My First Strength Competition in 17 years – The Return.
Due to life happening, we have not had as much time to complete entries as much as we would like. However if you have been following Transformationpics on Facebook or Instagram, you are kept up to date on all of our training & other health pursuits. This entry is special – special in the fact that I just recently completed in my first Bench Press meet in over 17 years. Yes it has been that long, I was a young man then 🙂 A couple of my online friends have been encouraging me to do a meet again, in fact you may know one of them – my buddy C over at Uberbeastmode. C & I talk about lifting & life a lot, so one day after seeing videos of our training sessions, he asked had I thought about competing again. At the time, I didn’t give it a second thought, however a still small voice, kept urging me to find a local event & sign up for it. Listening to that still small voice, I logged on to powerliftingwatch.com and found one sanctioned by the WUAP. The North GA Ox Mover was the title, I printed out the entry, wrote a check and mailed it in. My thinking went along the lines of my training has been consistent & Ive been hitting new personal bests left and right, so no need to panic, just train the way you have been. I decided to just do the bench press only this time, as a way to see if that spark and fun was still there. Also, I have a goal of a 600+ deadlift/squat before I do a 3 meet lift – which Im not far away from. So the question is, how did I do and is the spark and the fun still there?
Let me give you a little bit of a back round first. If you don’t know already, my wife and I lost 90+ lbs in 11 months between 09/10. We have kept the weight off since then and have continued to improve. In losing that amount weight, I dont care who you are, you will lose a chunk of muscle along with fat. With that said, I lost a good bit of strength in getting that weight off. Eating at a deficit – if u your a blessed, u can maintain some muscle, which I did. However, you will lose strength. How much strength did I lose? Lets just say I was #weaksauce. My bench press was 300lbs for 1 rep & squat was 350lbs for 1 rep. It was this way until 2112, which is when we decided to make strength training a priority. I know a lot of people who lose a bunch of weight don’t care about strength, however when you have a back round of football, wrestling & powerlifting, no matter how much you say the numbers don’t matter – they do. If your a man. what’s the first question you are asked by the general public if they know you workout or you look like you do? HOW MUCH DO YOU BENCH? – if you answered that, you win a prize 🙂 2nd place question would be to “make a muscle”. Now some might say might 300lbs is a good bench! Maybe to some, but many guys in many gyms across America can at least hit 300 including many high school football players. My point is the number is relative, in my mind after doing that as a warm up in my younger years, I could not see myself settling for that strength level since I like to compete with myself. Last point, as a father to a 15 year old beautiful daughter, I want any potential boyfriends to review my social media training videos and be on guard if they want to date her one day:)
The Meet –
About 3 weeks before the meet, I my body weight was sitting at around 247-250 & my training was going great. I was going to compete in the 242lb weight class at first, but I would need to cut weight & possibly lose strength before the meet, so I decided to just compete in the next weight class with the limit of 275 lbs. As you can tell, I am way under the 275lb limit & probably could have restricted my water and carbs to make the 242 limit, but I was doing this for fun and will give my body time to lose it without losing strength last minute for a future meet. It was fun to eat a couple bigger than normal meals the days before & a full breakfast before weigh ins. The morning of the meet, I weighed in fully clothed at 259lbs – still a good bit below the weight limit.
On the way to the meet, my beautiful wife is driving us & I’m zoned out listening to classic hip hop – Notorious BIG in particular. I’m pumped for her to see me compete, although she is my training partner and all, the opportunity for me to put on a show of strength in front of her & a audience has me feeling excited. She doesn’t say much, but her smile lets me know how proud she is of me & no matter what happens on the platform, that’s all that matters.
The Iron Beast gym is the place for the meet. After reading this sign at the front, you can tell that its a hardcore gym 🙂
If I didn’t enjoy training at home and we lived closer, we would train here. It’s a serious lifters gym, even had atlas stones. As competitors started filing in, I was surprised to see amount of competitors, young and older getting ready to give their best on the platform. Since it was both a full 3 lift & a bench press meet, they started with squats first. During that time I’d drift back to the warm up area and do light weight shoulder rotations just to keep my shoulders warmed up without tiring them out. About a hour or so later, they gave the call that bench would be next which meant that it was time to warm up.
In Power meets you only get 3 attempts so you have to pick your starting attempt wisely. If you start too heavy & miss, you in danger of disqualification if you cannot make a successful lift after missing your first one. So the goal is to pick a 1st attempt that you know lift even if you were sick, drunk, bumped your head or had a hangover 🙂 Also the rules for successful bench require you that your head & butt must maintain contact with the bench, your feet must maintain contact with the ground & the bar must be paused motionless on your chest before the judge gives the man to press. Violate any of those rules and the lift does not count.
Now it was about to get serious, I admit, a couple butterflies tried to start up. Every time that would happen, I would remind myself that “I got this” & all the hard work I put in, will show its self. I began to warm up, putting 135lbs on the bar for 10, 185 x 5, 225 x 3, 315 x 1. At this time I hear my name as the 4th lifter up. I quickly slap on 335 & do 1 rep. After that, I go out and sit in the pit with my headphones on, awaiting my turn. 1 by 1 the 3 guys before me made their attempt until they announce my name over the loud speaker “Mr W. you are next”!
Upon them calling my name, I stand up, take several deep breaths, look into in what is a standing room only crowd in the gym & find my wife. I chalk my hands & then start to walk towards the bench, during that short walk, I make eye contact with my wife, during which I give her a wink and a smile. My first lift attempt is 370lbs, (a lift I could do any day of the week) I lay down on the bench, get my feet dug in on the ground and lay back. I position my hands on the bar & count my spotter to lift off with a 3 count. My first thought was “wow this feels light!” I lower it to my chest & the judge barks out press! The weight jumped off my chest so fast, I thought I was going to lose my balance lol. 1st attempt was in the books and it felt good.
As I was going to sit down, I was asked by staff to give them my second attempt, I picked 405. 405lbs, although I had did it in training a couple times before, it felt heavy. So I figured it would be a good indicator of my training progress. Would it feel heavy under the scrutiny of a audience and judges? Well, lets just say it felt lighter 🙂 I went back up for my second attempt a little while later, still making eye contact, a wink and smile to my wife. Sat down on the bench, got my position locked in, counted my spotter to lift off. When he lifted it up, once again it felt light. I lower it to my chest and wait for the press command. Soon as I heard it, it shot up off my chest fast and went into lock out. Smoke show – it felt way lighter than it did at home lol.
For my last attempt, I selected 420lbs. In training, my recent personal best was 410 which was 9-10 weeks prior. After the first two attempts, I felt confident in my form, technique and explosiveness off the chest that I could give 420 a good ride. So same as before, winked/smiled at the wife, laid down on the bench, some good deep breaths, dug in and was determined to give this 420lbs a battle. Counted the spotter to hand off & boom, now this weight felt heavier, but my entire body was tight. Lowered the weight, got the press command and once again the blast off the chest carried through to lockout & with that a new personal best & the completion of my first meet in 17 years.
While we waited until the dead lift portion of the meet was done and for awards to start, my wife could not stop smiling at me, telling me how proud she was of me. I was in return telling her how thankful and blessed it was for me to lift competitively in front of her. Regardless of how it went, it meant a lot to me for her to witness it.
Awards start, & they announce me for 1st place in my class. I go up to accept the trophy and then turn to walk back to where my wife was sitting. After about a minute, I hear them say not so fast Mr. W – your 420lbs lift was the highest bench press of the meet & thus I won the bigger Best in meet bench press trophy! Now that caught me off guard, reason being is in between my attempts, I would simply go sit down in the waiting area, slap on my headphones & zone out while getting mentally prepared for my next attempts. I didn’t pay attention to what others were doing, I just did my thing and chilled.
Thanks for taking a moment to read, the question is is will I compete again? The answer is yes, however there is a but:) 17+ years ago when I competed, I was a single and care free young man training, competing was a priority. Now, I am a happy & response able husband and father. My ladies are my first responsibilities & I would only compete again as long as it was like the way that this one played out. This was a fun, non serious, non stressful event for me. I didn’t stress over training, equipment, supplementation, diet or money. I trained as I normally did and didn’t have to think about competing day & night. At this stage in my life’s journey, if it isn’t a stress reliever, then I’m not doing it.