Last month, I had the amazing opportunity to compete in the International Powerlifting League World Championship powerlifting meet in Las Vegas, Nevada. This was a four day meet with over 320 lifters from all over the world. I competed on the last day, Sunday November 13, 2016 in the Classic Raw, Junior 20-23, 110kg (242lb) class. In order to compete in this meet, competitors must qualify by meeting a minimum qualification total at a previous USPA powerlifting meet earlier in the year.
I had been training all year for this meet, and over the last 45 weeks, I did everything I could to prepare for this competition including training up to six days a week, eating 5200+ kcal a day to gain lean mass and competing in three other meets over the course of the year. I sustained a few injuries throughout the year including 2 pulled pecs, a pulled adductor and a lower back injury only 2 months before World’s. With the help of my coach, I was able to train hard, overcome these injuries and make progress consistently. When meet day came, I was prepared both physically and mentally. I finished the meet 9 for 9 with a second place finish, 4 PRs, an Oregon State squat and total record, and an IPL World Record deadlift. My final meet numbers were 628 squat, 331 bench, and 690 deadlift with a 1,649 total.
Leading Up to the Meet
I arrived in Las Vegas on Wednesday, four days before meet day. This gave me time to settle in and prepare for the meet. Leading up to a meet, it is important to eat foods you are used to in order to avoid upset stomach and unnecessary weight gain or weight loss. Eating mostly restaurant food, this was hard to do. In my case, my bodyweight was right where it needed to be so I was trying to not lose or gain any weight.
I got my last training session in before the meet on Thursday at a powerlifting gym in Las Vegas. This session was part of my taper, just going through the meet day warm ups for squat and bench. After this training session, I now had two full days to relax and prepare mentally for meet day. I weighed in on Saturday, 24 hours before the meet, and made weight with just under three pounds to spare.
When meet day came, I felt great and was ready to lift. I was feeling a little nervous because this was my first international/national level meet, but I just reminded myself that I’ve competed before and I’ve worked hard and I came prepared. I got to the meet just over an hour early to start my warm up process. I completed my normal dynamic warm up exactly the same as I do for my training sessions in the gym. After that it was time to start loading the bar. I completed 6 warm up sets for the squat and was ready to go. There were two platforms and each platform had two flights. I was in the first flight of the day, which was new to me but I actually liked it.
My squat opener was 579 which I smoked very easily, which is how an opener should be. My second attempt was 606 which also moved very easily. Now it was time for my third and final attempt. I was going to try to break my own Oregon state record, which I knew I could do. My coach chose my number for the last attempt of 628. I was feeling really good, so I told my coach I want to go heavier than that but he reminded me the goal was to build a total and not completely gas yourself on squats. I still had a long day ahead of me. Because I knew I was capable of squatting more than 628 I had no doubt in my mind I was going to get my third attempt. When it was my turn to go, I walked up to the bar, got under it, unracked it, walked it back, waited for the command and squatted. On the way up I hit a bit of a sticking point but I already knew I was going to finish the lift so I just grinded right through it. After that I realized that was the best weight for me on that day. I probably had 5-10 more pounds in the tank but any heavier and I might have missed it. I didn’t question my coach again after that.
Next up was bench, my worst lift. I pulled both of my pecs back in April and have been dealing with that ever since, but on this day they felt great. I opened with 298, a very easy number for me. My second attempt was 314 and it moved really well again. For my third attempt I went up to 331 and smoked it. This was a one pound PR for me, which I was happy about because I didn’t hurt my pecs and it really built up my confidence. At this point I was 6 for 6 and I had no intention of slowing down.
Deadlift was next, my best lift. I opened with 595 which I treat as my last warm up. For my second attempt, I hit 639 which again was pretty dang easy. I was feeling great, so for my third attempt, I decided to go for the IPL World Record. The current record was 688, so I picked 690 to just chip at that record. Two months ago at another meet I pulled 683 which moved really slow and ended up hurting my back. This would be a 7 pound PR for me and a World Record, which really got me excited. Again, I had no doubt in my mind that I was capable of pulling that much. Nothing but total confidence in my head. I actually ended up being the last lifter in my flight, which means I was pulling the heaviest weight. When it was my turn, I chalked up my hands, sniffed some nose tork, got fired up and walked over to the bar. Nothing was in my head except I already knew I was going to finish the lift. I pulled that weight and it was hard, but it moved surprisingly well. When the head judge gave me that down command I felt so excited. I started celebrating and got really fired up. Three white lights baby! IPL World Record!
What I Learned
I learned a lot from this experience. This was the biggest meet I had ever been to, so there were a lot of things that were new to me. Las Vegas itself was new to me, so that was something I had to deal with. I was forced to eat restaurant food for four days leading up to the meet, which I am not used to. I was also competing against some extremely big and strong guys. Next year these things will not be as big of a factor because I will know what to expect.
I believe that I did the best I could have done on meet day, which I attribute to preparation. Preparation was key to my success and that is the number one thing I learned from this experience. I competed three other times this year leading up to this meet, and each one of those meets allowed me to have more practice actually competing as well as the whole process leading up to the meet. Being a great powerlifter is more than just being strong. Being a great competitor is absolutely essential to make it far in this sport. Having that experience allowed me to feel calm and confident on meet day. It was a huge meet, but to me it just felt like another meet, which I had done before. Whenever I got nervous, I just told myself “I’ve worked hard. I’m prepared. I deserve success”.
Looking back at this year’s training and competitions, I realize four meets might have been too many for me. Two of the meets were supposed to be just trained right through to test where I was. I wasn’t supposed to go all out, but it is hard for me to compete without going all out. When I compete, I want to win. I want to do better than I did last time. So it is hard for me, sometimes, to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. I learned that there are times to go all out and there are times not to. World’s was defiantly a time to go all out, and I gave it everything I had.
Another important realization for me was that having a good coach made all the difference. First of all I wouldn’t have even thought about doing this meet if my coach didn’t suggest it, but if I did, it would have been a totally different experience. My coach made my life easier by creating a plan for the day including every warm up set and every attempt. He loaded the bar for me and told me when to lift. I didn’t have to stress over all those factors, so I could focus solely on the task at hand: lifting as much weight as possible. In addition, he was able to prepare me for this meet by coaching me for 11 months leading up to the meet. I would highly recommend to anyone thinking about competing in powerlifting to find a great coach to help you, no matter what your experience level may be.
This was such an amazing experience and I am so thankful that I was able to take part in this meet. I am proud of my accomplishments, but more importantly I am proud of all the hard work I put in to prepare for this meet. The countless hours in the gym, the soreness, the physical and mental stress I went through was all worth it. I couldn’t have done it without my coach, Tim from Redbeard Barbell and all the support from my friends and family. I would also like to thank EWU Club Sports and EWU Powerlifting for sending me to Las Vegas. This is the first of many big meets in my lifetime and I am excited to start training for the next one.
Be sure to check out the full meet video below.