Technique and PR weekend

I had quite an amazing weekend powerlifting. Not only did I learn a bunch of stuff, but also made two goals a reality – just when I thought they might not be achievable before the end of the year. Here’s a review of my weekend.


I took a trip up to Wisconsin’s capital, Madison, to attend a free USAPL first time lifters clinic at Ford’s Gym. Even though I’ve competed in two previous push/pull events (the last one was Federated, but not USAPL) I wanted to be sure about what I was getting into. So glad I went, because what I learned in those couple of hours has really helped focus my training by discovering a few technical deficiencies in my lifts that I was unaware of. I can now clean these small, technical problems up before my next meet in January. There was about 20 lifters there of varying background, including one young woman who had never pulled a deadlift before. Would it surprise you I was probably the oldest guy there?

Anyway, what I learn about my squat is that I need to have my knees lockout at the start of the lift before the squat command. I hadn’t realized that I don’t lockout out my knees prior to squatting in training – and reading the IPF rules the knees must be lockout prior to the squat command. (No problems in hitting depth from both sides – at least I have that going.) I failed locking out my knees a few times.  Also, in the bench press, I moved my left foot after the start command – that would have been a red light. This was something I did not realize I was doing in my benching. Otherwise, I nailed the deadlift which is really no surprise to me.

With this information I decided on Sunday to run some drills addressing these small technical, but significant failures, in my lifts.


I got a late start this morning and after a coffee, a banana and a protein bar I headed to the gym in Oconomowoc with my gear bag and determination to clean up my technical problems. I started with the squat around 7am to a nearly empty gym. (Only “Kid Rock” was there skipping around the gym between his various exercises.)

My plan was just to practice walking out with a loaded bar, lockout knees (over-exaggarted it as the refs recommended), with commands (me saying them out-loud in the gym), squat and hit depth, recover to lockout and re-rack with commands. I ran singles pretty much.

  1. Barbell Squat: 135x1,1,1,3,1. 225x1,1,1,3,1.  315x,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1. 375x1, (I waited about 8 minutes and figured… WTH…) 405x1.  After that,  I loaded the bar up and practiced just walking out, locking knees and re-racking with commands (but not squatting) of 415x3 and 455 x3 sets as an accessory. Finished off with 15 reps of 210 lbs.
  2. Barbell Bench Press (Paused): 95×5, 115×6, 135×1, 225×1. There was another guy about my age who was curling in the other squat rack while I was attempting 4 plates and I asked to give me lift-offs for 265x1, 285x1, 315x1. My ass came off the bench on the 315 attempt so I would have failed that lift at competition, but it was nice to be able to press that weight up. I haven’t done a bench press at that weight in 21 years!

I am not sure why I decided to go for PRs, but I am glad I did. I am really wishing I would have taped my lifts, but with about a dozen people in there at that time and just wanting to do them, I didn’t want to fuck with my camera. Just jump in and get them done.

However, the best thing about this weekend is that I broke through the “mental barriers” of 3 plates on bench and 4 on squat plus all the information I learned on Saturday. I’ve got 6 weeks to build on this experience and be meet-ready.  Sunday’s will now become technique days up until the week before I throttle down before the meet.


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