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It was five years ago during a conversation with Brad Gillingham at a strength and conditioning conference that he convinced me to set strongman competitions aside in favor of giving powerlifting a try. Since I had a decent deadlift at the time, Brad suggested that I try to qualify for the GNC Pro Deadlift at the Arnold Classic. I did just that and have had a blast competing in deadlift competitions for the last five years. Amidst all of the fun, however, I had never really competed as a true powerlifter and done a full meet of squat, bench press and deadlift. This changed three weeks ago.
While talking with Brad at the Empire Classic Pro Deadlift competition a couple of months ago, he suggested that I compete at USAPL Raw Nationals next year. The qualifying procedure for competing in this contest is simply to post a raw total in a USAPL sanctioned meet. I decided to do this on June 29th at the Heavy Metal Open in Hoisington, KS. Since I had never competed in a full meet before, my goals going in were simple: 1. Post a raw total, 2. Be perfect in execution. I met both of these goals. I posted a total of 1670 pounds (575 squat, 360 bench press and 735 deadlift), and I went 9 for 9 on my attempts with 27 white lights.
The experience was definitely different than competing in a deadlift only meet. Instead of 3 attempts as occurs in a deadlift meet, now there are 9 attempts. This requires much higher levels of strength and work capacity. I was very pleased with my results from this meet, but there is much work ahead if I am going to reach my goals for Raw Nationals next year. I would like to post an 1800-pound raw total. Since I have not competed in a full meet before, I have done very little training at very high intensities for the squat and the bench press. This changed before this meet, and I will continue to work on this. In addition, I need to be able to execute maximal performances within the structure of a full meet. The first step I am taking to accomplish this is to use the 80/20 rule strictly with my off-season training. This rule, also known as the Pareto Principle, states that I will get 80% percent of my results out of 20% of the exercise pool. In other words, put the time in with core movements and don’t mess around with the smaller accessory stuff. For example, my off-season looks something like this:
Day 1: Main Lockout (paired with heavy row) / Accessory Press (paired with heavy row)
Day 2: Main Deadlift / Squat Accessory (barbell) / Accessory Deadlift (barbell)
Day 3: Main Press (paired with heavy row) / Accessory Press (paired with heavy row)
Day 4: Main Squat / Deadlift Lockout (barbell) / Volume Squat
This is the basics of it - keeping it simple and getting good volume on a lot of barbell movements. I will do some test days throughout the off-season, as well. On these days I will basically do a powerlifting meet with maximal or near maximal squat, bench press and deadlift in the same workout. Recovery on this type of program is a challenge, but thanks to HMB, I have been able to plow through these workouts with a ton of success.