Beast Reality Volume 1, Issue 3 – 2011 IPA Connecticut Powerlifting Battle of Champions, Vincent Dizenzo, Louie Simmons, and Jessica Scofield (The Powerlifting Princess)
By Erik Eggers
I’m writing this Beast Reality Issue in long hand on a beach in Maine on Casco Bay. I’m on vacation with my family, but can never seem to get the Beast out of my head. We are camping on the water in a little village known as Small Point at the Hermit Island campground. For those of you familiar with the grounds, earlier in the day I swam from West Dune Beach out to Gooseberry Isle – I utilized a stroke that was a breast-doggy-paddle hybrid (sad really) and now, as I write and lament my poor GPP, from a distance I’m watching my two youngest attempt to fill a five gallon Tupperware container with water (bucket-brigade style). Once the container is half full, for reasons unclear to me, my oldest son dumps all the water out – I feel as though I’m watching a scene from Cool Hand Luke … alas, without further ado, I give you Issue 3.
If you’d like to read Issue 1 or 2 of the Beast Reality series, you can find them here on the “Articles” page. As always, please fasten your seatbelts and enjoy the ride.
A Blown Opener
“What happened?” I look at Bogannam.
He shrugs his shoulders. “I don’t know,” he says. “It was going up fast.”
“Holy shit,” I say. “I’m going to bomb out of this meet. I can’t believe I just missed my opener.”
Chris stands silent; I think he’s more stunned than I am. I look over to the crew that has come out to support me and simply shake my head.
I was competing in the 2011 IPA Connecticut Powerlifting Battle of Champions. I’d entered the “Iron Man,” which meant that I was in a push/pull. I wasn’t prepared to squat for this meet, but we’ll talk about that later.
The opener I’d just missed was a 460lb bench press.
Apparently, I pushed the weight too far over my face and somehow my right wrist “broke,” which is to say, it bent backward, and if it wasn’t for alert spotters I would have had to review my dental insurance for Powerlifting coverage exclusions.
Shortly afterward, I was talking to my ten-year-old son; “You broke your wrist too soon,” he said, looking up at me with a sympathetic smile plastered across his beautiful face.
“Too soon?” I replied. “I wasn’t supposed to break it at all. You’ve got to keep your wrists stiff when you’re benching. I’m not sure what happened.”
Video of my successful Bench and Deadlift attempts in the 2011 IPA Connecticut Powerlifting Battle of Champions
Flashback to the Middle of February – Vincent Dizenzo, Matt Rhodes, and Powerlifting Crew Training at Beast
Grab the bar and pull. To get better at the deadlift, you have to deadlift – Matt Rhodes
Dizenzo, Rhodes, and crew were training in the Beast. They were throwing around some impressive weight on the incline bench, particularly Dizenzo.
“I competed in a RAW APA Powerlifting event in December,” I said. “It was my first meet and I did push/pull.”
“How much did you bench?” Dizenzo asked.
“450? You’re a lot stronger than that.” We had trained together once before, so Dizenzo had a rough idea of what I could put up.
“I narrowly missed a 470; it came off the chest well, but I couldn’t lock it.”
Dizenzo makes the choke sign with both hands across his throat.
“Yeah, yeah,” I said.
Dizenzo heads back over to the incline bench and following a Rhodes lift-off, he rams up the weight with incredible speed off the chest.
“There is a really good Powerlifting event in Hartford in July; The Europa. It’s like a smaller version of the Arnold Classic. You should compete in that meet,” Dizenzo says. “It’s run by Gene Rychlak and he does a really nice job.”
“Gene Rychlak? The first powerlifter to bench 1,000?”
“Yes; that’s him. His benches are really good quality.”
“That sounds like a good idea. I’ll definitely have to check that out.”
Dizenzo hops back on the incline and after a Rhodes hand-off, rams-up 525 for another explosive single – that’s a 525 RAW incline.
Later in the evening my ten-year-old, Harrison, who met Dizenzo, says, “That guy is so big I don’t think he can even hug his family.”
“He’s big; big and strong, but I’m pretty sure he can hug his family, Harrison.”
Vincent Dizenzo throwing around some serious iron on ME Incline Bench at The BEAST
Jessica Scofield – The Powerlifting Princess
When I first opened Beast, I wanted it to be a nuts-and-bolts training facility that would help athletes bring their level of play to the maximum of their abilities. We’ve achieved this goal. However, there is always room for more athletes, and Beast definitely requires more athletes get involved to continue the good work we are doing. It’s a great place for Trumbull Athletics. In order to remain viable, we also enjoy catering to female clientele and have several training options for women looking to increase their levels of both strength and fitness.
One morning I received a text from my spouse; she was working on a slogan for the sandwich board we keep near the street to help advertise the facility. She was suggesting: “Bathing Suits, Tanks, and Shorts – Oh My!”
Immediately my hardcore gym senses began to tingle; that was not exactly the image I wanted to portray; despite a desire to attract more women to Beast, that catchphrase felt a little too soft to me. I responded to her text with the following suggestion – How about “Blood, Sweat, and Bathing Suits”? – A great compromise, I thought.
An email hits my personal Gmail account; it’s from Mitch Passero, a college roommate of mine from the University of Connecticut and an avid weight-lifter – Mitch also runs www.ctfisherman.com. Mitch once told me as he was walking down the hallway of our dormitory to meet his roommates for the first time, he was hoping he wouldn’t find some “Jock-muscle-head.” The first person he saw was me standing in the middle of the room wearing a black Gold’s Gym tank top – oh no! Arrgh! Twenty-three years later and we’re still friends – so much for stereotypes.
Mitch’s email contained a link to an article published in the Stamford Advocate – Stamford Teacher brings Strength to Cloonan Classroom.
The article was about Cloonan Middle School teacher and competitive powerlifter Jessica Scofield (aka The Powerlifting Princess).
Scofield, who now works as a Cloonan Middle School teacher, is now in her third season of competitive Powerlifting. After hoisting 450 pounds, or three times her weight, in a deadlift, she is now the nation’s No. 3 female in that category. Overall, she is the sixth-ranked powerlifter.
After digesting the article, I wanted Scofield to come and train at Beast; I thought she would be an inspiration to some of our female lifters and with a 450 deadlift to her credit, I knew she would motivate the male trainees as well. Although Beast is not currently a pure Powerlifting gym (if you’re already familiar with us, you know our specialty is training high school and college athletes), we are definitely Powerlifting-friendly and we have several strongman competitors currently training at our facility.
I reached out to Scofield through YouTube and we exchanged a few cursory messages. I read some of her online blogging and it was interesting content – www.powerprincessjess.com. A month later my cell phone rang – “Hello, this is Jessica Scofield.”
We talked briefly about Powerlifting and meet preparation. I told her a little about Beast. She explained that she’d already committed to another facility, but when things calmed-down a bit, she would be happy to stop-in and train a couple times. She’d heard some good things about me from a mutual friend.
“I’m pretty focused on training for the Europa,” Scofield says. “It’s a Powerlifting meet at the end of July. After that I should have a little more free time.”
“I’m considering competing in the Europa too,” I say. “Vincent Dizenzo was telling me about it. It’s Gene Rychlak’s meet, right?”
“Yes, but if you are going to do it, you’d better sign-up soon. I’ve heard Gene is only accepting 50 lifters.”
“Thanks Jessica,” I say. “I really appreciate you calling and the information about the Europa.”
Jessica’s info regarding the potential 50 lifter limit was definitely a catalyst in motivating me to finally register for the meet. I registered in the middle of May. In two months, I would be competing as a member of the International Powerlifting Association.
Beast’s discussion with Louie Simmons of Westside-Barbell
My struggles with the deadlift continue. I’m constantly doing battle with the Deadlift Devil – its angry maw flapping incessantly. It’s always telling me I’m not good enough and that I’ll never be good enough.
Yet for the July meet, I thought my deadlift training was going relatively well.
After an APA meet in March, my left forearm was pretty jacked-up and I had to give my bench training a rest for a bit in an attempt to allow my forearm to heal. I decided to focus on bringing both my squat and deadlift up. I was so vexed by my lack of progress in the deadlift that I decided to phone Louie Simmons of Westside-Barbell to pick his brain.
I left Louie a voicemail at Westside, explaining who I was and that I was hoping for some of his time. I had programmed his number in my iPhone and was ecstatic to hear my phone ring and see his name on the caller ID.
“Hello, this is Louie Simmons from Westside-Barbell.”
“Hello Louie,” I said. “Thanks for calling me back.” I was trying to hide it, but I think my voice was trembling with excitement. I had been implementing many of the Westside methods, as I understood them, in my own training for the last ten years. Now I was speaking with the Powerlifting legend himself.
I spent about an hour on the phone with Louie. I told him about the training we were doing with athletes and we discussed reasons behind NOT training to failure and most specifically, we discussed the deadlift and deadlift training. Louie suggested that currently when building the deadlift at Westside they mostly pull off of two-inch mats and against band tension (they very rarely pull from the floor). Louie reasons that a lifter is actually strongest at the bottom of the lift and by raising the barbell up slightly, they are able to save some wear-and-tear on the lower back. Louie recommended keeping the feet spread wide apart, almost out to the plates, and to push your feet outward and to pull back – all strong deadlift tips. I try to emphasize pulling back with all of our lifters.
Louie believes that the sumo deadlift is the key to football strength and the key to superior deadlifting performance; for football Louie feels the sumo strengthens the hips for lateral movement. He emphasized that abdominal and hamstring strength are both very important.
We discussed GPP and dragging the sled for the deadlift (driving the heel into the ground and pulling).
I thanked Louie for his time and for the insight; he suggested I read a couple of his articles: A Multiyear Plan and The Westside Conjugate System; additionally he suggested I come out and train with them for a long weekend. I definitely plan on taking him up on that suggestion.
An Unremarkable Training Cycle
In this article I am purposefully including a tremendous amount of detail on my training and the IPA Meet itself; I’m doing this for two reasons. First, I think by showing the psychological side of the experience along with the trials of training, it demonstrates to interested powerlifters (whose trepidation may be preventing them from competing) that all lifters deal with the same issues, which can include fear and self-doubt (at times) – I already know this has helped some of you from the feedback received from previous publications. Secondly, I share this information to solicit feedback from more experienced powerlifters (i.e. if you believe I am completely off-base and there is something I am doing completely wrong in my preparation, whether implicit or explicit please let me know – perhaps offline). I’m 41 years old now, but believe my best lifting is still ahead.
My goal for the meet was to pull 600+ RAW. That was it. Period.
There were a few training hurdles I had to deal with for the IPA meet (and am still dealing with now). Earlier, I briefly mentioned my forearm issues. I am able to bench and pull heavy most of the time, however I can barely hold a half-gallon of orange juice in my left hand without significant pain plus any type of supination or thick bar pulling movements are out of the question – yet somehow holding the bar when deadlifting produces no negative impact on the injury.
The second hurdle I am dealing with is that I am having a difficult time training hard for both the squat and the bench press at the same time. My problem is caused by a lack of flexibility in my shoulder region. It takes an inordinate amount of time to prepare my shoulders to get under the squat bar and there is a fair amount of discomfort associated with my straight bar squatting.
The real pain rears a day or two after squatting, when I’m training my bench. The shoulder pain comes back with a vengeance and the best way I can describe it, is it feels as though my shoulders are filled with broken glass. From time to time I will use the Safety Squat Bar to try and alleviate the pain, but I much prefer using the straight bar, especially with heavy band training. Going forward, it’s my intention to increase my shoulder stretching and to work on my post training icing of the shoulders to see if any of this will help.
Essentially I trained 3x per week for the meet; Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 8:30 until whenever I’m done (training this late sucks, but with my work schedule I haven’t yet found an alternative) and Sunday mornings. I alternated between upper body and lower body training days and because of the 3x schedule, I never trained bench or squat on the same day of the week – I’m hoping to find a way to change this too, as I would like to have set “Bench Days” and “Squat/Deadlift Days.”
On lower body days for this training cycle I alternated between speed box squats w/bands, followed by banded speed deadlifts and GHRs and/or heavy sled drags with long wide strides. On heavy days, I would either max box squat or max rack pull (with the bar suspended in a power rack about two inches off the floor).
When I look back and mentally review my lower body training for this meet I realize what I was doing, when I didn’t feel 100% (which was often), was substituting dynamic effort/speed work for ME work. I made this substitution too frequently and by the end of my training cycle, I didn’t do enough ME work. In retrospect, I think the dearth of ME work really cost me at the meet.
I used to keep meticulous notes on all my training, but since opening the Beast, my discipline in that area really fell-off, which is unfortunate and something else I will try and rectify. I was very pleased overall with my deadlift training for the meet and I thought pulling a PR in the meet was a foregone conclusion – maybe I was lying to myself or maybe once again I was somehow foiled by the Deadlift Devil.
In contrast to my lower body training, I thought my bench training for the meet was substandard – it sucked. I can recall two training sessions in the entire cycle that I felt were half-way decent – and none of the sessions were world beaters by any stretch. For my bench training, I essentially alternated ME training with a repetition method. I performed very little, if any, speed work; I simply felt too beat-up to handle it. The repetition work was to help me get the juices flowing again and to get some volume under my belt.
About 90% of my ME work was the 2-board press, often working to a 3-rep max (“RM”). I never felt good enough to work up to a true 1 RM – pretty shitty, but I am being brutally honest. I also did a ton of 3-board pressing (sets of 12 reps with a slightly closer grip to work on my upper-end triceps strength – I would do 5 to 6 sets). I’m a huge proponent of board pressing in general. I know some guys don’t highly recommend them for the RAW presser, but I am already relatively strong off the chest, and the board presses yield the ancillary benefit of saving on the shoulder stress. During this cycle, when I wasn’t 3-board pressing, I used Mark Bell’s “Sling Shot” for some of my assistance work with higher reps, again in an attempt to boost my upper-end strength. During one training session, I used the sling shot coupled with (downward) band tension to really load the upper-end – I would suggest that this method really teaches the lifter to explode at the bottom of the lift, as that momentum helps carry the lift to completion, but probably should be done infrequently as it can really beat-you-up. I generally liked the sling-shot as a component of my assistance work.
The two bench sessions I remember as being decent were a repetition day and a single ME training session with the 2-board. On the repetition day I worked 335 for 3 good sets of 10 repetitions, which I followed with about six sets of closer-grip bench with the sling-shot working with 315-335. There was no shoulder pain and minimal forearm discomfort and I felt as though I had a lot of gas left in the tank. The weight wasn’t as much as I wanted to be working with, but it was enough, I felt, to get my training going in the right direction.
My ME work was really lagging. Approximately four weeks out from the meet, I missed a 545 reverse band press that I’ve hit before fairly easily – I only required a two-finger spot to complete the lift, but I knew it wasn’t clean.
Three weeks out from the meet, my goal was to hit a strong 500 2-board – despite the way my training was progressing, I was still trying to talk myself into swinging for a 500 RAW Bench at the meet. I had hit a RAW 480 in March at the APA Northeast Coast Classic and thought if both my adrenaline and the stars aligned I had a shot. Not only did I not take the 500 2-board attempt that evening, it took me two attempts to hit a lousy 475.
My only benching salvation was a single strong ME session about a week out from the meet. I hit a strong 455 2-board triple (and had a lot more left in the tank). I elected not to work any heavier, both because I didn’t want to physically beat myself up for the meet, but also because I was too afraid to miss a weight – I finally felt good and I didn’t want to risk any psychological damage. I did do a final set with 405 for a solid 6 off of two-boards, but it was the ease with which I threw up the 455 that provided me with the confidence boost I needed for the meet. I still believed, perhaps irrationally, that if things went well with my opener, a 500 press could be in the cards.
In the case of my bench press, I was taking a page out of The Vault – A Decade of PR-Shattering Training Tips by Dave Tate – “If you want to do anything of value, in or out of the gym, you must believe fanatically in your own ability to overcome and succeed.”
The Day of the Meet – The Pissing Olympics
My initial plan was to be ultra aggressive at the meet. I gave a 460 bench opener (which was a bit of a gamble based on my training cycle) and a 560 deadlift opener; if I smoked the bench, I would immediately swing for the 500. Likewise, after I hit the 560 deadlift, I would immediately go for the 600 (and then possibly 620+).
I never planned to diet for the meet; on the contrary, I was trying to eat my way to 300 lbs – to “get my bloat on.” On the day of the IPA event, I was hoping to weigh at least 290 (I was competing in the 308s – Masters and Open Classes). Because I didn’t have to make a certain weight, I would weigh-in at 7:30 on the morning of the event, versus the day before.
I woke at 5:30, made coffee (gotta love the Keurig) and reviewed my checklist for a final time to ensure I wasn’t leaving any of the meet essentials behind. As has become my competition tradition, I slather Red Hot (or Atomic Balm) over my triceps, shoulders, chest, and lower back. The balm helps prepare my muscles for the day’s activity by warming them prior to the event, but the effect may just be placebo – either way, I’ll take it. The aforementioned products really work (at least in terms of producing a heat sensation); when I start to sweat during my warming-up, the heat appears to pick-up again, which I like.
With the trusty Honda loaded, I left for Hartford at about 6:45, estimating that from Trumbull to Hartford would be about an hour ride. I listened to Howard Stern for the first part of the trip to help calm my nerves – it didn’t work. For the second leg of the trip, I switched to the same training songs the Beast guys have had to endure for the last two years.
I arrived at the Connecticut Convention Center at about 7:45 – the building was massive, but I saw a lot of familiar faces. I saw Josh Flores and Karsten Luca, a couple of the big dudes that frequently train with Dizenzo. I saw and spoke with Rob Tonini, whom I originally met the handful of times I was able to train at Southside Gym (after they relocated from Stratford to Milford). I saw some of the Powerlifting team from The Refuge in Middletown Connecticut.
The Refuge guys are an awesome group of powerlifters, as soon as they realized I was alone, they immediately offered to provide me with any help I required; I assured them my “crew” would arrive before I was set to lift, but thanked them for their support. I also finally met Lou Santella from HardKore Gym in Shelton. I met Jessica Scofield, The Power Princess, face to face for the first time too – she competes with a high level of intensity and had her game-face on from the get-go.
I met Gene Rychlak at about 8:00 when I weighed-in at 284.8, which was a negative surprise on the low side. Gene is a massive human and pretty down-to-earth especially when considering his success on the bench. At 8:30 all of the competitors were gathered in a conference room for a debriefing on the IPA Rules; there were no surprises. The competition was set to begin with the squat at 9:45; the full-power competitors began warming up at approximately 9:00, checking the height of the main monolift and warming-up with the two monolifts that were positioned back stage.
I had to wait through the squatting to get to my first lift on the bench press, which started at around noon. I filled the down time with both pacing and pissing. I had to use the rest room about every 15 minutes, or so it felt. I was really anxious, most of the anxiety stemmed from my selection of the heavy bench opener. I was downing water and Gatorade like an animal because I was afraid of dehydration.
My Lifting Starts – High Anxiety
There were three flights of the Bench Press; each flight had approximately 12 lifters – a flight is a group of lifters; the first flight performs all three rounds of the bench press before the second flight begins. Those in the second flight, depending on the size of the meet, typically begin to warm-up while the first flight is performing their attempts, with the third flight on “double-deck.”
There were two benches backstage to use for warm-ups; while I typically perform a tremendous number of sets to warm-up in the gym (see my article – The Value of Warming-up – posted in the articles section of this site), at a contest, because the adrenaline is flowing heavy, I try to ready myself with the minimum number of sets. I started with the bar and then knocked-off a couple sets with 135lbs.
Chris Bogannam, who handles a tremendous amount of the programming for our Beast athletes and is someone I’ve trained with for the last five years, was my hand-off man for the bench press. He’s been like an adopted son to me – one of my closest personal friends.
“What the hell are we doing here?” I jokingly asked Chris in the warm-up area. “Two years ago we were training with the crew in my basement and talking about snuff films. What the hell happened?”
Bogannam laughed, “I don’t know man. I don’t know.”
I hopped on a vacant bench and knocked-out a couple of reps with 225. I can joke and continue to remain focused, but I was still anxious as hell and a small part of me was wishing I’d selected an easier opener – but that wasn’t the plan and while I’m certainly not a Powerlifting competition veteran, this wasn’t my first rodeo and I was savvy enough to know I had to stick to my plan (at least stick as close as possible).
Chris gives me a lift off on his three count and I bang-out a triple with 275.
The warm-up area is an interesting place; it’s full of lifters who are used to being the big dogs in their respective facilities; everyone is focused and dialing-in to ready themselves for their best lifting. Everyone has their handlers with them – the handlers are indispensible. The tension is palpable.
I knock off a single with 315 and my adrenaline is flowing to a degree that the weight feels like an empty bar. I poke my head outside of the warm-up area to watch Jessica Scofield throw-up a 255 bench press – solid. She hops off the bench with a scowl and releases a victory scream at the audience.
In the warm-up area, I complete a single with 365; I’m really happy with the speed. A guy backstage, roughly the size of a mountain, says, “You’ve got a really good RAW bench.”
“Thanks,” I say, and with that my warming-up is done.
We’re not in the middle of the second flight and I’m on deck for my 460 opener – I’m more anxious than ever. Don’t misunderstand, I do fanatically believe I will be successful, but the anxiety was somehow persistent.
They call my name and I’m off to the bench. My setup was fine (I think). Chris gives me a solid lift-off on his three count; I quickly, yet under control lower the bar to my chest; Gene gives the press command and the bar begins to fly up, but ¾ of the way up, something goes wrong – the bar flies too far over my face, my right wrist breaks and the spotters have to take the bar – I’ve missed my opener.
I remember to head over to the judge’s desk and give them my second attempt – I decide I have to take 460 again; I need to hit the 460 – I can’t bomb out of the meet. I head out into the crowd; there are now about a dozen people that have come to watch me lift, including my father, my wife, and two of my three children.
I walk over to my wife – “Show me the film,” I say. “I need to see what I did.”
“It was going up easy,” Kim says. “… but then it just fell back.”
Oh well; I guess the 500 bench is out for today – don’t bomb out; don’t bomb out.
Ten minutes later and I’m heading back to the bench for my second shot at 460; I find my wife and sons in the audience and give them high-fives; as I walk to the bar, I’m saying to myself – Yes-Yes-Yes – trying to talk myself up for the lift, a la Diego Sanchez, the MMA fighter.
I hit the 460 and it’s a fairly solid press. Yes; I’m in the meet!
“You’ve got one more lift,” Bogannam says. “Get it you son of a bitch ’cause Chrissy loves you.”
“I didn’t hear no bell,” I say. Okay, so maybe that exchange didn’t happen, but wouldn’t it be cool if it did? – Straight-up Rocky Balboa.
I walk over to the judge’s desk. “When do I have to give you my next weight?” I ask.
“I am ready now,” she says.
“Okay, please just give me a minute.”
As I stand next to her, I’m performing the following mental gymnastics: I wanted the 500, but after the shit show with 460, I didn’t think it was in the cards for this meet; what is a number I think I can hit that will still be meaningful (i.e. allowing me to end the bench press on a really positive note); 485 is the weight that comes to mind – it’s five more pounds then I’ve hit in competition and despite what has already transpired, I do believe it’s a makeable lift.
In The Vault, Dave Tate suggested Louie Simmons always taught him to break his PR by five pounds on his second attempt and go for broke on his third; after a fluke bombing on my first, I was forced to essentially treat my third lift as though it was a second.
“485,” I say. “Thank you.”
As I approach the bench for my attempt, my hands and arms are literally shaking with intensity. It’s a feeling I can’t recall having since I hit a 500 bench (touch-and-go) in my home gym for the first time. It’s Hulk-A-Mania. I position myself on the bench and take the handoff – the bar feels heavy, but I believe I can make the lift – I fanatically believe I can. I lower the bar to my chest, receive the press command, and slowly, but steadily push the bar to full lockout. Good lift! – 485 RAW.
In a matter of 30 minutes I’d emotionally come from a place where I thought I was going to totally bomb out of the meet, to a situation where I have a new competition personal record.
Flash to the Deadlift – The Deadlift Devil – The Power of Christ Compels You
By the time the deadlift started, I was beginning to feel very fatigued. I can’t recall exactly what time my flight began, but I bet it was close to 4pm – recall I’d arrived at the CT Convention Center at 7:45am.
I choked-down a peanut butter and banana sandwich on wheat and downed a grape-flavored 1.M.R. I was trying to wake myself up by pouring cold water down the back of my head and neck.
I approached big John Fanelli in the audience; he’s another powerlifter and we’ve competed against each other in a couple of APA events. I asked him if he would come to the warm-up area with me to help me get focused to lift. He agreed; I had a lot of other Beast guys I could have called on, and I’m sure they would have done a fine job, but I wanted someone that would get me out of my comfort zone; someone that would give me that extra push.
“Don’t do too many warm-ups,” John says. “You don’t want to burn yourself out.” I agreed and ended up performing the following singles: 225, 275, 315, 365, and 405 – all felt good and light (as they should have).
I told John my plan was to hit my 560 opener and then hit 600 on my second attempt. When my name was called, I marched out in front of the audience and hit the 560 fairly well.
Now I’d come to the moment I’d been waiting for – I gave 600 as my second attempt at the judge’s table. I said to my father, “I’m going to deadlift 600 for the first time and you’re going to be here to see it.” About five minutes later they were calling my name to lift.
“Grab the bar tight,” John says. “Like you’re choking the hell out of somebody – and explode up from the ground fast … pull fast.”
I march out, grab the 600 and pull as hard as I can, but the weight won’t budge more than five inches from the floor, and for some reason, after all of my preparation, I don’t have the strength to get it done. Cutting to the chase, my third lift is nearly a carbon copy of the second.
Once again, my personal White Whale, the 600+ deadlift, eluded me.
Beast Reality Take-aways from the Training and the IPA Event
While I was on the beach in Maine, I reflected on my training and the meet while I read “The Vault.” Here are a few of my thoughts post-meet:
I should have competed in the full power meet (i.e. Squat, Bench press, and Deadlift).
I was worried about the squat for two reasons. When squatting in the Beast, I squat fairly wide and utilize a light pair of briefs (old Inzer Power Pants) to help support my hips. I was concerned (rightly or wrongly) that the wide squatting would not translate well in a RAW completion and I wasn’t yet ready to switch to full gear (although I am now considering a switch). Also, I didn’t work on practicing squatting depth at all. In retrospect, I think I could have easily overcome both of my concerns and hit a number I would have been pleased with; live and learn – I’ll hit it hard next time.
I need to do more max effort work and pull heavier more frequently. I need to bring-up my hamstring strength, lower back strength, and abdominal strength. I plan on incorporating a ton more GHRs (possibly every workout, including upper-body days), abdominal work, and ME good mornings in order to accomplish this goal.
I also need to learn how to “strain” more when performing the deadlift. I feel as though I am comfortable with max effort lifting in the bench press and the squat, but for some reason, when the deadlift gets more difficult, I have been unable to pull through it.
In general I need to ensure I complete my assistance work; when training late in the evening, it’s far too easy to omit valuable exercises, especially those exercises that are difficult to perform (and that I suck at), such as reverse hypers, any type of abdominal work, and heavy rows to strengthen my upper back.
Life is good in the belly of the Beast.