Striving Towards the Ideal Body — Part VII
This is part seven in my journey towards an ideal physique. Here is part I if you wish to read from the beginning.
During this time as I transitioned from a novice to an intermediate lifter, I noticed that I was truly intermediate according to ExRx Strength Standards. I happened to come across a few fellow lifters. All of them unquestionably were much stronger than I was. However, one of them; a semi-pro lifter who I admire for his raw strength told me that I wasn’t a true powerlifter until I competed in a powerlifting meet. And the result is above.
I went to USAPL Arizona Fall Classic in late 2014. The weight class I was looking at was 74 kg. Prior to the meet I made sure I was not exerting too much in the gym. I was also advised to limit my reps to 2’s or 3’s at the most so my body could get used to the single lift I’d have to do at the meet.
Fast forward to the meet, I weight in at 72 kg even (158 lbs). I was probably one of smallest competitors in the meet and oddly, I had no other lifter in my weight class. There were a lot of lifters there, both men and women. I was stoked to perform my best and make some personal records.
Traditionally the meet starts with the squat lift. I wouldn’t say that the squat is my strongest lift but pretty close to it. I am 5'10 and squatting with that much height is definitely a disadvantage (I wish I was a little shorter). However, I didn’t let this affect me in anyway. We had three opportunities to squat the maximum weight we could. The catch was if you went to heavy on the first try, you couldn’t bring the weight down for the next try. So usually lifters start out with what they are comfortable squatting.
I started with 220 lbs or about 100 kg. It was an easy weight which I could do for multiple reps. I didn’t disappoint myself and came out of it successful. The next try weight has to be provided immediately after your first lift. I asked them for 245 lbs (111 kg). In training at the gym, I had done a max of 235 lbs. I knew 245 wasn’t too far off and I could do it given the ease I lifted 225 with. The next try at 245 wasn’t as easy as 225 but it came up smoothly enough. I was super confident about my strength after squatting 245 lbs. I talked with the lifter who had asked me to compete and conferred with him as to how much I should go up to next. He said if I felt strong enough to go all out. I pondered whether I wanted 259 lbs or 269 lbs. At that point 10 lbs makes all the difference. I wanted my last try to be my personal record even though I had established a personal record already. I decided to go with 269 lbs (122 kg). Lo and behold, I had just created another personal record. At 158 lbs body weight this was 1.7 times my body weight that I successfully squatted.
After the squat was the dreaded bench press. I’ll be completely honest here but I hate the bench press. I much prefer the military or the overhead press. Lying on a bench and pressing the weight up is just not my thing. Again, being tall doesn’t help either. This is my worst lift. I started with 155 lbs as I had done 175 in training. I went to 175 and couldn’t make a clean lift. They told me that my head came off the bench while lifting the weight. On my third try, I didn’t want to up the weight more as I was already tired. The second 175 try didn’t go very well either and the spotters had to help me rack the weight; hangs head in shame.
After the bench press was my favorite lift if you’ve already not caught that from my videos. In training I had deadlifted 345 lbs for a single rep. I started out lower at 325lbs. It was an easy pull. I then went to 345 lbs which was easy as well. I wanted to make a personal record on my third lift. I went with 363 lbs or 165 kg(video shows a discrepancy as I typed it wrong while uploading). This was going to be 2.3 times my bodyweight. The result is shown in the video above. When I look at this video, I feel I shortchanged myself. I came up so quickly on my third lift that it looked more like a first life. I feel I could have gone up to a 380 and made it. However, I was happy.
The powerlifting meet turned out to be an amazing experience. I got to meet some really strong people. I also met my other self, the really strong beast who was inside me the whole time without me knowing. With chalk flying, people shouting encouragements and a live internet broadcast (yeah it’s true), this was one of the most surreal experiences I have ever had. With the lifting coming to an end, my total lifts came out to be 785 lbs or 356 kg. It has been four years since and I am probably not as strong as I was then. However, I have recognized that fitness is not a sprint but a marathon. Every little step is as important as every leap.