.
Mike’s flight began benching next, and the bench press is Mike’s weakest event. His long gangly arms make it hard on him. In his defense, his reach is about six inches longer than AC’s, and longer than that when compared to mine. We opened at 127.5kg (281lbs), which was actually pretty easy. The problem is that the loaders loaded the bar incorrectly, so they made him get off the bench, walk back to me, then walk back to the bench, and in this process he absentmindedly forgot about the commands. I consider this my fault also, because I should have reminded him of the commands, but the mis-load got me mentally off track as well and I was talking to the judge next to me. I’ll be focused constantly in the next meet that I coach.
The opener was still easy, even though it was red-lighted, and we went up to 132.5kg (292lbs). Mike hit this with a little bit of trouble, but locked it out for a 5kg PR. The next choice I had was to either go to 297 or 303lbs. Well, 297 ain’t 300 and 300 is what Mike had a goal of, so I went ahead and gave him 137.5 (303lbs) on the third attempt. This is where the whole “cutting a lot of weight” thing hurt Mike, because it weakened his bench. He didn’t get the bar very far off his chest and missed the last attempt. But hey, we got a ten pound PR on the second attempt.
I was thinking that on the high end, Chris could bench 369 on his last attempt. After he missed the last squat, I said to myself, “I need him to PR on bench to keep his confidence up. The smallest PR will count.” We opened at 155kg (342lbs). Chris has tripled 345 in the gym, but he had a horrible (i.e. shitty, shitty, shitty) lift off, and it definitely perturbed him. In person I guess it looked easier than it does on the film, because after talking with him I gave him 162.5kg (358lbs). This was a blatant mistake on my part. 162.5 was his PR from the last meet. I should have stuck with the low end strategy I had written down on my notes, but for some reason I was confident in the high end strategy.
Chris lowered the weight, paused, and then had good drive on the bar and then randomly paused. He missed the rep. He took a moment to get off the bench and immediately told me his back cramped up pretty bad. His spirits were shot, and I still believe that this was my fault. Yes, I think that he could have gotten that second attempt sans back cramp, but I should have called for 160kg with the intention of going for a PR of 165 on the third. Judging Chris’ demeanor, he didn’t think he had a chance at making the weight. His back was sore, and I didn’t want him to make it worse for the deadlift. After a few minutes of loosening it up, I waved his third attempt. I’m still disappointed with myself about messing this up. I sort of made up for it when I asked Chris if he wanted some caffeine. I had his dad get him some coffee, and this gave a last surge for the deadlift.
We had a pretty abnormal warm-up for mike on the deadlifts. The five minute break became almost ten minutes, so I kept him fresh with periodic singles at 225lbs as we waited to take his last warm-up. Mike crazily did math in his head and found out he needed to pull 262.5kg (579lbs) in order to total 1400. We had him opening at 247.5kg (546lbs). He gauges how he feels by how easy 500 feels, and everything was going well.
Mike has this tendency to let the bar drift forward, so I cued him to keep it back pretty stoutly in his reps. He actually does a very good job of this – much better than the last meet and what he had been doing in training. He pulled 546 very easily off the floor, and then because of his goofy anthropometry (long-ass femurs), the lift slowed at the lockout. He was VERY excited about not having trouble with 546 because in his mind, the 579 was going to go. He pushed the bar down quickly and yelled “BOOM” (this is all on the video) to Brent’s amusement. The head judge didn’t like this, but technically he didn’t do anything wrong (he didn’t drop the bar). Anyway, don’t act like a spaz as you put the weight down at a meet. Three white lights, and Mike walked up to me and said, “Give me 579, I’ll get it.” I turned in the attempt to the table without hesitation.
Mike didn’t really get pumped for his last attempt of 262.5kg (579lbs). He got a little gargoyle-ish, as is his custom, but it wasn’t over the top like it was on the squats. He calmly took his headphones out, was already shaking his head yes to whatever I was saying, and said, “I got it.” He literally had no doubt in his mind whatsoever.
He approached the bar, made a face as if he were saying, “Yikes, I’m sorry about that last time Mr. Head Judge”, stretched his arms out a bit, and then pulled the bar pretty swiftly off the ground. Once he got it past his knees, it was a slow lockout. I shouted “smooth” over and over to make sure he didn’t hitch it, and he stuck with the hard, but steady grind all the way to the top. He set it down under control for three white lights, and had a nice cap onto his excellent meet. Every one of Mike’s lifts were PR’s (240/132.5/262.5) for a 635kg total (1400lbs). We found out later that his total was good enough for fifth place in the men’s 110kg weight class. Great meet for Mike.
Backstage Chris was feeling good. He’s very sensitive to caffeine because of his medication, so he was AMPED. He was doing funny stuff, singing at times, and smiling constantly. His warm-ups were going well, and one of the 242 lifters that we befriended said he was “just throwing weight around”. Things were looking up. We stuck with the opener of 277.5kg (612lbs) with the intention of choosing an appropriate PR for his second (and final) attempt. He pulled that 612 very easily, and was pretty excited about it (see video). Now, the great debate. Before Chris warmed up, all I cared about was getting him a PR, no matter how small it was. His previous best deadlift was 287.5 (633lbs) at the meet in April. Chris came off the platform and said, “I want 650.” The 612 looked easy, but I knew 650 would be a bitch if that’s what we went with. I don’t remember what I said, but he walked away saying, “Whatever you think is best.” I went to the warm-up room and sat their for at least 30 seconds debating. If he hit 650, then all of his other lifts wouldn’t matter, and this would be one of the greatest days of his lifting life. I could go lower and still get him a PR, but he wanted the 650. I really did think he could get it, but it made me nervous as hell. Finally I said, “Fuck it, it’s competition.”
I gave Chris a bit of a speech eight minutes or so before he lifted. I consider it private, but basically I told him that I fully believed that he could pull 650. I just needed him to believe it too.
Now, I want everyone to understand something. There are emotional times in sport. Usually we experience these emotions in high school because we grow up playing a sport with our best friends for years. When we succeed or fail with those friends, it bonds us closer together. I have vivid memories of the triumphant successes and devastating failures from my time playing football. When I left that sport, it disappointed me knowing that I would never feel that again, having that kind of bond with a group of friends. I can tell you that nowadays I have that bond with all of my best friends (the ones that were at this meet), and it’s much stronger than I ever had before. Our passion is competing with ourselves, competing with gravity. There’s so much more emotion when you’re in an individual sport, especially when you’ve been on a daily journey with your friends for over a year.
Compound that bond with the fact that I’ve experienced about 35 adrenaline spikes over the previous 30 hours. Every time one of my friends go to lift, I get an intense surge of adrenaline and feel as if I could walk over to the bar and move it with them. Now add in the fact that ever since I arrived into Denver I literally spent every moment manipulating every conversation, every little thing that happened in our group to purposely maintain a healthy, successful mindset towards competing well. I constantly evaluated everyone, consistently altered the dynamics of the group to keep everyone in an optimal state of mind. If you’ve ever been around my friends, you know that just observing them is exhausting, now imagine how much mental effort it requires to keep everyone in their own optimal mindset. The point I’m trying to make is that I was beaten down, and this was the lift of the meet in my eye.
Chris swelled with intensity. He unleashed it on the bar. The plates broke the ground. The bar dragged against his shins. It passed his knees. Slowly. His body bulged. His necklace almost snapped off. God damn it he was fighting. But it was too much for him that day. The bar couldn’t rise anymore, and it fell to the floor. He went out fighting.
Chris stepped back, almost passed out, but caught himself. I slung one of his arms around my neck and carried him to a chair. I think the realization that he missed the lift was setting in, and his bloodshot eyes welled with tears. He left his guts on the platform.
I fucked up. Obviously I should have picked something lower, a lower PR. I made five mistakes that I can’t forgive myself for. That’s just how I am. I make mistakes all the time, and no matter how good I am at something, the mistakes are always glaring. I’ve never been impressed with anything I’ve ever done. I wasn’t impressed with my football ability, never impressed with graduating high school, never impressed with graduating college, and not impressed with getting into grad school. None of these things mattered to me because I expect it all to happen. When I mess up in something I care about, it garners my attention. And I mess up a lot. The only good news is that this was only Chris’ second meet, and I learn from messing up.
Chris ended up getting second in the Junior 125kg category. Out of the four lifters, we finished second and fifth overall in open categories and second overall in a junior category. Not too bad for a few friends having a the best weekend ever.
After Brent lifted, we went to eat and then perused the biggest Bass Pro Shop this/that side of the Mississippi. Our group was split up and lost on several occasions, so AC and I stopped to take a nap.
Once we found everyone and headed to the parking lot, Mike really wanted to show AC a particular joke that I started the day before when AC wasn’t with us. It starts with me in the rig (old person boat-car) and radioing the team (everyone but me) that their evac is on the way to the LZ. It goes something like this:
Overlord (me): Hunter-two-one, this is Overlord, come in, over.
Hunter-two-one (Mike/Brent/AC): Overlord, this is Hunter-two-one, we’re taking heavy fire, over.
Overlord: Roger that, we are two clicks north of your position, prepare for pick up. Let’s get a move on because that LZ is HOT! Over.
It proceeds with my yelling into the phone how hot the LZ is and how the team needs to hurry up. I like the joke because it is literally hot outside since Denver is over a mile high, thus the sun is more intense, and the LZ is hot because it’s taking heavy fire. That and because I’m screaming at the top of my lungs while driving towards my friends causing a scene.
Well, on this occasion, I wanted the team to feel like they were actually stranded. I drove around with Chris in the rig for about ten minutes to make sure they were good and hot, and then gave them a call. Let me tell you, AC was not amused by any of this. He said something to the effect of, “Where the fuck are you? It’s hot out here and I have to lift tomorrow.” I understood, so I reported back with, “I KNOW Hunter-two-one, that LZ is HOT. What is your current location? Over.” And then he hung up on me.
I found them as they were about to walk into a movie theater a few clicks east of the original LZ, and I was screaming hysterically for them to have a rapid evac because that “LZ is smokin’ hot”. AC was only mildly amused. Luckily his four minute walk in the sun didn’t create too much of a disturbance in his diaper or with his pacifier, because he was prepped and ready to rock the next morning when his session started at 9:00 AM.
This was the first time that I coached AC in a meet, and it was a lot of fun. He trains his ass off, is a genetic freak, and lifts with maximal intensity. Our goal for a few months was to squat 550 at this meet, and he was looking good in warm-ups. We opened with 232.5 (513lbs), and Ace McGonague rocked the FUCK out of it. Watch the video below – you’ll see the bar flap UP when he completes the squat.
AC barks at his opener
I decided that going to 242.5 (534lbs) was a good second attempt. It was an increase of 10kg after he wrecked 232.5. Ace knew he had this one, and had a solid lift for a 2.5kg PR. Now it was time to go to work, because we both knew he could get 550, but it would be a bitch of a squat.
AC’s adrenaline was pouring out of him – his eyes were welled with tears as I talked him up. There’s nothing he wanted more than to have five and half hundred pounds on his back. He un-racked 250kg (551lbs), looked at the judge, and was finally released to attack his last squat. He hit it rock bottom and bounced it out of the hole. The bounce was fast, even on this last attempt, and he made it a third out of the bottom before the straining started. He knew it was going to be a battle, and he let out a battle cry to help himself. The vein in his neck was bulging and he shut his eyes because of the exertion. This would ultimately be his downfall, because he lost his reference point and dipped forward slightly. Once you let a quarter of a ton drift forward an inch or more, it isn’t coming back. He barely missed that squat, and I think he could have finished it if the bar stayed in the groove over the middle of his foot. God damn, he went out fighting though.
If you go back and watch the first squat attempt, the judge tells AC that he has to wrap his thumbs around the bar (AC had them on top like we teach so that the wrists aren’t bent). There is no such rule in the rule book related to what the thumbs should be doing, and in the three different meets AC has been in he has been told three different things. I’ve heard people gripe online about USAPL seemingly “creating rules out of thin air” and this was disappointing to deal with. Not only was Brent allowed to squat with his thumbs on top of the bar the day before, but there were at least two other lifters in AC’s session that also had their thumbs on top of the bar, yet weren’t told to do anything differently. Inconsistency in the implementation of rules is bullshit.
Anyway, we opened with an easy 160kg (350lbs) on the bench press. How awesome is it that 350lbs is not big deal to a guy weighing 213? Apparently too awesome because AC fucked it up by not waiting for the down command. He bent his elbows, straightened them again, and then received the command. The lift was red lighted as it should have been – if you listen in the video, I literally fucking say, “Wait for the commands” two seconds before he does it. Whatever. It was easy, and we went ahead with the scheduled 167.5kg (369lbs) for a 7.5kg jump. This time AC obeyed orders for a solid lift to match a PR. Our goal for a few months had been 380lbs, and 380 is what Ace McGonague got. A solid 172.5kg was lowered to his chest, he was given permission to press it, and he added one of his trademarked battle cries to force the weight up. Go watch the video – this lift is sick.
Opening deadlift at 546lbs
AC rode his high into the warm-up room and was feeling good. In retrospect I think we took one too many warm-ups, but he opened with a pretty standard 247.5kg (546lbs). I wanted to lower the opener so it wouldn’t be so stressful, and the ruling says you’re allowed to if it’s at least five minutes or five attempts out. Well, I was seven or eight attempts out and I was denied permission to lower the attempt (I’ll have to check the rule book on this one). Ace hit his opener a little slower than I would have liked, and I brought down the next attempt a little. It turns out I didn’t bring it down enough, and the combination of the extra warm-up, the slightly high opener, and the jump to 262.5kg (578lbs) was a bit much. His previous max was 567, so we were wanting the ten pound PR. It proved to be too much for AC because he let the bar drift forward about two inches. Nobody is going to be hitting any PR’s with the bar out in front of the middle of their foot. As he approached the bar, I told him “mid-foot”, and I debated cuing him to keep the bar back. I should have told him to pull it back off the floor and I believe that he would have had a shot had I done so. I take the blame for this miss because of the warm-ups, the opener, the jump, and then the lack of a timely cue that I think would have gotten him the lift.
At the end of the day, AC went 5 for 8 with lifts of 242.5/172.5/247.5, a total of 662.5kg/1458lbs total, and 2nd overall in the 100kg/220lbs Open category. In his last two meets he hasn’t lifted to his potential, but it was good enough to win first place in a big meet and second place at nationals. We’ll learn from this and continue improving. Nice job, best friend.
I arrived in Denver a couple hours before Brent, Chris, and Mike. I sat by myself outside of their terminal in peace, but when they walked off the plane that was the last peace I had until Monday when they left. Brent commenced trolling me immediately asking me what I thought of his traps, Mike was at his stock 300 mph talking rate, and Chris had a constant response to their antics. Pretty standard, really.
I always thought Brent was kind of a shy person, but instead when he’s in public with us, he increases the volume of his voice to at least 100 decibels. This means that the old couple across the bus aisle from Brent and I weren’t amused when his response to me asking if he thought the girl next to him was attractive was, “You know I’m a virgin, right?” That isn’t to say that Mike and Chris monitor their volume in public, because they don’t. Chris usually gets agitated at something Brent is doing, and then will swear loudly while Mike is continuing whatever conversation is going on in his head. All standard-ops throughout the weekend.
AC didn’t get in Denver until very late because of complications in the Atlanta airport (he has the worst luck with travel when he’s doing powerlifting meets), so we didn’t see him until the following morning. Brent was the only lifter who was competing on Saturday, and he had to weigh in at 7:00 AM. I filmed a little bit of the morning Brent and I shared as he weighed in. First he had to get his rack heights in the warm-up room which was down the hall from the weigh-in room. There was a ridiculous confusion on Brent’s part as to what hole the rack needed to be in for bench. Later, we found out that he was supposed to get it on the competition rack – a fact that would have been necessary to know to begin with. I was irritated with a few things that USAPL did, and the whole “not giving extremely dire and relevant information” thing pissed me off. To add to the silliness, Brent forgot not only his driver’s license, but his USAPL membership card in the room. The other 82.5kg lifters were amused when I referred to him aloud as a “wily Asian”.
After Brent was finally done weighing in, the four of us (Brent, Chris, Mike, and me) had breakfast at a charming little joint called “Egg and I”. It was delightfully overpriced but was satisfying nonetheless. When we finally got back to the hotel, it was about 15 minutes till 9:00 AM when Brent’s session was supposed to begin. There was a small computer monitor that was supposed to show the order of the lifters, yet it didn’t have any information on it. The table with the attempts card was fifteen feet away and I was denied access to look at the order of the cards. Just to clarify the irritation of this situation, it’s completely necessary to know how far ahead the lifter is opening so that you can warm them up properly. The guy at the computer monitor table just kept telling me to listen to the announcer. I kept saying, “I don’t know when to have my guy ready if all I hear is the next three lifters,” but I was ignored. I was fucking PISSED OFF at this point. They were still entering data into the computer when the session was already going. It doesn’t make sense to me to start the session promptly at the scheduled start time if they don’t have their shit together, regardless of the reason (I later heard a rumor that the “computers crashed”, but still, there’s no excuse).
Eventually I found out that there were two flights, and Brent was in the second flight. He had plenty of time, but the fact that this schedule wasn’t posted anywhere and nobody could tell me what in the hell was going on left a sour taste in my mouth.
PR second attempt, 207.5kg
Anyway, Brent hit a solid opener at 200kg (440lbs), and then had a no-big-deal second attempt at 210kg (463lbs) for a 2.5kg PR. It looked pretty solid, and Brent really wanted 215kg (474lbs), so we went for it. He said he took his breath a bit early which threw his timing off and he missed the rep about a third of the way up. Upon video review, he drops his chest a bit, and the bar actually tilts to the right and I think his body rightly turned off to prevent a catastrophe. I think if he were to do it today he’d probably get it, assuming the bar stayed over the middle of his foot.
After a bit of a break (a five minute break, then the first flight went), Brent opened on bench at 115kg (254lbs) which is around what he finished with at the last meet. It was stupid easy, so we went on with our plan of going to 120kg (264lbs), which was completed without trouble, and then to our goal of 125kg (275lbs). Brent actually had to work for this rep, but it was never in doubt. The 275 was a PR of about 20lbs. At this point, Brent is 5/6 with a PR in both lifts. He would have been ecstatic if he had hit that third squat, but if you were to ask him how he felt, he’d say, “I could take it or leave it.”
We opened on deadlift with the same weight that Brent opened with on squat at 200kg (440lbs). This attempt was Brent’s standard “no big deal” for Brent, so we went with the plan of a 7.5kg increase to 207.5kg (457lbs). Normally I’d be worried about three attempts for a lifter, but when I asked Brent if he was good for three attempts about a month ago, he said, “Justin, I’m Brent Fucking Kim.” He was confident he’d be good for a third. 207.5kg was only slightly troubling to Brent, but he finished the pull without trouble. Brent wanted 212.5kg (467lbs) on his third attempt.
PR second attempt, 207.5kg
Now here’s the difference between this meet and the last meet. At the Texas State meet I was conservative with attempts, especially since it was everyone’s first meet. However, at this national meet I had a mindset of “fuck it, let’s go for the PR’s”. I wanted to put the pressure on the lifters so that they had a do or die moment. In retrospect, it may better prepare them for future meets, but I wish I had been a bit more conservative in a few instances, and this was the first.
Keep in mind that Brent’s second attempt deadlift was a PR of 2.5kg, but he really wanted the 212.5. Even if I called for something 2.5kg lower, I don’t think he would have gotten it because of the accumulated fatigue, and he missed 212.5 below the knees. Whenever Brent does another powerlifting meet (which may not be until next year’s Texas State), I’d have him go for the bigger lift on his second attempt, or take his last warm-up on the platform as his first attempt.
Brent finished 7/9 with a PR on every lift (210/125/207.5) as well as his total (542.5kg/1194lbs). Not too shabby for an Olympic weightlifter. And he weighed in around 79kg. If he had hit that third attempt squat, he would have come out above 1200lbs on the total, so I think that last squat would have put him in “take it or leave it” status to “impressed”.
Some of you woke up yesterday and were appalled that there wasn’t a post. I was completely spent after the 12 hours of coaching on Sunday along with being exhausted by interacting with my friends (Gant knows). I constantly was trying to put them in or keep them in a positive state of mind for lifting.
I’m not impressed with my coaching from the weekend and think I could have done a better job. I’m not going to get into it today because I just spent the day traveling from Denver to Panama City, but you can look at some of the updates that I posted from most of the weekend on Twitter.
Overall, things went pretty well. Brent went 7/9 with PR’s on all his lifts, AC won second overall in the 220lb Open class, Mike went 7/8 and had big PR’s on all his lifts as well as winning 5th in the 242lb Open category, and Chris won second overall in the 275lb Junior category. Good, tough lifting out of those four.
We did a bit of filming throughout the weekend (not as much so that there weren’t any distractions from Sunday’s lifting), and AC will be cut together an excellent short film. He’s already created a sweet teaser: