I’m writing this a couple of hours after my first powerlifting meet, fully amped, feeling accomplished and celebrating inside like I won the whole thing.
Spoiler alert: I came in dead last and, even worse, completely bombed out on two out of the three attempts of my favourite lift at a weight I’ve smoked before: squats at 235 lbs.
A little background: I started powerlifting about a bit less than 5 months ago with an accomplished powerlifter colleague of mine at work, Markus Wolf. My main motivation was to do something different. I’d been competing as a physique athlete for years, following a typical bodybuilding program of relatively light weights and high reps. The world of sparkly bikinis, fake tan and stripper heels was my territory. But I was ready to eager to prove to myself I was more than merely that.
So began the training. Three days a week I started lifting heavier than ever for 5 or less reps in squats, sumo deadlift and bench press.
It was a love-hate relationship. I loved getting stronger and stronger in my squats and deadlift. I hated bench with a passion and it stalled. But I was also getting really bored with doing the three lifts.
I went into the whole thing as a personal challenge, telling myself I would only do this one meet. That’s exactly what I said about physique competitions……. Then I did 14 of them.
Fast forward to this morning. I was well-rested, well-fed and I thought I was ready. I got there and the whole scene and vibe was completely new and different for me. I was out of my element.
I was a bit frantic, unfocused, not really wake and I was the second lifter of the morning.
In my mind, I made two mistakes in my training. I never trained not in front of a mirror and I avoided training in the morning. I did once, I was much weaker than when I do in the early afternoons.
I hit the platform at a little after 10 am and instead of a mirror I had a crowd of strangers and judges watching me. Somehow, I made that first lift. But without the mirror I was convinced I didn’t hit depth. To make the lift count your hip crease has to go below your hips. I got the lift but I did not feel strong at all.
The second attempt I knew I hit depth, I started coming back up again but then just stopped. I had to be saved by the spotters.
I was pissed.
I geared up for the 3 rd and final attempt. I visualized and rehearsed every part of the lift. The un-racking, the two steps back into position, the breathing and the pushing back up through my heels and glutes. The only part I didn’t visualise was the decent. And sure enough, I descending much too fast, caught my squat way down low, lower than I’ve ever gone before, and I knew I wasn’t coming back up again.
I was so pissed at myself. I know I could have hit that weight no problem in another circumstance.
So I took that anger and frustration and funnelled it into my dreaded bench pressed. And I absolutely smoked all 3 attempts. Each one was even easy and I should have attempted heavier. I had a bit of regret at playing it so safe. But at that point I just needed the satisfaction of hitting each lift.
Then I was bloody ampped for deadlifts. And once again, I demolished all 3 lifts. The third and final one was for 270 lbs — 25 lbs more than I’d ever done before. That right there made me feel like a champ.
It was a rather small meet. 26 lifers, only 4 girls, and I still came last. But I honestly feel so flushed with accomplishment, this feeling is very close — not quite there — to the feeling I got when I won my first few shows. I feel like the mother effin’ shit, homie.
And if I justify it all, the other girls were much more experienced than me. The one who came second last had been training for 2 years. And she was also a good 80 lbs or so heavier than me. And I was pulling numbers pretty close to her.
I might have been the weakest person there, but if they were giving out awards for fashion and co-ordination I would have acted I fool if i didn’t win with my black and pink get up.
My coach even said, I might be the weakest person there, but I was the prettiest. Lol. Thanks, I’ll take it! But let’s face it. I’m not built like a powerlifter at all. I’m tall and lanky and not driven to pack on the pounds it would require to dominate the sport.
I accomplished exactly what I wanted. A new challenge. And as crazy as it might sound, it felt kinda refreshing to not to be a top competitor. I hope this doesn’t sound too up myself, but all my life I was always amongst the best in any sport I took to: track and field, soccer and basketball in school and physique competitions after that.
I’m happy now to give powerlifting a rest. A side of me wants to train like a beast for the next year and do another one and do much better. But I won’t. I want to move onto to something new. I think Olympic weight lifting is next. It will make me a better trainer, and a better well-rounded human.
What’s your next move?
Mood: Because, right now, I think I won the lotto.