On September 24th, 2016 I did my first powerlifting meet ever! It was loads of fun, and I’m definitely hoping to try it again sometime!
Quick Overview of Rules
A powerlifting competition consists of 3 lifts; the squat, the bench press, and the deadlift. You have 3 attempts at each of the lifts – each attempt having to be either of equal or higher weight than the previous attempt. Lifters are separated into weight classes, and the highest total lifted (best squat, bench, deadlift) for the weight class is the winner of that weight class. A successful lift means that the lifter has followed all rules, commands from the judges, and it counts towards your total. To determine if you have a successful lift, as long as you have 2 out of the 3 lights coloured white, you’re safe. Any more than 1 red light means a failed lift. If you miss all 3 attempts at any one of the lifts, you won’t be considered for a placing in the competition – you have ‘bombed’ out.
Finally, the competition is all in kilos so I’ll be posting the equivalent weight in pounds afterwards. 😉
For the past 5 months, I decided to focus all my time on training and meal preparation. In March, I decided to switch over to Wendler 531 in preparation for the competition. In April, I had a 175# deadlift, a 185# squat, and a 75# bench press. With this all in mind, I trained between 4-6 times a week and started bulking like crazy. It was a lot of hard work.
On the day of the meet, weigh-in took place at 7AM, 2 hours before the lifting would officially start. Since the meet was taking place in Courtice, I decided that the night before I would spend the night in Whitby so that I wouldn’t have to rush out of Toronto the morning of the meet at ungodly hours. After an extremely restless sleep, we woke up, grabbed some Tim Hortons, and headed over to the competition – which was closed.
After a lot of waiting, we finally were able to line up to have our equipment checked, and wait for our weigh in turn. For the week leading up to the meet, my body weight scale broke, so I was a nervous wreck. In retrospect, DON’T DO THIS. This was insanely stupid, but I weighed in at 55.7kg for my 57kg, so I was totally safe. With that over with, it was time to shovel food down my throat and start to psyche myself up for the lifts.
I was most nervous for squat – not only are there are commands (squat, rack), but also technical aspects of the squat, aka depth of the squat. In addition, because it’s the first lift of the day, it sets the tone for the rest of your competition. I actually love training my squat, it’s something I’m comfortable pushing hard on and training hard on. I went for a pretty easy opener of 85kg (187.4#) – something I’ve hit many times in the gyms. Just over 1.5x body weight I was really hoping to hit this – not a problem. It flew up, perhaps even faster than in training, and was a successful lift. With the first lift out of the way, I breathed a huge sigh of relief because it meant I wasn’t going to bomb out my competition on the first lift.
Second squat was up, 90kg (198#) on the bar. I had hit the 200# squat a couple times in the gym (first time I successfully hit it was in June 21st), so it shouldn’t have been a problem. I walked up to the bar, did my pre-lift routine, and went for it. When I stepped back, it felt a little bit weird, but I got my command, and as I went into the grove (the bottom of the squat), I knew that it wasn’t a great squat. Popped back up with a little bit of difficulty, and reracked to see if it was a successful lift. 2 red lights for depth. I went back stage, drank some water, and thought about my next attempt. We decided that my third attempt would be 90kg (198#) again because I was worried I wouldn’t make a heavier attempt (my best in-gym squat was 210#).
Final attempt for my squat, and I went for it. It went up easy. Good on depth, and I officially had 90kg (198#) towards my total!!
The bench press, by far, is my WORST lift. I had managed to finally get a 95# bench press a couple times (non-paused) outside of the gym, so I was really hoping for a 3 digit bench press at the meet. The bench has the most commands (bench, press, rack) and is one of the most technical lifts meaning I was extremely nervous for I opened at an easy, easy, easy, 35kg (77#) bench press. Went up, not a problemo.
Second lift also went up smoothly, 40kg (88#). I wanted to do a final jump for my last lift, but coach pushed me to a more conservative number of 42.5 (94#), which I missed, haha. Although I wish I hit the final lift, In retrospect, isn’t actually too bad considering my best paused bench in the gym, outside of competition is 40.8kg (90#). Definitely something I’m going to have to work on moving forward, but still quite pleased with my numbers here.
At this point in the competition, I couldn’t believe that the first two lifts were already finished. I had been training for several months specifically for this meet, and it was almost over.
First deadlift was a very quick pull of 102.5kg (225.9#). Going in, I knew wanted to start with a 2 plate pull so I could get a feel for the plates and the heavy weight. After that, I had a relatively fast pull of 110kg (242.5#). At this point, it was the last pull of the day, and I wanted to try a YOLO attempt of 122.5kg (270#) instead of my planned 120kg (265#). It came part way up my shins, and I pulled and pulled, but ultimately could not lock out. And that was it!
The day was so, so much fun, and it was amazing to feel and see all the support among the powerlifting community. I met so many awesome strong women that day, and I hope to see them in future competitions too! It was an utter surprise when I picked up the 3rd place trophy for my weight class. Barely scraping in, but still proud of myself. 🙂
After all of it, I dropped by the Rolling Pin in Toronto have myself a giant PB&J donut. And it was totally worth it.
In the future, I’d love to compete again, but with graduate school coming up, I’m pretty busy and won’t have the time to dedicate to training. However, definitely a possibility for the future.
Special thanks to James for all of the training, filming, and driving, Holly for coming out to support me, Shannon (@gunz&buns!) for being a friend and a fellow lifter (although not my weight class, thank god), and Zoey for handling me all day! Of course, all those internet friends and people who supported from afar, thank you too! I really, really appreciate all of you because I couldn’t have done it without your support.
First competition numbers came out to: 90kg (198#) squat, 40kg (88#) benchpress, and 110kg (242.5#) deadlift for a 240kg (529#) total (29# over my 500# goal)! Surprised myself with a third place in my weight class, and then a giant PB&J donut to celebrate.