Yesterday I got back from my first ever international powerlifting meet, and my first time representing New Zealand (at anything.) Despite an average meet, it was one of the greatest experiences I’ve ever had. I made some friends, met some incredible lifters, and spent the entire week hanging out with some of the people I like and respect the most in the world.
I feel reinvigorated after this meet. Although I don’t think I forgot why I enjoy competing in powerlifting, Oceania’s reminded me what it’s really about.
I compete as an under 93 kg Junior. If you’d rather watch a video than read my verbose meet report, here are all my lifts from the three-lift meet.
By The Numbers
Tuesday – Bench Only
I actually lifted twice at the Asia/Oceania Champs, once as a bench-only athlete, and then again in three-lift three days later. It was a bit of an experiment, never having done both so close together. I weighed in at 89.95 kg, and basically sat around eating oats for two hours before lifting.
Lifting was moderately disappointing; I opened on 142.5 kg, and it was probably the slowest that weight has ever moved. I made the jump to 147.5, and it was slightly better. I took a final jump to an ambitious 152.5 kg for my third, but I wasn’t even close to being able to lock it out.
142.5 kg (314 lbs) – three white lights
147.5 kg (325 lbs) – three white lights
152.5 kg (336 lbs) – three red lights
That gave me third in my class (it was a small class), and I guess you can’t complain at a medal in your first international meet! Unfortunately, I don’t have the videos of these lifts.
Overall, I was a little dissapointed here, but walked away feeling confident that I had a second shot at that bench PR on Friday.
Friday – Three Lift
I (mistakenly) thought that having done bench only three days earlier, I would be less nervous for the main event, having lost my international virginity (so to speak.) Man, was I wrong. The more I watched, the more nervous I was. I barely slept the night before, racing through a combination of final deadlift attempts and hypertrophy microcycles in my head.
I weighed in at a cool 90.05 kg, and again spend my time eating oats, drinking Powerade, and enjoying the best (well, only) coffee I’d had in nearly two weeks.
I consider myself a pretty terrible squatter, and I had tweaked my back (physio suspects a bulging disk, but no MRI to confirm) and didn’t expect to be able to go over 90%. I was pleasantly surprised to find that my squats weren’t moving too badly on the day. Angus wasn’t as happy as I was, and dropped my opener to 187.5 kg (good move) at the last possible second.
I ended up taking 202.5 kg on my third, which is an equal PR, and faster than last time (plus pain-free.) Although it wasn’t the 210 kg I was aiming for three months ago, I’m can’t even bring myself to be annoyed by it. I went 3/3 on my worst lift, equalled my PR (maybe with a little in the tank) and didn’t hurt myself.
That actually means that I haven’t missed a squat in competition all year and adding a total of 17.5 kg since this time last year. I came away from these squats feeling pretty good, and with a plan to make my squat somewhat less of a national embarrassment by next year.
187.5 kg (413 lbs) – Three Whites
197.5 kg (435 lbs) – Three Whites
202.5 kg (446 lbs) – Three Whites
If I could totally forget about bench press, that would be cool (but then I might not have learned anything either.) Bench press was, in a word, shocking. I was pretty fried from the bench-only meet three days early, and it showed in my performance.
I opened on 142.5 kg and made it look really hard. As Tuesday’s opener had looked kind of similar, we made the same jump to 147.5 kg on my second. I was surprised by a pregnant press command, ground out a slow and sloppy rep, and lifted my ass off the bench. By the time I retook 147.5 kg on my third I was so fried that I could barely get it off my chest.
So, aside from being kind of disappointed (my new Australian friends would say I was devvo), I learnt a few things here. The main one is that the SRA curve for max effort bench press is much longer than I had hoped – definitely not 4 days, possibly more like 6 to 8 days. Whilst I can’t say that I’m hugely surprised, it’s good to know for sure.
Learning things doesn’t add anything to your total on the day, and I feel like I left a lot on the table here compared to what I’m capable of while fresh. Also, interesting fact – I’ve missed 6 lifts in competition this year, 5 of which have been bench press attempts (3 in three-lift comps.) That suggests I need to reconsider some aspect of my training or attempt selection (in fairness, two of those failed jumps were 2.5 kg or less, so I didn’t leave anything on the platform by missing.)
142.5 kg (314 lbs) – Three Whites
147.5 kg (325 lbs) – Two Reds
147.5 kg (325 lbs) – Three Reds
Deadlifts are a dark horse. How do they work? Do deadlifts respond to peaking more than bench or squats? Is ammonia the secret to going Super Saiyan?
For context, in the block leading up to Oceania’s, I missed 237.5 kg from the floor, 250 kg from the floor, 250 kg from blocks (twice), 260 kg from blocks, halved the volume of everything I did, and hurt my back (not all on the same day). Despite that, I had a not-bad deadlift day on the platform. After a poorly timed fire alarm (I was four lifters from my opener when it went off), I opened at 237.5 kg reasonably smoothly. 250 kg proved to be a bit of a tough second, though I locked it out (eventually.) We decided to take a conservative third that would lock in 5th place if I hit it (257.5 kg), but I wasn’t patient enough and lost position off the floor. As soon as it dipped above my knees I dropped the bar.
The 250 kg was actually enough to give me third place in deadlifts, and that makes me really happy. I’ve identified my main deadlift fault (losing position off the floor) and I know how to fix it, so I can come back with an even better pull next year.
Another fun fact – this is the first time I’ve failed to lock out my final deadlift in a meet.
237.5 kg (523 lbs) – Three Whites
250 kg (550 lbs) – Three Whites
257.5 kg (568 lbs) – Three Reds
Although by the numbers this meet was (much) less than stellar, I came away from it feeling great. I learned some important things, identified some weaknesses, and had a great time (and let’s be honest, in amateur sport that’s the main thing that matters.) I have a plan for the next 12 months, but more on that another time.
So that’s the story of my first international meet, and what a week it was. If you ever get a chance to go to a meet like this, I couldn’t recommend it enough. Hope everyone’s training and/or competitions have been going well. Hope to see you all soon.