Holy shit – I am exactly 3 weeks out from my first powerlifting meet!! I feel the same way I felt when I first registered: excited and nervous.
After talking about wanting to compete last year and then doubting myself because I felt I wasn’t strong enough, I decided to woman up and just register. Being one of the smallest competitors, I kept thinking what it everybody laughs at me? What if I miss a lift? What if I forget something? Then realized how silly I was being. The great thing about powerlifting competitions is that there is no minimum qualifier, so literally anybody can do it (yup, there are special meets as well).
Well, it’s been a wild ride so far. I had slight tendinosis in my right hip that started in November and grew worse until I was forced to see a physio in January and get some testing done (by the way if you live in Toronto and you’re seeking a physiotherapist, I STRONGLY recommend Boris at Myodetox. He went out of his way to treat my sprained neck this morning at 7:30am). I’m certain my hip pain was from overuse, and I couldn’t back squat more than half of what I normally would do. During this time, I battled frustration, negative thoughts, and binge episodes (I slightly suffer from an all-or-nothing mentality).
With some changes, my strength returned, my hip pain was gone, I was no longer binging, and my passion was back in full force. Life has been a blur since April, but everything clicked and I was back on track.
My goal for this meet is to go 9/9. As a novice competitor, I’m doing it for the experience. Knowing my personality, I might either fall in love with it or become disinterested altogether…I’m fairly sure I’ll love the experience.
At this point, I’m a little burnt out from the intensity in my training, dieting, and the increased workload at my corporate job. I train 6-8am during the week and 8-11am on weekends so at about 3pm I literally fall asleep at my desk. No bueno!! I’ve had to take naps to keep me going for the rest of the day (at work I load up on caffeine and go for quick walks outside).
I’ve set new PRs on all my lifts over the last couple weeks, so I’m now entering PEAK WEEK. I’ve lowered volume, but have kept training at high intensity (85%-90%) and high frequency (main lifts 3x a week).
I’ll be tapering next week, focusing on technique and speed work at 75%-80%. The week of my competition, I will be doing the main lifts 2x a week with light intensity (~60%), planning my attempts, and mentally focusing.
I used to follow a detailed program consisting the typical hypertrophy/conditioning, power, and strength phases with the reps, sets, and accessory work all pre-planned and written out. Little did I know this sort of detailed plan was setting me up for failure.
What I mean by that is if I missed a training day, or was feeling off and couldn’t complete a high intensity day, it really got to me. It negatively affected my confidence since I thought I was lagging behind. If I had a couple bad days in a row it made me doubt myself and want to re-assess the entire training plan. Also, working a demanding full-time job, there are stressors that are outside of my control that I must deal with.
The reality is, I will have good and bad days. I will have a variety of stressors outside of training such as inadequate sleep, a busy work schedule, demanding clients, a missed meal, inadequate water, and whatever else that can contribute as stress.
My programming was set up like so:
- absolutely no preplanned weight, sets, and reps until the day of
- keep phases as hypertrophy, power, and strength
- undulate [weightsxrepsxsets] within each mesocycle until desired RPE is achieved
- get enough volume in each microcycle which was 1-2 weeks each
- incorporate plyometrics during each phase, decreasing the duration of these exercises as intensity increases
- most importantly: ensure total weekly volume on all main lifts are increasing
If I happened to only work with 155lbs at RPE7.5 whereas two weeks prior I had used 185lbs to reach RPE7.5, as long as my total weekly poundage has increased since then for that particular lift, I can rest easy knowing that I’m still making progress.
This has been ground breaking for me, especially coaching myself. I’ve made my training fit ME, instead of the other way around. With this, I broke through plateaus and established new baseline strength gains which feels fuckin’ awesome!!
At the end of the day, the weight I use, the number of sets and repetitions I perform doesn’t mean as much as long-term progress and where it really matters: on the platform.
The weight I was able to lift in the gym today does not define how successful I will be during competition, just like the number I see on the scale today does not define my long-term health or well-being.
What defines me is passion, persistence, and positively impacting the lives of those around me.
Thanks for reading! If you have any questions please feel free to leave a comment below. I will probably update this after my meet, or create an entry recapping the experience.
Yours in Strength,