As promised, here's Nick's blog post on his experience preparing for and competing in his first meet.
I picked out the West Midlands Senior Powerlifting Championships as my first “official” meet at the beginning of term. At the time, I was weighing in at around 76kg and I decided to compete in the 83kg weight class since I knew it would’ve been shortsighted of me to cut down to the 74s when I needed to bulk up to the higher weight classes in the long run anyway. Plus, knowing that my boy Jackie was in the 74s, I made sure to get as far away as possible from that weight class!
***Training and Meet Prep***
Leading up to the meet, training went really well for the most part. I ran a 10-week DUP training cycle which was split into three different blocks:
Weeks 1-4: Hypertrophy Phase
Weeks 5-8: Strength Phase
Weeks 9-10: Peaking Phase
Over the course of the training cycle, I slowly transitioned from training with high volumes and low intensities to low volumes and high intensities. I used more lift variations in the beginning of the program but lift frequency remained the same throughout the entire training cycle (3x/week squat, 4x/week bench, 2x/week deadlift).
Coming into the last few weeks of training, I was hitting rep PRs all round. I squatted my 2RM of 140kg for 6 reps, benched my 2RM of 100kg for 4 reps and deadlifted my previous 1RM of 180kg for a double at RPE 8. Aside from some very mild pain in my knees and elbows, I was injury free and I was feeling pretty confident coming into the meet. At around this time, I was weighing in at approximately 78kg.
Unfortunately, things started to fall apart in the last week of meet prep. Less than 10 days out from the meet, I got quite ill and was bed-bound vomiting. As a result, I missed a couple gym sessions and didn’t manage to eat or sleep properly in the days leading up to the meet.
I woke up on meet day weighing 76.7kg, which was around 2 kilos lighter than I was hoping to weigh in at despite doing the Owen 60g creatine bulk day the before and eating over 4000 calories. At this point, I decided to just commit to coming in light and didn’t eat much until weigh-ins. My official weigh-in on the day was 76.1kg, significantly lower than my training weight. Knowing that my bodyweight tends to have a big impact on my squat and bench, I was feeling a bit nervous leading into the warmups.
My warmups for squats didn’t really go as planned. Even on low weights, my squats felt a bit ‘off’. The combination of squatting without a mirror and the uneven and slippery floor in the warmup made my warmups feel a bit sluggish. Despite that, I decided to stick to my projected opener of 150kg.
Squat 1: 150kg (SUCCESS)
This moved smoothly. Solid walkout and it felt quite good.
Squat 2: 160kg (SUCCESS) -> 5kg PR
This turned into an unexpected RPE 10. Not being used to squat without a mirror, I ended up squatting deeper than usual and had the biggest misgroove of my life coming out of the hole. Somehow managed to recover the lift but this was much, much harder than it should have been.
Squat 3: 165kg (FAILED)
I decided to make a small jump of 5kg for my third attempt due to the grind on the previous squat. As I was walking it out, it felt much lighter than the two previous attempts on my back and, as a result, I was feeling quite confident. Unfortunately, the misgroove on the second attempt sucked all the energy out of my legs and I simply didn’t have the strength for this lift.
Warmups for bench felt better than they did for squats, however my last warmup moved slower than I had hoped. I decided to move my opener down from 102.5kg to 100kg to try and build my confidence back up.
Bench 1: 100kg (SUCCESS)
This moved fast. I got one red light from the head judge for my head coming off the bench but apart from that everything went well.
Bench 2: 105kg (SUCCESS)
I made sure to keep my head down for the second attempt. Everything went well, got three white lights.
Bench 3: 110kg (FAILED)
This was a massive grind. I managed to get the lift but unfortunately my head came off the bench and as a result I got two red lights. This was quite disappointing as 110kg would’ve been a PR. Considering that this was under meet conditions and that I had been ill the entire week leading up to the meet, I was still quite happy that I managed to lock this out. I’m confident that my bench will be much better next time around.
Deadlift warmups felt the best out of the three lifts. Everything felt smooth and easy just as I had hoped. Unfortunately, things didn’t go as well on the platform.
Deadlift 1 (misload): 150kg (SUCCESS)
I was called onto the platform out of nowhere, much earlier than I had expected. Somehow they had managed to mix up my numbers and as, a result, they put my opener as 150kg instead of 180kg. I only noticed this after doing the lift however, when I suddenly realized that the weight felt strangely light. As a result, they gave me the opportunity to take another first attempt at my desired weight of 180kg.
Deadlift 1: 180kg (SUCCESS)
I was given less than 2 minutes to recover after the misload which made it feel a bit heavier than I would’ve liked. Despite that, it moved relatively well.
Deadlift 2: 190kg (SUCCESS) -> 10kg PR
The rest periods between my deadlift attempts seemed very short to me. Even though this is obviously out of my control in the meet, I feel like I should work to improve my conditioning so that I don’t take so long to recover between attempts. This was an ugly, RPE 10 lift.
Deadlift 3: 192.5kg (FAILED)
This might as well have been 500kg. It wasn’t moving anywhere! I was all out of energy at this point.
***Final Thoughts and Moving Forward***
I ended up going 6/9 with a total of 455kg, placing 3rd in my class out of 9 competitors. To be honest, I underperformed with regards to what I was hoping to achieve based on my numbers in training and it’s clear that I have a lot of room for improvement when it comes to both training and competing.
When it comes to training, I have a lot of things to work on. With regards to the squat, I need to work on my control and technique with heavier weights and get used to squatting without a mirror. When it comes to bench, I need to sort out my head lifting mid rep. On the deadlift, I need to condition myself to get used to pulling with shorter rest intervals. Most importantly, however, I just need to get bigger and stronger. I also think I have a lot of room for improvement when it comes to attempt selection, I definitely learned that it’s important to base your attempts on how you feel on the day and not just focus on the numbers you hit in training!
Although things didn’t go quite as well as I had hoped, I had a lot of fun competing. Shout out to Jackie for being my meet buddy on the day and congrats to him for doing so well in the meet!