T Nation

Kentucky Muscle Push/Pull Meet Write-up


410/570 @202

Note: skip to the bottom for the video if you don't like walls of text.

Got off to a bad start the night before; I woke up at 4 am hacking up a lung from a massive allergy attack that came out of nowhere. Took an allergy pill but was up until 5:30 or so. Got to the convention center around 8 and weighed in at 202. I made no attempt to cut weight for this meet because I was at work while early weigh-ins were happening and it would have been an hour drive anyway. I also wanted to go in feeling as strong as possible, so it worked out. That being said, I won't have any problem making 198 in the spring.

The fed for this meet was the Cajun Hardcore Powerlifting federation. I've never heard of them before and it seems strange that a fed centered in the deep south would be as far north as Louisville, KY, but they seemed like good people when I was talking to them.

Had a minor crisis as I rushed around the city before the lifter's meeting at 10. I'm a gigantic baby and needed a foam roller, so that's what I was looking for. In the process I managed to scrape my headlight against a pole and maim my poor car as I tried to back out of a garage that wouldn't accept my wrinkled cash (god forbid there's a single crease in your bill). Got in after 10 and the meeting hadn't started, so all the panicked rushing and car-maiming was pointless. Go me.

There were around 60 lifters, which I thought was an awesome turnout. Bodybuilding had the big stage in the center of the hall, and we were off to the right. I made second flight in bench press, so I had another 2 hours or so. Spotted a friend of mine for his attempts and then ended up spotting his buddy as well, so that gave me something to do. My friend ended up benching 370 at 155 and had a lot of crowd support because of his size, so that was pretty cool.

While this flight was ongoing I was warming up. This is the first time I've had to deal with so many competitors and only 2 benches to warm up on, so it was a great learning experience for me. I got the first few warmups in quickly and then tried to stay warm. I paused a double at 315 at some point during 3rd attempts, then paused 345 just as they were finishing. That seemed to work out perfectly.

Meat and potatoes: My first attempt was 380, and it was as easy as I expected it to be. Second was 400, and this has been a huge monkey on my back since I missed it in April. I knew I was strong enough to do it, but there's always room for doubt. I didn't have a lot of trouble with the lift, though, and from this point on I felt really good. Looking at the video my descent was too fast, which led to a longer press call, so that's something to work on.

This leads me to my main complaint with this meet/this fed. I hate inconsistent judging, and for some reason this head judge would seemingly at random give a quick press. People who had slower descents get the benefit of the doubt IME, so that wasn't unexpected, but it seemed like a random few people were getting touch-and-go calls, and they weren't just the biggest benchers. My buddies and I also noticed that several people were jumping the press command and only getting one red (at worst), butts were coming off the bench, and uneven lockouts were all passing. In short, very lax judging. It seemed if you completed a lift, it was therefore good.

I opted for 410 because I felt confident I could get it with this judging. This led to my Dave Hoff moment of deciding to stop for as long as I thought was necessary and then going regardless of the press command. I stopped long enough on my chest that one might at least be able to argue there was a pause, then pressed before the command. I got the one red I expected but the lift passed.

This certainly wasn't my finest moment as a powerlifter, but I felt that somewhere that lift would have passed, so that's the defense mechanism I'm using to justify all this. Realistically, though, I was a skeeze and exploited bad judging, and I'm not going to try and pretend I didn't. I feel really good about improving on this number in the spring.

Notable benches: 370@155 (same guy above), 440@202 (another friend of mine who Jean-Pierre Fux'd his knee 6 months ago), 525@235 (I assume this guy won best bench), and 550 from 21-year-old SHW. The last guy missed 585 in the middle, but I think he'll bench 600 pretty quickly and I hope to see him on a national stage soon.

I came into this meet having no clue what I'd deadlift. My conventional had always been better than my sumo, but I had recently made a permanent switch to sumo because of how bad my starting position is on conventional. It was hit or miss in training; I remember pulling 510 about 6 weeks ago and I barely got the lift, but then pulling 525 a few weeks later like a speed pull. I also injured my lat/trap area when the bar corkscrewed on one of my training lifts, and that kept me from going past 528 at any point in training. I did feel like I'd get 530 without much issue, but past that I really had no idea. I figured I'd just wing it and see what happened.

Warmups were tougher here. There was only one flight for deadlifts, so we had ~30 people warming up on 3 bars. I blinked and people were already at 315 on two of the stations, but luckily I was able to get in on the third at 185. I figured 405 and 455 would let me know if I had a shot at a good day, and they both moved very easily. I opened at 500 with no issues, so I decided to go to 535. My best sumo was the 528 training pull to that point, so I wanted to at least best that PR by more than 2 pounds.

I don't know why, but my second attempt felt like 225. I fell into my exact ritual on this one, so I think that might have been the difference after rushing the first attempt. At that point I knew I could beat my conventional PR of 555, so put in my attempt at 565. Two guys I know had surpassed my DL while I was healing from knee surgery but had stuck at 560, so I figured I should at least try and beat them. I decided a few minutes later to up the attempt to 570 because that just sounded better to me. Got into a zone once I was on deck, then walked up, went through my cues, and smoked it. If I had a 4th attempt I think I would have gotten 600. So that made for a 15 pound all-time PR and a 6/6 day.

I'd like to wax poetic for a second about something. I think we all have pie in the sky dreams sometimes about what we're capable of, and they are sometimes completely irrational. I had very little reason to think I would PR on DL other than feeling like several of my heavy pulls in training felt really easy, but I extrapolated from that I might have a really good day if I felt "on." So I suppose the sun shines on a dog's ass every now and then, but it does feel really flipping cool to realize the imaginary potential on those rare occasions.

Notable deadlifts: 700 at 217 from a 44-year-old competitor, and 775 from a guy I think was 275. Both were second attempts so they might have lifted more, but I didn't stay after my 3rd.

Overall, I couldn't be happier with my performance. I will DL 600+ in a full meet in the spring, and I think I'll be able to add to my bench as well. Squat might be pretty bad, but should be enough for an elite total at 198. I plan on doing Brandon Lily's Beast of the Bluegrass in May.

I lifted the entire day on one serving of beef jerky, a Mountain Dew Kickstart, and 3 mini snickers. I often train fasted, so I think that helped me.

The meet atmosphere was fantastic and by far the best I've been to. The crowd was good in its own right, but we also got a huge crowd of passersby that hung around to watch. There was great competition, and everyone was extremely supportive of the other lifters. I will do this meet again in a heartbeat because of how much fun it was.

CLIFF'S: Reading is good for you.


Great work man. Awesome to hit a couple PR's in competition. Don;t be too hard on yourself about the bench haha. Most respectable lifters tend to be really tough on themselves and aren't 100% happy with a lift unless it was ABSOLUTELY perfect.

Also, I really like your deadlift style. You look like you have a lot of upper body, and so the slightly wider stance works for you really well. I wonder if, when you pulled conventional, your stance was fairly narrow? maybe that is part of the reason you never felt very good with conventional.

A lot of the time, lifters with a big upper body pull the best with a wider stance. Have you ever tried pulling conventional with a wide stance? for example, taking your sumo in a couple inches, and then moving your hands outside your legs?

Obviously, what you are doing is working well for you - you hit an all time PR and the pulls look great. But I'm also curious how a wider-stance conventional might work for you, sort of a-la stan efferding. Anyways, great work man.


I really appreciate the kind words, man. My biggest issue with my last bench was that I knowingly jumped the command because I knew it would pass. It's one thing to be the beneficiary of loose calls, but it's another to go into the lift knowing you'll take advantage of them, IMO. Either way, my 400 attempt was clean, so I feel pretty good on the whole.

My deadlift is a product of years of experimentation, wasted time, whatever you want to call it. I have tried a wider stance, actually. I pulled 555 with a wide conventional stance in oly shoes. The problem with conventional for me was always feeling like my arms were crowded around my knees no matter how narrow I was, so in that regard sumo really helps me. I think it's because my shoulders are narrow-set, which is also why I have to bench narrower than most would consider optimal.

But I also wasted years trying to do a wide sumo stance and it never got me anywhere. This just happens to be the sweet spot where it doesn't beat up my hips and I still get good pop off the bottom.


I'll add that I'll probably keep some form of conventional in my training, so I might give the wider stance a shot.


These are still my favorite types of posts here. Solid lifting, solid write up.

And I'll second N.K on the pause, its not your fault judges passed it. Ive been told by more than one experience PLers to anticipate the command too


I'm glad you enjoyed it!

I know what you mean. I've had meets where my first two presses were called quick only to get a long one on my heaviest weight. That can be pretty frustrating.