My First Year of Powerlifting: Looking Back

As my fourth powerlifting competition draws near I can’t help but take a look back and realize that a year and a half ago I had never heard of this sport, let alone imagine that I would be the Vice President of a team at Purdue within the coming years. My journey has just begun yet, with the help and guidance of some excellent mentors, I feel as though I am on the fast track to success. I am writing this post as much for myself as I am for the reader so as to reflect on how much this club and sport have impacted me.

I attended the Purdue Barbell Club call-out at the beginning of my second semester in college, Spring 2014. Ethan Lenn who was the club treasurer and one of the original club members recruited me, ironically, while I was trying to recruit him to live in my house at Purdue. I didn’t quite convince him to pledge at my place but he did convinced me to attend that first meeting. I paid my dues to become a member then and there.

Purdue Barbell gave me an outlet to meet and train with people who had the same mentality as me, training heavy and often. The first time I touched a barbell was around the age of twelve with my grandpa who taught me the basic movements and set/rep schemes. Although he came from a bodybuilding background, this lit a small spark that has grown into the passion I have today. I began lifting heavy in middle school through high school for football. Once I decided to decline my college football offers and major in engineering at Purdue, however, my lifting took a nose dive. For the first time in my life I wasn’t training for anything.

I do not want this to turn into an autobiography, I simply wanted to set the stage for explaining the impact powerlifting and Purdue Barbell have had on me. When Ethan invited me to that call-out and I join this team, I regained what I had lost after entering college. Purpose. I had gone a semester with no drive or goal of any kind. I still went to the gym but there was no plan, just sets and reps in spontaneous workouts.

As soon as I joined the team they pushed me to compete but in all honesty, I knew nothing of what powerlifting actually was. I agreed to attend an upcoming meet that the team was doing just to see what this whole powerlifting thing was all about. I might add that it was the teams first meet and I had absolutely no idea of this at the time. I am actually one of the earlier team members to join but had no clue that this was the case, the officers acted like they had been running the club for years and acted very professional. Anyway, after watching their meet I was still slightly nervous about competing as I’m sure >90% of newcomers are. None the less, within the month I had signed up for Brandon Smitley’s programming and began to really train again.

The next step was to compete for the first time. Ethan Lenn and I quickly became training partners and decided to compete in a meet near Cleveland, OH late that Spring semester along with some other club members. Looking back, that meet was terribly run, long, and lacked intensity. That being said, I did not know any better and loved every second of it! I was hooked following that competition and my drive to train was higher than ever.

Going in to last summer, I really started getting serious about this sport. I picked up an eating plan by using John Keifer’s Carb-Backloading protocol, once again through Ethan’s convincing, and absorbed every bit of information I could get my hands on. That is when I really began to see my training a little more seriously, having goals in mind. I had gotten a taste of this sport and wanted more.

This brings me to a somewhat off topic, but relevant, point of discussion, Elitefts. At that first meet, Casey Williams and Joe Schillero, both Elitefts sponsored athletes, were my handlers. At the time, I had no idea who they were at all. If I had known this I probably would not have been near as calm around them, some fanboying would have occurred. This was also my first exposure to the amazing company that is Elitefts. I am very partial to this organization not only because they sponsor my coach but also because they have the best strength equipment and are represented by athletes with the highest level of character I’ve ever seen. This all comes back to my joining Purdue Barbell. We, as a club, have an awesome relationship with Elitefts’s athletes, giving us the inside track to learn and get hands on experience with professionals to which most people do not have access.

Since that first meet I have competed two other times, all of which were USAPL meets. I continue to use Brandon’s programming and have no intention of changing that. During the spring, I served as the clubs philanthropy officer and was voted in as the Vice President for this coming Fall. After my last meet in February, I decided it was time to take a long offseason in order to give myself time to gain strength and technique. That brings me to today. I am still in that offseason and I plan to compete again in September at an RPS meet for the first time.

My journey has only just begun. It feels like that call out in University Hall was years ago even though it hasn’t even been two. My curiosity turned into a passion which is on the right track because of the people I have met through powerlifting. From average college student trying to avoid the freshman fifteen to Vice President of the premier strength club at Purdue, my first year of powerlifting has been a trip to say the least. I hope that if you are a prospective club member that my experiences inspire you to join our team and gain these opportunities as well. I can only imagine what the coming years have in store. All I can say is that if they are anything like this last one then the sky is the limit for me and Purdue Barbell alike.


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