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Meet Recap - 1840.8 lb Total at 239 lb BW

Hey guys, just had a meet this weekend, figured I’d give an update on how it went. I probably often come off sounding like I know more than I really do, so I figured it can’t hurt to have a little bit of credibility behind my name. TL;DR version: 7/9 ending with 738 squat, 440 bench, and 661 deadlift at 239 lbs. Around 160 lbs lifetime total PR, 30 Wilks point PR. Not a drug tested meet, but (take this for what it’s worth) I’ve never touched AASs.

Some brief back story… I’m just shy of 31 years old, been training powerlifting since I was 23, but was a historically skinny-fat runner before that (at 19 y/o I was around 155 lbs running an average of 10 miles a day). Before this weekend, my best comp performance was 3 years ago, 655/402/622 raw w/ wraps at 220 lbs. After that I switched to higher volume/frequency training and after two more meets with no PRs, I ruptured my L5/S1 (Spring 2018) and spent around 6 months trying to get my glute/hamstring/calf on my right side to have more than 10% function. After that decided I’m never touching the high volume/frequency stuff again and made a lot of smart changes to my programming. First meet back from injury (February 2019) I made my first squat PR in 2.5 years, 661 at 220 lbs but felt the effects of the 7ish% weight cut that I did to get to 220. Also, training up to that point was extra conservative since I was still nervous about my back, so all things considered I was quite happy with the PR. So after that meet, kicked up training more, forced myself into a slight caloric surplus and set my sights on this meet with plans to compete in the 242 class for the first time.

Training weight was around 245-250 so making 242 was a cakewalk (24 hour weigh-ins). Going into the meet, best training lifts were 710x3 squat, 440x1x7 (seven paused singles) bench, and 655x2 deadlift. Was really nervous going into the meet because on paper I was due for a really good one, but I kept thinking about how awful I would feel if it ended up being a bad meet.

Warming up on squats, everything felt more or less normal. Opened at a conservative 661 and absolutely smoked it. Probably the fastest I’ve ever moved that weight. Nerves were gone after that. Jumped to 712 (I think) on second. Came down a bit too fast and got loose in the hole, but was able to finish it with only a minor pause. Banking on my ability to slow the descent down a bit more and hold position better, decided to make a more aggressive jump to 738 (a buddy of mine made 732 so I wanted to 1-up him). Fixed the technical issues I had on my second and made what was easily the most beautifully executed squat of my life. Cut it right on the border on depth but made 2/3 white lights.

Bench was cool but less exciting (it always is). I generally know within +/- 2.5 kg what I’ll bench based on training. Opened 418, easy. Jumped to 440 for a 22 lb competition PR, felt easy and 3 whites but looking back at the video it slowed more at lockout than it felt. Going into this meet I gave myself a rule that no matter what I wasn’t jumping more than 2.5 kg from second to third. Well I didn’t review the video between attempts and the weight felt better than it looked so I jumped 5 kg to 451 lbs. Missed, and got a nasty mid-back erector cramp in the process.

Moving into deadlifts the nerves started coming back. Being the end of the meet and pulling on calibrated plates (much less bar whip) I was worried everything would feel heavier than in training. Opened at 606, and like squats, the weight flew up and nerves immediately left. Jumped to 661 for a 39 lb comp PR, 3 white lights. In the video you see I actually started smiling at the top I was so happy with how it felt. After this started crunching some numbers and found that a 690ish pull would put me right at a 500 Wilks, so I decided to go for it. Made it to my knees but didn’t have the gas to finish it out. In hindsight, I didn’t think about the possibility of my back cramping on bench (even though that happens in training sometimes) otherwise I would have only made the 2.5 kg jump there. Had I been smart, stuck with my original plan and saved myself the back cramp, maybe that 690 would have made it up after all.

After 3 years of plateaus and injury, I needed this. Ended the day with an 1840.8 lb total and a 493ish Wilks. In spite of the bad call I made on my third bench, I couldn’t be happier.

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Great job, nice lifts!

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Really solid man! I wish I had those lifts.

Such awesome lifts. Any squat over 700 is phenomenal. Outstanding!

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Dude, awesome job.

I’m impressed how you were able to come back from a serious injury and set big PRs in all lifts. I’m just getting over a relatively minor back injury and my squat and deadlift are way down, any advice on how to get back on track?

If you have the ability, find a good PT and do exactly what they say. Even if that means something like nothing over 20% on your back or in your hands for a few months.

Honestly, I sometimes wonder if the seriousness of my injury was actually a blessing. I had 2 months of more minor symptoms, basically I would have pain squatting anything over 275 but no symptoms outside of that. I was following a protocol suggested by my doctor to try and work past that but didn’t seem to have much going on in the way of improvements. Then one night after a completely pain free lower body workout (5x5 squats at 225 followed by some isolation stuff) the full backside of my right leg just totally flipped… numbness, spasms, near complete loss of strength… like I didn’t get a wink of sleep the next two nights because it was just constantly freaking out. Took about a month from that point to get scheduling stuff worked out to start PT, did a month of PT 3 times a week, then spent the next 12 weeks working up from an empty bar to sets of 5ish reps around 365 lbs. After that back doc cleared me to making a push to get back to competition strength.

The point of all this is that I had 2 full months of absolutely zero spinal loading , followed by 3 months of working back from 0 to 70-80% of my previous strength. And there was no other option. Had my back had never gone completely out, I might have ended up in a never-ending cycle of trying to push a little more when it feels good, pissing it off, backing off till it feels better, and repeating with no real progress made. My doc told me a good analogy… injuries like this are like scabs. If you don’t stop picking at them, they don’t ever heal.

More specifically… while I was in PT most of the exercises I did were in the pool. Apparently there’s something about being decompressed while also working the muscles of your core that helps with the healing process. Also (and I absolutely agree with your opinion that this should be implemented with caution and on a case-by-case basis) I’ve been using the reverse hyperextension 2-3 times a week pretty much as soon as I started building my squat and deadlift back up.

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Great work man! I love seeing accomplishments like this around here. That’s a huge total!

It sounds like your injury was way more severe than mine. I was still squatting 315x5x5 twice a week and I just didn’t deadlift for about 3 weeks, I bought a couple of McGill’s books and started following his protocols (main thing is McGill big 3 daily and avoid spinal flexion) and for the last few weeks I have zero pain or discomfort but it seems like my legs are just weak as shit right now. I was expecting my strength to come back pretty quick but that doesn’t appear to be the case.

I never went to a doctor, there is nothing they can do here except give drugs or surgery and wait times for an MRI can be close to a year. But based on what McGill’s book say I likely had a disc bulge.

FUCKING BEASTLY !! Christ at 31 you probably havent hit your limit yet. Speed out of the bottom of that squat was freaking great.

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I’d say it sounds like you’re on the right track. Only thing I would add is to not be afraid to take a month or two off of any compressive loading of the spine, if it seems like that might be needed to let it heal. 2 months off and 4-5 months building strength back is a hell of a lot better than a year of no progress and repeated symptom flair ups.

The tricky thing about discs (I’m sure you know) is that symptoms and injury severity don’t always match up. When I finally got in to the back specialist after I had my MRI, before he saw my MRI he was suspecting a bulging disc (symptoms were making slow but steady improvements at that point) but when he saw the MRI he was like “oh… yea this would definitely be a candidate for surgery if you weren’t already showing improvement”. So although you don’t need an MRI to appropriately rehab, they can be useful in guiding expectations of how long the rehab might take. So without having an MRI, I would probably err on the side of longer rather than quicker.

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Thank you sir! It’s definitely been a crapload of work to get here, but honestly I felt like my strength was still steadily progressing all the way up into the meet so I do think I’ve got more room to improve on.

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Goes without saying that your going to hit 1900 not far down the road.

I have absolutely zero symptoms for the last couple weeks, the main issue is that I’m pretty far off my old squat and deadlift numbers but I suppose that will just take some time and patience.

McGill says that a disc bulge can get better (I forget the exact term) in as little as 2-3 weeks but the area is still damaged and takes up to 3 years to fully heal, with new tissue growing over the injured area.

I guess I’m probably better off taking my time and slowly building my strength back up rather than expecting to lift like nothing happened and re-injuring myself, it’s just frustrating.

Yea dont go there. Years of reoccurring back pain is tiresome to say the least. If you stay on top of it you can keep it under control 99% of the time though.

Your total was mega and definitely concur with Bulldog here, you’ve got 1900 there in no time.

Yeah, I definitely don’t want that.

A >300kg squat is absolutely disgusting, nice one.

Wow man that’s amazing. Glad you’re on the right track post injury too. A lot of ppl just give up after something like that!! Keep it up man those numbers are amazing man!!

Tiresome is definitely saying the least, haha. 4 years of waking up in pain, and the pain going from uncomfortable to excruciating over the course of the day. After standing in one place for 10 minutes, my feet would start to get pins and needles, and not long afterwards my feet would go completely numb. I used to have to hide at my job for 3 minutes in a closet, lying flat on the hard floor just so I could feel my feet long enough not to trip over them. What saved me was a combination of direct ab work, losing weight, and fixing pelvic tilt/posture problems.

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