T Nation

My First USAPL Competition

Saturday was my first PL competition. I figured I would go & try to get some PR’s & watch & learn from the big boys. The night before I went to weigh in and check out the equipment. I knew a guy that can out-squat me by 200# (and bench and DL) was going to be in my weight class. So I weighed in after having eaten dinner and my usual 6 meals that day. I came in at 271 (at 6’6"). I turned in my first attempts. For each lift, I picked numbers that I had previously tripled raw.

In the competition I nailed my first squat. In the second attempt at 500#, I bottomed out, lost my balance, and double bounced. I saw the head referee react, so I really didn’t try to save it and let the spotters help me up. Before my last attempt, I pulled the legs of my suit down a little. I hit the 500 & it was pretty easy. I’m sure I could have done it raw, so I was a little disappointed I didn’t get to see what the suit could do for me on the third lift. Still, a 10# PR over my previous raw max.

Bench didn’t go quite as well. I hurt my shoulder 8 weeks before. Although I feel I’m fully recovered I did miss 4 weeks of hitting the bench hard. I also couldn’t get the feel of my bench shirt, so I decided to bench in a T-shirt. I got 275 with some effort, but in spite of doubling 285 two weeks before, I missed 290 twice.

About this time I noticed 2 things: (1) I was very hungry and shaking–I had only been drinking protein drinks and water; and (2) I had been drinking too much water! The shakes went away after eating a slice of pizza. But the water? I had to run to the bathroom twice during DL warmups, and between each attempt. I sure am glad I’m a guy & didn’t have to pull the suit all the way off each time!

In DL my first attempt flew off the floor, and I pulled 600 pretty smoothly for the second attempt, A 20# PR. My third attempt was 625. when I got it off the floor, I was excited because I’ve never failed a DL I could get off the floor. However, I couldn’t get it past my knees. This must be where the suit’s support dies off. Now rack pulls make sense to me.

I told my family that I’d meet them at the restaurant after the awards–they didn’t need to stick around 'cause I wasn’t going to get anything. They decided to stay & saw me declared the winner of my weight class. (The guy that could crush me in each lift didn’t show & I was the only guy in the 275 class.) My first official total: 1375.

Lessons learned:

  1. Eat more solid stuff, I was thinking trail mix would have been cool. What kind of stuff does everyone eat out there?
  2. Drink a lot less water!
  3. Start doing rack pulls

I’m open to ideas to improve my bench. I thought I’d try Waterbury’s ten sets of 3. Chains don’t seem to be helping my explosiveness, so I was thinking I’d try explosive pushups, try to clap between reps.

Very nice job. Your sticking point on the deadlift seems to be pretty normal - right below the knees. Rack pulls might help, but getting stronger definitely will. Get faster off the floor and make sure your form is good.

For the bench, I’d just try to focus on some rep work. Heavy 3’s and 5’s should get you over 300 quickly. Have an ME day, and do 1, 3, or 5RM’s on those days. Follow them up with hard work for the muscles involved in benching. On the other day, you might want to try a 5x5 or 6x5 where you either keep the same weight or work up slowly over the sets. If you like speed work, then do it every third week on your rep day instead of the 5x5 or whatever you do.

Good luck.

1.) I usually drink gatorade/powerade. After each bottle, I refill with water, so I can have both.

2.) I eat some kind of protein bar between events.

3.) Nuts work well. I also drink a protein drink as well.

4.) I constantly eat between events because my adrenaline is usually running high and my appetite is suppressed, so I try to compensate.


First off, congratulations. I understand the feeling that you could do more, but at least you now have some numbers to work with. I felt similar after my first strongman competition. I was somewhat disappointed in my results, but happy that I had a starting point with numbers and could set goals to shoot for.

As far as eating, just get something whole in you between events; nuts, protein bar, something; heck, even half a PBJ. You know you your stomach better than I do. Eat something, but not too much to bog you down.

With benching, why do you feel you’re not explosive? Honestly, with the weights you’re moving, you may be better off just doing rep work for now, instead of a DE day. Have you tried bands? Try them for both ME and rep work; they’re not just for speed days. Also, you may want to throw in some pause bench presses.

Good luck in the future,

Two questions: You never maxed in your suit before the competition? Why were you looking at the ref during the squat?

Before the competition, the closest thing I did to a suit max was 2 sets of 2 at 490 for the squat, and 2 sets of 3 at 580 for DL.

I wasn’t looking at the ref during the squat, but I knew I double bounced & saw him react out of the corner (bottom?) of my eye.

I could post a clip if someone could tell me how to cut a 24Meg dvd clip down to something usable.