If you recall, Brigitte, Daniel B., and Max all headed east to take on the Record Breakers 2017 powerlifting meet. All came away with lessons learned: Brigitte found the powerlifting world less "bro-fest" and more inclusive than she was expecting, Daniel had some solid lessons in what not to do, and Max got to learn what it is to come at a powerlifting meet training as a CrossFitter versus powerlifter. Here are some thoughts from each of them, as well as the videos from their meet:
Lessons from Brigitte:
I should start with saying that this was a much better time than I was expecting - and not just because MobilityWod had free donuts after weigh-in. I was kind of expecting a bro-fest, to be one of like 5 girls, and to be lifting first in everything. Instead, we ladies were a solid 50% of Saturday’s lifters, and everyone was exactly the same kind of awesome and supportive as the people at your average Oly meet - just a whole lot louder.
I went 3 for 3 on back squat with a small PR at the end - it felt easy, and in hindsight, I could’ve pushed it a bit more. But leaving something in the tank and making all my lifts meant that I felt great going into the bench press - confident and energetic instead of wiped out and anxious.
One of the bigger differences between this powerlifting meet and any Olympic lifting is the weights you can choose to lift. At an Oly meet, you can choose any even number in kilograms - which means that I can make any jump I want in 2.2lb increments. In powerlifting, bar loading goes in 2.5kilo increments - the minimum jump is five and a half pounds, which made a huge difference in how my bench press went. My second attempt was just .5lbs below my all time PR - and that meant that my next attempt was required to be at least a 5lb PR. I feel pretty confident that I could have made a 2lb jump, but 5? I was happy and surprised to get that bar halfway up!
Deadlift felt great too… until my 3rd attempt, which would also have been a PR. I let the loud crowd get to my head a bit. I rushed my setup, wasn’t tight at all, and totally missed it. Lesson learned: I really need to get better at tuning out the audience. I need to be more patient and focus on positioning and setup, no matter how badly I want people to be done yelling at me.
Overall, it was a good day. I’ll be looking for those bench and deadlift PRs in a couple weeks.
Lessons from Daniel:
I went into preparing for the competition way too late and not really knowing what to expect. I cut weight from 224 lbs. to around 204 within a week of the competition. I fasted for 56 hours before the weigh-ins which was a terrible idea. Weight cutting isn’t what it used to be back when I was a young buck! I was able consume the delicious Chick-Fil-A and In-N-Out right before the comp (one day out) which helped out a ton. That Saturday while walking around and meeting all the instafamous people, I realized I messed up bad dehydrating myself. My legs were super cramped, and I overall didn’t feel as well as I should, given I needed to compete in 24 hours...
As for the competition itself, I had a wonderful time! Squats were miserable since it was my first time wrapping myself and I did it COMPLETELY wrong. I still managed to get 495 up easy on my 3rd attempt. Bench went ok. I hit a 304 but couldn’t quite get 319. Was disappointed there since I had pushed it passed where I would normally get stuck. Deadlifts on the other hand felt amazing. I feel I could have probably gotten 600 had I gotten aggressive with how much I was going up. I ended at 572.5, which honestly went up easily. The knurling on the deadlift bars was intense. Something I would have to get used to. Other than that, I can definitely see myself competing again, but next time taking it much more seriously.
Lessons from Max:
This was my third powerlifting meet but the first one in two years. As I’ve been much more focussed on conditioning and CrossFit in the last year I wasn’t as prepared as I would have liked to be. In the two weeks leading up to the meet I finally focussed on strength a bit. However, I grew out a beard to make up for a lack of training and it seems to have compensated for my lack of strength specific training.
Squats felt great. I got a little loose and missed my second squat which forced me to be conservative with my third attempt. I was able to stay focussed and hit my third attempt for a small 1.5 pound PR at 506.5.
My first bench press felt great but was red lighted for a technical reason as two of the judges thought I racked the bar before the “Rack” command was given (The video is below). This forced me to be a bit conservative on my second attempt, which I made. For my third attempt I got pretty aggressive as the second felt light and went for a small PR but didn’t make it.
I was feeling uneasy about the deadlifts so I lowered my opener from 230kg to 225kg but apparently this never got communicated so I ended up unknowingly lifting 230kg. 237kg also felt good for my second so, again, I got pretty aggressive and jumped to 250kg for my last attempt. I got the bar moving and was close but just couldn’t lock out. One thing to note about SPF meets is that the deadlift bar is much easier to grip than a standard barbell. It's thinner and has much sharper knurling. In retrospect, I should have done more overload training using block pulls (as Coach Sam suggested) and straps.
Like Brigitte, I had a lot of fun. Unlike in 2015, I’m now friends with quite a few of the competitors and it was pretty cool to watch them attempting or hitting world records. What’s even more insane is that Kristy Hawkin’s squat and deadlift openers were world records as was Stefi Cohen’s deadlift opener. Also, Powerlifting nutrition is far more fun than CrossFit nutrition. After weigh-ins on Saturday (you weigh in 24 hours before lifting) we went to Chick-Fil-A and had multiple chicken sandwiches with double-double’s and milkshakes at In-N-Out for dessert. Doing this the day before a CrossFit competition would be suicide. In fact, I was pretty sure that I was feeling the after effects of the weekend’s gastro-debauchery at Tuesday night’s L2 where I just felt completely wiped and unable to move. While the competition was fun and something I would do again, CrossFit is still where my heart and aspirational fitness goals are. While raw strength is awesome, the meet did remind me of how much I appreciate the holistic, balanced nature of CrossFit’s constantly varied approach to fitness.