RPS Mafia Mayhem: Meet Write-Up

My final powerlifting meet with Purdue Barbell is in the books and the feeling is bittersweet to say the least. Looking back over 7 semesters, it seems like yesterday I was traveling to Cleveland, OH for my first meet. I squatted 425lbs that day and nearly bombed out after only hitting my final attempt. Fast forward to 3 1/2 years later and I am the president of this club, watching my teammates wrap each others knees and break all time club records. We have come a long way from 10-20 students who just wanted to be the strongest around to a self-sustaining organization with an amazing network of coaches and mentors who make us better than we could ever be as individuals.

Travel, Weigh-Ins, and Pre-Meet Action

This past weekend we competed in our team powerlifting meet for the semester. We chose the RPS Mafia Mayhem meet in Louisville, KY this time around. I decided after long debate to cut down to the 242 weight class once again after not competing at that weight since a year ago in the Spring. Long story short, I made weight on Friday morning and used the rest of the day to rest and get some calories back into my body. Most of our teammates and family that came down to compete or cheer us on got into town Friday during the day. We all ate up, shared some laughs, and got plenty of rest in preparation for Saturday’s lifting.


The day began at 9am when the first flight began their squat attempts. There were a little over 70 lifters signed up for this meet so we knew starting out that it was going to be a long day. For squats, the flights took almost exactly an hour per and with 4 flights for each lift, I did not begin warming up until around 11am. I took my first squat attempt of the day at about noon. My attempts went as follows…

Opener: 518 (Good)

Second: 523 (Good)

Third: 556 (Good)

My opener, for some reason, felt like a third. It moved very slowly and was a grind from the hole all the way to the top. Because of this, I only made a five pound jump for my second attempt. I have watched and re-watched the video of my first lift and I still have absolutely no idea what I did wrong but I went on to absolutely smoke my second attempt. I was now stuck in a spot where I was hitting my groove with squat but had to take a huge jump to hit a new PR. I chose to take the jump and walked away 3/3 on squats with a 5 pound all-time PR at 556lbs.


Anyone who has followed my progress as a powerlifter knows that the bench press is by far the lift that I struggle with the most, especially on meet days. That being said, I have made great strides with this over the past year and knew I was good for a PR last weekend. I opened a little more aggressively than normal and decded to make small jumps in order to get as much out of my presses as possible. Although I missed my third attempt, I did manage to set a 6lb PR with my second lift. My attempts went as follows…

Opener: 314 (Good)

Second: 325 (Good)

Third: 330 (Miss)


This one is a little harder to talk about but its all part of the day so I need to go over it. Going into deadlift I was dragging. I began my warm ups at around 6:30pm and tried to get myself going for one last round of lifts. During warm ups I was feeling good and the weights were moving like I felt they should. I even took a last warm up which was closer to my opener than normal just to make sure I was going to kill my first attempt. I did in fact kill my opener but that is where the good news ends. During my second lift, my left hip cramped and pulled with the bar right below my knees and I wasn’t able to recover from the slip up. I took the weight again but it was a no go. This was very disappointing for me considering that my deadlift is usually my best event for the day. My pulls went as follows…

Opener: 528

Second: 556

Third: 556


Put simply, this meet was in fact a success. I walked away with two new PRs on the squat and bench as well as a PR total for myself in the 242 weight class. Although there are a couple of attempts I wish I had one more shot at I have to look back at this experience and realize that I did in fact accomplish my goals. As I had said a few weeks before meet day, my first priority for this meet was to have fun and enjoy the company of my teammates around me. Years from now when I look back on my last meet with Purdue Barbell I am not going to remember my exact total or how the lifts felt but what I will remember is the moments I shared with good friends. Now its time to enjoy this milestone and start getting geared up for the World’s Strongest Boilermaker competition in April. More training and updates to come shortly, but for now I’m going to catch up on my sleep and calories. Until next time!


12/5/16 – Deload Week – Day 1

The final week of offseason has come and gone. As planned I am hitting a deload this week and with that comes a huge back off in weight, especially the first few days. I believe I was in and out of the gym today within an hour and a half today, half of that time being spent on stretching, warming up, and recovery work. The movements I hit for my first day of deload week went as follows…

  • Stretch and Warm-Up
  • Goblet Squat – 3×20
  • Leg Extension – 3×20
  • Leg Curls – 3×20
  • Chin Ups – 2×8
  • Planks – 3×60 seconds
  • Calf Raises/Pulls – 3×10 each

Brandon must have been thinking of me when he wrote this deload week program for me because it was just what I needed. Enough work to get a little sweat going but not too much to recover from easily. My back was still feeling upset today so I stayed away from any bending forward movements aside from stretching the effected area. Until my doctor’s appointment this Wednesday I will have not know the final analysis of my x-ray which was taken right before thanksgiving. I am confident though that I will simply need to rest up this week and develop an even more tedious and consistent mobility protocol for my lower back to increase and support its health so that small bumps in the road such as this will not happen again. What doesn’t kill me helps me get stronger.

On a related note, the comments I have began to include in my training log during each session have become very helpful in tracking some variables in my training sessions that would otherwise be forgotten. I have begun tracking training time of the day, overall physical state during the workout, and who I was with. It has become almost like a real time journal entry during my training session wherein I leave small notes to myself to reflect on in the future. I will begin including a any bits of training advice or tips that I have noticed from my training if the opportunity arises.

The semester is winding down and I am enjoying having a little time to breath for a bit. This Fall has not been the easiest, especially on my ability to keep a regular schedule. I have made it through though with the help of my teammates, family, and friends. Having almost 4 full weeks off of school, I am very excited to be able to focus almost all of my time toward my training and family. That being said, this next offseason program I will run through the holidays should set me up nicely for meet prep which will begin in early January. Meet day is Feb. 18th and we will be hungry. Until next time!

RPS Peak Performance Power: Meet Write-Up

When I first joined the Purdue Barbell Club we were a group of around 10 students who shared a passion for training hard and enjoyed being around others who felt the same way. I never imagined that this little organization would take off in the way that it has. Last Saturday I saw 13 lifters proudly wearing their Purdue Barbell shirts as they took the platform to compete for our team. I saw over 10 club members come out to support their teammates, many working their tails off all day assisting with knee wraps, photography, loading/unloading plates, etc… I saw just as many family members travel hours to watch their sons, daughters, grandsons, granddaughters, husbands, and wives compete with Purdue Barbell. What this organization has become is mind-blowing to me. We have filled a niche at this campus that was much bigger than any of us imagined and the response has been amazing. As I took it all in this past weekend looking around at all my teammates, some who were competing for the first time and some who were trying to build on past meets, I couldn’t help but smile. This club has become family and I am very proud to be the leader of such a spectacular group.

Enough with the gooey stuff, here is how meet day went for me!

Travel and Weigh-Ins

For the first time since my first meet in Spring 2014, I did not cut down to 242lbs for a meet. After my last meet I made the decision to put on some weight and attempt to fill out the 275lb class. This proved to be a little harder than I would have imagined as my weight gain stalled at around 264lbs at the beginning of meet prep, 6 weeks out from the meet. This did not bother me to much because my plan was to make the weight jump slowly while adding solid weight onto my frame. Since I did not have to cut, I chose to wait until meet day to weigh in instead of weighing in 24 hours prior to meet on Friday morning. Two of the lifters that I took with me, Ethan Lenn and Austin Elpers, had cut for this meet so we drove down Friday afternoon after weigh ins and stayed in a hotel. I must say that not having to worry about making weight did take a little stress out of the preparation for the meet. After getting settled in to the hotel, those of us that had already arrived went out to eat with Brandon Smitley and enjoyed a relaxing evening.

Meet Day Morning

Since I had not weighed in yet, we arrived to the meet venue right at 7am. We just beat the rush and I weighed in at an expected 266lbs. After the rules meeting at 8am, things started to pick up a bit as the first flight guys and gals took over the warm-up room. I was third from last to lift in the final flight so I relaxed, hydrated, and took a little time to get my head right.


Squat started off very oddly. As I mentioned we had 10+ lifters competing in this meet and 5 of use were in the final flight for squat. The problem started in the warm up room when we ran out of time to take our final warm up attempts. By the time the bar was ready for me to finish my practice sets, I was too close to my name being called to take the weight. I ended up making a 80lb jump, going from 425 in the weight room to an opener of 505 on the platform. To make matters worse, 3 of us were scheduled to lift back to back! This meant that we needed to get the knees of 3 lifters wrapped and ready to go in a very short amount of time. Brandon performed like the professional he is though and we were able to make it through our squats all wrapped and good to go. My attempts went as follows…

Opener – 505 (Good)                                                                                                                                         Second – 523 (Good)  (PR)                                                                                                                                 Third – 551 (Good) (PR)


As I have discussed frequently, the bench has always been my weak point in competition. Whether is a technical mistake or simply not being strong enough, something has gone wrong during the bench for my past few meets. For this meet, I set my opener low. I wanted to make sure that I crushed the first rep and had momentum going into the second. I really believe that I am on the verge of busting my bench wide open and will see a huge increase in strength over this coming off-season. Although I did miss my final rep on the bench for this meet I did PR on my second attempt and have a solid foundation from which to grow now. The attempts went as follows…

Opener – 305 (Good)                                                                                                                                         Second – 319 (Good)  (PR)                                                                                                                                 Third – 336 (No Good)


Deadlift is my favorite, everyone that has trained with me or kept up on my training log knows this. I think the reason that I enjoy it so much is the lack of thinking you have to put into it. Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of technique that goes into a good pull but in comparison to the control that you have to exert on the squat and bench, deadlift is just a primal, grip it and rip it type of lift. To me deadlifting in competition is so simple, it comes down to one thing, I am either strong enough to pick this weight up or I’m not and its as simple as that. Anyway, back to the meet, I was amped up as always for my pulls. I opened a little heavier than I should have but I am comfortable with this lift and wanted to set myself up for a nice PR. I ended up finishing the day going 3 for 3 on deads and a 11lb PR in the books. Attempts went as follows…

Opener – 523 (Good)                                                                                                                                         Second – 541 (Good)                                                                                                                                  Third – 562 (Good) (PR)


At the end of the day I went 8/9 on my lifts, only missing that last bench press attempt. I set new PRs on all of my lifts and subsequently a new PR total as well. My new best lifts look like this…

Squat – 551                                                                                                                                                             Bench – 319                                                                                                                                                           Deadlift – 562                                                                                                                                                       Total – 1432

I have been chasing a 1400+ total for a long time and although it took me a little longer than I originally thought, I cannot complain one bit. This meet had the greatest showing by Purdue Barbell to date and resulted in a bunch of PRs and good times. I believe that everyone that competed from Purdue Barbell came away with some type of hardware. It was a great day and I look forward to the next team meet.

Going Forward

In the days since the meet, I have been able to sit down and come up with a tentative gameplan for my training during this next offseason. I plan to stay out of the gym for at least 4 days before hitting a few volume training days. After that I think I am going to jump back into offseason training with a new training partner who is currently training to compete at the XPC finals at the Arnold Classic this year. I am really looking forward to hard training days again and getting back to making strength gains. I appreciate everyones support as always and hope you will continue to follow along and I gear up for another Fall/Winter of training here at Purdue. Until next time!

USPA Strode Station Open Meet Write-Up

Another meet day has come and gone and as promised I have the full scoop on what went down this past Saturday (2/27/16) all ready to be laid out for your reading pleasure. Five Purdue Barbell powerlifters, including myself, competed in the USPA Strode Station Open in Winchester, KY. Competing with this group always seems to be an awesome experience and this weekends meet was no exception. Each of us hit the platform in full stride, hit new PRs, and brought home some hardware as an added bonus.

Travel and Weigh-Ins

My training partners, Ethan Lenn and Austin Elpers, rode down with me last Thursday morning to Winchester to get settled into the hotel and finish our weight cuts. This was Austin’s first sanctioned meet so we made it a point to make sure he knew how things were going to play out and what to do to be ready. A long night of trying to sleep on an empty stomach on Thursday was followed by weigh ins on Friday morning. All of us made weight without incident and the rest of the day pretty much consisted of stuffing face and intermittent napping. We had a great family presence come in to watch us lift which is always a good time. I think just about everyone had at least one family member come out to cheer us on and share the day with the team. Friday got finished off with a big group dinner feast at Applebee’s where we were joined by non other than Brandon Smitley himself. Brandon is currently in prep for the XPC Finals meet next weekend at eh 2016 Arnold Classic Festival so getting caught back up with him and seeing what his goals are going into meet day was a nice treat. After dinner the post carb load coma hit and everyone went to bed as visions of PRs danced in their heads.

Meet Day

Now on to the fun stuff… meet day. Saturday morning we headed over to the meet venue. The competition was held at Crossfit Strode Station, a very nice gym that was out of the way and had plenty of space to handle the meet. The rest of the team joined up with us shortly after arriving and lifting began.


My squat is definitely the lift that has been coming along the fastest out of the big three. This being my first time lifting in a USPA meet and not walking out squats in competition for about a year, I chose to open relatively low at 465lbs. 465 went off without a hitch so I made a jump to 495 on my second which was also a good lift. For my final lift I stuck with somewhat of a tradition by letting Brandon pick my weight so I have no idea what I’m lifting. Brandon is awesome at seeing how the weights move and making good judgement calls as to what my attempts should be. This combined with me not knowing the weight kinda allow me to clear my head and not psych myself out. My third attempt was again all white lights and I ended up hitting 518 lbs, an 18 pound PR. I know I have more in the tank going forward and I have not even come close to my ceiling on the squat yet but that will have to wait until next meet. I start the day 3 for 3 with a new PR so I cannot complain one bit.

Bench Press

After squats I rested up a bit and grabbed a bite before warming up for the bench. Coming off of three good attempts I was pretty stoked to get on the bench but things took a slight detour as I missed 314 lbs on my opener and again on my second attempt. Bench has been my achilles heel for the past meet or two and has been pretty frustrating. I have hit 315 consistently in the gym for the past year or two but something is wrong technique-wise that I need to focus on in the coming months. Nonetheless, I was able to hit 314 easily on my third attempt and stay in the meet still able to go for a PR total.


After my close call on the bench, it took me a little while to get my mind right when we moved on to deadlift. A meet is very mental especially as the day moves on and fatigue sets in. It is really hard to stay in the zone for such a long period of time especially when you have to go from lift ready to resting and back again. I opened on deadlifts with a 505 lb pull and never looked back. Something about having a good opening lift got me back on track and dialed in. I went on to pull 535 as a second and finished the day with a new deadlift meet PR of 551 lbs.

Below I have attached a video of my final lift on each of the movements.

At the end of the day, I can’t ask for better competition experiences than what Purdue Barbell has given me. There are always going to be little hiccups and bumps in the road but that is why we come home from meets, adjust our goals, and get back to work. When my grand father first brought me into the gym and taught me how to lift properly he would always say “hope for the best but prepare for the worst”. It never meant much at the time but as I move farther along with my powerlifting training and begin to come across weaknesses I never knew I had, all the little things that I have done along the way to get where I am become very important. I count this meet as a success just as I have every other meet. I PRed on two of the three lifts and have a new PR total. I am very proud of the team as a whole for once again conducting themselves very professionally and leaving it all on the platform.

The Road Ahead

As for me right now, I plan to take this week of for rest. I will probably get in the gym once or twice but just to do some light recovery style work. Once I my body heals up and stops aching I am going to run Brandon’s post meet volume cycle once again which will hopefully allow me to put some size back on and take a load off of my joints for a bit. Brandon will be working with me over the next few weeks in deciding what movements I should start off with once I get back into powerlifting training and other adjustments to fine tune my sessions. Since we are not going to be lifting as a team until next Fall I will be taking a nice long offseason for the rest of spring into summer. I guess I will just have to see how strong I can get! Until next time…

RPS North Kentucky Throwdown – Recap

My first powerlifting meet of the year is in the books and, as always, there is a lot to take away from a day so packed full of excitement and opportunities for learning. The day began at about 6:30am when my eyes popped open and I couldn’t get back to sleep. I was just too excited for the day ahead. I weighed about 250 when I woke up which is my normal training weight so I just ate a standard breakfast and packed my stuff. We arrived at River City Barbell around 7:30 and set up base camp for the day, greeting the rest of the team as they arrived. After a quick rules meeting, I began stretching out and foam rolling while the first flight took their squat attempts. I assume that the rest of my teammates will be writing similar meet recaps so I will not go into too much detail as to how everyone performed. I will break down my lifting experience from yesterday by lift as follows.

Squat – 

Squat was my biggest question mark going into this meet. My previous meet PR was 446lbs before yesterday but I knew I had made great strides in this area and would blow that number away at this meet. I had hit 475lbs in sleeves alone while squatting at Brandon’s gym with a monolift but couldn’t afford to over estimate my ability, especially with my opening lift. I decided to set my opener at 450lbs as this was going to be easy and also a new personal record. I smoked that rep and continued on to hit 480 and finally 500 with the same sense of ease. I know I left 20 or 30 pounds on the squat platform but I will come back to get those later. I hit the numbers I was planning on hitting and built confidence going into the bench. Overall, I got a 54 pound PR on the squat and that is a massive accomplishment. I finally performed to my full potential on the squat during a meet after screwing up during the last few outings.

Bench –

Things came off the rails a little on the bench but i still set a new personal record. I had hit 345 in training on the bench but once again did not want to overdo my first attempt and risk messing up too badly. I hit 315 as my opening attempt but was called for lifting my butt off the bench. After consulting with Brandon, I decided to retry the 315 press and got it up no problem on my second attempt. This put me in a tough spot regarding what weight to go for on my final attempt but I called 330 trying to be conservative. On my final try, I got stuck with 330lbs about half way through the lockout and had to have my spotters take it. Again, I left 10 or 20 pounds on the platform but hit a new personal record in a meet.

Deadlift –

Deadlift has been my ace in the hole ever since I started competing. If you told me I had to add an extra 5lbs to my total to win a meet I would get it on my deadlift. Yesterday however, I was put in a position where I had no idea what condition my deadlift was in. For the month leading up to the meet I had not been able to pull heavy which left a big question mark for the lift that had been my best in the past. I set my opener conservatively at 515 and decided to see how warm-ups felt before making changes to that. Warm-ups went very well so I decided to stick with the 515 opener. This weight went up like nothing along with my second attempt of 535. On my final attempt. I called for 550 pounds which would have been a 5lb meet PR for me. I gave this weight everything I had but I just couldn’t get the bar above my knee. I know that if I had just been able to pull it an inch further I could have locked it out. Overall, I did not do re-injure anything and deadlifts felt better than they have since mid-summer. I was happy with finishing my day on the platform in one piece and with new PRs on two of the three lifts.

Conclusion –

My only real goal for this meet was a 1400lb total. I fell a little short of that, finishing the day with a total of 1350 but I did leave poundage on all the lifts that I could have gotten. As I mentioned briefly at the beginning of this post, there is a lot to be learned during a powerlifting meet. One’s weaknesses become very apparent very quickly. Although I fell a little short of my goal I know I was capable of hitting the right weights, the cards just didn’t fall that way. I now have a very clear picture of the weaknesses I have which need to be brought up and what I can do differently to improve my chances going forward. As for right now, I plan on resting most of this week and getting caught up on school/administration items. I will probably get back in the gym around Thursday and start following a new, Post-Meet program that Brandon is about to release. This will be a high volume, bodybuilding style program which will get me back in shape to start lifting in an off-season style once that concludes. I appreciate all the kind words I have received during this prep and from my meet results as they are ever encouraging. A big shout-out goes to all of Purdue barbell who competed and cheered us on yesterday. I have the best team I could ever ask for of that I have no doubt. Until next time!