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

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)

Bench

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

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)

Summary

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!

9/14/16 – Peak Performance Power Meet Prep – 3 Days Out

It definitely feels  like meet day is approaching now as the Purdue Barbell powerlifting squad gears up to travel down to Brazil, IN for this Fall semester’s team meet. It has been a long road from the last time I got on the platform but things have a way of working themselves out and I feel stronger than ever. Today’s training is barely worth mentioning but there is a method to the madness so I will share anyway. Training broke down as follows…

  • Floor Press
    • 45×5, 95×5, 135×3, 185x3x3
  • Band Fly – 50 Reps
  • Band Pressdown – 50 Reps

Here is the scoop on me going into meet day. I am currently still weighing around 264 and cannot seem to break past that. I will be a light 275er for this meet but that is just fine with me. I told myself that if I was going to make a jump from 242 to 275 that I was going to do it the right way and put on “good” size. So far that is just how I have done it and I aside from a little bit of extra bloating my weight gain has proportioned itself across my body very well. Now that I have this extra poundage on I wonder how I ever lifted the weights I did at 242! As far as health goes, I am feeling as good as ever. With the decreased workload over the past week and a half, I have upped my recovery work with extra rolling, stretching, and contrast showers. From a nutrition perspective, I upped my calories slightly again this week for one: because I can, and for two: because my metabolism is crazy right now and keeps telling me to feed. Two of my close friends and teammates, Ethan Lenn and Austin Elpers, are going to weigh in Friday morning before travelling back to Purdue to finish classes. I, having absolutely nothing to worry about as far as weight is concerned, will be driving us back down Friday evening to stay in a hotel close by the venue, rest up, and get a little extra sleep before meet day. Saturday is game day for us and we will be bringing it. Over 20 members of Purdue Barbell will be attending, with over 13 competing. This is shaping up to be the biggest turnout for a meet we have ever had and I cannot express enough just how proud I am of these guys. From the time I joined this club to today I have seen a small group of guys who just want to compete together blossom into a multi-disciplinary squad of college students competing and training in everything from strongman to bodybuilding. We will all represent this club with pride on Saturday and make even more memories that will never be forgotten. It is time to relax and prepare. My next post should be a full meet write up with video and all, that is unless I get bored and decide to do a pre-meet reflection in the next couple days. Until next time!

Training Update – Week 1, Day 2 Through Week 1, Day 4 – Balancing Training and Final Exams

Stress is the name of the game at the moment as I work my way through the thick of finals week for this semester here at Purdue. To be honest, getting in the gym and training has been, and always will be, my go to when I am going through a period of high stress. Brandon is constantly reminding the team during weeks like this that we need to make sure not to overdo it as the body can’t tell the difference between stressing about an exam and the stress training places on the body mentally. It is very important for me to listen to what my body is telling me during this week which is why I just now finished my final training day of week 1 this morning. I decided to take Saturday and Sunday off to recover and study so I can’t be at the top of my game in the gym and in the classroom this week. The last few days of training went as follows…

Week 1, Day 2 – Max Effort Upper

  • Stretch and Warm-Up
  • Bench Press (Using Elitefts 2 Board Shoulder Saver)
    • 45×10, 95×5, 135×5, 185×5, 225×3, 275×3, 295×3, 305×3, 315×3
    • 205×5, 235×5, 265×10
  • Close Grip Incline Press
    • 135×10, 155×8, 185×8
  • Dumbbell Floor Press
    • 60×20, 70×15 ,70×15
  • Bent Over Swiss Bar Rows
    • 95×20, 105×20, 115×18, 125×17, 135×15
  • Reverse EZ Bar Curls – 3×20
  • JM Press – 4×20
  • Stir the Pot – 4×15

Week 1, Day 3 – Dynamic Effort Lower

  • Stretch and Warm-Up
  • Speed Squats (vs. Elitefts Pro Light Bands)
    • 210x10x2
    • 220×5, 255×5, 285×10
  • Speed Conventional Deadlift (vs. Elitefts Pro Average Band)
    • 275x8x1
  • Bulgarian Split Squats
    • 70×10, 80×10, 80×8
  • Band Leg Curls (Using Elitefts Pro Light Band) – 4×10
  • Reverse Grip Lat Pulldowns – 3×20
  • Reverse Hyper Situps– 4×10

Week 1, Day 4 – Dynamic Effort Upper

  • Stretch and Warm-Up
  • Speed Bench (vs. Elitefts Pro Mini Band)
    • 135x9x3
  • Close Grip Bench Press (vs. Elitefts Pro Mini Band)
    • 155×5, 180×5, 205×10
  • Seated Overhead Press
    • 115×12, 135×12, 145×10
  • Cable Rows 
    •  140×20, 160×20, 170×15, 180×15, 200×10
  • Face Pulls – 3×20
  • EZ Bar Skull Crushers – 4×20
  • Hanging Leg Raises – 4×10

There has been a lot of good stuff going on with my training and I’ll try to hit the main points.

  • My max effort upper day this week was interesting as I am utilizing a new piece of equipment we have aquired called the shoulder saver. This pad wraps around the bench bar and provides a reduced range of motion such as that of a two board. I am focussing on making sure I pause all these reps during the cycle to practice being explosive with the bar coming off my chest. I was wanting more weight for my top set but shut it down as soon as my form started to break and left some in the tank for my upcoming heavy chest days.
  • I have looked back through my training logs from last summer (when I made the most progress on the bench as I ever have) and will be using some of the accessory movements from those training days in my routine this coming cycle. JM press is a great example of a movement which had great carryover to my competition lifts.
  • Speed squats and deadlifts felt awesome at the end of last week. I pulled conventional because I do not yet own a pair of short average bands and can pull sumo with the longer, pro length band. Additionally, I want to start rotating my sumo and conventional pulling on speed days so that I can make sure and stay balanced. I did not know what to expect while pulling conventional but I was pleasantly surprised when I felt very fast and powerful off the floor.
  • I rounded out the training week with my dynamic upper body day this morning. Speed work for the bench lets me build explosiveness but also gives me a lot of chances to practice getting tight, setting up correctly, and unracking the bar which are all thing I have struggled with on meet day. The close grip work that follow allowed me to thoroughly toast my triceps just to round out the day.

I am very excited for the upcoming weeks of this program. My workouts seem to be going better than ever and I can tell that I am finally starting to find a great balance between training hard, recovering, and taking care of my body so I can avoid naggy injuries and train healthier and harder. The second half of this semester has been a struggle and I have had to learn a lot about balancing the various places I have invested my life. As I said, getting in the gym, letting everything go, and hitting it hard has always been my way of relaxing and cutting loose. Now more than ever in my life it is an outlet to let everything roll off my shoulders for a couple hours and focus on something I truly enjoy.

Being a college student and training definitely isn’t always ideal especially when trying to set up a regular schedule. We are not on scholarship here, we do not get specific time carved out of our day to practice our craft, we do not get free passes to take exams early or get to sign up for classes ahead of anyone else. Each of us on Purdue Barbell make the time for ourselves, whether that means getting up early in the morning or staying out late at night, to get our training in and better ourselves. I am proud to call this group of exceptional students my teammates and can count on them at any given day. The old joke about having to pick two of the three places to spend time in college (social, academic, or rest) is definitely on point. I can speak for all of us when I say we have to make sacrifices in our personal lives to fit everything but that is where priorities come into play. All this being said, I have zero regrets about how I have spread myself out during college and don’t plan on changing a thing. I don’t know if it’s because I am about to become a senior or what but I have been thinking back to all the experiences that powerlifting has allowed me to have and just have to smile. I am in no way close to being done, I’m still just starting, but it has been a heck of a ride so far and it’s just going to get better from here.

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.

Squat

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.

Deadlift

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…

Happy Thanksgiving!

My Thanksgiving Day began at around 4:45 this morning when I hauled my butt out of bed to get to the gym. For the past five or six years, it has been a tradition in my family to volunteer at the local YMCA on Thanksgiving morning helping out with their annual 5K “Turkey Trot”. Additionally, my father and I usually get to the gym extra early to lift a little before the day starts. This morning I hit a nice, short workout that was meant more for recovery than anything, the details of which are really not worth mentioning.

What is worth mentioning is what I am thankful for today:

  • I am thankful for an awesome family that supports me in all my endeavours.
  • I am thankful for a group of people that are not only my team but also the greatest friends that push me to be the best I can be.
  • I am thankful for  my brothers in Chauncey Cooperative that have my back no matter what.
  • I am thankful for the opportunity to gain an education at one of the nation’s top universities, and follow a passion of mine.
  • I am thankful for being introduced to powerlifting which has opened the door to more opportunities than I can begin to list.
  • I am thankful for every ounce of food that I will consume today and having multiple excellent cooks in my family that probably are the reason for my body size to begin with.

This is most definitely a partial list as this would be a never ending post if I tried to name everything. Thanksgiving has always been a time to reflect on and simplify what you have been gifted with in life. So many times I find myself focused on the negative that it is truly a blessing to take time to look at the good. I have been blessed beyond measure over the past few years being introduced to powerlifting and the group of people that it has allowed me to connect with. I cannot imagine having my college experience going any other way. I hope that you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day filled with family, food, and football (Go Bears). So once again, Happy Thanksgiving, may you have a blessed day.

9/7/15 – 2 Weeks Out – Max Effort Bench (Plus: What this meet prep has taught me.)

Today was my final heavy bench day with near maximal weights on the bar until I get on the platform. I was pleasantly surprised by how natural my setup and execution felt today and the reps seemed to come and go very well. I am happy that I am comfortable with my bench so I can focus on making the final necessary preparations to feel good on the squat and deadlift. Today’s training went as follows…

  • Stretch and Warm-Up
  • Bench Press
    • Bar x5, 135×5, 185×5, 225×3, 275×3, 295×1, 315×1, 335×1, 350×1 (3 board)
  • Dips – 3 Sets (15, 12, 12)
  • Lat Pulldown – 2×15
  • Cable Ab Pulldowns – 2×20
  • Hammer Curls – 2×10

Aside from a minor slip up with 335, my reps were smooth and felt easy. At 335 I finally hit my sticking spot and was beginning to fight through it when I let myself get out of the groove and the bar slipped up above my shoulders and head. With my spotters help I fought through the spot but know it wouldn’t have gone up without help. I’m not discouraged by this though and just reinforces the importance of the technique improvements I have made since my last meet. While resting and rolling out after my session, I had some time to ponder my current injury situation and think of things I have changed and improved on since gaining my nagging injuries during this prep cycle and beyond. I thought I would put together a little list to kind of spell out what I have learned. (Disclaimer: I in no way claim to be an expert. I speak from my personal experience and what I have observed about myself and my body. I welcome constructive criticism and comments about anything I post.)

Things I learned from my first nagging injuries in meet prep.

  1. Shortening your warm up or skipping it entirely will set you up for failure. Whatever time you save by jumping into a workout will end up being doubled by the time you spend rehabbing the injury you WILL end up getting.
  2. Your muscles might be stronger but your joints still take the same beating. Learning proper technique and moving the weight the right way will save you down the road. I used to be able to shoulder press 90lb dumbbells for reps on OHP during high school. I can get 75lbs up there on a good day now. Years of just throwing the weight up really tore up my shoulders. I almost guarantee you this is why I’m having issues with my pinched nerves in my rear delts during low bar squats now as well.
  3. Don’t get discouraged. Powerlifting, Strongman, Weightlifting, Bodybuilding, etc… are all mental sports just as much as they are strength sports. I have to say, these last six weeks have been some of the least encouraging weeks I have had in my young powerlifting career. That being said, I understand that there will be bad times. If I could go back to the beginning of prep and say something to myself it would probable be to relax and not forget the work I have already put in. I have hit the numbers, I have foam rolled, stretched, researched, learned, and experienced way more than six weeks can take away from me. No matter what I do in two weeks when I step on the platform I will guarantee you it is my very best.

In the end, I can only control that which within my control. There is no point in micro-managing my own body and training in the hopes of a miraculous transformation which clears up all the little things that haven’t gone my way.  I will do what is necessary to give me the best opportunity to succeed and continue that until I weigh in a week from this Friday morning. It is all too simple to look at your current situation and feel disappointed in yourself, wanting to go through a massive clearing house and changing everything you do. Here is a tip, most of what you are doing probably isn’t wrong. You’re not as screwed up as you think. Take a second to look back at what got you here, take a deep breath, and figure out where you went wrong. Fix those little things, recover, and carry on. Until next time!

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.

5/29/15 – Week 5, Day 4 – DE Upper

I continue to impress myself with my bench progress. It is always encouraging to put together a great week of training and this session finished my week beautifully. Nothing super exciting but after looking through my hard copy training log I noticed that on my final set of close grip bench vs. bands I improved by 5 reps compared to my last training cycle. Small victories and visible improvements.

  • Stretch and Warm-Up
  • Speed Bench (vs. EliteFTS Mini Bands)
    • 135x8x3
  • Close Grip Bench (vs. EliteFTS Mini Bands)
    • 150×3, 170×3, 195×14
  • Arnold Press
    • 70×15, 80×15, 90×10
  • Reverse Grip Cable Rows (Using Lat. Pulldown Bar)
    • 120×20, 140×20, 150×15, 170×12, 180×10
  • Straight Bar Front Raises
    • 30×10, 40×10, 40×8
  • Bench Dips – 4×20
  • Reverse EZ Bar Curl
    • 50×8, 60×8, 70×8
  • Pulldown Abs – 4×10

I decided to hit a different grip with my rows today just to see how if felt on my back. Reverse grip rows (or underhand rows) are slightly easier to do than regular rows, at least in my opinion, and I can feel them hitting a different set of muscles in my back. This feels good, especially later in the week when my back is beat up from my heavy movements, and also works my grip/arms in a different way. Balance is an important part of training but not to be taken to extremes. A good skill to have is the ability to “listen” to your body and figure out what works and doesn’t work for you. Now let me clarify that when I say “doesn’t work for you” I don’t mean “squats make my legs sore so they don’t work for me, I’ll do leg press instead” I’m talking about legitimate training strategies that work better in your programming, quit whining and eat a banana.

As I mentioned earlier in the week, I have been reading a lot of EliteFTS articles as of late and one of the common themes has been the idea of figuring things out for yourself and developing your own philosophies about training. This made me step back and ask myself whether or not I think for myself when it comes to being in the gym and my own health. Since joining Purdue Barbell I have been given access to a world of training knowledge from both text and certified professionals. It is very easy to start trying to copy what these people are doing, but that can only get you so far. For the beginner, any decently put together program can add muscle on a frame rather quickly and seem like the best training regimen ever. As time goes on though, we are forced to start changing things and developing a system which works for ourselves. Early on, we tend to believe everything we are told without considering the source or doing the research for ourselves. Even now, I am just beginning to really develop my own ideas and move away from just going with the flow when it comes to training information. For example, personally, I recover very quickly from my training sessions. The reason for this might be genetic, conditioning levels, nutrition, etc… but a major contributor is the fact that compared to professional lifters, I do not move near the weight that these guys are. This lowers the wear per session on my muscles overall. Eventually, I will hopefully be at a level where I am moving that much weight at which point I will likely need more time to recover in between training days but I don’t know, I will have to see how my recovery works at that point in my career. Where I am going with this is to explain why thinking for yourself about your training is so important. If it were 6 years ago and I read an article about a pro lifter that only lifted 3 times a week and takes every 5th week off for recovery I probably would have done the same, I mean he is a pro right? He must know what is best! In reality, this wouldn’t have been the best plan for me because I would recovering much faster and be missing out on technique work, especially at the beginner level with a lower strength base. As I said, make sure that what you are doing is benefiting you the most at your point is development.

Hopefully this all makes sense, I have been thinking about how to write about this concept for a while and finally decided to stumble through it. If nothing else is taken away just remember that everyone is at a different place in their training career and have different needs. Get your information from trusted sources. Make sure if you have a question you find the right person to answer it but never be afraid to do a little research of your own.

Tomorrow we deadlift. I bought some ammonia tabs just for it. Better strap, in this will be a good one. Until then!

4/16/15 – Week 6, Day 4 – DE Upper

Today marks the final day of my coaches most recently released program. For those of you that have been following my log since the beginning, the last six weeks seem to have flown by. My plan going forward is to use this coming week as a deload (if you don’t know what that is then please research it and utilize it) and then I will run the new six week program again with different main movements. Overall, I have seen great improvements in the past month and a half and expect the same result in the coming months as we get into summer. I cannot give enough thanks to my coach, Brandon Smitley, for the excellent programs he writes and the assistance he gives to his athletes. He is always there to answer even the smallest questions and I highly recommend him (not to mention he holds a world record in the squat of 565lbs in the 132lb weight class).

  • Stretch and Warm-Up
  • Speed Bench (vs. EliteFTS Monster Mini Band)
    • 155x6x3, 180×5, 205×3, 230×6
  • Arnold Press
    • 80×15, 90×12, 100×10
  • Wide Cable Row (Using Lat. Pulldown Bar)
    • 100×20, 120×20, 140×20, 160×12, 180×10
  • Cable Lateral Raises
    • 20×12, 25×12, 30×10
  • Dumbbell Overhead Tricep Ext.
    • 65×20, 75×15, 80×10, 85×10
  • Barbell Shrugs
    • 225×15, 275×15, 315×10
  • Reverse EZ Bar Curls
    • 50×8, 60×8, 70×8
  • Partial and Full Situps (On GHR Machine) – 3×15

As some of you know, I have lost a lot of weight and changed my body composition greatly since I was in middle school. For those of you that have no idea what I am talking about, I will put it into perspective. When I was a freshman in high school I weighed 315 and today I weighed in at 248. I was never a terribly lazy kid or inactive but I definitely did not go out of my way to cut weight by any means. I carried the extra weight around well, I wasn’t just an obese blob that couldn’t move, and after lettering in football my freshman year and looking at starting both ways in the coming years I decided that the extra weight was holding me back.

It is amazing how much changing your diet can do for you. I did not know it at the time but in essence I started carb back-loading  without even knowing it. It was actually kind of comical as I read through the CBL bible last summer how many of the weight loss tactics which had been researched and proven were things that I had found to work during my big weight cut. Anyway, with a few small diet changes and the exercise I was getting through football and track training, the weight fell off rather quickly. By the time that football season came around my sophomore year, I weighed around 275 (40lbs lighter) and had gained some muscle mass. This continued throughout my high school career and at the end of my senior year I weighed 255lbs.

I don’t bring up this part of my journey for kicks and giggles but I feel that it’s an important part in knowing why I do things the way I do. Some people struggle gaining weight and mass while others struggle just to keep their weight down. I have never had a problem gaining weight or mass and I don’t have to eat very much to do so. I recently weighed in at 226 in my last meet and currently weigh around 245. I am not a dietitian nor do I like to give nutritional advice to others as I strongly believe we are all very different from a nutritional needs standpoint. What I can say, however, is that after coming off of what was basically a 5 year cut I finally don’t fear gaining weight. My metabolism is higher than ever before and I can finally relax my eating habits to speed up my growth rate. As a disclaimer, when I say “relax my eating habits” I mean take in more good things that benefit my strength goals not a 5 hour twinkie and ho-ho binge. I do not plan on bulking very hard nor do I regret dropping this much body fat but I am happy with where I’m at. My goals and training are much different from that boy that decided to make a life change during his freshman year but my drive has not changed. I could go on forever about my opinions on weight loss, body composition, and training styles but I’ll save that for another entry. For now, have a wonderful weekend and as always if you ever have a question or comment feel free to leave it, thank you for bearing with me through a portion of my story.