If you haven’t read Part One, make sure you check that out so you understand the context of what I’m saying in this piece. In Part II, I’m going to focus on how I actually got into the sport of powerlifting. Primarily, it was thanks to Marty Gallagher’s book Purposeful Primitive.
If you prefer to watch than listen, check out the vid:
Around the same time I was finishing my epic dreamer bulk on Starting Strength, I had begun to read more and more about powerlifting. In particular, I bought Marty Gallagher’s Purposeful Primitive which is still one of the best books about powerlifting I’ve ever read.
The story of Ed Coan fascinated me. Here was an average guy, from an average neighborhood who became the greatest of all-time. And just like me, Ed was a shorter fella at 5’6”. For those who don’t understand, Ed Coan is the “Michael Jordan” of powerlifting. He was a multiple time world champion; he was a multiple time world record holder; in powerlifting, he is greatness personified.
At one point, Ed was so far ahead of his class, that his next closest competitor was 30% behind him. Just imagine Usain Bolt beating people by three full seconds instead of .3 seconds and you’ll understand the magnitude of Coan’s dominance.
I wanted that. I’ve always been drawn to competition, winning, and pursuing the greats. I looked at Ed Coan, I noted the similarities, and, I said, “Why not me”?
Bodyweight and Competitiveness
I was interested to see that Ed Coan, at his biggest, never weighed as much as I did after only 9 months of training. The truth quickly sank in for me. I was too fat to be competitive.
Despite popular notions to the contrary, competitive powerlifters are not giant fat slobs who force feed themselves to make gains (for the most part). Powerlifting is a weight class sport. And like all weight class sports, the athletes who make up the lighter divisions are all ridiculously lean and jacked.
Take a look for yourself:
My 50lbs Cut
I immediately began cutting weight. My mindset at the time, and to this day, is that if I’m not competing to try and win then I’m not competing at all. Remember, Powerlifting to win.
Here were the final results of my cut:
Dates: Aug ’12 to Feb ‘13
Weight: 242lbs -> 198lbs
Squat: ~500lbs -> 418lbs
Bench: 260lbs -> 242lbs
Deadlift: 455lbs -> 463lbs
Total: ~1215lbs -> 1124lbs
My First Meet
About six months later on February 24th 2013, I competed in my first powerlifting meet.
The day started off well enough. Luckily for me, I had a buddy who was also competing in that meet and he had more experience than I did. With his help, I was able to gauge warmup timing relatively accurately.
The day started off well enough. I nailed my opener with what felt like some in the tank. However, I just narrowly missed 441/200kg. I took it a third time and wasn’t even close. Unfortunately, the bench press went the exact same way. I nailed my opener of 242lbs/110kg and then proceeded to get crushed by 253 twice.
By the time deadlifts rolled around, despite what you might expect, I was feeling a lot better despite the disappointment earlier in the day. At this point, I felt there were no more big expectations. All the grandiose numbers I had made up in my mind weren’t going to happen. So, I just let go and pulled hard. The end result was that I ended up going 3/3 and nailing a 463 deadlift PR.
This was a rather disappointing result for me. In training, I had squatted 405×5, benched 250×3, and, actually, the deadlift was an all-time PR. In any case, I was nowhere near my all-time best strength from 242lbs.
You can watch the whole ordeal here:
First Meet Reflection
Strictly in terms of performance, this was a rather disappointing result for me. In training, I had squatted 405×5, benched 250×3, and, actually, the deadlift was an all-time PR. In any case, I was nowhere near my all-time best strength from 242lbs.
That said, I had an overall positive experience. The meet got me hooked on competition. Though it is said enough to be cliché by now, powerlifting is one of the most supportive sports in existence. In almost no other sport will you find your direct competitor cheering you on for all of your lifts. The camaraderie is awesome.
For all of you out there waffling over whether you should enter a meet, just do it. The timing will never be perfect and your numbers will never be quite what you want them to be (that’s why we keeping lifting!). Honestly, if you think you’re ever going to reach your potential without competition, you’re kidding yourself. Do you think Michael Jordan would have become as great as he did if he only played in pickup games? Come on.
I couldn’t be more glad that I did my first meet after procrastinating on the idea for months. You will be glad too. And hey, if you have any questions, just ask! I’ll help you out.
In Part Three, I’ll be discussing my experience joining a real powerlifting gym for the first time as well as how I added 280lbs to my total in only 13 weeks.
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Table of Contents
Part One: Starting Strength and Gaining 80lbs in 9 Months
Part Two: My First Meet and Cutting 50lbs
Part Three: My Experience with Steroids and Totaling 1405@220
Part Four: Tren, Almost Getting Arrested, and Why I Quit Steroids
Part Five: Losing 30lbs in 80 Days and Qualifying for Nationals