NZPF Unequipped Nationals were in Christchurch last week, and what a week it was. Canterbury Powerlifting put on a great meet, it was smoothly and professionally run.
I flew down with Angus, Katie, Alisa and Amie, and we all lived in a house together pretending to be professional athletes for a week, which was a lot of fun, and I’m looking forward to doing it again for the Oceania Champs.
I’m going to kick off a series of blog posts about Nationals with my reflections on my own performance, so without further ado, here’s my meet report for the NZPF Unequipped Nationals 2016.
Meet the Characters
Angus Blair – my handler and training partner. Angus makes all the decisions on meet day, and makes sure I’m lifting with my muscles and not my ego! His tactical decisions are responsible for a lot of my good performances.
Keith Miller – long time rival. The first time we competed was at the Auckland champs in 2015, which he beat me by like 50 kg. Keith has traditionally been 15 kg or more ahead of me coming out of squats.
Thomas Botica – I first met Botica via Instagram when we realised that I beat him at our respective regional championships by just 0.5 kg. I’ve since trained with him, and we both knew that today was going to come right down to the line.
Here’s my meet video, including all nine lifts. I’ve turned the sound right down because these were mostly filmed on a GoPro in a case, so it was all muffled anyway.
Prep and Weigh-Ins
I’ll cover my actual training coming into Nationals in detail later, but my last couple of training sessions were approximately 3 x 3 at 70% for each of squat and bench, and 5 x 3 at 50% for deadlifts, two days out and four days out. I was actually a little worried that I had cut my taper too fine, and that I wasn’t going to recover in time; these last two trainings felt pretty terrible. My squats were slow, and bench just felt sloppy. This isn’t the first time I’ve thought that (I was still suffering from triceps tendonitis two days before the regional benchpress champs), but it turns out that I needn’t have worried.
My weight had been pretty well behaved leading up to Nationals, I was generally floating around 93.2 kg, so I gave myself a little water cut and woke up on the morning of at 92.4 at home, so I downed some oats before weighing in. I weighed in at 11 am at 92.2 kg and started eating. I think my recomp went better this time than ever before – I had three sachets of oats, 1.5 L of 50:50 powerade to water, and a coffee within 40 minutes of weighing in. I was pleasantly not-quite-bloated and spent most of the time before my session started talking shit with my fellow under 93 kg juniors. A special shout-out to Botica, who managed to get his weight from 92.8 to 98 kg in under 90 minutes (I was a measly 95 kg).
My squats felt a little sluggish in the warm-up room. The floor wasn’t carpeted, it had this strange rubber matting which was a bit slippery, and I couldn’t get my glutes properly engaged. Despite that, I stuck with my original plan of opening on 190 kg (which was my previous comp PR and nominated squat). Fortunately, it moved well and Angus actually offered me a 200 kg second. I wasn’t confident enough that 200 kg would set me up for a smooth third, so decided to take 197.5 kg. That felt good, so Angus decided on 202.5 kg, which ended up being right on the money. The bar came to a complete stop just above the sticking point (I actually thought it dipped), but I managed to get it moving and lock it out, for three white lights. I’m glad the refs were kinder than I am, because I would have red lighted it! Looking back on the video, it was faster than it felt (but not by much!)
I was very pleased to note that at this point that I was just 7.5 kg behind Keith, rather than my usual 15+ kg. Botica pulled 222.5 kg from somewhere, which was amazing to watch!
There are a couple of take-aways from my squats. Firstly, my training sleeves are getting pretty loose, and I’m glad I picked up a new pair for competition. Unfortunately, that’s quite an expensive trick that I can use every meet! Secondly, my new squat stance (feet close, and less external rotation) seems to be working well for me, however I need more quad and more glutes (max and med) to really be able to make the most of it. Although my squat is comparatively my weakest lift, I think it’s the lift I was happiest with this meet, and a 12.5 kg PR is nothing to sniff at!
Conversely, my bench press felt really good in the warm up room. My bench training had gone really well, and I was hoping to hit 150 or 152.5 kg. My opener (140 kg) was smooth, if a little slow, and I made the jump to 147.5 kg. Unfortunately, that moved quite slowly and I got one red light for my ass coming off the bench. I’ve often had issues in training with my ass lifting, but this was the first time it had happened in comp (and I thought it had stayed solidly planted.) Angus made the call to take a small jump to 150 kg, which I was just too weak to get off my chest.
I was a bit disappointed with bench, especially as I have hit up to 148.5 kg in comp before, and 150 relatively well in training. Fortunately, because I had made such a conservative jump, I didn’t leave any kilos on the platform. The main take-away here is that I have no idea how to peak for bench; I think I peaked about 8 days early (where I hit 145 kg for a paused double), so I’m going to go back and see what caused that and see if I can replicate it in the future.
My deadlift warm ups felt great! I opened at 225 kg, but I honestly can’t really remember the rep at all. I was willing to take up to 242.5 kg as my second, but only needed 240 kg to make sure I was lifting after every one I was directly competing with. At this point I was tied with Botica on sub-total (and lighter) and a few kilos ahead of Keith. Angus thought that pushing Botica to a 255 kg deadlift would be enough to force him to miss, giving me the 4th place. My third was thus 252.5 kg, which was a 10 kg PR. Again, I don’t really remember the lift, but I know that I got three white lights. [As an aside, apparently the MC was giving me shit about my deadlift – “Oh, he takes the round backed deadlift approach. It’s a good thing there are no points for style in powerlifting!” Fuck that guy. Fortunately, I had too much ammonia to hear him.] After taking my third, I ran around to the audience to see Botica pull his final deadlift – he definitely didn’t have anything more in the tank, but it was a great pull and he locked it out, securing himself a 4th place finish, and relegating me to 5th.
The main thing that I can take away from deadlifts is that my deadlift peak worked exactly as planned, I hit basically exactly what I thought I was good for. In training, my hardest deadlift session was 225 kg for a double, and most of my volume was under 210 kg, which definitely doesn’t look like someone good for > 250 kg, but with a taper and enough ammonia, anything is possible.
Results and Summary
I squatted 202.5 kg (446 lbs), benched 147.5 kg (328 lbs) and deadlifted 252.5 kg (557 lbs) for a 602.5 kg (1,328 lbs) total. That was a 22.0 kg total PR, I placed 5th in a very competitive class, and finally beat my long time rival, Keith Miller (who totaled 592.5 kg). I didn’t quite beat Botica this time around (he totaled 605 kg; where did that 222.5 kg squat come from??), but when it all comes down to the last three deadlifts, you can only enjoy the battle.
I didn’t realise it at the time, but the battle for first, second and third was even tighter than for fourth, fifth, and sixth. Ben Hanara, Tom Hart, and Haris Butt all totaled 645 kg (1,422 lbs) and the decision came down to body weight.
Two days later I realised that I had actually set a new Auckland record for the deadlift and total ( as well as already holding the bench record.) I guess the next stop is the squat too!
Next year is going to be epic. The 93 kg junior class is absolutely stacked, and the competition is only going to get tighter.
How did you all go with your recent meets? Are you happy? Do you know what you need to improve on for next time? If you’ve got anything coming up, best of luck, otherwise, see you on the platform!